parkruns are back! Well…. in England anyway. Saturday 24th July saw a small group of members travel across the border to get their parkrun fix for the first time since early March 2020. Kris Denholm visited Stonehouse, Sarah Davies and Dawn Hopkins were at Queen Elizabeth in their quest to be the first in the club to complete the ‘parkrun alphabet’, Jay Howells was at the widely regarded ‘toughest’ parkrun in the UK in Woolacombe, Sally Pensom was at Elsemere Port and Toni Howells at Berkeley Green. Chris Roberts finally ran his 250th parkrun after a 71 week wait on a visit to Newent parkrun.
On week 2 of parkruns return in England it was many of the same names travelling again plus a few additions. Jo Gamba was at Milton Keynes parkrun – a parkrun she first ran over 11 years ago and last ran on Christmas Day 2019. Darija Keenor visited Lydney parkrun whilst Fiona Drysdale was at Penrith. Jay Howells and Karl Johnson were at Berkeley Green, Kris was at Thornbury, Dawn Hopkins bagged her ‘O’ parkrun at Osterley and Chris Roberts was at Wolverhampton. We had 8 runners at Ross on Wye with Jason Griffiths running his first ever parkrun and joined for the event by Sarah Davies, Alexis and Paul Barrett, Kaye Pedler, Melinda Thomas, Sian Jenkins and Huw Jenkins.
Virtual parkruns have continued with between 30 and 40 submissions in each of the first 3 Saturdays before the parkrun in England return. Gareth Davies, Fiona Drysdale, Jacob Tasker, Sally Littlehales, Neil Price and Melanie Thomas were our fastest male and female times during the month.
Jacob Tasker took on some of Wales’ best athletes at the Welsh Athletics 5K series in Pembrey. Jacob ran 16;52 in his first official 5K for the club making him the fastest current member as well as closing in on the long standing club record. It’s also the fastest 5K debut in the history of the club.
The next 5K in the series took place just 3 weeks later and after his performance in the previous event, Jacob was entered into the ‘Elite Race’ and obliterated the club record that had stood for over 4 and a half years with a stunning 16:18 finish. In the second race, which was still packed with quality (34 of the 40 finishers ran under 20 minutes), Nicky Bennett finished second overall in 17:23. Niki Puleio smashed his long standing 5K PB by more than 30 seconds with a 17:47 – an improvement almost unheard of by an experienced runner at that level. Neil Price ran 18:57 making it by far the fastest four results the club has ever seen in a single event.
A few headed over the border to partipate in 10K event this month with Martin Beard and Dawn Hopkins running the Bristol Epic 10K and Judith Jeeves at the Otter River Run 10K. Closer to home, Fiona Drysdale at the Chepstow Racecourse 10K. Chris Pratt took part in the Asics 10K in London – one of the largest running events to go ahead since the pandemic began with just under 8,000 finishers.
Claire Dunbar Bowen, Phill Iveson and Steph Iveson-Holmes in the first running event to take in place in Cardiff this year which was part of a variety of distances on a lapped course. Claire ran 1:47 to clock the second fastest female time this year. Whilst not a member due to her age, a big shout out to Katy Griffiths who completed her first official half marathon.
At the Chepstow Racecourse Half, Nicky Bennett and Neil Ridley bagged themselves new PBs of 1:33 and 1:38 respectively. Carl Walsh followed up a ultra the day before with a 1:50 whilst Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams came in at 1:53.
Rosie Salvatore ran the Bath Trail Half Marathon in 3:28 on a hilly, multi terrain course.
Apart from the Infinity event which I’ll come onto later, it was an unusually queit month for marathons. Emma Loyns did however complete the Bath Trail Marathon in 5:37. The course included over 3,000 feet of elevation and ended up being nearer to 28 miles.
The big one this month was Race to the Stones. For those not familiar, this is one of (if not) the biggest ultras in the UK. The event takes place over a weekend with a choice of running a non-stop 100K or splitting the 100K over 2 days with 50K each day. Denise Bradley and Fiona Evans decided to not only sign up for their first ultra… but do it twice with the 50K per day option. They completed the 100K in a total time of 15:14:14 after the times from both days were added together. An incredible achievement.
Carl Walsh ran yet another ultra with crazy elevation with the 32 mile Run Walk Crawl Celtic Ultra.
Infinity Running – First Contact
The local events company and friends of the club were finally back in action at Resolven with the usual choice of distances from ‘5K’ up to ultra distance depending on how many laps completed. Temperatures reached almost 30 degrees resulting in it being the hottest temperatures many of us had every run in.
