Week 7 saw 79 members submit times with Aled Hughes leading the way in 20:44. A week later saw 69 members submit times with Gareth Richards leading the way in 20:45.
Week 9 saw 63 runners take part with Aled back on top with 21:06 closely followed by Rhodri Thomas. Week 10 saw 61 members take part with Rhodri clocking the fastest time, and he also topped the charts for week 11 when 59 members took part.
So far, 15 members have run all 11 virtual parkruns and 147 different members have participated in at least one.
The Virtual Welsh 5K Championships
This was about as close to a competitive event as we were likely to get this month. With the Welsh 5K Road Championships due to take place this month, they decided to make it a virtual event with entrants able to sign up for free and upload their Strava or Garmin activity as proof of completing the 5K. More than a dozen of us signed up and times could be submitted anytime over the 3 day VE Bank Holiday weekend.
The competition was fierce and having run in these events in past years, I’d say it was even more competitive than if the event had taken place for real due to pretty much everyone interested in running it being available / no need for travelling to the event / 3 days in which to complete it etc. The winning time was 13:53 from Cardiff AC runner Ieuan Thomas, there were over 50 runners under 18 minutes and over 100 under 20 minutes out of 370 results. Our fastest runners were Dai James with 18:12 followed by Nicky Bennett in 19:12, Steven James 21:32 and myself in 21:46. The first 4 finishers in each club made up a team and the men finished 13th overall. For the ladies, Jo Gamba led the way with 24:35 and was the closest out of all of our runners to her 5K PB, followed by Alysha Collins in 26:22, Sarah Davies in 26:48 and Alexis Barrett in 33:26. The girls finished 11th overall in the team standings. Well done to Chris Pratt, Jay Howells, Paul Barrett, Daniel Clark and Pippa Clark who all also submitted results.
The Virtual Welsh 1 mile Championships
Another event set up by Welsh Athletics and this time it was a 1 mile time trial. Given my OPR Championship / Summer Series 1 miler had been the previous week (details later in this blog), there wasn’t a huge amount of interest in this one but we did still have 8 members submit times.
Adrian Pearce ran an outstanding 5:24. I beat my mile time from the previous week with a 6:07 on exactly the same course. Claire Dunbar-Bowen got a sub 7 with 6:56. The remaining results were Sarah Davies with 7:11, Chris Pratt 7:20, Dawn Hopkins 7:25, Karl Johnson 7:30 and Jo Gamba 7:29. Disappointingly they didn’t have team results like in the 5K championships but I worked out our 4 girls would have finished as the 5th team overall against many of the best club runners in Wales.
OPR Training Championship / Virtual Summer Series
This year I set up an alternative club championship which was to take place once a month on training nights from February to November. All events were due to be handicapped to give everyone an chance of winning (very difficult to work out but thought I’d give it a go). We managed to complete the February event but then lockdown came in just 2 days before the second event was due to take place.
Given current circumstances, I decided to turn it into a virtual championship and combine it with the Cardiff Summer Series events where were due to take place in May and June with a 1, 2, 3 and 4 mile time trial which would also enable us to ‘catch up’ before returning to doing one a month which I already have some interesting ideas for.
The 1 mile event took place over the weekend of 15th-17th May. If members wanted to ‘double up’ they needed to do their mile on the Friday for it to count for the Cardiff Summer Series (which 15 of us did), but had any time over the weekend to run their time for the OPR Championships. We had an amazing 74 runners take on the mile. Each runners result was compared to their best parkrun / 5K time over the past 6 months as part of the handicapping system. The result was that Rob Loyns came out on top with Ceri James second. Ken Salvatore, Chris Collins and Tyler Howells completed the top 5 whilst Rosie Salvatore and Stephne Puddy were the next 2 highest female scorers.
The 2 mile event took place over the weekend of 29th-31st May. 16 members ‘doubled up’ by also signing up to the Cardiff Summer Series 2 miler which was on the Friday, but had any time over the weekend to run their time for the OPR Championships. We had 54 runners take on the 2 mile. This time I as able to base the handicap using their 1 mile times. The result was that Claire Dunbar Bowen came out on top with Sian Price second and Rob Loyns third. By getting a great mile time, Rob really should have been at a slight disadvantage going into the 2 miler but absolutely smashed it again. Anthony Kavanagh and Dawn Hopkins completed the top 5 with the girls dominating most of the top 10 which was a reversal of what happened in the 1 mile event.
