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.

Weekly Waffle – 8th December 2019

Again, It’s been a while since the last update.  

The “weekly waffle” is swiftly becoming monthly and that defeats the object!  

The idea was always to review the weeks antics while still fresh in the mind!

Without any further ado…

We’ve parkrunned (if that’s actually a word).  Here, there and everywhere!  Home and, as always, away.  Tourism always on the increase.  We’ve seen the Big Community Relay golden baton, now nicknamed BattyMcBatonface, be collected from afar and returned to Porthcawl for it’s final official week and now being chaperoned around all the local parkruns.  We’ve seen epic PB’s and huge turnouts and gritty performances.  The beauty of parkrun is there’s no pressure.  Whatever your goal, it is accommodated.  It fits perfectly with our ethos and hence we turn out on Saturday morning in our droves.

A big group headed east to cross the Bridge over the River Severn.  Donning face paint and bright colours they enjoyed a race with a fantastic atmosphere that typifies the kind of event we all enjoy.

A couple headed to trails in the capital to complete a half marathon.

Our event count record breaker notched up another event and despite the name he he wasn’t terrified by what Twmbarlwn threw at him.  

The annual event series, again in the Welsh capital, that raises awareness of mens health issues drew a number to take part in the 10k race around Bute Park.

Another ultra around the Gower resulted in an incredible result for one half of a couple while the other recorded an equally impressive result in a 10k at the same location supported by a canine friend.  The variety of events we take part in continues to grow!

A slog around Sodbury saw trail enthusiasts clock up an impressive set of results to further their standings in the annual championships.

Another ultra attracted two of our number to the Beacons as they went OTT and got a bit lost causing much hilarity and added extra interest to a race that saw both recalling their stories and photos of a great day with enthusiasm.  It doesn’t have to be about racing to reap the rewards of an event!

Another local event in a series that our members have come to love saw record numbers stand on the start line ahead of multiple loops of the course with multiple distances covered.  A great deal of fun was had by all.  Another event clocked up on a challenge for one.

One raced 10k to the moon and clocked up a fantastic result.

A double marathon for one, back to back, and joined on the second day by another member, saw a challenge target almost reached!

A popular club 10 miler drew significant numbers down west to Pembrey with mightily impressive results recorded.

A small group travelled north to tackle a hilly half and came away with stories to tell.


Cross Country league fixtures saw very impressive team effort from the Phoenix.

Some of our number were selected to represent South Wales in a fixture in Brecon.  Another reason for the club to stand proud.

Just one headed east for the second running of the race to cross the River Severn in the same month.

Gloucester was the destination for a trio to complete a 10k.

As the end of the month arrived another marathon marked the end of a challenge to complete 19 in 2019.  An enjoyable event that heralded the start of a well earned rest!

A 10k under dark skies was the target for one notching another event on his impressive tally.

Overseas events are something we see on occasion and this time Valencia was the destination for a couple with both setting significant PB’s over two distances.  

And then to today.  With the festive season finally upon us we saw a big crowd head down to our local beauty spot in Merthyr Mawr for the annual Pudding Run.  Always a great race.  Always a great atmosphere and a lot of fun.  With the Big Dipper climb to start it’s a toughie with a huge mixture of terrain and always loved by those who take it on.  Stories of mulled wine and mince pies accompanied those of the run itself.  Mutual support between clubs crowning the enjoyment of the day!

For a month where the nights draw in and moods can dip we saw a great deal of running!  Excellent running too.

A huge well done to all.

We are approaching the season of good will.  As I like to do on many occasions I ask you to please remember those in our midst who are unable to run with us at the moment.  At this time of year they should be foremost in our minds.  If there’s someone you haven’t seen at training, a race or parkrun for a while please drop them a message and check all is OK.  Reach out.  

We are a week away from our annual celebration of the festive season and the party preparation is almost done.  A time for us to sit down together as the Phoenix Family for our Christmas Dinner and share in an evening of entertainment and fun.  An evening not involving running – even though  it is running that brought us together.

Keep running.  Keep smiling.  Keep looking out for each other.

Laters.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

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

Weekly Waffle – 3rd November 2019

It’s a month since I last reviewed the week…

Time and tide wait for no man and busy weekends have prevented it being completed.

A lot has happened in that time so I’ll try and catch up quickly…

(and hopefully won’t miss anything out!)

As per usual we’ve done our usual plethora of parkruns!  Here there and everywhere.  parkrun celebrated it’s 15th birthday!!  We’ve had milestones.  We’ve had extreme tourism.  We’ve had lots remaining local to enjoy the comfort of their home runs.  We’ve heard the stories and we’ve seen the pictures.  We’ve had some who followed major events to support and snook off to add an extra one to their parkrun totals.  The obsession continues and grows!

We’ve seen consistent training numbers despite variable and deteriorating weather.  We’ve not been deterred from getting the miles in.  Zeroes became heroes and continue to become legends.  We are all filled with pride as we observe and nurture their journeys while developing our own.

We’ve had races by the bucketload covering a multitude of distances.

