Weekly Waffle – 17 February 2019

Every week is different…

We never see one where there isn’t at least one event on… 

This weekend was always going to be a big…

Not least because it was a chance for us all to get together and celebrate the amazing achievements by our members – whether that be through excellent running performance or endeavour!

Of course, Saturday morning was ritual.  parkrun.  All one word, all lower case for the pedants.  5k.  Free, and that’s something you don’t hear very often.  Everyone welcome.   As usual we were dotted around the country.  Some intentional trips.  Some opportune while away from home.  Some more opportune than others with a long run planned that passed a parkrun setting up and not the intended destination.  Friendly conversation with those involved caused a change of plan.  The magic of parkrun. 

Evening arrived.  The Phoenix descended on a centre named in memory of an 18th century philosopher.  A community club using a community facility to house an evening of celebration for its athletes, recognising impressive running through inspiration, ability and endeavour.  

Reminiscing on a great year of growth and optimism.

Rewarding those who have achieved.

Rarely writing these reviews in the first person, there’s always an opportunity to break convention… 

Last night will be a very long lasting memory for me personally.  

At one point in the night for me the world stood still…  

After the awards were done I stopped to take stock…  

People surrounded me…

One walked around with her trophy offering sweets from it that she’d filled it with earlier, beaming from ear to ear at the accolade she’d very unexpectedly received.  Tables full of people discussing the events of the evening or their upcoming plans.  Others showing off their awards, receiving well deserved praise for their impressive endeavours.  Some let their hair down.  An opportunity to let go.  A dance floor full.  Scenes reminiscent of school disco.  Smiles.  Laughter.  The smiles and laughter were infectious.  A huge amount of this is nothing to do with running.  This is to do with relationship.  We’ve been brought together by a crazy habit that has pushed some of us to the limit.  That limit doesn’t have to be huge but when an experience pushes limits and it is shared the bond is strong.  

I smiled.  From ear to ear.

If you could stop time and bottle that moment it would be worth a million pounds.

The family had a party and it was a damned good one.  

Phoenix family, thank you, it was a blast!

Let’s all do it again soon!

Despite a late one, members still rose this morning to encourage our heroes on their continued journey, cover the trails and even race on a route that was slightly longer than expected in the Welsh capital. Another, also present for the festivities, headed to mid-west Wales for an undulating half marathon while another headed across the border to complete a 10k on a route usually circumnavigated by powered vehicles.

Time might have stopped briefly for me to take stock last night but life still goes on…

Just keep doing what you’re doing…

Yes, there’s a lot involved in doing this job – but being a family man I know that enormous sacrifice in exchange for seeing that single moment of sheer joy on a face from having achieved something that was previously out of reach is absolutely worth it!

Simply…

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 10th February 2019

Sometimes you have to take a step back to see everything clearly…

To see and take in everything that’s occurred this weekend we’d need to walk a few miles back, not just a step!

Numbers at training again on the increase despite it being the build up to a plethora of racing activities over the weekend!

As the nights start to get lighter the opportunities for night races diminish so a few managed to slot one in, while they still appear on the calendar, before the weekend arrived!

Saturday saw Storm Eric batter the coast but it takes an awful lot to cause Porthcawl to cancel the 9am gathering on the upper promenade and large club numbers braved the high tide and high winds to complete the course, some having made the journey down on foot.  

Our other home location saw a small group make their way around the multi-loop course.

The usual suspects travelled to locations far and wide for their tourism fix.

Some fled spritely from their 9am run to join others on the trails for a hilly half marathon with impressive running by all!

A new day dawns… 

Some were up super early to head all the way to Brecon to navigate the 40+ miles back down to Nantgarw in a race that tests both mentally and physically.  Valiant efforts from the few that made the epic journey!  It takes a huge amount of courage to stand on the start line of these races and a belly full of grit and determination to make it to the finish!   Epic!

Five brave members trekked around a dozen miles with significant ascent to make their mark in the first tough event in the trail championship!

Almost 50 runners travelled down the coast to the west for a half marathon starting at the home of Llanelli rugby on an out and back course skirting the coast.  First timers joined seasoned runners to complete the course with almost half recording a personal best!  Amazing stuff!

Not only that but the Phoenix turned out in a voluntary capacity providing support at one of the water stations!  One went above and beyond the call of duty to lay down with an exhausted runner to protect them from the extreme elements.  True Phoenix spirit in action!

A lone runner headed to the English capital to run another half around the Olympic Park!

A handful of lucky souls headed a long way South to the Catalonian capitol to complete another half marathon in rather sunnier climes that we were experiencing back at home!

What an amazing weekend!

Over 80 club members involved in events, not including parkrun.  A wonderful effort by the runners themselves but also by those back at base collating the results for us all to see.  A massive thanks to them too.

Posts all over the weekend started with stories full of nerves for what lay ahead.  

