Presentation Night Review – 2021 awards

Best Senior Female / Most Improved Female – Emma Morris 

Those that have been in the club a while might remember Emma being a member back in 2017 until the start of 2019. Emma took some time out of the club after the birth of her first child before getting back into running soon after. A quick message around this time last year to ask if she fancied re-joining and pointing her in the direction of our fabulous membership secretary, and within a couple of days Emma was back in the club. Her times prior to her break were pretty quick – a 23:32 5K, a 49:30 10K, a 1:48:58 Half Marathon. During her break from the club these had improved significantly with a 5K of 22:30 and a 10K of around 46:00. However, the past year has seen Emma step up another level and go from one of our fastest female runners to our fastest current female member across multiple distances. Emma became the first female member in the clubs history to run a sub 20 with 19:52 at Swansea Bay parkrun. There was also a 42:19 at Swansea 10K and a 1:38:28 at Swansea Half. Despite limited events, Emma paced 5 times at 10K events and for me, one of the most amazing facts is that she now paces 45 minutes for 10K – a time that only the top 10% of our male runners would feel comfortable to pace. I think there’s even more to come from this super speedy lady so look forward to seeing what’s next. 

Contenders: After winning Best Senior Female for both 2017 and 2020, Sian Price is always one of the main contenders for this award. Sian got agonisingly close to being the first female member to run a sub 20 when she ran 20:01 as a ‘go for it training run’ when events still hadn’t returned in Wales. Unfortunately injuries heavily impacted her chances this year but she remains one to watch – particularly as she moves to the Veteran category from next year. Carys Cronin and Deborah Edwards notched up PB’s at both 5K and 10K during the year with Steph Iveson-Holmes getting a 5K and 5 mile double. Rebecca Newton focussed on the longer distances with huge PB’s at both Half Marathon and Marathon. In fact, Rebecca was our only senior female (under 40) to run an official marathon in 2021. Looking ahead to this year and it could be one of the most competitive years yet for Best Senior Female will all the girls I’ve already mentioned plus new member Sarah Wilkes (sub 21 5K), plus Kirsty Evans, Jo Jenkins and Kate Plimmer who are all part of our Rack Raid teams. 

Best Veteran Male – Niki Puleio

 This was Niki’s sixth award in his time with the club. He won the top prize of Runners Runner in 2017 along with Most Improved Male that year. In 2019 he was again a double award winner picking up Best Veteran Male and Best Photo which captured his epic pure elation running towards the finish of the London Marathon in what was his first sub 3 marathon finish. In 2020 he won the Outstanding Achievement award for setting another sub 3 marathon time which actually put him in the top 10 overall marathon times for Welsh runners in that year. In this years presentation night (for the 2021 awards) he won back the Best Veteran award with a clean sweep of the fastest veteran times across all distances. At 5K he ran 17:47 at the Welsh 5K series in Pembrey as well as setting a new parkrun PB of 18:05 at Cardiff parkrun. At 10K, he ran 38:00 on the undulating Richard Burton course. At Half Marathon distance he ran a 1:25:00 at Dorney Lake despite challenging weather conditions on the day. Just to cap it off, Niki ran two sub 3 hour marathons on consecutive weekends in October 2021 with a 2:55:57 at Berlin Marathon followed up with a 2:58:37 just one week later at the London Marathon. 

Contenders: Last years Veteran Male winner Gareth Richards was close to retaining his title with his 5K and 10K bests during 2021 being just seconds behind Niki whilst his Half Marathon time (which was also a huge PB) was just 62 seconds off Niki. Gareth also ran a marathon PB of 3:18 as well as multiple other long distance achievements with ultra’s, running 26 marathons in 26 weeks around the Bridgend area and smashing PB’s across all distances. It was a similar story for Neil Price at the shorter distances with PB’s at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon. In his final year as a Veteran rather than a super vet, it was hard to count out Carl Walsh who as well as posting some impressive times across all distances, also ran a crazy amount of official marathons and ultras during the year. There was also Paul Smith who became only the third member in the clubs history to run a sub 3 hour marathon which was achieved at Newport Marathon just a week after a ‘pace-testing’ 1:28:02 at Swansea Half. 

