The first Saturday of the month saw 61 runners submit a time with Neil Price setting one of the fastest virtual parkruns to date with a 19:24. Our fastest female was Fiona Drysdale with 24:45.
The second Saturday coincided with the OPR Lockdown Virtual 5K which I’ll come onto later. A week later we had a low of just 46 runners with the Neil Price clocking the fastest time of 19:19 with his wife Sian clocking the fastest female time with 21:32.
The final Saturday of the month saw a slight increase to 48 runners with Neil Price clocking the fastest time if 19:35.
Day one of the month saw the second virtual Aberavon Run4All 5K race. We had an impressive 28 submissions with the in form Rhodri Thomas clocking 20:16 whilst I clocked my fastest 5K of the year with 20:50. Claire Dunbar-Bowen was our first lady and third overall out of our club members with a speedy 22:30.
The Welsh Athletics 10K was set for the weekend that many of us would have been either running Porthcawl 10K or competing in the Long Course Weekend in Tenby. 17 members submitted times and I clocked the fastest time with 43:40 (my fastest 10K in over a year) with Claire Dunbar-Bowen next up with a 47:04.
The same weekend saw the Twister 10K which is another one of those events where time is taken off depending how much elevation is accumulated during the run. Adrian Pearce was 9th overall with an adjusted time of 36 minutes. I was 12th with an adjusted time of 38 minutes. Sian Price was our first female and did a flat course, therefore getting her actual run time of just under 46 minutes. I also signed up for the New York City Runners Firecracker 10K but unfortunately didn’t get chance to run a separate 10K for it so submitted the same time as my Welsh Athletics 10K.
The end of the month saw the Twister 10 miler with the usual suspects taking part. Adrian Pearce recorded another top 10 finish in these events whilst Sian Price was in the top 10 ladies. There were also times submitted by myself, Sarah Davies, Debbie Bennion and Sharon Pritchard.
OPR Lockdown Virtual 5K / OPR Championship event 6
The OPR Race Committee got together (virtually of course) to create the first ‘official’ OPR virtual event. To keep it open for all abilities it was decided that 5K would be the distance and it would be on a Saturday to tie in with virtual parkrun and we also agreed for it to count as the latest event in the OPR championship to encourage as many members as possible to participate. We had a fantastic turn out with 81 runners submitting times.
Paul Smith ran an incredible 17:44 to become our third member this year to clock a sub 28 5K time after Nicky Bennett and Dai James achieved the feat earlier this year. Nicky was next up with 18:56 whilst the sub 20’s continued with Neil Price at 19:!7 and Emyr Bissmire at 19:31. Sian Price was our fastest lady with a 21:31 followed by Claire DB 22:31, Fiona Drysdale 24:06 and Jo Gamba with 24:10.
After the usual handicap scoring was applied for the OPR Championship, Emyr Bissmire became the 6th different winner in the 6 events so far with Paul Smith second. Angela Parry and Bryony Parry were joint 3rd having been joint 2nd in the previous championship event. Jo Gamba was 5th and 3rd lady overall whilst Adam Rowe was 6th and 3rd male overall.
In the overall championship standings, another great performance from last months runner of the month, Rob Loyns (21:23), meant he extended his lead at the top. However, with the best 6 scores to count, there’s easily 30+ members who are still in with a decent chance of winning or challenging for a trophy-winning top 3 placing.
Race to the Stones Virtual Challenge
Normally the Race to the Stones involves running 100K along The Ridgeway finishing at Avebury Stone Circle. In the annual race, there are options to run the entire 100K in one go or split it into 2 days of 50K each with competitors normally camping overnight at the half way point.
With the race cancelled this year, the organisers offered a free virtual alternative with options to pay for t-shirts and medals if you wish with some proceeds going to charity. The options were to run Half Marathon, Marathon or 100K over the course of a week that would have led to the weekend the race should have taken place.
Many different approaches were taken. Sarah Davies finished in just 5 days (by the Friday) whilst I finished mine on the Saturday which included 3 Half Marathons, a 10 miler, an 8 miler and a 6 miler over the 6 days. Angharad Hinam, Emma Loyns and Adrian Pearce took a different approach clocking up 40 miles in one run on the Saturday with the other miles done earlier in the week to make it 62.2 in total for the 100K equivalent.
Sharon Pritchard, Debbie Bennion and Jayne Bissmire completed 26.2 miles over the course of the week, whilst Sian Jenkins did her marathon in one run and ended up doing around 50 miles in total for the week so almost doubled her target. Claire Worthington, Chris Pratt, Heather Morgan and Vickie Blake all also registered finishes for the Half Marathon distance.
Cardiff Summer Series (the kilometre version)
Cardiff Running Events normally do a 1, 2, 3 and 4 mile race on Friday evenings over the course of May and June and they offered this virtually this year. It was so successful that they decided they’d do another series but this time, 1, 2, 3 and 4K races and give runners Thursday-Sunday of each week to submit times rather than just Friday which was the case for the mile events.
