Weekly Waffle – 5th May 2019

Some weekends will always stand out as special…

Not long ago we celebrated a huge club turnout for the coastal race to Ogmore by Sea…

Last week we saw incredible performances in London – an event we can all share in the excitement by tracking and following TV coverage.  

This week many events have occupied our attention…

Tuesday saw some attend training while a brave few headed to a tough hill race.  Admirable performances all round with one achieving an accolade at regional level for excelling.

Wednesday saw decent numbers on the track and improving down in Pandy Park as well as a significant contingent heading down west to the increasingly popular 5k on the seafront.

Good numbers turned up on Thursday night for a pleasant evening climb up the mast in Lewistown.  Lighter nights make these hilly sessions more accessible and it’s great to be doing them again.

Friday drew a couple up to Cardiff for a one mile event as part of an annual series.

Even before the weekend arrived we already had a huge number of events in the bag and decent training attendance!

Saturday brought the usual flurry of parkrun visits.  On the seafront, up the valley and beyond.  “May the 4th”, when it falls on a Saturday, always attracts Star Wars themed attire (as you might expect) and parkruns up and down the country share in the initiative.  Home locations were no exception but a few in our midst went the extra mile and travelled to Tredegar House where there was an abundance celebrating the occasion!

One of these parkrunners was set to take a much longer journey later the same day.  The equivalent of 33 parkruns back to back. 100 miles, plus 2.5 for good measure just to be sure!

I’ll set the scene… 

6pm.  Rhossili Beach car park.  A collection of brave souls prepared themselves for an epic journey along the coast to Cardiff Bay.  As if that wasn’t enough it would also wander up into the Afan Forest, at night, just to add some elevation and make up the distance to the scheduled 100 miles!  Nerves, excitement and wonder at what would be their fate!

As our esteemed captain said, while we’re having our tea – he was starting his run.  As we went to bed he was running.  When we woke he was still running…  

As the sun rose many were up from their slumber to head to Newport for the second running of the dual distance event.  The Phoenix were out in their numbers with the lions share doing 6.2 and the balance covering 26.2.  Great conditions made for an amazing event with great times and big smiles across the board.  First timers also earned their stripes at the event.  Phoenix volunteers aplenty gave up their time to line the outlying roads around Newport to support those taking on the challenge of the day.  Without doubt, a great day out for the Phoenix.

Two intrepid souls had taken a trip across country to the home of the Dons and tackled a double distance event there.  Great performances at both 5 and 21 metric units!

And while all that was happening, he was still running.  

Fellow Phoenix met him along his route.  60 miles as he entered Porthcawl he had support and all the way through the stepping stones at Ogmore Village to the car park where he gained more support with some running short stages with him to boost morale and keep him going.  79 miles in at Llantwit he received some cheers and was sent on his way after some well earned refreshments.  More supporters joined the trek at Porthkerry, 88 miles.  Shoes hurting so changed to continue with odd shoes.  Hot dogs and drinks consumed he went on his merry way.  Joined for some of the run from Barry to Sully where more had joined the support crew as he hit 95 miles.  Off he went at a jog and a run back from the finish to Penarth Pier gave him company for the last few miles to record an amazing finish of his second (and last I am told) 100 mile event, this time as a solo effort!  Almost 10,000ft of climbing and a distance of over 104 miles in the end!  A superhuman effort.

With all good intentions a 50th birthday party within the club was missed by those who followed and supported but in true Phoenix spirit the sentiments of those present was sent via the wonder of technology to will him on as he made his last few steps.

And while all this was taking place, almost lost in the excitement, were two lonely souls who represented the club admirably at the Race for Victory 5k in the Welsh capital. An event that slipped under the rader with all the activity taking place elsewhere, but not to be overlooked!

It’s weeks like this that rally the troops.  That put that Phoenix fire in the belly.  

As much as we love to run we love to support.  When events have tracking everyone can get involved.  Some of the excitement of London was recreated at the weekend as attention switched from following finishing times in Newport to tracking one heroic runner on his epic solo journey.  An amazing feat of both physical and mental endurance.

