Weekly Waffle – 9th February 2020

Another week passes and this one has been an interesting one…

Training numbers continue to rise but as we rounded off the week we have welcomed some wonderful new volunteers to our list of amazing leaders to ensure that sessions continue to be catered for as we develop.  Thanks to them all.

A new road championship event takes place on the track and draws large numbers down to set fast times in their pursuit of success.  Simultaneous with our heroes continuing their journeys to reach their goals.


Record numbers for the year headed up the valley to enjoy the usual run and cake with lots of smiling faces appearing on the photos shared.

A few travelled to tackle an off-road night race.  Head torches lit the way were caught in spectacular photos from the event.  All came back to tell stories of an excellent event.

parkrunday arrived and the expected large numbers found their way to a start line or volunteered.  Some made their way by foot, some by vehicle.  The wind had died down from a week hence and good conditions greeted those who ran despite the forecast of the following 24 hours…

With trepidation eyes were closed on Saturday to open on Sunday morning.  

Storm Ciara loitering to cause disruption.

A popular local half.  Cancelled.

Training sessions.  Cancelled.

An ultra marathon from Brecon heading down the Taff Trail towards Cardiff.  Still on.

Brave souls took it on and all battled the extreme conditions admirably. 

A band of heroes stood tall and met the might of mother nature head on supported by their fellow Phoenix along the way.

The week has brought some brighter moments.  It has also brought some testing moments.

Whatever it brought the Phoenix rallied.  Like we always do.

Keep on doing the same!

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

January 2020 review

parkruns

This month saw a record 393 parkrun finishes by our members across a record 79 parkruns. This was significantly helped by the extra parkruns on New Years Day where we recorded 75 finishes with 29 members taking up the option of doing 2 parkruns which is the only opportunity each year that this is allowed.

Some new parkruns added to our growing list in month included Witney, Yeovil, Henstridge Airfield, Tamar Lakes, Land’s End, and the newest Welsh parkrun – Coed Cefn-pwll-du. Our members have now run at over 300 different parkrun venues in total.

There were some super fast times in the month with Nicky Bennett finishing 3rd at Porthcawl with 18:35 on the first Saturday. Then on the final Saturday, Dai James became the fastest current member of club at 5K with a huge PB of 18:06 to finish 2nd overall with Ryan Evans finishing 3rd overall in 18:37. The first time the club has had 2 of the top 3 in Porthcawl and we also had Adrian in 10th. 7 different runners clocked sub 20 with 4 of those clocking sub 19 times which bodes well for the upcoming BCRL.

For the ladies, Anneliese Loveluck went top of the club 5K rankings with a 21:13 at Gnoll parkrun on the first Saturday of the month. Our next fastest female was Sian Price with 24:19 at Porthcawl, although I’m sure there’s more to come from our second fastest female in the club across almost all distances.

Milestones in month included Bethan Denholm, Mark Worrall, Peter Harrop and Chris Bimson all running their 20th different venue to achieve ‘parkrun tourist’ status. Bethan is by far our youngest member to run at 20 different venues. Jayne Powney ran her 100th parkrun whilst Stephanie Dyke and Rachel Marcarian ran their 50th parkruns.

Races

10K

10 runners took on the Tough Runner 10K which is now in its 4th year. Steve Loveluck was our first runner back in 46:50 on the tough, hilly, off road course and bagged himself 3rd in his age category. Anneliese Loveluck was less than a minute back with 47:48 which was good enough for first in age category and second female overall. Martin Beard ran the Bath Skyline 10K… twice. I haven’t looked into this but I assume they run it a couple of days in a row and Martin did both.

We also had 8 runners at the first Infinity Running Margam 10K. Aled Hughes finished 4th overall in an impressive 42:59 over the undulating course. Philippa Rees smashed her previous best 10K with a 1:45:59.

Other races

Although there are too many ‘standard distance’ (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon) events in January, there were still plenty of alternatives. The first day of the year saw 24 runners take on the Kenfig Prince of Wales run which was the final event of the Festive Four. Niki Puleio led our runners home just ahead of Adrian Pearce. Our first lady was Sarah Davies followed by Liz Davis. Anne Lalic completed the event and picked up 3rd place in the Festive Four most improvement category where times are compared to seasons bests.

Adrian and Aled took on the Kymin Winter Race – a 4.2 mile fell race. For those that aren’t aware – fell races are basically very hilly, off road, and often not even following standard foot paths. 15 runners took on the popular Riverbank Rollick for yet more mud and mayhem with Luke Jones and Sarah Davies our first two finishers. Nick Harris obviously forgot he wasn’t going for most events this year when he signed up to another Friday night race with Rogue Runs in Beechenhurst.

We had a great turnout of 22 runners for the Margam Reservoir fixture of the West Glamorgan XC league. An interesting ‘Cross Country’ fixture to say the least with its 2 laps of the reservoir… on tarmac paths. Paul Smith was our first runner back with Aled, Steven James, myself and Kris Denholm making up the scorers for the men. Jo Gamba was our first lady back followed by Bev Sheard, Claire Goldsworthy, Claire Worthington and Stephne Puddy to make up the first 5 scorers. Well done to everyone who represented the club.

Aled and Kris also ran the Abercarn 5K – another hilly offering with the first half entirely uphill before coming back down. We had 19 runners for the first trail championship race of the year at the CF64 race around Cosmeston Lakes with the 2019 champion Adrian Pearce picking up maximum points ahead of Luke Jones, Paul Barrett and David Sheard. 2018 champion Emma Loyns was first lady back ahead of 2019 champion Sarah Davies.

The final race of the month was the ever popular Lliswerry 8 where Wayne Hayhurst was our first runner back in an impressive 52:28. Only Neil Jones in his time with the club has run the course faster than that time. Our first female was Rebecca Newton in 1:12:29.

Steve James did the only race over 10 miles and some by some distance with the 40 miles Winter Wychavon Way. On Strava he described it as ‘the toughest event’ he’d done… ‘relentless mudfest ankle deep for at least 35 miles and 2 miles towards the end knee deep’. Considering some of the other crazy Ultra’s Steven has already completed, that must have been extremely challenging.

BCRL presentation

The final Saturday of the month saw a presentation take place in the Hi-Tide after Porthcawl parkrun to award the Festive Four and BCRL winners. As already mentioned, we did have one Festive Four winner with Anne Lalic but we really excelled at the BCRL where awards were given to the top 3 in each 5 year age category. Our list included… 1st place in age category Adrian Pearce Kevin Raymond Clifford Searle Sian Price Denise Bradley 2nd place in age category Paul Smith Garry Jones Hannah Knight 3rd place in age category Ryan Evans Mike Nicholson Lewis

Stats

  • Our members completed 501 event finishes between them in January
  • Aled completed the most events with 10 Ffion Smith and Dawn Hopkins have the most events for the ladies with 8 each
  • 10 members have completed every parkrun so far this year (6)
  • Our members have now accumulated over 8000 Porthcawl parkrun finishes between them

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

The start of a new year.  
The start of a new decade.
2019 was epic!!  
Record breaking!  
It’s set the benchmark rather high for the future!

The new year always starts a little slowly.  Coming out of the excesses of Christmas and New Year it gives rise to new plans.  
Many start slowly and build.  
Some keep it clean through the festive period and keep the focus and hit the ground running as the new year begins.

January.  It’s still dark early in the evening.  It takes a while for the sun to rise.  Still in hi-viz.  Still wearing a light.  It’s cold and very often wet.  In spite of this, we got out and trained and raced!

Many hit the ground at speed and for my first choice that is exactly what happened.  With such ferocity that you can tell there is a plan.  Huge mileage and the talk is of it increasing.  Building on a strong base to lead to improved performance and endurance.  Again this is a story of someone who has put in several years of training.  Improvements have come along the way but a renewed focus is now visible.  It’s not entirely about the running though, this has also come with a lifestyle change.  A new outlook on food has fuelled cleaner living and a sensible loss of weight has followed.  230 miles run this month.  Increased mileage.  A stonking new PB at parkrun almost reaching a new minute milestone clocking 18:06.  Absolutely outstanding.  On fire!  What an amazing start to the new year and setting an incredible marker in the sand that makes us wonder where this will lead to in 2020!!  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s January Male Runner of the Month to Dai James.  Huge well done Dai, keep it up and show us some amazing running throughout the year!

Many aspects of running are a measure of ability.  One thing that we honour greatly is improvement – in whatever form it comes.  I tend to push the reset button at the start of the year and measure myself by improvements over the year – seasons bests – that is IF I am targeting improvement at all.  It’s not for everyone.  The Festive Four competition spans the festive period and encourages focus when many are prone to excess.  One aspect of the competition is to honour improvement compared to the years best.  The final event takes place as the clock ticks over to the new year.  The Prince of Wales Run is a compulsory finale.  One runner who often falls under the radar completed the series and in the competition based on improvement picked up the third female place overall.  Mightily impressive stuff.  For a runner who has been running for several years to suddenly make improvements against focused competition over what is notoriously a time of over indulgence is admirable.  Sealing the accolade with a performance on the first day of a new decade is the crowning glory.  Inspirational dedication.  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s January Female Runner of the Month as Anne Lalic.  Well done Anne, keep up the commitment!