An early slip meant that Debbie Griffin had to settle for 1 lap (5K) and did well to hobble round for that given it happened within the first 1 mile. Leigh Richards-Francis joined her in sticking to 1 lap. Jay Howells and Judith Jeeves completed 2 laps to claim 10K.
The most popular distance was Half Marathon which I completed along with Phill, Steph and Katy who were all running their second official half marathon in 3 weekends. David Sheard and Wayne Randall carried on for an extra lap to clock around 15 miles. Simon Harrison went one further completing around 18 miles in total.
Carl Walsh and Chris Pratt bravely continued to their goal of marathon distance in the blistering heat.
David Sheard and Ken Salvatore took on Fan y Big trail race around Pen y Fan and the Brecon Beacons. Leanne Parsons, Sara Johns and Cath Robinson ran 3 laps at the Conquer Cardiff event to complete 15K. Gary Piper and Leanne Parsons took on the Off The Tarmac Brecon Challenge 5 miler whilst Neil Ridley was in the top 10 in the Half Marathon distance.
Better late than never, but this month I started the 2021 Club Championship. The first event was the classic 5K. The scoring again being handicapped and based on each individual against their best time from the last 6-12 months. This year there is also a cup competition for an extra incentive to submit times for each event. The first fixture was won by David Kembery who came out on top of the 76 entries submitted. All 76 were given a place in the second round of the cup.
The second event was a 1 mile time trail which is due to finish on August 1st so an update will be in the next blog review.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
My choices for the accolades will always change throughout the year. Reasons for selection change from month to month. That’s something I’ve said before and it will continue.
Often new runners join the club and catch our eye straight away. The choice is whether to wait to see what amazing things are achieved down the line or shine a light from the word go. We’re all about all abilities. It doesn’t have to be quick and it doesn’t have to be far. Outstanding can be used to describe effort as much as achievement. But sometimes the achievement is such that we must celebrate it. Club records get more and more difficult to break and they have been known to stand for many years, but times they are a tumbling. We are seeing significant chunks being knocked off at the sharp end. When this circumstance arises we always wait with bated breath to see what other records will fall as other distances are notched up at official events. My first experience of this runner was seeing him fly past me at Cheltenham Racecourse at one of the first events of the year, and his first for the club. I knew then they were quick feet and I’m sure there’s more to come in the near future! The 5k club record has now fallen. What will be next? I’m sure it won’t be long before another one bites the dust! Maybe even before this gets published… I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for July as Jacob Tasker. Well done Jacob and welcome to the club – we look forward to what you will achieve as a Phoenix in the coming months.
I’m breaking with tradition for my second choice. I always celebrate one male and one female, but there’s two I can’t separate this month. We celebrate lots of things, and endeavour outshines everything else. No matter how big, it’s the effort – and, as you’ll always hear me say, it’s all relative. Endeavour can be just heading out of the door for the first time. It can be tackling a first mile, or the first mile back after a hiatus. It can be graduating to a 5k or taking that next bold step and completing a 10k. It is different for everyone and every single one is worthy of celebration. Sometimes people go further. Further than they’ve ever gone before. Pushing boundaries. Testing the limits to see how far they will flex. When boundaries are the target, proper preparation is the order of the day. Time on feet. Practicing the rituals to get through. When the distance is very long there are additional factors. Often necessary to carry quipment to ensure safety. Some usie handheld assistance to ease the burden on feet and legs. Amazing what difference can be to stability and endurance just sharing the load across the limbs. That requires practice. Fuelling is key to sustainance along such an arduous journey. Routine practiced over and over to make sure the stomach and the body will endure the distance. Not one distance, but two. Over two days. Not one runner, but two. Sharing the training miles. Sharing the hills. Sharing the laughs throughout the journey but both trusting in their own processes to get them to the end. Admirable to observe. The right way to do it. An example, if ever there was one, of dedication to achieve their goal. To cross both finish lines in one piece, smiling and having enjoyed the experience as best you can trecking 100km over two days. Nerves gave way to excitement and we all waited to hear the news at the end of both days. Both gave it their all and came away victorious having made it to The Stones. A journey, months in the making. A story of great training, cameraderie, grit and determination. One that we applaud and will celebrate for some time. Full of admiration, I name my Chairman’s Female Runners of the Month for July as Denise Bradley and Fiona Evans. Well done both. A huge achievement and one that demonstrated to us all how the process is as valuable as the execution.