I say this a lot to people when they gasp in awe at these “crazy distance” events.  It’s all relative.  We all started somewhere and the journey to standing on the start line of a 100 mile run is long and arduous but with a huge amount of dedication and commitment it is amazing what becomes possible.  

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Always remember that you don’t have to have these huge goals in mind.  Your dream may be just to be consistently doing parkrun and if it is, that is fine.  We salute you for just lacing up your trainers and heading out of the door.  

If you do have aspirations to go further or faster, draw on the inspiration of our incredible members who push the boundaries and challenge themselves to discover exactly what they are capable of. 

Dream.
Believe.
Achieve.

Those words again ringing in our ears as the efforts turn into memories and we turn our attention to what next week will bring…

Whatever it is we shall meet it head on and continue to support each other through it.

As you were.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 28th April 2019

Another epic weekend draws to a close and we are all still reeling from the excitement and the emotion of it all…

The week building up to it saw the weather change slightly… 

The infamous British weather!

Storm Hannah loomed on the horizon as we built up to the weekend.

The prospect of gale force winds didn’t blow away the growing excitement…

Despite that, parkruns were cancelled.

Runners headed elsewhere to get their Saturday morning fix swelling numbers at one of our home locations and creating a uniquely high location to runner ratio.  Whilst the wind still blew, runners ignored it’s might and got their miles in.

While some did parkrun some took on a new local challenge and at two distances on hilly terrain they defied the conditions to finish victorious.

Excitement grew throughout the rest of the day as runners made their way to the English capital for that prestigious event that draws runners from all over the world to it’s unique blend of elite competition and mass participation that ends up as one big street party!

Runners on a quest to complete 26.2 miles for the first time joined others running their first London.  For some it was a return visit.  Some chasing a time down while others just wanted to get round.  A whole manner of reasons for running and most running to raise awareness or money for great causes close to their heart!

With supporters in tow many Phoenix got together to prepare for the big day ahead sharing their nervous tension over their last supper…

While all of this was happening, one flew under the radar targeting a race of the same distance up north.

All went quiet early on Saturday night as those putting serious miles in on Sunday had an early night…

Early to bed, early to rise…

As we rose it was evident the wind had died down.  Perfect conditions for running.

Some jumped on a very early bus and headed up to London to provide support for their fellow Phoenix.

Runners already there made their journeys across London to Greenwich and Blackheath to their start lines.

As is always the way, the excitement of this race touches many more than those who run.

The presence of the cameras heightens the atmosphere and brings that experience to those who remain at home.

Supporters positioned themselves around the route.

17 Phoenix stood on the start line.

17 Phoenix valiantly made their way around the streets of London, all with different aspirations..

17 Phoenix made their way to the finish in their own way and…

17 Phoenix crossed the finish line and duly collected their medals and t-shirts bursting with pride.

Nerves and worried expressions turned to smiles and tears of joy.

Bodies were pushed to the limit.

Mental battles were faced on the way round and they got through, learning exactly what they are capable of.

Epic times were set by those who chased them.

Experiences were shared by some with friends from our neighbouring clubs.

While all the excitement of London was being followed by all, a race of the same magnitude was taking place up north.  Not to be outdone an epic time was also set there to cap off a magnificent day!

No more words need to be said. No more than those of praise that have been said by many throughout the day.

An absolutely wonderful day to be a Phoenix!

Continue to run.  
Continue to support.  
Continue to dream.

Dream.
Believe.
Achieve.

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 22nd April 2019

Spring turns to Summer and all at once!

The temperature rises.

Skies clear.

The sun warms our skin.

High numbers at training despite a large number negotiating the taper.

London is on the horizon with nervous and excited conversations taking place on the build up to the big day!

Saturday saw a record number of parkrun locations attended by club members.  High temperatures resulted in huge numbers across the country, not least at one of our home locations.

Some headed West to tackle inflatable obstacles and foam to earn their prize!

The day was long but the sun did eventually fade leading into another spectacular day…

Club members got together to enjoy the tropical conditions but races were thin on the ground…

The first bank holiday of the year gave most of us an extra day to run without the constraints of work…

Some took advantage and headed north to Gilwern to tackle the infamous tough trail race with the almost vertical descent just before the finish.

