The first parkrunday of the month saw 54 members running across 14 different parkruns. It was Nicky Bennett and Toni Howells 100th parkruns with celebrations split between Maesteg and Porthcawl respectively. Our fastest parkrunner of the day was Jamie Verran who was continuing his tourism streak at Sandy Bay where he was 3rd overall in a time of 19:01.
Weekend two saw 64 of our members running at 13 different parkrun locations. Tourism included Chris Pratt at Sewerby, Karen Dando at Darlington and Vickie Blake at Didcot amongst others which were closer to home. Dai James was our fastest runner of the day with an 18:31 at Porthcawl, whilst Wayne Hayhurst was the latest member of the first finishers club at Maesteg.
A dip in attendance for the third weekend of the month with 48 runners across 13 parkruns which would largely be due to the Rabbit Run which was that afternoon as well as the Dragon 100. Our tourists venturing outside of Wales were Toni Howells at Luton, Rhian Casseldine-Foreman at Market Harborough, and Jamie Verran at Eastville. Having just signed up as a member, our speediest teenager in the club’s history, Angelo Doria was second finisher at Maesteg in 18:16 in just his second ever parkrun after running 18:04 at Porthcawl the week before.
A big turnout on the 22nd with 70 members completing parkruns across 16 different locations despite awful weather for late July. Jamie Verran broke the club record with his 32nd different parkrun in a row eclipsing a record held by Dawn Hopkins. Bethan Moor ran her 50th parkrun having started parkrunning as a teenager. Dawn, Sarah Davies and Melanie Thomas tourism took them to Mount Edgcumbe – a parkrun that required getting a ferry to get to the start. Nicky Bennett was first finisher at Maesteg in 20:15 on their 6th year anniversary event. Maesteg must be one of the most inconsistent parkruns in terms of top 10 finishing times as some weeks the entire top 10 are sub 20 with a first finisher of 16/17 minutes and then other weeks like this one, the first finisher is over 20 minutes. Toby and Adam Kearns had the furthest tourism by some distance as they ran Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida.
The final weekend of the month saw lots of celebrations with Emyr Bissmire and Carys Cronin having a wedding themed parkrun at Maesteg which was also Carys’ 50th parkrun. Jo Jenkins also ran at Maesteg becoming the first female member of the club to reach 250 parkruns having started parkrunning way back in 2009. Carl Price ran his 100th parkrun at Porthcawl which I’m pretty sure is the first time we’ve ever had 50, 100 and 250 milestones all on the same morning. Dawn Hopkins also ran her 200th parkrun with Blaise Castle her parkrun location. New member Angelo Doria was first finisher at Maesteg in a frighteningly quick 17:38 – only Jacob Tasker has run quicker at Maesteg from our club. A quiet weekend race-wise helped as we had 78 members run across 16 locations which is one of our highest attendances ever.
The start of July saw the second race of the Run4All Aberavon 5K series. 21 members ran the course with Aled Hughes leading the way in 18:41 followed by Gareth Battle and Mark Teesdale both finishing in 18:53. Carys Cronin was our first lady across the line in 23:17. There were PB’s for Teri-Leigh Roche with 29:01 who had run a 10K PB just 4 days earlier, and Laura Worrall in 39:28.
With plenty of flat tarmac 5K’s available during the summer, the Keeper of the Colliery 5K gave our runners something a little different with it’s hilly, part gravelly course. Toby Kearns was our first runner across the line followed by Carys Cronin of the 5 members that ran.
The final race of the Paul Popham Swansea Bay 5K series saw Aled Hughes as our first finisher in 18:36 which secured him top spot in the male veterans for the entire series. Despite being less than 72 hours before his 100 miler, Gareth Richards ran 19:37 with Wayne Hayhurst, Dylan Panting and Connor Panting all finishing just a few seconds back. Sarah Davies was our first female finisher with 16 members running in total.
In the final SSAFA 5K of the 2023 series, Jake broke his own club record by a massive 12 seconds to finish in 15:10. Jamie Verran also got a PB with 18:26 whilst Wayne Hayhurst continued his run of good form and consistent improvement with a 19:27 which was his fastest time in a couple of years.
The second of the month saw what has become one of our most popular races since it’s inception in 2019 – the Porthcawl 10K. We had 59 runners making it the biggest attended 10K since the same event last year when we had 65. Jake Tasker finished 11th overall in a high class field running just outside his PB with a 31:50. Nicky Bennett and Geraint Lewis were our next finishers. There were PB’s for Mark Teesdale, Connor Panting, Tom Mahoney (who agonisingly missed out on a sub 40 by 2 seconds but a huge PB nonetheless) and Ceri Jones. Katie Plimmer followed up her 5K PB a few days earlier with a 10K PB. The PB’s continued with Mike Nicolson-Lewis, Terri-Leigh Roche, Lisa Ryan and Ruth Thomas.
At the Keeper of the Colliery 10K event in Maesteg, Jacob Tasker finished in an outstanding 34:49 on the bumpy course. Katie Plimmer was our first female finisher with 13 members running in total.
We also had the Mic Morris 10K which Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion ran. The race is renowned as a super fast course as it’s almost entirely slightly downhill – however, before anyone gets any ideas, it doesn’t count for PB purposes. David Sheard completed the Cardiff Epic Trail 10K in the month as well.
25 members took on the popular Rabbit Run race in Merthyr Mawr. For the second year Jacob Tasker was first overall over 11 minutes ahead of our next finisher Aled Hughes with Connor Panting and Tom Mahoney finishing in under an hour on the multi terrain course. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was our first female finisher. With Vickie Blake as one of the tailwalkers, we had OPR members first and last across the line with several other OPR members also volunteering and supporting at the event. The event was a South Wales Trail Championship race and at the time of typing I think we’re still awaiting confirmation of what individual and team medals may have been won to add to the collections won in previous years.
