June 2020 review

Virtual parkruns

After 5 weeks in a row of less participants that the previous week, we finally saw an increase for the first virtual parkrun of the month with 64 submitted times. It was quite a week as well with Rhodri Thomas and Emyr Bissmire both running their first ever sub 20 5K’s and Keith Coleman coming agonisingly close with a 20:05 which nevertheless was still a fastest ever 5K.

A week later, the numbers rose again to 70 with a one-off allowance of submitting a 3 mile time as it was also the weekend of the OPR championship 3 miler. We had a new name at the top of the list with Ken Salvatore running 21:54 for 3 miles. Fiona Drysdale was our fastest lady for the second week in a row. Liz Davis ran her fastest 5K with a 24:29 and Judith Howells ran her fastest 5K with a 31:03.

Since then numbers have remained around 60-70 and we’re now up to week 15.

BaDRelay15

BaDRelay15 was an event set up by Builth Wells and District running club. The idea was that clubs formed teams to run from 5am until 8pm. Only one runner could be running at any given time and there was no limit on how many runners could be in a team. After the post was shared a couple of times, Chris asked me to see if wanted to investigate as to whether there would be any interest. Initially, I thought we’d maybe get 1 team of say 15 runners doing an hour but in discussions with others we decided that maybe we could get a team of 30 runners running 30 minutes each.

Within a couple of hours of posting I’d not only filled half hour slots for 2 teams of 30, but was starting to see if there was enough interest for a 3rd team as the response was amazing. In the week leading up to the event, I also had a thought about creating a long distance / ultra team. Several people were contacted and Team 4 were established with Steven James, Kris Denholm, Chris Pratt and Simon Harrison all agreeing to 3.5-4 hours each.

Meanwhile Team 3 was almost full and only a few gaps remained overall so with just 2 days to go, I posted on the juniors page to see if we could get a 5th team! Admittedly, it took a lot of messages, tagging and nagging, but with just a couple of hours to go before the teams had to be submitted, we managed to fill all 5 teams with over 120 runners and walkers involved from the ages of 6 to 60 odd.

Whilst I’m not going to mention all 120+ runners, I think a special mention has to go out to Niki Puleio, Neil Price, Ben Williams, Toni Howells, Chris Richards, Nick Harris, Steve James and Helen Lowcock James who were all 5am or 530am starters! To get up that early to run for 30 minutes in virtual event takes some determination and commitment.

Despite my leg not being until 10am, I woke up at 6am as I was so excited to see how people were getting on and start logging the miles. I provided at least hourly updates throughout the day apart from a couple of hours in the afternoon which I’ll come onto. By 9am, we’d already had 32 members that had been out and done their leg including Steven James who completed 27.91 miles in his 4 hour stint for the long distance runners in Team 4. This included our first junior (and youngest member at 6 years old) who became the 3rd of Lowcock James family to complete a leg.

By the time Kris Denholm completed 32.24 miles on his 4 hour stint from 9am until 1pm, we’d had another 32 runners complete their legs including 2 more juniors who formed part of 4 members of the Francis-Richards household who were across 3 different teams.

Chris Pratt was next up for the long distance team with a 3 and a half hour stint and had posted to say he was going to attempt to do the whole run on a 0.2 mile loop outside his house. Chris ran 20.94 miles in his 3 and a half hours which was around 120 laps in quite warm afternoon conditions.

By the time Chris finished and Simon was due to start at 430pm, we’d had 94 runners complete their relay legs including a mother-son combination in the Davis household, 3 of the Clark family, 3 of the Griffiths / Drysdale family and 4 of the Salvatore family.

Simon clocked up 21.53 miles for his 3 and a half hours, whilst the remainder of our runners across all 5 teams completed their legs. Amazingly there was only one last minute drop out which was due to injury and they’d even arranged their own replacement to ensure the team didn’t miss out. By the end of the day we’d also had 3 members of the Iveson – Holmes household run a leg each, 3 members of the Davies household and several Phoenix couples. In total I believe we had 15 households with 2 or more people running.

Our fastest runner of the day was Dai James who was the only person to clock over 5 miles in just 30 minutes with 5.06. Team 1 was intentionally set up as our team to compete against the other clubs with many of our fastest runners, and they accumulated 124.51 miles over the 15 hours which is an average of 4.15 miles for each of the 30 runners and an average of 7:13 minutes per mile. They finished 9th overall in the team standings with just 8 miles separating 4th to 13th. Our next highest mileage was by Team 4 with the 4 long distance runners racking up 102.62 miles. Closely followed by Team 2 with 96.97 miles, Team 3 with 89.4 miles and Team 5 which included some of our amazing juniors with 81.1.

An incredible day and a record attendance for most Phoenix in a single event beating the 116 runners we had in Cardiff Half Marathon.

Run4All Virtual Aberavon 5K

Another popular event with our members that has gone virtual for this year. An impressive 28 of us signed up. Unlike some other virtual events which allow any time over the period of a weekend or even week to submit a time, this had to be run on the Wednesday that the race would have taken place. Adrian Pearce was the fastest of our runners with 18:53 followed by Rhodri Thomas in 20:15 whilst I clocked 21:21 for my fastest 5K of the year. The three fastest ladies were next up with Claire DB cloking 22:47, Sarah Davies 23:42 and one of our juniors clocking 25:04.

Sally the Sunflower Relay

At the time of writing I believe we are now up to leg 75. Things have slowed down a bit although as soon as people are reminded about it then there’s usually a few offers and it picks back up again.

Volunteers Week

The first week of June was National Volunteers Week and Welsh Athletics asked for nominations from clubs on people they thought should be recognised for their role or a specific idea they had come up with during lockdown. Amazingly, we ended up having a blog post to ourselves on the Welsh Athletics website highlighting just some of the many amazing volunteers in our club.

https://www.welshathletics.org/en/blog/post/the-rise-of-the-phoenix-volunteer?fbclid=IwAR29kgnZghSbdmu1pj2_NoPquUu56DKUxbCaDPi026KLNQXRroXS-ZU9ZOA

OPR Championship / Virtual Cardiff Summer Series

Event 4 of the championship was the 3 mile time trial. 65 runners submitted times with the fastest being Nicky Bennett in 17:27 followed by Paul Smith in 17:51 and Niki Puleio in 17:57. The fastest ladies were Sian Price in 20:51, Claire Dunbar Bowen in 21:52 and Emma Loyns 23:04. However, as the championship is worked out using a handicap scoring system, the final standings were very different. Judith Howells came out on top with a PB performance followed by Helen Griffiths. Our female members claimed 10 of the top 12 positions! The top 3 men were Emyr Bissmire, Phill Iveson and Ashley Howells.

Event 5 of the championship was the 4 mile time trial. 47 runners submitted times with the fastest being Nicky Bennett with 23:15. Sian Price was again the fastest female. This time it was Keith Coleman who came out on top so after an Ogmore Valley winner last time, my next medal drop off will be over the mountain in the Garw Valley. After 5 events, Rob Loyns maintains the top spot he’s help since event 2 with Emma Loyns 2nd and Ken Salvatore 3rd.

Phoenix 24 ‘Longest Day’

The Phoenix Running events company (nothing to do with our club) run dozens of events every year mainly focusing on marathons and ultras. They’ve embraced the new normal of only being able to do virtual running events and opened entries for a event that required runners to run one miles, on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. Amazingly, 26 of our runners signed up for this and interestingly the majority of those runners weren’t regular marathon / ultra runners and it attracted a good range of abilities.

The event started at 8am on Saturday with many using one of the early runs to do a virtual parkrun which helped bump up the overall mileage from 24 to 26.1 – most people ran 1.01 for most other miles to make sure they avoided the dreaded 0.99 recording so over the course of the 24 hours, most made it up to 26.2 miles. Of our 26 starters, 24 finished with the others making it over two-thirds of the way through before calling it a night.

I decided to run a 5K or so every 4 hours after starting the whole thing with a virtual parkrun and ended up running 45.3 miles in total which ranked me 36th highest out of almost 1000 submitted results. Gregg Harris ran multiple 1.5-2 mile stints which meant he ended up on 35.2 miles, whilst Chris Richards also did a few just over the mile to end up clocking 30.4 miles. Samantha Thompson clocked the most miles for the girls with 28.1, and I’m pretty sure would have easily clocked the most elevation of all of us with most of her miles including hills around the valley. Rob Loyns clocked by far the fastest miles with an average of 7:48 for his 27.7 miles.

Dawn Hopkins and Sarah Davies ran quite a lot of their miles together and were joined by Sara Vowles and Chris Richards for quite a few as well. Phil Iveson and Steph Iveson-Holmes were joined by their superstar junior who completed 13 of the miles with them. Nigel Hitchings, Stephanie Dyke, David Sheard, Ian Lewis, Chris Pratt, Jay Howells, Tyler Howells, Denise Bradley, Jamie Puddy and Huw Jenkins all topped the marathon distance over the 24 runs. Claudine Nicholson Lewis, Leanne Parsons and Ceri James were arguably the sensible ones who stuck to the 1 mile every hour to record 24 or 25 miles with a few 0.01 thrown in. Hopefully I’ve listed all 24 that completed it there.

Shawn Cullen continued up to and including the midnight run and clocked 19.2 miles having also done virtual parkrun as one of his runs. Karl Johnson continued up to and including the 2am run and clocked 21.6 miles (including a virtual parkrun for one of the runs).

We also had some amazing supporters. Jo Gamba run 26.3 miles by doing 8am to 10pm and then 6am and 7am but doing extra mileage on 4 of her 17 miles to make up the distance. Philippa and Tim Rees ran 15 and 16 miles respectively by joining in with most of the miles up to midnight and then getting back out for the final mile at 7am. Julie Ransom ran the first 12 runs with Shawn before supporting on the bike for a few more. Shawn and Julie also went to different locations for most of their runs to keep it interesting as it was definitely a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Multiple others joined for a few miles including Abbigayle Lumsden, Toni Howells and Judith Howells supporting Jay and Tyler. Stephne Puddy ran with Jamie for a few of the miles. Emma Williams and Louise Foster appeared at midnight in fancy dress to join some of the Tondu / Aberkenfig crew before joining Denise Bradley at 1am. Sally Pensom also came out to support Denise on her final mile. Other milers included Jayne Bissmire, Keith Coleman, the Kemberys, the Salvatores and Emma Loyns.

The 1000 miles challenge

As an added incentive for people to join in with the miles for the Phoenix 24 or to get some longer runs in, I also set a challenge of seeing if we could run 1000 miles between us in the 24 hours that the Phoenix challenge was on for. To be honest, I thought it was a bit of an ambitious target but we smashed it with 1257 miles run by our members in just 24 hours.

Other virtual events

Yes, there were even more. 6 signed up for the Twister Half Marathon with Adrian Pearce clocking an adjusted time of 1:58 (this was another one of the events were time is deducted depending on elevation gained). Sian Price was given 1:59 and Claire Dunbar-Bowen 2:00 so couldn’t have been much closer between our first three. Sian Jenkins had a time of 3:34 whilst Sarah Davies and I submitted very slow times as this clashed with the Phoenix 24 event so we just included our first 13.1 mile times from that!

Adrian’s Twister effort was also part of another virtual event as he entered the West Highland Way virtual ultra which consisted of running 95 miles over 9.5 days. His combined time was 12:31:37 and he also replicated the 14,000 feet of elevation that the actual event takes in. Sian Jenkins, Alexis and Paul Barrett teamed up to complete a third of the distance each in a total time of 19:22:15 and did the Beast run in Ogmore as their final run to get the mileage and elevation in.

Other virtual events included Julie Ransom doing the Blaydon virtual 6 miler. I did the British Masters Virtual 5K. There’s also been Miles for MSA which a lot of our members got involved with. Dozens of other members are doing the virtual LEJOG (Lands End to John O’Groats) and this month the Wales Coastal Challenge started.

What a month! Over to Chris for Chairman’s runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Our strange existence continues.  Many are calling it the “new normal”. I’d rather not use the word normal at all in relation to it.  I am just thinking of it only as temporary.  We yearn for the time when we can be together again.  When we are able to share activities as a group.  In the meantime we know, in order to remain safe, and ensure that others also remain safe, we have to do our bit.  Something I keep reiterating.  If we stick together and support each other we will get through this.

There have been many impressive feats during this period of restriction.  Virtually travelling all over the country while remaining within the confines of the locale.  This month has seen a whole manner of epic virtual events taken on by a large contingent of the club.  Great to see.

Celebrate everyone.  It’s in our blood.  It courses through the veins of the club.  As much as we cheer for those who notch up 100 miles in a day, we stand up and applaud those who just get off the couch to run, walk or crawl any distance.  There are some who occasionally fall off the radar for a while.   Circumstances draw them away from regular routine.  The situation of late has taken some into prescribed isolation. In such cirtumstances it is even more difficult to remain active and stay connected.  The same four walls being the only surroundings.  Some have stood tall and, in spite of being restricted, continued to get their exercise.  Not only fulfilling a base requirement but also making a comeback.  Signing up for mileage goals and virtual challenges.  Targeting challenges that push boundaries once again.  Not only that but reaching them with determination.  In the face of adversity managing to reach new goals and setting new limits after a prolonged period of absence.  Immensely admirable.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Ceri James. Amazing month Ceri, keep up the good work.