Trepidation at the unknown.

Valuable lessons were learnt.  

Training is invaluable.

With sufficient prior investment in miles it will be a much more enjoyable experience.  

Sufficient training or not, enjoyable or not, everyone who stood on a start line crossed the finish line with stories to tell and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

When weekends like this happen we burst with pride!

Brave endeavours, abundant supporting and volunteering while great achievements abound!

The Phoenix spreads it’s wings and rises higher and higher!

Keep it up you brave souls!

Sometimes there’s a little more conviction in the words…

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 03/02/2019

The clocks tick by and Sunday night arrives once again.  

Time to reflect.

Extreme weather conditions put pay to a training session during the week and hung around to the weekend to do its damage to parkrun plans.  Many events cancelled but the salt in the sea air cleared virtually all evidence of ice on the seafront meaning a big club turnout in Porthcawl.  Bitterly cold but sunny conditions made for a glorious morning with many making their way down on foot.  Long runs fitted in before parkrun leave the rest of the day free – and help to justify the bacon sandwich in the cafe afterwards!

The disruption of the weather wasn’t over!  Races cancelled meant some had to find their planned miles elsewhere.  Many headed out for the their long runs on their path to long races in the spring.  Our heroes continued their journeys in significant numbers.

One headed over the border to the English capital to return to racing over the 10k distance.

A small valiant bunch drove down to the Gower and took on a challenging 10k through challenging terrain as a result of the recent extreme conditions.

Yet another busy weekend for the Phoenix defying the elements and still getting out and getting the job done!!

I’ve got this far reviewing the weekend and there’s something nagging in the back of my mind that I might have missed something and I can’t for the life of me think what it is…  

If only people were a bit more vocal about the things they got up to it would make it a lot easier for me to review…

Hang on a minute, it’s coming back to me now…

Something about a group of Phoenix taking an early morning flight from Gatwick across the channel to a small island just off the coast of France… Yes, it’s coming back to me now…  Landing less than half an hour before the whistle blows they made it to the start line of parkrun on Jersey.  Out and back within 24 hours.  Nutters!  Love it – a great adventure!  The Phoenix spirit shining through!   Just next time I wish they’d make more noise about having done it!!

Keep on doing what you’re doing guys!!

It’s brilliant to watch the valiant efforts being made throughout the club.

For those unable to run we send out a heap of positive vibes for a speedy recovery.  We’re here for you.

As we say goodbye to one week, we welcome another… 

I can’t wait to see what it brings for you all…

Whatever it is, keep shouting about it!

As ever,

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

January 2019 review

parkruns

This month saw an a record 303 parkrun finishes by 123 different members across 41 different parkrun venues.

Tourism included Alice Holt, Aston Court, Basingstoke, Bath, Bexley, Burnham, Chippenham, Chipping Sodbury, Colby, Eastville, Fletcher Moss, Hereford, Kingsbury, Lullingstone, Medina, Minehead, Shewsbury, Telford and Wormwood Scrubs. Our members visited more English parkruns than Welsh ones. We also had more international tourism with Tim and Philippa Rees completing Karkarook, Maribyrnong, Wyndham Vale, Toolern Creek and You Yangs parkruns in Australia.

Other notable parkrun stats in the month include a record 20 members recording a New Years Day double – the only day of the year it’s possible to record 2 parkruns. 11 of those are on the maximum 6 parkruns out of 6 for 2019.

This month saw Denise Bradley celebrate her 100th parkrun whilst Adrian Pearce and Claire Taylor reached their 50th parkruns.

Ben Davies had a fantastic month with 3 PB’s in 3 parkruns knocking 97 seconds off his best time which was achieved in his last parkrun of 2018. It marks a 3 minute improvement since starting with the club.

Ryan Evans set a marker for the year with a 18:56 in his first ever parkrun with Neil Price setting a new PB of 19:38 on the same day. Natalie Aryal smashed sub 30 for the first time with a 28:45 despite having run more than 7 miles to parkrun beforehand.

There were plenty of tourism PB’s in the month with Sarah Littlewood running her first sub 24 at Shrewsbury on New Years Day having run sub 25 the same morning at Telford as part of the double. Rhiannon Sian bagged herself a PB at Aberbeeg. Dawn and Brett got PB’s at Riverfront. Claire Taylor had an incredible running year in 2018 and started 2019 with a PB at Swansea. Julie Ransom got a PB at Kingsbury Water.

Other PB’s in month included Chris Bimson (twice), Maria George, Sarah Davies, Paul Barrett (twice), Sian Jenkins, Ken Salvatore and Cath Robinson. Well done to our first time parkrunners with the club, Paul Iskander, Frances Manship and Lynnette Griffiths. Apologies if I’ve missed any other PB-ers or newbies.