As we end the long weekend and start the short week we celebrate those in our midst who will be heading to the English capital next Sunday for the event that draws plaudits from all over the world.

London Marathon is almost here again and the excitement is building…

New and seasoned runners will be joining the ranks and supporting each other on their journeys!

Let’s share in their excitement and enjoy the build up together…

Keep up the good work guys!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 14th April 2019

As the sun dips down on another week we review the things which have illuminated it over the last 7 days…

Training numbers again remain buoyant despite one of the nights being occupied by a number of Phoenix learning the final skills to be credited as endurance officials.

Saturday arrives and parkrun is always there to occupy the time of many.

The sun was out even if the wind was cool…

Runners were out in force.

62 across multiple locations with the usual tourism still being prolific.  Not just runners but volunteers also.  A great Saturday!

The sun sets and rises.

One has made his way to our neighbouring European nation to complete another marathon in the French capital.

Another headed overseas to a half marathon in beautiful surroundings with family members also making a significant impact!

One made his way west to a sandy and very hilly half that proved to be a real test!

Not quite as far west a huge number of volunteers joined runners to tackle two distances on the Millennium Path.  Amazing performances all round with a club record tumbling in style!

A very hilly marathon tested one in his training regime for bigger things.  

Heroes continued their journeys.

The trail session attracted an increased number of runners with new graduates continue to dip their toes into the “dark side”.

Valiant effort by all.

The Phoenix out in force continuing their journeys – wherever they may lead.

Keep at it guys…

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 7th April 2019

And another week draws to a close…

Reason to be cheerful #3472…

What a week!

Attendance at training on the rise despite a big weekend looming!  

in spite of dramatic weather conditions the trip north to our spiritual home attracted decent numbers… 

Magically the conditions improved as our brave souls headed out for their run!!  The might Phoenix commanding mother nature?

Anticipation.

Nerves.

Excitement.

Plans afoot for a big weekend…

A really big weekend!

The usual parkrun frenzy was somewhat diminished because of other plans… bigger plans!

21 made an early start to their weekend lining up on Penarth Pier to make the long journey all the way along the coast to our namesake village.  Their journeys would vary in time but all would give their all with true Phoenix spirit to achieve their goal…  33.5 miles.  Big goal!

An hour later many lined up on parkrun start lines at the usual variety of locations. 

As work is completed on the “beach” at Porthcawl the route returns to the lower prom – with a twist!  Combined with celebrating 6 years of it’s running many donned superhero costumes for the birthday celebrations and a great time was had by all!  

Some of those taking on the shorter, but still immensely challenging, race along the coast made their way to the home of Gavin and Stacey to fulfil their parkrun fix before heading to Porthkerry Park to start their journey.

Meanwhile, down west one lined with others to take on a brutal 13 (ish) mile adventure-run to take on undulating terrain, steep hills, icy river-runs and multiple sea-dips.  Not for the faint hearted!

Back on the coast volunteers gave their support and runners continued their journeys.  

42 set off from Porthkerry Park start their homeward run…  18.5 miles – not to be sniffed at!

Cool conditions gave way to sunshine as the clouds burnt away…

Muddy paths of last year were forgotten and replaced with dry and hard surfaces… These are things that can’t be predicted!

Legs became heavy…

Mutual support was rife…

The Party at the Beach was in their minds as they pressed on…

Supporters followed progress by moving along the route giving heart to those who battled…

Bodies became weary.  Minds were tested.

The Phoenix fire in the belly burned strong and lifted all when things got tough…

As more made it to the end the party grew bigger….

… all waiting for the very last man to finish!

Ultra marathon runners created at an event that continues to show true club spirit in every regard!

The Phoenix rose high and soared over the South Wales Coastal Path for a day that will never fade from memory!

Weary legs but beaming smiles carried many away from Ogmore to celebrate their achievements…

Night falls…

Sun rises…

Some hit the trails for their early morning Sunday session…

Our heroes continued their journeys in large numbers…

One headed west to complete a route on the hills around Margam while another completed a 10 mile race postponed from earlier in the year.