I’d bought medals ahead of the championship to present to each event winner which I delivered (on a run from my house of course) to Rob and Claire shortly after their victories.
Overall, Rob Loyns leads the championship with Sarah Davies in second and Emma Loyns third. Niki Puleio and Nicky Bennett complete the top 5. The top places are currently dominated by members who’ve run in all 3 events so far, but the final results will be based on the best 6 scores from the 10 events so there could be members who haven’t even participated yet who could end up winning.
Pippa Clark completed the Bannister Anniversary virtual mile on the date that the Cardiff Running Events company would have had their usual mile race.
The Twister 10K involved running a virtual 10K whereby you get minutes knocked off your time the more elevation you do (Talbot Method Scoring). So there’s tactics involved as to whether you go for a fast flat 10K or go for a super hilly route and hope to do it in a reasonable enough time that the bonus deducted time makes up for the time lost on the hills. This was their second event of this kind and it appeared that getting lots of elevation in your run is more beneficial than just going for a flat all out 10K. In fact, the winner did a very hilly route in 42 minutes but with his time deductions for the elevation, his overall time was 25 minutes which is faster than the track 10,000 meter world record. Niki Puleio was 21st overall with an adjusted time of 39 minutes whilst Adrian Pearce was 34th. Sarah Davies was our only female finisher in the event.
The Lockdown 10 miler followed the same rules as the Twister 10K but also included age graded scoring on top. I finished 10th overall with an adjusted time of 65 minutes. Sian Jenkins was our only female finisher in the event with an adjusted time of 105 minutes.
A week later saw the Twister 10 miler with the same ‘Talbot method’ scoring used. For this one, I decided to go for maximum elevation and did 3 loops of the Beast to accumulate around 2,300 feet in just 10 miles (not far off the elevation of Snowdonia Marathon but in less than 40% of the distance). Incredibly Adrian Pearce did a little bit more than that and finished 11th overall. Kevin Raymond choose a flatter, faster option and finished 16th . I finished 25th overall, Claire Dunbar-Bowen was 29th, Sarah Davies was 85th, Paul Barrett 96th, Sian Jenkins 116th and Alexis Barrett 118th.
The final weekend of the month was the Rocky 10K – another ‘Talbot Method’ scoring event. I’ve loved these events as it’s been fun planning routes and testing out over the weeks whether huge elevation and slower pace is the way to go, some hills and faster pace, or flat as possible and all out race pace. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle as Adrian Pearce finished first overall in this event but went for significantly less elevation than his previous events with a faster pace. He still over 350 feet of elevation which I think most of our members would consider a hilly 10K if it were a race. I finished 8th whilst Sarah Davies was 25th and Sian Jenkins was 26th. I think it’s becoming obvious which four club members are enjoying these ‘Talbot scoring’ virtual events!
Richard Wilder (organiser of the Cottrell Park events) set up a challenge to complete 42.2K (a marathon) in 42 hours from 6pm Friday 16th to 12pm Sunday 18th. I decided to give it a go but got my timings a bit wrong and ended up missing the 42 hour cut off. I did sort of make up for it by doing over 45k within a 45 hour period over that weekend.
Something a bit different for the first weekend of the month with Coach Kembrey and committee member Fiona Evans setting us a challenge of becoming ‘Phoenix Travel Agents’. The idea was that we promoted our local area through photo’s and videos which could be done tongue in cheek or more seriously. There were some fantastic entries with videos of most areas of the Bridgend county included plus some alternative entries such as Heather Morgan showing the sites of all past and present schools in the Ogmore Valley (of which there were almost 20) and I did past and present races around Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan.
The second weekend included a Friday Bank Holiday for the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This time, Chris Pratt set the challenge with runners encouraged to submit miles to complete the distance from Ogmore to Reims, France and then onto Berlin, Germany. A total of 1350 miles. Additions to the challenge included wearing red, white and blue, drawing VE with your activity trace, and taking selfies with any street names starting with V or E (we discovered that street names starting with V were quite few and far between). Only counting miles that were within the 75 minute limit we achieved 1,186 miles whilst without the limit we achieved an amazing 1,345 miles. Liz Sim also marked VE day by running 75 miles in the first 8 days of the month.