10K

The first 10K of the year came courtesy of the Buff Trial race in Afan Argoed. Steve Loveluck was first in his age category with an incredible 43:46 clocking on a course with around 800 feet of climbing. Anneliese was first female overall (not just in the club or category but first lady in the overall race) with 45:58 and was over a minute ahead of the second place lady. Impressive performances throughout our runners with Sarah Davies, Sharon Pritchard, Debbie Bennion, Alexis Barrett and Dawn Davy all completing the tough course.

Half Marathons

I ran an event set up by Infinity Running in Margam Park. It was a 6 hour lapped event which was roughly 3.3 miles per lap so you could do 1 lap for 5K(ish), 2 laps for 10K(ish), 4 laps for Half Marathon, 8 laps for Marathon, or as many laps as you can within the time limit for an Ultra. They are putting on similar events every month and I would highly recommend them.

To my surprise, I led the entire field for the first mile and a half before a 10K runner went passed. It was 5 miles before another runner went passed which unfortunately for me was someone doing the Half. However, I was absolutely delighted to end up finishing 2nd in a time of 1:37:30 which was my fastest half marathon time for almost 2 years.

Other races

25 members started the year with the Kenfig race as part of the Festive Four on New Years Day. Adrian Pearce led our runners home which earned him top spot on the Festive Four age category standings and secured 3rd place overall for fastest cumulative time over the series. Gregg Harris was our 4th runner back and was rewarded with 3rd place in the male season best ‘improvers’ category. Our first female runner was Denise Bradley whilst Tammie’s performance earned her 3rd place in the female season best ‘improvers’ category.

23 runners made the trip just over the bridge to Thornbury for the Riverbank Rollick. This event has increased in numbers from our club year on year since just Richard Lowcock James and I ran it in 2015. Richard definitely promotes it more than I do as I haven’t been convinced to run to the 9 miles of energy sapping mud since whilst only injury stopped him making another appearance this year. I’m not adverse to a muddy trail run but you have see it to believe it. Luckily (or maybe not if you were looking forward to the mud), the course was a bit drier than usual this year and James Littlewood ran an impressive 1:15:57 with Aled Hughes just a few seconds behind. The in-form Dawn Hopkins was our first female across the line.

On the same day as the Riverbank Rollick we had a further 20 runners in attendance for the Tata Steel Margam Reservoir XC fixture. It’s probably the most bizarre cross country fixture around as the course is entirely on tarmac paths around the lake. Adrian Pearce led the club home in 34:33 on the 5.6 mile course with Niki Puleio and new member Paul Jones less than a minute behind. Neil Price and Kris Denholm completed the scoring positions for the men. Claire Dunbar Bowen was our first lady with another in-form lady, Sarah Littlewood less than a minute behind. Jo Gamba, Victoria Hillman and Liz Davies made up the remaining scorers for the ladies.

We had 8 runners at the CF64 race in Barry. The 10.2K multi terrain event saw Simon Harrison cross the line as first Phoenix followed by Gregg Harris, Nick Harris, Dawn Hopkins, Nige Rees, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom and Jamie Puddy.

Steven James completed the Wychavon Way 40 mile Ultra in 8 hours 34 minutes. Steven was using the event as a step towards a long term goal of running even longer Ultras over the next year.

Our most popular race of the month was the Lliswerry 8 where we had 33 runners. Kris Denholm was first Phoenix back in 55:45 with Claire Dunbar Bowen our first lady in 1:01:49 and the in form Sarah Littlewood only just over a minute behind. Claire’s time was the fastest any female in our club has completed the course beating Josie Bishop who ran 1:02:33 in 2017. There were some amazing improvements by runners who had run the event last year and this year including an 11 minute improvement by Sarah Littlewood, 16 minutes for Dawn Hopkins, 15 minutes for Claire Taylor and a 5 minute improvement for Vickie Blake. Several others had course bests as well or saw even bigger improvements when compared to when they ran in 2017 or previously.

On the same day as Lliswerry we also had 15 runners brave freezing conditions in Margam for the 4th fixture of the West Glamorgan XC league. It’s the most ‘cross country’ of the 4 fixtures so far, mainly due to the fact it actually has some grass / mud unlike the others. It is more ‘multi-terrain’ though with forestry track and tarmac sections included. Ryan Evans was our first runner back followed by new member Paul Smith. Neil Price, Dai James and myself made up the scorers for the men’s team. The ladies were led home by Juliet Amner with Sara Vowles, Louise Foster, Steph Dyke and Jo Gamba the other scorers. Well done to Nigel Hitchings, Rosaleen Salvatore, Hannah Knight, Peter Walsh and Kimberley Davies who all represented the club at the event.

What a start to the year. 303 parkrun finishes and a further 125 race finishes completed by our members. Well done all.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

2019!! 

Another year and more running to do.