Long training runs were completed yet again ahead of the impending spring marathons.

Business as usual for many but a weekend that will be imprinted on the minds of many for a very long time…

The Phoenix dared to dream.

They dreamed big.

Sometimes.

Just sometimes.

Dreams come true!

So often I say it – but it’s always true…

#lovethisclub
#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 31st March 2019

There’s no denying that we’re feeling lifted by the general rise in temperatures…

As the year progresses those hibernating wake from their slumber…

The grass grows as sunlight breathes in life…

Throw open the doors as the sun rises and the aroma of early morning dew rides on the air.

Spring is here.  At last!!

Spirits are raised for those who feel the heavy weight of the winter cold and darkness.

Through these months we’ve remained strong.  Outside our shared passion of putting one foot in front of the other we’ve shared our experiences to get through.  And we got through!

The lighter nights continue to draw numbers along to training…

Some are drawn to midweek events, something more prevalent during these lighter evenings…

A night race attracted one to the east before the weekend arrived.

Saturday.  We know it’s coming.  It’s inevitable.  There’s no escaping it.  You know how it goes… At 9am there’s always a start line that’s calling.  Dotted up and down the country we got out there and did our stuff.

Some still down under got theirs in before we’d even hit the hay.  Of course, we’re not jealous! Honest guv.

Big numbers across our two home locations as well as some seeking somewhere new and some fulfilling the requirements of the trail championships…

parkrun numbers were high but slightly down on previous weeks as some saved themselves for Sunday’s antics…

Mothering Sunday.  We have lots of mothers in the club and we celebrate them all for their wonderful commitment to their families…  After being celebrated by their own many joined other members to head to the capital to cover 6.2 miles around the Bay!

63 members laced up their daps and stood on the start line to cover the distance.  With runners, volunteers and marshals from the club ranks it was a proper club outing.   Clouds and a cool breeze greeted our runners but a plethora of PB’s were achieved and lots of smiles meant the slight downturn in conditions could not dampen their spirits.

There are some events that stand out in the running calendar.  The reason cannot always be quantified.  Sometimes the magic just happens.  A combination of cameraderie and support mix with the atmosphere of the day in a unique cocktail that bring the Phoenix together.

It reminds us of the special bonds that bind us.

it doesn’t have to be a long way.

It doesn’t have to be really fast.

We just have to share the experience, even if that’s from afar and just reading about it – we we still share in the endeavour.

Well done all!

On a day that ends the club year and sees in a new one – we embrace the future on the back of a good day and look forward to it with enthusiasm and excitement!

Let’s do this guys!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 24th March 2019

Training cancelled for the sake of a meeting…

The reporting of a great year gave way to election of officers poised to give their precious time for the benefit of our members. 

Despite the cancellation, training numbers were high on the remaining days!  

I’ve been lured by false alarms into announcing the arrival of Spring…
“There’s blue sky”…  “Shhh, someone might hear”

Someone must have heard on previous weeks…

Not this week.

The clouds remained high in the sky and the temperatures were higher than they have been…

The wind was gone… The storms had departed…

Some set off early for their run to make sure they arrived before that critical time.  9am.  We all know when.  Where, has numerous outcomes…

A huge turnout across the board.  

A club record of 80 parkrunners. 

The largest contingent down on the seafront for their Saturday morning constitutional.   More heroes graduating from the programme with honours and filling us with pride!

Some took it to extremes as, yet again, a location down under sees the Phoenix completing their requisite 5k.  One of our number who works within secure walls completed his while working.  One in the Emerald Isle while several crossed the border to England to complete theirs.  All contributing to a new benchmark to beat!

A new day dawns with events aplenty scattered all across the world…

Spring well and truly announced itself as sunshines burst through the curtains from early with clear blue skies!

The Taff Trail hosted two of the events spread far apart.  

The most local in the Welsh capital saw several clock up decent times.

Further up the valley others showed spirit to help fellow fallen runners to reach the finish line!

