June 2021 review

Virtual (not)parkruns

The stats for this month are as follows …

(Week – runners – fastest male – fastest female)

  • Week 64 – 36 runners – Neil Price – Melanie Thomas
  • Week 65 – 35 runners – Gareth Davies – Claire Goldsworthy
  • Week 66 – 41 runners – Jacob Tasker (17:49 – not(parkrun) club record – Claire Goldsworthy
  • Week 67 – 40 runners – Gareth Davies – Fiona Drysdale

Well done to everyone who submitted times and fingers crossed that next months review will be the first blog post in 16 months to include a real parkrun.


With each month that passes we appear to have more race results to report on and there’s actually enough this month to split them into distances as I did pre-pandemic.


Returning member Emma-Jane Morris was back in action in her familiar role as pacer for the ‘Longest Day 10K’. Emma was pacing a speedy 50 minutes – to put it into context – just 7 of our current female members have run under that time. Emma showed her pacing pedigree coming in at 49:56.

Half Marathons

Emma Loyns and Claire Dunbar Bowen completed the Cheddar Gorge Half Marathon which had 1,800 feet of elevation over just shy of 14 miles. Claire had a nasty fall during the race but battled on to complete it with her coach.

At the other end of the elevation scale, Niki Puleio took on the Dorney Lake Half Marathon with just 233 feet of elevation and stormed round to a time of 1:26:09. By Niki’s exceptional standards he was a bit disappointed despite the fact his race was also in very hot conditions.

We had 3 Phoenix runners at the Cheltenham Half Marathon – a tricky looped course with multi terrain to contend with, again on the hottest day of the year so far. New member Jacob Tasker ran an astonishing 1:25:33 to take the club record for fastest ever half marathon debut for the club by some margin and was 13th overall. Neil Price came in at 1:34:07. Chris Pratt joined up with one of his Ascics Frontrunners and came in at 3:21:03.

The final weekend of the month saw Jo Gamba and I take on the Milton Keynes Half Marathon which we were originially signed up for in May 2020. This was one of the biggest running events to go ahead so far this year with over 1,000 runners in the Half Marathon. They’d also had a 5K event before the Half, a 10K the evening before, and a full marathon the next day which I’ll come onto later. Runners were set off in groups of 30 every minute and it was brilliantly organised and felt very safe. I finished in 2:00:08 with Jo coming in at 2:01:42.

Melanie Thomas was another member who made a return to racing this month and like many of the others included in this blog, it wasn’t a gentle return. Melaine signed up for the Black Mountains Half Marathon which had some bonus mileage as Melanie clocked 14.5 miles and also some tasty elevation with 2,600 feet in total.


Carl Walsh ran the Black Beacons Marathon which had an eye watering 6,600 feet of elevation. That makes it one of the hilliest marathons in the UK, even beating Snowdonia Trail Marathon which goes to top of Snowdon or Yr Wyddfa as we may be calling it from now on.

Just a week later Carl was back in action running the Cheddar Gorge Marathon with another tasty 3,750 feet of elevation on what was the hottest day of the year so far.

The final weekend of the month saw Carl at it once again! This time it was another trail marathon in the Black Mountains with another 6,000+ feet of elevation and an extra couple of miles thrown in for good measure with Carl recording 29.3 miles. Including the Ultra mentioned in the next section, Carl ran 4 events in the month totalling 136.8 miles and over 21,000 feet of elevation.

Also in action on the final weekend of the month was Kris Denholm in the earlier mentioned Milton Keynes Marathon. The course was 2 loops of the half that Jo and I had done the day before so we were able to find a couple of quiet spots along the route to support on the second lap. Kris’s race didn’t quite go to plan, however he still ran an outstanding 3:47 which is just a couple of minutes off his PB.


The first weekend saw me competing in the Conquer24 race. This event was open to teams or solo runners to complete as many 5 mile loops in 24 hours. The loops were mostly trail around the stunning grounds of Powderham Castle near Exeter. Each lap had around 400 feet of elevation which to give a comparison, is similar to the 5 mile valley loop. I managed 16 laps in the 24 hours for 80 miles in total on the official results (for transparency Strava on my phone app clocked 78 miles and my watch clocked 79.1 miles). I finished only my 3rd official ultra in 23rd out of 115 solo runners.

Carl Walsh took a break from marathon running on the 3rd weekend of the month… to run a ultra-marathon instead. The Race to the Kings is a 53 mile (double marathon) with over 5000 feet of elevation. Carl completed the race in 11 hours and 42 minutes. Including those he ran before joining the club, this was Carl’s 28th Ultra Marathon!

