June 2019 review

parkrun

This month saw our members accumulate 274 parkrun finishes across 50 parkruns and 27 different parkrun locations.

As parkrun tourism is becoming so popular, I’m now only going to mention venues that have had their first Ogmore Phoenix Runner(s) in the month or any ones outside of Wales and England. New venues this month include myself being the first Phoenix to run at Houghton Hall, Karl Johnson and James Beynon at Fire Service College and Tetbury Goods Shed whilst Karl also ran Sale Water. Further afield, Gwyneth Steddy ran her 50th parkrun at Portrush parkrun on the north coast of Northern Ireland, whilst Shawn and Julie bagged their first international parkrun tourism at Jamaica Pond parkrun in Boston, USA. We’ve now had Phoenix Runners at 5 different US parkruns.

The first weekend of the month saw another Phoenix volunteer takeover at Maesteg parkrun where our members filled most of the positions and we also had 29 runners. Maesteg parkrun was the June event for the Club Championships with best times / age grade percentages scored during the month to count. This certainly seemed to boost the numbers and there were 2 weeks where we had more runners at Maesteg than Porthcawl.

This month also saw lots of parkrun milestones with Angela Walsh running her 100th parkrun, whilst Brett Bonnell, Sharon Pritchard, Ben Davies, Lisa Jenkins, Gwyneth Steddy, Stephne Puddy and Tammie Clemett all ran their 50th parkruns. Our parkrun obsessed club now has 67 current members who have reached 50 parkruns.

A much smaller list of PB’s this month but understandable considering the amount of other events our members would have been saving themselves for. Paul Barrett managed 2 PB’s in month and has now had 8 parkrun PB’s this year all at different parkrun venues. The latest one being Llanelli where Sarah Davies got a parkrun PB on the final parkrun of the month. Our other PB’s in month were Michael Brain, Clifford Searle, Sarah Littlewood and Dai James.

As we’ve reached the half way point in the year, I thought I’d do some mid-year parkruns stats. Aled Hughes is yet to miss a parkrun this year (including the New Years Day double) so is on the maximum UK parkrun total of 28 parkruns in 2019. I’ve one behind on 27, whilst Nick Harris, Karl Johnson, David Sheard, Kris Denholm  and Gareth Davies are all on 26. Also on 26 are our two top female parkrunners, Jo Gamba and Sara Davies.

Our fastest parkrunner of the year is Adrian Pearce with 18:16 at Swansea whilst Sarah Littlewood is our fastest female with 23:29 at Maesteg.

We’ve had an incredible 202 different members run at least 1 parkrun already this year with 1,566 finishes.

5K

Lots of 5K’s this month which started with Hannah Knight and Catherine Griffiths completing the Bridgend Race for Life.

Claire Taylor set a new PB at the ‘Run Ex’ 5K in Exeter with a 30:29.

At the second race of the Aberavon series, Ryan Evans led the club back in a new PB of 18:35 followed by Luke Jones and I who were just either side of 21 minutes. Sarah Davies set a new PB of 23:40 having set her previous best on the same course. Judith Jeeves bagged the highest age grade percentage run of the evening with her 25:38 PB. Hannah Knight and Natalie Aryal also set PB’s.

The second race of the Swansea Bay series saw 13 of our members enter which is by far the largest attendance at one of those series of events. A few had run our BCRL fixture the day before as well but still set amazing times with Niki coming in a 18:29 and Aled at 19:16. Elaine Nash and Annamarie Morgan set new PB’s on the night.

Yet another second of the series – this time the SSAFA 5K which Aled was awarded an interesting result of 18:60. Tyler Howells set a PB of 26:31.

A 5K with a difference to end the month with the Jack n Jill 5K which involved a constant climb for the first half before a downhill second half. Adrian Pearce finished 4th overall whilst Aled was 6th and Nick Harris notched up yet another event. Adrian and Aled were 4-5 minutes slower than their usual 5K times going to show how tough the route was.

10K

The Maesteg Keeper of the Colliery race attracted 19 of our members this year and the 300 strong field was around 4 times as many as what took part last year in the free event which takes in 2 undulating loops. Kris Denholm was our first runner back in 46:33 closely followed by Aled. Fiona Drysdale was our first lady back followed by Judith Jeeves. Despite the hilly course, both Nicola Cornock and Paul James set PB’s.

The Infinity Running Margam 10K saw David Sheard, Judith Jeeves, Sharon Pritchard and Ffion Smith take on 2 laps of the ever changing Margam course.