Even further up the valley one looped several times to rack up another event toward their challenge goal.

One chose an event advertised to break the soul, but reported back victorious – soul still intact!

A couple ventured to central England, to the town named for it’s span of the River Severn to notch up another half!

Some headed up to circumnavigate the English capital with impressive half marathon results.

One, renowned for a pacing role, held excellent time in warm foreign climes with a tick for another job well done!

A glorious forest backdrop promised great things for our runners and delivered with impressive times but saw one of our number fall with an admission to hospital.  The Phoenix rally to send support and love for a speedy recovery.  Team spirit.

The sea front across the channel from us beckoned a few away for the weekend and saw impressive results from another inaugural half.

Others did their own thing, sharing long runs in the build up to the traditional spring marathons that are fast approaching.

Our run leaders stayed loyal and delivered sessions to those with nothing on the calendar.

A trail running taster proved popular wooing members over to the “dark side” quickly from their first experience.

Training, racing and sharing memories together.

The bonds grow stronger.

The shared excitement at the achievements of others.

The shared concern for those who are struggling, physically or otherwise.

We are here for each other.  Always.

Stand proud.

Stand strong.

Stand together.

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 17th March 2019

Chairman’s log.  Stardate 17032019.

parkrun.

We didn’t have to boldly go where no man has gone before but we did head to Porthcawl in numbers.  

Some drove, Some ran.  Some ran a long way to get there.

As the second storm of the week, Hannah, battered our coastline our heroes prepared themselves for their graduation…

Supported by other members record numbers were in attendance.

8:45am they gathered.  

8:50am they had their briefing.  

Nervous but with brave faces they lined up.

9am they ran.  

All defeated the elements and finished victorious and celebrated with cake.

The café full to the rafters as they reviewed their achievements.

Other locations were also visited with a couple notching up their 100 milestone while completing yet another tourist destination.

Focus shift for the afternoon with many shirking any miles to watch the rugby with Wales standing proud in claiming the prestigious Grand Slam.

A nation celebrated.

Sunday arrives and some headed over the bridge to complete a half around a historic city with impressive results.

A large group headed up the valleys to enter an event with two distances with great running all round.

A small but perfectly formed group went west to run and vulnteer to fulfil our final commitment in a cross country league.

Long training runs were completed with valour as the spring marathons approach.

We gained a Coach in Running Fitness as one committed member completed the course to join our expanding team.

A lot to look back on and celebrate this weekend.

A lot for us to be proud of.

Keep up the good work team.

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 10th March 2019

parkrun… 

New to Japan we’ve even learnt it’s all one word, lower case in English in any written language!

I digress…

For those of a certain age, for a child, “Friday at five to five” meant gathering around the tele box for something specific (answers on a postcard please)

These days it’s Saturday at nine that calls us all to a specific place.  A start line somewhere…

Whatever your ability, you’re welcome.

One of our number celebrated with her husband at our home up the valley on a wonky route that drew many along to celebrate.  Cake, of course, was shared by many there.

Our other home saw a small number graduate as fully blown heroes from our development programme to celebrate on crossing the finish line.  Friends and family came along to cheer them along with many club members in attendance.

Others travelled far and wide, and I mean WIDE!

Four countries, England, Wales, Ireland and Australia!  We don’t do things by half – Phoenix not only flying high but also Long Haul!

Some targeted new locations while others ran wherever they’d laid their hat, or was it a tourist cowl or bob!

parkrun down, we can get on with the weekend…

Some not happy having done 5k in the morning headed west.  Starting as it got dark they ran around some woods avoiding the wolves and steered by map and torchlight to seek out hidden numbers in teams of two.  Admirable performances all round with one team successful in their quest.  Fun was had by all even if some got lost in the process!  

Storm Gareth approaches… 

50mph gusts on the chart.  Sporadic rain and hail will trade with sunny periods as mother nature cooks up a plan to disrupt Sunday running…

She fails!

The Grizzly. 20-ish miles as advertised.  Tough, as advertised.  One of our trail aficionados made his way south to stand on the start line as the Beast from the East stopped play a year ago.  Cobbled beach, mud, climbs, descents and numerous other challenges en route to make this a real test.  The Phoenix rose and conquered The Grizzly!