Cross country season has kicked off and great numbers have attended the first fixtures placing the club well for a good season of racing.

We’ve had ultras with a particularly popular one drawing several west to complete once again.  The addition of other distances attracted others to join in the “fun”.  All came back with great stories to tell.

Of note, we’ve had marathons aplenty with a trip north crossing two borders for some to follow the banks of a loch steeped in myth and legend.  A monster may hide under the surface but that didn’t deter our intrepid runners from completing the tough miles to the finish in the ancient cathedral city.  The miles were completed far away but the Phoenix spirit transcends distance and carried far from everyone at home to wish them well.   Another northern destination drew one in for a picturesque setting around a remote lake.  A walled city on the River Dee was the destination for two others covering the 26.2 miles.  

Multi-loop courses were circumnavigated by many once again!  A number of distances covered and all with great commitment and determination.

A half in North Wales was completed by one on the same day that the second biggest half marathon in the UK came to the Welsh capital.  It’s a race in which we’re always represented in significant numbers with this year being no exception.  116 made their way around the course while many joined them for the journey.  Caerdydd never disappoints.  An amazing atmosphere draws the Phoenix out every year.  Not only running but volunteering also.  Cameraderie and support on the route.  Nerves turning to excitement and through hard work to elation on the finish line.  

Some headed to warmer climes to tackle two distances alongside some of our neighbouring clubs on their annual tours and came back full of great stories of running under the sun – something we all miss at this time of year!

One plodded around Ponty.  Others tackled hilly events to clock up their event tally with impressive results.  Margam saw one tackle a 10k and a memorial half was completed elsewhere by another.  An undulating route – as named – was completed with a significant placing by the one who took it on.  

Across the Severn, a 10k in Bristol was the target for two family members running together whilst another 10k in National Botanical Gardens was the destination for two others.

We’ve won and collected significant national awards.  Two for their individual contribution to our development as a club and as athletes and one significant award from our national governing body recognising the significant hard work we have done to move the club forward as a whole.  An incredibly proud moment for the club and an accolade the Phoenix Spirit that courses through our veins.

46 runners and a heap of supporters made the annual pilgrimage north to tackle the might of Eryri.  A marathon that always strikes fear into those who take on the challenges it poses.  Tales of endeavour filled the air on Saturday.  Every single one cheered home by the ever present supporters around the course and at Phoenix Corner.  An amazing weekend away for all who made the journey!

Halloween found it’s way into training and some took on events with a ghoulish theme to mark the occasion as well.

This weekend was no exception for racing and 47 Phoenix went down to Cwmavon to tackle a notoriously hilly 10k named after a world famous actor who was born and grew up in the village.  A challenging route that tested the legs of those who took it on, as it always does.  

Lots going on.
Lots to be proud of.

Running, supporting and volunteering.

It’s been a very busy time of late and time is precious.  Fitting in running and all that the club brings is tricky at times.  It’s a case of juggling.  Spirits are always lifted by sharing good times with fellow Phoenix and observing antics through stories, results and pictures when it’s not possible to be there.

Sparing a thought for those in our midst who are injured.  We’ve seen a lot of them at our walking groups during sessions as well as supporting and volunteering at events.  It’s imperative we keep them involved and making sure they remain part of the Phoenix Family.  If you know someone who is injured, reach out and make sure they are OK.  Look out for each other.

Keep doing what you’re doing guys because it’s working.

A very proud time for us all, but not resting on our laurels it’s time to knuckle down, making sure we continue to thrive as we are and that the Phoenix continues to soar.

On that note I’ll bid you good night and look forward to seeing what the week ahead brings…

As always

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

October 2019 review

parkruns

This month saw 192 parkrun finishes across 42 parkruns and 30 different parkrun venues. New parkrun venues included Clevedon Salthouse, Dudley, Herrington Country, Kingsbury Water, Mallards Pike, Stratford Park (Stroud), Tremorfa and Nant y Pandy.

A few parkrun snippets – Chris Stanlake, Jayne Powney and I visited Nant y Pandy which I believe was the first parkrun run by one of our club members on Anglesey. We were there whilst away on the Snowdonia Marathon weekend where we had gone to support other club members. Gwyneth Steddy ran at Omagh parkrun in Ireland whilst a couple visited the inaugural Tremorfa parkrun.

Anneliese Loveluck set a new ladies club record with a 20:34 at Bakewell parkrun whilst Neil Price ran the fastest parkrun time of the month with a 19:02 at Porthcawl.

Paul Barrett became the latest member of the ‘parkrun tourists’ group notching up his 20th different venue at Eastville in only his 27 parkrun to date which was a new club record for least amount of parkruns to run at 20 venues. David Kembery also reached 20 venues at Mallards Pike and has notched up a couple more since.

10K

Ben and Sara Davies ran the Palma 10K whilst Jay and Tyler Howells ran the Tough Runner Bristol Epic with Tyler following that up with another 10K at Margam a week later.

Half Marathon

The first of two huge races in October was the Cardiff Half Marathon. One of the most popular events in the running calendar where we’d had 90-92 finishers in each of the last 3 years. A similar number was expected again, but it turned out to be significantly more and beat our record for the most ever finishes at a single event with 116 club members crossing the finish line.