Half Marathon

Just one Half Marathon this month but quite a significant one. Swansea Half Marathon saw 67 members complete the course. We also had 10 volunteers and a load of supporters on the day as well. Despite humid conditions and a headwind on the second half of the course, Paul Smith bagged himself a 1:27:29 PB and was our first runner back. Ryan Evans got himself another sub 1:30 half whilst Neil Price also achieved that and knocked a few seconds off his PB in the process. The PB list continued with Gareth Davies, Jonathan Tidball, Lisa Pinney, Emma Loyns, Jay Howells, Michael Brain, Paul Iskander, Anthony Kavanagh, Mike Nicholson, Paul Barrett, Phill Iveson, Karen Green, Dawn Wright, Steph Iveson, Rosie Salvatore, Deb Edwards, Sharon Pritchard, Nicola Veasey, Sian Jenkins, Alexis Barrett, Claudine Nicholson, Shareen Bentley and Joe Hill.

Marathon

If you had to guess who our one marathoner was this month, I think most would guess correctly that it was Chris Pratt at another Infinity Running event. Chris finished the Margam event in 4:15:17 despite signing up for the Rabbit Run just 18 hours earlier and then going out for a few drinks and a curry afterwards with a few others from the club.

Ultra

Angharad Hillman completed the 40 mile VOGUM (Vale of Glamorgan Ultra Marathon) which starts in Porthcawl and ends in Penarth (so pretty much the reverse of the popular Vale Ultra).

Steven James set the longest distance of any runner at the Infinity Running Margam event with 39.6 miles completed in 6:30:32. Kris Denholm was second with 36.3 miles completed in 6:16:37.

A week later, Steven walked the Race to the King event with his sister which involves 52.5 miles over 2 days.

Other races

The month started off with Rack Raid. A 101 mile relay event with 13 stages from somewhere north of Abergavenny to Cwmbran. It was the first year the club had participated in the event and I’m looking to do a separate blog post to detail how the day unfolded. We finished 14th out of 28 teams which was beyond most of our expectations and every one of our runners gave it their all and enjoyed the day.

Another popular event on the calendar is the Cottrell Park Relays which saw 25 of our runners across 9 different teams. The 2.4 mile course includes the notorious ‘bunker hill’ which a few set new strava segment PB’s on. In terms of individual performances, Adrian Pearce was our first runner back in 16:05 just beating Aled who recorded 16:09 and Neil Price with 16:21. Our first lady was Sarah Davies with 20:15 ahead of Denise Bradley with 21:23. In terms of team performances, Aled, Adrian and Neil finished 4th team overall whilst Fiona Drysdale won the family category alongside 2 of her sons.

Fiona was in action again a few days later in the Man vs Horse race. If you haven’t heard of this, it is what it says in the title – a race against horses. The course is over 20 miles over undulating mixed terrain and in its history, the horses have only been defeated on a handful of occasions.

The second fixture of the Bridgend County Running League (BCRL) saw our club organise the Beast of Blackmill event. The route was shortened to 3.3 miles but still included the hill that makes the ‘Beast’ in the ‘Beast of Blackmill’. We had an incredible 69 runners despite having dozens of volunteers which meant we more than likely exceed 100 members present on the night. For the second fixture running, Gareth Battle lead our runners home with Adrian Pearce just a few seconds back. We had an incredibly strong first 15 again but Bridgend brought out their big guns for this one – their top runners included a 100K World Champion, runners who’ve represented Great Britain in triathlon in their age category, and Welsh international runners. We still finished second in the fixture with a substantial gap over the rest.

Aled Hughes and Nick Harris continued totting up their events total with the Summer Series 3 miler. Nick also did 5 laps to record 16.5 miles at the latest Infinity Running Margam event.

Rabbit Run

We had a huge turnout of 44 runners at the Merthyr Mawr Rabbit Run which was included in our trail championship. The course is advertised as being 7.2 miles but most recorded it over 7.5 miles which you do sometimes get with trail races. Despite drier conditions than previous years there was still plenty of mud to contend with around the 2 mile mark, the river crossing was waist high for most, plus plenty of other varied terrain. Adrian Pearce was our first runner back followed by Steve Loveluck, Aled Hughes and our first lady, Anneliese Loveluck.

What many of us didn’t realise is that the Rabbit Run was also part of the Welsh Trail Running Championships meaning that Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were available for each 5 year age category group for Welsh Athletics affiliated runners. It was only a couple of weeks after the event we found out what an amazing medal haul our runners accumulated…

There were individual Gold medals for Anneliese Loveluck, Adrian Pearce and Denise Bradley.

Individual Silver medals for Emma Loyns and Steve Loveluck.

