The first weekend of the month saw 69 runners across a club record of 20 different parkruns! There was an even split across Aberfields, Porthcawl and Maesteg whilst 22 members visited 17 other parkruns which included Angela Parry at Wexford Racecourse parkrun in Ireland. Jacob was first finisher at Maesteg with a 16:52.
The second weekend saw 61 runners across 16 different parkruns. With several of the Maesteg regulars heading up the Ogmore Valley to try Aberfields, it was left to Tom Mahoney to continue the clubs streak of always having at least one runner at every Maesteg parkrun since it started. Interestingly 15 of the 16 parkruns which had OPR runners were in Wales with just one marginally over the border at the Forest of Dean.
Week 3 saw 62 runners across 13 parkruns with Aberfields our most popular venue yet again both in terms of runners and volunteers and where Adam Kearns was first finisher. There was a bumper turnout for the Wales Cowfest event at Pontypridd parkrun hosted by Karl Johnson and his team – for those wondering, it was for members of the UK parkrun tourists Facebook group who have cow-print products in honour of the first person to run at 100 different parkruns – Chris COWell.
Week 4 saw us fall just short of our recent record of different parkrun venues in a single day with 77 runners across 19 different parkruns. Our three local parkruns shared 57 of our members with Nicky Bennett taking the first finishers token at Maesteg and Aled Hughes taking the first finishers token at Aberfields. Jamie Verran was also first finisher at Gloucester North making it the first time we’ve had 3 first finishers on a single parkrun day. Kierran Spiers celebrated their 50th parkrun with their home parkrun of Riverfront being the venue for the milestone. Some interesting tourist venues that weekend with Karen Dando at Medina on the Isle of Wight. Then Sarah Davies, Melanie Thomas and Dawn Hopkins had a fun trip to Belfast to pick up another Q for the parkrun alphabet with Dawn now not far off completing the challenge twice and Sarah only a few behind. Dai James was even further afield finishing second overall at Clermont Waterfront parkrun which is by far our most visited USA parkrun due to it’s proximity to Disney World – although I’m sure those who’ve done it will want me to point out it’s still a 40 minutes of so drive from Disney.
The final Saturday of the month saw 64 runners across 15 parkruns. Not too many PB attempts with Cardiff Half Marathon the next day although Jamie Verran did run close to his parkrun PB with a 18:58 at Groe. Sarah, Mel and Dawn were off on their tourism travels again with University Parks the venue this time. Nick Harris broke his streak of doing every Aberfields parkrun to date by running at Queen Elizabeth parkrun in Portsmouth, leaving Laura Worrall as the only club member to run the first 7 Aberfields parkruns. I believe there’s possible one or two others that have either volunteered or ran at all 7 so have been at all in some capacity as well.
September is always a big month for 10K running with both Cardiff and Swansea bookending the month. At Cardiff we had 26 members running with an impressive 9 PB’s which included a sub 40 for Wayne Hayhurst plus PB’s for Adam Kearns, Claire DB, Lee DB, Steph IH, Terri-Leigh, Paul Harris, Karen Dando and Julie Greenman. At Swansea we had 13 runners with 3 PB’s including an incredible 33:23 from Nicky Bennett. Adam Kearns notched up his second PB of the month and dipped under 40 minutes for the first time whilst Jamie Verran got a PB of 42:17.
Away from the super fast flat road 10K’s, Kris Denholm ran the Hillbilly 10K and we had an impressive 17 runners at the Llantwit 10K which takes in some of the coastal path.
Marathons and Ultras
Carl Walsh had another busy month starting off with the RIDUM which is a 30 ultra marathon hosted by Pegasus events company along the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway. He was joined by Danny Ridley and Antonio Antoniazzi in completing that event. Carl and Danny also Beacons to Blacks Marathon with an eye watering 8,000 feet of elevation which is close to the equivalent of climbing from the railway station to the summit of Snowdon three times!
Ken Salvatore was in Berlin to take on one of the Marathon Majors and absolutely smashed it with a PB of 3:55:12 running in the same race where the women’s world record was set and following in the steps of Eliud Kipchoge. Rosie signed up for volunteer duties on the day making her possibly our first international running volunteer.
Seven weeks after my Dragon 100 mile finish, some last minute changes of plans meant I was available for the Loop-a-thon event hosted by Albany Road Runners. I did this charity event last year when they ran it for the first time and finished on 50 miles (by my watch) having run 16 loops of the 5K course around Roath Park and the lake. Just like last year, it was scorching on the day but I exceeded my expectations to get one more lap in this time finishing on 53 miles after 11 hours and 11 minutes before I decided to call it a day.
We had a rare 10 mile event in the month with Chris Pratt, Denise Bradley and Dawn Hopkins heading to Oldbury for the 10 miler that forms part of series of events in that area.
There were several Half Marathons in the month with 8 members taking on the hilly multi terrain Pumsaint course where Jacob Tasker smashed the previous course record with a 1:18:48. Emma Loyns was the 2 hour pacer at the Big Half. Wayne Hayhurst and Gail Newell were our only runners at Llanelli HM which is by far our lowest attendance at the event but did clash with several other events and was just a week before Cardiff Half.