Ryan Evans led the club home in 1:24:50 whilst we had a record 5 members run under 90 minutes with Paul Smith (1:26:37) PB, Adrian Pearce (1:26:58), Neil Price (1:27:27) PB, and Niki Puleio (1:29:26). Incredibly Niki was the official pacer for 1:30:00 – a time which is fastest than 98% of our members Half Marathon PB’s. The next few PB’s came from Wayne Hayhurst, James Littlewood, Nicky Bennett and Kris Denholm who all ran between 1:32 and 1:37.

Our first female across the line was Claire Dunbar-Bowen in a PB time of 1:42:06 which now means she holds every record in the ladies 40-44 category. From our 25th to 32nd finisher we had 8 PB’s in a row – Jay Howells, Brett Bonnell, Emma Loyns, Carl Price, Chris Richards, Michael Brain, Paul Barrett and Phill Iveson. We’re still not even at 2 hours with Craig Alexander, Anthony Kavanagh and Jonathon Loo all under that mark and gaining PB’s. 41 members finished sub 2 hours.

Chris Bimson was up next on our PB list, followed by Mike Nicholson-Lewis, Kayley Griffiths, Nia Williams, Karen Green, Rosie Salvatore, Hannah Knight, Steph Iveson-Holmes, Fran Collins, Debbie Bennion, Andrew Hughes, Stephne Puddy, Sara Davies, Judith Jeeves, Siobhan James, Megan Apsee, Cath Griffiths, Nicola Cornock, Andrea Fry and Maria George.

Also a special mention to Chris Pratt, Nick Harris, Shawn Cullen and Jo Gamba who ran 9 miles before completing the Half Marathon as their final long training run for Snowdonia Marathon.

Other Half Marathons in the month included Jamie Puddy completed the Bangor Half Marathon. Gareth Davies ran possibly one of the hottest Half Marathons by any of our members at Palma. Darija Keenor ran the Ron Skilton Memorial Half Marathon just a week before the Snowdon weekend.

Marathons

Before we get onto the big one at Snowdon, we had 3 runners at the Loch Less Marathon. Denise Bradley ran a PB of 4:23 with Liz Sim just missing out on a PB herself with 4:26 and Fiona Evans coming in at 5:13. On the same day at Chester Marathon, Dai James smashed the club 35-39 age category record with a 3:13 whilst Sally Pensom bagged herself a PB with a 4:56. Chris Pratt set himself up for Snowdonia Marathon the only way he knows how given his quest to do 19 Marathons in 2019 – by running the Keilder Marathon in 4:23.

Onto the big one. Snowdonia Marathon. We’ve had members running in this event every year since 2014 and every year we’ve had more runners return. This year was no different with 45 finishers. We actually had 48 on the start list but one sensibly didn’t start having not been able to train sufficiently for it, one got injured just a couple of days before the race and one had to pull out due to injury at the half way point. Unfortunately these things happen and I’m sure all 3 will be back to either tackle the marathon again, or complete other challenges.

Much of the talk in the week leading up to the marathon surrounding the weather which is unpredictable at the best of times in Snowdonia. Fortunately the prediction early in the week of 50mph winds and heavy rain changed to much lighter winds but pretty much constant rain as the day neared. What actually happened was better than anyone expected with the rain having stopped by the time most got to the 5 mile point at Pen y Pass, minimal wind and cool conditions for much of the race. However, the rainfall during the week and that morning did mean that the trail sections from mile 6 and particularly the final mile were quite treacherous and quite a few runners crossed the line with mud splattered all over them and cuts to arms and legs from tumbles along the way.

Wayne Hayhurst was first across the line in an outstanding 3:35:59 followed by Adrian Pearce in 3:48:06. Adrian was on for close to 3:30 before a reoccurring knee problem meant the time slipping away. Kirs Denholm and Simon Williams completed the sub 4 finishes which is an outstanding achievement on that course. Nick Harris and Gareth Richards were next up before a swarm of female Phoenix runners all running amazing times. First up was Emma Loyns who ran a PB (yes, a PB on Snowdon despite having run a couple of flat marathons previously) with a 4:28:50 just ahead of Lisa Pinney and Sarah Littlewood (both 4:30), Sian Price (4:38) and Liz Sim and Claire Dunbar Bowen (both 4:39). Out of our top 14 runners, 6 were female which is almost unheard of in any other event with 40+ Phoenix running.

A mixture of first timer PB’s and overall marathon PB’s continued with Mike Brain, Paul Barrett, Chris Richards, Sarah Davies, Craig Alexander, Sian Thomas, Gary Loo, Bev Sheard, Hannah Knight, Dawn Hopkins, Deb Griffin, Sian Jenkins and Stephne Puddy.