Sometimes we get people who join the club with no aspirations at all.  Often it’s due to a friend or family member being already within the fold.  The old adage “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.  Maybe it’s popping along to a social event that spurns the interest to get involved.  The desire to run is a secondary thing – or maybe not even that.  The words “OK, go on then” are probably the response to being encouraged to sign up.  We’ve seen it before, many times over.  A couple of casual jogs with family or friends slowly develop.  The runs get longer.  They start to get quicker.  Something natural and underlying is discovered.  Then comes the dawn of realisation.  A realisation that there is a latent ability.  It sparks desire.  Desire to go further and subsequently faster.  Boundaries are pushed and impressive performances recorded as a result.  You can tell this is becoming an obsession when the events being signed up for become increasingly more challenging.  The bug has well and truly taken hold.  I am keen to see what the remainder of 2020 holds and certainly see where this leads into 2021 when events start opening up again.  I am over the moon the award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month to Rob Loyns.  Well done Rob, keep it up.

I’d already written this up and chosen my runners when I realised I couldn’t sign off without another mention.  I’ve credited this runner before with the Chairman’s accolade, but the last couple of months have seen a herculean mission completed.  A challenge that several are a part of has taken place over time.  To virtually travel the length of the UK from South to North.  874 miles in total.  All of this achieved in 58 days.  An average of just over 15 miles a day!  Smashed it and worthy of special mention.  Well done Kris Denholm.  Incredible stuff.

May 2020 review

Virtual parkrun

Week 7 saw 79 members submit times with Aled Hughes leading the way in 20:44. A week later saw 69 members submit times with Gareth Richards leading the way in 20:45.

Week 9 saw 63 runners take part with Aled back on top with 21:06 closely followed by Rhodri Thomas. Week 10 saw 61 members take part with Rhodri clocking the fastest time, and he also topped the charts for week 11 when 59 members took part.

So far, 15 members have run all 11 virtual parkruns and 147 different members have participated in at least one.

The Virtual Welsh 5K Championships

This was about as close to a competitive event as we were likely to get this month. With the Welsh 5K Road Championships due to take place this month, they decided to make it a virtual event with entrants able to sign up for free and upload their Strava or Garmin activity as proof of completing the 5K. More than a dozen of us signed up and times could be submitted anytime over the 3 day VE Bank Holiday weekend.

The competition was fierce and having run in these events in past years, I’d say it was even more competitive than if the event had taken place for real due to pretty much everyone interested in running it being available / no need for travelling to the event / 3 days in which to complete it etc. The winning time was 13:53 from Cardiff AC runner Ieuan Thomas, there were over 50 runners under 18 minutes and over 100 under 20 minutes out of 370 results. Our fastest runners were Dai James with 18:12 followed by Nicky Bennett in 19:12, Steven James 21:32 and myself in 21:46. The first 4 finishers in each club made up a team and the men finished 13th overall. For the ladies, Jo Gamba led the way with 24:35 and was the closest out of all of our runners to her 5K PB, followed by Alysha Collins in 26:22, Sarah Davies in 26:48 and Alexis Barrett in 33:26. The girls finished 11th overall in the team standings. Well done to Chris Pratt, Jay Howells, Paul Barrett, Daniel Clark and Pippa Clark who all also submitted results.

The Virtual Welsh 1 mile Championships

Another event set up by Welsh Athletics and this time it was a 1 mile time trial. Given my OPR Championship / Summer Series 1 miler had been the previous week (details later in this blog), there wasn’t a huge amount of interest in this one but we did still have 8 members submit times.

Adrian Pearce ran an outstanding 5:24. I beat my mile time from the previous week with a 6:07 on exactly the same course. Claire Dunbar-Bowen got a sub 7 with 6:56. The remaining results were Sarah Davies with 7:11, Chris Pratt 7:20, Dawn Hopkins 7:25, Karl Johnson 7:30 and Jo Gamba 7:29. Disappointingly they didn’t have team results like in the 5K championships but I worked out our 4 girls would have finished as the 5th team overall against many of the best club runners in Wales.

OPR Training Championship / Virtual Summer Series

This year I set up an alternative club championship which was to take place once a month on training nights from February to November. All events were due to be handicapped to give everyone an chance of winning (very difficult to work out but thought I’d give it a go). We managed to complete the February event but then lockdown came in just 2 days before the second event was due to take place.

Given current circumstances, I decided to turn it into a virtual championship and combine it with the Cardiff Summer Series events where were due to take place in May and June with a 1, 2, 3 and 4 mile time trial which would also enable us to ‘catch up’ before returning to doing one a month which I already have some interesting ideas for.

The 1 mile event took place over the weekend of 15th-17th May. If members wanted to ‘double up’ they needed to do their mile on the Friday for it to count for the Cardiff Summer Series (which 15 of us did), but had any time over the weekend to run their time for the OPR Championships. We had an amazing 74 runners take on the mile. Each runners result was compared to their best parkrun / 5K time over the past 6 months as part of the handicapping system. The result was that Rob Loyns came out on top with Ceri James second. Ken Salvatore, Chris Collins and Tyler Howells completed the top 5 whilst Rosie Salvatore and Stephne Puddy were the next 2 highest female scorers.

The 2 mile event took place over the weekend of 29th-31st May. 16 members ‘doubled up’ by also signing up to the Cardiff Summer Series 2 miler which was on the Friday, but had any time over the weekend to run their time for the OPR Championships. We had 54 runners take on the 2 mile. This time I as able to base the handicap using their 1 mile times. The result was that Claire Dunbar Bowen came out on top with Sian Price second and Rob Loyns third. By getting a great mile time, Rob really should have been at a slight disadvantage going into the 2 miler but absolutely smashed it again. Anthony Kavanagh and Dawn Hopkins completed the top 5 with the girls dominating most of the top 10 which was a reversal of what happened in the 1 mile event.

I’d bought medals ahead of the championship to present to each event winner which I delivered (on a run from my house of course) to Rob and Claire shortly after their victories.

Overall, Rob Loyns leads the championship with Sarah Davies in second and Emma Loyns third. Niki Puleio and Nicky Bennett complete the top 5. The top places are currently dominated by members who’ve run in all 3 events so far, but the final results will be based on the best 6 scores from the 10 events so there could be members who haven’t even participated yet who could end up winning.

Other events

Pippa Clark completed the Bannister Anniversary virtual mile on the date that the Cardiff Running Events company would have had their usual mile race.

The Twister 10K involved running a virtual 10K whereby you get minutes knocked off your time the more elevation you do (Talbot Method Scoring). So there’s tactics involved as to whether you go for a fast flat 10K or go for a super hilly route and hope to do it in a reasonable enough time that the bonus deducted time makes up for the time lost on the hills. This was their second event of this kind and it appeared that getting lots of elevation in your run is more beneficial than just going for a flat all out 10K. In fact, the winner did a very hilly route in 42 minutes but with his time deductions for the elevation, his overall time was 25 minutes which is faster than the track 10,000 meter world record. Niki Puleio was 21st overall with an adjusted time of 39 minutes whilst Adrian Pearce was 34th. Sarah Davies was our only female finisher in the event.

The Lockdown 10 miler followed the same rules as the Twister 10K but also included age graded scoring on top. I finished 10th overall with an adjusted time of 65 minutes. Sian Jenkins was our only female finisher in the event with an adjusted time of 105 minutes.

A week later saw the Twister 10 miler with the same ‘Talbot method’ scoring used. For this one, I decided to go for maximum elevation and did 3 loops of the Beast to accumulate around 2,300 feet in just 10 miles (not far off the elevation of Snowdonia Marathon but in less than 40% of the distance). Incredibly Adrian Pearce did a little bit more than that and finished 11th overall. Kevin Raymond choose a flatter, faster option and finished 16th . I finished 25th overall, Claire Dunbar-Bowen was 29th, Sarah Davies was 85th, Paul Barrett 96th, Sian Jenkins 116th and Alexis Barrett 118th.

The final weekend of the month was the Rocky 10K – another ‘Talbot Method’ scoring event. I’ve loved these events as it’s been fun planning routes and testing out over the weeks whether huge elevation and slower pace is the way to go, some hills and faster pace, or flat as possible and all out race pace. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle as Adrian Pearce finished first overall in this event but went for significantly less elevation than his previous events with a faster pace. He still over 350 feet of elevation which I think most of our members would consider a hilly 10K if it were a race. I finished 8th whilst Sarah Davies was 25th and Sian Jenkins was 26th. I think it’s becoming obvious which four club members are enjoying these ‘Talbot scoring’ virtual events!

Richard Wilder (organiser of the Cottrell Park events) set up a challenge to complete 42.2K (a marathon) in 42 hours from 6pm Friday 16th to 12pm Sunday 18th. I decided to give it a go but got my timings a bit wrong and ended up missing the 42 hour cut off. I did sort of make up for it by doing over 45k within a 45 hour period over that weekend.

Weekend Challenges

Something a bit different for the first weekend of the month with Coach Kembrey and committee member Fiona Evans setting us a challenge of becoming ‘Phoenix Travel Agents’. The idea was that we promoted our local area through photo’s and videos which could be done tongue in cheek or more seriously. There were some fantastic entries with videos of most areas of the Bridgend county included plus some alternative entries such as Heather Morgan showing the sites of all past and present schools in the Ogmore Valley (of which there were almost 20) and I did past and present races around Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The second weekend included a Friday Bank Holiday for the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This time, Chris Pratt set the challenge with runners encouraged to submit miles to complete the distance from Ogmore to Reims, France and then onto Berlin, Germany. A total of 1350 miles. Additions to the challenge included wearing red, white and blue, drawing VE with your activity trace, and taking selfies with any street names starting with V or E (we discovered that street names starting with V were quite few and far between). Only counting miles that were within the 75 minute limit we achieved 1,186 miles whilst without the limit we achieved an amazing 1,345 miles. Liz Sim also marked VE day by running 75 miles in the first 8 days of the month.

Two weekends were taken up by the OPR championship mentioned above but we did also have another weekend challenge on the 4th weekend suggested by Sarah Davies. Taking an idea which has been popular on the parkrun Facebook groups since lockdown began, the idea was to find street names beginning with O, P and R, and then find ones starting with the letters of your first name. For those that wanted to take the challenge a bit further they could attempt to spell Ogmore Phoenix Runners with a street name containing the letter X being allowed considering there aren’t any locally. Dozens of members got involved. Such were the number of challenges on offer, on the same day I did he Welsh Athletics 1 miler, the Lockdown 10 miler and then went out with my twins to spell OPR and all three of our first names using street names! Others went even further and went for Ogmore Phoenix Runners plus their full name. Others bent the rules slightly and used shop or other street signs to help or ones that just included their first names / surnames anyway. All a bit of fun and getting members exploring their local areas.

Miles for Mind

Organised by Jayne Bissmire, 89 runners signed up to form ‘Phoenix Knights’ with each choosing a mileage target which had to be a multiple of 25 from 25 to 200 for the month in order to raise money for Mental Health charity Mind. This was a huge motivator for those members throughout the month with many not just reaching their target, but completing them with over a week to go. There was also plenty of courage and determination shown with Nicola Baker completing her 100 mile target despite an injury half ways through meaning she had to walking the rest of her miles.

Some even went as far as setting new higher targets. There’s so many that I can’t list them all but some examples include Sara Johns signing up for 25 miles but run / walking over almost 100. Heather Morgan targeting 50 miles but completing over 100. Maria George targeting 75 but completing over 150. Sarah Davies targeted 100 and did over 150. Liz Sim had a target of 150 miles but ended up doing over 200. Keith Coleman had a target of 150 but completed over 250.

As well as Liz and Keith, Angharad Hinam, Neil Price and Dai James all exceed 200 miles for the month. Keith also did a staggered 17,894 feet of elevation over his runs.

OTT Elevation Challenge

Off The Tarmac (OTT) are a events company specialising in long distance events that usually include a crazy amount of elevation. Our very own Liz Sim is a race ambassador for the company and with their main Marathon falling victim to the virus, a virtual event was set up. The challenge was to complete the same amount of elevation in the week leading up to when the marathon should have been (Sunday 10th May). The target was 4,782 feet. To put that in perspective, Snowdonia Marathon is around 2800 feet or to put it another way, it’s like climbing Snowdonia itself 1.5 times.

Plenty of Phoenix rose to the challenge with a variety of approaches. Liz actually attempted it in one go running 28 miles with 4,727 feet of elevation. Adrian Pearce ran 17,257 feet of elevation over the week so completed the challenge almost 4 times and ‘climbed Snowdon’ more than 5 times, completing 83 miles. He also completed a run with over 5000 feet of elevation in just 16 miles.

LEJOG

LEJOG stands for Lands End to John O’Groats and another virtual challenge was born to run the 874 miles from the most southern point of mainland UK to the most northern point over the course of 6 months. A pretty hefty challenge for even our biggest mileage runners in the club but several have signed up and are well ahead of the average mileage required at this point.

The Sunflower Relay

Sally the Sunflower is still going strong and at the end of May was on her 66th leg. Chris Pratt has been tracking the relay since it started at the end of March and posted some stats on May 28th. At that point, our members had taken the sunflower over 600 miles which possibly doesn’t include mileage before picking up from the previous location / running home after dropping off. Either way, it’s certainly got our members doing some miles. Each leg is accompanied by photos of the journey which I think have made us all appreciate our local area and maybe even encouraged us to run in new places.

