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.
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.
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 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.
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.