November 2020 review

Virtual parkrun

Weeks 33-37 saw quite consistent numbers week on week ranging from 23 to 35 submissions. Most weekends had other virtual events or club championships which may have contributed to lower numbers. There was a push for more involvement on week 36 with a suggestion of fancy dress which at least provided some laughs with some of the entertaining efforts.

Virtual Club Championship (VCC)

VCC – Downhill mile

As mentioned in the previous blog, I wanted to try and introduce some alternative events for the final few rounds of the championship and the first one was the ‘downhill’ mile. The rules were simple – run a mile and it can include as much or as little downhill as you want. It obviously provided some crazy fast times with Niki Puleio clocking an unbelievable 4 minutes 43 seconds. Sarah Davies clocked the fastest female time with 6 minutes 9 seconds. After the handicap scoring was applied it was Ken Salvatore that came out on top with a time of 5:24 earning him top spot. Former event winner Judith Howells was 2nd with Kate Atkin in 3rd.

VCC – Cheat 5K / Ross Barkley 5K

The next event was the ‘cheat 5K’ or ‘Ross Barkley 5K’. For those not familiar, Ross Barkley is a professional football player who was widely reported to have run a 16:11 5K during lockdown. However, it was later discovered he’d been sprinting, stopping his watch, sprinting, stopping his watch, and the ‘Ross Barley 5K challenge’ was born to see what other runners could do by using the same method. There was much discussion what method would be best – Sian Price did a 1K downhill section 5 times, stopping her watch to return to the top. Others just chose a downhill route and ran it all in one go. However, it would appear that some of our members are willing to go to the extreme…. after much thought about where I’d attempt my effort and only deciding that morning, I ended up doing around 30 downhill ‘sprints’ and clocked a time of 15:07 – I’ll admit it – I thought I had it in the bag and would win my own championship event – surely no one else would go to this extreme of doing so many 100/200 meter sprints. I then went to join Jo who was doing her efforts on another hill and she clocked 16:59 which comparatively was much better than my time once the handicap was applied. In the end, my time was only good enough for 12th as Nick Harris ran 14:48 (and only used a very slight downhill section), and Sarah Davies clocked an absolutely bonkers 13:38 with around 40 downhill sprints spread over 2 hours to become the first person to win 2 club championship events this year.

VCC – Elevation challenge

Going into the final event, Sarah held a commanding lead at the top but Fiona Drysdale and Bryony Parry still had a chance of winning overall whilst there were 8 in contention for a top 3 finish making it an exciting finale. This time, each runner was allocated a set amount of time based on their adjusted best 5K from recent events to run as much elevation as they could (without stopping their watches throughout this time). This meant some runners might have only had less than 20 minutes and others had 40+ minutes so the handicap was applied at the start rather than afterwards. The results would simply be a list of who achieved the most elevation gain. After so many events in a row, I gave everyone 2 weeks to complete this one and multiple attempts were permitted. Pippa Clark took an early lead followed by Alun Wylde and then Ken Salvatore with his first of a couple of attempts. The final couple of days saw a flurry of activity with several members going to Pen y Fan to get the ultimate elevation gain. It worked – Ken Salvatore ran 1,237 feet of elevation up Pen y Fan in his allocated time of just 22 minutes and I’m reliably informed he wasn’t even in his running kit. Kaye Pedler was second with Sarah Davies in 3rd. Rob and Emma Loyns were our top runners who ran locally in 4th and 6th respectively.

VCC – Overall standings

Congratulations to Sarah Davies who was the overall winner. Sarah submitted results in all 10 fixtures with a remarkable ‘best 6’ consisting of 2 wins, 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th to score 580 points out of a possible maximum of 600. Ken Salvatore took second place with Fiona Drysdale in 3rd. Rob Loyns who had lead for much of the championship ended up 4th with Emma Loyns 5th and Brony Parry in 6th. The top 10 was rounded off by Claire Dunbar-Bowen, Sian Price, Sian Jenkins and Jo Gamba to make it 8 female members in the top 10. In fact, the girls made up 14 of the top 20 with only myself, Chris Bimson, Rhodri Thomas and Niki Puleio joining Ken and Rob in the top 20 for the boys.

