March 2018 review

March parkruns

An unprecedented start to the month with the Beast from the East resulting in every parkrun within an hour or two radius being cancelled. I believe it’s the first time in the clubs 5 and a half year history that none of our members ran a parkrun. However, despite Beast of the East part 2 a couple of weeks later, we still accumulated  202 results in the month across 27 parkruns. That total includes 98 different members and 18 different parkrun venues.

Aside from the usual home parkruns of Porthcawl and Maesteg, we had members at the following Welsh parkruns – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Gnoll, Pontypridd, Llanelli, Cwmbran and Llyn Lech Owain,. Further afield Wayne Hayhurst ran at Forest of Dean, the Littlewoods ran at Gunnersbury, Saul ran at Peckham Rye and Lullingstone, Chris Pratt ran at Riverside. Of our regular tourists, Chris Roberts ran at Princes and Harlow, Karl ran at Didcot,  Shawn and Julie ran at Newent, and Jo Betty and I ran at Great Denham as well as ticking off a local-ish one with Llanelli.

March included Newport parkrun’s 7th anniversary where a few of our members were in attendance including Richard Lowcock-James who started parkrunning at that venue and has completed 112 times.

Another month with plenty of parkrun PB’s. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was first female finisher at Maesteg whilst Neil Jones finished the month as first finisher at Porthcawl. Neil also set a new overall veteran club record in his first event after turning 40.

Races in March

With the first weekend of the month being totally wiped out by the Beast from the East with several races cancelled, we had to wait until March 11th for our first race of the month. Jo Betty and I were in Milton Keynes for the festival of running which includes 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and 20 mile race options. Jo went for the 10K finishing in 55:28, whilst I did the Half in 1:48:42.

Only a couple of races survived the weather a week later which included the Darth Mannion. To call it a challenging course seems somewhat of an understatement as the course includes pretty much every terrain and deep water crossings in freezing temperatures. Richard LJ took on the challenge for the second year and somehow managed to convince some others to join him with Rhiannon, Ian Lewis and James Beynon completing the course.

Finally a break in the weather for the Cardiff Bay 10K on March 25th where the Phoenix were out in force with 40 runners. Neil Jones set another veteran club record even though he started in the second wave of runners in the yellow pen. John Burridge and Jamie Vanstone both set huge personal bests with 38:12 and 38:59 respectively. The PB’s kept coming with Mark Gabb, Kevin James, Jayne Bissmire, Rebecca Newton, Debbie Griffin, Leigh Francis, Debbie Bennion, Jo Rowling, Sharon Pritchard, Nicola Veasey and Michelle Alexander. It’s not all about the PB’s though. Many ran their fastest times for many months or helped others achieve their goals.

On the same day we had 11 runners at the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon. Ashley Howells lead the Phoenix runners home sneaking under 2 hours for the second time this year. Lisa Jenkins and Claire Taylor both set PB’s on the course.

Chairman’s runners of the month

It’s fair to say the weather this winter has been atrocious – has winter actually finished yet?  What is atrocious weather for running though?  We love rain – don’t we?  Makes those trail runs all the more fun!!  Am I digressing?  I think so…  other than to state the fact that it’s left March a bit of a wash out – normally a month where races abound.  Amazingly snow has, yet again, caused cancellations of events that were rescheduled from even earlier in the year!

I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again.  Runner of the month doesn’t always mean that all the running resulting in the accolade occurred within the month.  For one, that certainly wasn’t the case…  It was the culmination of an impressive record resulting in a milestone that warrants recognition.  Zero to Hero has introduced many members to the club.  The vast majority of the graduates of the scheme have continued to run and go on to bigger things within the club.  Sometimes that development has actually been a surprise to the person involved.   For someone who is very unassuming about her running this person managed, during March, to become the 8th female to reach 100 events representing the club, but most amazingly in 105 weeks and the first ever Zero to Hero runner to hit 100 events for the club!!  Absolutely amazing stats and just goes to show what can be achieved.  Massive well done to Bev Sheard for being my chairman’s female runner of the month.

As for male runners, one springs to mind immediately if we’re looking purely at great running performance.  Already holding a plethora of club records there’s always room for a few more and the crossing of an age boundary always opens up a whole fleet of age category opportunities.   Just this month alone this runner has broken two more, the second in a 10k where he started in the second wave and so had to fight his way clear to hit a good time.  OK, I’ve given the game away now probably if you’ve read the write up above…  I remember this guy leading a very relaxed lifestyle and running impressive times but you could always tell there was more to come.  Once consistency, discipline and focus set in and the training miles increased dramatically, the times came down by silly amounts.  A very impressive example of what hard work can do.  Maintaining that is difficult but it has been achieved here and so my chairman’s runner of the month is Neil Jones.

After choosing Neil he has informed us that he won’t be renewing his membership.  I seem to be making a habit of picking people over the last couple of months who are leaving the Phoenix behind.  Going out on a high!  I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best in future endeavours and look forward to running alongside him (or should that be way behind him) again at events in the future!  Good luck Neil.

February 2018 review

parkruns in February

Another big month for parkrunning with 167 results in the month across 28 parkruns. That total includes 88 different members and 21 different parkrun venues.

Aside from the usual home parkruns of Porthcawl and Maesteg, we had members at the following Welsh parkruns – Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Gnoll, Pontypridd and Pontypool. Further afield Jayne Bissmire ran at Minehead, Wayne Hayhurst ran at Stonehouse and Forest of Dean, the Sheards ran at Nostell, the Littlewoods ran at Telford, Saul ran at Dartford, Chris Pratt ran at Southampton and Matt Murray, Ian Lewis and Carrie Griffiths ran at the Eden Project. Of our regular tourists, Chris Roberts ran at Princes, Karl ran at the inaugural Llanerchaeron and Gloucester City events,  Shawn and Julie ran at Moors Valley, and Jo Betty and I ran at Bushy.

For those who don’t know Bushy parkrun is where parkrun started over 13 years ago with just 13 runners. On the day we ran (24/02/18) the finish count was 1,211. The total number of UK parkrun finishers on 24/02/18 was 113,450 across 501 parkruns. Worth mentioning that whilst Bushy parkrun is the highest attended parkrun in the UK, there are over a dozen parkruns in South Africa that have attendances of 1500-2500 runners every week.

February included Cardiff parkrun’s 10th anniversary where they became only the 4th UK parkrun to top 1000 runners with 1192 in attendance including Richard Purnell and Victoria Hillman with Sian Tossell in supporting.

Worthy notes in month include Sian Jenkins, Fran Hipkiss and Deborah Edwards running their first parkruns. John Burridge ran a new PB of 18:31 at Swansea making him the 4th fastest parkrunner in the clubs history. Neil Jones claimed the fastest parkrun time of the month with 17:53 at Pontypridd which earned him 3rd place that week.

Congratulations to everyone who achieved PB’s during the month including Jayne Bissmire, John Burridge, Maria George, April Kitchener, Rhiannon Lewis, and Rhiannon Sian amongst others.

We also had milestones in month with David Sheard recording his 200th parkrun, Peter Harrop reaching his 150th parkrun and Angharad Rees running her 100th.  Our two longest serving parkruns also celebrated their parkrun anniversaries in February with it being 10 years since Ann Davies ran her first parkrun (the second ever event at Cardiff) and 9 years since Jo Betty ran her first parkrun which happened to be the 1st anniversary parkrun at Cardiff.

Races in February

After a very quiet January, Emma Morris was back in action with the London Winter 10K at the start of the month in 55:53. She then ran the Bramley 20 miler a week later but had to cross the finish line at 15 miles due to injury. Her time was still recorded which looks like an incredible 20 mile time.

We had 5 runners at the Reverse 10 where Jamie Vanstone was 39 seconds off setting a new club record in 01:05:52. Gareth Richards set a new club age category record, Chris Pratt missed out on a PB by just a few seconds, whilst there were great PB times for Karl Johnson and Kayley Griffiths.

The first Ultra of the year saw 9 of our members run the Brecon to Cardiff 44 miler. Neil Jones finished 4th overall in 05:55:09 averaging a mind boggling 8 minute miles for the entire run. Jamie Vanstone ran the course in under 7 hours and was also amongst the top finishers. Antony Williams and Stephen Davies came in either side of the 8 and a half hour mark whilst Graham Hillman managed to sneak under 9 hours. Liz Sim, Dan Clark and Gareth Richards all ran together finishing in 9 and a half hours. Wayne Hayhurst who has now run several Ultras having only run his first last year was our final finisher in just over 10 and a half hours. It should be pointed out it was the longest distance ever for Antony, Stephen, Graham, Liz and Dan.

At the Hoka Winter Trail Half Marathon, Anneliese Loveluck was our first club finisher in a PB time of 1:43:15 which is also a club age category record. She finished 10 seconds ahead of her husband Steve who also recorded a PB despite the course having over 2000 feet of elevation. Rhiannon Sian recorded one of the stand out results in the club’s history. Going into the event her PB was 02:50:50 on the relatively flat streets of Cardiff Half Marathon. On a hilly multi terrian course, Rhiannon’s recent improvements were made very clear when she knocked 14 minutes off her PB. In comparison, almost everyone else (understandably given the course) were at least 10-15 minutes slower than their PB’s set on flat road courses.