December 2019 review

parkruns

December saw 241 parkrun finishes across 44 parkruns and 29 different locations. New locations visited included Cosmeston Lakes, King George V Playing Fields, Nova Prestatyn, Teignmouth Promenade, Upton Court and The Old Showfield.

We had a record turnout of 16 parkrunners on Christmas Day with most being local (Cardiff, Barry, Gnoll, Newport) whilst Jo and I were in Milton Keynes. Dawn Hopkins ran her 100th parkrun on Christmas Day as well.

Anneliese Loveluck who had only run 2 parkruns prior to December, doubled her tally during the month including a 20:39 at Barry Island on Christmas Day. Our fastest male parkrunner in the month was Niki Puleio with 18:25.

Niki Bennett was first finisher at Maesteg in a week where Ogmore Phoenix members had the top 4 places.

Mark Worrall ran his 100th parkrun at the start of the month at Brynaman whilst Alexis Barrett ran her 50th parkrun at Maesteg.

Races

5K

December brings along a festive band of Santa 5K’s which started with the Cardiff Santa Dash where we had 6 runners. The big Santa Run for the club each year is the Aberavon Run 4 All Santa Run and this year was no different with 26 of us battling against a strong headwind on the way out. Nicky Bennett was 2nd overall whilst Niki Puleio picked up an age category prize as well. We had 12 runners at the Maesteg Santa Run where I was first finisher overall and Jo Gamba was first lady. Neil and Sian Price also ran the Buxton Pavillion Gardens 5K.

The main 5K of December with a mix of seriously competitive running followed by a mass 5K party run was of course Nos Galan. A few of us decided to challenge ourselves this year and mix it up with the super fast boys and girls in the Elite Races. The men’s elite race was up first with Adrian Pearce finishing in 18:56 and Aled Hughes in 19:27. I was next in 21:13 with Nick Harris 22:43 and Chris Pratt 22:45 completing our runners in that race. It was an incredible experience and I don’t think Chris and Nick would mind me saying that the three of us would want to be a bit quicker before entering that race again. Being lapped is almost inevitable for a large amount of the runners on the 4 lap course with the first few coming in at just over 14 minutes!! Despite running well under 20 minutes, Aled just avoided getting lapped running a 19:27. Jo Gamba ran in the female elite race finishing in 25:40.

We had 24 runners in the fun run with Kris Denholm finishing 8th overall in 20:54 and Gareth Richards not too far behind in 21:26. Sarah was our fastest lady and just outside the top 20 ladies in 25:22. Ffion Smith bagged the only PB of the night with a fantastic 37:35.

5 mile

A less commonly run distance but a couple of fast ones to choose from in December. Nick Harris notched up yet another event with the Rogue Runs Mallards Pike Night Race. We had 12 runners at the Glynneath 5 miler on Boxing Day where Aled was first of our runners back in 32:53. Keith Coleman, Stephne Puddy, Jamie Puddy, Helen Griffiths and Laura Worrall all bagged themselves PB’s.

A few days later 8 of us headed down to Pontcanna Fields in Cardiff for the ‘Old Father Time’ 5 miler. The only mass participation road race I know of locally that’s only for veteran athletes (over 35). It had been on my list for many years and this was the first year I ‘qualified’ to do it. The super flat 2 lap course coupled with great running conditions made for some spectacular times with 7 of our 8 runners getting PB’s. I was the only one not to PB but was over the moon to get within 20 seconds of my PB which is something I haven’t managed at any distance for over 2 years.

Niki was our first runner back in a sub 30 time of 29:58! A new club age category record and agonisingly just 1 second off the overall club record (or 2 seconds to beat it). Adrian Pearce ran a new club age category record for the 45-49 category with 30:33. The PB’s continuing with Neil Price, Aled Hughes, Gregg Harris, Jo Gamba and Sian Jenkins.

10K

Leanne Puleio ran the Valencia 10K on the first of the month coming in just over the hour mark with a 1:02:27.

We had 10 runners for the final trail championship race with a few of those opting for a fresh air / run away your hangover approach after the club Christmas Party the night before. Aled was our first runner home ahead of Luke Jones and David Sheard. Denise was our first lady followed by Sarah Davies.

Multi-distance events

The Celtic races organised by Run Walk Crawl saw 10 of our runners take on the Half Marathon, whilst Gareth Richards did the 20 mile option, and Emma Loyns and Kris Denholm took on the 32 mile Ultra. Emma and Kris were joined by former (and hopefully future) member Lorna Domachowski who was doing her first Ultra after concentrating on the minor task of training and completing a couple of Ironman’s in the last couple of years. The races were pretty hardcore with the Half Marathon containing around 2,300 feet of elevation – that’s close to the elevation of Snowdonia Marathon but packed into half the distance. The Ultra had 5,500 feet of elevation so around double that of Snowdonia Marathon but over tricky off road terrain and with a few more miles added.

The final weekend before Christmas also saw the final Infinity Running event of the year with the Turkey Trot. Rhiannon Whitely and Sharon Pritchard completed one 3.3 mile lap for the ‘5K’ distance. Nick Harris led 6 members round 2 laps of the course for ‘10K’. Aled, Liz Davis, Jamie Puddy and Pippa Clark completed 4 laps for the Half Marathon. With Chris Pratt having a well earned couple of months off marathons, there was unusually no Phoenix marathon finishers however, Michael Brain did go one lap further than that to record just shy of 30 miles in 6 hours and 10 minutes.

Marathon

There may have only been one in month but it’s a pretty impressive one. Niki Puleio ran the Valencia Marathon in 2:58:11. His second sub 3 hour marathon of the year and yet another PB. Would you believe though that he was actually a little bit disappointed as the qualifying time for New York Marathon for his age group is 2:58:00 so he missed out by a small margin but is hoping he might still get a place.

Other races

39 members took on this years Merthyr Mawr Pudding Run with its Big Dipper Sand Dune, mud, fields, forestry, beach and multiple river crossings all packed into around 6 and half miles. James Littlewood was our first runner back in a speedy 54:41 whilst less than a minute separated Keith Coleman, Wayne Hayhurst, myself and Dai Kembery who came in just over the hour mark. Our first lady was Denise Bradley. 7 of our runners had a great time as they ran the course together posting videos of Christmas merriment at the mulled wine and mince pies aid station and could be heard before seeing them come into view at the finish with them singing various Christmas songs.

The third fixture of the Gwent Cross Country League saw an understandably lower attendance given it’s Saturday afternoon start a couple of weeks before Christmas but Samantha Thompson and Fiona Drysdale stepped up to represent the club.

Brett Bonell, Claudine and Mike Nicholson Lewis completed the tough Narberth Night Nobbler event whilst we had 18 runners at the Porthcawl Boxing Day run.

The Club Christmas Party

After putting on a spectacular Christmas party in 2018, it was always going to be hard to top that this year, but I’m sure most people would agree that somehow the social committee did it again. Tickets sold out well in advance for the mask themed event, and one of the first surprises of the night was our chairman storming into the room as who else but, The Mask – Jim Carrey’s character from the film complete with yellow suit and the green mask. There were huge O P R letters lit up which proved the most popular photo opportunity. An OPR selfie frame with accessories. The magnificent hog roast was back. There was even a huge birthday cake made for a couple of members celebrating their birthdays on the day of the event. There was an alternative raffle, a huge hamper, St Nick was back with keepsakes for attendees, plus table and other decorations galore which were almost all entirely hand made by members of the social committee. The randomly selected VIP’s for the night were treated to multiple privileges throughout the night, plus there was the latest distribution of milestone t-shirts for those that had run 50/100/150/200/250 events for the club. There’s probably so much more but I think just from what I’ve mentioned and remembered, it was another hugely successful event put on by our social committee and I’m sure plans are already in place for the next event.

A great end to the year from elite races to festive fun runs and everything in between. Unlike in November when I surprised him by making him the runner of the month, I’ll now hand over to our chairman to choose the December runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Approaching the end of the year didn’t dampen spirits.  There aren’t events in abundance but they still can be found – as has been proved by lots of members!!  Weather worsening.  Christmsa approaching.  Many, many factors can get in the way and focus changes for many.

One incident in December won’t have escaped anyones attention.  Man down.  One of our midst suffered an accident at Maesteg parkrun that resulted in an ambulance being called with some urgency to attend the situation.  In the meantime the patient needed to be sheltered from the elements.  It was a cold day and, being in shock, could succumb to the elements as well as being physically worse for wear.  For one, instinct kicked in.  We’ve heard of a similar story earlier in the year that also warranted mention.  With a cool and calm head instructions were given at the same time as my chosen runner gave up her run and lay down next to the patient to act as a shield and provide warmth until the emergency services arrived.  Many who have this natural disposition to help will not accept the plaudits however much they are justified.  Sometimes it’s not just the running itself that warrants recognition.  I am absolutely honoured to announce my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month as Deb Griffin.  Well done Deb and thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty!