Two weekends were taken up by the OPR championship mentioned above but we did also have another weekend challenge on the 4th weekend suggested by Sarah Davies. Taking an idea which has been popular on the parkrun Facebook groups since lockdown began, the idea was to find street names beginning with O, P and R, and then find ones starting with the letters of your first name. For those that wanted to take the challenge a bit further they could attempt to spell Ogmore Phoenix Runners with a street name containing the letter X being allowed considering there aren’t any locally. Dozens of members got involved. Such were the number of challenges on offer, on the same day I did he Welsh Athletics 1 miler, the Lockdown 10 miler and then went out with my twins to spell OPR and all three of our first names using street names! Others went even further and went for Ogmore Phoenix Runners plus their full name. Others bent the rules slightly and used shop or other street signs to help or ones that just included their first names / surnames anyway. All a bit of fun and getting members exploring their local areas.
Miles for Mind
Organised by Jayne Bissmire, 89 runners signed up to form ‘Phoenix Knights’ with each choosing a mileage target which had to be a multiple of 25 from 25 to 200 for the month in order to raise money for Mental Health charity Mind. This was a huge motivator for those members throughout the month with many not just reaching their target, but completing them with over a week to go. There was also plenty of courage and determination shown with Nicola Baker completing her 100 mile target despite an injury half ways through meaning she had to walking the rest of her miles.
Some even went as far as setting new higher targets. There’s so many that I can’t list them all but some examples include Sara Johns signing up for 25 miles but run / walking over almost 100. Heather Morgan targeting 50 miles but completing over 100. Maria George targeting 75 but completing over 150. Sarah Davies targeted 100 and did over 150. Liz Sim had a target of 150 miles but ended up doing over 200. Keith Coleman had a target of 150 but completed over 250.
As well as Liz and Keith, Angharad Hinam, Neil Price and Dai James all exceed 200 miles for the month. Keith also did a staggered 17,894 feet of elevation over his runs.
OTT Elevation Challenge
Off The Tarmac (OTT) are a events company specialising in long distance events that usually include a crazy amount of elevation. Our very own Liz Sim is a race ambassador for the company and with their main Marathon falling victim to the virus, a virtual event was set up. The challenge was to complete the same amount of elevation in the week leading up to when the marathon should have been (Sunday 10th May). The target was 4,782 feet. To put that in perspective, Snowdonia Marathon is around 2800 feet or to put it another way, it’s like climbing Snowdonia itself 1.5 times.
Plenty of Phoenix rose to the challenge with a variety of approaches. Liz actually attempted it in one go running 28 miles with 4,727 feet of elevation. Adrian Pearce ran 17,257 feet of elevation over the week so completed the challenge almost 4 times and ‘climbed Snowdon’ more than 5 times, completing 83 miles. He also completed a run with over 5000 feet of elevation in just 16 miles.
LEJOG stands for Lands End to John O’Groats and another virtual challenge was born to run the 874 miles from the most southern point of mainland UK to the most northern point over the course of 6 months. A pretty hefty challenge for even our biggest mileage runners in the club but several have signed up and are well ahead of the average mileage required at this point.
The Sunflower Relay
Sally the Sunflower is still going strong and at the end of May was on her 66th leg. Chris Pratt has been tracking the relay since it started at the end of March and posted some stats on May 28th. At that point, our members had taken the sunflower over 600 miles which possibly doesn’t include mileage before picking up from the previous location / running home after dropping off. Either way, it’s certainly got our members doing some miles. Each leg is accompanied by photos of the journey which I think have made us all appreciate our local area and maybe even encouraged us to run in new places.
Lockdown marathons and crazy mileage
As well as her 28 miler as part of the OTT challenge, Liz Sim also did a 32 mile run later in the month. Sian Thomas apparently told friends she was going to ‘do a long run’ and ended up doing a marathon, running 4:40:08 which is actually 19 minutes faster than her marathon PB in an official event. Angharad Hinam did a marathon along the coast. Neil Price ran an incredible 3:23 marathon to complete his 200 Miles for Mind. Gareth Richards did a 5 hour treadmill run clocking 37.2 miles and was yet another member to complete over 200 miles in May.
As well as many of the 89 Miles for Mind runners who ran their highest mileage months ever, I ran over 200 miles in a month for the first time having been inspired by Kris Denholms consistency at achieving that target month after month recently, which leads me onto the man himself.
Kris Denholm continued his RED streak (Run Every Day) hitting his 152nd day at the end of May. During the month he ran a marathon on his treadmill in 3:37:09 and finished the month with a challenge he set himself of running 5 hours on a treadmill where he ran 40.22 miles to finish off with a weekly mileage of 101.3! Having regularly exceeded just over 200 miles per month this year, he finished May in an astonishing 370.5 miles.