The next day saw the Llanelli Half Marathon with Karl Johnson running his second half in as many days as part of his efforts to run 18 Halves in 2018 for Ty Hafan. John Burridge set the fastest half marathon time of any member this year with a huge PB time of 1:23:53 and is now second only to Neil in terms of fastest half marathon times in the clubs history. Dai James was up next also with a PB. Ashley Howells bagged his first sub 2 hour half marathon whilst Sara Vowles and Emma Williams got PB’s just outside the hour mark. Jayne Bissmire, who was aiming for her first sub 2:30 half marathon smashed her own expectations finishing in 2:10. Joanne Rowling, Rebecca Newton, Hannah Bartle and Alana Lutwyche all also claimed PB’s.

Chairman’s runners of the month

February is one of those quiet months.  I suppose race organisers want to avoid the bad weather that typifies the second month of the year – an argument justified by the recent conditions we are facing.   But there are still some events going on and we had some amazing running at the few events that there were.

Running is something that some of us dip in and out of.  We have years where we put our whole being into it and dedicate every waking moment to treading the streets or out on the trails.  Then we have years where other things get in the way and the focus ebbs away.  I joined the club at the end of 2014 and the name of my first choice was something I heard on a frequent basis and saw on many a list of age category and club records, but he had stopped coming to club.  A great runner by reputation but someone that I never met for many months after that.   On odd occasions he would sweep past a training session on his way home and stop and say hello but it took a long time before he returned to training.  But return he did.  He returned with a fire that has driven him on to big training mileage as he heads towards the excitement of hitting the streets of London in the spring.  With a renewed focus the training has paid off and in a similar way to last months winner times at short and long distance have come down as a result.  With a new 5k PB this month going sub 19 and a huge half marathon PB going sub 1:24 my chairman’s male runner of the month is John Burridge.

As I’ve said before, some accolades come as a result of an achievement that tops a historical build-up worthy of note.  We honour runners of all abilities and ones who run all distances but sometimes you do have to take a step back and admire the efforts of someone taking on bigger and bigger challenges.  The back story to the running often compounds the achievement.  We all have things going on in our lives that often contribute to the reasons we run.  Running is therapy.  It’s an escape.  A way to free yourself from the shackles of the day to day.  Running longer and longer can be a way to prove to yourself how strong you are and exactly what you are capable of.  Often surprising yourself!  Knowledge of this strength can be channelled into dealing with big issues elsewhere in our lives.  A challenge set in 2017 to complete all the home nations marathons having never run one before was completed with determination.  Never daring to stop dreaming the plan was hatched to tackle an ultra marathon and at the beginning of this month that goal was realised running the Taff Trail from Brecon all the way down to Nantgarw, just north of Cardiff.  A mere 44 miles.  Joined by other members of the club for the journey this little lady proved that no matter what life throws at you, you give it everything you’ve got and overcome the hurdles however big they seem.  An inspiration for all of us.  My chairman’s female runner of the month is Elizabeth Sim.

Well done guys.

January 2018 review

January parkruns

A huge month for parkrunning with 215 results in the month across 43 parkruns. That total includes 99 different members and 29 different parkrun venues. Gareth Richards, Kris Denholm, Dave Evans, Rhiannon Sian, James Beynon and I all kicked off the year by doing a New Years Day double with Cardiff at 9am and Barry Island at 10.30am. It’s the only day of the year where parkruns are started at different times and recording 2 parkruns is allowed. Jo Betty also ran Cardiff before supporting at Barry. We even had New Years Day double tourism with Karl Johnson running Ashton Court and Pomphrey Hill parkruns in the Bristol area, whilst Sarah Littlewood ran Shrewsbury and Telford, and Nick Harris went for Peckham and Southwark parkruns. Chris Roberts added yet another Australian parkrun with St Peters parkrun on New Years Day before Airlie Beach on the first Saturday parkrun of the year.

Aside from the usual home parkruns of Porthcawl and Maesteg, we had members at the following Welsh parkruns – Cardiff, Barry Island, Swansea, Llanelli, Newport, Gnoll, Pontypridd, Bryn Bach, Rogiet, Riverfront and Grangemoor. Further afield Kris Denholm ran at Andover, Fiona Drysdale at Whiteley, Sarah Littlewood at Gunnersbury, Saul Harris at Eastville, Rebecca Newton at Wycombe Rye, Chris Pratt at Wyre Forest and Maria Lalic at Hereford.

Worthy notes in month include Maria running her first parkrun after volunteering over 150 times after first registering her barcode around 4 years ago. There was a first sub 19 parkrun for Jamie Vanstone which he beat again in the same month. We had an amazing Maesteg parkrun takeover on 13/01/18 organised by Karl Johnson where our members covered pretty much all of the volunteer roles and still had 17 runners at the event as well including pacers and tail walkers. Gareth Richards got a PB at Swansea parkrun with 19:42.

On 20/01/18 we had our first ever first finish double with Niki Puleio first overall and Claire Dunbar Bowen first female at the same event. On the same day I was 2nd overall at Rogiet parkrun. Niki had a 2nd placed finish at Maesteg the week after.

Congratulations to everyone who achieved PB’s during the month including Jayne Bissmire and Rhiannon Sian who are both regularly running sub 30 parkruns and chipping away the seconds.

Races in January

As with the parkruns, it all started on New Years Day. Awful weather for the Kenfig Prince of Wales 4 miler with 24 our of members braving the elements. Niki was first in for our members and amongst the top runners in the field whilst Fiona Drysdale finished just ahead of Liz Davis as our fastest female. This was the final event of the Festive Four where Liz Davis finished 4th overall in one of the categories.

The first 10K of the year was the Buff 10K where yet again Niki was first of our members across the line with Jamie Vanstone not too far behind. Brand new member Steve Loveluck was next up and won an age category prize for his efforts whilst his wife, Annaliese was 3rd female overall as well as an age category winner. The Loveluck’s could be shaking up the Ogmore Phoenix record books over the next few months.

Neil Jones ran the Gloucester Marathon in an incredible new club record time of 02:46:57 knocking a massive 7 minutes off his previous best.

In the first of 2 West Glam XC fixtures in the month, Ryan Evans made his club debut in some style running the 5.6 mile Margam Reservoir course in 34:56. Gareth Richards, myself, Kris Denholm and Dai James completed the scoring places for the men’s team. For the ladies, Sian Price ran quick enough to have scored for the men’s team and was joined by Josie, Claire DB, Emma Loyns and Liz Sim. Great results for both teams particularly with this being the same day as the Buff 10K and Riverbank Rollick meaning a lot of members spread across a number of events.

As for the Riverbank Rollick, there were 20 members running this year including several completing their furthest trail race (9 miles). Dan Clark lead the club members back through the thick sticky mud, rope required climbs and ice cold river at the end. Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion were our final finishers in their longest trail race to date.

34 members took on the rearranged Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run on the new route. No change to the lung busting Big Dipper start but soon the race descended into muddy paths and mixed terrain with much of the course used for the Rabbit Run. However, the big difference being that this is January not July! Multiple river crossings (10 maybe??) which were all icy cold and some up to waist deep – it certainly wasn’t for the faint hearted in cold wintery conditions. Niki was our first member across the line and was 3rd veteran male overall. Annaliese Loveluck would have almost certainly been in with a chance of a veteran female prize but fell badly on the beach section with around 2 miles to go and required rescuing to be taken to the finish. Huge thanks to the organisers for quick response and thankfully Annaliese was OK with no long lasting injuries.

Neil Jones, Jamie Vanstone and Paul Johnson also braved the weather to run the Craig yr Allt fell race which was the first fixture in the clubs 2018 trail championships. Mark Gabb, Nigel Rees, Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom ran the inaugural Barry CF64 Winter race which included some equally muddy conditions to the Pudding Run with some equally deep water crossings as well.

The final weekend of the month saw another Sunday were the club were split across a couple of big events. We had 33 at the Lliswerry 8 ranging from Dai Kembery as our only sub 1 hour finisher in 59:39 to Claire Taylor, Vickie Cameron-Davies, Helen Perry and Nicola Allen who all finished in just over 1 hour 40. A great effort by all.

Meanwhile there were 19 for the Margam Park fixture of the West Glam XC. An extremely strong mens team with Neil, Niki, Jamie, Gareth R and Simon Harrison our points scorers. For the ladies team, Claire DB, Emma Loyns, Emma Morris, Sara Vowles and Eryl James scored with Denise just behind.

As usual, I really wish I could comment on everyone’s achievements during the month and appreciate the blog often only references a few but a massive well done to everyone who ran one of these events or parkruns. A great start to the year.

Chairmans runner of the month

I’ve said in the past that my chairmans runner of the month may very well change it’s selection criteria on a whim.  They’re not statistical as that’s statto’s job.  Often the accolade might be bestowed for an achievement that has a build up through previous months.   It’s a very difficult decision to make with so many members doing so many wonderful things and I want to credit those who make achievements at all levels and not just those of wondrous proportions.