Cosmeston.  Tranquil and serene.  Until Storm Gareth wades in and high winds whip across the water and cause concern of danger in the woods leading to a shortened course.  Our intrepid runners still battled their way from start to finish line.

Multi-sport.  We bow down to those who combine their running with other disciplines.  One, having escaped the wolves the night before, took to the water first and ran to complete her combined event with impressive results.

One fled north.  Snow and extreme cold provided extra challenges to the storm that raged.  Not only was the distance completed but a personal best time was the outcome!

The English capital and the Big half was the attraction for one.  As training leads up to London in a few weeks time for a longer distance the run resulted in another personal best time!  

A few went a few miles down the road to battle the elements around a varying number of small loops to notch up times at varying distance.  The elements threw challenges in the way but all reached their goals and came away with their prize!

While all this was going on our heroes headed down to the sea front.  Gale force onshore winds battered them on their way to the turnaround as they prepared themselves for their graduation next week.  They were not defeated and they are ready!

Training numbers on the increase again.  

Phoenix friends join forces to support each other on training runs outside of those planned.  We all struggle – and when we do we come together to be that shoulder, to be that ear, to be that rock.  When all else fails, those wings are spread and we catch each other when there’s a chance we will fall.

What lessons have we learnt?

We are strong.  

The elements have tested us and we rose to the challenge and stand firm.  Victorious.

From those starting their journey to those hardened to the task.  

We did not waver.

We did not fail.

We flew. 

High.

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub

Weekly Waffle – 3rd March 2019

We say goodbye to another week and enter a new month!

Temperatures are rising…

Lighter mornings…

Lighter evenings…

As a result more head out to clock up some miles…

Spring marathons draw close and excitement builds but long runs are still essential and we see members sharing company to ease the burden as they build up to the big ones.

Saying goodbye to February saw many sneak in a final attempt of a double loop around our spiritual home with a view to positioning themselves on the leaderboard of the club championships or qualifying for a position in a prestigious relay team…

Storm Freya loomed.

The weekend arrives and many succumb to the 9am calling… 

The local event by the sea saw significant milestones.  A double century of volunteering for one and 250 events for another while celebration of Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant brought many out in traditional attire.   As always at our second home event volunteers and runners met up the Llynfi Valley to complete the necessities.

Inaugural events and tourist destinations in abundance but all within the British Isles this week!

A group made their way up the Garw Valley to command respect from the Gollum.  Not running, but walking.  Respect to those who are injured and cannot raise the pace.   A healthy group circumnavigated the route and reported back gaining a great deal from it.  Our walkers thrive.

We’ve hit that scenario again.  Saturday racing.  For some that means sneaking in a parkrun first.  As you do.  A tough hilly course in Mid Wales covering 30km around some lakes saw several battle the elements to the finish, all of them victorious.

The dramatic Pembrokeshire coastline attracted a few to complete a brutal, exposed race of half and full marathon distance.  The high storm winds whipped up to challenge their stability on the narrow cliff-top paths.  All finished safely and clutching medals with pride.

Junior and senior competitors crossed the border to run on grass by a castle to represent the club  in the last event in the cross country league.

The wind brought rain and moving to Sunday conditions worsened…

Newport was the destination for a brave bunch challenging the elements for a half distance.  All did amazingly well with personal bests recorded for those who pushed it.

Many turned up to continue their journey to becoming heroes in spite of mother natures challenges while our trail group continue their trip along a section of the stunning South Wales coastline.

Moving out of winter we often see conditions worsen before they improve.

We’re not adverse to storms of late and in spite of what they throw at us we still hit the streets to complete the miles.

It’s often at times like this that we look out of the window and decide to stay put.  

It’s the brave and determined that open the door, step out onto the street with their daps on and battle the worst that mother nature can throw at them. 

Phoenix.  

Be brave, but always remain safe!

A lot of you showed you are.

Keep at it guys!

You’re doing great!

#lovethisclub

#loveourclub