February 2023 review


The first Saturday of the month saw 69 members running at 10 different parkrun locations. Only 34 of those were at their home parkruns making it the first time that Porthcawl and Maesteg have gone ahead but we’ve had more runners elsewhere. This was largely due to 19 members running at Minehead parkrun where a load of our female members were staying for an 80’s weekend. There were also 9 at Llanishen parkrun whilst further afield Chris Roberts was at Upton Court and Abbie Lumsden reached UK parkrun tourism status by running her 20th different venue at Clumber Park alongside Jay Howells who recently ran his 50th different venue.

The second Saturday of the month saw 53 members running at 12 different venues. A slight reduction on recent weeks mainly due to some other events that day including the Winter Warmer events, Hoka 10K/Half and a Gwent League fixture. Jay Howells continued his series of milestones with it being his 100th parkrun. I volunteered as a tail walker just an hour or so after finishing a 24 event. Jamie Verran was in Victoria Park in Glasgow where he ran a PB of 18:56 becoming the 13th current member to run under 19 minutes for a 5K. Other tourism included David and Bev Sheard at Pontefract. Claire Goldsworthy ran her 200th parkrun, all of which have been at Porthcawl, whilst Nick Harris became only the second member to run 400 parkruns. Toby Kearns was first finisher at Maesteg having been pipped at the line by Nicky Bennett a week previous by 1 second.

The third weekend saw 67 members across a massive 15 different parkrun venues. The largest attendance was at Maesteg for their 200th event which was also Rhodri Thomas 100th parkrun. Jacob Tasker was back finishing almost 3 minutes ahead of the second placed finisher with a 16:51. Our parkrun tourists included Gwyneth Steddy at Omagh, Jamie Verran at Pontefract.

The final weekend of the month saw 70 members across 15 different parkrun venues. It was a weekend of tourism goals with me achieving my ‘Cowell’ (100th different parkrun event) at Woodgate Valley Country Park, Karl getting his ‘Q’ at Queen Elizabeth parkrun and a group of 6 heading over to Belfast for their ‘Q’ at Queens parkrun. Closer to home there were the usual large contingents at Porthcawl and Maesteg where Aled Hughes was celebrating his 300th parkrun. Jacob added another first finish at Maesteg.


The first weekend of the month saw a clash between the latest West Glamorgan XC fixture and a trail championship event at the Reverse 10 miler. At the XC we had our best turnout in quite a while with 22 in attendance although ladies, I do need to point out that it was 17-5 on the male/female split. Nicky Bennett finished 6th overall whilst our first lady was Carys Cronin. Special shout out to Arwen Rees who became our youngest female runner at a cross country event.

At the Reverse 10, Jacob Tasker won in a club record time of 54:49 knocking nearly 7 minutes off the previous club record. It was also Jacobs 4th win in as many weekends. Gareth Richards broke his own over 50’s age category record with a 4 minute PB in 1:04:13. Jade Bazylkiewicz ran a PB of 1:19:39. There were also PB’s for Katie Plimmer and Marianne Patterson who were both close to age category records as well.

The second weekend of the month saw Gareth Richards, Neil Ridley, Ian Lewis and Shelley Evans at the Cardiff Winter Warmer Half Marathon. At the Tough Runner 10K, new member Alex Steddy was first across the line in the 10K followed by another new member, Gavin Howe. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was our first female at the event in which we had 6 OPR member running. In the Half Marathon, Rhodri Thomas ran an outstanding 1:46:46 on a hilly course whilst Emma Loyns was our first female finisher with 5 OPR members running the Half.

Lisa King ran at the Cardiff 10 miler organised by Cardiff Running Events and finished in a speedy 1:17:20. It means in the same month, we’ve seen the 2nd and 3rd fastest ever 10 mile times set by female members of the club with Lisa and Jade. Lisa’s was also a new age category record and less than a minute off the overall club record.

Carol Bartle ran 1:55:46 at the ‘Lets Run Rhyl’ Half Marathon finishing first in her age category.

On the final weekend of the month, Nicky Bennett, Adam Kearns and Toby Kearns represented the club at the Welsh National XC Championships with great performances by all 3.