Some people run long.  Some people run fast and short.  We’re all different and tend to target different distances.  Rarely do we do both.  It’s usual to favour one over the other as the training is often so different.  However, it’s sometimes the case that with training going well, increasing the distance with dedication and care so it’s effective, the endurance obtained can lead to improvements in speed at the shorter distance naturally.  My male chairmans runner of the month has long been an ultra runner and despite injuries impacting progress at times he has bounced back – taken the sensible approach and come back with a-vengeance.  A sensible approach is something the coaches will back me up celebrating.  It has led to a improvement in short distance performance that even took this runner by surprise himself.  Dipping sub 19 (twice) for the first time during January after gradual improvements over the last couple of months he is flying high.  He is still training and racing long smashing both disciplines with apparent ease.  My chairmans male runner of the month is Jamie Vanstone.

From time to time the club will gain new members who come with a pedigree.  We have some amazing runners in our midst but this month we’ve had newcomers from the North.  OK, I’ve probably given the game away already but the build up to this was always going to be difficult to make discrete.  The impact of our new arrivals has been dramatic.  During January we’ve seen a 3rd female finisher overall in the Buff 10k – which people will know is a challenging route – and recognising the placement at the point of disaster another accolade was on the cards in The Pudding Run.  Anyone there will know that a fall on the beach brought an end to that chance but it was well and truly on!  A startling introduction to the club that warrants instant recognition.  Anticipating good things to come over 2018 but recognising the impact on the club in the first month my chairmans female runner of the month is Anneliese Loveluck.

Well done guys.

October 2017 review

A small change to the blog for this month as I will round up all parkruns first before going onto the big races in October.

October parkruns

October saw 119 finishers across 24 parkruns over the 4 Saturdays. A much lower total than usual with attendance affected by Storm Brian, Snowdonia Marathon and training runs leading up to it. Whilst Porthcawl and Maesteg remained the most popular parkruns for our members, there was plenty of tourism in the month. Phoenix tourism around South Wales included Haverfordwest, Llanelli, Gnoll, Pontypridd, Pontypool, Cardiff and Rogiet parkruns. Further afield, Saul Harris ran at Peckham Rye, Jo Betty and I ran at Milton Keynes (where Jo actually ran twice in the month), Nicola Allen ran at Minehead, Dawn Hopkins ran at Blackpool and Chris Roberts ran at Shipley Country parkrun. Even further afield, Dermot and Rhian Nolan ran at Waterford parkrun in Ireland whilst Fiona Drysdale ran Paris parkrun.

October saw Aled celebrating his 100th parkrun with Storm Brian turning up for the occasion at Maesteg. Storm Brian also caused the first Porthcawl parkrun cancellation in 4 and a half years.

Niki Puleio and Neil Jones both had first place finishes during the month whilst Juliet Anmer was first female finisher at Maesteg parkrun.

October 1st – Cardiff Half Marathon

A massive 90 runners at the Cardiff Half Marathon led home by Neil Jones in 1:20: 16. The PB list is a long one with Niki Puleio up next in 1:24:03 and John Burridge with 1:28:36 making it 3 Phoenix Runners under 90 minutes. Stephen Davies, Simon Williams, Dai James all clocked PB’s. Sian Price smashed the female club record with 1:41: 44 with Keith Coleman, Karl Johnson, Dan Clark and James Littlewood all adding to their impressive PB’s lists for this year. Coming in with their first sub 2 hour half marathons were Jo Betty, Martin Cowan and Sara Bayliss. David McCann, Claire Goldworthy and Ashley Howells all got PB’s and are edging their way towards their first sub 2 hour halves. Jackie Lewis was 3rd in her age category with an outstanding time of 2:08:45. The PB’s continued with Bev Sheard, Jayne Powney, Rebecca Newton, Donna Radford, Natasha Jordan, Stephanie Dyke, Hannah Bartle, Jayne Bissmire, Kaye Pedler, Jamie Bevan, Lisa Jenkins, Cath Griffiths and Leah Boon. Several of those listed running their debut half marathon.

Several used the race as a training run ahead of Snowdon Marathon and many paced other club members to PB’s.

October 7th – Gower 50

Three Phoenix took on the challenge of the Gower Ultra 50 miler. Gareth Richards was first back in 12:49 with Kris Denholm smashing his time from the previous year with a 13:48. Wayne Hayhurst added to his year of Ultra running with a 15:26.

October 8th – Merthyr, Chester and Bournemouth Marathons

We had 6 runners at the inaugural Merthyr Marathon with Neil Price leading the Phoenix in over the hilly course in 3:32:47. Antony Lewis ran with Nicola Prior helping her along to a 4:23:04 PB. Graham Hillman also achieved a PB in 4:35:00 putting his Waterford demons behind him. His wife Victoria just missed out on beating her Waterford time with a 4:47 whilst Liz Davis completed the course in 4:53. There was also a last minute decision to add a Half Marathon option which Melanie Thomas signed up for finishing in 2:17.

Kirsty Evans ran the Chester Marathon, agonisingly missing out on sub 4 hours by 39 seconds. Eryl James ran Bournemouth in an impressive PB time of 4:21:32.

October 22nd – Stroud Half Marathon and West Glam XC League

Wayne Hayhurst and I signed up for this one after Wayne had entered the previous year. We ran the first 5 miles together before Wayne dropped back having felt ill during the week. Despite planning to take it easy, I ended up going past the 1:45 pacer that we had been following close behind for the first 5 miles and ended up finishing in 1:42:32. A little quick 6 days before Snowdon Marathon. Wayne finished in a more sensible 1:55:18. Reccomend this event as not too crowded and definitely PB potential with even less elevation than Cardiff.

We had 29 runners for the second West Glam XC fixture at the Gnoll. Leading the ladies home was Sian Price in 20th place and 4th in her age category. Claire DB, Denise Bradley, Fiona Drysdale and Samantha Thomas completed the top 5 scoring finishers. Great to see 16 ladies running after just 3 for the first fixture and including some trying their first XC event. Neil Jones lead our male club runners home over 2 laps (it was 1 lap for the ladies) and finished 8th overall in a field including some of the best runners in South Wales and even Welsh and GB internationals. Niki Puleio, Jamie Vanstone, James Littlewood and Steven James made up the other top 5 scoring finishers.

October 28th – Snowdonia Marathon

28 brave souls traveled up to North Wales with more than a dozen supports to take on the self titled ‘toughest road marathon in the UK’. Almost 3,000  feet of elevation over 26.2 miles. Niki Puleio lead our runners home in an unbelievable 3:15:00 – only 3 minutes slower than his time at Waterford on a much flatter course. Neil Price was next in with a few race wounds after a fall late on. Gareth Richards, Aled Hughes, Chris Truman and Dai K all got in well under the 4 hour mark with times ranging from 3:49-3:54. For Aled and Dai it was over a 10 minute improvement on their previous times at the same marathon 2 years ago. Nick Harris, Dave Evans and myself were next in – all having run the course in previous years. Daniel Clark finished in an impressive 4:21 in his first marathon with David Sheard getting his best time since joining the club with 4:22. Josie Bishop was our first lady in 4:25. Richard LJ got a 4:45 PB with Wayne just a couple of minutes behind. Caerwyn Lewis and James Littlewood both got debut marathon PB’s.

Elizabeth Sim completed her 4 nations (Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland) challenge of running a marathon in each accompanied by Mark Burgess in just under 5 hours. Chris Pratt ran with friend of the club Roni in 5:10 which included assisting a Cornelly Strider on the way round, once again showing the incredible sportsmanship and camaraderie between runners.  James Beynon was next up in 5:20 followed closely by marathon debutantes Adam Rowe and Dai McCann.  Christie Coleman and Mark Worrall finished just over the 5:30 mark. Jo Betty who almost had to pull out with a knee injury just a week before employed a sensible walk / run strategy to finish in 5:53. Kimberley Thomas ran with Stephen Davies and former member and now Cornelly Strider Bethan Cross just over the 6 hour mark for her first marathon finish. Completing an amazing day for the club were Matt Murray and Ian Lewis in 6:07.

October round up

Alun Wylde and Christie Coleman ran the Ponty Plod 11 miler. A hilly off road race which several other members have run in previous years. Natalie Aryal ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon in a 2:52 PB.

Emma Morris ran the Great South Run 10 miler setting a new female senior club record of 1:24:40 a week after running a 10K race in Majorca. Emma is likely to set all sorts of female club records for most events with the amount of races she has entered and has lined up. If she was able to do parkrun every week then she would be challenging myself and Christie for most events overall.

Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom and Samantha Thomas entered the Run Walk Crawl Ghost Run 5 miler. In the Dublin Marathon, Antony Lewis clocked a PB with a 3:56 finish. Peter Walsh finished in 5:23 whilst Angela Walsh clocked a 5:37 debut marathon PB.