In the 1K event, I clocked the fastest time of 3:57 (although a penalty was later added as my Garmin data wasn’t public so they couldn’t verify it). Keith Coleman clocked 3:58 whilst Nick Harris recorded 4:05. One of our junior members who has done a huge amount of virtual events was our fastest female in 4:35.
In the 2K event, Keith Coleman clocked 8:02 whilst I was a couple of seconds behind in 8:04. With Nick Harris rounding out the same top 3 as the 1K with 8:20. Claire DB was our fastest lady.
In the 3K event, Keith Coleman ran a fantastic 12:10 whilst I ran 12:32 with Ken Salvatore rounding out the top 3 with 13:04. Claire DB ran 13:21 for the only ladies time recorded from our club members whilst Nick Harris and Pippa Clark recorded times to keep their 100% attendance records for these kilometre events.
Run Around The World
This was another monthly challenge set up by Jayne Bissmire. The challenge was to form a team to virtually ‘run around the world’. We’ve now adopted the name ‘Phoenix Knights’ for these monthly challenges. The distance around the world is 24,901 miles so a single team wasn’t going to achieve that on it’s own so all teams were allocated a direction of travel and split into larger teams of Team North, East, South and West. We were part of Team West who between us had traveled around the world after about 3 weeks of the challenge.
In terms of our own team, Phoenix Knights, we spent the entire month in close battle with ‘She Runs: Cardiff’ and ‘Apparently We Run’ – regularly swapping places between 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots with a huge gap to the leaders and another huge gap to 5th place. Quite mind blowing how close the 3 teams were even as we hit 6,000 / 7,000 / 8,000 miles.
We eventually finished in 2nd place with a total of 8,138 miles.
Multiple people smashed their biggest mileage months during the challenge. I contributed the most miles with 270 which was 65 miles more than I’d ever run in single month and over 110 miles more than any monthly total prior to lockdown. Sarah Davies led the way for the majority of the month and ended up on 260 miles which again easily over 130-150 miles more than her typical pre lockdown monthly total. Kris Denholm, Keith Coleman, Liz Sim and new member Melanie Thomas all recorded just under 200 miles each. Apologies I can’t name everyone as every runner did amazingly and contributed to the team effort with loads of support and encouragement through our social media. Another massive thank you to Jayne for setting up, posting throughout the month and organising us all and well done to all those that helped out in supporting or contributing to the totals.
Another amazing month. Although they started in July, I’ll include the Phoenix 7 in 7 and Cardiff Summer Series 4K in the next blog as they are due to finish in August. Over to Chris for the Chairmans Runners of the Month.
Chairman’s Runners of the Month
July was a busy, busy month for many!
The Run Around the World challenge seemed to dominate with almost a hundred members taking part and what an amazing outcome. Second team nationally out of a field of 106 teams! Amazing.
These virtual challenges have captured many. Providing motivation and encouragement, they have been a focus while races have been non-existant.
For some, the change in focus has encouraged more from the legs than usual. Many taking on the challenges are relatively new to running but there are an equal number who have years of experience in the legs. Running commitment can be cyclic. We often see troughs and peaks, not just in performance but also in dedication to it. The low periods when the mojo departs and leaves us often swing to periods of high motivation where running becomes an essential part of the daily routine again! Increased mileage and consistency often lead to simultaneous performance improvements. For one, the focus of a multitide of challenges was motivation to not only break previous milestones but completely smash them out of the park. That’s quite incredible when there’s a long history of running. In this case, the increased mileage came on the back of a number of significant mileage months, notched up while we have been restricted and unable to tackle actual events. Previous mileage records for a week, and a month, were smashed. With times on recognised distances also coming back down it’s been an amazing period of achievements. Absolutely no doubt that this is going to lead a new annual mileage as well! All of this on top of huge commitment to the club as our Captain, statto, blogger, club championship organiser and one half of our brilliant results team! I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month to Gareth Jenkins!! Brilliant achievements and I’m intrigued to see what the remainder of 2020 brings!! Keep it up Gareth!
It has been absolutely incredible how many members have grasped the virtual challenges during what has been a very difficult time. The cameraderie and support have been incredible, even if we haven’t been able to be at close quarters for many months. When events fell off the calendar there was a real risk that many would lose motivation. While we know some have and we reach out to them to try and keep them within the fold, many have grasped the opportunity to do something different and keep going in the background. So many people doing amazing things, it has been so hard to separate the achievements. Some just like to get out there, some seek to clock up as many miles as possible and some target performance. We are all different and that’s what makes us a wonderful mix. We celebrate all. One name cropped up a number of times during the blog and all associated with the top of the pack. There’s work being done in the background here. Time commitment to improvement in performance. Quietly going about her business in the background and all the while developing that internal engine to perform. The return to training since July has seen Flyers attendances indicating a desire to get quicker. The warm weather hasn’t put pay to the development process and it’s great to see. Tackling short distance virtual events to notch up impressive results. Results that will be built on going in to the future – something we’re all excited to see. I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month to Claire Dunbar-Bowen! Keep it up Claire!!