Best Super-Veteran Male: Keith Coleman

 A huge cheer went up when Keith was announced as the winner for this award. Sometimes the ones that don’t post on the club pages or quietly go about their running can go unnoticed in their efforts, but fortunately the extensive stats and results we keep can help towards recognising the work that has gone in. Anyone who follows Keith on Strava would have seen throughout 2021 a committed, structured, determined and consistent approach towards his training. Huge runs around the Garw valley and mountains, tempo runs and speed sessions. The hard work paid off. At 5K and 10K, Keith ranked in the top 3 in the veteran category with times of 20:24 and a 10K PB of 42:12 at Terforest 10K. At Half Marathon he actually ran his best time of the year for the virtual club championship with a 1:36:59 and followed that up with an official 1:38:24 at Llanelli Half. He also smashed his PB to clock the fastest Super-Vet time of the year with a 3:43:14 at Newport Marathon. 

Contenders: The super-vet male category might actually be the most stacked and competitive age category in the club. It includes two former Runners Runner winners with Kris Denholm and Chris Pratt, whilst we also have the likes of Jason Griffiths, Kevin Raymond, Ken Salvatore, Gareth Davies, Wayne Randall, Simon Harrison, Phill Iveson, Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams, Chris Roberts, Simon Harrison – plus multi award winners Dai Kembo and Mark Worrall just to name a few. To get in the top 5 times would require a sub 21 at 5K, sub 46 at 10K, sub 1:47 at Half Marathon and a sub 4 at Marathon. I’ll be over the moon if I’m anywhere near those times aged 50+. Just to add to the competitiveness of this category, another double award winner, Carl Walsh, joins the list from this year and Gareth Richards will join next year. Going back to 2021 contenders and there were all of those listed plus more. A special mention has to go to Wayne Randall and Ken Salvatore who both ran PB’s at 5K ,10K, Half Marathon and Marathon featuring in the top 10 times in this category at every distance.  

Best Super-Veteran Female – Denise Bradley 

Our most winningest (yes, that is a word) member notched up her ninth(!) presentation night award with the Best Super-Veteran Female which she also won in 2016 and 2019. Denise won her first award way back in 2014 as Most Improved Female and has since won Club Runner of the Year, three club championship awards and was third in the Runners Runner voting in 2018. As for the most recent accolade, Denise spent much of 2021 focussing on her goal of running her first ultra… or should I say ultras? The race in question was the Race to the Stones 100K which Denise chose the two day option meaning it was an ultra marathon distance of 50K on the Saturday and then do it all again on the Sunday. Whilst Denise wasn’t the fastest at any distance in her category, she was still amongst the top 3 at 5K, 10K and Half Marathon. Denise was also the only one in her age category to run a distance of marathon or above. Denise also continued her love of off roading running with races including the Rabbit Run, Sodbury Slog and Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run placing well in all. Denise also ran more races than any other female member in 2021. 

Contenders: Fiona Drysdale posted some great times during the year as she mainly concentrated on the shorter distances of 5K and 10K. Last years winner of this award, Carol Bartle was arguably the fastest in this category with multiple sub 2 hour Half Marathon finishes including a 1:52 a Swansea. This category is also full of enthusiastic and fantastic runners like Judith Jeeves, Heather Morgan, Stephanie Dyke, Sharon Pritchard, Debbie Bennion, Denise’s fellow ultra finisher Fiona Evans, plus parkrun regulars Claire Goldsworthy and Bev Sheard and former Runners Runner second place award winner Sian Jenkins. Apologies that I’ve just outed you all as being 50+. 