Stato’s Runner of the Month – Niki Puleio

A tough decision with so many PB’s and improvements during the month but it’s hard to ignore another spectacular month for Niki who I think becomes the first runner to have my vote on 3 separate occasions. An outstanding 1:24:03 PB in Cardiff Half Marathon, a first place finish at Maesteg parkrun just 6 days later, a superb time at the Gnoll XC and then a phenomenal 3:15:00 marathon time in Snowdonia.

Chairmans Runners of the Month

Every month I’ve contributed to this I’ve said the same thing…  It’s a tough choice!!  With over 200 members doing incredible things every month it’s very difficult to identify who warrants the accolade – especially when there’s no specific criteria.

Two people particularly caught my eye…

The first person has had a rocky running career dogged with injuries.  These have been overcome with an equal amount of grit and determination that always pulled them through.  Someone who is very vocal about liking the longer distance events – sharing them on Facebook often and trying to draw in people to join him on these quests… He admits himself that some are actually a pipe dream… But dream he does!  At the beginning of October he tackled the 50 mile trip around the Gower… again.  I had visions of him losing his shoes like he had in The Witches at the Merthyr Mawr Trail Running Festival last year.  But he didn’t.  He soldiered on and despite experiencing tougher conditions than last year knocked 90 minutes off his time!  But that was just the start!  He’d signed up for a challenge to do 200 miles in October.  I have a particular interest in challenges and this one caught my eye… 200 is a high mileage for a month!!  Obviously, 50 is a good start, but even with 150 left it’s as good as 5 miles a day!  Sure enough, his character and tough legs got him through!!  So congratulations to Kris Denholm – chairman’s male runner of the month.

My second choice is currently on a mission!  Everyone has a different approach to running.  Some tackle distance events.  Some tackle short, fast events.  Some just train.   Some people enter every event known to man!!  Ironically October itself was a bit of a relative drought for this person only actually completing two events other than parkruns, but it’s the build-up through September that makes is admirable…  Three half marathons on consecutive weeks followed by a marathon on the fourth week.  But these have also been spread far and wide in Swindon, Budapest, Bristol and Loch Ness!!  Into October and another trip abroad to Majorca for a warm 10k (not that I’m jealous at all) and then back home for a place in the Great South Run breaking the women’s senior 10 mile club record!!  Brilliant running and determination and a well deserved chairman’s female runner of the month – Emma Morris.

Just remember though, accolades aren’t always given for huge distance or quick times and so in future months I will be recognising all kinds of different aspects of running.


November 2017 review

November parkruns

November saw 132 finishers across 33 parkruns over the 4 Saturdays. Whilst Porthcawl and Maesteg remained the most popular parkruns for our members, there was plenty of tourism in the month. Phoenix tourism around South Wales included Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Riverfront, Bryn Bach, Llanelli and Pontypridd parkruns. Further afield, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom and Jayne Powney ran at Forest of Dean, Jo Betty and I ran at Linford Wood (Milton Keynes) which was 1 of 3 tourisms in the month for both of us, Karl Johnson ran at Gloucester North and Thornbury where he was joined by Aled Hughes, David Kembery and Nick Harris. Even further afield, Peter Harrop ran at Milan parkrun whilst Paul Johnson added another new parkrun country to the clubs list with Greenpoint in South Africa which had over a thousand runners..

In month John Burridge became the fourth club member to run a sub 19 parkrun. Gareth Richards finally did his official 50th parkrun after being on 49 for several weeks and forgetting his barcode on a couple of occasions.

November 5th – Richard Burton 10K

46 runners for this one led home by Aled in 42:58 just a week after running Snowdon. Simon Harrison was the first of PB crew in 43:42. Our first club female was Claire DB with 50:18. Other PB-ers included Joanne Rowling, Rhiannon Buckley and Suzanne Harrison.

November 12th – Mo Run 10K

Just 3 runners for this one with Emma Morris getting her first official sub 50 despite being in fancy dress with a 49:30. She had also run the Bristol Mo Run the day before. Nigel Rees and Jackie Lewis also ran coming in just under the hour mark.

November 18th – Warwick HM

Emma Morris continued her amazing run of form this time getting her first sub 1:50 half marathon with a 1:48;58.

November 19th – Pembrey MT10

9 runners for this increasingly popular race which sells out quicker each year. Niki Puleio led our runners home in a storming 1:07:58 over the sandy multi-terrain course. A few first time 10 miler PB with Simon Harrison, Lloyd West and Ashley Howells.

November 26th – Gnoll XC League

Some fantastic performances with Neil Jones leading the way for our runners whilst Sian Price lead the way for the female runners. The men are top of their division after 3 fixtures whilst the ladies are 9th in theirs at the half way point in the season.

Other races

Jamie Vanstone and Karl Johnson ran the inaugural Caer-hilly trail race with Jamie finishing in 11th place overall. Jamie was joined by Denise Bradley and Fiona Drysdale for the Black Mountains 9 mile trail race. A special mention to Louise Bennett who completed a personal challenge of running 100 miles during November. Plus more than 20 members completed the Virtual Half Marathon challenge in the first half of November as part of fundraising. More details on the link below…

Stato Runner of the month – Emma Morris

After being awarded Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for October, Emma is my choice for Runner of the Month for November as the stats are amazing again. More races than anyone else, plus a 10K and Half Marathon PB.

September 2017 review

Saturday 2nd – parkruns and Roman Run

41 runners across 7 different parkruns. Most taking it steady with thoughts of Cardiff 10K the next day. However, there were PB’s for Nigel Hitchings, Debbie Bennion and a parkrun PB for David McCann. Tourism included several at Maesteg, Nick Harris at Worcester, Elaine at Tees Barrage, Wayne at Colby and Saul at Grangemoor. Tourism King and Queen, Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom took the club record off me for parkrun tourism with their 34th venue which was Caldicot.

Juliet Amner, Richard Lowcock James and Ian Lewis took on the 16 mile Roman Run which is a challenging point to point trail race over multi terrain from Brecon to Merthyr. A shame the event is the day before Cardiff 10K as I’m sure many more of our runners would have been interested in giving this one a go and personally it’s still on my to do list.

Sunday 3rd – Cardiff 10K, Oldbury 10 Mile and Joust 24 hour relay

Christie Coleman, Shawn and Julie completed the Thornbury series of events which include Riverbank Rollick, Thornbury 10K and the Oldbury 10 miler. It was also Shawn and Julies first 10 mile event for the club meaning brand new PB’s.

Nick Harris kept it quiet that he was doing the Joust 24 hour relay. This event is organised by Ultra Runner Ltd who I am familiar with having done two of their half marathon events on consecutive days back in February. The event involved laps of a roughly 5 mile loop and can be entered in teams of up to 8…. however.. Nick chose to enter as a solo entrant, therefore signing up to attempt to run for 24 hours. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan but despite cramp at just 9 miles in, Nick continued and managed 9 laps and therefore around 45 miles before retiring after 10 hours. The laps weren’t at all simple either with mixed terrain, gates, fences and hills. An incredible effort and I’m sure he’ll be back for more, if not in this event, then another 50+ miler.

Cardiff 10K saw 69 Phoenix take on the new course in the capital. The route started and finished near City Hall as it had before, but zig zagged it’s way to Roath Park Lake and included the ‘incline’ which is towards the end of the Cardiff Half route. Many including myself thought it might be a tougher course to achieve a PB but that was certainly wasn’t reflected in the results with 38 of our runners achieving PB’s. Many of our runners got to the event on a double decker bus arranged and driven by Karl Johnson with a rousing inspirational speech by Chairman Chris Pratt on the way to the event. The weather threatened to soak us to the bone by in the end we were lucky with mostly dry conditions for much of the race if not a tiny bit warm even though most of us wore the charity vests provided in support of Kidney Wales.

As for the results, I’m ignoring Neil Jones who ran for Pontyclun and not mentioning his amazing time of 36:29. So first Phoenix runner across the line was Gareth Jenkins (me!) with a PB of 41:33 with my teammates in the ‘Corporate Challenge’ finishing close behind with Aled 41:45, Neil Price getting a 41:55 PB and David Kembery also PBing with 43:10. Our time were combined and was good enough for us to finish 2nd overall in the team competition!

My Stato Runner of the Month for August, Sian Price was next up with an outstanding female club record time of 44:42 knocking nearly a minute and a half off the previous record.  The amazing times continued throughout the field with dozens of our runners smashing personal goals whether it was to complete their first 10K, or get a certain time, or a best time since injury or for the year. I wish I could write about every performance but I want to at least list out plethora of PBers as below…

Gareth Jenkins, Neil Price, David Kembery, Sian Price, Graham Mackleworth, Dan Clark, Chris Roberts, Karl Johnson, Nigel Hitchings (second PB in 2 days), Mark Burgess, Martin Beard, Jo Betty, Alun Wylde, Liz Davis, Louise Foster, David McCann, Jackie Lewis, Steven Taylor, Claire Goldsworthy, Ian Lewis, Rebecca Newton, Matt Murray, Kim Thomas, Jayne Powney, Kay Pedler, Hannah Kinsella, Joanne Rowling, Donna Radford, Natalie Aryal, Martyn Cameron-Davies, Sharon Delahunty, Nicola Allen, Vickie Cameron-Davies, Claire Taylor, Helen Perry, Maria George, Elaine Christian and Suzanne Harrison.