Renewed enthusiasm and vigour throughout the Phoenix ranks as the new year brings positivity and hope!  Numbers swell at training for us and many of our neighbours.  Wonderful to see.

We’ve seen many members conclude a fantastic year of running in 2018 and not ones to reset on their laurels many have continued this run of form.  One of these has flourished quietly over the last few months and January was a month of continued excellence.  Reaching a very lean racing weight and continuing to bash out the miles at decent pace this run of form cannot be ignored.  With several mentions in the months summary it justifies my choice.  Always smiling with the characteristic expression on photos that is now become synonymous.  Always the soul of the party whether it be running or away from it.  The running is continuing to cut through the amusing expression and outshine it and it’s brilliant to see.  I am absolutely delighted to start the year by celebrating the achievements of Sarah Littlewood by awarding her my Chairman’s female runner of the month for January.  Keep up the hard work Sarah – 2019 is going to be a good year of running for you, I sense it – and keep on smiling – and don’t stop with the thumbs up!! 

It’s often the case that runners reach their peak of excellence and maintain form from that point on.  Peaks and troughs follow but the recognition for endeavour usually comes when they either step away from their comfort zone or during their initial stages of improvement – when they began running.  Those who have been in our midst for a long time tend to fade into the background.  Their introduction to running and subsequent improvements came before we all knew them and so their achievements, while impressive in their own right, can be swallowed up against a backdrop of a huge number of improvers within the club.  Sometimes, though, there is a dip in form that is followed by a return which does get noticed.  One of the troughs runs for a period of time (often as a result of helping others with their improvements – and that is the case here) and the ascent to the peak cuts through the background “noise”.  My next choice is one such runner.  He does so many events we just see another one as a tick on the list, but I sense a return to form that may see a peak that exceeds previous highs.  A focus has returned.  Chomping at the bit to improve and set a new marker in the sand.  With an impressive half marathon time set already this year that echoes back to two years ago it’s onwards and upwards and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where that new marker will be set.  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s male runner of the month as Gareth Jenkins!  Great start to the year Gareth!!

Weekly Waffle – 27th January 2019

Sunday fades and leaves us with memories of a busy week…

Still seeing big numbers at training filling everyones week with preparations for races coming up or just continuing their journey to their first parkrun as it looms closer…

Training on Thursday was combined with celebrations of a significant birthday of our wonderful secretary with flowers and, most importantly, cake!!  We do love our cake!

Friday saw a huge club contingent get together to support one of our own on his quest to secure funds for his London Marathon charity place.  Fun and frolics enjoyed by many with many Phoenix dancing the night away…

parkrun was a challenge for several as a result….  

A milestone reached up the valley was supported by Phoenix friends.  Some got up early to run to our other local event and cleared heads in the process.  For some, it was their first parkrun, the start of something big as we know the bug takes hold very quickly!  Others added another location to their ever expanding list.  One almost found himself at Her Majesty’s pleasure but managed to remain outside the walls to complete his Saturday morning constitutional.

One made his way to Worcester to impressively self-navigate his way over 40 miles of trails as part of his bid to secure a place in something bigger.  Yes, that’s right, something bigger!  

Long training runs are now starting to fill the calendar as spring halves and marathons loom closer and several put their daps on and headed out to get the miles in.

Sunday comes round and while our heroes turn out in number yet again to further their journeys a big club contingent travel east along the M4 to a very popular event hosted by our very good friends at Lliswerry.  Flat and fast it always attracts good numbers.  And there’s cake – and to avoid repeating myself I won’t add any more detail to that one!  Cold conditions and high winds did their best to try and dampen the spirit but it would take a lot more than that to keep the Phoenix down and impressive results were seen all round.

Back down west the conditions were reportedly worse with hail being added to the mix!  A notoriously tough course saw members tested in this league fixture.  Gritty performances all round in the conditions.

Still in Winter but the temperature seems to be fluctuating erratically.  The cold days don’t seem to be deterring everyone from hitting the streets.  Impressive commitment all round!!  Fingers crossed that snow stays away and allows us to continue plodding the streets!

Keep up the good work everyone!

It goes without saying, but I will anyway…

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 20th January 2019

Week 3 of the year in the Ogmore Phoenix house…

A special occasion at one of our local parkrun locations celebrating 300 events! 

Several members were present at that first running of the event and 54 of the club returned to celebrate with just over 400 other runners on the seafront.  Once the running was complete it was back to the Hi Tide to review achievements in the local summer running league and the series that kept us all focused over the festive season.  Significant placings resulted in awards being picked up by several Phoenix!  Wonderful stuff!!

Other parkruns were also completed resulting in a record turnout for the club with volunteers included hitting the magic 100 in total!!  Amazing!

Sunday came round and while huge numbers continued their journey in Pandy Park others hit the trails along the coast preparing for their long race in April.