I can’t finish off this section without mentioning Luke Jones who ran in a large Phoenix outfit. Also a mention must go to the amazing supporters who stood at various parts of the course for 8+ hours (including getting there before the start and staying until the final Phoenix runner ). Phoenix Corner was bigger and better than ever with a newly acquired gazebo and plenty of food and drinks on offer, not to mention the amazing support as everyone came round the final corner (even if they weren’t one of our runners). Helen Lowcock James and Alexis Barrett were amazing in organising accommodation and food at the Celtic Royal as well. Thanks to Dai Kembery for sorting out the Snowdonia weekend tour polo shirts. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone but I think it’s pretty obvious that the Snowdonia marathon weekend is a huge team effort even for those not running and in some cases, contributing hugely without even attending.

Other races

Whilst we had a record 116 runners at Cardiff Half Marathon, there were actually more members running at other events that day as well. As well as Jamie Puddy running Bangor Half Marathon, we had 8 runners at the Unbreakable Infinity Running event. Rhiannon Whitely completed 1 lap, Sian Tossell, Philippa Rees and Elaine Nash ran 2 laps, whilst Jane Collins, Anna Evans, Ffion Smith and Pippa Clark completed 3 of the roughly 3.3 mile laps. 125 members all running on the same morning at organised events.

We had 4 runners at the only Run Walk Crawl event that doesn’t include a crazy ‘ultra’ distance – the 5 mile Ghost Run in Cardiff which bizarrely was a week before Halloween. Andrew and Frances Hughes ran the biggest 10 mile event in the UK at the Great South Run. Pippa Clark and Elaine Christian ran a 3K event with children in tow for a Halloween run which was actually on Halloween.

Alun Wylde ran the Ponty Plod 10 miler, whilst Adrian Pearce, Aled Hughes and Luke Jones ran the Mendip Muddle which is essentially a Half Marathon Cross Country race! – I like Cross Country, but the standard 10K or less will do for me. On an similarly tough scale, Steve Loveluck took on the Stuart Learmouth Memorial ‘Undulator’ – a 8.4 mile fell race – again, a bit further than your standard fell race which tend to be short but very steep.

Cross Country

This month saw the Cross Country season begin with fixtures in both of the leagues that Ogmore Phoenix are included in. First up was the Gwent League fixture at Llandaff Fields in Cardiff which was an historic day for the club as we had enough entrants in both the men and women’s races to count towards a full team score. Our 10 ladies were first up taking on the 6.4K course taking in 2 laps of the fields. Llandaff offers what I would describe as a ‘proper cross country course’ with it being almost entirely on grass, plenty of mud in the first section, a small sharp incline on each lap and a tree trunk to hurdle on each lap which made for some great photo’s. Claire DB was our first lady back followed by Fiona Drysdale, Liz Sim, Jo Gamba, Rosie Salvatore, Tammie Baker, Diana Purnell, Jayne Powney, Samantha Thompson and Maria George.

The men’s race was 9.6K taking in 3 laps of the course. Adrian Pearce was our first runner back followed by Ryan Evans, Paul Smith, Aled Hughes, myself and James Phillips. A big shout out for Samantha and James who both only signed up as members in the week leading up to the event and were super keen to ensure they got club kit in time to represent us in the event.

The second cross country event of the month was the first fixture of the West Glamorgan League which was held at Llanmadoc. This time the course was made up on mainly forestry trails, small sand dunes and a short loop on the beach. One of the most scenic runs on the calendar attracted 21 members including 5 of who had been out at the Welsh Athletics awards the night before (more on that later). Also 11 of our runners were due to run Snowdonia Marathon just 6 days later which is remarkable commitment to representing the club and a bit bonkers in equal measures.

Adrian Pearce was our first runner back followed by Aled, Luke, Steven James and myself. Sarah Davies was our first female across the line followed by Liz Sim, Dawn Hopkins, Jayne Powney and Alexis Barrett. Well done to Jayne Powney, Samantha Thompson and Maria George who along with myself, Adrian, Aled, Liz Sim ran at both cross country fixtures in month. We’d love to see as many members as possible give it a go with several more fixtures to come.

Welsh Athletics Awards

We had some amazing news a few weeks before the award that the club would be the recipients of Development Club of the Year whilst Emma Loyns and Brett Bonell would both pick up individual awards for their roles in the club as a coach and Lirf (Leader in Running Fitness) respectively. Unfortunately there are significant restrictions on the amount of people that can attend but somehow we managed to get 25 places and were easily the most represented club at what was a sold out awards dinner. A great evening had by all and personally and being a bit biased, I thought we were robbed in not getting the overall Welsh Athletics Club of the Year award. Nevertheless, an absolutely remarkable achievement for our club and two of its members to pick up 3 awards on the night when we realistically would only have been eligible in a handful of categories.

Over to Chris for the Chairman’s Runners of the Month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

A huge month of running.  Distances covering the whole range from 5k all the way up to ultra marathon.  Not only that but a significant contingent of Phoenix at each.  Not least our annual pilgrimage to Eryri which always draws significant numbers north for a great weekend of running and celebrating.  A month where it’s a testament to the difficulty of choosing an accolade such as this.  

