April 2021 review

Virtual (not)parkrun

The first Saturday of the month saw a boost in numbers largely down to the virtual relay doubling up for submissions. 53 virtual parkrun submissions with many over 5K this week. Gareth Davies and Deborah Edwards submitted the fastest male and female times respectively.

With restrictions lifting, the numbers have dropped in recent weeks with 32 submissions for the second weekend. Neil Price and Fiona Drysdale taking the top spots for fastest times. Back up to 42 for the third weekend with Gareth Davies and Claire Dunbar Bowen at the top. It was a Neil Price and Fiona Drysdale double for the final weekend of the month with 42 submissions.

Races – yes – real ones!

With travel to England now permitted, some of our newer members headed across the bridge for the first official race finishes by OPR members in 2021. Carl Walsh and Neil Ridley ran together at the Shepperdine Marathon finishing in 3:45. It was Neil’s first official event for the club whilst Carl was one of only a handful of members to get a couple of races in during late summer in 2020 shortly after joining.

In the Half Marathon, another brand new member, Lisa King made a name for herself with an outstanding 5 minute PB to clock a 1:39:39. A female 40-44 age category club record as well going straight to the top of the female half marathon rankings for current members and the second fastest in the clubs history.

Virtual events

Whilst we patiently wait for events to re-start in Wales, our members have continued with the virtual challenges.

Wales Coastal Path and LEJOG

Alun Wylde completed the 870 mile Wales Coastal Path challenge with a couple of months to spare finishing in 275th place. Sian Jenkins was next up to the complete the same challenge. Melanie Thomas completed the 874 mile Lands End to John O’Groats virtual challenge in style with a 20.3 mile run which was her longest ever. Melaine also completed the challenge in just 23 weeks.

Virtual Insanity 12 Hour Challenge

Following on from the success of the Last Runner Standing event, Infinity Running decided to set another huge challenge – how far can you go in 12 hours. Orginially set for 2 dates in April, it ended up being a month long challenge that you could do at any point during the month if you wanted to be in contention for the longest distance prize. The event is still open if others want to complete it at some point in the future.

I set out on the first Saturday of the month and got Jo to drop me off in Rhossili (over 50 miles from home). I then ran/walked for 12 hours along the coastal path (with a few intentional and unintentional detours) until my time ran out as I got to Rest Bay in Porthcawl having clocked 53.7 miles. I held onto top spot in the challenge for a couple of weeks before someone clocked just 2 miles more and then another smashed it with 65 miles completed. At the time of writing, the final results haven’t been published yet although it looks like I probably submitted the 3rd furthest distance.

Vale Virtual

Unfortunately the Vale races which are one of the highlights in the club’s calendar each year had to be postponed for the 3rd time, but this time the organisers at Run Walk Crawl decided to set a virtual challenge over the week leading up to what would have been the race weekend. Options were to run any of the 3 distances – 10 miles, 18.5 miles or 32 miles in one go, the ‘Triple Crown’ challenge which was to run all 3 distances over the course of a week, or the ‘Grand Slam’ challenge which was to run all 3 distances over the weekend the race should have taken place.

Garry Jones, Wayne Randall, Debbie Bennion, Sharon Pritchard and Melanie Thomas all completed the 18.5 mile virtual. Our club made up 5 of the 12 submissions for that distance.

Three runners took on the Triple Crown challenge with Kris Denholm submitting the fastest cumulative time overall with an incredible 8 hours 26 minutes to cover the total distance of 60.5 miles over the 3 runs which is an average of 8 minutes 42 seconds per mile. Ken Salvatore was 3rd with 11 hours 23 minutes, whilst Emma Loyns submitted the fastest female time overall with 12 hours 34 minutes. All chose to do their 32 milers first and then tick off the 10 and 18.5 later in the week.

We then had one runner who took things to the extreme and created his own challenge. How about all 3 distances in one day! That’s what Gareth Richards decided to do clocking 60.5 miles in 10 hours and 26 minutes which would have been quick enough to win the ‘Grand Slam’ challenge. Gareth also continued his run of a marathon every week and is now on 17 in 17 weeks.

Return to Training

Whilst our juniors had been back for a few weeks with great sessions on the sand dunes, Pandy Park, Parc Slip and Newbridge Fields, the week commencing 26th April saw the return to training for the adults. The return saw an even greater variety of sessions than ever before. Monday saw Emma Loyns take her virtual Zoom strength and conditioning sessions outdoors with a session on the beach in Porthcawl with the customary paddle in the sea afterwards for those that fancied it. Touring Tuesday saw club training in Pencoed whilst Wednesday had 3 available sessions with two groups heading out from Ynysawdre and the Flyers doing a lung-busting 8 x 800m session on the Planka playing fields in Nantymoel. Despite taking on a hilly trail route called ‘the Beast’, the Thursday session in Ogmore Vale was the first session to fill up. Then another 2 sessions are due on Sunday with a trail session around Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes and Social Sunday heading up to Ogmore Vale to complete the valley loop.

Over to Chris for the runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runner of the Month

It’s been an interesting month, so much on the horizon. Events return! Yes, events. It’s the start of a return. As things return, people get bold and start signing up again. Exciting to see and exciting times to come.

My first choice this month is a new name to us all. Having joined in the new year she has set her stall out early with noticable high mileage training months. Getting involved straight away by making a significant contribution to get us to Phoenix, Arizona, and back, on our challenge. It’s always difficult when we don’t have a measure by which to make a relative assessment, but when someone arrives and notches up a significant club time it’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed. Events have returned and some are seeking them out. Travelling back across the border it was a half marathon on the cards for my choice of runner. The world is seeing big records falling in the athletics world right now and many setting their own best times. This is no exception as a huge 5 minute personal best was set on a warm day. An improvement of 5 minutes bringing a time down to 1:39 is an impressive result! We are uniquely poised to have great recall of all our historical club stats (thanks to statto Gareth Jenkins) and it slips into the records as an age category club record, takes her straight to the top of the female half marathon rankings and it is the second fastest female time in the clubs history! Worthy of accolade and makes us excited to see what will follow. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Lisa King! Keep up the good work Lisa and we look forward to seeing what the year brings as more events appear on the calendar! Well done.

My second choice is a familar face. Someone we’ve known for some time. Always impressing us with both running and support of others. Like many of us, not always a runner. There are many stories within our midst. Some start in early life and the history is long. Some of us come to it later in life, for many different reasons. Running is therapy and so often fuelled by passion and determination. When that takes hold, it can often be infectious and inspiring to those looking on. Encouragement given to them is echoed to others. They become the mentor. When that not only inspires peers, but also family members, it is very special. Our kids are the future. By setting an example we can inspire them to great things. We are seeing that happen here. That passion, enthusiasm and desire to inspire have fuelled a junior mission. Relentless support throughout the last couple of months has led to a run of mammoth proportions. A half marathon that is inspiring us all and the training miles have been selflessly supported by one runner who deserves an accolade to match. We value this level of support – it typifies our ethos and the Phoenix Spirit. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month to Phill Iveson! A fabulous inspirational commitment – well done Phill, keep up the good work!