Saturday 9th – parkruns

41 runners again but this time over 8 parkruns and remarkably in 4 different countries with the various Welsh contingent joined by Chris Pratt in Huddersfield, David Sheard in Dundee and Peter Harrop in Milan.  Windy conditions at Porthcawl meant a rare week of no PB’s. A few travelled down to Llanelli parkrun which assume was equally as windy being an out and back coastal run but Elizabeth Sim managed to bag a PB accompanied by Gareth Richards. There was also a PB for Karl Johnson who shaved another second off his best overall 5K time with a 22:07 with a rare run at his home parkrun of Pontypridd.

Sunday 10th – Budapest HM, Great North Run, New Forest HM, Shepley 10K

Just because there aren’t any local races doesn’t stop our members. Adam Rowe bagged himself a 2:03 PB at the New Forest HM. Karl Johnson made it 3 PB’s at 3 different distances within 8 days with a 1:47 at the Great North Run with Dawn Hopkins running for the 4th year in a row. Meanwhile Emma Morris made it 5 different countries with Phoenix runners this weekend coming in at just under 2 hours in the Budapest Half Marathon.

Chris Pratt returned to his native Yorkshire for the weekend running the Shepley 10K in just under an hour. An event he’d last run 3 years previous before joining the club.

Saturday 16th – parkruns

45 runners across 7 different parkruns.  Gareth Richards lead our runners home at Porthcawl with a 19:45 PB. Jayne Bissmire knocked a massive 87 seconds off her PB for her first sub 30 parkrun at her 4th attempt. It was almost a 2 minute PB for Michelle Alexander in her 5th parkrun. Relatively new parkrunners Debbie Bennion and Andrea Self also shaved a few more seconds off their PB’s as well. Away from Porthcawl, there were 10 of our runners at Maesteg parkrun whilst parkrun tourist King and Queen, Shawn and Julie visited Andover parkrun.

Sunday 17th – Bristol HM, English HM, West Glam XC

Emma Morris ran an impressive 1:52 at Bristol whilst new member Steven James ran 1:48 at the English Half Marathon.

It was the first fixture of the West Glamorgan XC League where we had 13 runners at Llanmadoc. A multi terrain course with forestry trail followed by sand dunes and a 2 mile beacTh section before a short uphill section and then downhill finish. As I didn’t make it, Pippa Clark becomes the only member to have completed all West Glam fixtures since the club has been in the league. Niki Puleio lead our runners home followed by Gareth Richards and Dai James. Denise was the first of our 3 females in attendance followed by Bev Sheard and Pippa.

Saturday 23rd – parkruns

37 runners across a record TWELVE different parkrun venues. 22 of which were at Porthcawl for the Elvis themed run where we were joined by parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Maesteg had an influx of quick runners as Niki Puleio’s 18:52 which would be good enough to finish first most weeks got him 6th overall. Ashley Howells got a PB at the same venue whilst our only tourist to get a PB was Mark Gabb at Barry (arguably not a tourist venue for him). Aled Hughes ran the inaugural Haverfordwest parkrun.

Sunday 24th – Swansea 10K, Forest of Dean 5K and Half Marathon, Loch Ness Marathon

Starting at Forest of Dean for the Autumn edition of their Half Marathon event. Apparently a hillier course than the Spring edition. A great first trail half for those looking to get into distance trail events as the terrain wasn’t too technical and mostly on firm forestry paths. A challenging course with the downhills being steep and short whilst the uphills were gentle but very long. I was first of our club across the line in 1:43, followed by Samantha Thomas in 2:17, Mark Worrall 2:24 and Pippa Clark accompanied by Simon Harrison in 3:38 in her first trail half. Pippa’s time was quicker than her previous half in Waterford. Meanwhile Suzanne Harrison ran the 5K event in a PB time of 43:51. A great effort by all.

The fantastic four of Emma Morris, Liz Sim, Gareth Richards and Mark Burgess made their way to Scotland for the Loch Ness Marathon. Emma beat her previous PB by an incredible 23 minutes for a 4:20. The remaining 3 ran together throughout all finishing in 4:27 which meant a 13 minute PB for Mark and 16 minute PB for Liz. Amazing results.

The biggest event of the day was Swansea 10K where we had 25 runners. John Burridge became the 3rd club member to run sub 40 minutes with a PB time of 39:30. Wayne Hayhurst, Simon Williams, Karl Johnson, Alyn Wylde and David McCann were next up all achieving PB’s. Jo Betty was the clubs first female finisher in 52:33 which was just outside of her PB achieved at Cardiff earlier in the month. The PB’s continued with Ashley Howells (second PB of the weekend), Emma Williams, Dawn Hopkins, Julie Ransom (accompanied by Shawn), Lisa Jenkins and Nicola Allen.

Statos Runner of the Month – Karl Johnson

In a month with so many big events, it’s normally a tough decision after trawling through the stats to decide who should get the nod… but this month was pretty clear cut. Karl achieved a parkrun PB, 10K PB’s at both Cardiff and Swansea, plus a Half Marathon PB at the Great North Run.

To end the September blog it was the Vice Chair’s choice for runners of the month so here’s Sian’s thoughts on choices…

Vice-Chair Runners of the Month


Let’s just turn the clock back 1 year and the person I have chosen for male runner of the month was so disappointed that he could not run the Snowdon marathon after being very ill with pneumonia. He came to support the Snowdon marathon and vowed that next year things would be different …

And boy have they been different. This person regularly runs half marathons, marathons and ultras and has also done an ultra marathon and half marathon the next day !!!

When the zero to hero group needed a person to assist during the summer this runner took it in his stride and volunteered.

He does his races with no fanfare, helps others achieve their goals and is always quietly training in the background …

Who is my choice for runner of the month .. Gareth Richards, take a bow

You are awesome and inspire lots of us when coming back to running from having to take time off from illness.

Well done


This female runner has been a member from the original dissolved running club. She has had a tough ride the last few years but is always smiling.

Not only does she run, very well, she has taken quite a few of us under her wing to develop us into budding triathletes. She has given us confidence in taking on sea swims and has the patience of a saint with many of us on our bikes.

What challenges has this person done this year, well I think the biggest has to be when she swam the Solent, not a mean task, 5 miles and got caught up in a rip tide at the end !

This person is always in the background, helping, supporting and encouraging and this month, you are my female runner/athlete of the month (especially when you turned up for the Bridgend League Race in jogging bottoms and cotton t shirt!

Helen Griffiths … you are amazing!

August 2017 review

Wednesday 1st – Cardiff Summer Sizzler 5K

I was the only Phoenix for this one in what couldn’t have been further from a summer sizzler with wet and cold conditions for the time of year. The event is run on the same course as Cardiff parkrun but with only 150 runners rather than the 700+ on a Saturday there was a much better chance of a good time. I finished in 19:48 which I was absolutely delighted with. A fifth sub 20 this year at five different locations.

Saturday 5th – parkruns

32 runners across 3 parkruns.  PB’s for Rebecca Newton, Debbie Bennion and Sharon Pritchard at Porthcawl.

Sunday 6th – Brecon 10 miler and Gloucester HM

11 at Brecon runners lead home by John Burridge who set a new club age category record beating his own PB by 1 second. Sian Price smashed the female club record by almost 10 minutes with a time of 1:16:36. There was also age category records for Claire Dunbar-Bowen and Josie Bishop who were both also within the old female record time.

Karl Johnson and Ashley Howells completed the Gloucester Half Marathon whilst Dai Williams, Wayne Hayhurst and Mark Gabb all celebrated PB’s in the Full Marathon.

Saturday 12th – parkruns, Gower Tri and Brecon 50

41 runners across 6 parkruns. A first timer PB for Elaine Christian whilst Andrea Self bettered her debut parkrun time in her second event. Sian Price was first female overall in Maesteg adding it to a first female finish at Porthcawl last year despite running 3 minutes slower than her PB. John Burridge ran 19:39 at Swansea Bay parkrun which was just 1 second slower than his PB time set in January 2015.

Helen Griffiths notched up yet another triathlon finish in the Gower Triathlon completing the 750m swim, 25K bike and 5K run.

Jamie Vanstone and Gareth Richards completed the Brecon 50 mile Ultra which contained over 7000 feet of elevation! Despite going off course, they ended up finishing 3rd and 4th in the event.

Sunday 13th – Port Talbot Half Marathon

40 runners for the second annual Port Talbot Half Marathon. Lead home by Niki Puleio who ran a PB of 1:26: 14. Sian Price was first female back in 1:45:49 which is one of the fastest times by any female member in the history of the club. Her PB which was set before joining the club would actually beat the current club record. A plethora of PB’s including Keith Coleman, Dan Clark, Nigel Hitchings, Mark Burgess, Jo Betty, Kimberly Thomas, Steph Dyke, Amy Williams and Claire Taylor.