I’ve said on many occasions that reasons for awarding are going to be many and varied.  There are many reasons that peoples endeavours stand out.   Sometimes it can be as simple as spotting that magic moment of excitement on someones face after realising what they’re capable of.  I first saw it on this runner in the Cardiff 10k in 2018.  A nervous face on the start line.  Worried about what was about to come.  Tackling something that takes you into the unknown.  Lots of runners of significant pedigree gathering around you – it’s very daunting, we all know that – and we all experience that feeling at some point.  When it’s early in our running career it’s intense.  But it’s when you see that and then you see a complete contrast at the end.   Permanent smile that looks like it’s going to stay for a year.  So excited at having finished the event that it results in shaking.  Nerves turned to excitement turned to joy.  I saw it again in Cardiff Half this month.  I had the pleasure of rounding the corner at the end and bumping into that very same runner – with that very same look!!  Absolute joy.  A PB was in the bag and that same look was on her face and that same excitement at the outcome.  Gaining so much joy from running and showing that to the world makes it infectious.  It leads to others wanting to achieve that same state.  It’s inspirational.  I was once again reminded of how much running can mean to someone and reminded of how it makes me feel inside on a regular basis.  Pure joy.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s October Female Runner of the Month to Sara Davies.  Well done Sara – thank you for the inspiration – keep on smiling and inspiring us all! 

We’ve had lots of new members within the last 12 months.  Drawn in for various reasons.  The appeal of the club covers a wide range of abilities right across the spectrum.  Some have come of their own volition.  Some have been drawn in by a partner or friend within the club.  It’s fantastic when members join and get embroiled in the spirit of the club straight away.  Wearing club colours and wearing them with pride!  Couple that with excellent running and representing the club at league fixtures throughout the season it’s been a swift integration into the club.  In October one member took this one step further.  A plan was hatched in secret.  A plan to don an outfit.  An outfit that would represent the club’s iconic logo.  The Phoenix.  With the full suit he tackled the 26.2 miles of Snowdonia Marathon Eryri.  Sharing some of the journey with others he pressed on to finish in an impressive time, passing me at the highest point at mile 23, and kept the full outfit on for the whole duration advertising the Phoenix in style throughout – even resulting in a group getting their few seconds of fame on the tele box.  Embracing the spirit of the club while representing us through excellent running and pride in wearing the colours.  Looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring for my Chairman’s Male October Runner of the Month, Luke Jones!   This also comes with a huge thanks for all that Luke does with supporting local leagues and competition through sponsorship.  Well done Luke!  Keep up the great running and flying the Phoenix flag!!

September 2019 review

parkruns

September saw 268 parkrun finishes across 50 parkruns and 37 different parkrun venues. Some newly visited parkrun venues included Blyth Links, Brynaman, Bushy (Dublin), Dunfermline (Scotland), Omagh (Northern Ireland), Varsity Lakes (Australia), Milford Waterfront and Windy Nook.

Some parkrun highlights in month included Karl Johnson rounding up another 9 Phoenix Runners for a day trip to Bushy parkrun in Dublin. There was a massive turnout of 63 members running at the latest Zero to Hero graduation at Porthcawl despite testing weather conditions.

There were too many PB’s to list as we had dozens of first timer PB’s from our Z2H graduates plus a whole host from improvers and long standing members. Neil Price became the latest runner to run under 19 minutes with a 18:44 at Porthcawl. Denise Bradley got a new PB of 24:10 and set a new club age category record in the process. Claire Dunbar-Bowen ran the fastest time of any female in the club, smashing her own PB with a 22:20 whilst Sarah Littlewood also got a PB of 23:21. The Iveson’s, Phill and Stephanie both scored PB’s on the same day whilst the Salvatores. Rosie and Ken both got PB’s this month.

Well done to all the other runners who set PB’s this month whether it was your first or hundred-and-first run.

Races

10K’s

We had 134 finishers in 10K races during the month with the most popular being Cardiff 10K with 76. Niki Puleio lead our runners home in a PB of 37:59 with Ryan Evans next in 38:39 and then Neil Price setting PB of 39:23. Aled Hughes made it 4 Phoenix Runners under 40 minutes.

The PB list was huge and was as follows… Carl Price, Paul Barrett, Phill Iveson, Chris Richards, Ken Salvatore, Hannah Knight, Rosie Salvatore, Kaye Pedler, Nicola Veasey, Leanne Puleio, Cath Robinson, Jamie Puddy, Megan Apsee, Jane Collins, Sara Johns, Paul Jones, Ann Rice, Frances Hughes, Claire Williams, Joanne Cottingham, Andrea Fry, Sarah Richards and Laura Worrall. Well done to several who were running their first 10K race as well.

Swansea 10K saw 30 Phoenix Runners complete the course and lead back by Ryan Evans and Paul Smith who were under 40 minutes. PB’s included Wayne Hayhurst, Keith Coleman, Chris Bimson, Tyler Howells, Judith Jeeves, Toni Howells, Cath Griffiths, Julie Gale and Annemarie Morgan.

A huge well done to Ken Salvatore, Rosie Salvatore, Leanne Puleio and Laura Worrall who all got their second 10K PB’s of the month having achieved new personal bests in both Cardiff and Swansea.