Best Veteran Female – Lisa King 

Lisa joined the club during the Winter 20/21 lockdown and was one of the first in the club to do official events when they restarted (initially in England only). It was a bit of a surprise to say the least when this previously unknown runner to me suddenly posted times of 45:10 at Gloucester 10K and 1:39:39 at Sheppardine Half Marathon for not only two of the fastest times of the year, but two of the fastest female members times we’ve seen in the history of the club. Unfortunately injury and illness heavily impacted Lisa’s year but she did return in December with a 22:19 at Tremorfa parkrun which was the fastest female veteran time of 2021. Lisa was a regular at Flyers sessions throughout the year including some super tough sessions like Golf Club Hill which anyone who’s done the Ogmore Castle BCRL race will be familiar with. 

Contenders: Aside from the ‘Anneliese years’, Claire Dunbar-Bowen has dominated this age category and picked up the award in 3 of the 5 previous years so was again one of the main contenders. This is another category where there could be so many winners. Emma Loyns ran multiple marathons and ultras, Sarah Davies ran her first ultra and ran the most events during the year of any member, Melanie Thomas had a breakthrough year with great times across all distances including a virtual marathon. Rosie Salvatore smashed her PB’s at 5K, 5 miles and 10K and won 2 club championship events. Melinda Thomas and Kaye Pedler battled it out for the club championship putting in great performances event after event and even getting virtual PB’s in the process. This category also includes past award winners Sian Thomas, Liz Davis and the 2018 Runners Runner winner Tammie Clemett. 

Most Improved Male – Nicky Bennett 

Nicky followed up his Best Senior Male award from the 2020 awards with Most Improved Male this time round. This is an extremely tough category to win, but arguably even more so for someone like Nicky who had already posted some of the fastest times in the club before the year started. How much more was there to come when you’ve already run 17:20 (5K), 37:34 (10K) and 1:36:25 (HM)? Well if we ignore Mr Tasker, how about beating all the previous club records which had stood for over 4 years with a 16:26 (5K), 34:18 (10K) and a 1:17:59 (HM). A phenomenal year of running from Nicky and it was pretty clear how much receiving this award meant to him when he was announced as the winner. Whilst I might be able to tell you all the stats and can look at what people are doing on Strava, it’s only the individual themselves that know how much hard work and dedication has gone in to achieving those times and improvements. A monumental effort. 

Contenders: Basically anyone who achieved a PB during 2021 was in contention but those with PB’s across multiple distances included Wayne Randall, Ken Salvatore, Gareth Richards, Anthony Kavanagh and Keith Coleman. Each achieved a PB at 3 or 4 different distances. 

Best Newcomer Male / Phoenix Hero – Carl Walsh 

Starting with Best Newcomer – having known Carl before he joined the club, I knew what we were in for. If there’s a running event happening – he will be at it. Whether it’s a 1 mile relay event or 40 mile Ultra over the some of the toughest mountains in the Brecon Beacons, you’ll often see Carl on the start line. In 2021 he notched up 26 races – 10 of which were marathons and 4 of which were ultras. That total alone of 14 is more than races than any other club member completed last year. Not to mention he was injured for the best part of the last 2 months of the year so the totals would have been considerably higher. Carl has thrown himself into being a Phoenix Runner wearing his kit proudly at all these different events, attending Flyers sessions, running ultras with other members of the club, tail walking at events, and always supportive of others. 

The Phoenix Hero award was a new award that really could only go to one person after his recent decision to book a one-way flight to Ukraine to fight in the war. Although things didn’t work out in terms of Carl joining the foreign legion, he spent several weeks on the Ukraine/Poland border helping thousands of refugees. Carl quite rightly received a standing ovation from everyone present on the night as he went up to collect his award. I haven’t forgiven Chris for inviting me up to present the club championship awards straight after the very emotional moment. 