Lockdown marathons and crazy mileage

As well as her 28 miler as part of the OTT challenge, Liz Sim also did a 32 mile run later in the month. Sian Thomas apparently told friends she was going to ‘do a long run’ and ended up doing a marathon, running 4:40:08 which is actually 19 minutes faster than her marathon PB in an official event. Angharad Hinam did a marathon along the coast. Neil Price ran an incredible 3:23 marathon to complete his 200 Miles for Mind. Gareth Richards did a 5 hour treadmill run clocking 37.2 miles and was yet another member to complete over 200 miles in May.

As well as many of the 89 Miles for Mind runners who ran their highest mileage months ever, I ran over 200 miles in a month for the first time having been inspired by Kris Denholms consistency at achieving that target month after month recently, which leads me onto the man himself.

Kris Denholm continued his RED streak (Run Every Day) hitting his 152nd day at the end of May. During the month he ran a marathon on his treadmill in 3:37:09 and finished the month with a challenge he set himself of running 5 hours on a treadmill where he ran 40.22 miles to finish off with a weekly mileage of 101.3! Having regularly exceeded just over 200 miles per month this year, he finished May in an astonishing 370.5 miles.

Virtual leaderboard

Whilst these virtual events are not counting towards club t-shirts or official race PB’s, it’s been great tracking everyones progress and I’ve now started keeping stats on the virtual events as well.

Our leaderboard for May (for single event challenges rather than monthly) is as follows…

  • Sarah Davies – 12 – (7 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
  • Gareth Jenkins – 12 – (7 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
  • Sian Jenkins – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
  • Jo Gamba – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)
  • Chris Pratt – 9 – (4 ‘races’, 5 virtual parkruns)

During May 131 different members took part in at least one challenge (single event or monthly).

Ogmore Phoenix Quarantine Quiz

Despite all the challenges and crazy mileage, there was still time for some lockdown virtual socialising with the Quarantine Quiz. Our social committee did a fantastic job of organising the quiz with 23 teams and almost 50 people involved. Our quiz master was Dan Clark who did a fantastic job along the social team and Chris Pratt in ensuring everything went as smoothly as possible. Well done to ‘3HD’ (Steph Dyke and Nigel Hitchings) who won the quiz. ‘Gamkins’ were second (Jo Gamba and I). Whilst there was a tie for 3rd place between ‘Kim and Pete’ (Kimberley Davies and Peter Walsh), and the ‘Llynfi Lockdown Tourists’ which were a superteam of 3 households (joining together digitally of course) including Alexis and Paul Barrett, Sarah Davies and Sian Jenkins. There was much confusion on the Members Only page as we were set a challenge in between each round of finding different items and taking a selfie to post whilst wearing wigs (or alternatives) and at least one item that had the OPR logo.

May I conclude

Another month with no official training sessions and no official races or parkruns but it’s hardly noticeable when you read everything we’ve done this month. Liz Davis, Jayne Bissmire and David Kembery continue to set us midweek training runs whilst weekends are now regularly filled with challenges, virtual events and championships. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to returning to training together, parkruns and races but for now I couldn’t think of a better club to be involved in to keep us all motivated and supported through these times.

Over to Chris for his runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

May is often an epic month of running.  People are warmed up for the year.  Spring marathons have usually come and gone.  BCRL is usually starting up and getting everyone engaged.  

Warmer weather has arrived and the mood has been lifted as a result.  Miles increasing throughout the month.  Many were engaged in a challenge to target a self declared number of miles and battled through it with determination.  Something synonymous with the Phoenix Spirit.

Despite things not being usual, engagement is high through virtual events and challenges keeping us busy.

Both my choices this month have gone outside their “normal”.

Some of us have been running for years.  Some of us haven’t.  Often when it’s been a long time, a routine forms.  A comfortable routine evolves and is settled into, ad infinitum.  Sometimes though, a change of circumstance can cause a “disturbance in the force“ resulting in that routine running off track.  Often for the better.  Increased miles can catch people off guard and injuries can result.  However, when experienced runners make that jump – the experience has taught them to listen to their bodies.  They know when a twinge is just that and it can be run through.  They also know when to down tools and sit it out until it passes.  Monitoring daily and adjusting pace and distance can result in remarkable changes in volume.  We’ve seen that a few times of late as time is on the side of some and they can put the work in.  

My first choice this month fits the bill.  Years of service and a sudden increase in miles.  Dedication.  A renewed focus.  Elevation to match the miles too.  Often, when volume increase, pace also follows.  That is also the case here with some mightily impressive times recorded on specific virtual distances.  Impressive.  Very impressive.  May followed an impressive April, which was a 50% increase in mileage on previous months, and I’m guessing it will continue.  Great achievement and one worthy of the accolade.  I am delighted to award my Chairmain’s Male Runner of the Month for May to Keith Coleman.  Huge well done Keith, keep it up.

Another phenomenal month saw someone exceed all expectations.  Expectations, may I add, that they set for themselves.  Throughout the month there was an ever increasing motivation to get out and get some miles in.  Not only miles, but elevation too.  Living at the top of the Ogmore Valley means that routes either way are involve a climb.  Either climbing away from home or back again.  Not content with standard routes, however.  The routes were chosen to head off the beaten track and up in to the hills.  The higher the better.  Views are the reward for the effort, but the effort is great.  There has to be the incentive to head “up”.  Running hills often leads to improvements in other areas especially when combined with increased volume in a sensible way.  It’s fantastic to see this sudden transformation.  A desire to push boundaries.  Admirable to see.  All done with a smiling face and accompanied by huge amounts of support for others.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Maria George.  Fantastic month Maria, well done!

Tour of Bridgend / Vale of Glamorgan past and present races

Start / Finish of the Welsh Athletics 5K Championships which were ran on 07/05/2011. Route was 4 laps of the town center. The winning time in the Men’s race was 14:41 by Stephen Davies whilst a then 19 year old Dewi Griffiths ran 15:03 for 5th place.
Registration venue for the Ogmore Castle BCRL race which has kicked off the season since 2018.
The start of the Ogmore Castle BCRL race and also part of the old Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run course until they changed the course in 2017.
The finish of the Ogmore Castle BCRL race. Ogmore Phoenix won this event in 2019 with a combination of an outstanding first 15 runners plus a record attendance of 114 members finishing the course for those all important minus points.
Part of the course between Ogmore by Sea and Southerndown which is part of the Vale 10/18/32 mile races, the VOGUM 40 mile Ultra, and the Dragon 50/100 mile Ultra.

Standing where the Phoenix Tent would normally be for the end of the Vale races. Not quite the feast we normally have at that point but kept us going to visit our next race venue.
View of Porthcawl from Ogmore by Sea where our members have been going every week since the inaugural Porthcawl parkrun. Also the venue for the Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day run, the BCRL Porthcawl relays in 2016 and 2017 plus the Tuska Beach BCRL event from 2017-present. Last year also saw the return of Porthcawl 10K after an absence of 25+ years with 97 of our members running the course which is a club record for a 10K. .
Around mile 5 of the new course of the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run after heading off the beach. Only a mile or so left which includes sand dunes and several river crossings.
Looking towards the entrance of the river crossing for the Rabbit Run which started in 2016,
Exit of the river crossing onto the stones.
Start / Finish of the Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K which started in the early 90’s and is a popular 5K with our members. It was a BCRL fixture in 2016 and 2017 when we had 92 runners. It was also used as a separate event in August 2016 for the Welsh 5K Road Championships when Ieuan Thomas won in 14:38.
Starting point for the Men’s cross country race at Newbridge Fields which was a regular Gwent Cross Country League fixture until 2016/17. The competition was pretty fierce with 90% of the field completing the 10K course in under 50 minutes.
Finish straight of the Bridgend Running Track. Several events held here including the start/finish/changeover zone of the Welsh XC Relay Championships in 2015, the Newbridge Fields BCRL fixture since 2017, and of course, the Beer Mile since 2017.
The start / finish of the Bridgend junior parkrun which started in August 2015 and at the time of writing is on event 222.

April 2020 review

Introducing the Phoenix Flyers

I’ve realised that whilst they are occasionally mentioned on here (and quite a bit for this months review), some people might still not be aware of the Phoenix Flyers group.

Phoenix Flyers was set up to further supplement the training needs of some of our fastest runners. To qualify for the group we ask that male runners are capable of running 7 minute miles (or a sub 22 parkrun/5K) and ladies capable of running 8 minute miles (a sub 25 parkrun/5K) and have done so in an event within the last 6 months.

Prior to lockdown, we had been meeting since August 2019 mainly on Brymenyn Industrial Estate on the Wednesdays there isn’t a track session, and then at track on the weeks that is scheduled. Whilst a huge amount of the training would be done outside of these sessions, there have been multiple success stories from those that have attended with many of the Flyers getting PB’s from parkrun up to marathon distance and everything in between.

Catch up

As you can imagine, with 360+ members (prior to renewing membership on April 1st) and up to 1,000 results per month, sometimes things get missed in the blogs so I’m going to start with a quick catch up.

Back in February, Emma Loyns ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Disney World Florida.

February saw the return of one of our founding members, John Burridge, who had been out injured for over 18 months that included operations. His comeback event was Swansea Bay parkrun which he ran in a speedy 20:17.

In March, Adrian, Aled and Emma Loyns took on the Blorenge night fell race. This was a 6 miler with an eye watering 1700 feet of elevation which is all pretty much in the first 3 miles. Even our current trail champion took over 70 minutes to complete the course giving some indication of just how tough it was.

Also in March and one of the last events to go ahead was the Red Warrior Multi Terrain 10K and 10 miler in Pembrey. In the 10K Sarah Davies was 3rd female overall whilst Dawn Hopkins was 6th. In the 10 miler, Luke Jones and Angharad Hillman ran the course together with Angharad finishing 3rd female overall.

March also saw some of the Phoenix Flyers group head down to Swansea Bay parkrun. Nicky Bennett smashed his PB by 75 seconds with an outstanding 17:20 for 5th place overall – I’m pretty sure in 90% of the parkruns around the world that would easily be fast enough to be first finisher. His time of 17:20 makes him our fastest current member in the club at the 5K distance. Carl Price ran a PB and his first sub 20 with a 19:43 followed by Aled Hughes in 19:45. Rhodri Thomas knocked 45 seconds off his previous best with a PB of 20:42.

If there are any other races I’ve missed completely in these blogs then please let me know as I aim to mention every event that a member completes. Unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to mention every single PB or achievement but by all means send me a message if you think something is particularly worth a mention that I might not know about.

Virtual parkrun

Between myself and Pippa we’ve kept this going since official parkruns were ‘put on pause’ from 21st March. We continue to have fantastic numbers each week which have no doubt be bolstered by other weekend challenges which I’ll come onto later.

After 71 and 64 runners recording times in the last 2 weekends of March, we followed that up with 77, 72, 74 and a record 80 runners recording times during the 4 Saturdays in April. We’ve had everything from sub 20 runs by John Burridge to multiple submissions of over an hour where members have combined their virtual parkrun with family walks (same household of course), dog walking, or just getting some time to themselves outside.

John Burridge currently holds the record for the fastest virtual parkrun time with 19:34. Rhodri Thomas ran 20:24 in the first virtual parkrun of the month which is actually quicker than his parkrun PB. Kris Denholm ran 20:04 in a month where he’s run over 200 miles. Claire DB has set the fastest female virtual parkrun time with 22:53 whilst Carys Cronin set an unofficial PB of 23:53. What makes Carys time even more remarkable is that in her first parkrun less than 6 months ago, she ran just under 35 minutes.

Weekend Challenges

Weekend 1 – miles

This idea actually originated from the Phoenix Flyers group with coach Kembery nominated to post the challenges on our Facebook group which are then shared across our social media channels.

The first challenge was simple – how far we could we run between us all. Given current circumstances, distances managed in up to a 75 minute run could be submitted with Dai keeping count and updating. The challenge was set for Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, so there was an opportunity to record two 75 minute runs or walks if you wished. On day one we had 77 members record 443.57 miles and on day two we had another 80 distances recorded with 404.67 miles making a total of 157 entries and 848.24 miles. Dai James pointed out that’s roughly the driving distance from Bridgend to Munich!

Weekend 2 – elevation

The success of the first weekend meant coach Kembo decided to carry on with the challenges with week 2 being all about the elevation. The time limit was reduced to 1 hour and members could submit one entry on each day (Saturday 18th / Sunday 19th). Saturday saw some fantastic efforts with Maria George setting the bar high early on with a submission of over 800 feet. Steven James did an hour of hill efforts to record 1175 feet. Sarah Davies did 1,234 feet, before Fiona Evans thought she might have nicked the highest total for day 1 with 1407 feet with 14 hill repeats. However, I claimed the top elevation for day 1 with 1,539 feet of elevation which included the infamous Beast and threw in an additional hill for the final few minutes. Other notable submissions included a effort with over 1000 feet of elevation in just 5K from Keith Coleman, Helen Griffiths running every hill in Pricetown, and several others doing an hour of hill repeats local to them.

Day 2 of the elevation challenge saw my marker beaten three times! Aled Hughes ran 1,588 feet which included every hill off the valley 5 mile loop. Steven James clocked an eye watering 1640 feet of elevation with an hour of what must have been very steep hill efforts. Adrian Pearce clocked the highest total though with 1,732 feet in one hour. At the end of the 2 days, there were 126 activities recorded with 72,824 feet of elevation recorded which is the equivalent of climbing Everest nearly 2 and half times!