I feel this accolade has been a long time coming for one.  A long running career often results in a slow tail off with advancing age.  For some there are peaks and troughs along the way.  Some find a run of form, often accompanying an increase in participation at events and, inevitably, increased training.    My male runner has attended a huge number of events this year.  It’s been mentioned before that runners who have run a long time don’t often see personal bests and when they do happen they are special and show an extra level of commitment not made before.  Combine that with consistent training the improvements have come.  Recent commitment to provide focused coaching also seems to have provided motivation for self improvement too.  As much as this is for achievements in December it’s for an excellent year of running.  Participation, performance and club commitment all rolled into one.  I am delighted to announce my December Male Runner of the Month as Aled Hughes.  Well done Aled.  Keep it up.

2019 end of year review

parkruns

I suspect ‘record breaking year’ is going to be used a lot in this blog post and it definitely applies for parkruns. We’ve had more different members running than ever, a crazy spike in causal and obsessive / challenge chasing tourism, and dozens of milestone t-shirts achieved. parkrun accounts for just over 50% of our total event finishes this year so naturally features heavily in this end of year review.

Last year we amassed 2081 parkrun finishes between our members. This year the total was 3005 – almost a 50% increase! We had 240 different members run at least 1 parkrun during 2019 which is around two-thirds of our total members. Last year we had 35 members complete their first parkruns and mainly through the continuing resounding success of Zero to Hero coupled with membership growth across all abilities, we’ve had more than 50 first time parkrunners this year.

Onto our parkrun obsessives and last year we had 9 members who ran 40 or more parkruns with the highest total being Aled with 51. This year, that list of members has not only grown, but most have run even more than last year including Aled who becomes the first member to run 55 parkruns in a calendar year which is the most possible without leaving the UK. This year’s list has 15 members having completed 40 or more parkruns – in brackets is how many they did last year – every single person did more parkruns than last year!…

  • Aled Hughes 55 (51)
  • Gareth Jenkins 53 (49)
  • Nick Harris 52 (48)
  • Chris Pratt 49 (44)
  • Kris Denholm 49 (46)
  • Dawn Hopkins 47 (13)
  • David Kembery 47 (38)
  • Karl Johnson 47 (40)
  • Jo Gamba 46 (42)
  • David Sheard 46 (44)
  • Chris Roberts 45 (41)
  • Gareth Davies 45 (41)
  • Sara Davies 43 (35)
  • Saul Harris 42 (28)
  • Chris Stanlake 41 (30)

What makes the above list even more bonkers is the fact that the majority are also our most consistent parkrun tourists. For those not familiar, there is an unofficial parkrun group on Facebook for those that have run at 20 different parkrun locations or more. It varies from the casual tourist who may have just notched up 20 different ones by visiting different local ones and the occasional one whilst away for the weekend, to the extreme where some do a different parkrun every week even if it requires a overnight stay on the Friday or getting up at 4am to get to one they haven’t done before. Most of the members in the list below fall somewhere in between.

Most new parkruns visited during 2019 (2018 total in brackets)

  • Karl Johnson 35 (21)
  • Dawn Hopkins 30 (3)
  • Shawn Cullen and Julie Ransom 26 (24)
  • Sarah Davies 24 (2)
  • Chris Stanlake 23 (10)
  • Alexis Barrett 23 (3)
  • Chris Roberts 23 (17)
  • Paul Barrett 22 (1)
  • James Beynon 19 (1)
  • Jo Gamba 19 (15)
  • Kris Denholm 19 (15)
  • Jayne Powney 18 (14)
  • Chris Bimson 18 (0)
  • Gareth Jenkins 17 (14)
  • Aled Hughes 14 (15)
  • Brett Bonell 12 (3)

Last year 12 members ran 10 or more new parkrun venues. This year that increased to 16 with 15 of those doing significantly more than last year. Whilst the usual suspects have continued to tour and in most cases significantly increased their rate of touring, we’ve welcomed several new ‘uber’ tourists with Dawn, Sarah, Alexis and Paul running together at different parkruns throughout the year. James has joined Karl on many of his parkrun tourism journeys whilst Chris Bimson is now just 1 away from the ‘tourist’ status having only really started touring in the past few months.

In terms of overall parkrun tourism, we now have 9 members who have run at 50 or more different venues, and 23 who have run at 20 or more. This time last year, those figures were 5 and 12 respectively. I can’t end the tourism bit without a mention of Johnson’s tours who have organised trips to Jersey, Bushy (Dublin) and Bushy (home of parkrun).

Now I appreciate this is a bit tourism heavy so also want to note those that are more loyal to their home parkruns. Claire Goldsworthy has run 141 parkruns with every single one at Porthcawl. Nick Harris ran his 250th Porthcawl parkrun earlier this year and has now run 269 times there out of his 309 total parkruns. David Sheard is next up with 245 of his 285 at Porthcawl whilst Chris Pratt and I have also run over 200 times at Porthcawl. We finished the year on a satisfying 7,777 parkrun finishes at Porthcawl from our members since it started.

The club of course has two home parkruns since Maesteg started and have a core volunteer team made up of several OPR members. Many weeks have seen over half the volunteer roles filled by OPR members even when its not one of our ‘takeover’ weeks. Before we get onto our most regular runners, I have to say a massive thank you to Emma Marshal, Stephne Puddy and Michael Brain who between them have volunteered at pretty much every Maesteg parkrun since it started. Emma has also gone on to become a parkrun ambassador. Onto our Maesteg regular runners and this year Adrian Pearce, Niki Puleio and Aled Hughes all ran at Maesteg for the 50th time. We also recorded our 1000th OPR finish at Maesteg this year.

This year saw David Sheard become the 6th Phoenix member to reach the 250 parkruns milestone. We had a huge list of members reach the 100th parkrun including Chris Stanlke, Shawn Cullen, Julie Ransom, Denise Bradley, Saul Harris, Ann Davies, Simon Williams, Fiona Drysdale, Angela Walsh, James Beynon, Dawn Hopkins, Mark Worrall and Peter Walsh. Congratulations also the even bigger list that reached their 50 milestone. A small disadvantage of the club growing so much and the huge increase in participation is that it’s got to a point where to list every milestone would make my blogs longer than War and Peace. I’ll still try my best to recognise everyone on the milestone posts throughout the year though.

Races

This year we recorded 2,663 race finishes between our members compared to 1,823 last year – again, not far off a 50% increase. As with the parkruns, we’ve seen more members running than events than ever before as our membership continues to grow, but also seeing record breaking numbers by some of our longer standing members.

Nick Harris set out to run as many events as possible in 2019 with an eye on the club record for most events of 108. He smashed it with 125 made up of 52 parkruns and a record 73 races. Aled Hughes also beat the previous record notching up 113 events, whilst I became the first member to notch up 100 events in 2 separate years finishing on exactly 100.

The next 4 highest event totals are all by our ladies. Last year Jo Gamba set a new club record for most events by a female club member with 71. This year all 4 ladies smashed that total with Dawn Hopkins coming out on top with 89, just one ahead of Jo with 88, then Sharon Pritchard with 86 and Debbie Bennion with 85. Sharon also set a new ladies record for most races in a year with 51. Sarah Davies, who had the 10th highest total overall also ran more than the previous record with 76 events in total.

The top 10 were as followed (2018 totals in brackets along with where they ranked)

  • Nick Harris 125 (4th – 72)
  • Aled Hughes 113 (9th – 64)
  • Gareth Jenkins 100 (1st – 86)
  • Dawn Hopkins 89 (32nd – 37)
  • Jo Gamba 88 (5th – 71)
  • Sharon Pritchard 86 (25th – 42)
  • Debbie Bennion 85 (16th – 51)
  • Chris Pratt 80 (2nd – 76)
  • David Sheard 76 (6th – 67)
  • Sarah Davies 76

The total to finish 2nd highest in the event table last year was 76 which 10 people achieved this year. Last year 18 members ran 50 events or more, this year 29 members ran 50 or more. Last year we record at least 1 event for 232 different members whilst this years total was 286.

5K

We had a record number of members run 5K races this year with huge turnouts at the Aberavon Run 4 All series consisting of 3 events during the summer months and then another bumper turnout for the Aberavon Santa Run in December. We had higher attendances at the Swansea Bay summer series and SSAFA 5K events as well. The Merthyr Mawr 5K attracted the usual big crowd and of course the end of year finale at Nos Galan where we had a record number of Elite entries with 5 in the men’s race and 1 in the ladies. I don’t think there were too many 5K races between Cardiff and Swansea without at least one Phoenix in the race.

The fastest 5K time of the year went to Adrian Pearce with 18:17, whilst Anneliese Loveluck broke the ladies club record with 20:34.