Some headed further east to loop around very picturesque surroundings for a (slightly longer than) 10k race around the trails.  With volunteers and runners alike great fun was had by all.

One tackled a new event consisting of multiple loops which can be completed as many times as can be achieved within 6 hours.  It resulted in a quick half marathon time and a 2nd place finish.

Another headed north to run full marathon distance around a city and bashed out 20 miles and then battled through the last 6 tough miles to finish another marathon and the first one of the year!

High numbers at training still outstripping any week of last year as motivation levels remain high following the new year!  Great to see!

Great running all round, yet again.

Keep doing what you’re doing guys…

Let’s see what week 4 brings…

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Porthcawl parkrun 300th event special

The club at Porthcawl parkrun

233 different runners are currently listed as Ogmore Phoenix Runners and have completed the course at least once (this does include a few juniors). This is the most of any club. Those 233 runners have completed 5870 Porthcawl parkruns between them.

The inaugural and record attendance growth

Although not all had joined the club at the time, current members who ran at the inaugural Porthcawl parkrun on 13th April 2013 include Kelly Griffiths, David Sheard, Angela Walsh, Chris Pratt, Peter Harrop, Garry Jones, John Burridge and myself.

There were 134 runners in total at the first Porthcawl parkrun and the average for the first year was only around 100. By the end of 2015, there were regularly 200+, then 300+ in 2016 before a huge record attendance of 425 on Christmas Eve that year. The last 4 weeks have saw the attendance record smashed again with 458, 499, 508 and then just missing another record last week with 505.

Most individual Porthcawl parkruns

I believe the record for most Porthcawl parkruns in held by Nigel Thomas (unaffiliated) who has completed a staggering 273 of the 299 Porthcawl parkruns so far. Another one worth mentioning is Michael Davies (Porthcawl Runners) who has run all of his 266 parkruns at Porthcawl despite a serious illness.

As for our runners, our top 10 for most Porthcawl parkruns are…

Nick Harris 229

David Sheard 213

Chris Pratt 207

Gareth Jenkins 196

David Kembery 174

Peter Harrop 157

Chris Roberts 134

Angharad Rees 124

Kris Denholm 112

Liz Davis 109

Claire Goldsworthy, Caerwyn Lewis, Dai Power and Simon Williams have all also completed over 100 Porthcawl parkruns. Of our Porthcawl 100 club, Liz Davis is the most loyal to Porthcawl with 95% of her total parkruns being there. A further 18 members have completed 50-99 Porthcawl parkruns.

Fastest Phoenixes at Porthcawl parkrun

Our fastest listed Porthcawl parkrun time is 18:38 by Niki Puleio, closely followed with a 18:47 from Adrian Pearce and 18:56 from John Burridge. In the sub 20 club at Porthcawl we also have Nick Harris, Steve Loveluck, Aled Hughes, Neil Price, Gareth Richards, Chris Truman, Dai James, Chris Pratt, James Littlewood, Brian Cotton and finally myself with 19:59.

*Worth noting that Neil Jones has run 17:01 at Porthcawl whilst a member of the club but representing Pontyclun. He has also been first finisher on 5 occasions at Porthcawl whilst a member of our club.

Our top 10 fastest females are

Anneliese Loveluck 20:41

Sian Price 21:14

Amy Roberts 21:53

Shelley Smithson 22:34

Claire Dunbar-Bowen 22:55

Josie Bishop 23:05

Kirsty Evans 23:41

Emma Loyns 23:50

Victoria Hillman 23:53

Jo Gamba 24:35

Both Anneliese and Sian have also been first female finishers at Porthcawl. In terms of highest age grade percentages, Anneliese comes out on top again with 79:13% with Adrian Pearce next on 77:28% and Steve Loveluck with 76.97%.

Biggest improvements

Below is a selection of some of the biggest improvements on first Porthcawl parkrun times to current Porthcawl parkrun PB’s…

Claire Taylor 46:38 to 31:21 (33% improvement)

Rhiannon Sian 39:12 to 27:30 (30% improvement)

Dai Power 41:40 to 30:05 (28% improvement)

Chris Pratt 27:22 to 19:54 (27% improvement)

Sian Jenkins 42:43 to 31:42 (26% improvement)

Rhiannon Whiteley 44:13 to 33:40 (24% improvement)

Tammie Clemett 36:12 to 28:38 (21% improvement)

Elaine Nash 51:57 to 41:38 (20% improvement)

Looking through the list, there’s at least another 30-40 runners who’ve knocked up to 10 minutes off their times and have had close to 20% improvements.

