RACE REPORTS 2017
If you’re not a fan of laps, you may not want to go any further than this first sentence. Sunday was Trailblaster 12, which involves running round Townley Park in Burnley for 12 hours or until you’ve had enough! This is a tough event at any time, but with lunchtime temperatures above 30° it was made considerably tougher.
Each lap is an approximate 5K loop with quite a variety of terrain. The start is on a hard packed path with a nerve-jangling ramp up a wall, which seemed looser on every lap. Then you run through a picturesque wood before a circuit of a grassy field. After this the route continues with a short climb (although it doesn’t seem short after 6 or 7 laps) up through a wooded section, before dropping down to a river crossing. The final part of the loop takes you on a multitude of small loops through grassy fields that had been freshly cut for the event - so hayfever sufferers like myself had another challenge.
Possibly due to a clash with Oldham 10K, or nobody else being mad or daft enough, I was the only solo runner from RRR although Sue Heaney entered as a pair with Julia Moore. The great thing about this event is that if you don’t feel you could cope with running solo for 12 hours, there are 6-hour, pairs & team options. It can become confusing when wondering why a runner is flying past you, before realising they are in a team of 5, so will probably have a 3 or 4 hour rest before their next lap.
As anyone who attempted any form of running on Sunday will testify it was a ridiculously hot day. I can honestly never recall running in such conditions. It was so warm that you were feeling dehydrated after about 2-3K of each lap, when usually I can run 10-15K before feeling the need for fluid. It was a perfect test for my nutrition, especially as I was struggling to eat anything due to the heat. I survived the event on a combination of Mountain Fuel, water & flat coke.
I managed to complete 12 laps - which was less than last year but conditions were slightly different - thus running 63K to achieve 4th place in the 12-hour Solo Male category. Just 1 more lap would have given me 3rd place, but I could have only completed the final lap by walking the whole circuit. Huge congratulations to Sue & Julia who finished 1st in the Female Pairs category by running 79K. A massive thanks to Jarrod Gritt, who after running Oldham 10K in the morning came over to Burnley to run the last few laps with me. By doing this he not only tested a variety of trail shoes & gave himself a new goal for next year, but he was taught by myself how to run 40-minute 5K loops! An extremely tough race - at the moment, 48 hours afterwards, I have a fair few aches & pains as well as feet that still feel like they are on fire!
Reflecting on the event, it would be great to get some RRR teams or even some solo
runners over for next year. Hopefully this could happen if there isn't another clash with
Father's Day or Oldham 10K. Oh & just to whet your
appetite, it is extremely likely that next year there will be a 24-hour event! [Simon Howard]
MILLTOWN OLDHAM 10K - 18th JUNE 2017There are times when it would be wonderful to have Meditteranean weather in Oldham; for those of us sweltering on the start line at 9.30am, Sunday morning wasn't one of them. Race preparations had been very different to normal, with runners sensibly taking on lots of water & scrabbling around for sunglasses rather than base layers & gloves. Hopefully that's the hottest race day we'll have to endure this year.
RRR numbers were lower than for the last few years - mostly I suspect due to the price of entry if you hadn't entered the full Milltown series & taken advantage of 'early bird' offers - but our 62 finishers still made up more than 20% of the field & we dominated the prize-giving ceremony. With most of our winners having fled in search of some shade, Shane Reading & Sophie Wood almost covered an extra 10K in going up to collect awards on their behalf.
Leading the way for RRR in fine style was Rob James with another fine race victory. Rob once again pushed Oldham & Royton's Michael Mannings into 2nd place, this time by almost a full minute as he crossed the line in a chip time of 34:12. Rob had 'warmed up' with a little 13.5 mile bike ride from home & he was straight back in the saddle for the return journey after the presentation. If that's the secret of his success, I guess we should all be cycling to races from now on...