Karl Johnson was the only Phoenix at the Cottrel Park Summer 10K finishing in 54:22.

Saturday 19th – parkruns

47 runners across 6 different parkruns. After Sian Price claimed first female at Maesteg last week, Niki Puleio claimed first male and first overall at Maesteg this week. 38 runners at Porthcawl was a biggest attendance in a while so a nice rare surprise that I was first Phoenix across the line. It was Jackie Lewis 200th parkrun and she celebrated in style knocking over 30 seconds off her PB. My runner of the month for July had the 5th highest age grade percentage of the 376 finishers. There was another PB for Sharon Prichard whilst Maria George and April Kitchener also got in on the act.

Tuesday 22nd – Bridgend League 5th fixture – Newbridge Fields 4.5 miler

50 runners for this 2 lap course around Newbridge Fields with a steady climb towards the end of each lap. Niki Puleio lead us home and was 3rd overall. Chris Truman were 2nd and 3rd Phoenix across the line and also 2nd and 3rd in the Senior Male category overall. Juliet Amner was our first female across the line. Well done to everyone who ran the tough course including several running their first Bridgend League event and / or first trail event.

Wednesday 23rd – Aberavon Duathlon

Taking place the same time as qualifiers for the Commenwealth Games, 7 of our athletes rubbed shoulders with the elites to complete the swim, run course. Sarah Littlewood was first club member home whilst Philip Buckley completed his first multisport event.

Saturday 26th – parkruns and Llantwit Major 5K / 10K

37 runners across 7 parkruns. At Porthcawl there was a first sub 20 for Dai James whilst Wayne Hayhurst, Jayne Bissmire, Sharon Pritchard and April Kitchener. At Maesteg parkrun I had my highest parkrun finish with 2nd place overall. Jo Betty was second female.

At Llantwit, Mark Gabb completed the treble doing the 1K, 5K and 10K distances that were on offer. Alun Wylde did both the 5K and 10K. Chris Stanlake just went for the 5K option whilst 10 other club members did the 10K which takes in a section of the Vale Ultra course.

Sunday 27th – Narberth Nobbler HM and Marathon, Severn Bridge and Malmesbury 10K

Emma Morris ran at the interestingly named ‘Flying Monk Malmesbury 10K Carnival’ where she offered to pace 55 minutes and came in at 54:35.

There were 8 runners at the Severn Bridge Half Marathon where Chris Roberts helped pace Karl Johnson to his first sub 1:50 clocking.

5 members took on the Narberth Nobbler Half Marathon whilst marathon regulars Kris Denholm and Chris Pratt notched up another to the list in the full distance event. The half marathon course had various terrain with 1500 feet of elevation spread over numerous hills throughout the course. Resident King of the Trails Richard Lowcock James commented he’d never done a race with so many water crossings with several streams in the half marathon. The marathon followed the same course for 10 miles before branching off to do even more hills and a waist deep river crossing that required ropes. The temperature rose significantly just as most of us doing the half were finishing leaving even tougher conditions for Kris and Chris. They both battled through finishing yet another tough marathon.

Monday 28th – Machen Mountain Race

Emma Morris was in action again for the 3rd day in a row, this time taking on this fell race which includes 1300 feet of elevation in just 3 miles. In fact, nearly 2 miles are downhill so you could argue its 1300 feet in just over a mile. A great event to end what was a big weekend of trail with the Llantwit, Narberth and then this race.

Wednesday 30th – Tuska Beach 5.2K

50 runners for the final Bridgend League race of the year. Neil Jones lead the club home with a 3rd placed finish overall on the course run entirely on sand from Rest Bay to Pink Bay. Sian Price was our first female runner and 8th female overall. Great performances throughout the field. We are awaiting final results but a great turnout in the final event should have secured us a second year of finishing 3rd club overall. A great achievement with almost all clubs fielding more runners than last year.

Statos Runner of the Month  – Sian Price

After a lengthy lay off due to injury at the start of the year, Sian is returning to her best form. She started the month with a PB at Brecon 10 miler which beat the previous club record by almost 10 minutes with a 1:16:26 to finish 7th female overall. Sian followed that up a week later with a 1:45: 59 for the 3rd fastest female time ever for our club. Sian also finished 1st female at Maesteg parkrun and finished off the month finishing 8th female overall at the Bridgend League Tuska Beach event.

Chairmans runners of the month

With our ever increasing membership, the task of choosing a male and female member that stands out during a month is very difficult.  There are so many amazing people doing amazing things within the club every single day and so it’s an arduous task.  I wanted to award about 20 of these, but there will be other months where myself or Sian can celebrate others.

I wanted to choose people not based purely on their running abilities or scale of achievements but on steps they have taken to better themselves.

For those who might not know there is a group operating on Facebook under the title “Phoenix Lites“.  The idea is for members of Ogmore Phoenix (and some friends) to encourage each other in weight loss.  Every week there is a weigh in on a Monday morning and progress is shared within the group.  I love it when someone suddenly takes control of their life and has a eureka moment where they change something significant.  The reading of a book whilst on holiday, “The Cool Impossible” by Eric Orton inspired one member so much they took the big step to cut sugar out of their diet.  A 10lb weight loss followed within a week whilst battling with sugar withdrawal!  This led to further losses bringing his weight down by a stone by the end of the month.  He also achieved an increased running mileage of 27 miles in the final week of the month and a renewed vigour and attitude towards the running.  He’s looking a lot trimmer as well.  What an awesome change!  Inspirational.  Well done Ashley Howells, my chairman’s male runner of the month.

My female choice is someone returning to running after a very tough couple of years.  Illness forced a long rest and coming back from such an illness is a tough battle.  A battle that some would really struggle with.  It’s a testament to someone’s character when they come back fighting.  Our fundamental club ethos of being inclusive to all means we never leave anyone behind so no matter where you place in a race you are a hugely important member of the club.  Despite really struggling this runner has fought back by attending races undeterred by her plight and crossed finish lines with her head held high.  I have been inspired by this and it should be celebrated.  Hence I have chosen Lynda Denholm as this months chairman’s female runner of the month.

July 2017 review

Saturday 1st – parkruns

38 runners across 8 parkruns which included Saul Harris at South Bank parkrun in Australia. A single PB with Jackie Lewis running 27:23 accompanied by Heather Garratt for the highest age grade percentage of anyone in the club that day including Niki who ran 18:38 for context.

Sunday 2nd – Aim to Tri Triathlon

A growing number of members are now diving into the world of triathlon with 6 members taking on the swim, bike, run. The girls (Shelley Evans, Sian LG, Sian Tossell and Rhiannon Buckley) upstaged the boys (James Beynon and Christie Coleman) in the swim. However, speedy bike, run combinations from our two male triathletes seen them come out on top with James just pipping Christie to the finish line.

Wednesday 5th – Aberavon Run for All 5K Series (Race 3)

21 runners for more pleasant conditions than the heat of the race 1 and wet and windy conditions of race 2. Niki headed us home in a PB time again of 18:21. There was also PB’s for Juliet Anmer and Jackie Lewis (second 5K PB in 4 days) who were both first in their age categories. Claire Taylor was delighted with her PB of 40:23 celebrating with a now customary ‘PB jump’ photo.

Saturday 8th – parkruns

A reasonably small turnout of 30 across 5 parkruns but amazingly across 4 different countries. As usual, Porthcawl ticked off the Welsh parkrun but this week we also had parkrun tourism couple Shawn and Julie ticking off an English parkrun at Cheltenham, Jayne Powney in Scotland at St Andrews parkrun, and slightly more further afield, Denise Bradley at Western Springs parkrun in New Zealand. Jayne also got a PB at her tourist parkrun.

Sunday 9th – Wales Half / Full Marathon, Two Tunnels 10K / HM, Heroes and Villians 5K

A busy day for the club ranging from a fancy dress 5K to a Marathon at the end of the Long Course Weekend for others. The Heroes and Villians 5K was attended by Rhiannon Whitely on her birthday along with my June runner of the month Alun Wylde and Jo Betty.

The Two Tunnels events saw Chris accompany his wife Sue as she ran a new 10K PB. Juliet Amner completed the Half Marathon event in Bath which is run 3 times a year.

The biggest attendance was at Tenby where we had 6 runners in the Half Marathon and 7 runners in the Full Marathon. The unrelenting hilly course meant the only PB was for Mark Gabb in his first marathon with the club and first marathon overall in over 10 years. Nick Harris, Chris Pratt and Mark ended up running most of the course together bumping into Karl Johnson and Kirsty Evans along the way. Kirsty had completed the bike course the day before whilst Martin Beard finished just a few minutes behind having completed all three Long Course Weekend disciplines which consist of Ironman distances over three days.

Thursday 13th – Thornbury 10K

On the hunt for shiny medals, Christie Coleman, Shawn Cullen, Rhiannon Buckley and James Beynon completed this one. I mention the medal as Thornbury runners who organise 3 events cleverly decided to design the medals so that if you complete all 3 events, the fit together much like they do for the Long Course Weekend. I’m sure we’ll see the result of completing all three on our Facebook page soon.