Virtual events

There were definitely certain events that were missed more than most this year and the Richard Burton 10K was one of them. 29 members signed up for this one with Claire Dunbar-Bowen clocking an outstanding time of 46:31 to finish 2nd female in the F40-49 category and 7th female overall. Nicky Bennett ran 47:51 for our fastest male time in what would have been a gentle stroll by his standards but a great time for many of us. Both Denise Bradley and Judith Jeeves were in the top 10 of their respective age categories. There were an impressive 1095 runners overall which isn’t far off the numbers they would expect if the race had actually gone ahead.

Judith Jeeves added to her virtual medal tally with the ‘Phoenix 9 and three-quarter” run and “Animals in War commemoration’ run. Several other members did the ‘Poppy Run’. Leigh Forman and others did the Jog 50 for Dementia during the month.

LEJOG / Welsh Coastal Path update

With so many members doing these challenges it’s been difficult to keep up and report finishes in the month they occurred – most members are not even sure themselves!? Anyway, I’ll try and update as best I can now. Kris Denholm completed the LEJOG (874 mile virtual run from Lands End to John O’Groats) and was 18th overall out of thousands of runners who signed up. Despite then starting the Wales Coastal Path virtual (870 miles) weeks after everyone else, Kris still finished 40th in that one as well. Elizabeth Sim has also completed the LEJOG and was the 80th person to finish whilst her 100 mile running buddy Steven James was the 108th person to complete it. Emma Loyns came in at position 212 whilst David Sheard completed it as part of a team with his Dad. Apologies to any other LEJOG finishers I’ve missed. I know that Chris Pratt is still going having been delayed significantly due to injury an is now aiming to complete by the end of the year after the deadline was extended.

As for the Welsh Coastal Path (870 mile virtual challenge) – Sarah Davies completed hers in 46th position with an incredible 285 miles covered during October to end up finishing on the final day of the month. Leigh Francis-Richards ran 186 miles in just 2 weeks to finish in 60th place. Some excellent mileage from Melanie Thomas earned her a 68th place finish. Again, apologies if I missed anyone and I know we have several more continuing their virtual journey around Wales.

Over to Chris for this months runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runner’s of the Month

When restrictions hit, the impact on the club was far reaching.  We rallied straight away and a number of things were introduced to maintain engagement.  It wasn’t long before it was realised that the club championship could continue in some guise.  Huge thanks to Gareth Jenkins for continuing to develop and deliver that throughout the year.

My choices both relate to that in particular.  However, both have had a year worthy of note.

There is no doubt it’s been a year when determination and focus have been sporadic.  

Many have seized the moment and found their feet, kept their heads and had mammoth years of either distance, time or a mixture of the two and it’s mightily impressive to see.  

Many have lost their way, me included, somewhere down the line.  Maybe periodically finding it again and then either something happens or the situation compounds to bring a halt to things once again.  That’s not good for injury preventation.  Consistency gone, it’s often difficult to get back.  Racing back into it with too much gusto then introduces problems and a further hiatus follows.

My two choices for November have both been in the former camp.  Maintaining consistency.  Offering motivation to others.  Inspiring others with their activities.  Being proactive with their own endeavours while offering encouragement and support to others at the same time.  A mighty combination in such a difficult year.

Consistency is key.  It’s there again.  That phrase.

My first choice for recognition this month has been determined.  Multiple virtual challenges tackled, all with gusto.  Consistent training.  Miles being clocked up.  Club championship was a focus and every event was tackled with passion.  Maximum effort.  Observing the process there was no doubt that a significant placing would be achieved, and it was, finishing in first place.  An accolade to all the hard work and determination throughout the year.  Inspirational.  I am delighted to announce my Female Chairman’s Runner of the Month for November as Sarah Davies.  Well done Sarah – huge effort this year and so impressive to see.  Well done.

My second choice has also been consistent throughout the year.  A year that’s seen a new determination to get out there and clock up the miles which has been observed throughout with admiration.  He has noticeably benefitted from it through body shape.  When this happens often improvements naturally come.  A good balance of sensibly paced miles and effort have resulted in a combined improvement over distance and time, the latter resulting in a second place finish in the club championship.  The consistency of running has been matched with his vocal support of others on their challenges which has lifted many spirits, mine included.  I am delighted to announce my Male Chairman’s Runner of the Month for November as Ken Salvatore.  Well done Ken and thank you for the inspiration and motivation throughout the year, keep it up!