We had 9 runners at the Roman Run with many using the 16 mile course as a perfect training race ahead of Snowdonia / Eryri Marathon. A week later saw another chance to train on the hills with the Beast of Bryn. We had 5 runners in the 7.5 mile event whilst we had 10 runners in the 15 miler where Jacob bagged himself another course record as he continues his preperations for Snowdon.
Back on the flat, speedy tarmac, we had 14 members head down to West Wales for the Welsh Road Relay Championships. Nicky Bennett, Toby Kearns, Josh Parry and Angelo Doria teamed up for the Senior Men’s A Team finishing as 19th team overall in an extremely competitive event. Adam Kearns, Jamie Verran, Max King and Emyr Bissmire formed a super fast ‘B’ Team finishing as the 26th team. However, the ladies did even better with Bethan Moor, Jules Esmond, Carys Cronin and Willow Hughes finishing 13th team in the Senior Women. Gareth Richards and Chris Richards were part of what should have been a 3 person Masters team but someone who will remain nameless was a no show but the boys still got to set a time regardless.
The final BCRL event saw us head down to Merthyr Mawr Lane for an out and back 5K down to Candlestone car park and back. An excessive amount of reminders resulted in an incredible turnout of 102 OPR members running the event. Our third biggest attendance ever and biggest since 2019. With other clubs also turning up in big numbers, we still needed big performances from our top 10 men and women and they absolutely delivered. Jacob added another BCRL victory with a time of 15:36 meaning that with OPR members had a clean sweep of having the overall winner in every fixture for the second year in a row. August’s runner of the month Angelo Nico Doria ran a PB of 16:30 whilst there were also PB’s for Lee Dunbar-Bowen and Paul Harris. Another strong performance from our top 10 men and women alongside the incredible turnout resulted in our club retaining our BCRL club title after a close fought battle throughout the year with Bridgend and Porthcawl regularly in the mix as well. A huge well done to everyone who participated this year.
Chair’s Runners of the Month
The unsung heroes. The ones who head out of the door even when life puts obstacles in their way. Many of us feel that too and so often we empathise.
Running is a healer; a way to keep the body fresh. Exercise releases endorphins which are known to be big stress relievers and improvers of well-being, and we thrive on what they provide – the balance.
The battle between the pressures that weigh us down and finding the desire to exercise is very real to many of us. Motivation often ebbs away and that all-important mojo, to which we refer, departs.
Climbing that hill can be a big challenge. The hill that exists in our minds down the passageway to the front door. It doesn’t require trail shoes or poles – it’s not a lung buster that tests our legs to carry us over the top. It’s a feeling. It’s a desire. The pressures of life replace gravity and it takes all our inner strength to reach the top to be able to benefit from the slope on the other side that leads us to the front door and beyond.
I’ve been inspired by many over the last few years who have battled that mountain and found the way the other side. We have seen challenges the likes of which none of us knew how to deal with and we, as a group, have done wonders to pull each other together. Reaching out and looking out for each other. It’s what we do. Please keep doing it.
Sorry for rambling but I want to celebrate two people who have inspired me hugely this year for their endeavours.
My first is such a core element of our club with a true heart of gold. I’ve seen the ebbs and flows in her running and seen her determination that brings her back to it every time it falls away. Trying to find the right path to maintaining motivation and staying out there. Helping others often does that and self-driven recent incentives have lit the fire under others to come back into the fold searching for the same end goal – to return to running. A selfless contribution that has had the effect it so often does – self motivation. Give and you will receive back – often tenfold – or more. Providing the mechanism for others to find their way back onto the path ignites the flame to keep going. I’ve seen the troughs and ridden them with her and I’m seeing the peaks outweigh them now. So often we are unaware of the inspiration we are imparting on others. Many will never know the impact they have – so often silently made – on the journey of others. It is this that is pure magic. We have many within our midst who cast that magic powder – but this month I want to celebrate my first Chair’s Runner of the Month as Siân Jenkins. Keep inspiring Siân and keep getting out there and showing the world the power of running!
My second choice for this month has been a true inspiration in so many ways. Just finding the strength to lace up the trainers and head out of the door has been a very real challenge, but with the support of a great friend and that of family and the wider circle of friends, he has done just that. Trainers to run. Helmet and bike to cycle. Signing up for races so the challenge will draw him out. Giving him a target to head for. Keeping the body active with training miles and parkruns and heading to start lines of races – each of which results in another finish line crossed and another boost. It’s on the increase too. More miles are being covered – with positive outcomes. More consistency and planning heading towards goals being set. Utilising the healing power of activity to keep pushing forward and gaining balance. Not only hugely inspired by the endeavours of this choice for my Chair’s Runner of the Month, but those who remain close and keep encouraging this journey to flourish. My choice is Paul Harris. Paul, you have inspired us all with your determination, keep it going my friend. We are all very proud of you.