December saw 201 finishers across 42 parkruns and impressively 24 different parkrun venues in 4 different countries. Whilst Porthcawl and Maesteg remained the most popular parkruns for our members, there was plenty of tourism in the month. Phoenix tourism around South Wales included Cardiff, Cwmbran, Grangemoor, Haverfordwest, Llanelli, Llyn Llech Owain, Pontypridd and Swansea.
Further afield, Aled, Chris Stanlake, Kris Denholm, Brett Bonnell and Karl Johnson ran at Forest of Dean, Emma Loyns and Chris Stanlake ran at the Eden Project parkrun on separate weeks, Sarah Littlewood ran at Wyre Forest, Shawn and Julie ran at Sedgefield and Darlington South Park, Karl, Matt and Aled ran at Lydney, Karl also ran at Stonehouse and Poppintree, Kris ran at Exeter, Saul at Dartford and the Sheards ran at St Andrews .
Even further afield, Chris Roberts ran 3 different parkruns in Australia (including a Christmas Day parkrun) whilst out there over the festive period and for good measure had run 3 different tourist venues earlier in the month making him the only member to have not only run 6 parkruns in the month, but 6 tourist parkruns at that.
Some of the parkrun highlights include a 14th place finish in Cardiff parkrun for Niki Puleio with a 18:22 PB. Claire Dunbar Bowen was 2nd female at Maesteg parkrun and 6th overall. Sarah Littlewood was first female at Maesteg with Victoria Hillman 3rd female at the start of the month. Aled was 3rd overall on the same day. Maria Lalic also volunteered for the 150th time at parkrun during the month.
With the last minute cancellation of the Pudding Run, it really only left the Aberavon Santa Run 5K, Cottrell Park 10K, Nos Galan and the Boxing Day runs as the well attended races in December.
Starting with the Santa Run where we had 26 runners led home by myself in a time of 21:40 for 15th place out of 398 runners dressed as Santa. Carole Bartle was our first lady across the line closely followed by Jo Betty.
Cottrell Park 10K saw Neil Jones run a blistering time of 37:58 around the off road course to finish 2nd overall. Angela Parry who was our first female across the line with Jayne Powney for company was 6th in her age category in the same event.
At the Glynneath 5 mile on Boxing Day, the female club record which had stood for 3 and a half years was shattered by over 2 minutes by Sian Price who was our first runner across the line in 36:10. There was also an age category club record for Denise Bradley with her PB of 41:25. A huge course best for Joanne Rowling who ran 6 minutes quicker than her time the previous year.
There was the usual big turnout for the Porthcawl Lions Boxing Day run. Unfortunately, full results are still not available but Neil Jones finished 3rd overall whilst Niki Puleio was 12th.
The final race of the year was the Nos Galan 5K. We had 5 runners in the Elite Race with a PB and 26th place finish against some of the best 5K runners in Wales for Neil Jones. A 19:34 PB for Jamie Vanstone in what I’m sure is only a temporary return to ‘normal’ distances having run several ultras including a 100 miler this year. Josie Bishop was our first female across the line in 22:42 whilst Emma Morris and Chris Pratt completed our line up in the Elite section.
In the ‘Fun Run’, we had 18 runners led home by Aled who finished 3rd overall across the line but had the 2nd quickest chip time with a 20:32. Gareth Richard and Kris Denholm had top 20 finishes whilst I was 35th out of the 824 finishers. Denise Bradley was our first female across the line and was 4th in her age category with Jo Betty close behind.
Other races in the month (or maybe this should be called the Emma Morris section) included Westonbirt 10K where Emma was the official 55 minute pacer, and another event on New Years Eve before then doing Nos Galan in the evening.
Stato Runner of the Month – Neil Jones
When you’ve been running for years you will inevitably reach a point where to even knock a single second off your PB requires increased, focussed training and dedication. Neil came into this year with a 5K PB of 17:08 and despite thousands of miles of training runs, it remained his PB going into December. Then this happened – a 17:01 PB at Porthcawl parkrun, a first sub 17 with a 16:55 at Pontypridd, another 17:01 and 17:06 all inside his PB going into the month followed before the Elite Race at Nos Galan. As I said, to knock at second off at that level is amazing, but Neil crushed his old PB with a 16:37. Add to that a second placed finish at the Cottrell Park 10K and a 3rd placed finish at the Lions Boxing Day run and it’s easy to see why he is my choice for Stato’s Runner of the Month.