Saturday 15th – parkruns, Celtic Half and Full Marathon, MMTRF

25 runners across 3 parkruns including Saul Harris notching up another Australian parkrun. A much lower attendance than usual with both the Celtic (Margam) and Merthyr Mawr events later that day.

The Celtic Half was due to start at 10am but not wanting to miss parkrun, I did Porthcawl parkrun first before a mad dash to Margam for the start. I was joined by Juliet Amner, Martin Cowan and Sara Bayliss for the Half Marathon whilst Kris Denholm opted for the Full Marathon. A tough course which included the long climbs of the Hoka half earlier in the year. The Half included 2000 feet of ascent so I was delighted with a time of 1:53. Juliet finished in 2:09 whilst Martin and Sara came in together in 2:26. Kris completed the full in a very respectable 4:40 on the hilly course.

31 of our runners opted for the Merthyr Mawr Trail Running Festival events with 23 completing the 7 mile ‘Rabbit’ run whilst 8 completed the 18 mile ‘Giant Rabbit’ run.  Simon Harrison and Jamie Vanstone leading our runners home in the respective races in damp muddy conditions.

Wednesday 19th – Kenfig Sands 5K

The first race as Ogmore Phoenix Runners. 70 runners for what I consider not only one of the toughest 5K races I’ve done, but one of the toughest races overall. Sand sapping the energy and a head wind on the one short flat tarmac section. A decision was made to show solidarity and camaraderie with the usual top 20 told to fight it out for the the point scoring places whilst the majority of our runners ran the course together. Neil Jones was our first runner back and 5th overall in 20:26. We finished 3rd overall in the event.

Saturday 22nd – parkruns

52 runners across 4 parkruns and for the first time in the clubs history, Porthcawl wasn’t the most attended parkrun. That went to Maesteg where 35 of our runners went for their inaugural parkrun. Local boy Niki Puleio ran 18:59 to lead our runners home with Claire Dunbar-Bowen our first female.

At Porthcawl, I ran my 200th parkrun and had the honour of being the first Ogmore Phoenix across the line at Porthcawl parkrun replicating being the Cwm Ogwr runner across the line in the trial event for Porthcawl parkrun over 4 years previous. I also matched my best overall position of 14th. Jo Betty also achieved her target of being first in her age category having attempted to get her best time possible for several weeks in a row.

Sunday 23rd – Snowdonia Trail HM and Marathon

Having done this last year I can safely say this is the toughest race I’ve ever done. This year Ian Lewis signed up for the half marathon which climbs to close to the summit of Snowdon before a further climb in the final 3 miles which is the equivalent of our Beast run just to finish you off. Chris Pratt joined me for the half last year and somehow decided that doing double the distance with the Snowdon climb in the second half of the run seemed like a good idea! He ran with David Sheard and completed the quite frankly bonkers course which includes 5,400 feet of elevation in just over 7 hours.

Saturday 29th – parkruns and club BBQ

40 runners across 3 different parkruns which included 8 at the inaugural Calicot parkrun.  A big day for PB’s with new runners Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion setting their first times, plus new PB’s for Rebecca Newton, Jackie Lewis, Beverley Sheard and Claire Goldsworthy.

Later that day was the club BBQ which was moved at the eleventh hour from Bryngarw park to Tondu Rugby Club. However, it worked out brilliantly with everyone thoroughly enjoying the evening. A big thank you to the social committee for arranging and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the next event.

Saturday 29th – Magor 10K

Having been out of action for several weeks with a wrist injury caused by a bike accident, Stephen Davies was back with an incredible PB of 38:41 followed closely by Niki Puleio with 39:00.

Stato’s Runner of the Month – Jackie Lewis

A tough one to choose for July with most of the races being trail or hilly meaning PB’s were few and far between. However, 3 PB’s for Jackie at 5K with each also being age category wins is very impressive. It’s also worth pointing out that her 27 minute 5K runs give her an age grade percentage that is not only among the best in the club but among the best in Porthcawl parkrun each week.

June 2017 Review

Saturday 3rd – parkruns

48 runners across 9 different parkruns. Keith Coleman, Sue Roberts, Steph Dyke and Shelley Evans all claimed new PB’s at Porthcawl. Mark Gabb, Karl Johnson, Chris Pratt, Emma Morris, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom, Alana Lutwyche, Simon Melksham and Angela Parry made up our large band of parkrun tourists.

Wednesday 6th – Aberavon Run for All 5K Series (race 2)

19 runners braved the wet blustery evening on Aberavon seafront. Despite the conditions, Niki Puleio led our runners home with a PB time of 18:37 whilst Amy Williams got herself a PB of 28:33.

Friday / Saturday 9th-10th – London to Cardiff 24 hour relay

I signed up for this with a work colleague and 10 people who I’d never met before and only had contact with through a Whatsapp group set up for our team. The London to Cardiff relay starts just outside Twickenham Stadium and finishes in Sapphire Gardens in Cardiff 160 miles later. A GPS baton is carried throughout the run and each runner does 2 or 3 individual stages as well as 3 team stages which are the first and last stages plus one in the middle. Maps are made available 2 weeks before the event but marshals and signage on route are minimal.

Teams are set off at different times and we were allocated 4:22pm on Friday afternoon. The first team stage was just 0.3 miles. I then did an 8.3 mile individual stage (4th stage overall) which was very flat as it consisted almost entirely of canal paths and was delighted to complete it in under an hour. The second team stage was at 2:30am where we all had to run 1.8 miles through a wooded area around a lake. Our team had set out to complete the course in under 24 hours (cut off is actually 30 hours) but we were already well ahead at this point which worryingly meant my second individual stage which I thought would be around 6am, actually started at 4:45am. Fortunately it was just as the sun rose and I had a lovely scenic run from Royal Wooton Bassett to Malmesbury (near Swindon). 11.3 miles after no sleep and also one of the hilliest routes of the race was tough going so I was again really pleased with my time which was 1 hour 32 minutes – knocking another 10 minutes off the target time required to hit the target of sub 24 hours.

I was the first of the team to finish my individual stages, but with so much stop / starting at the various checkpoints, getting any sleep proved difficult for any of us. We arrived in Cardiff to run the final 400m together and smashed our target, actually finishing just under 22 hours. We were 4th of the record number of 48 teams and also had the accolade of first ‘new team’ as the top 3 had all completed the event in previous years. Incredibly the winning team finished in 18 hours 46 minutes meaning that they averaged 7 minute miles for the entire 160 miles.

Saturday 10th – parkruns

50 runners across 7 different parkruns. A reduced attendance at Porthcawl as 12 regular parkrunners chose to try out Llanelli parkrun. Brett Bonnell bagged a PB at Porthcawl whilst Alun Wylde, David McCann and Alana Lutwyche all got PB’s at Llanelli.

Saturday 17th – parkruns and Sospan 10K

53 runners across 6 different parkruns. Another PB for Brett at Porthcawl and this week he was joined on the PB list by Anne Lalic and Leah Boon with her first sub 40 clocking accompanied by James Beynon. Away from Porthcawl there were PB’s for Karl Johnson on the super fast Swansea parkrun course whilst Kimberley Thomas got a PB at Grangemoor where we had 8 runners.

The Sospan 10K saw 13 members runners including PB’s for newbies Kaye Pedler and Nicola Veasey. Gareth Richards was first member back whilst Emma Morris was first female member.

Sunday 18th – Caerphilly 10K

20 runners for this one with Sian Price setting a new club age category record with a 46:28 – just 19 seconds off the overall female club record. There was also a PB for Alun Wylde. Special mention for Gareth Richards who ran the course in 43 minutes having run 42 minutes in Llanelli the day before.

Saturday 24th – Waterford Quarter, Half and Marathon

I did consider a separate blog post for this but will keep it as part of the monthly review. It all started on Friday with 64 runners and supporters setting off from Sarn Services for a bus / ferry / bus journey to Waterford. Dai Kembery handed out the tour polo shirts and goodies before we set off and Sarah Littlewood provided entertainment on the ferry with a quiz. A few chose to calm pre race nerves with a pint or two on the ferry whilst others tried their best to just get through it without being sick (me included).

We pretty much took over the hotel arranged by the Kembery’s and Nolan’s taking up an entire floor as well as the dining area for the evening meal. Most headed off to rooms shortly after the meal to get an early night and lay out kit ready for the morning.

The morning saw a mixture of excited and nervous runners at breakfast. Most steering clear of a full cooked breakfast with the odd exception (Christie Coleman if my memory serves correctly).

We headed to the start en mass having a huge team photo and bumping into a few from Lliswerry running club. The races all started together meaning a mixture of those doing the quarter marathon (6.55 miles – which caught a few out who had assumed it was a 10K), the half marathon and marathon. The Viking chant / clap made for a spine tingling start to the event with plenty of supporters at the start area and over the first mile or so.

As for the race itself – an undulating course (many will be shouting hilly as they read this) around Waterford and some quiet country lanes which Neil Jones described as his toughest marathon to date despite having done Snowdonia and running several other marathon courses. Great support from our team who had headed out as well.