Weekend 3 – calories / London Marathon

On the weekend that many of us should have been doing the London Marathon, the 2.6 challenge was launched. The weekend challenge was to see how many London Marathon’s worth of calories we could burn off between us using 2,626 as the calorie target per marathon. Again there was a one hour time limit for each day and all runs to be carried out under the current lockdown restriction rules. This time cycling or circuit classes could also be used as activities to count towards the total. 116 activities were recorded over the two days with 83,030 calories burned which using our 2,626 per marathon works out at around 31.5 London Marathons.

The 2.6 challenge

As briefly mentioned above in our weekend challenge, the 2.6 challenge was set up on the weekend of the London Marathon. The idea was that anyone could set themselves a challenge with the numbers 2 and 6 included and this could range from 26 star jumps to walking 2.6K to running 26.2 miles if you really wanted to.

Several of our members ran or walked exactly 2.6K or 2.6 miles. I ran 26.26 miles over the weekend. Keith Coleman unintentionally did 26.2 miles with a 10 mile run on Saturday followed by a 16.2 mile bike on Sunday. Then we had Niki Puleio who decided he would run a marathon! With his wife Leanne on the aid station, he ran 26.2 miles in 3:14:55 in temperatures approaching 20 degrees. With nearly 800 feet of elevation, it wasn’t the flattest route either. Dai James also decided to run a marathon this month to replace Manchester Marathon that he had been training for and clocked 3:22:23. Two of the fastest marathon times in the club done as training runs – bonkers!

The 2.6 challenge was set to raise money for charities that have lost out significantly not just due to the London Marathon being postponed but over this current situation that we find ourselves in. If you would like to donate, then you can so either directly to a charity of your choice or via twopointsixchallenge.co.uk

Virtual training sessions

As we can’t meet up for training sessions at the moment, several members have taken it upon themselves to set some challenges and training sessions for us to do. Coach Emma Loyns has done Tabata Tuesday using Facebook Live which involves high tensity interval training that can be done from your own home. Chris Williams (Wonka) is providing live circuit classes from his @Chrisfit_50 account on Instagram – the last couple have been 6pm on Wednesday and 11am on Saturday but check his page for more details if you are interested. Coach David Kembery set us a Wednesday sessions via our Facebook page. Plus, our Thursday evening sessions have been set by Jayne Bissmire and Liz Davis who have so far challenged us to our own ‘Beast’ run , the 10 hill effort challenge and running zig zags over the past couple of weeks with a request of a selfie and cake afterwards which is an integral part of the Thursday sessions normally run from Ogmore.

Sunflower Relay

On Sunday 29th March, Liz Sim started the virtual sunflower relay with the idea being that members pick up ‘Sally’ the sunflower from where the last person left it and take the sunflower for a run, walk or cycle before leaving at another location. Each member takes photo’s along the route and uses a sunflower logo created by Dan Clark to show where it has been found / taken / left. It’s been hugely popular and at the time of writing we are now on leg 38 meaning that some days more than one leg has taken place. Members are queuing up to take the next leg including those that have already done a leg.

So far, the sunflower has traveled around the Ogmore and Garw valleys, Maesteg, Tondu, Aberkenfig, Laleston, Bridgend and down to the coast to Porthcawl, Ogmore by Sea, Southerndown and St Brides. Basically most of Bridgend county and ventured into the Vale of Glamorgan with easily a couple of hundred of miles covered. I believe Chris Pratt has offered to do some sort of map / analysis tracking where the sunflower has traveled so far which is becoming a very big task to keep up with.

Virtual Half Marathon

There are plenty of options for virtual events at the moment whether it be cancelled or postponed events offering medals for running the distance locally or the huge amount of other companies available for virtual medals.

Sarah Davies and Adrian Pearce took on a virtual half marathon that collated results from each competitor. They also used a formula to account for elevation so in some cases, you might actually get a better result by doing a very hilly run than running a fast flat half marathon route. Adrian was second overall whilst Sarah was 4th.

Miles for Mind

Looking ahead to May – Jayne Bissmire is getting a army of Phoenix together for Miles for Mind. https://www.runr.co.uk/collections/miles-for-mind-2020 – More than 50 members have already signed up and been allocated to the Phoenix team which raises vital funds for the charity with a medal at the end of the month based on pledging to walk or run any amount of miles. See website for details.

Celebrating Key Workers

Jayne has also been busy getting to know some of key workers in the club and creating profiles for our social media channels. As a key worker herself in the Department of Work and Pensions, Jayne has so far provided us with wonderful profiles on nurse Elizabeth Sim, custody officer Stephanie Iveson-Holmes, midwife Helen Griffiths, social care worker Abbigayle Lumsden, team leader in the DWP Emyr Bissmire, supermarket manager Dai James, Tesco delivery driver Garry Jones, firefighter Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams and Chief Inspector Sarah Davies. I think there’s plenty more to come as well.

With no events in the entire month, I was concerned I’d have nothing to write about in the April 2020 review but what a month it’s been. Huge kudos to everyone in the club for arranging all the challenges, virtual parkruns and virtual training sessions to give us all something to aim for and feel connected in these strange times.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

We’ve moved into interesting times.  Where measuring progress and endeavour must be done with what people are doing on their own.  While we provide all the encouragement we can, it’s down to the individuals to get out there and get the work done.  On their own. 

Reading the above and reviewing in one place all that we have achieved as well as recalling all the wonderful images of smiling faces on photos shared in the group has been amazing uplifting.

I have found this month incredibly inspiring.  While the world reels from a crisis that is impacting society in a way nobody has experienced before, we are managing to get out there and look after our physical and mental health at the same time as supporting each other across virtual platforms.

It’s hard in these circumstances to single out achievements, but I do feel it’s important to keep doing so.

My first choice is someone who has a long running history.  A running history that predates this club having seen her a member of various clubs in our area.  Not limited purely to running either.  She has dabbled with and is still focused on multi-sport.  The “dark side” as some in our midst call it.  The desire to swim, cycle and run.  Something which is growing in popularity and many of us have aspirations to tackle.  The current situation has brought a different level of restriction to many of us.  While most of us are able to get out for daily exercise under the appropriate guidelines, there are some who are protecting themselves that extra bit by remaining at home permanently.  This offers many challenges, not least the limits it places on being able to remain active.  However, for one this is certainly not a limitation and she has been able to not only exercise, but actively get involved in club challenges from the safety of her own home.  Not only that but done it with enthusiasm and that much loved humour and character.  I have been thoroughly inspired by her attitude and positivity.  Something which, I am sure, is doing the same for many others.  I am absolutely delighted to announce my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for April as Sian Tossell.  Well done Sian.  Keep up the good work.  Keep active and stay safe.

My male choice is someone who has devoted a great deal of time to the club.  Along with a fantastic team of leaders, he has shown complete dedication to ensuring our heroes have been successful on their journeys.  Injury had dogged him for some time, but he bounced back with vigour and enthusiasm and week in, week out showed huge commitment notching up the highest training attendance in 2019 averaging more than one per week in his capacity as a leader.  Incredible.  The current situation seems to have brought a renewed focus.  A new desire.  A desire to push his own limits.  Still busy working, in spite of the current crisis, he has still been able to get out and train.  Whilst doing so improvements have come and he has notched up impressive PB’s at both 5k and 10k knocking significant chunks off both.  Engaging in club challenges, posting positvity and sharing selfies of his runs have continued since isolation.  A really positive approach and great to see improvements coming as a result of the dedication.  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month as Jamie Bevan.   Well done Jamie – looking forward to seeing what the future holds. 

February 2020 review

parkruns

February saw 322 parkrun finishes by our members across 65 parkrun events with 41 different venues. All 3 figures are records for a month that doesn’t include additional parkruns e.g. New Years Day Double / Christmas Day… although we did of course have the leap year day parkrun which meant there were 5 Saturdays in February which only happens every 28 years so you could argue it was a very special additional parkrunday. The numbers are remarkable considering a series of storms meant a number of cancellations during the month as well.

Tourism included the home of parkrun at Bushy where Kris Denholm was joined by 4 other members for his 250th parkrun. We also had a huge month of international parkruns with Callum Denholm running Krakow parkrun (Poland) whilst the Littlewoods did parkrun du Boise de Boulonge in Paris, Sarah, Luke, Alexis, Paul and Dawn were the first to run a ‘Z’ parkrun with Zamek w Malorku (Poland), and Karl Johnson traveled to Kralingse Bos parkrun for the inaugural weekend of the Netherlands joining the parkrun family.

As well as Kris becoming the 6th member to reach 250 parkruns we had a record number of members reach 50 parkruns including Sian Jenkins, Carl Price, Stephanie Dyke, Sarah Davies, James Phillips, Tara Phillips and Gregg Harris.

At the top end of things, Dai James run an incredible 17:42 to become the fastest current member and set a new club age category record for under 35’s. He was second overall at Porthcawl on that occasion but ticked off a first position later in the month with a 17:58. Nicky Bennett was our second fastest member this month with 19:09 at Maesteg which was good enough for a second finisher spot.

Our fastest female this month was Sian Price with 23:44 at Porthcawl whilst Jo Gamba was next up with parkrun PB of 24:25 at Northampton parkrun.

Races

10K

Claire DB, Denise and Amy Norwood kicked the month off with the Winter Warmer 10K in Cardiff with Claire setting a fast time to beat for all the other ladies with 47:52 whilst Amy recorded a PB of 1:13:52.

12 members took on the tough multi-terrain Wormshead trail 10K as part of this years club trial championships with Luke Jones leading the club members home whilst Emma Loyns took top points for the ladies.

Aled, Paul Iskander, Sharon and Debbie also completed the Pontypool 10K towards the end of the month.

Half Marathon

7 runners took on the Hoka Winter Trail HM with Paul Smith being our first member across the line in an incredible time of 1:38:01 considering the course has almost 2000 feet of elevation. Anneliese Loveluck was 1st female overall in 1:45 with Steve Loveluck first in his age category just a minute behind.

Sara Johns ran the Scandicci Half Marathon in Florence, Italy in a PB of 2:40.

The Lovelucks were back in action at the Red Kite HM with Steve finishing a couple of minutes ahead of Anneliese on this occasion with Simon Harrison and Angharad Hinman also completing another tough trail half.

Other races

The fourth fixture of the West Glamorgan League saw 21 members take on the mud at Margam Park. Gareth Battle led what was probably our strongest men’s field ever in a XC fixture with Nicky Bennett, Adrian Pearce, Steven James and James Dennison in the other scoring positions. Our next 5 were Wayne Hayhurst, Simon Harrison, Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams, myself and James Phillips which would have been a good team in itself. A great showing from the ladies as well with Fiona Drysdale followed by Liz Sim, Jo Gamba, Rosie Salvatore and Bev Sheard.

Nick, Shawn, Julie, Sarah D and Dawn took on the Rogue Runs night race in Chepstow with some interesting reports of narrow trails beside steep drops and river crossings with only head torches to light the way.

Aled, Claire DB, Nick and Sarah D braved stormy weather conditions to complete the latest installment of the Severn Bridge 5 mile series. Claire DB set a new 5 mile PB and club age category record with 39:06.

Liz Davis, Chris Pratt and Kayley Griffiths set the first 10 mile times of the year at the Reverse 10.

The Brecon to Cardiff ultra went ahead in horrendously wet and stormy conditions that led to several members having pull out during the run for risk to their health. Steven James managed to keep himself warm by running an outstanding time of 7:00:22 for the 44 mile course. Kris Denholm was next in 9:00:58 with Liz Sim, Luke Jones, Angharad Hinman and Mark Worrall all completing the course.

An impressive month of running despite horrible conditions pretty much throughout.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

February was another great month for running.

We had many who had a great January getting that boost of motivation the new year brings.  Starting the year with vigour can lead to a run of form through the end of winter into spring and 2019 was no exception.  Mother Nature tried her very best to dampen everyones spirits, literally.  As the flooding continued many braved the conditions for the races that remained on and battled to the end.

As I’ve said before the reasons for choice will be many and varied.  Some will be speed, some will be distance and some will be endeavour.  All admirable and worthy of commendation.  

Someone caught my eye in February.  It was a month that saw a recap on a journey that told a story of huge achievements.  Everything’s relative and everyone is different, so one persons achievements are what they mean to them.  This is a story that started with a plan to improve health.  Improvements were made in time and distance.  The process was working.  It was all going swimmingly.  Then a change came.  We all know how that can affect us.  A move.  Relocation.  The switch that changes circumstance and causes a glitch can be the bump in the road that upsets the apple cart.  Mojo impacted.  Inconsistency affected numerous things.  Then a set back due to ill health again temprorarily added to the list of growing obstacles.  It took a battle through the month of February with sheer determination, revisiting all those early sessions and learning new ones to regain fitness and ability that had once been there.  February resulted in the most elevation covered in a single month since starting running, most distance covered for 8 months, best 5k pace for 6 months and best 10km for 10 months!  Not only the improvements but the mojo came back with a vengeance.  Consistency.  Focus.  Determination.  All returned within one month and already improvements have been made.  Impressive stuff.  I am absolutely delighted to award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for February as Paul Iskander.  Well done Paul, keep it up.