One of our most remarkable prize-winning performances came from new Ladies Captain Val Kilburn. Val suffered more than most in the heat, but still battled on to finish in 54:07, well below her best but still good enough to claim FV45 victory. Under normal circumstances Val would have been expected to feature in the RRR ladies team, but our leading trio on this occasion - Sophie Wood (a great run for 2nd female, 41:51), Janet Jobey (2nd FV40, 3rd overall, 45:29) & Helen Radcliffe (6th overall, 50:43) - still claimed an impressive win without her. The men duly made it a clean sweep of the team prizes, with Rob joined by Chris Lowe (1st V45, 4th overall, 37:26) & Shane Reading (1st V40, 6th overall, 38:06).
Other RRR age category winners included Sheila Phillips (1st FV65, 1:20:39), Bernadette Ball (1st FV60, 1:04:50), Dave Phillips (1st V70, 55:44), Ronnie Quinn (1st V60, 48:44), Richard Cummins (1st V50, 39:57 - although they apparently felt sorry for me & announced it as my victory) & Michael Fleming (1st V35, 39:45). Mr & Mrs Phillips have now finished 1st in their respective age categories in every Oldham 10K since the race was introduced in 2013, a remarkable achievement. Gail Shaw (55:52) was declared the FV50 winner - published results suggest that she did in fact finish in 2nd place, but that's still a fine performance & she has her winnings now!
It was quite literally a warm welcome for Sharon Leach (59:45) & John Fay (54:28), both making their competitive RRR debuts, while John Higgins (1:07:37) made his 1st appearance of the season. I didn't see John on the day, but judging from the results he ran the course with 2 members of his family; if not, it's an amazing coincidence that there were 3 finishers in a row with the same surname...
All the other RRR finishers: Karen Stuttard (1:23:51), Angela Rogowskyj (1:19:28), Amanda Richardson (1:09:01), Neil Bradley (1:06:10), Judith Bradley (1:05:04), Carol Robinson (1:04:08), Brian Swindells (3rd V65, 1:03:37), Chris Whiteman (1:03:26), Tracey Hall (1:02:49), Jillian Heywood (1:00:45), Martina Naismith (1:00:16), Jill Hickson (56:15), Martin Jones (56:01), Clare Darraugh (55:55), Lisa Cummins (2nd FV45, 55:25), Lee Higginbottom (54:24), Selina McLean (54:03), Simon Lake (51:35), Rochelle Evans (51:46), Ray Williams (51:18), Paul Cooke (51:00), Gary Smith (3rd V55, 50:09), Nick Mallon (49:33), Robert Nixon (3rd V60, 48:56), Mark Heaney (2nd V55, 47:56), Ian Dale (an injury-affected 48:02), Matt Kilburn (47:26), Adrian Marshall (47:03), Dave Peart (46:15), Jason Keast (45:46), Brad Howard (45:24), Paul Anderson (45:01), Rob Kellett (44:09), Carl O'Callaghan (43:39), Elliot Stone (43:11), David McBride (42:14), Neil Brock (3rd V50, 42:12), me (2nd V50, 41:38), Michael Pickering (41:26), Bernie Goodwin (3rd V45, 41:24), Paul Ashton (41:21), Michael Wildbore (41:19 after an impressively strong finish, especially for a new dad with little sleep), Jarrod Gritt (39:17), Rob Battye (39:14) & Paul Bannister (9th overall, 39:00).
This was the 1st of 4 club races in quick succession at 10K or a similar distance. Next up is the Rochdale 10K on 4th July, quickly followed by our own The Royton Trail & the Mossley 10K. No doubt we'll see some much quicker times in more bearable running conditions! [David Emanuel]
ROCHDALE 3 DAY EVENT – 9th JUNE TO 11th JUNE 2017
NORDEN 6 MILE ROAD RACE (9/6/17)
I didn’t have any running in mind this Friday evening, when Jason texted see if I was up for the road race, but I’m in a more positive running frame of mind these days. So yes, let’s do this.