Whilst these virtual events are not counting towards club t-shirts or official race PB’s, it’s been great tracking everyones progress and I’ve now started keeping stats on the virtual events as well.
Our leaderboard for May (for single event challenges rather than monthly) is as follows…
- Sarah Davies – 12 – (7 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
- Gareth Jenkins – 12 – (7 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
- Sian Jenkins – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
- Jo Gamba – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
- Chris Pratt – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
During May 131 different members took part in at least one challenge (single event or monthly).
Ogmore Phoenix Quarantine Quiz
Despite all the challenges and crazy mileage, there was still time for some lockdown virtual socialising with the Quarantine Quiz. Our social committee did a fantastic job of organising the quiz with 23 teams and almost 50 people involved. Our quiz master was Dan Clark who did a fantastic job along the social team and Chris Pratt in ensuring everything went as smoothly as possible. Well done to ‘3HD’ (Steph Dyke and Nigel Hitchings) who won the quiz. ‘Gamkins’ were second (Jo Gamba and I). Whilst there was a tie for 3rd place between ‘Kim and Pete’ (Kimberley Davies and Peter Walsh), and the ‘Llynfi Lockdown Tourists’ which were a superteam of 3 households (joining together digitally of course) including Alexis and Paul Barrett, Sarah Davies and Sian Jenkins. There was much confusion on the Members Only page as we were set a challenge in between each round of finding different items and taking a selfie to post whilst wearing wigs (or alternatives) and at least one item that had the OPR logo.
May I conclude
Another month with no official training sessions and no official races or parkruns but it’s hardly noticeable when you read everything we’ve done this month. Liz Davis, Jayne Bissmire and David Kembery continue to set us midweek training runs whilst weekends are now regularly filled with challenges, virtual events and championships. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to returning to training together, parkruns and races but for now I couldn’t think of a better club to be involved in to keep us all motivated and supported through these times.
Over to Chris for his runners of the month.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
May is often an epic month of running. People are warmed up for the year. Spring marathons have usually come and gone. BCRL is usually starting up and getting everyone engaged.
Warmer weather has arrived and the mood has been lifted as a result. Miles increasing throughout the month. Many were engaged in a challenge to target a self declared number of miles and battled through it with determination. Something synonymous with the Phoenix Spirit.
Despite things not being usual, engagement is high through virtual events and challenges keeping us busy.
Both my choices this month have gone outside their “normal”.
Some of us have been running for years. Some of us haven’t. Often when it’s been a long time, a routine forms. A comfortable routine evolves and is settled into, ad infinitum. Sometimes though, a change of circumstance can cause a “disturbance in the force“ resulting in that routine running off track. Often for the better. Increased miles can catch people off guard and injuries can result. However, when experienced runners make that jump – the experience has taught them to listen to their bodies. They know when a twinge is just that and it can be run through. They also know when to down tools and sit it out until it passes. Monitoring daily and adjusting pace and distance can result in remarkable changes in volume. We’ve seen that a few times of late as time is on the side of some and they can put the work in.
My first choice this month fits the bill. Years of service and a sudden increase in miles. Dedication. A renewed focus. Elevation to match the miles too. Often, when volume increase, pace also follows. That is also the case here with some mightily impressive times recorded on specific virtual distances. Impressive. Very impressive. May followed an impressive April, which was a 50% increase in mileage on previous months, and I’m guessing it will continue. Great achievement and one worthy of the accolade. I am delighted to award my Chairmain’s Male Runner of the Month for May to Keith Coleman. Huge well done Keith, keep it up.
Another phenomenal month saw someone exceed all expectations. Expectations, may I add, that they set for themselves. Throughout the month there was an ever increasing motivation to get out and get some miles in. Not only miles, but elevation too. Living at the top of the Ogmore Valley means that routes either way are involve a climb. Either climbing away from home or back again. Not content with standard routes, however. The routes were chosen to head off the beaten track and up in to the hills. The higher the better. Views are the reward for the effort, but the effort is great. There has to be the incentive to head “up”. Running hills often leads to improvements in other areas especially when combined with increased volume in a sensible way. It’s fantastic to see this sudden transformation. A desire to push boundaries. Admirable to see. All done with a smiling face and accompanied by huge amounts of support for others. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Maria George. Fantastic month Maria, well done!