The Quarter Marathon included 5 of our runners which were lead home by Julie Ransom. The Half Marathon had 20 runners lead home by newest member James Littlewood. I accompanied Alun Wylde on his mission for a sub 2 hour PB which he smashed with a 1:55:48. Sarah Littlewood came agonisingly close to her first sub 2 hour half but was delighted with a new PB of 2:00:48 whilst there were also PB’s for Diana Purnell, Steph Dyke, Rhian Nolan, Jayne Kembery and Cath Griffiths.

The biggest field was for our Marathon runners with 24 taking on the challenge including 9 running the marathon distance for the first time. Neil Jones was our first runner back in an outstanding 3:03. Niki Puleio managed a 3:11:51 PB a few minutes behind. Aled, Dai K and Gareth Richards ended up running together with Gareth getting a PB of 3:43. First club female home was Claire Dunbar-Bowen in an amazing time of 4:08 in her debut marathon. The PB list also included Carol Bartle, Neil Morgan, Nigel Hitchings, Daniel Clark, Mark Burgess, Elizabeth Sim, Victoria Hillman, Jo Betty, James Beynon, Ian Lewis, Sian Llewellyn-Goring and Rhiannon Buckley. Rhiannon completing an incredible journey from Zero to Marathon Hero less than 2 years after starting running with the club.

Needless to say, many drinks were consumed that evening at the dinner at the hotel and then the marathon after party.  A couple of pubs had the pleasure / displeasure of 60 odd mostly Welsh with a few English and Irish and a single Kiwi descent on them. Some lasted longer than others – not naming anyone here of course (Aled Hughes).

A great weekend had by all and a massive thank you to David and Jayne Kembery and Dermot and Rhian Nolan as well the extended team of organisers who helped make it a memorable weekend.

Saturday 24th – parkruns

23 runners across 6 different parkrun venues. One of our smallest attendances overall and at Porthcawl (13) for a couple of years due to the Waterford trip plus those resting before Swansea Half Marathon. 6 of our runners headed down to Swansea to run on part of the course they would revisit at around mile 7-9 the next day. No PB’s to note but a special mention for Caerwyn Lewis who had his first ‘first club finisher’ at Porthcawl.

Sunday 25th – Swansea Half Marathon

Despite the huge attendance at Waterford, there were still 33 runners at Swansea for the Half Marathon. Neil Price was first of our club finishers with a 1:34 PB. Josie Bishop was our first female with a 1:46 PB which is in the top 5 fastest half marathons by one of our female members. There were PB’s aplenty with the list also including Emma Loyns, Steven Taylor, Claire Goldsworthy, Sara Vowles, Louise Foster, Nigel Rees, Kimberley Thomas, Ashley Howells, Darija Mann, Shelley Evans, Jamie Bevan, Amy Williams, Nicola Cornock and Nicola Allen.

Wednesday 28th – Porthcawl 4K Time Trial

The third fixture of the Bridgend League saw the return of the Porthcawl 4K TT. Amended this year to start from the shelter going out to the usual parkrun turnaround at Rest Bay before running to the start of the Promenade before another 180 degree turn to return to the shelter and finish. Many tired legs with almost all of our 48 runners having run at Waterford or Swansea just a few days before.  A big effort was required by all which is exactly what happened. Niki Puleio ran 13:10 on what was a course just short of 4K in the end. Our first female was Sian Price. Great support and effort by all.

Stato’s Runner of the Month – Alun Wylde

In a month of big races and occasions, Alun really stood out with 5K, 10K and Half Marathon PB’s. Not only that, but all were by big margins. Well done Alun.

Future blogs are to include Stato’s Runner of the Month and the Chairperson’s Runner of the Month which will alternate between Chris and vice-chair Sian. My Stato’s runner of the month will be based purely on the numbers – PB’s, age grade percentages, improvements, number of events whilst the Chairpersons Runner of the Month will take everything in account whether it be effort put in at training, achieving a new distance or goal, encouragement as well as all the numbers.

May 2017 Review

1st May – Milton Keynes Half and Full Marathon

Three of the blue wave were in action in Milton Keynes with Jo Betty running the Half Marathon whilst Kirsty Evans and Wayne Hayhurst ran the Marathon. After battling back from a 6 week lay off due to injury during February and March, Jo ran the half in an impressive 2:10:31. Kirsty smashed her PB from Bournemouth last October with a 3:57:30 becoming only the 3rd Cwm Ogwr female to go under the 4 hour mark. Wayne was with her until half way but ran into problems in the second half finishing in 4:33:24.

6th May – parkruns and Preselli Beast

45 runners across a record number of 11 different parkruns. Claire Goldsworthy ran a PB at Porthcawl whilst Brett Bonell got a PB at Swansea.

Championed by male captain Richard Lowcock James, the Preselli Beast races have had more Blue Wave entrants year on year with 7 taking on the Beast Bach 11 miler whilst David Sheard took on the Beast race which is just short of a marathon. Having experienced it last year I can confirm it’s one of the toughest but scenic off road races.

7th May – Porthkerry 5 miler, Stratford (Shakespeare) Marathon and Great Welsh Half / Full

5 members ran at Porthkerry for the off road 5 miler that starts in the same place as the Vale 18 miler. There were 5 mile PB’s for new members Simon MelkshamNigel Rees plus a first 5 mile time for Chris Stanlake.

Neil Price ran the Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford Upon Avon in an impressive 3:30:04.

At the Great Welsh HM I helped pace Mark Gabb to a 13 minute PB with a 1:42 whilst Ashley Howells got a PB of 2:09. In the Marathon, Neil Jones ran 3:01:42 whilst in his second marathon in the same week, Wayne Hayhurst ran a PB of 4:12:21.

13th May – parkruns

54 runners across 7 different parkruns including a PB for Sue Roberts at Penaltta. An incredible 9 new Zero to Hero graduates ran Porthcawl parkrun for the first time including Michelle AlexanderMaria GeorgeHelen PerryNatasha Jordan, Trystan Benbow, Nicola VeaseyDonna Radford and Vickie Cameron-Davies.

14th May – Cwm Ogwr 5 miler

The 5th year of the event seen record numbers again with the event selling out. This was also the first fixture of the 2017 Bridgend League. Our 26 runners were lead home by Niki Puleio followed by Davidleigh Butler and myself. In all, 23 of our 26 runners bagged themselves PB’s. Our first lady home was Josie Bishop. Over 50 members also made themselves available for marshalling and other volunteer roles in another hugely success day for the club.

20th May – parkruns

56 runners across 7 events. Another parkrun tourism PB for Sue Roberts with her first sub 30.

21st May – Worcester Half and Full Marathon, Cottrell Park Relays

Gareth Richards ran a sub 4 hour time in his first marathon with 3:58, Kris Denholm came in at 4:07 whilst it was a PB for Neil Morgan with 4:31. Four members ran the Half Marathon with David Kembery bagging a PB of 1:37.

Simon HarrisonKarl Richard JohnsonChristie Coleman and Mark Worrallran the Welsh Trail Half in Buith Wells whilst we had 8 runners at the Cottrel Park Relays.

27th May – parkruns

58 runners across 9 parkruns. Neil Jones was first finisher at Pontypridd with another sub 18 clocking. I helped pace Jo Betty to a PB of 24:35 at Porthcawl whilst Juliet Amner bagged a PB just 16 seconds further back.

31st May – Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K

The second fixture of the Bridgend League seen an incredible 92 Cwm Ogwr runners led home by Neil Jones in 17:29. There were PB’s for Gareth Richards, David Kembery, Simon Harrison, Christian Thomas, Josie Bishop (first club female), Juliet Amner, Adam RoweSteven Taylor, Claire Goldsworthy and Natasha Jordan.


So many other events to mention. 3 runners at the Women’s Running 5K in Cardiff whilst 7 ran in the 10K event including Kirsty Evans and Victoria Hillman as pacers. Christie Coleman ran the SSAFA 5K. Graham Hillmanbagged a PB at the Liverpool Rock and Roll 5K the day before running the HM along with Victoria. The Purnells ran the Talley 5K. Lloyd West, Martin Beard and Tula Smallman completed the Swansea Triathlon.

At the start of the month 21 members ran the Aberavon 5K which included PB’s for Davidleigh Butler, Jo Betty, Louise Foster, Sara Vowles, Kimberley Thomas, Hannah Bartle and Sharon Delahunty. A special mention for Dai Power who got his first sub 30 with 29:55.

Helen Griffiths and Sian Tossell ran the Tonmawr Hilly 5 miler. At the Liverpool Spring 10K, Amy Roberts ran a new female club record time of 46:09 whilst her mum Sue Roberts ran a PB of her own. At Treforest 10K, Karl Richard Johnson and Matt Murray popped up with PB’s. Chris P ran Sunderland HM, Sarah L ran Bath Two Tunnels HM whilst Simon and Maria Lalic ran the Brecon Trail HM.

Other events included the Calder Idris Race, Whitford Point and the small matter of London to Brighton 100K Ultra which Wayne completed in 14:53.

One very busy month for one amazing club.