Following an RRR kerbside discussion on the latest Oldham pub refurbs & where you could still get Sam Smith’s ‘Taddy’ lager, we strung ourselves across Edenfield Road to be set off on the whistle. This road climbs steeply - very steeply for the first 100 metres or so - for around 1.5 miles, as you try to maintain a comfortable rhythm. Once you reach Ashworth Moor reservoir it's time to run as fast as you can along an undulating road with some big descents. It's great to go fast downhill, but your legs have to turn over rapidly to keep you from tumbling! After just over 3.5 miles you come to a sharp climb where the farmland meets the town. Described on Rochdale’s webpage as the ‘hardest part of the course’, if you’re out of running form then this short stretch really can stop you in your tracks. Literally! Once this is done you’re on your way home, turning back up Edenfield Road & making quick decisions as to whether to run on the pavement or in the road, stepping on & off the kerb to avoid people, dogs & street furniture, with any deviation from the straight taking valuable seconds. Then it’s round the corner & a final pelt to the finish. The RRR finishers were Neil Brock (42:20), David McBride (42:35 for 1st V40), Andrew Schofield (43:54), Steve Shaw (46:54, 1st V60), Jason Keast (48:51), Gary Smith (49:28) & Jill Heywood (57:11).
NADEN VALLEY 6 MILE MULTI-TERRAIN RACE (10/6/17)
Neil Brock (52:19) was the only RRR to take part in the 2nd race - going immediately to the 11am start after getting soaked completing Oldham parkrun!
KNOWL HILL FELL RACE (11/6/17)
This 6 mile fell race has a total of 1300ft of climb & starts heading uphill from the off, with the runners having to ascend to roughly 500ft above the start within the first 1.5 miles. There follows a 350-400ft descent to the first wall stile, where the main pack forms an orderly queue, but you can lose minutes of time here before crossing Greenbooth Reservoir. You walk up a sharp incline before crossing a stream & start doing a bear crawl up Knowl Hill. If you find some rhythm you can progress as quickly as the others, or else just follow the legs & bum of the person in front. Incidentally the sheep up there don’t use the flush!
Just short of the halfway point you hit 1357ft, the highest point of the race. At the top you turn 90 degrees around the
cairn, past the wind turbine & then you’re running down the gradient on a
track crossing wide open moorland. Back over the reservoir, up the steps &
diagonally across the first hill you came down, the going remaining boggy! The
final section is a level woodland walk, then a steep bank of the sort that you
rolled down as a kid & a final gate to negotiate before the sprint to the
There were 8 RRR finishers this time in a race which is also part of the 2017 Run The Moors Grand Prix: Rob James (4th overall, 46:09), Alan Bodell (3rd V50, 55:08), Paul Wolstenhulme (58:19), Barry Greaves (2nd V60, 58:28), Neil Brock (1:01:44), Jason Keast (1:03:42), Gary Smith (1: 11:49) & Ray Williams (1:13:18).
If you completed all 3 events you received a technical tee & there were prizes covering all the age categories presented in the Brown Cow afterwards. There you could extend your enjoyment of the morning’s run with a pint, a chip barm cake & some good craic. Recommended! [Gary Smith]
LITTLEBOROUGH 5K – 7th JUNE 2017
That’ll teach me! In the report on the previous Littleborough 5K race in May, I highlighted the fact that “we've won both team prizes at every race in this series dating back to April 2015”. Guess what happened this time?
No blame attached to our leading men, who delivered yet another team victory despite the presence of a stronger-than-usual field including Salford’s Ian Grime & Joe Bailey – the latter setting a stunning new course record of 15:30 as the 1st past the post (it was General Election eve, after all; I’m tempted to suggest that he didn’t have to Labour for vic-Tory, but that’s probably a party political pun too far). It was a close run thing, though, as our leading trio of Chris Lowe (17:25), Rob Battye (17:52) & Jarrod Gritt (18:01) finished with a combined time just 4 seconds quicker than the quickest 3 from Middleton Harriers. Unfortunately, in the absence of many of our regular female racers (Jen Bloor, Janet Jobey, Debbie Shaw, Val Kilburn, Rochelle Evans, Natalie Fitzpatrick & Debbie Fiddling to name just a few), we could only manage 2nd place behind Oldham & Royton in the women’s team race. Under the circumstances it was a fine effort by Sophie Wood (19:31), Helen Radcliffe (24:09) & Lisa Cummins (26:18) to get within 2 minutes of the victorious O&R runners.
