September 2020 review

Virtual / (not)parkrun

Results this month included fastest male and female times from Rhodri Thomas, Melanie Thomas, Keith Coleman, Liz Davis and Sian Price. Attendance is now around 40 each week as we reached 6 months worth of virtual parkruns.

Dragon 50/100

The second running of the Dragon 50 and 100 miler took place on the weekend of the 12th/13th September as one of the first and only Welsh running events to go ahead. Runners were set off in waves of 6 and with the distances involved, there wasn’t going to be too many issues with too many runners in close proximity. Liz Sim and Steven James teamed up to run the 100 miler together – Liz’s first 100 miler, whilst it was Steven’s second. Angharad Hinam was also signed up for the 100 and was running with former Phoenix member Luke Jones, whilst our only Dragon 100 conqueror from the inaugural event in 2019, Nick Harris, was back to take on the course again. In the 50 miler, there was just me from the current Phoenix membership with former member Brian Cotton also lining up for the event having recently transferred to another local club.

The 100 milers set off on Saturday afternoon at around 430pm – they had until 23:59:59 on Sunday to finish giving them around 31 and a half hours to complete the 100 mile course. Unfortunately, 2 or 3 separate navigational issues meant that Nick, Angharad and Luke didn’t make it to one of the early Sunday morning checkpoints on time after adding a couple of miles each and time lost whilst trying to get back on track. The first 20-30 miles of the course took the runners from the Gower and along the Wales Coastal Path but then cruelly leaves the path to go into Afan Argoed forest in the middle of the night which would be tough to navigate for even the most experienced trail ultra runners. Liz and Steven did amazingly to stay on track and I was gutted to just miss them as I started the 50 miler at 7am on Sunday morning as they were probably just a mile or two from passing that point.

For me, it was my first Ultra since 2016 when I did the Vale 32 miler. I’ve done my own blog about my race and how I ended up even contemplating doing a 50 miler as someone who has repeatedly said they ‘don’t like long distance running’ and had ‘retired from anything over half marathon’. I finished the 50 miler in 10 hours and 37 minutes and was 6th overall. It went so much better than I ever could have imagined. Former member, Brian Cotton finished in 12 hours 31 minutes having been dogged with injuries in the lead up to the event having originally been signed up for the 100.

As for Liz and Steven, they finished the 100 miler in 30 hours and 16 minutes in joint 13th place whilst Liz was the 2nd female finisher overall. A remarkable achievement by both and no doubt an experience they will never forget.

A massive thank you to Nicola Cornock, Maria George, Nicola Cornock and Darija Keenor who all got up very early on Sunday morning to volunteer at the Porthcawl / Ogmore by Sea aid stations.

Virtual events

More than a dozen members signed up for the MIAD (Marathon in a Day) virtual which challenged runners to run 26.2 on their own or as part of a team within a 24 hour period. Most members teamed up with others to run a quarter of the distance each or a half marathon each. Others choose to do two half marathons within a 24 hour period, and we also had some members do it all in one go.

Multiple members also completed the Leave Nothing But Footprints Virtual Run which was put on by the same company with which dozens of members did the Miles for Mind challenge earlier in the year.

Tammie Baker and others did the Black Dog virtual run and also completed the Race for Life virtual.

Judith Jeeves added to her extensive virtual medal collection with the Ring of Kerry virtual in which she completed the 200K challenge over 6 weeks.

Over to Chris for his runners of the month.

Chairman’s Runners of the Month

September saw a further easing of restrictions and alongside that there was a gradual return of small scale events.   Small scale in terms of number of competitors, not in terms of distance.  Social distancing still of paramount importance and necessary to comply with government and local authority stipulations.  Several members took advantage of this and crossed various finish lines during the warm, summer months.

We celebrate all abilities within our club.  That is never in doubt.  However, when someone does something that requires superhuman effort, it connot go without being acknowledged and celebration.

September saw the running of the Dragon races from Run, Walk, Crawl.  An aptly named company that like to host ultra marathon distance races in our locale.  There are several schools of thought on what constitutes ultra distance.  Some see it as anything over a marathon.  The most consistent description I’ve heard is 50km or more.  Just over 31 miles.  Run, Walk, Crawl cover several distance events.  They have a number of 50 mile events but have more recently added more of the 100 mile distance events to the list, not least the Dragon 100.

I’ve always been in awe of runners who can complete 100 miles in one go.  The ability to dig so deep inside to, not only physically keep going, but to have the mental strength to battle the demons that raise their head throughout is incredibly impressive, to say the least.

Several took on the challenge this year along the route from Rhossili to Cardiff.  

Just two were victorious this year.  In a story that tells of long training miles in a time when the world was restricted.  Distances of this type require a nutrition plan also.  A plan that was tried and tested through the training.  Nutritional advice given to change a routine, understanding the needs of the body over such a distance is paramount to completion.  It’s a story of one member experienced at the distance supporting a fellow runner with her quest to conquer a new goal.  Forming a bubble in line with the restrictions so they could train and run safely together.   Knowledge and experience imparted and a solid plan hatched to tackle the distance together.  Student and teacher and great friends getting the job done.  

With a small support crew in tow and members lining the route in small groups at various points they got through it, together.  

A huge hat raise to my two Chairmain’s Runner’s of the Month for September, Steven James and Liz Sim.  A huge undertaking, especially in difficult times and a massive achievement.  Well done to both.  A huge thank you to both also for their idea of the Virtual Sunflower Relay which kept 93 members engaged over 100 activities and 850 miles travelled throughout the summer and finishing at the end of August.