Ultra Running

There were a couple of big ultra running events during the month. The first was the 5K24 Challenge which was set up by some local lads connected to Bryncethin Rugby / Community Centre. Past challenges have included a marathon and a 24 hour walk to Carmarthen. OPR member Chris Wonka Williams was also one of the main organisers of the event. The challenge was to run 5K on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours starting at 8am on Friday morning (10th Feb), although you could choose you’re own challenge if you wanted to do less, or just turn up and run one hour or several hours. As for how our members got on – our January Male Runner of the Month, David Thomas decided to run 4.2 miles each hour and lasted for 10 hours before having to unfortunately drop out with injury after just over 40 miles. Luke Denholm ran 13 hours of 5K per hour to notch up around 40 miles. Kris Denholm ran one more hour after Luke at 5K per hour before calling it a day/night. Denise Bradley, who turned up saying she was aiming to do the 14 miles that was on her training plan ended up staying for the entire 24 hours, running in 21 of them, and notched up 50 miles. I set my own challenge of run/walking/generally moving forward in some state for 50 minutes of each hour which resulted in doing up to 5.6 miles in the first couple of hours before that reduced more and more and more to the point I finished with 2 miles on the final run. My final total was 88.3 miles…. and then I tail walked at Maesteg parkrun where Kris was also in attendance. Jo Jenkins and Sian Jenkins also popped over on a couple of occasions throughout the 24 hours to do a few runs with Sian doing 15 miles and Jo doing 12 miles. A number of other OPR members also came along to support.

Brecon to Cardiff saw 6 members take on the 43 mile Ultra. Gareth Richards was our first runner across the line in an incredible 6 hours 24 minutes which is well under a 9 minute mile average! He finished in 11th overall. Carl Walsh, Emma Loyns and Ken Salvatore ran the course together finishing in 9 hours 8 minutes. Then came arguably the best story of all – after having to drop out over 30 miles into the race last year, Leanne Parsons was back and completed the course in 10 hours 37 minutes with one of the clubs ultra running legends Elizabeth Sim alongside her. Fantastic efforts by all.

Chairman’s Runners of the month

Lots of amazing running taking place and all worthy of celebration.  

The first person to catch my eye this month has been on a long and measured journey.  A carefully planned approach to a defined goal.  Seeking a path that was both sensible and optimistic.  Showing a resolve that was unswerving.  A determination that wasn’t going to falter.  I’ve said before how much I hold that in high esteem.  The dream doesn’t have to be big.   Pursuance of it is key.  We’ve seen it here.  Setting a dream.  Believing it’s possible and pursuing the right path to achieve it.  Fitting increasingly long runs into a busy life.  Working to the guidance of a coached plan and sticking to it.  Heeding advice.  Sharing the journey along the way and inspiring others with her efforts.  I’ve certainly been inspired.  The final completion of her epic goal ultra marathon was the victory lap of a process worthy of accolade. I am delighted to honour Leanne Parsons as my Chairman’s female runner of the month for February.   Well done Leanne. 

With no need for introductions my next choice has had a place on the podium before.  Admiration for running prowess can be derived from many parameters.  Including, but not limited to, speed, distance, endeavour, effort.  Sometimes all of the above.  Admirable times over long distance.  Endeavour – daring to push boundaries and test where they flex.  Finding that point and going beyond it.  This can be measured over any of the former two.  For our Zero To Hero this might be running constantly for 5 minutes – an achievement worthy of high praise.  For some it’s much further.   They’ve had a longer journey to get there but once faced those same boundaries along the way.  One such person keeps doing it.  Admirable in all regards.  Where will it end is the thought that comes to mind.  Distances many baulk at driving, never mind running.  A recent event, as described in the accolades for my previous choice, saw a record time being set once again.  A significant placing.  A great training regime with a sensible build up often leads to success and is the key to it.  Incredibly impressive and I’m still wondering what the next challenge will be.   A true before and after story of incredible transformation has produced an athlete of significant pedigree.  Huge congratulations to Gareth Richards, my Chairman’s male runner of the month for February.  Well done Gareth.  Keep pushing!!