November 2023 review


The first weekend saw a drop in numbers with 48 finishers from our club across 16 parkruns. Just a week on from his club record breaking marathon exploits in Eryri, Jacob Tasker ran an impressive 15:55 parkrun PB at Cardiff where he was also first finisher. Angelo Doria was 3rd overall at Porthcawl with 18:31. John Burridge bagged his first ever first finisher token more than 10 years after his first parkrun with Aberfields the location. Alison Allen was first lady making it two weeks in a row as first lady across a parkrun finish line with Jo Jenkins close behind.

The second Saturday saw a big increase with 69 of our members running at 17 different parkrun locations. Kaye Pedler, Huw Jenkins and Melinda Thomas were at Presint parkrun in Malaysia which I believe adds another parkrun country to our club list. Aled Hughes was first finisher at Aberfields parkrun whilst Nicky Bennett lead home the biggest turnout in Porthcawl in quite a while as he finished first overall in 16:46.

Week 3 saw 56 runners across 13 parkruns. This week saw Kaye, Huw and Melinda at Varsity Lakes parkrun in Australia. There was a big turnout at Porthcawl ahead of the BCRL presentation which followed the event in the Hi Tide – more on that later. Aled Hughes was again first finisher at Aberfields.

The final Saturday of the month saw 68 runners across 12 parkruns. Kaye, Huw and Melinda continued their parkrun adventures in Australia at Kelvin Grove parkrun where Huw and Melinda were both running their 100th parkruns. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the parkrun they had intended to run as they were heading for one beginning with Y for Kaye to add to the milestones by completing the parkrun alphabet challenge but it was called off ay short notice. Kaye and co weren’t our only international tourists with Jay Howells at Unisee parkrun in Germany. Back home, Nicky Bennett was first finisher at Maesteg.

There were several milestones during the month including Jay Howells doing his 50th volunteer stint and both Toni Howells and Julie Ransom reaching 25 volunteer credits


Despite a postponement to the first event which was due to be the first Thursday of the month, there still ended up being two Severn Bridge 5 milers in the month. In what is a very rare occurrence, I was first Phoenix across the line in both events with Nick Harris next up on both occasions. Jo Jenkins was our first female Phoenix for both races with all 3 of us mentioned running quicker the second time round. Kierran Spiers also ran both events with a further 10 OPR runners completing one of the two races.

The big race of the month was the Richard Burton 10K where we had 34 runners. Nicky Bennett was first Phoenix across the line in 35:17 with a 5 minute gap to our next runners – Emyr Bissmire, Connor and Dylan Panting and Davidleigh Butler. Daniel Jenkins was the first of out runners that had completed Snowdonia Marathon just a week before. Neil Ridley and Jason Griffiths also ran both. Our first female across the line was Carole Bartle in 54:12.

Tom Mahoney and Lee Dunbar-Bowen completed the Cardiff Mo Run with this forming part of multiple fundraising events that Tom took on as part of Movember. The Allen family headed to Alton Towers were Gregg and Mia ran the 5K whilst Alison and Freya ran the Half Marathon.

We had three runners in one of the biggest marathon events in the world – the New York Marathon. Niki Puleio continued his quest to not only run all 6 marathon majors, but to also run them in under 3 hours. His finishing time in New York was 2:58:37. Just a week after running his 100th marathon in Snowdonia, it turned out Carl Walsh had a pretty decent back up in case he missed an event with New York! Dan Ridley was our 3rd finisher in the Big Apple.

A few of our mud-loving trail runners headed off to do the Sodbury Slog where we had 8 finishers and many running the course together. Jade was first across the line on the results but very closely followed by Claire DB and Emma Loyns. Melanie Thomas and Simon Poole finished together as did the inseparable Sharon and Debbie. Vickie Blake was our final finisher as she volunteered as a VI guide which must have been a huge challenge in this sort of event.