That runners-up spot was the only disappointment on a remarkably successful evening for Sophie. A fine victory in the women’s race also gave her an overall win for the series, more than 3 minutes clear of the field & the only woman (one of only 12 athletes in total) with an aggregate time of less than an hour across the 3 races. Perhaps even more satisfying was the fact that Sophie’s official winning time was 4 seconds faster than Jen Bloor’s in Race 2.
On an evening when the nasty weather of the previous few days had thankfully abated – it was pleasantly cool & dry, while the wind had dropped significantly - Lisa Cummins (1st FV45) was one of only 2 RRRs to pick up an age-category prize. It turned out to be a family affair as the other award went to Lisa's husband Richard (1st V50, 19:00), as both made their 1st & only appearance in this race series.
We were considerably more successful in the overall series results, with our club providing 16 of the 49 runners to complete all 3 races & receiving a special thanks from Chief Cannonball John Lloyd at the post-race presentation. No age category prizes are awarded for the series but it’s still worth recognising the performances of Gail Shaw (6th lady overall, 1st FV50), Jillian Heywood (9th, 1st FV45), Shane Reading (5th, 2nd V40), Jarrod Gritt (6th, 3rd SM), Brian Swindells (1st V65) & even me (1st V50 despite getting progressively slower in each race). A special mention too for Mick Wildbore - whose outstanding final run of 19:11 lifted him to 8th place for the series - & for Andrew Chadwick, who crossed the line in a remarkable 22:41 to be recognised as ‘best improver’. Beginning with time of 25:15 in the 1st race back in April, Andrew was the only athlete to record an improvement greater than 10% across the 3 races.
All the other RRR finishing times on the night: Angela Rogowskyj (35:12), Brian Swindells (3rd V65, 31:40), Judith Bradley & Amanda Richardson (both 29:22), Stephen Jones (29:05), Neil Bradley (28:43), Jillian Heywood (2nd FV45, 27:14), Ronnie Quinn (27:09), Gail Shaw (2nd FV50, 27:00), Jill Hickson (26:20), Gary Marshall (24:47), Paul Cooke (24:28), Robert Nixon (23:36), Ray Williams (23:28), Kevin Heenan (23:24), Chris Nicholson (23:16), Paul Leech (22:40), Steven Shaw (22:18), Adrian Marshall (21:55), Jason Keast (21:50), Paul Wolstenhulme (21:45), Mark Heaney (2nd V55, 21:37), David Crewe (21:18), Barry Greaves (3rd V60, 21:09), Robert Kellett (21:09), me (3rd V50, 19:53), Neil Brock (2nd V50, 19:38), Bernie Goodwin (3rd V45, 19:16), Michael Fleming (18:46) & Shane Reading (18:03).
If you’ve enjoyed the challenge of these races, you may want to have a look at another imminent Cannonball 5K series. This one consists of 4 races on alternate Thursday evenings between 22nd June & 3rd August in the delightful surroundings of Centre Vale Park in Todmorden. It’s a 5-lap race, but if you can get your head around that it’s considerably flatter & faster than Littleborough! [David Emanuel]
LIVERPOOL ROCK’N’ROLL HALF MARATHON – 28th MAY 2017
When Bernadette read out Liz Philips’ post that she & husband Scott couldn’t do the Liverpool Rock‘n’Roll Half due to both being injured, I thought this was a chance to run in my city of birth & go to see my mum after the race. Two (Liver) birds with one stone!
Getting out of the car we were hailed by a friendly Scouse runner who offered for us to join him on the walk in. I still get surprised that few people can tell from the slight twang in my voice that I’m a Liverpudlian myself. The race was sold out & so we were looking forward to being enveloped in a crowd of 20,000 fellow runners, but with half an hour to go until the official start time of 9:00am the 1-20 numbered corrals were still empty. They gradually filled quietly with runners but they didn’t start shuffling forward until after 9:20. Like the Leeds Half 2 weeks earlier, which set off 30 mins later than the publicised time, slick publicity & organisation don’t ensure you start on time!