Some of us tackle speed.  Some of us distance.  Some of us just target putting one foot in front of the other.  All are celebrated with equal vigour.  I think this month it would have be a focus on endeavour.  February threw many things at us.  Mainly high wind and rain.  Rain in such quantities that many of our communities suffered signficant hardship as a result.  Many events were cancelled or postponed as the conditions worsened.  Some remained steadfast in their desire to host their events and in the face of far from ideal conditions several of our midst chose to battle the elements to get the job done.  My second accolade of the month is for someone who did exactly that.  Not content with standard distances, here is someone who seeks out off road races with significant mileage.  44 miles in extreme high winds and lashing rain were the order of the day.  A character building experience.  It takes a lot of determination to stand on a start line and face those conditions.  Here is someone who has that in bucketloads.  To battle through it for hours shows true grit.  Mightily impressive stuff.  Not satisfied with having completed the first mission, she then went on to face the Mother Nature again later in the month on a particularly tough off road half marathon as the storms still raged, completing it with the same determination as she had before.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for February to Angharad Hinam.  Huge well done Angharad, keep inspiring us!

March 2020 review

Official parkruns

The first 2 Saturdays of the month saw 162 parkrun finishes with 80 on the first weekend and 82 on the second.

Ashley Howells ran the inaugural Trelai parkrun which became the latest parkrun to start in Cardiff. Jo and I ran Swaffham parkrun for our furthest away UK parkrun (Norfolk). Sarah and Dawn collected their ‘Y’ at Yeovil and there was plenty of other tourism besides Chris Bimson ran his 50th parkrun at Forest of Dean.

There was a great turnout of 14 members as Shawn and Julie became the first members of the club to run at 100 different parkrun venues at Cefn-Coed-pwll-du.

There was some great runs at Swansea Bay with Emyr Bissmire setting a new PB of 21:37 and Alysha Collins running the 3rd fastest time of any female in the club this year with a 24:18. Carys Cronin ran an unbelievable 25:23 having run 34:48 in her first parkrun just 4 months ago whilst Chris Morris set a PB of 39:08.

Virtual parkruns

On Wednesday 18th March it was announced that all parkruns worldwide would be cancelled until the end of March which a week later was extended to the end of April due to the COVID 19 outbreak. The likelihood is that I won’t be writing about official parkruns for a lot longer than that.

Now it’s pretty obvious if you are a regular reader of these blogs and the crazy numbers in the 2019 review that our club is pretty parkrun obsessed – 6 members in the 250 club, a further 32 in the 100 club and another 42 that have run at least 50 parkruns. Then of course there’s the ones on less than 50 that have only discovered parkrun recently but have now become regulars.

So what were we going to do without our usual parkrun fix? Chris Pratt approached the captains (myself and Pippa) to discuss this and we came up ‘Virtual parkrun’. The rules are simple – do a 5K anytime on Saturday up to 8pm and let me and Pippa know with a screenshot / photo of your run activity app or watch.

On Saturday 21st we had an incredible 72 runners including some Zero to Hero’s who would have been doing their parkrun graduation had it not been cancelled. The runs ranged from just over 20 minutes to around 1 hour walks with family. At this point, social distancing was in place but people could still meet up and run 2 metres.

By the final Saturday of the month, we were restricted to ‘one form of exercise a day’ with this being ‘alone or with someone from your household’. Amazingly, we had 72 members submit a 5K.

Races

As with the parkruns, we actually managed half a month of events before the escalating restrictions meant that all running events were cancelled or postponed.

Sally Pensom completed the Chester 10K whilst Liz Sim and Steven James ran the 40 mile Millennium Way Ultra together in 9 hours and 18 minutes.

There were a couple of big half marathons with 17 runners at the Newport Half Marathon where we were led home by Claire Dunbar Bowen in 1:43:43. I was our first male runner across the line in 1:47:24. There were PB’s for Rebecca Newton and Claudine Nicholson Lewis.

A week later we had 32 runners at the rearranged Llanelli Half Marathon which had been scheduled for a month earlier but called off due to storms. Dai James smashed his PB and clocked 1:21:36 which is another club age category record as well as making him the fastest member in the club. What makes the time even more remarkable is that the course was measured 0.2 miles long by pretty much everyone and we had strong headwinds on the coastal section. Next up was Ryan Evans with a 1:24:37 PB and Wayne Hayhurst with a PB of 1:29:27. Niki Puleio was the official 1:30 pacer but due to the course being long, came in about a minute after. Chris ‘Wonka’ Williams was next up just ahead of PB’s for Keith Coleman and James Dennison. I was the official 1:50 pacer and managed to just finish in time after noticing around half way that the distance appeared to be out which required actually running faster than 1:50 pace to make up for it which isn’t ideal for those following.

There were plenty of other PB’s with Sian Thomas bagging her first sub 2 and Stephne Puddy getting the perfect PB… knocking 1 second off her previous best! Kyleigh Lecrass, Cath Griffiths, Leanne Puleio and Heather Morgan completed an impressive haul of PB’s given the conditions.

A week later and 90% of events were cancelled that were scheduled for Sunday 15th March so it was possibly with a bit of controversy that the Bath Half Marathon and the MK Festival of Running did continue, Eryl James ran Bath HM in 2:55:07 with Jo and I running the Milton Keynes Half Marathon making it 3 half marathons in 3 weeks. We had another booked for the weekend after but I believe the MK Festival of Running was last event that any of our members ran with everything after that being cancelled or postponed until later in the year.

A strange time but it’s been amazing to see so many positive posts on our Facebook page throughout the month and people getting out to do their virtual parkruns on the last 2 Saturdays.

Over to Chris for the runner of the month…

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

March brought many changes to our lives.  

We got much of the month out of the way before severe measures were required for us to distance ourselves from each other in light of the evolving situation.

Before that happened there were races of increasing frequency as the year was beginning to wake up.  Many of these were preparation for things to come.  Impending spring marathons resulted in steadily increasing mileage.  Building to a marathon takes a significant period of time.  Occasionally the best laid plans don’t quite become reality and there’s a need to defer an important race to the following year.  When that happens the mind becomes focused.  Particularly when that race is the much coveted London Marathon.  With a renewed focus training had started in plenty of time.  That characteristic slow and steady build up.  Formulating a routine for consistent, regular training.  Slowly building.  Steady progression.  Working to a plan and remaining resolute while doing so.  Long runs steadily increasing.  The characteristic personal bests were being achieved as we entered March.  A new half marathon time put a great marker down for measuring progress.  The body was shaping up for the challenge.  The head was getting in the right place to shake off the demons as the longer runs entered the calendar.  Such dedication to a training plan so religiously is wonderfully admirable.  Circumstances have taken a turn and the event itself has been put on hold.  That hasn’t dampened spirits to keep the training regime alive as we experience changes to our daily routines.  It’s always incredibly impressive to see someone focus so intently and stick with it.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Runner of the month for March to Claudine Nicholson Lewis.  Keep up the good work Claudine.  Don’t let the changes to the race upset that progress.  Looking forward to seeing it continue, we will continue supporting you all the way along the journey however long it takes.

All running journeys have a story.  Some are long and drawn out and tell tales of woe along the way.  Peaks and troughs.  Some are relatively short and performance improvements often come thick and fast.  A history of occasional races year on year led to a sudden focus in 2019 that saw a meteoric rise in performance.  Admitedly, youth was on his side, but the improvements were impressive.  Hovering around the 24 minute mark at parkrun, gradual improvements came throughout the year culminating in an almost 6 minute improvement running under 19 minutes once in December before the close of the year.  2020 brought a renewed focus.  A desire to bring that down once again.  Beating his previous best by 4 seconds the challenge was on to go even further and a trip to Swansea Bay parkrun resulted in an incredible improvement of 1 minute 15 seconds to record a sub 18 minute 5k time of 17:20.  A time recorded just before restrictions came into place.  I have said many times that we are a club with abilities stretching right across the spectrum.  We acknowledge that running is definitely not all about time and I celebrate a wide that regularly through the accolades.  Sometimes performance improvements are the thing that catches the eye and this month there was no escaping such a phenomenal improvement.  With a passion for getting quicker I have no doubt there is more to come.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Runner of the Month for March to Nicky Bennett.  Well done Nicky, keep it up.  Looking forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

January 2020 review

parkruns

This month saw a record 393 parkrun finishes by our members across a record 79 parkruns. This was significantly helped by the extra parkruns on New Years Day where we recorded 75 finishes with 29 members taking up the option of doing 2 parkruns which is the only opportunity each year that this is allowed.

Some new parkruns added to our growing list in month included Witney, Yeovil, Henstridge Airfield, Tamar Lakes, Land’s End, and the newest Welsh parkrun – Coed Cefn-pwll-du. Our members have now run at over 300 different parkrun venues in total.

There were some super fast times in the month with Nicky Bennett finishing 3rd at Porthcawl with 18:35 on the first Saturday. Then on the final Saturday, Dai James became the fastest current member of club at 5K with a huge PB of 18:06 to finish 2nd overall with Ryan Evans finishing 3rd overall in 18:37. The first time the club has had 2 of the top 3 in Porthcawl and we also had Adrian in 10th. 7 different runners clocked sub 20 with 4 of those clocking sub 19 times which bodes well for the upcoming BCRL.

For the ladies, Anneliese Loveluck went top of the club 5K rankings with a 21:13 at Gnoll parkrun on the first Saturday of the month. Our next fastest female was Sian Price with 24:19 at Porthcawl, although I’m sure there’s more to come from our second fastest female in the club across almost all distances.

Milestones in month included Bethan Denholm, Mark Worrall, Peter Harrop and Chris Bimson all running their 20th different venue to achieve ‘parkrun tourist’ status. Bethan is by far our youngest member to run at 20 different venues. Jayne Powney ran her 100th parkrun whilst Stephanie Dyke and Rachel Marcarian ran their 50th parkruns.

Races

10K

10 runners took on the Tough Runner 10K which is now in its 4th year. Steve Loveluck was our first runner back in 46:50 on the tough, hilly, off road course and bagged himself 3rd in his age category. Anneliese Loveluck was less than a minute back with 47:48 which was good enough for first in age category and second female overall. Martin Beard ran the Bath Skyline 10K… twice. I haven’t looked into this but I assume they run it a couple of days in a row and Martin did both.

We also had 8 runners at the first Infinity Running Margam 10K. Aled Hughes finished 4th overall in an impressive 42:59 over the undulating course. Philippa Rees smashed her previous best 10K with a 1:45:59.

Other races

Although there are too many ‘standard distance’ (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) events in January, there were still plenty of alternatives. The first day of the year saw 24 runners take on the Kenfig Prince of Wales run which was the final event of the Festive Four. Niki Puleio led our runners home just ahead of Adrian Pearce. Our first lady was Sarah Davies followed by Liz Davis. Anne Lalic completed the event and picked up 3rd place in the Festive Four most improvement category where times are compared to seasons bests.

Adrian and Aled took on the Kymin Winter Race – a 4.2 mile fell race. For those that aren’t aware – fell races are basically very hilly, off road, and often not even following standard foot paths. 15 runners took on the popular Riverbank Rollick for yet more mud and mayhem with Luke Jones and Sarah Davies our first two finishers. Nick Harris obviously forgot he wasn’t going for most events this year when he signed up to another Friday night race with Rogue Runs in Beechenhurst.

We had a great turnout of 22 runners for the Margam Reservoir fixture of the West Glamorgan XC league. An interesting ‘Cross Country’ fixture to say the least with its 2 laps of the reservoir… on tarmac paths. Paul Smith was our first runner back with Aled, Steven James, myself and Kris Denholm making up the scorers for the men. Jo Gamba was our first lady back followed by Bev Sheard, Claire Goldsworthy, Claire Worthington and Stephne Puddy to make up the first 5 scorers. Well done to everyone who represented the club.

Aled and Kris also ran the Abercarn 5K – another hilly offering with the first half entirely uphill before coming back down. We had 19 runners for the first trail championship race of the year at the CF64 race around Cosmeston Lakes with the 2019 champion Adrian Pearce picking up maximum points ahead of Luke Jones, Paul Barrett and David Sheard. 2018 champion Emma Loyns was first lady back ahead of 2019 champion Sarah Davies.

The final race of the month was the ever popular Lliswerry 8 where Wayne Hayhurst was our first runner back in an impressive 52:28. Only Neil Jones in his time with the club has run the course faster than that time. Our first female was Rebecca Newton in 1:12:29.

Steve James did the only race over 10 miles and some by some distance with the 40 miles Winter Wychavon Way. On Strava he described it as ‘the toughest event’ he’d done… ‘relentless mudfest ankle deep for at least 35 miles and 2 miles towards the end knee deep’. Considering some of the other crazy Ultra’s Steven has already completed, that must have been extremely challenging.

BCRL presentation

The final Saturday of the month saw a presentation take place in the Hi-Tide after Porthcawl parkrun to award the Festive Four and BCRL winners. As already mentioned, we did have one Festive Four winner with Anne Lalic but we really excelled at the BCRL where awards were given to the top 3 in each 5 year age category. Our list included… 1st place in age category Adrian Pearce Kevin Raymond Clifford Searle Sian Price Denise Bradley 2nd place in age category Paul Smith Garry Jones Hannah Knight 3rd place in age category Ryan Evans Mike Nicholson Lewis

Stats

  • Our members completed 501 event finishes between them in January
  • Aled completed the most events with 10 Ffion Smith and Dawn Hopkins have the most events for the ladies with 8 each
  • 10 members have completed every parkrun so far this year (6)
  • Our members have now accumulated over 8000 Porthcawl parkrun finishes between them

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

The start of a new year.  
The start of a new decade.
2019 was epic!!  
Record breaking!  
It’s set the benchmark rather high for the future!

The new year always starts a little slowly.  Coming out of the excesses of Christmas and New Year it gives rise to new plans.  
Many start slowly and build.  
Some keep it clean through the festive period and keep the focus and hit the ground running as the new year begins.