Individual Bronze medals for Aled Hughes and Sarah Davies,

Team Gold for Adrian Pearce, Steve Loveluck, Aled Hughes and myself (Gareth Jenkins).

Team Bronze for Luke Jones, Steven James, Simon Harrison and Gareth Richards.

Team Silver for Anneliese Loveluck, Sarah Davies, Emma Loyns and Denise Bradley.

In total, we had 12 medal winners including 7 who picked up double medals for individual and team prizes.

Mid-Year Race Stats 

It’s been the busiest 6 months in the clubs history in terms of event participation. As well as the crazy parkrun numbers, we also had runners at pretty much every 5K between Swansea and Cardiff and a couple further afield with 174 finishers over 14 different 5K events. 10K’s have been just as popular with 20 different events so far this year and 173 finishers including 62 at Cardiff Bay and 39 at Newport.

Amazingly, we’ve had more Half Marathon finishers than 10K finishers in the first half of the year with exactly 200 so far largely due to the 67 who ran Swansea plus 47 who ran Llanelli. Our members have notched up 29 different Half Marathons including events in Cyprus, Spain and America.

Marathon participation is actually slightly down on the first half of last year which included big numbers at the inaugural Newport Marathon plus a club tour to Liverpool. However, mainly due to Chris Pratt and the newly formed Infinity Running series, our members have run at 12 different marathons which is an increase on the first half of last year but with 48 finishes compared to 56 last year.

Ultra running continues to get more popular with our members each year and the first 6 months of this year have saw 29 ultra marathon finishes over 9 events. Incredibly 6 of those have been Steven James whilst Kris Denholm already has 3 to his name. Plus of course there was that 100 miler completed by Nick Harris.

Somewhere we’ve seen another huge increase in participation is the non-standard distance events. Many of which are multi-terrain, cross country, Bridgend League fixtures or part of running series.

Biggest race attendances so far in 2019….

  1. Ogmore Castle – 114
  2. Beast of Blackmill – 69
  3. Swansea Half Marathon – 67
  4. Cardiff Bay 10K – 62
  5. Vale 18.5 / 32 – 54
  6. Merthyr Mawr Lane 5K – 52
  7. Newport 10K / Marathon – 50
  8. Llanelli Half Marathon – 47
  9. Rabbit Run – 44
  10. Aberavon 5K series (race 2) – 41

In the first 6 months of 2019, our members have accumulated 2656 finishes in races and parkruns across 407 events.

Now it’s over to our Chairman for his runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

For June I’m taking a slightly different outlook on my runners of the month.  We often refer to ourselves as the Phoenix Family.  Our bond is strong.  Our journeys to achieve our goals we share and as we do so we bind together.  We share events too and one story from a shared experience during an event in June filtered back to me and struck a chord.  An example of Phoenix Spirit.  As we often state, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other.  As a club we encourage mutual support.  We know from our own experiences that running events of a significant distance is tough.  It’s often the cheers from the sidelines that lift us and carry us on the finish.  Occasionally we get that support from our fellow runners.  Occasionally those runners go the extra mile and stop to help when some are in times of trouble.  This is one such story.  I received a heartwarming message shortly after the Swansea Half that recalled how one of our midst constantly shouted encouragement to others as he ran – something many do – but on reaching runners in distress he stopped to help.  Five times he stopped, sacrificing his own endeavour to help those in need.  He picked two people up off the floor to get them going again.  He walked hand in had with two to motivate them to their end goal.  He stopped to help one bent over at the side of the course to make sure they were OK.  Every single one that he helped he got them moving and put them above his own race.  He still made it to the end.  Finish lines, not finish times.  Phoenix Spirit through and through.  I am absolutely delighted and humbled when honouring Anthony Kavanagh with my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for June.  Well done Anthony, keep up the good work making the club proud.

The irony of my next choice won’t be missed by the person I’m choosing.  It’s been a great month of running for many and always difficult to separate everyone by achievement.  Personal Bests are commonplace throughout the year and June was no exception.  One did jump out though.  PB’s were achieved in fairly quick succession and admirable they were but it was as much for effort that I am recognising my female runner.  Always with a look of determination as she powers to the finish line of a race.  Determination that is not only impressive but infectious.  It rubs off on others.  Impressed to see that effort they also push themselves to achieve, whether that is time, distance or just getting out fo the door.  Inspiring.  It has warranted selection to team events in which the club placed very well.  Again that determined face came out and shone through in finish line photos.  What a great first year with the club and moving on from a month where her endeavours grabbed my attention I’m absolutely certain she will continue to shine.  I am delighted to award my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for June to Sarah Davies.  Well done Sarah!!

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