8 Phoenix ran the ‘Beat the Black Dog’ 10K trail race which started at Ogmore Life Centre which has been a training meeting point for the club since we started in 2012. The event was to raise awareness of Mental Health issues and get people talking.

Several members also volunteered for the event. Cowbridge 10K saw 20 members run the course whilst a further 3 did the 6K option. Unfortunately a missing marshal resulted in most of the participants doing an extra 3K which was a bit frustrating for some but just think of it as extra training and bonus miles / value for money.

Half Marathons

A quite month for half marathons with the two major 10K’s being most runners focus. However, we did have Brett Bonell, Nige Rees and Great North Half Marathon regular Dawn Hopkins took on the 13.1 mile course in Newcastle this year with Brett setting a new PB. We also had Luke Jones, Sarah Davies and Liz Sim taking on the hilly Cotswold Trail Half Marathon.

Infinity Running Events

A double whammy of the increasingly popular Infiinity Running events in month with the ‘Random Run’ on the 8th and the ‘Autumn Run’ on the 22nd. Chris Pratt notched up another 2 marathons whilst Nick Harris and David Sheard ran the marathon distance in the second event. Kris Denholm ran another Ultra, managing 12 laps for 36.3 miles.

At the Random Run there were plenty using it for Snowdonia Marathon training with Karl Johnson managing 10 miles, Fiona Evans ran 16.5 miles and Denise Bradley did 19.8 miles.

At the Autumn Run, it was a welcome return for ladies captain, Pippa Clark who ran 3.3 miles, Liz Davis and Sally Pensom ran Half Marathon distance, whilst there was plenty more Snowdon training being done with Sian Jenkins managing 10 miles, Alexis 16.5 miles, Claire Taylor, Jamie Puddy, Sharon Pritchard, Deb Griffin, Bev Sheard and Paul Barrett running 19.8 miles and Gary Loo running 23.1 miles.

BCRL

The final event of the Bridgend County Running League took place on Rest Bay Beach with a 2.2 mile two lapped course. Niki Puleio lead our club members back closely followed by Paul Smith, Ryan Evans and Neil Price. With some excellent scoring from our top 15 plus 79 members completing the course, we finished second on the night to further secure our second place in the league.

I did a lengthy post on the clubs Facebook page regarding some of the stats from this season which included record attendances at 5 out of the 6 fixtures, by far our strongest top 15 performances in every event and substantially better overall scores for each event.

Other Races

Adrian Pearce, Paul Smith and Aled Hughes teamed up for the Welsh Road Relays. Adam Rowe ran the ‘Beat the Bore’ 8 mile event. 13 members ran the 16 mile Roman Run. Karl Johnson, Tyler Howells, Toni Howells and Jay Howells ran the inaugural Newport 5 miler. Steve Loveluck ran a 6 hour looped ultra and clocked up 36 miles. Anneliese Loveluck was first female overall in the Dare Valley Ultra. A 12 hour event where she managed around 60 miles.

Although it pains me to mention a triathlon in a running club blog, I will make an exception for an Ironman event. Helen Griffiths became an Ironman finisher for the first time whilst Kirsty Evans and Steven Clatworthy completed the crazy feat of endurance for the second time on the challenging course around Tenby and the surrounding area.

Yet another month of huge participation in events and everything from Zero to Hero graduates running 5K to 12 hour Ultra marathons. Over to Chris to Chairmans Runners of the Month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

As the weather starts to turn slightly and we start looking towards the end of the year our spirits are not dampened.  Still out in force at events and still training well.  

Although we are not all about running fast, we still celebrate it.  We have many runners who continue to push themselves to make improvements in performance.  Many of these are runners who have run for many years and start to wonder whether times will continue to fall or holding on to seasons bests will be the way of the future.  When improvements of significance start to come after consistent running for several years it is often a measure of hard work in the background.  A renewed vigour for improvement.  Gaining an understanding of what might have led to times not falling in the past.  I have run with this guy many times and we’ve deliberated the plan of attack in races.  He has known for some time that he often goes out too fast and has learnt to bring that under control and measure the whole distance.  A new thinking.  A renewed understanding of pacing a race.  A desire to beat himself.  With PB’s resulting in dipping under 19 minutes for a 5k and 40 minutes for a 10k this month he is a worthy recipient of this accolade.  You will rarely see a man with such a determined face as he pushes his body to the finish line of a race (even if the expressions often result in a great deal of hilarity from his wife).  I am absolutely delighted to award my September Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month to Neil Price.  Keep up the good work Neil.