Marathons and Ultras
Several of our members took on the Tenby Long Course with distances of up to a 2.4 mile swim on the Friday, 112 mile bike on the Saturday and a Marathon on the Sunday. Obviously for this running blog, I’m focusing on the Sunday where Sarah Davies, Paul Barrett, Alexis Barrett and Dawn Hopkins completed the marathon after doing the full swim and bike in the previous days. Kris Denholm was our first finisher in 4:45:58. Deb Edwards, Kaye Pedler and Sian Jenkins all ran marathon PB’s. It was a first marathon for Deborah whilst it was redemption for Kaye who missed out on a PB in Snowdonia by less than a minute last October and smashed it this time by over 22 minutes. Sian’s time beat her previous best set almost 4 years earlier in Snowdonia.
Carl Walsh was racking up yet more marathons and ultras to count towards his goal of joining the 100 marathon club and becoming the first member to achieve that. He ran the 50K distance of the Race to the Stones along with Danny Ridley and also ran the Wye Valley Tunnel Marathon during the month.
New member Simon Poole ran the continuous 100K version of the Race to the Stones whilst Melanie Thomas and Rhian Casseldine-Foreman notched up their 3rd (and arguably 4th) Ultra’s within 3 months with the 100K run split over two days.
Four members took on this years Dragon 100 miler (actually 103 miles). Starting in Rhossili in the Gower, the race follows the coastal path until Baglan and then heads up into the mountains of Afan Forest and Bryn overnight, eventually coming out in Margam Park before heading back to the coast at Kenfig and following the coastal path all the way to the Norweigen Church in Cardiff Bay. Gareth Richards completed the event for the second year in a row and was less than 20 minutes off his time from last year despite having 9 weeks out with injury during April and May. I completed my second 100 miler having done the Centaur 100 last year – this one was 100 times harder and took 5 hours longer. Emma Loyns completed her first 100 miler in 33 hours and 20 minutes. Then, after being pulled out of the race in 2021 and having to drop out just before the 2022 race with injury, Angharad Hinam battled through getting significantly lost early on and only making the half way checkpoint by a few minutes, to eventually finish 20 minutes inside the 34 hour cut off.
The first of two BCRL fixtures during July saw us head to Kenfig Nature Reserve to run 5K on the dunes. Bizarrely despite this being our highest attendance at any event in 2022, it was one of our lowest BCRL turnouts in recent years but still outnumbering all other clubs with 62 finishers. Jacob won by a huge margin and several members stepped up and gave great performances with several of our top 10 contenders for the men and women absent. I think we were all a bit shocked that our club won the fixture putting us right back in contention overall. It was also great to see several new members at their first BCRL event including Sian and Sam Spiers.
The second fixture of the month and 5th of the season saw our club host at the Planka. Firstly, a massive congratulations to the race committee and volunteers for putting on another superb event. Somehow we were lucky enough to have the sun shining which was pretty much the only day in the previous couple of weeks that it hadn’t rained. We had 80 finishers with Jacob again winning by a huge margin on the cross country style course measuring a little over 5K. It was one of our best team performances in any BCRL fixture with our top 10 men all finishing in the top 25 overall including new member Angelo Doria who was 5th overall in his first ever competitive race for the club. Our ladies were incredible with our top 10 scorers finishing in the top 37 women overall and beating the leaders going into the event, Bridgend AC. With all our other finishers contributing to the scoring, it meant we won the fixture by a huge margin which moved us to the top of the team standings overall for this first time this season with just 2 fixtures left.
Chair’s Runners of the Month
100 miles. It’s a long, long way! When you think about driving it – you consider it a significant distance. When you think about it on foot, many would shy away from even considering the start line. There are some within our midst who have the right mindset and resilience to tackle this epic journey. Whilst many of them have been celebrated in these posts recently for other achievements, one has not. Someone who has faced this challenge before and it wasn’t to be. Many would turn away from the challenge at this point, but in this case that is very much not the case. Back to the drawing board to replan the quest. To revisit what went awry the first time and address it. Refocus. Training once again and following a process that will get to the finish line. It was a hard fought battle again but there was a dogged determination to succeed. One foot in front of the other. Never giving up. Coming close to the cutoffs but getting there. Never beaten and marching over the finish line in time to celebrate a victory and demonstrating, like all who take on this challenge, that the body is capable of amazing things. For coming back to do it again and showing the will to succeed, my first Chair’s Runner of the Month for July is Anghard Hinam. Well done Angharad – what’s next?
As you know, everything we do revolves around running – but it’s one of my favourite phrases to say that “it’s so much more than running”. Supporting is big on that list of the extras and we always do it so well – with fabulous supporters throughout our midst. When someone is injured, they often support. Many run and support. It’s ingrained in our own personal constituion. Not a requirement – but an inbuilt passion for helping others. Some go the extra mile in the pursuit of helping others. Selfless acts – jumping in and taking part when team members are unavailable. Multi-discipline events where equipment is required – collecting it and travelling long distance to fill the gap. All the while attending events, league and otherwise, and giving it their all. Participation and support and all the while not shouting it from the rooftops – just getting on with it. It took a long while for this member to succumb to joining – but we’re so glad he did. Championing others while quickly becoming embroiled in club culture. I am delighted to announce that my second Chair’s Runner of the Month for July as Peter Evans. Well done Pete and thank you for your continued support of others and great committment to your running!