April 2018 review

parkrunning in April

Our runners clocked up 171 parkruns across 36 parkruns during the month. Our runners visited 19 different parkruns in total. Welsh parkruns included Porthcawl, Maesteg, Barry Island, Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Pontypridd and Gnoll.

Further afield Ian and Rhiannon Lewis ran at Stratford Upon Avon, Alun Wylde ran at Bideford, Sian Bright at Exmouth, Adam at Eden Project, Fiona Drysdale at Winchester, Helen Loo at Fulham Palace, Kaye Pedler at Kirra, Nigel Rees at Roding Valley and Niki at Eastliegh.

Of our regular parkrun tourists, Karl Johnson ran at Wakefield Thornes and Torbay Velopark, Shawn and Julie ran at Hackworth and Thetford, whilst Chris Pratt ran twice at Southampton which included over 1,100 runners.

Due to the Vale Ultra, there was a much lower attendance for the 5th anniversary of Porthcawl parkrun. The 5 year anniversary also marked the 5 year first parkrun anniversaries for Chris Pratt, David Sheard, Peter Harrop and John Burridge. Only John was actually a member of the club at the time.

Other things of note this month. There were large attendances at the final two Maesteg parkruns of the month with 21 runners from our club at each. Jamie Vanstone ran 18:21 at Cardiff parkrun achieving a top 10 finish. Deborah Edwards, Sue Verran, Sharon Pritchard, Sian Jenkins, Ffion Smith, Michelle Alexander, Cath Griffiths, Lisa Prior, Fran Hipkiss, Claire Taylor, Ashley Howells and Jayne Bismirre all achieved parkrun PB’s during the month. Claire Dunbar-Bowen set a new club age category record with a 23:05 at Maesteg which is also the fastest time by any female i  Apologies if I’ve missed anyone.


Races in April

The random distance events

What a month for races – starting with the Vale Ultra 18/32 milers and ending with the Newport 10K/Marathon. The Vale included 32 members running the 18 mile (closer to 19.5 mile) distance, and a further 12 members running the 32 mile (nearer to 34 mile) Ultra. Not only that but dozens of members turned out to support at the two starting points, along the route, and at the finish. Conditions were arguably the toughest in the 4 years that the event has run with adverse weather conditions for some time and midweek rain contributing to make much of the course a water / mud-fest adding to what is already a challenging multi-terrain course. With so many runners, unfortunately I can’t mention every achievement, but a particular well done to several members who were running their furthest distance in completing the 18 (19.5) miler. We also had 4 first time ultra-runners in the 32 miler.

Annaleise and Steve Loveluck ran the Sugar Loaf Fell Race. A 7 mile mountain race with an eye watering 1500 feet of elevation. Our fell loving racers done us proud with Steve coming in just under 70 minutes and Annaleise just over the 70 minute both finishing amongst the top half of runners in a field full of fell running regulars.

On the same day as the London Marathon, Angela Parry and Lisa Jenkins ran together at the Valley of the Hospice 6 miler in Parc Bryn Bach in sweltering conditions. We had 8 runners for the Pentrych Hill Race which was a fixture in our trail club championship where Jamie Vanstone was our first club finisher therefore extending his lead in the championship.

10K’s in April

Just one 10K in the month but a pretty big one with the inaugural Newport 10K. Whilst 27 of our runners were running the Newport marathon, 29 of us chose the 10K distance which set off half hour later. I was first of our club across the finish line in 43:57 followed by Jo Betty who set a new PB in 51:36. The PB’s continued with Brett Bonell, Rebecca Newton, Leigh Francis and Emma Winch all coming in under 55 minutes. Hannah Bartle also got a PB with a time just under the hour mark whilst Amanda Taylor and Deb Griffin will surely be aiming for the same in their next 10K having PB’d just a few seconds outside the hour. Michelle Alexander, Deborah Edwards, Natalie Aryal and April Kitchener also achieved PB’s in the event making it nearly half of all our runners achieving a PB and plenty of other great times besides.

Half Marathons in April

Well I’m actually going to start with a Half Marathon in March which I missed in the previous blog. Chris and Amy Roberts ran the Liverpool Half Marathon with Amy running a club age category record of 1:43:28 which is also puts her as second fastest female overall at Half Marathon distance in the club.

The first race of April and therefore the first race in the first full membership year as Ogmore Phoenix started with the inaugrual Cardiff Taff Trail Half Marathon. A very flat out and back course up the Taff Trail. Niki Puleio led our runners home with Jamie a couple of minutes behind achieving a huge PB with a 1:26:45. Neil, myself, Karl, Kimberley and Peter Walsh all also ran the event.

Other half marathons in the month included the Great Welsh Half Marathon where Rebecca Newton bagged a PB with a 2:05 finish. Dawn Hopkins ran the Disney Half Marathon in what was her 100th event for the club. Sally Pensom ran Chester Half Marathon where she got a great PB time of 2:14.

Marathons in April

Antonio Antoniazzi smashed his marathon PB with an impressive 3:42:07 at the Paris Marathon at the start of the month. A week later, Simon Harrison came agonsingly close to a sub 4 at Brighton with 4:00:47.  Densie Bradley set a female club age category record with a 4:42:07, whilst Jonathan Pritchard completed our Brighton heroes with a time of 6:56:44.  On the same day, the returning Neil Jones got yet another marathon PB with an incredible 2:45:24 at the Gloucester Marathon. Caerwyn Lewis finished in just over 5 hours in the same race.