As for the ladies, I agonised over this months achievements.  So many worthy potential winners.  I try and avoid repeating people if at all necessary but one event brought me into a dilemma of choice.  I’ll be chastised again by some for recognition of multi-discipline achievements but it still involves running on the back of a significant build up.  Such worthy possibilities and split two ways with very little place to separate so I chose to give it to someone who I haven’t acknowledged before.   For many reasons this athlete is incredible.  An exception to the rule I would say.  It’s not often you find someone who can avoid training until almost the 11th hour and then absolutely smash it!  It’s not the route that would be advocated by our coaches and, indeed, by our very worthy winner either.  With a young family and other commitments, it’s the age old tale of life dictates training patterns and priority always falls with the family and Ironman is an event that requires substantial training in every discipline throughout the year.  One of the toughest Ironman courses in the world it commands respect from everyone who takes it on.  Her second tackling of the event and another successful completion!  Absolutely outstanding.  A huge well done to my very worthy winner of September Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month, Kirsty Evans.  Well done Kirsty, looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Weekly Waffle – 30th September 2019

It’s been three weeks since I last wrote and you know what that means… it’s going to be a long one! 

Bear with…

What a week we started with…

Yet again, there’s no rest for the Phoenix!

New training sessions appear as club development continues and our heroes continue their journeys getting closer to their goals!  

Nerves were bubbling under as the week progressed leading to a big weekend for some…

9am on Saturday brought the usual crowds to our two local venues.  One being hosted by the members of the local constabulary attracting an admirable representation of the club.  Club championships continue to draw large numbers down to the seafront for their regular 5k. Others went further afield this week with three countries of the home nations covered.

Nerves continued to build…

The sun set on a warm sunny day and rose to a cool but still Sunday morning…

Facing the dragon.  A term that’s used to refer to the notoriously tough Ironman Wales.  

2.4 mile swim.
112 mile cycle.
26.2 mile run.
All in one day.

Nerves turned into adrenaline for three of our number who headed out on their quest from Tenby’s North Beach…

While they took on their mammoth journey a group of five headed across the border to take on a half marathon.  For two of them it was their first and, meeting the challenge head on, came out of the experience holding their heads high, proud of their fantastic achievement!

Three others headed in the opposite direction to take part in a relay event giving their all and securing a significant placing and representing the club with pride!

While that was happening the water was replaced by two wheels as the trio in Tenby took to their bikes…

Up north a 6 hour event saw one of our runners reach an epic distance on a tough, hilly course in Yorkshire to scoop a second place finish and all the accolades that come with it!

As that was finishing our group down west were transitioning, two of them almost at the same time, from two wheels to two feet to make their way around the marathon route to complete their epic journey. 

As day turned to night they were still going and many sat on the edge of their seats at home following updates to hear of their heroic completion of what is considered worldwide as one of the toughest!  One coming back after completing Ironman several times, one cementing her double and one completing her first ever!  Absolutely amazing and worthy of high praise not only for the completion but also for the many months of hard training that go into crossing that finish line within the cut-off!

We went to sleep proud in the knowledge that they had all smashed their goals and were celebrating their amazing achievements.

Another week dawned and the weather remained pleasant.

With the successes of our fellow Phoenix still filling our thoughts training numbers were on the rise once again.  

The weekend saw the usual parkrun frenzy with celebrations at one of our home events as they obtained their defibrillator and one of our midst celebrated an unofficial milestone.  The usual tourists made their way elsewhere with one stealing the crown for a run down under.

Sunday brought with it mixed weather as the clouds massed overhead.  Events to the west drew many to their start lines.  Another multi-loop event attracted many with it’s friendly, low-key atmosphere.  All thoroughly enjoyed and provided mutual support for each other as they looped round for a varying number of times.  Cameraderie and support in abundance.

Further west another substantial group took to the flat and fast 10k on the seafront setting a plethora of personal bests and all enjoying the experience.

Our heroes moved one step closer to completing their course as they prepared for their final week leading up to graduation.

Another busy week – as is always the case when it comes to the Phoenix.

As we said goodbye to the week, the words of weather forecasters were ringing in our ears… rain was on it’s way…  Character building conditions!

Despite the conditions people turned up to train.  “If it’s raining, we’re training!” 

A successful midweek recce of the parkrun route on the seafront gave confidence to our heroes approaching graduation day.  

It was during the week that we received notice of a number of significant awards.  The club recognised for all the hard work done by everyone involved with a national accolade.  Not stopping their two of our number picked up further awards for their huge individual contributions to the club.  Phoenix flying high and everyone proud of it!

On Saturday, before many of us woke, a group were making their way to the airport to make a very special trip across to the Emerald Isle to complete a run that shares it’s name with the location of the very first time trial that gave rise to parkrun.  A great time was had by all on a trip that started in the middle of the night and ended right at the end of the day. 

Others, still earlier than a parkrun start, made their way to complete another multi-discipline event, some sharing the load to get the job done in admirable style with one celebrating a birthday at the same time! 

Back to Porthcawl and our heroes inaugural coincided with an international festival in the seaside town celebrating the life of the “King of Rock and Roll”.  Closed roads meant it was a unique course.  All battled the elements in less than perfect conditions to complete their goal with all runners at the finish to cheer and support them on their journey.   The festival had drawn special guests from parkrun HQ who stuck around at the end to cheer all runners home and joined in the group photo to assist with celebrations!

We move on to the last day of the week and several head to a village not too far away for a trail 10k that promised to be something of a mudfest.  Torrential rain on Saturday had done it’s job.  Confusion on the course led to some interesting stories but great fun was had by all!