10K

So many huge 10K attendances with the biggest being 97 at the inaugural Porthcawl 10K. This included more than a dozen Zero to Hero’s who had gone on to complete the ‘Hero to Legend’ course and complete their first 10K. Cardiff 10K was a big draw with 76 members completing the course, whilst the Run Wales series of Cardiff Bay, Newport and Barry 10K also had big attendances.

The fastest 10K time of the year went to Niki Puleio with 37:59, whilst Sian Price was our fastest lady with 45:05.

Half Marathon

In 2018 our members completed 290 Half Marathons between them. In 2019, that rose to 423. We smashed our half marathon attendance record and set a new overall attendance record with 116 finishers ranging from 1:24 to 3:18. At Swansea Half Marathon we had 67 finishers including some of our members volunteering as tail walkers. We also had volunteers in several other Half Marathons including Llanelli, Great Welsh, Port Talbot and Cardiff performing many roles including marshalling, pacing, giving out medals / t-shirts and a whole host of other things. Thanks to Emma Marshall and others who coordinated the volunteers for many of these events.

Interestingly, there’s yet another different runner to the 5K and 10K best times of the year for the Half Marathon distance with Ryan Evans coming out on top with a 1:24:50 at Cardiff Half Marathon. Our fastest lady was Anneliese Loveluck with 1:32:33 at the Merthyr Half Marathon.

Marathon

Yet another increase on the previous year with 129 marathon finishes compared to 107 the year before. Now I can’t mention marathons in 2019 without mentioning our chairman, Chris Pratt, who set himself a goal of running 19 Marathons (or longer) in 2019 which he achieved with 18 marathons plus the Vale Ultra. We had a record 17 runners at the London Marathon and an incredible marathon attendance record of 45 finishers at the Snowdonia Marathon.

76 different members completed a marathon this year which is also a record. 24 of these were ran their first half marathon this year.

The fastest male and female marathon times of the year are simply outstanding. Niki Puleio ran 2:59:51 at London Marathon and then ran 2:58:11 at Valencia Marathon. That Valencia time is roughly 6 minutes 48 seconds per mile or 8 and a half back to back parkruns at 21:06 pace. Anneliese Loveluck ran 3:13:56 at the Great Welsh Marathon. I did some research at the time and found that for her age category, that time was not only one of the best in Wales, but one of the best in the UK and beyond. A Good for Age time for London Marathon pretty much guarantees you a place if you run within this time at another marathon. It is notoriously hard to achieve and anyone who does achieve it can only do so through an incredible amount of hard work. Niki is a phenomenal athlete and his 2:58 is 7 minutes within the Good for Age time for his age category… Anneliese’s 3:13 is 35 minutes inside the qualifying standard for her age. Absolutely mind boggling performances by both.

Ultras

Guess what – another increase, albeit a small one. 45 Ultra marathon’s completed by our members compared to 41 the year before. No doubt largely thanks to the Infinity Running lapped events which Kris Denholm and Steven James used to notch up a few ultras this year with Mike Brain joining the party in the last event of the year. Kris and Steven ran 8 Ultras in total this year which averages out a one every 6/7 weeks!

We had a record 17 complete the Vale Ultra whilst at the other end of the scale, Nick Harris and Steven James both completed Ultras exceeding 100 miles!

Bridgend County Running League

I wrote a Facebook post about our season back in September after the last fixture so have copied that into this blog as it covers everything from an absolutely amazing season…

BCRL review and stats 2019

Last year we finished runners up in the league. This year we finished runners up in the league. However, I really wanted to post some stats to show that although we may have finished in the same place, the progress this year both in terms of top finishers and participation has been incredible.

For those that maybe aren’t up to speed with how the scoring works, we want to score as few points as possible. Whoever finishes 1st overall gets 1 point, 2nd gets 2 points and so on. The top 15 runners for each of the six BCRL clubs score points, whilst anyone outside of the top 15 runners for their club scores a minus 1, therefore helping the team to score as few points as possible.

Top 15

This year saw our strongest top 15 runners ever. Last year we had a combined total of 19 top 20 overall finishes over the 6 events. This year we had 28 including 6 of the top 20 runners overall at Ogmore Castle and Newbridge Fields. This makes a huge different as these runners will score 20 points or less.

Another big factor is where our 15th finisher places. If they are 90th then they’ll score 90 points, if they are 70th, they’ll score 70 points so it makes a big difference. This year, in 5 out of 6 events, our 15th scorer finished in a higher position than last year. We set a new record at the Ogmore Castle where our top 15 all finished in the top 51 places overall.

This year, we had 26 different runners make up our top 15 throughout the 6 fixtures. The commitment of our faster runners was incredible this season with our top 10 (Gareth Battle, Adrian Pearce, Ryan DEvans, Paul Smith, Niki Puleio, Dai James, James Littlewood, Neil Price, Aled Hughes and Wayne Hayhurst) only missing 9 fixtures between them.

Our star find this season was Gareth Battle who was our first Phoenix finisher in 3 of the fixtures.

Participation

The best thing about BCRL is that every runner counts. If you don’t finish in the top 15 runners for the club then you score minus 1 point which helps the team score as few points as possible which is the aim.

This year, in all 6 events we had higher attendance than the corresponding fixture last year. At Ogmore Castle we smashed the club record with 114 Phoenix finishers whilst we even managed 69 finishers at our own fixture in Blackmill. We maintained our record of having the largest number of runners in every BCRL fixture since it began 4 years ago.

In total we had 523 finishers this year compared to 436 last year. We also had our highest number of different members completing a fixture with 177 members completing at least 1 fixture.

Ever Presents Hall of Fame

We all know that injury, childcare, illness, work, volunteering and a whole host of other reasons may result in members not being able to attend every fixture but I really want to give a shout out to the record number that attended 6 out of 6 events. These were…

  • Adrian Pearce (top 5 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Paul Smith (top 6 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Aled Hughes (top 8 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Gareth Jenkins (top 15 Phoenix in all 6 fixtures)
  • Luke Jones (top 15 Phoenix in 5 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Gareth Davies (top 15 Phoenix in 2 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Nick Harris (top 15 Phoenix in 1 out of 6 fixtures)
  • Keith Coleman
  • Mike Nicholson Lewis
  • Jo Gamba
  • Paul Barrett
  • Christopher Bimson
  • Steph Iveson-Holmes
  • Sara Davies
  • Alexis Barrett
  • Cath Griffiths
  • Nicola Cornock

A Team Effort

We also had an amazing amount of volunteers this year including members helping out at other fixtures and not just our Blackmill one. We’ve also had more supporters than ever coming along whether it be injured runners coming along or family or friends of members.

Well done to everyone who ran their first BCRL fixture this season and hopefully they’ve proved to be a positive experience and good stepping stone to entering other events.

Final Standings

Last year we finished 2nd in 3 fixtures, 3rd in 2 fixtures and 4th in the other. This year we won the first fixture at Ogmore Castle and then finished 2nd in each of the remaining 5 fixtures.

Bridgend AC were the only team to finish above us in any fixture this year.

We may have finished second overall in the league final standings again but I don’t think there’s any doubts from the stats in this post that we’ve made huge progress this year.

Last year we finished on 3116 points, this year we’ll finish on around 2601 (final calculations may be a few points either way).

It’s really worth pointing out that in that Ogmore Castle fixture, purely based on the top 15 scorers, Bridgend scored less. However our record turnout at the and the subsequent minus 99 points for all our runners outside of the top 15 meant we won the event which just goes to prove that every runner really does make a difference whether you are the first Phoenix across the line or the last.

On behalf of the captains and vice captains, I want to thank every member who has contributed this year.

Other events

There were so many that I couldn’t possibly mention them all but some highlights included increased participation in the Cross Country Leagues – both West Glamorgan and Gwent. In the Gwent League we fielded full teams in both the men and women’s races for the first time in the Llandaff fixture and followed it up with full teams in the Pembrey fixture. Denise Bradley, Jo Gamba, Ryan Evans and Adrian Pearce all got called up to represent their region in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC championships in November 2019.

The Vale 18 miler had an incredible record 37 finishers from our club with many taking on their longest distance ever and certainly longest trail distance.

The club competed in the Rack Raid relays for the first time. A review of the 100+ mile relay event can be found on the following link http://www.ogmorephoenixrunners.co.uk/rack-raid-2019-review/

The Rabbit Run at Merthyr Mawr had 44 finishers and we won several team and individual medals as it was part of the Welsh Athletics trail championships. The men won team Gold and Bronze whilst the ladies won team Silver whilst there were also several age category winners as well.

There were plenty of fun events with Cosmeston and Cottrell Park relays injecting something a bit different to usual proceedings and of course the annual Bridgend Beer Mile which is something completely different again.

Jo Gamba, Nick Harris and I did the Cardiff CPR challenge taking on 5 events over 2 days which add up to a marathon distance whilst Liz Sim did a similar event in Portishead.