January.  It’s still dark early in the evening.  It takes a while for the sun to rise.  Still in hi-viz.  Still wearing a light.  It’s cold and very often wet.  In spite of this, we got out and trained and raced!

Many hit the ground at speed and for my first choice that is exactly what happened.  With such ferocity that you can tell there is a plan.  Huge mileage and the talk is of it increasing.  Building on a strong base to lead to improved performance and endurance.  Again this is a story of someone who has put in several years of training.  Improvements have come along the way but a renewed focus is now visible.  It’s not entirely about the running though, this has also come with a lifestyle change.  A new outlook on food has fuelled cleaner living and a sensible loss of weight has followed.  230 miles run this month.  Increased mileage.  A stonking new PB at parkrun almost reaching a new minute milestone clocking 18:06.  Absolutely outstanding.  On fire!  What an amazing start to the new year and setting an incredible marker in the sand that makes us wonder where this will lead to in 2020!!  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s January Male Runner of the Month to Dai James.  Huge well done Dai, keep it up and show us some amazing running throughout the year!

Many aspects of running are a measure of ability.  One thing that we honour greatly is improvement – in whatever form it comes.  I tend to push the reset button at the start of the year and measure myself by improvements over the year – seasons bests – that is IF I am targeting improvement at all.  It’s not for everyone.  The Festive Four competition spans the festive period and encourages focus when many are prone to excess.  One aspect of the competition is to honour improvement compared to the years best.  The final event takes place as the clock ticks over to the new year.  The Prince of Wales Run is a compulsory finale.  One runner who often falls under the radar completed the series and in the competition based on improvement picked up the third female place overall.  Mightily impressive stuff.  For a runner who has been running for several years to suddenly make improvements against focused competition over what is notoriously a time of over indulgence is admirable.  Sealing the accolade with a performance on the first day of a new decade is the crowning glory.  Inspirational dedication.  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s January Female Runner of the Month as Anne Lalic.  Well done Anne, keep up the commitment!

December 2019 review

parkruns

December saw 241 parkrun finishes across 44 parkruns and 29 different locations. New locations visited included Cosmeston Lakes, King George V Playing Fields, Nova Prestatyn, Teignmouth Promenade, Upton Court and The Old Showfield.

We had a record turnout of 16 parkrunners on Christmas Day with most being local (Cardiff, Barry, Gnoll, Newport) whilst Jo and I were in Milton Keynes. Dawn Hopkins ran her 100th parkrun on Christmas Day as well.

Anneliese Loveluck who had only run 2 parkruns prior to December, doubled her tally during the month including a 20:39 at Barry Island on Christmas Day. Our fastest male parkrunner in the month was Niki Puleio with 18:25.

Niki Bennett was first finisher at Maesteg in a week where Ogmore Phoenix members had the top 4 places.

Mark Worrall ran his 100th parkrun at the start of the month at Brynaman whilst Alexis Barrett ran her 50th parkrun at Maesteg.

Races

5K

December brings along a festive band of Santa 5K’s which started with the Cardiff Santa Dash where we had 6 runners. The big Santa Run for the club each year is the Aberavon Run 4 All Santa Run and this year was no different with 26 of us battling against a strong headwind on the way out. Nicky Bennett was 2nd overall whilst Niki Puleio picked up an age category prize as well. We had 12 runners at the Maesteg Santa Run where I was first finisher overall and Jo Gamba was first lady. Neil and Sian Price also ran the Buxton Pavillion Gardens 5K.

The main 5K of December with a mix of seriously competitive running followed by a mass 5K party run was of course Nos Galan. A few of us decided to challenge ourselves this year and mix it up with the super fast boys and girls in the Elite Races. The men’s elite race was up first with Adrian Pearce finishing in 18:56 and Aled Hughes in 19:27. I was next in 21:13 with Nick Harris 22:43 and Chris Pratt 22:45 completing our runners in that race. It was an incredible experience and I don’t think Chris and Nick would mind me saying that the three of us would want to be a bit quicker before entering that race again. Being lapped is almost inevitable for a large amount of the runners on the 4 lap course with the first few coming in at just over 14 minutes!! Despite running well under 20 minutes, Aled just avoided getting lapped running a 19:27. Jo Gamba ran in the female elite race finishing in 25:40.

We had 24 runners in the fun run with Kris Denholm finishing 8th overall in 20:54 and Gareth Richards not too far behind in 21:26. Sarah was our fastest lady and just outside the top 20 ladies in 25:22. Ffion Smith bagged the only PB of the night with a fantastic 37:35.

5 mile

A less commonly run distance but a couple of fast ones to choose from in December. Nick Harris notched up yet another event with the Rogue Runs Mallards Pike Night Race. We had 12 runners at the Glynneath 5 miler on Boxing Day where Aled was first of our runners back in 32:53. Keith Coleman, Stephne Puddy, Jamie Puddy, Helen Griffiths and Laura Worrall all bagged themselves PB’s.

A few days later 8 of us headed down to Pontcanna Fields in Cardiff for the ‘Old Father Time’ 5 miler. The only mass participation road race I know of locally that’s only for veteran athletes (over 35). It had been on my list for many years and this was the first year I ‘qualified’ to do it. The super flat 2 lap course coupled with great running conditions made for some spectacular times with 7 of our 8 runners getting PB’s. I was the only one not to PB but was over the moon to get within 20 seconds of my PB which is something I haven’t managed at any distance for over 2 years.

Niki was our first runner back in a sub 30 time of 29:58! A new club age category record and agonisingly just 1 second off the overall club record (or 2 seconds to beat it). Adrian Pearce ran a new club age category record for the 45-49 category with 30:33. The PB’s continuing with Neil Price, Aled Hughes, Gregg Harris, Jo Gamba and Sian Jenkins.

10K

Leanne Puleio ran the Valencia 10K on the first of the month coming in just over the hour mark with a 1:02:27.

We had 10 runners for the final trail championship race with a few of those opting for a fresh air / run away your hangover approach after the club Christmas Party the night before. Aled was our first runner home ahead of Luke Jones and David Sheard. Denise was our first lady followed by Sarah Davies.

Multi-distance events

The Celtic races organised by Run Walk Crawl saw 10 of our runners take on the Half Marathon, whilst Gareth Richards did the 20 mile option, and Emma Loyns and Kris Denholm took on the 32 mile Ultra. Emma and Kris were joined by former (and hopefully future) member Lorna Domachowski who was doing her first Ultra after concentrating on the minor task of training and completing a couple of Ironman’s in the last couple of years. The races were pretty hardcore with the Half Marathon containing around 2,300 feet of elevation – that’s close to the elevation of Snowdonia Marathon but packed into half the distance. The Ultra had 5,500 feet of elevation so around double that of Snowdonia Marathon but over tricky off road terrain and with a few more miles added.

The final weekend before Christmas also saw the final Infinity Running event of the year with the Turkey Trot. Rhiannon Whitely and Sharon Pritchard completed one 3.3 mile lap for the ‘5K’ distance. Nick Harris led 6 members round 2 laps of the course for ‘10K’. Aled, Liz Davis, Jamie Puddy and Pippa Clark completed 4 laps for the Half Marathon. With Chris Pratt having a well earned couple of months off marathons, there was unusually no Phoenix marathon finishers however, Michael Brain did go one lap further than that to record just shy of 30 miles in 6 hours and 10 minutes.

Marathon

There may have only been one in month but it’s a pretty impressive one. Niki Puleio ran the Valencia Marathon in 2:58:11. His second sub 3 hour marathon of the year and yet another PB. Would you believe though that he was actually a little bit disappointed as the qualifying time for New York Marathon for his age group is 2:58:00 so he missed out by a small margin but is hoping he might still get a place.

Other races

39 members took on this years Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run with its Big Dipper Sand Dune, mud, fields, forestry, beach and multiple river crossings all packed into around 6 and half miles. James Littlewood was our first runner back in a speedy 54:41 whilst less than a minute separated Keith Coleman, Wayne Hayhurst, myself and Dai Kembery who came in just over the hour mark. Our first lady was Denise Bradley. 7 of our runners had a great time as they ran the course together posting videos of Christmas merriment at the mulled wine and mince pies aid station and could be heard before seeing them come into view at the finish with them singing various Christmas songs.

The third fixture of the Gwent Cross Country League saw an understandably lower attendance given it’s Saturday afternoon start a couple of weeks before Christmas but Samantha Thompson and Fiona Drysdale stepped up to represent the club.

Brett Bonell, Claudine and Mike Nicholson Lewis completed the tough Narberth Night Nobbler event whilst we had 18 runners at the Porthcawl Boxing Day run.

The Club Christmas Party

After putting on a spectacular Christmas party in 2018, it was always going to be hard to top that this year, but I’m sure most people would agree that somehow the social committee did it again. Tickets sold out well in advance for the mask themed event, and one of the first surprises of the night was our chairman storming into the room as who else but, The Mask – Jim Carrey’s character from the film complete with yellow suit and the green mask. There were huge O P R letters lit up which proved the most popular photo opportunity. An OPR selfie frame with accessories. The magnificent hog roast was back. There was even a huge birthday cake made for a couple of members celebrating their birthdays on the day of the event. There was an alternative raffle, a huge hamper, St Nick was back with keepsakes for attendees, plus table and other decorations galore which were almost all entirely hand made by members of the social committee. The randomly selected VIP’s for the night were treated to multiple privileges throughout the night, plus there was the latest distribution of milestone t-shirts for those that had run 50/100/150/200/250 events for the club. There’s probably so much more but I think just from what I’ve mentioned and remembered, it was another hugely successful event put on by our social committee and I’m sure plans are already in place for the next event.

A great end to the year from elite races to festive fun runs and everything in between. Unlike in November when I surprised him by making him the runner of the month, I’ll now hand over to our chairman to choose the December runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Approaching the end of the year didn’t dampen spirits.  There aren’t events in abundance but they still can be found – as has been proved by lots of members!!  Weather worsening.  Christmsa approaching.  Many, many factors can get in the way and focus changes for many.

One incident in December won’t have escaped anyones attention.  Man down.  One of our midst suffered an accident at Maesteg parkrun that resulted in an ambulance being called with some urgency to attend the situation.  In the meantime the patient needed to be sheltered from the elements.  It was a cold day and, being in shock, could succumb to the elements as well as being physically worse for wear.  For one, instinct kicked in.  We’ve heard of a similar story earlier in the year that also warranted mention.  With a cool and calm head instructions were given at the same time as my chosen runner gave up her run and lay down next to the patient to act as a shield and provide warmth until the emergency services arrived.  Many who have this natural disposition to help will not accept the plaudits however much they are justified.  Sometimes it’s not just the running itself that warrants recognition.  I am absolutely honoured to announce my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month as Deb Griffin.  Well done Deb and thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty!

I feel this accolade has been a long time coming for one.  A long running career often results in a slow tail off with advancing age.  For some there are peaks and troughs along the way.  Some find a run of form, often accompanying an increase in participation at events and, inevitably, increased training.    My male runner has attended a huge number of events this year.  It’s been mentioned before that runners who have run a long time don’t often see personal bests and when they do happen they are special and show an extra level of commitment not made before.  Combine that with consistent training the improvements have come.  Recent commitment to provide focused coaching also seems to have provided motivation for self improvement too.  As much as this is for achievements in December it’s for an excellent year of running.  Participation, performance and club commitment all rolled into one.  I am delighted to announce my December Male Runner of the Month as Aled Hughes.  Well done Aled.  Keep it up.

2019 end of year review

parkruns

I suspect ‘record breaking year’ is going to be used a lot in this blog post and it definitely applies for parkruns. We’ve had more different members running than ever, a crazy spike in causal and obsessive / challenge chasing tourism, and dozens of milestone t-shirts achieved. parkrun accounts for just over 50% of our total event finishes this year so naturally features heavily in this end of year review.

Last year we amassed 2081 parkrun finishes between our members. This year the total was 3005 – almost a 50% increase! We had 240 different members run at least 1 parkrun during 2019 which is around two-thirds of our total members. Last year we had 35 members complete their first parkruns and mainly through the continuing resounding success of Zero to Hero coupled with membership growth across all abilities, we’ve had more than 50 first time parkrunners this year.

Onto our parkrun obsessives and last year we had 9 members who ran 40 or more parkruns with the highest total being Aled with 51. This year, that list of members has not only grown, but most have run even more than last year including Aled who becomes the first member to run 55 parkruns in a calendar year which is the most possible without leaving the UK. This year’s list has 15 members having completed 40 or more parkruns – in brackets is how many they did last year – every single person did more parkruns than last year!…

  • Aled Hughes 55 (51)
  • Gareth Jenkins 53 (49)
  • Nick Harris 52 (48)
  • Chris Pratt 49 (44)
  • Kris Denholm 49 (46)
  • Dawn Hopkins 47 (13)
  • David Kembery 47 (38)
  • Karl Johnson 47 (40)
  • Jo Gamba 46 (42)
  • David Sheard 46 (44)
  • Chris Roberts 45 (41)
  • Gareth Davies 45 (41)
  • Sara Davies 43 (35)
  • Saul Harris 42 (28)
  • Chris Stanlake 41 (30)

What makes the above list even more bonkers is the fact that the majority are also our most consistent parkrun tourists. For those not familiar, there is an unofficial parkrun group on Facebook for those that have run at 20 different parkrun locations or more. It varies from the casual tourist who may have just notched up 20 different ones by visiting different local ones and the occasional one whilst away for the weekend, to the extreme where some do a different parkrun every week even if it requires a overnight stay on the Friday or getting up at 4am to get to one they haven’t done before. Most of the members in the list below fall somewhere in between.