Random stats

Biggest variation in fastest and slowest time: David Sheard 22:58 to 55:49

Oldest Porthcawl parkrun PB: Martin Beard 22:34 (27/09/14)

Fastest average parkrun time: Adrian Pearce 19:11 from 6 runs

Fastest average parkrun time (over 100 runs): Simon Williams 21:10 from 102 runs

Fastest average parkrun time (over 200 runs): Nick Harris 22:15 from 229 runs

First current Phoenix member to reach 50 parkruns at Porthcawl: Chris Pratt

First current Phoenix member to reach 100 parkruns at Porthcawl: Chris Pratt

First current Phoenix member to reach 200 parkruns at Porthcawl: Nick Harris

Most parkruns away from Porthcawl even though it’s considered their ‘home parkrun’: Gareth Jenkins 78

Longest gap between Porthcawl parkruns (that I know of): Adrian Pearce 27/07/13 to 14/04/18 (also longest gap between Porthcawl parkrun PB’s)

Volunteering

It seems fitting to end with some stats on the volunteers and the 300 Porthcawl parkruns wouldn’t have been possible without them. We’re very fortunate a Porthcawl to have a super dedicated and experienced core volunteer team – many of which have close links with Welsh Athletics and organise / volunteer at numerous other running events.

One of that core team is a Phoenix. Maria Lalic has volunteered at Porthcawl on 193 seperate occasions!

Unfortunatley parkrun don’t do a breakdown of volunteering at one specific event (that I have access to anyway) so the list below will include some volunteering elsewhere like Maesteg and Bridgend junior parkrun but definitely worth a shout out…

Maria Lalic 193

Emma Marshall 83

Michael Brain 71

Stephne Puddy 61

Peter Harrop 50

Chris Stanlake 49

Chris Roberts 44

Gareth Jenkins 40

Kris Denholm 38

Karl Johnson 35

Well done to everyone who has represented our club at Porthcawl parkrun whether it’s running, volunteering or supporting.

Weekly Waffle – 13th January 2019

It’s been a busy affair this week!

Not even half way through the first month of the year and we experience a big increase in running activity!

Milestones were celebrated at parkrun at one of our home locations attracting good numbers again just coming short of last weeks record on the sea front.  The usual tourists scattered up and down the country to complete their 5k.  High numbers again falling only slightly short of last weeks club parkrun record!  Brilliant to see!

While we were getting our 5k fix some returned to tackle a tough trail route with double the distance.  It’s a great route with a sting in the tail testing weary legs as it climbs steeply to the finish.  This didn’t defeat our hardy runners and two came away with significant prizes once again starting their prize hoard for the year early!  Great running all round.

Sunday saw the arrival of an event that’s become a bit of a club favourite.  Mud, glorious mud greets those who head over the border to run alongside the Severn.  Great performances all round.

Another fixture in the West Glamorgan Cross Country League attracted those not Rollicking in England to run twice around the outside of a reservoir with a decent turnout and brilliant performances all round earning valuable points for the teams.

As our huge contingent of heroes continue their running journeys, club members heard the call for help!  A large number of those not racing came along to assist as the long line of runners built on their week one performance to go slightly longer and slightly further.  One step closer to their target!  Runners in the making!

What a week!  

Record training attendance at one session.  

Record weekly training attendance.  

Phoenix out in force enjoying what they love!

Winter is typically a tough time for running… 

Dark nights.  

Dark mornings.  

Cold and often wet.  

It takes a lot to motivate ourselves out of the door when it’s like this.  

Wonderful to see that none of this is deterring you!

Many are doing RED January…  Exercising every day during the month.  Once we get so far in to a challenge like this we can’t break the cycle.  It teaches us that when ordinarily we might say “not today” – in fact we actually can get something done.  For those running it all it teaches us that we can always find a few minutes to get a mile or so in – when we often would normally just stay indoors in the warm!  Great to see the commitment from those tackling the challenge!

Great club cameraderie demonstrated in the pictures shared of training and racing this week that warm the heart!

The family bonds grow stronger.

Continue to fly high… and don’t forget, if you feel your wings failing you just turn left or right to one of your Phoenix family and ask for help… we’re always here for you!  

Never, ever be afraid to do so!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 6th January 2019

The first week of the new year always brings a renewed vigour…

A sense of positivity courses through everyones veins as we say goodbye to the old and celebrate the arrival of the new…

What’s done is done…

New memories to be made… together!

The week started by seeing out the old and a few travelled to the capital for their New Years Eve running fix before the evening arrived representing the club in a veterans only race.

A huge club contingent travelled to the top of the valleys to do battle on the streets of Mountain Ash.  Elite and fun runners had their turn.  The Phoenix made their mark and calls were heard over the speakers celebrating our abundant presence.  A significant placing warranted an award that will take pride of place on one Phoenix mantelpiece in 2019!

What a farewell to what’s gone before!

Happy New Year!

Many woke early, some bleary eyed, to head out for their unique double parkrun fix.  The one day of the year where it’s possible to “do the double”.  Some stayed local.  Some travelled far.  Dedication.  Record numbers made the effort.  Some did just one and headed back home to tackle a local event run by our friends from Cornelly.  With Phoenix in large numbers they ploughed through fields and country lanes in the final compulsory event of the festive competition which has had a number of us focussed in spite of the excesses of the season.