The Infinity Running events have become a firm favourite with many in the club with their events offering anything fro 3.3 miles to ultra on a pretty much monthly basis at reasonably local venues.

The club trail championships again proved popular with plenty of running putting on their trail daps to run through every type of terrain on offer. We’ve also seen a record number of people completing the road championships which admittedly did include a lot of the big events.

The first day of 2019 saw members complete the 18/19 Festive Four with Tammie Baker, Gregg Harris and Adrian Pearce among the winners of various prize categories. The end of 2019 has over a dozen members sign up for 19/20 Festive Four.

Biggest attended events of 2019

Most of these will have been mentioned above but just to show the incredible attendance at events this year yet again – here’s the top 5 with where they rank in the biggest events in the clubs history in brackets…

  1. Cardiff Half Marathon 116 (1st)
  2. Ogmore Castle BCRL fixture 114 (2nd)
  3. Porthcawl 10K 97 (3rd)
  4. Llanilid Loop BCRL fixture 92 (6th)
  5. Newbridge Feilds BCRL fixture 85 (10th)

What will 2020 bring?

Well, as I write this post on January 5th, we’ve just seen our biggest ever amount of parkrun finishers on the first Saturday of the year as well as record breaking figures on New Years Day at both parkrun and the Prince of Wales Kenfig event. A sign of things to come? Will I be writing the 2020 review saying all the records have been broken again?! I look forward to finding out.

Well done to every single member who have trained with us, represented us in parkrun or races and / or volunteered during 2019. What an incredible year.

November 2019 review

November saw our members notch up 209 parkrun finishes across 56 parkruns. parkruns added to the 300+ venues our members have completed included Sheffield Hallam, Knowsley, Dalby Forest, Watermeadows, Lydiard (formerly named Swindon), Rotherham, Erddig, Northala Fields and Oaklands. We also had some international tourism with Lisa Jenkins running at Amager Strandpark parkrun in Copenhagen.

Highlights in month included 13 members plus a few friends of the club going on Karl’s latest ‘Johnson’s parkrun tours’ to the home of parkrun at Bushy. It turned out that they went in a week that Bushy had the biggest attendance of any parkrun in the world with 1,328 finishers. Usually a couple of South African parkruns top the attendance figures each week. There were multiple official and ‘arbitrary’ (for anyone who listens to the With Me Now podcast) milestones with Louise Bennett running her 50th parkrun, Karl running his 150th parkrun, and Dawn Hopkins running her 50th different parkrun venue.

Nick Harris ran his 300th parkrun during November whilst Ffion Smith reached her 50th parkrun milestone.

Other highlights in the month included Neil Price being first finisher out of the 342 runners at Porthcawl on the 23/11/19 with the fastest time of any member this month with a 18:49. Aled Hughes was second finisher for the 5th time during the month, whilst I made it 3 times as second finisher (at 3 different parkruns), and Nicky Bennett was second finisher for the second time with a PB of 19:37.

5 milers

A rarely run distance saw 23 members at the Severn Bridge midweek night race early in the month. A great event which had something for everyone with some fast competitive running at the front end and a party atmosphere throughout the field with face paints, glow sticks and plenty of head torches and hi-vis. Aled Hughes was first Phoenix back in 14th place overall and 1st in his age category. Unbeknownst to most of us, there was also a team competition where Aled, Luke, myself and Simon Harrison made up the first 4 OPR male finishers to bag ourselves 3rd place in the team standings.

Later in the month, Nick Harris was the only Phoenix at the second event of the series.

10K

We had a record 48 runners at the Richard Burton 10K where Paul Smith was our first finisher with 38:37. Nicky Bennett grabbed a PB of 42:24 whilst there were also PB’s for Jamie Puddy, Toni Howells and Stephne Puddy.

November isn’t usually a month that’s popular for 10K’s but we had members at quite a few this year. Debbie Bennion and Sharon Pritchard ran the Botanical Gardens 10K. Anneliese, with her dog in tow completed the Gower 10K. We had 5 runners at the Cardiff Mo Run. Dawn Hopkins ran the Race the Moon 10K in London. Tyler Howells and Bethan Denholm ran the Gloucester 10K, and Nick Harris notched up another event with the Cattle Country Dark Skies 10K.

10 miles

Another distance that has very few events drew 19 members to the Pembrey Multi Terrain 10 miler. Wayne Hayhurst led the club members back with a 1:11:25 PB on the testing course that really does have a lot of different surfaces and plenty of sand. New member James Dennison was next up also bagging himself a PB. The PB’s continued with Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns, Tyler Howells, Sarah Davies, Catherine Robinson, Jane Collins, Anna Clough, Alexis Barrett and Sara Johns.

Half Marathons

Adam Rowe and Kirstie Edwards completed the inaugural Tough Runner Cardiff Trail Half Marathon. A hilly, off road half not to be confused with the Cardiff Taff Trail Half Marathon which is very flat and on tarmac.

We also had a few members head up to North Wales for the Conwy Half Marathon where Denise Bradley managed a sub 2 hour run on the undulating course with Sally Littlehales, Emma Marshall, Stephne and Jamie Puddy also completing the course.

Marathons

I’ll come on to the Infinity Running event in the next section which mainly leaves me with Chris Pratt’s latest marathon exploits. Chris ran his first double marathon weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday run by Phoenix Running Events – this is a real company and not something Chris made up to get more marathons! Nick Harris joined him on the second day which I’m sure was welcome company for Chris on his first back to back marathon weekend. He then completed his 19 marathons in 2019 challenge at the Greenham Common Marathon.

Infinity Running – Bonfire Bolt

The feedback from the Infinity Running events has always been glowing ever since they first started a year ago. I first attended one in January this year and was straight on our Facebook pages to recommend it to our members. Chris Pratt has now done 7 marathons at their events which has obviously been a huge bonus in allowing him to do so many of marathons close to home and I’m sure will feature heavily in his future marathon plans.

From just a few of us attending those first few events, Phoenix members attendance has grown and grown to a point where for this event we had an incredible 40 members running at the Bonfire Bolt event in Margam. We covered every distance from 1 lap for a 5K up to Kris Denholm completing his 7th Ultra of the year with 10 laps and 33 miles completed. Highlights included Sarah Littlewood running a huge PB of 1:52:21 in the Half Marathon (4 laps). There were 5 who completed the marathon distance with a real mixed bag of experience. Paul Barrett ran 4:19:23 to beat his Snowdonia time set in his first ever marathon just 2 weeks before by over 30 minutes. He was accompanied by Luke Jones who has previously run a 3:06 marathon back in 2013. Next up was a marathon debut for Jay Howells who clocked an impressive sub 5 hour time of 4:55. Chris Pratt, marathon extraordinaire, was up next and no doubt enjoyed having significantly more Phoenix company than in some of his other marathons. Our final finisher of the day was Tyler Howells who completed his first ever marathon in 6:03.

Cross Country (XC)

A huge month for XC with fixtures in the West Glamorgan League, Gwent League as well as Phoenix members representing their region in the Welsh Inter Regional Championships.

The first XC race of the month was the second fixture of the Gwent League at Pembrey Country Park. As male captain, I was delighted to see us field a full men and women’s team for the second fixture in a row. The ladies went off first with an undulating 7.2K course consisting of 2 laps of grass, trail and some sections of sand. Fiona Drysdale was our first lady back, followed by Sarah Davies, Jo Gamba, Steph Iveson Holmes and Dawn Hopkins to make up our 5 scorers. Ann Davies, Samantha Thompson and Tammie Baker made up a total of 8 OPR ladies finishers. The men’s race was a 9.9K course with an extended version of the 2 laps the ladies had raced earlier that afternoon. I was the first Phoenix across the line followed closely by Simon Harrison. Nick Harris, Phill Iveson and David Sheard completed the scoring for the men’s fixture.

Due to a top 15 finish in their respective age categories and regions, Denise Bradley and Adrian Pearce were called up to represent South Wales in the Welsh Inter-Regional XC Championships in Brecon. Some gaps in the West Wales team allowed Ryan Evans a spot in their team as he had run for them previously whilst a member of Swansea University’s running club. Then there was a late call up to the South Wales team for Jo Gamba who had run in both Gwent League fixtures which were being used to determine places for the championships. The Inter Regional Championships were held in Brecon with the ladies race being a 6K course with 1 medium lap and 2 large laps. Both Denise and Jo did themselves and the club proud with gritty performances in the wet, muddy conditions on the undulating course. With the men going last after all the junior and senior ladies races, it meant they had the worst of the mud for their 9.6K, 3 lap course. Again, both our runners did us proud even if Ryan was running for a ‘rival’ region.

The second West Glamorgan fixture was a familiar route for many of our club members as it took in much of the same course as the Kenfig Sands BCRL fixture except with the added bonus of an extra mile or so in the middle section. Paul Smith was our first runner back followed by Steven James, Keith Coleman, Kris Denholm and James Phillips who made up our 5 male scorers. The ladies team included Sian Price, Claire DB, Liz Davis, Fiona Evans and Samantha Thompson as the scorers. 18 members ran in total making it the 4th XC fixture across 2 leagues where we’ve fielding full men and ladies teams.