While all of this was happening one of our award winners spent her first days with our national governing body coaching others to become leaders.  Growing the sport.

Yet again, stories abound.  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s often the story leading up to the moment of glory that tells the tale.  

The months of anguish.  
The hours put in to get the body ready.  
The hours put in to get the mind ready.  
The failures.  
Picking themselves back up again and getting back into it.  
The doubts.  
The fears.  
We all have them.
The grit and determination that win through to put them on the start line and drive them on to the finish.  
This goes whatever the distance. 
It doesn’t have to be long to have a story to tell.  
Whatever the story, everybody loves to share in it.  
Providing support and guidance to make it a smoother ride.  
Phoenix family mutual support doing it’s thing.
Phoenix pride for many reasons.
As someone said to me recently, “keep on keeping on”.
You know what follow…
#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 8th September 2019

The waffle is quickly becoming bi-weekly as Sunday’s become busy – but after a couple of weeks like we’ve had that means reviewing a lot more activity!

We’ve had a wide range of training sessions… We’ve taken runners onto the beach for a very important strength and conditioning session as well as stretching the legs along one of our favourite bits of coastline from Ogmore to Southerndown and back.  Downhill sessions on the dunes for trail mean lots of sand over the last couple of weeks.  All of this as well as the regular tempo and track sessions.   

Our heroes continued their journeys and are homing in on their graduation as they move forward through the programme and wow us with their amazing efforts to achieve their goals!  

In two weeks…

We’ve parkrunned.  A lot.  

Home is Porthcawl and Maesteg and at both locations we’ve turned up in our droves for our free 5k Saturday morning constitutional.  But many, and not just the usual suspects, jumped in a car well before 9am and headed off to add a new parkrun location to their ever expanding list.  We’ve had milestones.  We’ve seen PB’s.  Most important – we’ve seen big numbers. parkrun is something different to everyone.  It is whatever you want it to be.  Some weeks we go for it.  Some weeks we help someone else to a time or to get round.  Sometimes we just purely run for fun.  Sometimes, when injured, we walk it.  Staying connected.  Sharing the experience even if we can’t push it.  So important.  Maintaining sanity. 

We’ve raced.  A lot.

Last weekend one sacrificed a parkrun to chase The Bore along the banks of the Severn.  For the uninitiated The Bore is a tidal wave that happens once a year and travels up the Severn River. While he didn’t quite beat it, it was close and he enjoyed the experience.

A huge contingent made their way to the Welsh capital to cover a flat 6.2 mile route around the streets and parks of the city.  It wasn’t just running though. Some gave up their time to support the event by volunteering and handed out medals to reward the many thousands who were running.  75 club members tackled the distance.  Great effort and spirit was shown by all with fantastic performances and tales of endeavour!  It’s always a good excuse for a bit of a social afterwards too!  A great day and one that will leave lasting memories.

Two headed over the border to tackle a 10 mile route around an “old” English town and came back to tell the tale!

A few headed even further afield to tackle a half marathon event organised by a company that suggested it would be a “tough” event.  It tested them but they all made it to the end recording decent times for their effort!

Midweek races are slowing now that the nights are drawing in but the final race in our local league encouraged another record breaking turnout for this particular feature which involves two loops around a course on the beach while the tide is out.  Cementing our strong second position in the league there were incredible performances and valiant efforts from all those who ran.  As the sun slowly set on the beach, on what proved to be a stunning evening, every single runner dug deep to proudly deliver another amazing Phoenix result.

Leading into this weekend we saw one solitary runner tackle a 12 hour event on a tough looped course, recording another amazing result.  Significant positioning in the event and an incredible distance covered resulted in extra spoils for the hard work!  Inspiring stuff! 

A trio headed north to tackle the biggest half marathon in the UK on a day where the sun beat down and record spectators turned out to support.  A great experience for all with stories to tell on their return!

A collection of members headed up the valley to our spiritual home to an event supporting a charity that is working towards a world where people understand and talk openly about depression.  Some volunteered and some ran.  A tough trail route tested the legs but they all completed it admirably.  A very worthwhile day for many reasons.

Others headed down West to tackle various distances over a looped course in pleasant surroundings.  A well stocked checkpoint replenished fuel lost through running.  All picked up their medals as reward for their endeavour.

A group took on another charity challenge that followed a route from one castle to another.  A very worthy cause drew them there but the challenge itself wasn’t enough for some who opted to make the return journey on foot clocking up significant mileage in preparation for longer distances on the calendar in the future.

Two weeks done and they’ve been busy.  

Lots of training. Lots of running.  

Lots of Phoenix spirit on display.

There were a lot of stories.  All special in their own right.  Some were of long distance, some were of fast times.  But just as important are the ones of simply lacing up the trainers and heading out of the door.  Equally important are the ones of those who, unable or not wishing to run, gave up their precious time so others could.  We had stories of mutual support – the Phoenix way.  Supporting each other – often leading to discovery of abilities that some never even thought they possessed.  Being pushed out of their comfort zone.  Reminds us of those three words… Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Our ears are filled with pride of everyones endeavour. 

Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub