Weekly Waffle – 3rd November 2019

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

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

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

(and hopefully won’t miss anything out!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lots going on.
Lots to be proud of.

Running, supporting and volunteering.

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

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

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

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

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

As always

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 30th September 2019

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

Bear with…

What a week we started with…

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

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

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

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

Nerves continued to build…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another week dawned and the weather remained pleasant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet again, stories abound.  

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

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

Weekly Waffle – 8th September 2019

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

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

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

In two weeks…

We’ve parkrunned.  A lot.  

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

We’ve raced.  A lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two weeks done and they’ve been busy.  

Lots of training. Lots of running.  

Lots of Phoenix spirit on display.

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

Our ears are filled with pride of everyones endeavour. 

Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

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

Weekly Waffle – 11th August 2019

Again it’s been a fortnight…

Life got in the way and prevented another weekly review so it’s time to catch up…

Rewind a little and memories will return of sand.  Lots of sand.  It was a Wednesday night and another edition of the Bridgend County Running League.  A fixture that’s loved and hated at the same time drew the Phoenix in significant quantity.  Runners, supporters and volunteers.  Another significant result was achieved with all those who ran being rewarded with copious quantities of cake!

While all this took place our new batch of heroes took the next steps on their journey in significant numbers.  A delight to see.  Between training and racing 130 of the club keeping active on one night!

High numbers up the valley in our spiritual home saw out the week of training but two rounded the week off with a trip to the east to tackle a tough climb very aptly named The Murder Mile and were rewarded at the top with beer!  This led us on to parkrunday where a new club record attendance was set.  Phoenix out in their droves at 12 locations in 3 different countries.  Maesteg, a home run for many, celebrated it’s second birthday with a huge Phoenix contingent taking part in one way or another.  The famous duo fancy dress theme temped several into the party spirit for the morning. 

The afternoon was an annual pilgrimage for many as the ever popular Beer mile drew many to don fancy dress once again for an event that continues to appeal every year.  4 beers, one mile.  More of a challenge than it sounds.  A great deal of fun was had by all as the party continued into the night…

The sun rose on a warm Sunday morning.  

A compact and bijou group followed the A470 north to Brecon.  Starting and ending on a track, 10  scenic miles were the order of the day and impressive results were obtained in the process.

The home of Gavin and Stacey drew large numbers onto the Island for the next 10k in a very popular local series.  Great numbers, great results and great fun was enjoyed by all.

And all the while our heroes continued to push their boundaries discovering new potential they never knew existed.

Saying goodbye to the week and saying hello to another.

The forecast changed.  The heatwave was disappearing giving way to more typical conditions.  Rain.

Training in the week saw a trip to Merthyr Mawr and back and a tough track session that always tests those who take part but, suitable for all, it’s these sessions that make us better.  Meanwhile our heroes continued to develop.  A huge group made their way to Ogmore to tackle the popular and tough climb to Bwlch Y Clawdd and back down.

Midweek events still abound and this week was no exception.  A 5k event in the capital saw a few line up on the start line to record some more events in their calendar.  The following night some also took to the seafront in Swansea once again to complete the same distance event in aid of a very worthy charity.

The weather finally turned and storms lashed the area.  Saturday morning saw a plethora of parkrun cancellations in the locale.  Some managed to find locations that were still running while many were already planning tourism that allowed them to get their 5k fix in.

One completed a tough looped course marathon to increase the total on a personal challenge.  A unique medal was the reward for a successful day.

Despite the weather continuing to test we saw large numbers head down to the local half marathon that always attracts us in large numbers.  Despite the conditions and the hilly profile it produced significant results for those who took it on.  

The weather didn’t defeat our heroes continuing their quests as they bravely fought the conditions to battle towards their eventual goal with guts and determination.  True Phoenix spirit already growing within!

What an amazing two weeks!  

Brilliant to see numbers at training on the rise as well as numbers taking part in events of all distances.  Phoenix spirit shining through in every case.

It’s simple – keep doing what you’re doing and if you need any support then just turn one way or another and you can be assured there will be a Phoenix by your side to guide you through.

You lot are simply awesome!

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 28th July 2019

Temperatures soar.  

Record levels reached.  

We are so lucky to have the beach within our reach where strength training sessions were held.

Midweek drew a trio to Caerdydd for the last in a series.  Attempts to break records failed battling against the heat and humidity of the evening despite it being a birthday celebration for one.

A recce of an upcoming fixture saw a number tackle a sandy route a week ahead of it’s official running while a huge group continued their running development.

More efforts on the Planka gave way to a rest day as we built up to the weekend and parkrunday.

9am start lines were filled with Phoenix.  Some got there by foot as training for big races on the horizon continued.  Pirates lined the seafront on one of our home locations while our other home enjoyed a centenary celebration.  Two on a mission clocked up a significant number of locations as tourism fever takes hold.  We had Phoenix penning run reports as others ventured further afield with two finding themselves in Canada to complete their 5k ritual.  

It wasn’t parkrunday for all though as a handful headed west down the M4 to a mixture of distances around trails in the Afan Valley.  Great performances all round in the heat with one picking up another accolade for crossing the finish line first!  Another trophy for the mantelpiece!

Our junior members got an opportunity for some track activities down in Swansea ending with fun on the beach in the warm weather.

Wonderful stuff!

The sun eventually went down.  

Before it even thought about waking from it’s slumber a group met in the dark to drive to the base of the highest peak in South Wales and made their way to the top on foot to watch the sun rise.  The weather was against them seeing the true glory of the moment but the experience was enjoyed by all with photos at the summit as confirmation.

Back at home our intrepid new runners took the next steps on their journey.  Heroes they are already for taking those first steps last week but this takes them one step closer to reaching their goal.  

More wonderful stuff!

It’s always difficult in the heat.  As temperatures rise we need to stay hydrated and protect our skin from the direct affect of sunlight.  Despite the extremes this week we saw good numbers at training as well as finish lines crossed.

More reasons to be proud.

Well done to all who stepped out of the door.

Spare a thought for those who aren’t able for one reason or another.  There are several amongst us currently unable to put any miles in and to them we send huge positive vibes for a speedy recovery.  The Phoenix family is bound by strong bonds.  We look out for each other.  If you know of someone who is struggling just reach out a hand of support.  Send a message.  Pop round.  Share a cuppa.  Just check they are OK.

Keep doing what you’re doing guys!

You’re all amazing!

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 21st July 2019

The temperatures rise and spirits rise to match it…

Busy times carried me away to distant shores but I observed the antics from afar.  Precious family time drew me away from compiling these words sooner than I would have liked…

Two weeks have passed since I last added to our story and a lot has happened…

Training has continued…

A BCRL fixture defies the norm (being on a Friday night) and huge numbers flock to a local show ground with another commanding performance from all and coupled with high levels of participation resulted in another second place finish overall for the club!  Awesome!

Saturday came round and inevitable ensued.  parkrun.  Not to be undone by waking up with post race fatigue many headed out of the door for 9am to get their regular dose.  

The sun set and rose again with plenty of energy to radiate.  Under clear skies a bunch headed to the capital to cover various distances on a multi-loop course tracking up and down the banks of the River Taff.  Ice pops and water spray on each loop provided some respite from the heat and all met their goals while some surpassed them with true Phoenix spirit.

Others went slightly further afield for a 10k race organised by one of our neighbouring clubs.  Joined by junior members they all battled the high temperatures to get the job done.

The sun set on a very hot weekend with many having stories to tell of their endeavours….

A new week dawned and a new initiative with heavy involvement from the Phoenix loomed…

Honouring the memory of a life sadly lost at the end of the marathon in London a number of years ago The Big Social Run was born in Wales and had finally arrived in Bridgend.  A plethora of leaders and runners made their way to Porthcawl for the inaugural event which proved to be a record breaking success for the whole initiative.  Warm weather added to the enjoyment of the purely social run for fun – something we all love!  A resounding success! 

Despite the high turnout on Tuesday, Wednesday saw good numbers at track and a good crowd including a couple of four legged friends, headed down the valley from our spiritual home to tackle a challenging climb to the mast on top of the valley walls.

One lone runner racked up another in his tally tackling an event with a staggered start – the chase was on!

As the weekend drew close, excitement built…  

More that just excitement for the Saturday morning obligatories, there was an impending first…  

Wedding bells were about to be rung… 

For the very first time we were about to witness two members of the club exchange vows and tie the knot in a relationship that blossomed while the Phoenix rose from the ashes!

With the groom getting parkrun out of the day first thing in the morning to run off some of the pre-ceremony nerves he also celebrated his birthday.  Other members joined in the local event in anticipation of an exciting day to come.  Cloudy skies showed promise with patches of blue poking through the gaps.  

Not to be undone, others got their 5k in at various locations around the country.

Many members descended back on Porthcawl to bear witness to the first Phoenix wedding.  We have said on many occasions that the Phoenix Spirit means so much more than just running and this was testament to that.  Two members finding love of both the sport and each other!  So wonderful that the club and friends made through it played a part in bringing two wonderful people together to make a life-long commitment. #phoenixlove  The clouds parted.  The sun came out to shine down on the remainder of the day of celebrations.

The celebrations resulted in some fuzzy heads as Sunday morning arrived but it didn’t stop leaders and members turning out in force to welcome new starters on their journey from Zero to Hero.  Record numbers at training resulted and our hearts were filled with excitement to see these intrepid souls take their first steps to discovering just what they are capable of.

At the same time one of our midst put her multi-discipline skills to good use with a significant outcome from a sizzling event!

And as we celebrate all of this we see the club grow, with the membership once again increasing to pip over 300!

Over two weeks…
Record numbers at training.
Record club numbers.
A record breaking Big Social Run.  
Significant league performances.  
parkruns.  
Races from 5k to ultra marathons…

… and a wedding!

Love is in the air, but when is it not?
It has to be said…

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub
#phoenixlove

Weekly Waffle – 7th July 2019

The week started, as it always does, with training.  

Numbers still maintained despite a distinct increase in events week on week.  A recce of an upcoming race fixture drew many curious souls to a warm Tuesday evening session.

Midweek saw the end of a popular series down west with a huge turnout on a different seafront once again.  As we drew towards the weekend two went on a mission to complete the final race in a series in the capital.

As they did our multi-disciplined contingent started a journey, some towards a coveted fourth medal.  Miles in the sea were the order of the day and battling jellyfish all returned to terra firma victorious.

The hot sun set and rose.  Tired bodies set off early on two wheels to complete a second stage.  Supported by fellow Phoenix they all completed their quest, but before they were done the obligatories of a Saturday morning were completed in a multi-tude of locations.  The weekly equation was repeated.  Home x 2 + away = many.  At home on the seafront, an impending race resulted in closed roads and a unique opportunity to return the course to a familiar and enjoyable finish.  

Not long after this regular start one lone soldier set off on a historic journey from the English capital to battle.  Over 100 miles to the finish line, this quest was always going to be a long one…

Tired bodies from most of the days activities slept well.  While they did one carried on his journey through the night.  Others closed their eyes with a nervous disposition for a first…

Running is our passion.

It’s what brought us together and it’s the glue that keeps us together.

But, at the risk of sounding repetitive, it’s so much more than that.

Weeks come and weeks go. 

Tales of valour. 

Stories of endeavour.  

Words I use a lot – but they’re so apt.  Many of these stories are deep rooted.  They built from somewhere.  Every story was created from a seed.  All the seeds were different but they grew.  Bodies were transformed.  Minds were transformed.  Every story takes time to build.  Every story has with it tales of woe.  There’s heartache.  There’s pain.  There’s joy and optimism.  There’s often disappointment and misery – I won’t sugar coat it.  But when there is – and through sensible choices, hard work, focus and dedication these are put to bed and the mind and body get stronger – the outcome is so much sweeter!  

Imagine, if you will, a love story.  Not for another person.  For a routine.  For something that takes hold.  For something that, at first may be a chore, but it becomes a necessity.  An obsession.  Not “do I have to go out for a run” but “when can I get my next run in”.  When you’re sneaking out of the door in a morning with a bag packed with running gear in case you can squeeze a couple of miles in at lunchtime to clock up on Strava or lift your mood.  We see it happen.  We know it happens because it’s happened to us!

Then a local event comes along.  It coincides with a graduation.  Our Zero to Hero programme developed.  It became something more as we took them further.  The culmination of this played out, as it often does, on the seafront at Porthcawl…

10 kilometres.  The first race of this distance for several.  Joined by the seasoned athletes in their quest for better times they made their way to the start line.  Simultaneously, way down west, others grouped to start the final leg of their three day journey joined by others for just the one stage on foot.  5k, 10k, half and full marathons were on the cards.

The sun streamed down and made the conditions testing for all distances in all locations. 

The Phoenix was born in the flames.  Sure enough, as the sun beat down, everyone rose from the heat to meet the challenge.

With two across the border to the north tackling another event and our soloist still moving forward far to the east, almost a half of the club were out on their feet to complete their goals.

Banding together we all battled on.  The Phoenix spirit was strong and all who felt it flow through their veins showed valiant effort to reach the end.

All distances completed, short and long – all of equal merit in our eyes!

Their stories are all different, but they are intertwined.  

They run in parallel, but they converge.  

Working together or on their own they found their way home.  The mutual support never tired.  Willing each other on.  Those who couldn’t run sent strength.  Many supported.  Many volunteered.  The Phoenix spirit flowed from the heart with many giving their time to ensure safe completion of the events.

Not only that but numbers taking part broke records.  A sheer volume of members never seen before stood on a start line and made their way along the route to the end.  A record number of finish lines crossed in one day was recorded with a three figure sum that was approaching half the current membersip!

All finished triumphant, but all stories are not finished.

They will continue.

Good times are shared.

Memories are made that will last.

Bonds are being strengthened.

New dreams are forming. 

Future adventures are being planned.

Boundaries are being broken.

Lives are being changed.

What’s next?

On a weekend where I didn’t achieve much but I followed a whole host of stories I am inspired…

Tonight I will dream big… because of you all!

You should do the same!

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 30th June 2019

It’s that time again as we look back on the weeks events…

As the temperature rises we enjoy some warm weather training…

Strength training on the beach – what better way to enjoy the change in climate!

Tempo sessions encouraged everyone to push their limits.

The Planka was the destination for those who headed up the valley.

As much as we have weeks where we are inundated with events this week there was an obvious drought.  With many having tested their legs last weekend in Swansea in hot conditions a rest week was always on the cards for a few – and well earned it was.

A period over which to recharge the batteries which was welcomed in the warm weather.

It didn’t stop decent numbers heading for their local parkrun start line.  Many also took to start lines dotted around the country.  Two targeted the last running of one particular Welsh parkrun as the venue closes its doors resulting in a long journey the length of Wales to take part!

Many completing their 5k on the seafront at Porthcawl met by the entrance to the pavilion to be given their instructions for the inaugural Phoenix 5 event… 

6 teams, 5 in a team, started by finding the Welsh Wally.  Carpool Karaoke.  School sports day.  Selfie in a phone box.  Ice creams on high while chasing sheep.  Scaling the infamous Coronation Street to retrieve their duck!


A fun filled morning of entertainment culminated in returning to base camp at Tondu Rugby Club where the annual BBQ was waiting for them.  More milestone t-shirts handed out.  Big prize winners of the Phoenix 100 Club were drawn as the current running of it comes to a close.

Music, dancing and impromptu karaoke followed to round of a fun-packed day!

A special occasion indeed as many got to meet the new addition to the Clark family.  Lovely little Arthur came along to say hi to his Phoenix family and we all fell in love with the little fella!

Sunday arrived and those who could raise their heads from the pillow took on a favourite club trail run while our improvers did a recce of the Porthcawl 10k route ready for their second graduation next week at the actual event!

Training numbers restored after being affected by last weeks plethora of events culminating in a high turnout at a half marathon.

A definite focus on fun this week!  The feel good factor of the sun shining down on us much more than it has in previous weeks.  Less races but still the Phoenix continue to band together to share great times.

Spirits are high once again as we move further into the summer.

Keep it up!

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 23rd June 2019

Another week draws to a close…

A week of highs and lows…

During the week the promise of a donkey cwtch drew decent numbers up the valley.

A midweek dash around Bute Park drew a few up to the capital while others got their fix of track training.

Warm and light nights allow more adventurous routes in our spiritual base with views and climbs to take the breath away.

Over the pond members sought out fellow runners with which to share some miles… and drinks after!

As the nursery rhyme goes Jack and Jill went up a hill and so did some of our own on a tough little route for an extra event to their name.

Saturday arrived.  

parkrun.

Milestones, birthdays and club championships resulted in huge numbers in the Llynfi Valley.  The seafront still attracted it’s regular contingent.

Tourism always draws some away from home.  One in particular literally on the shores of the emerald isle was spotted by a local runner who sent back best wishes and pictures of them sharing the beach parkrun experience.  How wonderful our community is.

A lack of parkrun on an island in the Adriatic forced one to seek a similar distance event.  A tough course tested the legs but resulted in another admirable finish position!

A two day event saw one within our midst cover a significant distance helping a family member to reach a goal.  Another step in the build up to something bigger was a tough day as illness took its toll but the goal was achieved in spite of it!

The sun fell on a glorious day and rose but hidden by cloud – for which many were grateful as a bus load joined others for a half marathon by the sea that regularly attracts large numbers.  Volunteers did their bit providing official support for runners taking on the challenge at the turnaround point.  Others donned their hi-viz to ensure the safety of those bringing up the rear.  Brave souls, some with nervous faces, lined up in the warm to tackle the distance.  Some for the first time.  Despite the lack of sun it was warm.  A head wind back through the final miles provided resistance when the legs were getting tired.  All battled through and crossed the finish line with stories to tell of valour along the way.  Almost three score and ten Phoenix took on the challenge and soared high over the sea to the west.  With supporters and volunteers alike over a hundred members were involved in the days proceedings!  Phoenix family day out!

As we said farewell to the day news broke of the loss of a fellow runner at the days event.  Our running community is one bound by strong bonds.  When one has fallen we all feel the pain.  As the sun disappeared below the horizon our hearts were heavy in mourning the very sad loss of one of our own.  Our thoughts go out to those who were very close to them. 

Highs and lows.

We are privileged to be in a position where we can pursue this wonderful hobby of ours.  It brings with it feelings of amazing achievement, whatever the distance and whatever the speed.  We salute all who lace up their shoes and head out of the door.  It’s a chance to escape the world and disappear into ourselves.  Discover what our bodies can achieve and just how powerful our minds are when we push them.  “I’m not a runner” is something I have heard a lot.  I’ve seen lots, and I mean lots, of people say that and then find themselves discovering what they are capable of when they give it a go.  It makes you stronger in so many ways.  Combine that with community and a whole new magic develops.  A magic that is born from the ties that bind us as a club and within the running community at large.

Reflectively on a weekend where we are reminded of our own mortality and contrary to normal weeks I will offer some of my own thoughts.  On a personal level my life has been transformed by running.  It filters through so many aspects of it.  I have lost weight.  I feel fitter.  I feel stronger, both mentally and physically.  I have made an enormous number of amazing life-long friends.  Thankfully I have someone wonderful with me who supports all the crazy plans.  I have shared the experience not only with friends but very close family members and sharing an experience when pushing ourselves creates an incredible understanding of each others strengths cementing those bonds even stronger.  It is a passion that will stay with me for life.  I feel so privileged to be in a position to do so and that is massively down to our Phoenix family.  Thank you all for enriching my life and the lives of each other.

Risen from the ashes and flying higher than ever!

The Phoenix spirit.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub