January 2023 review


14 members took advantage of the extra parkrun on New Years Day but despite relatively small numbers, we had runners in Wales, England and at two different parkruns in Australia. Our leader in parkrun tourisms coming into this year, Karl Johnson, ran at Marine Parade parkrun (Weston Super-Mare) whilst David Sheard and Chris Roberts added another Australian parkrun to their resumes having been out there on seperate trips for the past couple of weeks.

The first Saturday of the year saw a bumper turnout of 35 at Maesteg for triple celebrations – Claire Dunbar-Bowen was celebrating an official milestone of 50 parkruns, Aled Hughes was running his 100th Maesteg parkrun, whilst it was my 400th parkrun. We had 71 runners across 14 parkruns with Wales, England and Australia seeing OPR members at one or more of their parkruns again.

The second Saturday saw an even bigger turnout at Porthcawl with 40 in attendance – largely down to the BCRL presentation being in the Hi-Tide afterwards which I’ll come back to later. That weekend saw 65 runners across 10 parkruns and whilst Dave and Chris were back from Australia, we did add another country to Wales and England tourism with Kris and Luke Denholm running at parkrun Zielony Jar in Poland.

Icy conditions meant that finding a parkrun going ahead on the 3rd Saturday of the month proved challenging but 48 OPR members did just that and across 9 different parkruns. Most were at Porthcawl where we had 36 runners where Nicky Bennett added himself to the list of first finishers joining the likes of Jacob Tasker and Neil Price.

The final Saturday saw 64 of our members run across 12 different parkrun venues. Jay Howells and Toni Howells both ran their 50th different parkrun venue at Groe with Jay also running his second parkrun/5K PB this month whilst Toni bagged himself a PB in a very successful day for them both. Karl Johnson ran his 200th parkrun which was a milestone Bev Sheard achieved a week previous. Toby Kearns was first finisher at Maesteg where OPR members made up the first seven runners. We had a huge tourism turnout of 14 at Llyn Llech Owain which was part of the trail championship.


New Years Day saw a couple of events with the Kenfig Prince of Wales race where 17 of our runners braved cold, windy conditions on the tough sand dune course. Josh Parry was 3rd overall with Jules Esmond being our first female finisher across the line. Later that day we had 5 runners at the Old Father Time 5 miler. A super flat, fast course around Pontcanna Fields where Aled Hughes was our first runner back followed by Chris Collin, Fiona Drysdale, Nick Harris and Linda Harris.

We had 3 runners at the Rogue Runs Off Road Night Race – a trail race over some tricky terrain with apparently some sharp drops to the side of the path – all whilst running in the dark. Well done to Aled, Melanie Thomas and Dawn Hopkins for getting through that one unscathed.

Nine of our runners took on the Lliswerry 8 where new member Kyle Blackmore was our first finisher just ahead of Niki Puleio. Lisa King was our first female across the line. On the same day we also had 14 runners at the popular Riverbank Rollick for roughly 10 miles of mud, mud and more mud before a run through a river at the end. Jacob Tasker won the event in just a few seconds over the hour mark. Jade Bazylkiewicz was our first female OPR member across the finish line with many of our runners running the course together and enjoying the experience – it’s not for everyone that race.

A week later saw Jacob pick up yet another win at the CF64 trail race where we had 6 runners in attendance.

The final event of the month was a West Glamorgan XC fixture at Pembrey Country Park. We had 15 runners in attendance with 12 men and 3 women. Results still to be published at the time of writing. Well done to all those that represented the club.

Finally, on the other side of world, Carl Walsh ran in the First Light Marathon in New Zealand. It’s the 5th different continent that Carl has run a marathon with plans for the 6th and 7th over the next couple of years. The marathon in New Zealand had over 6,400 feet of elevation. To put that in perspective for those that have done Snowdonia Marathon, that’s almost 3 times as much elevation! Good work Carl.

Other Club Activities

This month saw the BCRL presentations at the Hi-Tide after Porthcawl parkrun where 11 of our members collected age category awards – well done to Luke Davis, Kevin Raymond, Gareth Jenkins, Jo Jenkins, Sarah Davies, Claire Dunbar-Bowen, Carl Price, Jacob Tasker, Jade B, Josh Parry and Gareth Richards. Unfortunately Porthcawl were announced as the team winners by mistake (rather than OPR) but this has been rectified on the presentation that has been shared afterwards. Keep an eye out for the 2023 fixtures which are due to be released soon.

The last Sunday of the month saw myself, Chris Pratt and Melanie Thomas attend the Leader in Running Fitness course where OPR member and Welsh Athletics coach Emma Loyns was on hand to share her expertise. Once all the relevant checks have been done then you should see us at training sessions in the near future.

On the final day of the month there was the long awaited return of Zero to Hero with an excellent turnout for the first session and lots of current club members going along to welcome those who took their first steps towards 5K or back towards 5K.

Presentation Night tickets are now on sale for Saturday 4th March. It promises to be a significant night of celebrations with the club celebrating 10 years since it was first formed, our first BCRL win, plus the usual host of awards. Please check your e-mails or our social media pages to find out more about where to purchase tickets.

Chair’s Runners of the Month

Great to be back celebrating the achievements of our members on a monthly basis!  Sorry for the outage!

In true tradition, I’ll choose a female and male runner each month who has done something to merit mention.  It can be absolutely anything – and I’ve said on many occasions it can change month on month.  It’s not all about long miles or speed – although they could be celebrated also.  Anything and everything in between.  First and second choice are not ranked – they are merely the order in which they’ve been written.

My first choice from January is a relative newcomer to the club.  As soon as he showed up at training he had a focus that was unswerving.  Sometimes that’s costly.  Sometimes too much focus in the early stages of a running journey can lead to troubles.  Injuries often strike as the temptation to overtrain overwhelms.  There have been incidents along the road, but now is running on an even keel, so to speak.  Miles increasing with big plans afoot.  Regularly appearing in training sessions photos with a big smile.  Always a warm welcome when you see him.  As the miles increase, the focus seems to as well.  January has been a good month for his running.  Consistent miles, regular training attendance and a determination that is infectious.  Fabulous to see.  I am honoured to award the Chair’s Male Runner of the Month for January 2023 to David Dean Thomas.

My second choice isn’t a stranger to the runner of the month accolade and it was exactly 12 months ago that she was awarded the honour.  I’m always impressed with people who start the year well.  Determination is a powerful attribute.  When it remains and fuels consistency its power is increased.  Life will always make demands on our time and energy.  We so often have to work in parallel with them to get our activities in.  Balance is key.  Mileage and consistency can suffer.  I’m always impressed when that balance is struck and good, quality miles are covered and finished for the month with a beaming smile – something you will so often see here.  Smiling and running consistently towards set goals while balancing real life – what’s not to celebrate. Perhaps also qualifying as a Leader in Running Fitness for the club!  Looking forward to seeing what the year brings for my Chair’s Female Runner of the Month for February 2023, Melanie Thomas!