Great running resulted in significant placings for a couple with one prize on the table!

A great way to start the new year!

Saturday arrives and the second parkrun outing of the week saw numbers out in force up and down the country. Significant milestones were celebrated at home events and huge Phoenix numbers down on the seafront helped towards a record attendance!

Training numbers were swelled by the renewed enthusiasm…

A new intake of our heroes starting their journey saw a record high attendance in one location…

Coupled with high numbers on the trails we saw the highest training attendance on record for one day!

A positive start to a new and exciting year!

Long may it continue…

Start as you mean to go on…

Use that positivity to drive forward…

I smiled today.  Smiled a lot.  Seeing those starting their journey.  Nervous faces.  Pensive moments not quite knowing what was to come.  Replaced later by happy smiling faces.  The biggest step is turning up.  The start of a journey that knows no limits.  There are no boundaries to what you can achieve if you just stick with it.  Small steps now lead to giant leaps as time moves on.  I remember when it all started for me.  Those first weeks of the journey.  So excited to see what it leads on to for all our heroes!!

Keep it up you lovely people!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

December 2018 review

parkruns

This month saw 245 parkrun finishes by our members across 52 parkrun events and 34 different locations. parkrun tourism appears to hit an all time high with 15 different Welsh parkruns visited whilst across the border our members completed parkruns at Market Harborough, Minehead, Dartford, Henley Wood, Plymvalley, Stonehouse, Somerdale Pavilion, Finsbury, Eden Project, Winchester, Northampton, Hamstead Heath, Heartlands, Telford, Churchfields and Bushy.

Further afield, Gwyneth Steddy ran at Omagh parkrun in Northern Ireland, Chris Roberts ran at Amager Fælled in Denmark, whilst Tim and Philippa ran at Toolern Creek in Australia 5 times during the month.

December was a busy month for parkruns with 5 Saturdays plus an additional chance to run a parkrun on Christmas Day. This year we had a record 9 runners on Christmas Day across 5 different locations including Chris Roberts who ran at Bushy parkrun which was also his 50th different parkrun venue. Incredibly, there was a parkrun UK record attendance of 2011 runners at Bushy parkrun that day. I also ran my 50th different parkrun in December with Aberbeeg being the venue for mine. There are now 5 of us who have reach ‘Half-Cowell’ status.

Other highlights in month included Adrian Pearce being first finisher at Maesteg on 2 occasions bringing his total number of first finishes up to 6. Porthcawl broke their attendance record twice with 458 on the 22nd and 499 on the 29th. Those parkruns were included in the Festive Four which I’ll come onto again later.

Tammie Baker, Claire Taylor, Rhiannon Sian and Sian Jenkins all capped off an amazing year of running with further improvements on their parkrun PB’s during the month. There were several other PB’s during the month including one of the other side of the world with Philippa Rees bagging herself a PB whilst parkrunning in Australia.

Races

5K races

With plenty of Santa / Elf / Reindeer runs to choose from over the festive period, the one that our runners are drawn to is the Aberavon Santa Run 5K. Chip timed, Santa outfit included and a goodie bag including mini Christmas pudding. It was the 5th edition of the run and my 5th year of running it. This year saw 27 of us head down the coast with many doing parkrun first despite horrible cold, wet and windy conditions. Despite the weather, I think most still enjoyed the run.

As it has been in each of the past 6 years that the club has been going, Nos Galan provided the final race of the year for our members. Simon Williams was our sole representative in the Elite race and finished in 21:55. We had a record 29 runners in the ‘fun run’ with Aled Hughes finishing 2nd overall in 19:56 and several other high position finishes with Kris Denholm 8th, Gareth Richards 23rd, myself in 24th and Chris Pratt in 32nd out of 912 runners. Jo Gamba was our first female finisher and 17th female overall out of 485. There were PB’s on the night for Wayne Randall, Rhiannon Sian, Natalie Aryal and Ffion Smith.

5 miles

This rarely run distance saw 2 events in December with the main one attracting 17 runners at the Boxing Day race in Glynneath where Anneliese Loveluck smashed yet another female club record with a 32:30 clocking. In the same race Adrian Pearce ran the fastest club 5 mile time of the year with 30:59 which claimed him the veteran club record whilst Steve Loveluck also set a club age category record in the over 50’s (super-vets) category.

Fiona Evans, Denise Bradley and Helen Griffiths ran the Old Father’s Time 5 miler in Cardiff between Christmas and New Year. This race only allows over 35’s so I’m looking forward to finally being allowed to run next year.