Club Championship Winner / Club Championship Cup Winner / Best Female Newcomer – Melinda Thomas 

Melinda Thomas became first person in the clubs history to win 3 awards in their first full year with the club. The virtual club championship is designed to give everyone a chance of winning but I will let you in on a secret… ultimately the winner ends up being the person who has consistently improved throughout the championship, getting better with every event. This was the case for Melinda who ended up winning both the main ‘points’ / ‘league’ competition and the cup competition by producing excellence results right until the end of the championship. This was also a huge factor in Melinda being considered for and winning the Best Female Newcomer for her enthusiasm to get involved and keep producing ever more impressive results. 

Club Championship 2nd place – Kaye Pedler 

Interestingly Kaye didn’t win any of the 8 fixtures, however, her consistency across all fixtures paid dividends and resulted in her finishing second overall with a last event showdown against her running-buddy Melinda. Kaye even achieved a PB in the final event to give herself the best chance of winning but Melinda’s lead was too much and she also achieved a PB to ensure she held on for the overall win. 

Chairman’s Award – Pippa Clark 

This was a new award in which the Chair nominated someone for dedication and commitment to the club. Pippa has been a member since 2016 and I believe has been in the captaincy team now for around 5 years having put herself forward for the role within a year of joining the club. Throughout that time Pippa has been an integral part of putting teams together for cross country fixtures, Bridgend League fixtures and Rack Raid as well as numerous other events. Pippa is also one half of the stats team along with myself and trawls through the results pages keeping tabs on 200-300 members and where and when they are running at events so we can record and publish the results. 

Spirit of the Phoenix – Fiona Evans 

Fiona is one of our longest serving members having been part of the club for 8 years. A significant proportion of that time has been spent on the committee helping with all sorts of things in the background to ensure the smooth running of the club. Fiona also stepped in to help Dai Kembo with our ever expanding range of kit and merchandise which include a complete re-branding from the old club name and logo to the current Ogmore Phoenix name and logo. With membership hitting a high of around 350 members at one point, being in charge of all those requests and orders is no small task. More recently, as well as continuing her multiple roles, Fiona came up with the idea of the Phoenix Calendar and photo competition that has encouraged members to take photos on their training runs and capture some of the incredible scenery we witness on our running adventures in all weathers and across all terrains. 

Runners Runner 2nd place – Mark Worrall 

Another hugely popular choice which is maybe an obvious statement given the award is voted for by the members. One of the most likeable members of the club with an enthusiasm and manner that makes everyone smile. Known to some in the club as ‘Dad’, and I don’t just mean by his daughter Laura. Mark had a testing time with some health issues but like Dai who I’ll come onto later, never gave up. If he couldn’t run, he cycled for dozens of miles. When he could run, he’d be out in the Garw valley notching up the miles. His renewed dedication and commitment to training was rewarded with an incredible finish at the Brecon to Cardiff 44 mile Ultra marathon last August. Not only did he finish – he beat his time from the previous year by over an hour! An incredible comeback and yet another member proving that age is just a number and you can achieve whatever you set out to do. 

Outstanding Achievement / Runners Runner 3rd place – Dai Kembery 

You are in the form of your life, knocking on the door of a sub 20 parkrun, first finishes in the bag, multiple marathons across the UK and Ireland, an ultra marathon finisher and next thing you know, you’re waking up in hospital after suffering a heart attack. This was December 2019. Months of recovery are to follow. Most would consider their running days are over. Not Dai. It started with walking. Progressed to including a minute or two of running. Then 1 mile without stopping, 2 miles without stopping, a 5K without stopping. Progress. Slow progress. It must have been frustrating at times and many of us would have got inpatient and thrown in the towel and asked ourselves ‘what’s the point’. Not Dai. Many of us are guilty of rushing things in running – wanting to achieve that next goal, that next milestone when we’ve only just achieved the last one and are not ready for the next. Not Dai. His slow and steady approach meant that he’s been able to return not only to parkruns and shorter distances, but to train and complete the London Marathon in October 2021. He has lead the Flyers to the most successful period in the clubs history with almost every member who come to those sessions regularly achieving one or more PB’s in the past year and/or achieved new distances. Dai continues to be an integral part of the committee, has continued his role to put an OPR logo on absolutely everything that club members could ask for, volunteers at junior and 5K parkruns as well as the now infamous ‘lead car’ volunteer role at Newport 10K / Marathon. The comeback of the year – the outstanding achievement of the year.  