Most new parkruns visited during 2019 (2018 total in brackets)

  • Karl Johnson 35 (21)
  • Dawn Hopkins 30 (3)
  • Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom 26 (24)
  • Sarah Davies 24 (2)
  • Chris Stanlake 23 (10)
  • Alexis Barrett 23 (3)
  • Chris Roberts 23 (17)
  • Paul Barrett 22 (1)
  • James Beynon 19 (1)
  • Jo Gamba 19 (15)
  • Kris Denholm 19 (15)
  • Jayne Powney 18 (14)
  • Chris Bimson 18 (0)
  • Gareth Jenkins 17 (14)
  • Aled Hughes 14 (15)
  • Brett Bonell 12 (3)

Last year 12 members ran 10 or more new parkrun venues. This year that increased to 16 with 15 of those doing significantly more than last year. Whilst the usual suspects have continued to tour and in most cases significantly increased their rate of touring, we’ve welcomed several new ‘uber’ tourists with Dawn, Sarah, Alexis and Paul running together at different parkruns throughout the year. James has joined Karl on many of his parkrun tourism journeys whilst Chris Bimson is now just 1 away from the ‘tourist’ status having only really started touring in the past few months.

In terms of overall parkrun tourism, we now have 9 members who have run at 50 or more different venues, and 23 who have run at 20 or more. This time last year, those figures were 5 and 12 respectively. I can’t end the tourism bit without a mention of Johnson’s tours who have organised trips to Jersey, Bushy (Dublin) and Bushy (home of parkrun).

Now I appreciate this is a bit tourism heavy so also want to note those that are more loyal to their home parkruns. Claire Goldsworthy has run 141 parkruns with every single one at Porthcawl. Nick Harris ran his 250th Porthcawl parkrun earlier this year and has now run 269 times there out of his 309 total parkruns. David Sheard is next up with 245 of his 285 at Porthcawl whilst Chris Pratt and I have also run over 200 times at Porthcawl. We finished the year on a satisfying 7,777 parkrun finishes at Porthcawl from our members since it started.

The club of course has two home parkruns since Maesteg started and have a core volunteer team made up of several OPR members. Many weeks have seen over half the volunteer roles filled by OPR members even when its not one of our ‘takeover’ weeks. Before we get onto our most regular runners, I have to say a massive thank you to Emma Marshal, Stephne Puddy and Michael Brain who between them have volunteered at pretty much every Maesteg parkrun since it started. Emma has also gone on to become a parkrun ambassador. Onto our Maesteg regular runners and this year Adrian Pearce, Niki Puleio and Aled Hughes all ran at Maesteg for the 50th time. We also recorded our 1000th OPR finish at Maesteg this year.

This year saw David Sheard become the 6th Phoenix member to reach the 250 parkruns milestone. We had a huge list of members reach the 100th parkrun including Chris Stanlke, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom, Denise Bradley, Saul Harris, Ann Davies, Simon Williams, Fiona Drysdale, Angela Walsh, James Beynon, Dawn Hopkins, Mark Worrall and Peter Walsh. Congratulations also the even bigger list that reached their 50 milestone. A small disadvantage of the club growing so much and the huge increase in participation is that it’s got to a point where to list every milestone would make my blogs longer than War and Peace. I’ll still try my best to recognise everyone on the milestone posts throughout the year though.

Races

This year we recorded 2,663 race finishes between our members compared to 1,823 last year – again, not far off a 50% increase. As with the parkruns, we’ve seen more members running than events than ever before as our membership continues to grow, but also seeing record breaking numbers by some of our longer standing members.

Nick Harris set out to run as many events as possible in 2019 with an eye on the club record for most events of 108. He smashed it with 125 made up of 52 parkruns and a record 73 races. Aled Hughes also beat the previous record notching up 113 events, whilst I became the first member to notch up 100 events in 2 separate years finishing on exactly 100.

The next 4 highest event totals are all by our ladies. Last year Jo Gamba set a new club record for most events by a female club member with 71. This year all 4 ladies smashed that total with Dawn Hopkins coming out on top with 89, just one ahead of Jo with 88, then Sharon Pritchard with 86 and Debbie Bennion with 85. Sharon also set a new ladies record for most races in a year with 51. Sarah Davies, who had the 10th highest total overall also ran more than the previous record with 76 events in total.

The top 10 were as followed (2018 totals in brackets along with where they ranked)

  • Nick Harris 125 (4th – 72)
  • Aled Hughes 113 (9th – 64)
  • Gareth Jenkins 100 (1st – 86)
  • Dawn Hopkins 89 (32nd – 37)
  • Jo Gamba 88 (5th – 71)
  • Sharon Pritchard 86 (25th – 42)
  • Debbie Bennion 85 (16th – 51)
  • Chris Pratt 80 (2nd – 76)
  • David Sheard 76 (6th – 67)
  • Sarah Davies 76

The total to finish 2nd highest in the event table last year was 76 which 10 people achieved this year. Last year 18 members ran 50 events or more, this year 29 members ran 50 or more. Last year we record at least 1 event for 232 different members whilst this years total was 286.

5K

We had a record number of members run 5K races this year with huge turnouts at the Aberavon Run 4 All series consisting of 3 events during the summer months and then another bumper turnout for the Aberavon Santa Run in December. We had higher attendances at the Swansea Bay summer series and SSAFA 5K events as well. The Merthyr Mawr 5K attracted the usual big crowd and of course the end of year finale at Nos Galan where we had a record number of Elite entries with 5 in the men’s race and 1 in the ladies. I don’t think there were too many 5K races between Cardiff and Swansea without at least one Phoenix in the race.

The fastest 5K time of the year went to Adrian Pearce with 18:17, whilst Anneliese Loveluck broke the ladies club record with 20:34.

10K

So many huge 10K attendances with the biggest being 97 at the inaugural Porthcawl 10K. This included more than a dozen Zero to Hero’s who had gone on to complete the ‘Hero to Legend’ course and complete their first 10K. Cardiff 10K was a big draw with 76 members completing the course, whilst the Run Wales series of Cardiff Bay, Newport and Barry 10K also had big attendances.

The fastest 10K time of the year went to Niki Puleio with 37:59, whilst Sian Price was our fastest lady with 45:05.

Half Marathon

In 2018 our members completed 290 Half Marathons between them. In 2019, that rose to 423. We smashed our half marathon attendance record and set a new overall attendance record with 116 finishers ranging from 1:24 to 3:18. At Swansea Half Marathon we had 67 finishers including some of our members volunteering as tail walkers. We also had volunteers in several other Half Marathons including Llanelli, Great Welsh, Port Talbot and Cardiff performing many roles including marshalling, pacing, giving out medals / t-shirts and a whole host of other things. Thanks to Emma Marshall and others who coordinated the volunteers for many of these events.

Interestingly, there’s yet another different runner to the 5K and 10K best times of the year for the Half Marathon distance with Ryan Evans coming out on top with a 1:24:50 at Cardiff Half Marathon. Our fastest lady was Anneliese Loveluck with 1:32:33 at the Merthyr Half Marathon.

Marathon

Yet another increase on the previous year with 129 marathon finishes compared to 107 the year before. Now I can’t mention marathons in 2019 without mentioning our chairman, Chris Pratt, who set himself a goal of running 19 Marathons (or longer) in 2019 which he achieved with 18 marathons plus the Vale Ultra. We had a record 17 runners at the London Marathon and an incredible marathon attendance record of 45 finishers at the Snowdonia Marathon.

76 different members completed a marathon this year which is also a record. 24 of these were ran their first half marathon this year.

The fastest male and female marathon times of the year are simply outstanding. Niki Puleio ran 2:59:51 at London Marathon and then ran 2:58:11 at Valencia Marathon. That Valencia time is roughly 6 minutes 48 seconds per mile or 8 and a half back to back parkruns at 21:06 pace. Anneliese Loveluck ran 3:13:56 at the Great Welsh Marathon. I did some research at the time and found that for her age category, that time was not only one of the best in Wales, but one of the best in the UK and beyond. A Good for Age time for London Marathon pretty much guarantees you a place if you run within this time at another marathon. It is notoriously hard to achieve and anyone who does achieve it can only do so through an incredible amount of hard work. Niki is a phenomenal athlete and his 2:58 is 7 minutes within the Good for Age time for his age category… Anneliese’s 3:13 is 35 minutes inside the qualifying standard for her age. Absolutely mind boggling performances by both.

Ultras

Guess what – another increase, albeit a small one. 45 Ultra marathon’s completed by our members compared to 41 the year before. No doubt largely thanks to the Infinity Running lapped events which Kris Denholm and Steven James used to notch up a few ultras this year with Mike Brain joining the party in the last event of the year. Kris and Steven ran 8 Ultras in total this year which averages out a one every 6/7 weeks!

We had a record 17 complete the Vale Ultra whilst at the other end of the scale, Nick Harris and Steven James both completed Ultras exceeding 100 miles!

Bridgend County Running League

I wrote a Facebook post about our season back in September after the last fixture so have copied that into this blog as it covers everything from an absolutely amazing season…

BCRL review and stats 2019

Last year we finished runners up in the league. This year we finished runners up in the league. However, I really wanted to post some stats to show that although we may have finished in the same place, the progress this year both in terms of top finishers and participation has been incredible.

For those that maybe aren’t up to speed with how the scoring works, we want to score as few points as possible. Whoever finishes 1st overall gets 1 point, 2nd gets 2 points and so on. The top 15 runners for each of the six BCRL clubs score points, whilst anyone outside of the top 15 runners for their club scores a minus 1, therefore helping the team to score as few points as possible.

Top 15

This year saw our strongest top 15 runners ever. Last year we had a combined total of 19 top 20 overall finishes over the 6 events. This year we had 28 including 6 of the top 20 runners overall at Ogmore Castle and Newbridge Fields. This makes a huge different as these runners will score 20 points or less.

Another big factor is where our 15th finisher places. If they are 90th then they’ll score 90 points, if they are 70th, they’ll score 70 points so it makes a big difference. This year, in 5 out of 6 events, our 15th scorer finished in a higher position than last year. We set a new record at the Ogmore Castle where our top 15 all finished in the top 51 places overall.

This year, we had 26 different runners make up our top 15 throughout the 6 fixtures. The commitment of our faster runners was incredible this season with our top 10 (Gareth Battle, Adrian Pearce, Ryan DEvans, Paul Smith, Niki Puleio, Dai James, James Littlewood, Neil Price, Aled Hughes and Wayne Hayhurst) only missing 9 fixtures between them.

Our star find this season was Gareth Battle who was our first Phoenix finisher in 3 of the fixtures.

Participation

The best thing about BCRL is that every runner counts. If you don’t finish in the top 15 runners for the club then you score minus 1 point which helps the team score as few points as possible which is the aim.

This year, in all 6 events we had higher attendance than the corresponding fixture last year. At Ogmore Castle we smashed the club record with 114 Phoenix finishers whilst we even managed 69 finishers at our own fixture in Blackmill. We maintained our record of having the largest number of runners in every BCRL fixture since it began 4 years ago.

In total we had 523 finishers this year compared to 436 last year. We also had our highest number of different members completing a fixture with 177 members completing at least 1 fixture.

Ever Presents Hall of Fame

We all know that injury, childcare, illness, work, volunteering and a whole host of other reasons may result in members not being able to attend every fixture but I really want to give a shout out to the record number that attended 6 out of 6 events. These were…

  • Adrian Pearce (top 5 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Paul Smith (top 6 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Aled Hughes (top 8 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Gareth Jenkins (top 15 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Luke Jones (top 15 Phoenix in 5 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Gareth Davies (top 15 Phoenix in 2 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Nick Harris (top 15 Phoenix in 1 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Keith Coleman
  • Mike Nicholson Lewis
  • Jo Gamba
  • Paul Barrett
  • Christopher Bimson
  • Steph Iveson-Holmes
  • Sara Davies
  • Alexis Barrett
  • Cath Griffiths
  • Nicola Cornock

A Team Effort

We also had an amazing amount of volunteers this year including members helping out at other fixtures and not just our Blackmill one. We’ve also had more supporters than ever coming along whether it be injured runners coming along or family or friends of members.

Well done to everyone who ran their first BCRL fixture this season and hopefully they’ve proved to be a positive experience and good stepping stone to entering other events.

Final Standings

Last year we finished 2nd in 3 fixtures, 3rd in 2 fixtures and 4th in the other. This year we won the first fixture at Ogmore Castle and then finished 2nd in each of the remaining 5 fixtures.

Bridgend AC were the only team to finish above us in any fixture this year.

We may have finished second overall in the league final standings again but I don’t think there’s any doubts from the stats in this post that we’ve made huge progress this year.

Last year we finished on 3116 points, this year we’ll finish on around 2601 (final calculations may be a few points either way).

It’s really worth pointing out that in that Ogmore Castle fixture, purely based on the top 15 scorers, Bridgend scored less. However our record turnout at the and the subsequent minus 99 points for all our runners outside of the top 15 meant we won the event which just goes to prove that every runner really does make a difference whether you are the first Phoenix across the line or the last.

On behalf of the captains and vice captains, I want to thank every member who has contributed this year.