Other races

Lets start big with a couple of Ultra’s this month. Steve Loveluck completed the 34 mile Gower Ultra – this is different to the Run Walk Crawl Ultra but every big as tough taking in steep climbs over technical terrain. Liz Sim and Steven James joined forces to complete the 34 mile OTT Ultra in the Brecon Beacons which they did amazingly to complete having got lost very soon after the start which resulted in them ending up a couple of miles behind the tail runner who they then had to catch up with.

Nick Harris completed the Twmbarlwn Terror – a 7 mile off road race organised by Fairwater Runners Cwmbran. 6 runners took on the Sodbury Slog – a slightly bonkers off road race which includes the ‘sheep dip’ and ‘pig trough’ sections.

The Grand Slam club

Paul Barrett, Emma Loyns and Sarah Davies both completed a 2019 Grand Slam of PB’s by ticking off a 10 miler to complete a set of PB’s at each of the ‘standard’ distances – 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 10 miles, Half Marathon and Marathon. Only a handful of members achieve this each year. The first to complete the Grand Slam this year was Stephne Puddy who completed it with Snowdonia Marathon. Alexis Barrett has come agonisingly close with only a Marathon PB missing which she was only 50 seconds off in Snowdon.

We have plenty on 5 PB’s out of the 6 distances. Adrian Pearce and Wayne Hayhurst (5 mile PB required), Hannah Knight, Sian Jenkins and Jay Howells (10 mile PB required), Dawn Hopkins, Steven James and Tyler Howells (Half Marathon PB required).

Now this is normally where I’d hand over to Chris to do the Chairman’s Runner of the Month… however, I’m going to bend the rules slightly and I’m going to do it myself (with agreement from female captain, Pippa) this month… you’ll see why…

Captains Runners of the Month

For many runners, the goal of running a marathon is the ultimate. Many of us will have watched the London Marathon growing up in awe of these seemingly normal everyday people who have trained to run 26.2 miles. All of us will have started off struggling to run for a mile and the thought of running 26.2 of them would have seemed inconceivable at the time. Many of us have taken that journey and steadily built up to 5K, 10K, Half Marathons and eventually completed a marathon. It’s a huge deal. You’d struggle to find many runners out there who wouldn’t be telling all their friends and family about an upcoming marathon and the resulting stories from having completed it. Running a marathon is not easy. Now imagine setting yourself a goal of running 19 of them… but not 19 over a lifetime…. 19 in one calendar year… 19 marathons in 2019. That’s what Chris Pratt, my male runner of the month, did on Sunday 24th November. A remarkable achievement and in the end he actually did it all in 38 weeks having not started until March of this year and finishing with over a month to go.

Onto the female runner of the month and this is a lady on a mission. Not content with running a Half Marathon PB and Marathon PB in October, this lady went on to complete a Grand Slam of PB’s within the space of just 8 weeks by adding 5K, 5 mile and 10 mile PBs during November. Her time of 41:11 at the Severn Bridge 5 miler beat her previous best which set on the super flat and fast Cardiff Bay 5 mile course over 4 years ago. She followed that up with a 10 mile PB at the Pembrey Multi-Terrain race, beating her previous best time (which was on the same course) by almost 7 minutes. To top it off, she finished the month with a parkrun time of 23:17, knocking 33 seconds off her PB and claiming one of the fastest times by any lady in the club this year. All this whilst also training for an upcoming Ultra Marathon, taking multiple sessions per week as one of the club coaches and balancing a busy family / work life. This months female runner of the month is Emma Loyns

October 2019 review

parkruns

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

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

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

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

10K

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

Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marathons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other races

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

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

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

Cross Country

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

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

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

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

Welsh Athletics Awards

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

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

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

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

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

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

September 2019 review

parkruns

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

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

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

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

Races

10K’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Marathons

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

Infinity Running Events

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

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

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

BCRL

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

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

Other Races

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

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

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

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

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

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

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

August 2019 review

parkruns

This month saw our members accumulate 270 parkrun finishes over 60 different parkruns across a record 41 different parkrun venues.

Amongst many others, tourism included Medina (Isle of Wight), Westpark (Germany) and Aviemore (Scotland). We also had members at Barry Island and Billericay parkruns on the same day for all you Gavin and Stacey fans.

The month kicked off with a huge turnout of 41 members running at Maesteg for their 2nd year anniversary run. Adrian Pearce also bagged himself a first place at the same venue later in the month.

There were PB’s in the month for Annemarie Morgan, Tyler Howells, Rosaleen Salvatore, Julie Lewis, Toni Howells, Mike Bright, Chris Collin, Jonathan Loo and Gary Loo.

Chris Pratt became only the second member of the club to reach 300 parkruns whilst James Beynon, Martin Beard, Saul Harris and Fiona Drysdale all joined the 100 club.

We also had members at Barry Island and Billericay parkruns on the same day for all you Gavin and Stacey fans. The month kicked off with a huge turnout of 41 members running at Maesteg for their 2nd year anniversary run. Adrian Pearce also bagged himself a first place at the same venue later in the month. There were PB’s in the month for Annemarie Morgan, Tyler Howells, Rosaleen Salvatore, Julie Lewis, Toni Howells, Mike Bright, Chris Collin, Jonathan Loo and Gary Loo. Chris Pratt became only the second member of the club to reach 300 parkruns whilst James Beynon, Martin Beard, Saul Harris and Fiona Drysdale all joined the 100 club.

5K races

Aled, Nick and I ran the Cardiff Running Events Summer Sizzler 5K whilst the day after Nick and Aled were in action again with 3 others at the Versus Arthritis Swansea 5K.

10K races

The first weekend saw 32 runners at the Barry 10K. Understandably the attendance was a bit lower than the other 10K’s in the series (Cardiff, Newport and Porthcawl) largely due to the Beer Mile being the evening before. There were 6 of us who did both. Other reasons for lower attendance is that the Barry course isn’t the flattest 10K and just like last year, it was incredibly hot and humid.

Despite the conditions, Niki smashed it with a sub 40 time of 39:14 followed by Chris Wonka Williams in 43:57 whilst I can claim first out of the Beer Mile entrants with a 45:50. Our first lady was Claire DB in 48:04 followed by Emma Loyns and Jo Gamba. Elsewhere, Ken Salvatore ran an impressive 56:20 PB.

There were several other smaller 10K’s in month with Sharon Pritchard and Debbie Bennion took on the Llandegfedd Reservior 10K, Chris Richards and Steve Nelson completed the Tough Runner Brechfa 10K and Chris was in action again later in the month at the Narbeth Nobbler 10K.

10 milers

The Brecon 10 miler saw 6 members in action with Adrian Pearce first back in a club age category record of 1:05:55 which means he know has all the records in his age category bar the marathon. David Kembery was next up followed by Brian Cotton. The final 3 all came through with PB’s – Liz Sim, Dawn Hopkins and Jayne Bissmire.

Half Marathons

42 members completed the Port Talbot Half Marathon with Adrian Pearce back first in another age category club record of 1:25:58. Our first female Phoenix was Claire DB in 1:49:29. The PB list included Jay Howells, Anthony Kavanagh, Tim Rees, Chris Richards, Kaye Pedler, Jamie Puddy, Stephne Puddy, Helen Griffiths and Sian Jenkins.

The Narberth Nobbler saw Denise Bradley, Fiona Evans and Melissa Humphreys complete the tricky course whilst we had 12 runners at the Severn Bridge Half Marathon on a very warm morning led back by Luke Jones in 1:47:57 with Sarah Davies the first Phoenix lady in 02:09:45.

Marathons

Bath Two Tunnels Marathon saw Steven James, Liz Sim, Chris Pratt and Jo Kendall complete the course with Liz getting a new marathon PB. Chris was back in action a week later for the Narberth Nobbler Marathon with Mike Bright and Angharad Hinam also completing the course.

Other races

The month kicked off in unusual fashion with 2 very different mile events. First up was the ‘murder mile’ which Aled and Nick took on. A single mile with almost 700 feet of elevation and a constant incline until the last 100 meters or so. The second one was the increasingly popular ‘beer mile’.

The ‘beer mile’ attracted 29 members this year to take on the challenge of a 100 meter run – drink a 330ml can of cider or beer (or new for this year, a 175ml glass of Prosecco) – run 600 meters – drink again – run 300 meters – drink another – run 300 meters – drink a forth time – then a final 300 meters to finish. Aled Hughes clocked a crazy time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds whilst 10-11 minutes was around the average. It certainly doesn’t end up in the familiar order of results we normally see.

Later in the month we would also see a ‘normal’ mile race with Aled and Niki taking on a flat road mile in Butetown.  Niki finished in 5:08 with Aled in 5:40.

Adrian Pearce and Aled Hughes took on the Machen Mountain Race on Bank Holiday Monday which included an eye watering 1000 feet of ascent in the first 2 miles before coming back down.