London Marathon saw 8 members get the running experience of a lifetime around the city. Unfortunately for those aiming for certain times, it was the hottest London Marathon on record with temperatures exceeding 24 degrees. The weather had a dramatic effect on runners particularly in the second half of the race. John Burridge finished in just under 4 hours and Anthony K and Mark Burgess finished in just under 5 hours. Emma Williams, Sarah Littlewood and Sara Vowles had an absolute blast running together and finishing in 5:18:40 in what was a first marathon for all. Nige Rees finished 4 minutes behind, whilst Jake Banner who joined the girls at one point finished his first marathon in 5:31:08. This year appears to have inspired even more members than usual with many already seeking charity places and a record number signing up when the 2019 ballot opened.

On the same day as London, Emma Morris ran with her partner in the Zurich marathon which saw temperatures even higher than London. She finished in 5:07 although I believe that was the gun time rather than chip.

The biggest marathon in terms of club participation was still to come. At the inaugural Newport Marathon we had 29 runners. Neil Jones set his second marathon PB in just 14 days with a 2:43:07. That’s an incredible 6:13 average mile and the equivalent of running 8 and a half parkruns at 19:16 for each 5K. Niki Puleio was next up in with an amazing PB of 3:05:01 which puts him second in the clubs marathon rankings. Agonisingly the London Good For Age time was sub 3:05. The PB’s kept rolling in with Jamie Vanstone, Neil Price, Gareth Richards and one of our fastest marathon debuts ever with Dai James running 3:33:08.

Claire Dunbar-Bowen set a new female club record with a 3:46:32. Almost 22 minutes off her time she ran in Waterford last year. She also now holds 5 out of the 6 records for the club in her age category. Steven James and Mark Gabb continued the PB’s whilst Juliet Amner in her first marathon for the club, set a new age category record in 4:13:46, taking the category record Denise has broke just 2 weeks earlier. Victoria Hillman and Nicola Symmonds improved their marathon times whilst Bruce Hill ran his first marathon in his first event for the club.

Emma Williams, who got a place last minute ran finished in 4:44:50 – beating her London time from the previous week by 34 minutes! She was joined by marathon debutante Louise Foster with another marathon newbie, Jo Kendall, finishing just a few minutes behind. Karl Johnson continued his quest of running 18 events at Half Marathon distance or over. Alun Wylde was delighted with a sub 5 hour finish and running the whole distance. Ian Lewis ran almost an hour quicker than his previous two marathons with a 5:10 finish and was joined by Mark Worrall. Our final finisher was Darija in 5:25.

Chairmans Runner of the Month

I’ve written all this once before but rather than writing offline I wrote it straight to the blog and it decided to crash on me just as I tried to update it.  Lesson learnt!  Here we go again…

April.  It was a month dominated by a trio of major events.  A week in we saw a huge turnout for the Vale Coastal Challenge covering the two distances of 18.5 miles and 32.5 miles.  The latter falling into the class of ultra marathon.   Two weeks later we saw a number of members head to the English capital to complete probably the most famous race on the calendar, the Virgin Money London Marathon and just a week after that we saw the inaugural Newport Marathon and 10k event take place.  Being local this also attracted a fair few members onto the streets.  More and more of our number tackle the marathon distance as confidence and endurance build and they target longer and longer races.  

It is from these events that I selected my winners for the month.

Entry to the London Marathon is becoming more and more difficult as the sheer volume of people in the ballot increases.  As the popularity of running accelerates we are seeing the requirements to obtain club places also increase and the good for age times are becoming more difficult to achieve.  Despite that we had members who successfully obtained places, some through chosen charities close to their hearts.  Spring marathons require dedication through the tough winter months and so to follow a training plan effectively can be difficult.  Through mutual support we had a group of runners who managed it to the letter.  Training had been spot on.  Little niggles had come and gone but the miles were achieved and the distances got longer.  The excitement and subsequent nerves built but we knew they had put in the hard work and as long as they remained injury free they would be absolutely fine.  They did.  A small, tight-knit group of ladies in particular defied the heat of the day and enjoyed their tour of the London streets finishing in an admirable time, most on their first running of 26.2 miles.  A feat in itself worthy of accolade but one of their number decided that London as her first marathon wasn’t quite enough of a challenge and had a place for the inaugural Newport Marathon just one week later.  Now I’ve questioned whether I should be honouring such a move as our coaches would no doubt be shuddering at the thought of a newbie to marathon running tackling a second only one week later.  However, from my own experience I have discovered that a sensible and successful long-term pattern of training as a build up, and proper recovery from the first if you haven’t gone all out in it can result in it being a long training run for the other.  It was clear she was capable of more and she asked for advice immediately following London as to whether it was achievable.  Heeding the advice of rest to the letter she stood on the start line of Newport one week later and smashed her time set the previous week by 34 minutes!!  An outstanding achievement and I am delighted to announce my chairman’s female runner of the month as Emma Williams.  Well done Emma.

We have many runners who graduate from the Zero to Hero (Z2H) programme within the club who go on to become prolific runners.  The running bug grabs them and draws them in.  Signing up for races I liken to kids in a sweet shop when the bug has got hold of you.  You see an event and can’t help getting on the start list.  This happened to someone in our midst who went from his first session at Z2H to his first ultra marathon in virtually one year.  Since starting running he’s never looked back.  He completed the full distance Vale Coastal Challenge in 2017 in an impressive 7 hours 53 minutes.  This year we were subjected to what has been described as the worst conditions in the last 4 years.  It’s fair to say it was very muddy and even in decent trail shoes it was difficult to get good purchase on the ground and maintain momentum.  Conditions like that are energy sapping and typically make for a very long day over such a long distance.  Despite all of that this guy romped home with a PB of an hour and a half in 6 hours 22 minutes!!  Absolutely amazing running.  But this particular example really crowns off a very short running career that is going from strength to strength with every race.  I’m looking forward very much to seeing where it takes him next.  It gives me great pleasure to award Daniel Clark my chairman’s male runner of the month.  Well done Dan.  Keep it up!

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