Cross Country (XC)

November was a huge month for XC. First up was the second Gwent league fixture at Llandaff Fields in Cardiff which is not only also part of the British Series but is also on the World series of XC events. This resulted in some incredible athletes being part of race which was amazing to see. We managed to field enough men and women for the scoring positions with the ladies up first. Bethan Moor was our first lady across the line ahead of Sarah Davies, Fiona Drysdale, Dawn Hopkins and Steph IH. In the mens race, Josh Parry was our first runner home followed by Davidleigh Bulter, myself, Chris Pratt (who had run a season’s best that morning at parkrun), Wayne Randall and Phill Iveson.

A week later it was the Welsh Inter-Regionals. This event requires runners to qualify for their region through the first Gwent League fixture – or in my case in 2015 and 2018 – just say you’re happy to be a last minute replacement if they are desperate! The most we’ve had representing South Wales in a single year is 4 but this year we smashed that with 7 – and all definitely got in on merit! We would have had 8 but unfortunately Jake wasn’t able to make it due to a continuing niggle. It was a second appearance in as many years for Nicky Bennett who was our first finisher in the men’s race ahead of Niki Puleio and Davidleigh Butler. In the ladies race Bethan Moor was followed home by Sarah Davies and Katie Plimmer with all three picking up their South Wales vests for the first time. Having only started running with the club 5 months earlier, Angelo Doria represented South Wales in the U20 race.

On the final weekend of the month it was the turn of the West Glam league with the Gnoll being the venue for this one. With 20 runners, it equaled our biggest XC turnout this year. Impressive performances from Nicky Bennett, Kyle Blackmore, Niki Puleio, John Burridge and brand new member Oliver Edwards in our male scoring positions against tough opposition. For the ladies it was Jade, Claire DB, Sarah D, Katie P and Fiona Drysdale. Well done to Sarah who was the only member to run all 3 XC events in the month. Also a shoutout to Caryn Hicks who completed the Gnoll as well.

BCRL presentation

Around 20 of us headed to the Hi Tide for the BCRL presentation after Porthcawl parkrun on the 18th November. Well done to our individual winners in various age categories –

Under 20’s Female: Willow Hughes (1st), Freya Allen (2nd)

45-49 Female: Claire DB (1st)

60-64 Female: Denise Bradley (2nd)

Under 20’s Male: Luke Davis (1st)

Senior Male: Jacob Tasker (1st), Nicky Bennett (2nd)

35-39 Male: Dai James (3rd)

45-49 Male: Geriant Lewis (1st), Aled Hughes (2nd)

60-64 Male: Kevin Raymond

Plus of course – BCRL Club Champions – OGMORE PHOENIX RUNNERS (1ST)

Over to Chris for the Chairs Runners of the Month

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many runners develop within the club.  Many come to us to start their journey and some to continue it. A few were here right at the start, when the club started.

One of my choices for November has battled with injury and the impact that has on focus and motivation.  It’s such a hard journey when serious injury prevents you from being active – especially when you were very active before and had aspirations for performance improvements.  Performing well, setting club records.  Focused and committed.   Then injury strikes and worsens to the point where it prevents continuation – leading to operations.  But, not one to be undone, there was a measured return from it.  There was a new found focus.  You know how much I value a comeback – and use it as inspiration for my own running.  It was a steady process – but there was a process and it was followed.  Runs were slowly building from just a few hundred yards.  Steadily it came back.  Tentative steps but definitely making progress.  Soon enough the distance returned and times were starting to tend to those from the past.  In November, a first place finish at parkrun came – marking a milestone that hadn’t previously been achieved.  An accolade to the patience and hard work to return.  I am delighted to award my first Chair’s Runner of the month for November as John Burridge.  Well done John!  A great journey back that has inspired others – including me!

Newcomers aplenty during 2023 and many were getting stuck in straight away.  League events and relays – nothing presents a barrier to participation for some.  Not only getting stuck in but also performing with first finishes and impressive times being notched up.  Living away from the area but travelling in for training sessions and local races shows a focus on being part of the club.  League races representing the club were also accompanied by representation at regional level having being selected to run for South Wales.  When new members join and get stuck in straight away it’s becomes infectious – others see it and it inspires them to get involved and we all applaud such fabulous dedication.  It is with a great deal of admiration that I award my second Chair’s Runner of the month for November as Bethan Moor.  Well done Bethan and keep inspiring others!!