Multi-events

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, Nick Harris, Jo Gamba and I took on the CPR (Cardiff Pentath Running) challenge. This involved running Cardiff parkrun, followed by a 10K in Pontcanna Fields at 12.30pm, a 4.5K Cross Country race on Llandaff Fields at 4.30pm all on the Saturday, and then on the Sunday a Half Marathon at 9am and finishing off with a 1 mile time trial at 1pm. The 5 events add up to exactly 26.2 miles and whilst you get results for all the individual events, it’s the cumulative time that matters. Conditions were very hot all weekend which made the challenge even tougher and there were many hours spent in Tesco café on Western Avenue between events to refuel and hydrate.

On the same weekend, Liz Sim was taking on a very similar challenge in Portishead. The team behind Ben Smith’s 401 marathons in 401 days (worth Googling if you don’t know about this) had set up a series of 4 races adding up to 26.2 miles. This involved a 5K run at 2.30pm on Saturday followed by a Half Marathon at 4.30pm. Then a 10K at 10am on the Sunday followed by 6.2K at 12.30pm to make it up to 26.2 miles.

BCRL

We had 85 members complete the 5th fixture of the Bridgend League at Newbridge Fields. A 3.6 mile race starting and finishing on the running track which was great for supporting at the end and some amazing sprint finishes. Gareth Battle was our first finisher closely followed by 5 other Phoenix all within 13 seconds of each other. Another strong performance by our top 15 and a massive turnout meant we finished as second team on the night and pretty much secured our second place in the league overall.

Over to Chris for Chairmans Runner of the Month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Members out in force at training, August being the second highest monthly attendance of the year.   The warm weather not putting people off for sure.  Warm weather training is always popular!

Lots of events and lots of great performances as well as impressive stories of endeavour making it very difficult to choose from the midst of all the achievements.  As I’ve said before, it’s not always about pure achievement…

Sometimes a story will capture the attention.  We know that running fills a void for many people.  It’s a distraction from the rigours of life.  After a long passage of being away from running, often it’s signing up for an event that brings people back to it.  Training doesn’t always go well but sometimes the event still needs to be done to exorcise some demons.  Guts and determination are something I always admire.  Facing the adversity of the situation and pushing through it.  It doesn’t have to be a long way and it doesn’t have to be quick.  It’s all about meeting the challenge and seeing it through.  One such person took on a challenge against the odds.  Things hadn’t gone quite to plan but it was necessary to stand on the start line and face it head on.   Despite suffering blisters that would scare the more hardy of our bunch and finding it extremely tough, one of our midst dug in and pushed on to the bitter end.  Crossing the finish line not only indicated the end of a tough half marathon but also put pay to many doubts and fears about returning to running and began a positive push forward in life.  I am honoured to award my Chairman’s August Female Runner of the Month to Melissa Humphreys.  Well done Melissa.  Stick with it!  We are very proud of you.

My next choice is someone who has caught my eye on a number of occasions.  Also with a story to tell, my male choice for the accolade is someone who dedicates an incredible amount of time to family.   With a particular reason for doing so, time is incredibly precious.  Taking time out is very difficult but he manages it.  Running is often an aid to dealing with the rigours of daily life.  Not only that but events he does get to we are seeing improvements with two 10k’s completed during August and a new half marathon PB in Port Talbot.  We harbour many members who have stories to tell and it is often those stories that help to shape them into the person that they are.  Caring, thoughtful, dedicated and determined come to mind here.  Not only inspiring with his outlook on life and the commitment he makes to his family but also to the pastime which gives him respite.  I am incredibly proud to announce my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for August to Chris Richards.  Well done Chris. I’m sure there’s much more to come.  Keep on inspiring us.

Weekly Waffle – 27th August 2019

Again it’s been two weeks and a great deal has happened…

Not two weeks since the last one and we find ourselves gathering for another fixture of the BCRL.  Out in numbers once again topping the charts for participation.  Combined with that and excellent running around the Newbridge Fields course and back through the woods for two laps produced another fantastic second place finish!   Phoenix out in force and maintaining their reputation of flying high!

Warm weather training appealed to many and numbers were good despite the racing leading up to the weekend which invariably starts with a favourite 5k event.  It happens every Saturday, without fail.  An unofficial milestone was celebrated locally at one of our home runs.  Large numbers in attendance everywhere with the usual glut of tourists spreading their wings and finding locations far and wide.

The warm weather continued into Sunday as races appeared on the calendar.  A couple travelled west to tackle another Tough Runner event, taming the hills in style.  

Another couple headed to a reservoir to complete another tough 10k route running together to share the load.

A few crossed the border to a historic city to run through converted railway tunnels and circumnavigate the city on canal toe paths to reach their goals.  

A great weekend of running that saw Phoenix rallying together to get the job done in adverse running conditions.  While spectators relish the warmth of the sun, runners tear it.  Energy sapping it can easily turn a race of comfortable distance into a real challenge.  All met the challenge head on and completed the job in hand admirably!

A week done and into the new.

Inspired by the weekends running numbers increased at training with loops around Parc Slip leading into track sessions and combined with our heroes continuing their journey to reach their goal.  As time progresses they get ever closer to their goal.  Leaders and experienced runners turn out in force to support our runners who are making excellent progress.

Friday saw the inaugural event to mark the start of the Pride Cymru Big weekend.  A run that attracted over 100 runners.  A weekend to recognise and celebrate the importance of inclusion and diversity within society.  Something that fits perfectly with our ethos of being all-inclusive.  A few members were in attendance to share in the amazing atmosphere building in to the weekend of celebration.

parkrunday arrived.  Numbers were good but slightly dwindled by the presence of a local and popular 10k race taking in a section of local coastline that we’re all very familiar with.  Many tourists found new locations alongside our usual home runners. For some the parkrun was a part of a two day challenge combining different events to make a total marathon distance.

For one other Saturday saw the start of another two day multi-event challenge across the border organised to raise funds for a very worthy foundation. 

Popular Saturday races sometimes mean quiet Sundays.  Not the case here.  

Early rise for some who headed way down west to tackle a nobbling route of various distances.  All completed the course with stories of hardship to tell.  

Our band of merry men (and a lady) continued their collection of events in the capital to reach their goal and earn the spoils.  

A larger contingent travelled east to target an event that crossed borders.  Two distances.  Two countries.  High above the water they ran.  Looping round and tackling “the hill” they made their way back to cross the finish line to collect their medals and t-shirts.  The sun tested their metal but they all battled through to regale their stories.

Our solitary runner continued her challenge over the border to collect a multitude of medals for her effects presented for display in a unique wooden cube design.  Always nice to receive something different to mark a special occasion!

Two dropped their regular distances to chase a one mile time and both finished with fantastic results.

A bank holiday weekend always attracts extras and as the extra day off arrived two souls travelled to tackle a fell race with impressive vert in the heat and lived to tell the tale with impressive times.

Our muti-discipline contingent were out again to rack up more results at a seafront event.

While all of this is going on our hard working beginners are progressing further through their programme reminding us of how hard work and determination will produce results.  Heroes without doubt.

It never fails to amaze me the diversity of events that we do.  It also fills me with immense pride when we turn up to events and wow others with our huge turnout.  The Phoenix continues to impress wherever we go.  We are noticed and remembered.  This is largely down to our great heart and spirit.  it exudes from us all and is something that people we meet absorb and recall when they see us again.  An experience I have had a couple of times this week.  A positive lasting impression.

Fantastic performances throughout the club with many stories of endeavour.  Hard work and determination seeing many through to cross the finish line despite testing circumstances.

Positivity courses throughout, but when things are good we must take a moment to remember those who are struggling with injury.  The ones who are unable to join us on start lines.  The effect on their well-being can be severely affected by this and we must continue to rally round and remind them that we are here for them.  When they come to mind drop them a line.  A text.  A message.  A phone call.  Just to say you’re thinking of them.

Keep up the good work guys.  

You are all superstars!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

July 2019 review

parkruns

This month saw our members accumulate 210 parkrun finishes across 39 parkruns and 25 different parkruns

As well as the usual parkruns across South Wales we had tourists at Gloucester City, Burnham and Highbridge, Malborough Common, Hanley, Reading, Ashton Court, Kingstone, Stonehouse, Somerdale Pavillion, Tamar Trails, Nonsuch and a Canadian parkrun with Kayley Griffiths at Whistler.

Milestones this month included Fiona Drysdales 100th parkrun and my 300th parkrun. Maesteg parkrun also celebrated their 100th parkrun.

PB’s in the month included Brownwen Apsee, Clifford Searle, Brett Bonell, and Sally Pensom. A special mention for Wayne Hayhurst who smashed his PB to not just dip under 20 minutes for the first time but absolutely smash it with a 19:16.

5K races

Julie Ransom was our only entrant in the 5K event of the Long Course Weekend and finished in 29:30.

