January 2024


27 members took the opportunity to run an extra parkrun on New Years Day across 9 different parkrun venues. Jamie Verran was the only member who headed across the border with Clevedon Salthouse Fields added to the club record breaking tourist streak.

The first Saturday of the month saw 81 members at a parkrun which includes runners and volunteers. Well done to the 22 club members who headed up with Karl’s Johnson’s parkrun Tours to Pontefract to tick off a Pont(y)(e) for the Full Ponty challenge with lots now having completed it. With Aberfields cancelled that Saturday, we had bigger turnouts at Maesteg where Nicky Bennett was first finisher, and a good turnout at Porthcawl. Jamie Verran was first finisher at Coed Cefn Pwll Du to equal Jake Tasker on being first finisher at 6 different parkrun venues.

On the second weekend of the month we had 81 members either run or volunteer again. Two members ran at Cardiff where they had over 1,000 runners for the first time in 4 years. There were huge turnouts across Wales with over 500 at Porthcawl and over 450 at Pontypridd. Luke Davis was 3rd overall at Aberfields on his 25th parkrun and last parkrun before heading off to the RAF. There were also volunteer milestones for Abbigayle Dee and Claudine Nicholson-Lewis.

The third Saturday of the month saw 78 members run or volunteer (or both) across 12 parkrun venues. We had 24 runners at Maesteg as part of ‘The Runs’ podcast takeover which is co-hosted by Niki Puleio. Jamie Verran ran his final tourist venue at Evesham before deciding to break the streak.

The final Saturday saw a massive 87 members run or volunteer (or both) across 12 parkrun venues. We had 27 members run at Aberfields for Jamie Verran’s 100th parkrun which saw him end his record breaking tourist streak whilst breaking new records in the process including having the shortest time period from debut to 100th parkrun. It was a shame there happened to be a couple of other super fast runners in attendance as Jamies time of 19:06 would have been quick enough for first finisher at Aberfields most weeks but he had to settle for 3rd. Elsewhere, Sarah and Dawn travelled to The Old Showfield parkrun whilst another tourist group of Vickie, Darija and Satera were at Eastville.


The year started as usual with the Kenfig Prince of Wales race on New Years Day. This used to be a compulsory fixture in order to complete the Festive Four, however, this year runners were given the option to do Old Father Time instead which went ahead on New Years Eve. It meant a reduced turnout at Kenfig but still 10 members from our club with a few of us checking our phones to see if we’d got in through the Marathon Eyri ballot. Carl Walsh and Danny Ridley finish together as our first Phoenix runners across the line followed by myself. Jules Esmond was our first female finisher just ahead of Alison Allen. It was also great to see Ria Ross and Caryn Hicks completing their first Festive Four at the event.

The first XC (Cross Country) fixture of the year took place at Margam Park with an impressive 18 members taking on the course. Jake Tasker took the overall win with a solid performance by our men’s scorers. Trail queen Jade B was our first lady with Katie Plimmer, Jules Esmond, Sarah Davies and Melanie Thomas scoring for a great performance for our ladies team as well. Caryn and Ria also ran the event showing some remarkable progress and dedication to the club and running in general since coming through our Zero to Hero program last year.

We had 9 runners at the infamous Riverbank Rollick as we approach 10 years since myself and Richard Lowcock James were the first members to take on the course – just to note, I’ve never gone back! However, it’s a popular choice with our trial lovers. Carl Walsh and Emma Loyns were our first male and female runners back in that one.

18 members took on the CF64 Winter Trail race which was the first fixture in this years club trail championship. Jake Tasker was first overall and it was another 18 minutes until we saw our next finisher which was Jade who picked up the maximum amount of points for the first fixture.

The was at least one less muddy and / or hilly event in January with the Lliswerry 8 – another event I’ve only done once but is very popular with our members. This year saw 14 members complete the course including a phenomenal time of 44:22 from Nicky Bennett which is the fastest time on that course by any OPR member ever, by some margin. In fact, Steve Holloways time of 46;49 and Kyle Blackmore’s 47:11 were also quicker than our previous fastest time on the course which was 47:13 from Kyle last year. Melinda Thomas was our first female finisher in a race where the men heavily outnumbered the ladies.

At the Chepstow Running Festival, Wayne Hayhurst ran the 10K event. Danny Ridley and Ceri Jones ran the Half Marathon with Emma Loyns one of the official pacers, coming in at only an impressive 3 seconds under the 2:20 pacer time.

Festive Four

New Years Day saw the final event of the latest Festive Four series with a presentation after Porthcawl parkrun in mid-January. Well done to the 18 OPR members who qualified for the t-shirt by completing 4 events over the festive period and particularly well done to our ladies who outnumbered the men with 15 of those 18 qualifiers. A huge congratulations to Tammie Clemett who won the Seasons Best ‘Green t-shirt’ category – this was given to the runner who improved the most on their best time of the year coming into the competition and Tammie peaked at the perfect time with some 2023 best performances in those events. Julia Esmond narrowly missed on a top 3 position in the same category. Denise Bradley was 3rd overall in he Age Graded Results.

Chair’s Runners of the Month

January – into a new year – a year of positivity and passion!

My first choice is no stranger to accolades.  Capturing the hearts of our members on many occasions.  True grit.  It’s a word I use a lot – because I hold it as a great measure and demonstrator of resilience.  Courage and determination in spite of difficulty.  Determined to achieve their goal, no matter how much reaching that goal challenges them.  It’s a trait that holds favour with many who are inspired by seeing it happen.  2023 was a good year for many and my choice here is no exception for whom it went out with a bang.  The competition that many of us take part in to keep us engaged over the festive period is a regular draw for some and each year they give their all.  One year it spelt disaster for one in our midst with an accident during one of it’s events that shelved running for a considerable time – but the story of the return from that won our praise and it has continued to do so.  A story that has many chapters still to be told and each accompanied with a characteristic smile and a determined effort.  The Festive Four saw a significant placing for my first choice, the last event of which crept into the new year.  Always humble about her achievements, but always working hard to record great results.  Absolutely delighted to award my January 2024 Chair’s Runner of the Month to Tammie Baker. Keep up the good work Tammie and keep showing us how it’s done!

My second choice is someone I remember meeting on his first training session with the club up in the valley.  We’ve played cat and mouse on many races in the past and have a number of finish approach photos that show us neck and neck, literally, as we approach the line!  That hasn’t happened for some time as continued improvement for my second choice has shown times tumbling – and while not all about speed – it is a benchmark by which improvement can be measured. I’m always captured by those who juggle busy lives with the ability to train.  Family commitments can so often conspire to derail a training programme and it can take a lot of juggling to make everything work and stay on track.  It takes that extra bit of focus – finding the time when possible to sneak in runs to keep the momentum up.  Again, a humble character who just gets on with it – rocks up and gets the job done notching up impressive performances with a smile and encouragement for all those around him too.  Again, delighted to award my second Chair’s Runner of the Month for January 2024 to Wayne Hayhurst.  Well done Wayne, look forward to catching up soon at a race where you’ll be way ahead of me from the start line!  Keep it up.