Other events

There were so many that I couldn’t possibly mention them all but some highlights included increased participation in the Cross Country Leagues – both West Glamorgan and Gwent. In the Gwent League we fielded full teams in both the men and women’s races for the first time in the Llandaff fixture and followed it up with full teams in the Pembrey fixture. Denise Bradley, Jo Gamba, Ryan Evans and Adrian Pearce all got called up to represent their region in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC championships in November 2019.

The Vale 18 miler had an incredible record 37 finishers from our club with many taking on their longest distance ever and certainly longest trail distance.

The club competed in the Rack Raid relays for the first time. A review of the 100+ mile relay event can be found on the following link http://www.ogmorephoenixrunners.co.uk/rack-raid-2019-review/

The Rabbit Run at Merthyr Mawr had 44 finishers and we won several team and individual medals as it was part of the Welsh Athletics trail championships. The men won team Gold and Bronze whilst the ladies won team Silver whilst there were also several age category winners as well.

There were plenty of fun events with Cosmeston and Cottrell Park relays injecting something a bit different to usual proceedings and of course the annual Bridgend Beer Mile which is something completely different again.

Jo Gamba, Nick Harris and I did the Cardiff CPR challenge taking on 5 events over 2 days which add up to a marathon distance whilst Liz Sim did a similar event in Portishead.

The Infinity Running events have become a firm favourite with many in the club with their events offering anything fro 3.3 miles to ultra on a pretty much monthly basis at reasonably local venues.

The club trail championships again proved popular with plenty of running putting on their trail daps to run through every type of terrain on offer. We’ve also seen a record number of people completing the road championships which admittedly did include a lot of the big events.

The first day of 2019 saw members complete the 18/19 Festive Four with Tammie Baker, Gregg Harris and Adrian Pearce among the winners of various prize categories. The end of 2019 has over a dozen members sign up for 19/20 Festive Four.

Biggest attended events of 2019

Most of these will have been mentioned above but just to show the incredible attendance at events this year yet again – here’s the top 5 with where they rank in the biggest events in the clubs history in brackets…

  1. Cardiff Half Marathon 116 (1st)
  2. Ogmore Castle BCRL fixture 114 (2nd)
  3. Porthcawl 10K 97 (3rd)
  4. Llanilid Loop BCRL fixture 92 (6th)
  5. Newbridge Feilds BCRL fixture 85 (10th)

What will 2020 bring?

Well, as I write this post on January 5th, we’ve just seen our biggest ever amount of parkrun finishers on the first Saturday of the year as well as record breaking figures on New Years Day at both parkrun and the Prince of Wales Kenfig event. A sign of things to come? Will I be writing the 2020 review saying all the records have been broken again?! I look forward to finding out.

Well done to every single member who have trained with us, represented us in parkrun or races and / or volunteered during 2019. What an incredible year.

November 2019 review

November saw our members notch up 209 parkrun finishes across 56 parkruns. parkruns added to the 300+ venues our members have completed included Sheffield Hallam, Knowsley, Dalby Forest, Watermeadows, Lydiard (formerly named Swindon), Rotherham, Erddig, Northala Fields and Oaklands. We also had some international tourism with Lisa Jenkins running at Amager Strandpark parkrun in Copenhagen.

Highlights in month included 13 members plus a few friends of the club going on Karl’s latest ‘Johnson’s parkrun tours’ to the home of parkrun at Bushy. It turned out that they went in a week that Bushy had the biggest attendance of any parkrun in the world with 1,328 finishers. Usually a couple of South African parkruns top the attendance figures each week. There were multiple official and ‘arbitrary’ (for anyone who listens to the With Me Now podcast) milestones with Louise Bennett running her 50th parkrun, Karl running his 150th parkrun, and Dawn Hopkins running her 50th different parkrun venue.

Nick Harris ran his 300th parkrun during November whilst Ffion Smith reached her 50th parkrun milestone.

Other highlights in the month included Neil Price being first finisher out of the 342 runners at Porthcawl on the 23/11/19 with the fastest time of any member this month with a 18:49. Aled Hughes was second finisher for the 5th time during the month, whilst I made it 3 times as second finisher (at 3 different parkruns), and Nicky Bennett was second finisher for the second time with a PB of 19:37.

5 milers

A rarely run distance saw 23 members at the Severn Bridge midweek night race early in the month. A great event which had something for everyone with some fast competitive running at the front end and a party atmosphere throughout the field with face paints, glow sticks and plenty of head torches and hi-vis. Aled Hughes was first Phoenix back in 14th place overall and 1st in his age category. Unbeknownst to most of us, there was also a team competition where Aled, Luke, myself and Simon Harrison made up the first 4 OPR male finishers to bag ourselves 3rd place in the team standings.

Later in the month, Nick Harris was the only Phoenix at the second event of the series.

10K

We had a record 48 runners at the Richard Burton 10K where Paul Smith was our first finisher with 38:37. Nicky Bennett grabbed a PB of 42:24 whilst there were also PB’s for Jamie Puddy, Toni Howells and Stephne Puddy.

November isn’t usually a month that’s popular for 10K’s but we had members at quite a few this year. Debbie Bennion and Sharon Pritchard ran the Botanical Gardens 10K. Anneliese, with her dog in tow completed the Gower 10K. We had 5 runners at the Cardiff Mo Run. Dawn Hopkins ran the Race the Moon 10K in London. Tyler Howells and Bethan Denholm ran the Gloucester 10K, and Nick Harris notched up another event with the Cattle Country Dark Skies 10K.

10 miles

Another distance that has very few events drew 19 members to the Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler. Wayne Hayhurst led the club members back with a 1:11:25 PB on the testing course that really does have a lot of different surfaces and plenty of sand. New member James Dennison was next up also bagging himself a PB. The PB’s continued with Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns, Tyler Howells, Sarah Davies, Catherine Robinson, Jane Collins, Anna Clough, Alexis Barrett and Sara Johns.

Half Marathons

Adam Rowe and Kirstie Edwards completed the inaugural Tough Runner Cardiff Trail Half Marathon. A hilly, off road half not to be confused with the Cardiff Taff Trail Half Marathon which is very flat and on tarmac.

We also had a few members head up to North Wales for the Conwy Half Marathon where Denise Bradley managed a sub 2 hour run on the undulating course with Sally Littlehales, Emma Marshall, Stephne and Jamie Puddy also completing the course.

Marathons

I’ll come on to the Infinity Running event in the next section which mainly leaves me with Chris Pratt’s latest marathon exploits. Chris ran his first double marathon weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday run by Phoenix Running Events – this is a real company and not something Chris made up to get more marathons! Nick Harris joined him on the second day which I’m sure was welcome company for Chris on his first back to back marathon weekend. He then completed his 19 marathons in 2019 challenge at the Greenham Common Marathon.

Infinity Running – Bonfire Bolt

The feedback from the Infinity Running events has always been glowing ever since they first started a year ago. I first attended one in January this year and was straight on our Facebook pages to recommend it to our members. Chris Pratt has now done 7 marathons at their events which has obviously been a huge bonus in allowing him to do so many of marathons close to home and I’m sure will feature heavily in his future marathon plans.

From just a few of us attending those first few events, Phoenix members attendance has grown and grown to a point where for this event we had an incredible 40 members running at the Bonfire Bolt event in Margam. We covered every distance from 1 lap for a 5K up to Kris Denholm completing his 7th Ultra of the year with 10 laps and 33 miles completed. Highlights included Sarah Littlewood running a huge PB of 1:52:21 in the Half Marathon (4 laps). There were 5 who completed the marathon distance with a real mixed bag of experience. Paul Barrett ran 4:19:23 to beat his Snowdonia time set in his first ever marathon just 2 weeks before by over 30 minutes. He was accompanied by Luke Jones who has previously run a 3:06 marathon back in 2013. Next up was a marathon debut for Jay Howells who clocked an impressive sub 5 hour time of 4:55. Chris Pratt, marathon extraordinaire, was up next and no doubt enjoyed having significantly more Phoenix company than in some of his other marathons. Our final finisher of the day was Tyler Howells who completed his first ever marathon in 6:03.

Cross Country (XC)

A huge month for XC with fixtures in the West Glamorgan League, Gwent League as well as Phoenix members representing their region in the Welsh Inter Regional Championships.

The first XC race of the month was the second fixture of the Gwent League at Pembrey Country Park. As male captain, I was delighted to see us field a full men and women’s team for the second fixture in a row. The ladies went off first with an undulating 7.2K course consisting of 2 laps of grass, trail and some sections of sand. Fiona Drysdale was our first lady back, followed by Sarah Davies, Jo Gamba, Steph Iveson Holmes and Dawn Hopkins to make up our 5 scorers. Ann Davies, Samantha Thompson and Tammie Baker made up a total of 8 OPR ladies finishers. The men’s race was a 9.9K course with an extended version of the 2 laps the ladies had raced earlier that afternoon. I was the first Phoenix across the line followed closely by Simon Harrison. Nick Harris, Phill Iveson and David Sheard completed the scoring for the men’s fixture.

Due to a top 15 finish in their respective age categories and regions, Denise Bradley and Adrian Pearce were called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC Championships in Brecon. Some gaps in the West Wales team allowed Ryan Evans a spot in their team as he had run for them previously whilst a member of Swansea University’s running club. Then there was a late call up to the South Wales team for Jo Gamba who had run in both Gwent League fixtures which were being used to determine places for the championships. The Inter Regional Championships were held in Brecon with the ladies race being a 6K course with 1 medium lap and 2 large laps. Both Denise and Jo did themselves and the club proud with gritty performances in the wet, muddy conditions on the undulating course. With the men going last after all the junior and senior ladies races, it meant they had the worst of the mud for their 9.6K, 3 lap course. Again, both our runners did us proud even if Ryan was running for a ‘rival’ region.

The second West Glamorgan fixture was a familiar route for many of our club members as it took in much of the same course as the Kenfig Sands BCRL fixture except with the added bonus of an extra mile or so in the middle section. Paul Smith was our first runner back followed by Steven James, Keith Coleman, Kris Denholm and James Phillips who made up our 5 male scorers. The ladies team included Sian Price, Claire DB, Liz Davis, Fiona Evans and Samantha Thompson as the scorers. 18 members ran in total making it the 4th XC fixture across 2 leagues where we’ve fielding full men and ladies teams.

Other races

Lets start big with a couple of Ultra’s this month. Steve Loveluck completed the 34 mile Gower Ultra – this is different to the Run Walk Crawl Ultra but every big as tough taking in steep climbs over technical terrain. Liz Sim and Steven James joined forces to complete the 34 mile OTT Ultra in the Brecon Beacons which they did amazingly to complete having got lost very soon after the start which resulted in them ending up a couple of miles behind the tail runner who they then had to catch up with.

Nick Harris completed the Twmbarlwn Terror – a 7 mile off road race organised by Fairwater Runners Cwmbran. 6 runners took on the Sodbury Slog – a slightly bonkers off road race which includes the ‘sheep dip’ and ‘pig trough’ sections.

The Grand Slam club

Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns and Sarah Davies both completed a 2019 Grand Slam of PB’s by ticking off a 10 miler to complete a set of PB’s at each of the ‘standard’ distances – 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon. Only a handful of members achieve this each year. The first to complete the Grand Slam this year was Stephne Puddy who completed it with Snowdonia Marathon. Alexis Barrett has come agonisingly close with only a Marathon PB missing which she was only 50 seconds off in Snowdon.

We have plenty on 5 PB’s out of the 6 distances. Adrian Pearce and Wayne Hayhurst (5 mile PB required), Hannah Knight, Sian Jenkins and Jay Howells (10 mile PB required), Dawn Hopkins, Steven James and Tyler Howells (Half Marathon PB required).

Now this is normally where I’d hand over to Chris to do the Chairman’s Runner of the Month… however, I’m going to bend the rules slightly and I’m going to do it myself (with agreement from female captain, Pippa) this month… you’ll see why…

Captains Runners of the Month

For many runners, the goal of running a marathon is the ultimate. Many of us will have watched the London Marathon growing up in awe of these seemingly normal everyday people who have trained to run 26.2 miles. All of us will have started off struggling to run for a mile and the thought of running 26.2 of them would have seemed inconceivable at the time. Many of us have taken that journey and steadily built up to 5K, 10K, Half Marathons and eventually completed a marathon. It’s a huge deal. You’d struggle to find many runners out there who wouldn’t be telling all their friends and family about an upcoming marathon and the resulting stories from having completed it. Running a marathon is not easy. Now imagine setting yourself a goal of running 19 of them… but not 19 over a lifetime…. 19 in one calendar year… 19 marathons in 2019. That’s what Chris Pratt, my male runner of the month, did on Sunday 24th November. A remarkable achievement and in the end he actually did it all in 38 weeks having not started until March of this year and finishing with over a month to go.

Onto the female runner of the month and this is a lady on a mission. Not content with running a Half Marathon PB and Marathon PB in October, this lady went on to complete a Grand Slam of PB’s within the space of just 8 weeks by adding 5K, 5 mile and 10 mile PBs during November. Her time of 41:11 at the Severn Bridge 5 miler beat her previous best which set on the super flat and fast Cardiff Bay 5 mile course over 4 years ago. She followed that up with a 10 mile PB at the Pembrey Multi-Terrain race, beating her previous best time (which was on the same course) by almost 7 minutes. To top it off, she finished the month with a parkrun time of 23:17, knocking 33 seconds off her PB and claiming one of the fastest times by any lady in the club this year. All this whilst also training for an upcoming Ultra Marathon, taking multiple sessions per week as one of the club coaches and balancing a busy family / work life. This months female runner of the month is Emma Loyns