We had 13 runners at Swansea Bay 5K which included another sub 20 for Aled.

Nick Harris was our only entrant in The Chase 5K in Cardiff which involves runners setting off at different times depending on seasons best times with the aim of catching other runners (the fastest going off last).

Nick was joined by Aled and Chris for the final race in the SSAFA 5K series.

10K races

On the first Sunday of the month, we had a record breaking 103 members run an official race 10K including 4 taking on the 10K in Tenby and 2 at the Gloucester 10K.

The majority were at Porthcawl 10K where we had 97 runners which is second only to the Ogmore Castle BCRL event earlier this year for biggest attendance. Despite very warm conditions and a half hour delay at the start, there were PB’s aplenty including our first two finishers Paul Smith (38:29) and Adrian Pearce (38:40). Aled Hughes got his first sub 40 with a (39:37). Aled and Adrian earned Welsh Athletics Bronze Medals in their respective age categories whilst they are also due a second bronze medal along with Paul and Ryan for being the 3rd best combined team.

Claire Dunbar-Bowen ran a PB of 47:15 with Jonathan Tidball coming in at 47:25. The PB’s continued with Brett Bonell, Gary Loo, Dean Soles, Ian Lewis, Liam Cattell, Ken Salvatore, Brownwen Apsee, Kaye Pedler, Tanya Lacey, Beverley Soles and Fran Collins all improving their previous bests in the 50-59 minute range.

An even bigger list of post 1 hour PB’s followed including a number of them taking on their first 10K’s with the club. Well done to Lowri Howells, Jamie Bevan, Heather Morgan, Claire Taylor, Kate Atkin, Megan Apsee, Jane Collins, Kathy Watkins, Emma Bowen, Anna Clough, Rhian Miller, Claire Williams, Ruth Thomas, Paul James, Iona Gregory and Laura Worrall.

The next 10K saw James Beynon and Liz Sim complete the Thornbury 10K. Jay Howells took on the Ammanford 10K, and we had 4 members at the Pontypridd Roadents ‘Loop’ event.

10 members also ran the Mick Morris 10K which is almost entirely downhill and therefore doesn’t count for PB purposes and saw some ridiculously fast times. Wayne Hayhurst was our first finisher in 37:56 whilst Luke Jones ran sub 40 with a 39:43.

We had 6 runners at the Tough Runner 10K with Jade Bazylkiewicz our first runner home in an impressive 52:58 on the hilly off road course.

Half Marathons

We had 14 runners complete the Half Marathon at the Long Course Weekend in Tenby in sweltering conditions. First back were Sarah and James Littlewood clocking an impressive sub 2 hour time on the hilly course. Lisa Pinney, Andrew Hughes, Helen Griffiths, Kayley Griffiths, Jamie Puddy and Mark Burgess who had all completed swim and / or bike events in the previous days all added additional medals to their total.

4 members took on the Tough Runner Half Marathon with Wayne Randall finishing just ahead of Samantha Thomas in 2:39:32 with the two of them followed home by Jamie Puddy and Vickie Blake.

Marathons

Wayne Hayhurst ran an impressive sub 4 hour time and was one of 8 members who completed the Long Course Weekend Marathon. Kirsty Evans and Hannah Bartle completed the marathon to tick off full distances in the swim, bike and run.

The Lovelucks took on the Tough Runner Marathon with Anneliese finishing first lady overall by a huge margin in 3:35:47 whilst Steve clocked an impressive 3:39:38.

Infinity Running event

These events are now getting a separate section rather than including the various distances under all the different headings. This month saw the latest in the series head to Cardiff for the first time with the 6 hour event being a 3.3 mile out and back along the Taff Trail.  9 members heading down this time round on another warm morning to tackle as many laps as we wished.

Laura Worrall completed 2 laps for the ’10K’ and was accompanied by Mark Worrall and Chris Richards who carried on to complete 4 laps for the Half Marathon. I also ran the Half Marathon and was first finisher out of those that chose to do that distance. Denise Bradley and Liz ran together and also chose 4 laps to complete the Half.

Running just behind Denise and Liz and occasionally with them were Jo Gamba and Chris Pratt. Jo set out to do 4 laps but enjoyed it so much she ended up doing a 5th to get some early Snowdonia Marathon training in and clocking up 16.5 miles.

Chris carried on to do 8 laps and tick off yet another marathon – his  7th in just 19 weeks. Meanwhile, Kris Denholm carried on to do 11 laps and around 33 miles with only 2 other runners clocking further.

Ultra Marathon races

Just the one this month but our second 100(+) miler of the year. This time it was Steven James’s turn. Steven’s training had been impressive with 6 ultras ranging in the 33-40 mile range just this year leading up to this event. The 1066 Ultra runs from London to Battle and was advertised as 106 miles although Steven eventually clocked 109.5. It’s also worth mentioning it was very hot. What an incredible achievement.

BCRL races

A rare month where we had 2 Bridgend League events with the first being a brand new one starting in Pencoed in the showground of the annual Bridgend Show. The first Friday evening fixture ever for the league saw an amazing 92 members complete the course which was mainly on undulating roads. 92 is the joint 3rd highest attendance we’ve had at any race with all of our top 3 attendances now being in the last 3 months. 

Paul Smith was our first runner back just ahead of Adrian Pearce, Niki Puleio, Gareth Battle, James Littlewood and Aled Hughes. Our first ladies back were Sian Price, Claire DB, Sarah Littlewood, Sarah Davies, Denise Bradley and Jo Gamba. Another very strong performance from our top 15 scorers coupled with the high attendance meant we finished as runners up on the night to Bridgend and further increased the gap to the rest of our competition.

The second event came on the final day of the month with the Kenfig Sands fixture. With 84 finishers it also ranks in our top 10 attendances at any event and a record for that particular fixture. It’s also worth noting on the same evening, we had more than 40 at the Zero to Hero session making it probably the most Phoenix Runners running on the same evening.

Back to the race and this time the order was Adrian, Gareth, Ryan, Paul, Dai James and Aled all finishing within 77 seconds of each other. Our top ladies were Sian Price, Jade, Sarah Davies, Emma Loyns, Denise Bradley and Jo Gamba. As with the previous fixture a strong 15 coupled with high numbers bagged us runners up on the night to Bridgend and dare I say a almost insurmountable lead over the other clubs in our quest to finish 2nd overall for the 2nd year.

Other races

Not too many ‘other distance’ events in July although clearly there were a huge amount in the categories above. Brett Bonnell and Karl Johnson took on the Tintern Trot, Aled and Nick ran the Summer Series 4 miler plus we had 2 teams at the Cosmeston Relays.

With 366 race finishes it’s our second highest monthly total ever after 381 in May. No doubt that with the Barry 10K, Newbridge Fields BCRL event and a whole host of races over the bank holiday weekend, I’ll have plenty to write about in August. Over to Chris for Chairman’s Runner of the Month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

I try and chop and change the mechanism for choosing runners of the month.  Different things catch the attention.  Sometimes it’s times, sometimes distance, sometimes grit and determination, sometimes helping others and sometimes endeavour.   Sometimes there are events that cannot be ignored.  Super long distance means pushing the body to extremes that only one or two of our midst will experience.  The second current member of the club to achieve this distance.  A slightly different approach to this challenge with a slightly different motivation for completing it.  When is running 100 miles a pre-cursor to something bigger?  Well this one is.  Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance.  The 6 p’s.  Lots of training miles.  A focused approach.  Events thrown in with sensible pacing.  Striding the hills.  Running the flat and downhills and learning to just keep going even when everything tells you to stop!  It worked.  The course followed Harolds Way from the English capital down to Battle Abbey near Hastings in Kent.  Tracing the steps of a historic journey.  100 miles.  Rest assured he dug very deep and completed the task in hand.  Broken legs were the reward for his troubles but huge kudos and rest followed the huge achievement.  Running 100 miles is totally amazing and worthy of huge accolade.  It shows not only running prowess but also a strength of character.  Mind games take hold during crazy distances like that and so many other things other than running get you to the end of your goal.  I am in awe as I award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for July as Steven James.  Massive well done Steven.  On to the next challenge now!

Every now and again I see a spark.  A glint in an eye.  The indication that things have clicked.  The magic has worked.  Attendance at training for one is noticeably on the rise.  Posts on social media indicate an enthusiasm for getting out and banking miles.  Not only that but new personal bests start to appear.  Smiles crossing finish lines with hands held aloft.  Running experiences shared with others and the evidence shared with excitement.  Times improving as a result.  Training runs and races in increasing frequency.  It’s a joy to see.  We merely provide a platform – it is the individual that takes advantage of that and makes their own way to achieve something more.  That doesn’t have to be better times, it doesn’t have to be longer distance, it could just be stepping out of the door, enjoying the experience and sharing with friends.  Here we have a combination of better times, longer distances and increased enjoyment!   Truly inspiring stuff!  I am absolutely delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for July to Laura Worrall.  Keep on doing what you’re doing Laura and continue to inspire us all into the future!