Best Senior Male / Club Runner / Runners Runner overall winner – Jacob Tasker 

An incredible year for Jacob who burst onto the scene at a Planka training session when sessions returned after the 20/21 Winter lockdown. I wasn’t at the session but it soon got back to me that we possibly had someone just sign up as a member who was something quite special. Once there was an opportunities to do races, Jacob was one of the first to sign up and the times were mind blowing. His first event for the club was in June 2021 at the Cheltenham Half Marathon. Despite it being one of the hottest days of 2021, he ran 1:25:33. In early July 2021, he showed his dedication to wanting to race and represent the club as our only member willing to do the hour plus journey to the Welsh 5K series in Pembrey. He exceeded pretty much all of our expectations with a time of 16:52 with Jacob becoming our first runner in 4 years to run sub 17. Then he returned later the same month and smashed the long standing club record with a 16:18 and finished amongst some of the top runners in Wales at the event. The unfathomable times continued at other distances with a club record 34:17 at the Cardiff Sunset 10K and then 33:07 at the Cardiff Bay 10K. Then came possibly the highlight of a stunning set of results with a 1:11:14 Half Marathon at Swansea where he finished 4th overall. The list of achievements continued with Jacob notching up 16 first finishes at parkrun and becoming the first club member to ever go sub 16 with another club record of 15:54 at Swansea Bay parkrun. He also won the Singleton XC fixture. It’s not just about how quick he is though – Jacob has thrown himself into the club and is one of the nicest, approachable, supportive members of the club. He’s represented the club at XC, is a regular at Flyers training sessions and track, and didn’t hesitate to re-join our club despite what I expect is a lot of interest from clubs around South Wales. A very deserving multi-award winner. 

Contenders (for Best Senior Male): No surprises here that Jacob’s main contender for the Best Senior crown was the previous year’s winner Nicky Bennett (see write up for Most Improved Male). A name many members may not be familiar with yet is Josh Parry who ran 17:21 at Swansea Bay parkrun and could be a future contender if he progresses onto running multiple distances with the club. Rhodri Thomas and Carl Price notched up new 5K PB’s whilst Emyr Bissmire chalked up PB’s at multiple distances. There were also some excellent performances by Peter Walsh who knocked a huge amount off his marathon PB, Jay Howells who ran multiple marathons within a few weeks including a couple of PB’s and another runner in the club who shall remain nameless who ran a 24 hour event, a Backyard Ultra as well as several long distance virtual challenges.

Runners Runner nominations

The following list is of members of recieved one or more nominations for the top prize of Runners Runner

  1. Tammie Baker
  2. Alexis Barrett
  3. Nicky Bennett
  4. Jamie Bevan
  5. Denise Bradley
  6. Keith Coleman
  7. Karen Dando
  8. Sarah Davies
  9. Liz Davis
  10. Kris Denholm
  11. Claire Dunbar-Bowen
  12. Fiona Evans
  13. Leigh Forman
  14. Jay Rhys Howells
  15. Aled Hughes
  16. Steph Iveson-Holmes
  17. Siân Jenkins
  18. Gareth John Jenkins
  19. Jo Jenkins
  20. Anthony Kavanagh
  21. Dai Kembo
  22. Emma Loyns
  23. Emma-Jane Morris
  24. Leanne Parsons
  25. Kaye Pedler
  26. Niki Puleio
  27. Wayne Randall
  28. Gareth Richards
  29. Chris Richards
  30. Ken Salvatore
  31. Rosaleen Lian
  32. Jacob Tasker
  33. Melanie Thomas
  34. Melinda Thomas
  35. Carl Walsh
  36. Rhiannon Whiteley
  37. Mark Worrall