10K’s

The Cottrell Park Christmas Cracker 10K saw 30 members take on the multi terrain course including the infamous Bunker Hill that also forms part of the relay section that many of us tackled earlier this year. Gareth Richards was our first finisher just ahead of myself. Liz Sim was our first female finisher just ahead of Emma Winch and Emma Loyns.

10 miles

A rarely run distance but Keith Coleman completed the Llandeilo 10 miler on New Years Eve in 1:23:58.

Marathons

Only one marathon runner in December and unsurprisingly it was Elizabeth Sim. This was her 9th race this year at marathon distance or further which is the most of anyone in the club during 2018. Whilst most of us were last minute Christmas shopping or wrapping presents just 2 days before Christmas, Liz was running the Portsmouth Marathon which she completed in 5:09:48.

Other races

It’s not often we have a smaller turnout for a race than a previous year but given it was the morning after the club Christmas party, then it’s not too surprising we had a few less at the Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run. That said, we still had 24 members take on the tough multi-terrain course and I believe we were the most represented club at the event. Niki Puleio led our members home with the Lovelucks up next and adding more age category trophies to their collection.

I had a last minute call up to wear my South Wales vest for a second time at the Welsh Regional Cross Country Championships earlier in the month. The course consisted of 3 undulating and very muddy laps around Llandrindod Wells against some of the best runners throughout the age groups in Wales.

Boxing Day saw the annual Porthcawl Lions race which had to be shortened to around 6K due to a road traffic accident which happened as the front runners were heading towards Rest Bay. Niki Puleio was our first runner back with Sian Price our first lady.

Festive Four

This annual competition consists of runners signing up to run 2 5K’s, either of the Boxing Day races or Old Fathers Time 5 miler and the Prince of Wales Kenfig race on New Years Day. There are 3 scoring systems including simply the fastest overall, age graded scoring and most improved whereby runners times are compared to their ‘season’s best’ parkrun time for the year.

I know technically this should be the January update blog but Tammie Baker’s further improvements over these events bagged her second place in the most improved female standings. Adrian Pearce finished first in the age graded standings and 3rd in the accumulated time standings, whilst Gregg Harris finished 3rd in the most improved classification. Well done to all the Phoenix runners who completed the series.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

The final month of the year.  Most are winding down to enjoy the festivities.  Just to make sure that we don’t over indulge there’s a friendly competition open to local clubs which encourages participation in 4 events over the festive period.  Accolades are on offer for sheer performance as well as recognising those with impressive achievements weighted to their age and those who show big improvements over their year of running.  Although the last compulsory event in the series is on the first of January the majority of them fall in the last month of the year and surround the time when a lot of us are tucking in to mince pies, large cooked dinners and maybe a little tipple.  If you’ve kept abreast of proceedings you’ll note that we had significant finishes by a couple in the club.  One has already been honoured this year and continues to excel.  The other smashed one category with a clean victory.  A relatively recent addition to the club joining through his attendance at Maesteg parkrun and being wooed by the members there.  His running has impressed many since before joining and now he is a member we’re looking forward to big things from him over the coming months.  He likes his tough off road events and has recorded admirable times in those that he’s attended.  With a very sociable nature too he’s fitting in nicely with the club culture.  I am very pleased to award my Chairman’s male runner of the month to Adrian Pearce.  Well done Adrian, looking forward very much to what 2019 holds for you!

We’ve had many come through the ranks this year – through our massively popular and, dare I say it, very successful Zero 2 Hero programme.  From complete non-runners to heroes in 10 weeks.  parkrun for graduation and from there most never look back.  Continuing their journey with regular parkrunning and signing up for events, steadily increasing the distance, to enter new territory that they would previously never have dreamed of before.  I love it when I see that glint in someones eye – when you know they’ve discovered the joy that running can bring.  Then, when it takes hold there’s a determination to improve.  It was never the goal, but it slowly becomes the goal.  Three personal best times recorded during December for one.  Steadily improving.  Steadily discovering what her body is capable of doing.  Dismissing each run as though it’s worse than the last but crossing the line seconds ahead of the previous run with elation.  I’ve run back many times to run in with her and share in that joyous moment.  I’ve always had a penchant for running back after a run to meet our back runners and encourage them in – it’s amazing what a bit of moral support can give when they most need it.   If I say it’s a biased choice you’re likely to know immediately who I’m talking about, but it’s the kind of endeavour I want to celebrate.  I know from experience that she hates the cold, she hates the rain and she hates running.  Hated (past tense) – she’s learning to love all three!  I saw her stop 400 yards short of the line on her first parkrun in tears – embarrassed that she’ll be seen as last.  But she finished!  She’s continued, pushed on further and has improved week on week.  A complete change in character.  A new sense of determination and focus.  She now looks forward to parkrun and races with a nervous excitement that says she has well and truly caught the bug and as a result the performances are improving!  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s female runner of the month to Ffion Smith.  Well done Ffion – keep it up!