March 2021 review

Virtual (not)parkrun

The increased participation continued this month with 60 submissions for the first Saturday of the month. Gareth Davies and Fiona Drysdale clocked the fastest male and female times respectively. We were up to 68 submissions for the next Satuday which marked a full year (week 52) of virtual parkrunning. Rhodri Thomas ran his fastest ever 5K with a 19:14 whilst Sian Price clocked an impressive 21:48.

Alun Wylde, Sarah Davies, Nick Harris, Nicola Allen, Jo Gamba and myself made it a full year without missing a virtual parkrun with several others only missing a couple.

Another 64 submissions for week 53 with a new name at the top of the list with Alun Job submitting a time of 22:45. We also had a new name as first female with Rebecca Newton clocking a sub 25.

52 submissions for week 54 with Gareth Davies and Claire Goldsworthy topping the male and female times.

Virtual challenges

Grand Slam challenge

After the success of the ‘Triple Crown’ challenge which challenged members to run a minimum of 1, 2 and 3 miles over a 4 day period at the end of last month, this month saw the ‘Grand Slam’ challenge. This time, a week was given to run or walk 5 times ticking off a minimum of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 miles. 27 members completed the challenge with many others ticking off some of the distances. Thanks to Sarah Davies who originally came up with the Triple Crown / Grand Slam idea with the Race Committee helping to promote the idea and keep tabs on the submissions.

Flight of the Phoenix

Another OPR race committee idea was to track our combined run/walk mileage to travel to Phoenix (Arizona, USA) and back – 5,278 miles each way. Week 1 saw 76 members submit their mileage for the week with 1,740 miles in total. Week 2 saw another a further 1,566 miles before 1,670 miles in week 3 saw us just a couple of hundred miles short of our destination. It’s likely that had we tracked the mileage daily then we probably reached destination in around 25 days. In week 4, by strange conincidence it was Emma Marshall’s mileage submission that took us over the 5,278 miles required to travel to Phoenix, AZ and it was Emma who first suggested the idea. A further 1,301 miles were submitted for the return journey with a stop off at Phoenixville, PA on the way back.

Other challenges

Various other challenges continued with Carl Walsh and Debbie Bennion became the latest to complete the 870 mile virtual challenge of the Wales Coastal Path. Debbie also did the Newport and Bath virtual half marathons with several others in the club also completing those virtual events. There are still more than a dozen members doing virtual LEJOG, Wales Coastal Path, Route 66 and others.

Gareth Richards continues his marathon streak and despite abandoning the run on Saturday 13th after 5 miles, he was back in action just 2 days later to keep the weekly run going with number 11. Just 5 days later he returned to his normal Saturday morning slot clocking 3:14 for marathon number 12 of this year and then recorded number 13 with a 3:21.

Presentation Night 2020

Presentation nights have changed a lot of the clubs history – from around a dozen of us in Blackmill junction in 2013 around Christmas time to around 100 of us at a Black Tie presentation night in 2017 and more recently sold out events at various venues around Bridgend County. However, due to the ongoing restrictions, this years event went online.

The OPR Awards Panel made up of a mixture of committee members, coaches and captains decided that despite the lack of races, there was still an incredible amount of running and various achievements to recognise for 2020 and we actually had a record number of awards being handed out. The Panel deliberated for hours, requiring 2 virtual (of course) meetings to decide the winners for the categories that aren’t simply based on stats. Runners Runner was as usual decided by a members vote. And the winner’s were…

  • Twelve Shades of Autumn Photo: Jo Gamba
  • Photoshop of the Year: Shawn Cullen
  • Photo of the Year: Steph Iveson-Holmes
  • Zero to Hero: Karen Dando
  • Male Newcomer: Rob Loyns
  • Female Newcomer: Samantha Thompson
  • Most Improved Male: Dai James
  • Most Improved Female: Sian Thomas
  • Best Senior Male: Nicky Bennett
  • Best Senior Female: Sian Price
  • Best Veteran Male: Gareth Richards
  • Best Veteran Female: Claire Dunbar-Bowen
  • Best Super Veteran Male: Kris Denholm
  • Best Super Veteran Female: Carol Bartle
  • Club Runner of the Year: Gareth Richards
  • Training Club Championship Third Place: Fiona Drysdale
  • Training Club Championship Second Place: Ken Salvatore
  • Training Club Championship Winner: Sarah Davies
  • Club Lirf of the Year: Jamie Bevan
  • Spirit of the Phoenix: Chris Pratt
  • Outstanding Achievement: Niki Puleio
  • Runners Runner 3rd Place: Gareth Richards
  • Runners Runner 2nd Place: Ken Salvatore
  • Runners Runner 1st Place: Kris Denholm

Over to Chris for the male and female runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

March was a relatively quiet month. The expectation of the return to training and the indication that events would soon be on the horizon over the border were catching everyone’s attention.

My first choice is given for a number of reasons. parkrun is an institution that we all love and cherish. Its hiatus has forced us to find our own mechanism to celebrate it’s weekly presence virtually. Week in, week out, approaching 60 weeks now. Some have dipped in and out. A few have been there every week notching up another one. The ever-presents. We have a few. I have chosen one. On top of that she has helped out. Assisting the collation of these results periodically to ease the weekly burden that they bring. A job that has considerable value for those who run. Additional to that consistent weekly routine, she has been a supporter. Supporting her significant other on big challenges. Support crew. Fellow runner. Supporting the miles or popping up every now and again with refreshment and a kind word and a smile. These challenges are so difficult solo. A crew to support is invaluable to soothe the journey when it gets tough. Unswerving support has been given and observed and is celebrated. Phoenix Spirit. On top of that she picked up an award at the Presentation Night for her contribution to the twelve shades of autumn competition that she ironically inspired. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for March to Jo Gamba. Keep running, keep supporting and keep up the good work! Well done and thank you.

My second choice is a very familiar face to us all. A very friendly, warm and welcoming face. Someone with a heart of gold. Supportive to all. His running has been sporadic over the years but lockdown has been kind to some in terms of physical activity. For many different reasons we have had a wide variety of experiences of the restrictions. Some worked more. Some worked less. For many, running became the way to stay sane. The time it allowed provided a platform for consistency. Consistency in running is good. I have been an advocate of it ever since I started. Not only does it lead to improvements, but also, in my experience, builds strength and leads to less injuries when done with care. We’ve been seeing runs of quite significant length shared on a regular basis. Many along with a smiling selfie as accompaniment. Some runs were done in company according to restrictions, but many were alone. An impressive dedication to keeping a routine going through difficult times, being consistent and hitting the miles. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for March to Mark Worrall. Well done Mark – keep it going now as things start to return and reap the rewards from all the hard work.