Other Races

David Sheard took on the Coity Fell Race in Blaenavon. For those reading this that are not familiar with ‘fell races’, a simple description would be that they are events that are normally over rough terrain with significant amounts of elevation. I’m probably not selling it very well but on the upside, walking parts of these races is inevitable, they are normally just a few pound to enter, and there’s normally a beer and/or cake at the end. In this case, the entry fee was just £5 and the race consisted of 920 feet of elevation over just 9K. David completed the course a few seconds under the hour mark and was only the second member at the time of the event to complete an official event in Wales this year.

Jay Howells took on the shorter but no less brutal option at the Black Mountain races already mentioned above in the Half and Full Marathon sections. The 13K race had more than 1,500 feet of elevation in less than 8 miles over tough multi-terrain.

Zero to Hero

A catch up on something that should have been included in last months blog…

Despite the challenges of varying restrictions meaning this years Zero to Hero was mostly virtual, the program continued it’s success from previous years. This year in particular gave an opportunity for those that had for various reasons not run as much during lockdown an opportunity to build back up to the 5K distance with 5 members ‘regraduating’. Also a huge well done to Carly Bevan who had never run before and graduated from the Virtual Z2H at the start of May.

Builth and District Virtual Relay

Such was the success of the virtual relays throughout the pandemic, they’ve continued even though races are starting back up. On this occasion 29 runners covered slots from 5am to 8pm for the 15 hour relay (coach Kev ran twice if anyones wondering why the maths doesn’t work). Kudos to everyone who participated and a special mention for Samantha Thompson who did the 5am slot and Chris Richards who did the 530am twice after mistakingly having done it on the Saturday when the relay was on the Sunday. Carl Price submitted the highest mileage with 4.38 miles for his 30 minute slot, whilst Jo Gamba had the highest mileage for the ladies with 3.69 miles. We finished 18th out of the 20 teams that participated.

Challenge updates

Chris Pratt completed the Welsh Coastal Path virtual challenge having signed up last June but only counting miles from the end of the September onwards. The majority of the mileage being completed this year. Anthony Kavanagh also completed the challenge having also notched up most of the mileage this year. Debbie Bennion completed the Emerald Isle challenge which was a virtual challenge of 360 miles from the most southernly to northernly points of Ireland. Debbie completed the challenge in just 14 weeks.

Gareth Richards continues his marathon per week challenge and is now at the half way point in the year and continues to rack them up with amazing times each week.


A quick mention for our juniors who have had the amazing opportunity to train on the Brewery Field for the past few weeks with great attendance week on week. We also had our first official parkrunner in 16 months with one of youngest juniors attending her first junior parkrun in Rogiet.

Over to Chris for the runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

Sometimes we see passion wane.  A combination of factors lead to being distracted from the goals.  Other things come along that take priority and, let’s face it, we’ve all had enough of those in the last year to last us a lifetime.  Some fall off the grid and when that happens the desire to press on fades as running moves lower in the list of priorities.

We reach out and hope that they will find their motivation once again and return to the fold.  Sometimes this happens and there is a renewed focus.  Passion builds and within no time they are once again inspiring others with their endeavours.  Remember – inspiration can come through effort as much as achievement.

Both my choices this month have returned to the fold with such passion making it noticable.

My first choice this month has turned full circle.  A new focus and one that is inspiring us all.  From a point of announcing a decision to not renew membership we have seen a change of heart that has been monumental.  Not only rejoining but suggesting and starting a new training group.  Helping those returning to activity to find their feet.  As a major event looms on the horizon that passion is being shared in her own training endeavours to reach her goal.  Distance increasing.  Smiles on photos.  Sharing that focus with others and inspiring them on their journeys.  That is admiral and worthy of applause.  Giving your time for the benefit of others is amazing and it’s often possible to combine it with pursuing your own goals.  My first choice runner is doing just that.  Not only giving time to seniors but to our junior contingent also.  A renewed focus.  A new passion shining through.  Wonderful to see.  I am delighted to announce my Chairman’s Female Runner of the Month for June as Louise Morris.  Well done for turning things round Louise – keep on doing what you’re doing and inspiring us all in the process.

My second choice has been in a similar boat.  Falling off the radar a little.  Running was sporadic with long gaps in between.  Posts on social media relating to running became less often.  We’ve seen it a lot in the last year and we’ve tried to reach out to keep engaging until some sense of normality returned.  As it did, faces reappeared out of the darkness and we saw an surge in activity.  One caught my eye.  Returning to activity but also posting about it.  Rallying others to hear the call.  Being visible and that visibility giving others a desire to do the same.  Expressing a desire to improve.  A desire to return to more regular activity and then starting to push boundaries again.  As events return getting in on the act.  Achievements don’t have to be measured against others – inspiration often comes from just putting in the effort.  I have been inspired and a huge thank you for some of that goes to Jay Howells, my Chairman’s Male Runner of the Month for June.  Keep it up Jay – you’re making a difference to many of us with your endeavours.