December 2020 review

Virtual / (not)parkrun

As we hit our 40th week of virtual parkruns it’s worth giving a shout out to those who have submitted a time every week so far – well done to Alun Wylde, Nick Harris, Nicola Allen, Sarah Davies and Jo Gamba. I’m also part of that list but can’t congratulate myself.

Overall, numbers have been low in recent weeks with a combination of bad weather and much shorter days in terms of daylight. Numbers did pick up to over 40 in what would have been the Christmas parkrun and we encouraged a festive dress code. This coincided with a few that had signed up for the Festive Four virtual challenge which helped numbers in the final couple of weeks of the month.


The clubs AGM went ahead virtually early in the month. Although there weren’t as many events to take about, Chris provided us with a great summary of the innovative ideas members have come up with for virtual events and challenges throughout the year. It was also an opportunity to say a massive thank you to Fiona Evans who stepped down from her committee role and a big welcome to Jayne Bissmire who joined the committee. The role of membership secretary was filled in the week or so after the meeting with Jayne Powney stepping down having seen us through a remarkable increase in membership over the past couple of years with Sian Jenkins being voted in to take over the role.

Virtual events

Plenty of festive themed virtual runs and challenges throughout the month. Members completed the RUNR ’12 runs of Christmas’, Infinity Running ’12 days of Christmas’, the Phoenix Running ‘7 in 7’ and the virtual Aberavon Santa Run. The bulk of the Festive Four was also during December but I will report on in the January blog given the final event is in January.

Another big event which many will be missing this year is Nos Galan. The 5k lapped course in Mountain Ash on New Years Eve evening is always a popular one with our members with it’s fun run, fireworks, guest celebrity runner and great atmosphere. They’ve also offered a virtual event this year which many of our runners have signed up for with some no doubt going out on New Years Eve evening to replicate the usual start time.

Chairman’s Runner’s of the Month

December saw a tightening of restrictions again and a premature end to training.

Christmas looming, the mood was mixed.  Excitement for the season dulled by the impending limitations.

A light month of activities but with the year drawing to a close there have been some who have, in spite of all the restrictions, excelled themselves.

So many have got out there and got the job done and I raise my hat to you all.  There are far too many to mention but you have all been wonderful and amazing and made the job of choosing someone to honour very difficult every month.

My first choice is someone who suddenly jumped on to my radar this month by clocking up an incredible 5k time.  Going sub 21 minutes and setting a new PB.  Very quietly she’s been clocking up consistent mileage throughout the year culminating in a mightily impressive time which sets a new fastest time for 5k by any female club member.  Having previously collected awards from the club for excellence including the prestigious Club Runner award there was no doubt the ability was there.  Injury has dogged her progress for some time in the past but with training now paying off, she is setting the bar very high for the future.  I am delighted to announce my Female Chairman’s Runner of the Month for December as Sian Price.  Huge well done Sian and I’m really looking forward to what 2021 brings!

We’ve seen many runners find form after significant weight loss and my second choice this month is no exception.  Having joined the club a number of years ago he has shown promise throughout his club career.  This year seems to have provided additional motivation to take that a few steps further.  With a further change in body shape, looking leaner than ever, it was inevitable that times would fall.  Always one to hanker for longer distance, his runs of significant length were also increasing in number – often while supporting others on shorter runs of their own.  That all important selfless support of others on their journeys.  You could see that something had clicked and not only were miles increasing but the times were coming down and in the last few days breaking the 19 minute barrier for 5k.  This in a time when 30 mile runs are not uncommon.  PB’s at multiple distances with an impressive marathon PB added to the list, there’s more to come here for sure.  Again, consistent running.  Amazingly inspirational running, not only in this month but throughout the year.  I am delighted to announce that my Male Chairman’s Runner of the Month for December is Gareth Richards.  Well done Gareth, keep insprining us!!

I felt I couldn’t sign off without mention of a huge year long achievement.  One of incredible note.  3000 miles of running – but not only that but a 365 day running streak.  He’s run every day of the year covering an average of 8.2 miles per day.  Treadmill ultra’s including a double marathon.  PB at most distances and dangerously close to that sub 20 minute 5k which I remember him saying to me at his first training session with the club that he would never get anywhere close to ever again.  Sometimes you just have to believe.  An inspiration to many throughout the year and worthy of note here from me personally.  Well done Kris Denholm, you have inspired me so much this year to just keep going.  Thank you, my friend.