The weather was pretty much perfect for running, cool with not much breeze, unusual for the Liverpool waterfront! For a music-themed race the start was a quiet affair with just the MC getting us to wave for the official cameraman before setting us off. I enjoyed the route, mainly because I am running for the first time in ages without niggling injuries or viruses. I didn’t have much of a nostalgia trip, but running down Mathew Street past a naff bronze statue of John Lennon I did remember going to Eric’s in the late ‘70s to see The Clash a couple of times. Bernadette was in a posse of runners that laughed with & applauded a one-legged spectator who egged them on with “best foot forward” & “one step at a time”! Liverpool is 10th in the list of UK cities with most green spaces - running through Princess & Sefton Parks in their full greenery was very pleasant. The last 3 miles along Otterspool Promenade was a flat wide dash for the finish with only a moderate breeze against us.
Despite most of the RRRs finishing within 30 minutes of each other (I think) we didn’t manage to meet up after the race, either in the Arena or on the concourse outside, which was a pity because there was a nice buzzy vibe around the music stage & the armed police cheerfully tolerated being continuously asked to pose for photos.
The ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Half’ brand is used in various cities around the world. The bling is impressive, with all sorts of medal incentives for you to run in more than one event or sign up for the next one. It wasn’t uncommon to see runners with 3 or 4 of these guitar & LP-shaped heavy medallions around their necks. Bernadette collected Liz’s ‘encore’ medal & to the sound of it chinking against her own finisher’s award we set off for the car & the obligatory visit to my mum.
RRR finishing times: Neil Bradley (2:24:16), Judith Bradley (2:13:46), Selina McLean & Paul Anderson (both 1:54:05), Jill Heywood & Ian Dale (both 2:03:31), Rob Nixon (1:53:42), Bernadette Ball (2:20:16), myself (1:49:03) & Garry Bower (1:52:29). Garry also ran the RnR 5K on the Saturday in 21:04, faster than any of his parkrun times. Great running Garry & congratulations to everyone else. [Gary Smith]
A quick mention too for the RRRs who completed the full marathon in Liverpool - Andy Chadwick (4:40:57), Sarah Butler & Stephen Davies (both 5:20:36) & Steve Shaw, 3:54:23 for a remarkable 50th marathon since RRR became affiliated in 2003.
30th October 2008 will always go down as the worst day in my entire life, when I had to endure a nightmare no parent should have to endure. Early one morning, while in the Lake District with my daughter Beth (aged just 10 at the time), I received a phone call from the police that my stepson Aaron had passed away from SUDEP during the night.
There are more than half a million people with epilepsy in the UK. Around 600 people die each year due to Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (or SUDEP). Although the percentage of the population who are affected by SUDEP is relatively low, every death due to SUDEP is thought to be potentially avoidable.
SUDEP is a research priority & researchers have made an important breakthrough in discovering that an individual’s genetic makeup may contribute to the risk of SUDEP. However, in 2008 we were unaware that Aaron could be affected by SUDEP & just knew he had grand mal seizures, which were very severe, although he had only suffered from epilepsy for about 4-5 years prior to his death.
I then had to make the awful journey home & opted not to tell Beth the tragic news until we got home. The tragedy made me reassess my own life & contemplate that if a young man of 21 can die when they have their whole life set out in front of them then I have to seize every day, as you never know what is round the corner. So my motto became Carpe Diem (sieze the day).
At the time, Aaron was studying forensic computing at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston & was looking forward to moving to Canada once he had completed his degree. This started my running journey, as a group of his university friends decided to run the Silverstone Half Marathon in March 2009 & crazily I decided to join them, as at the time I was almost 18 stone! I struggled round this race in just under 2 hours 45 mins, but this journey eventually culminated in me joining Royton Road Runners in August 2013, which I can honestly say was the best thing I have ever done. Aaron would have been 30 on 26th May, so I was extremely honoured when Andy O’Sullivan, in conjunction with the RRR committee, allowed one of our club races to be dedicated to him.
Tuesday’s race was an extremely emotional occasion from a personal level, as anybody who saw me just after I’d finished will know, but I was honoured that so many runners turned out, including 64 from RRR. It was a hot, sticky night but Cowm Reservoir was a beautiful setting for the race, with many runners returning there after another club race held there earlier in the month. The run consists of a short lung-busting climb before 2 laps of the reservoir & a quick run down to the finish.
Due to the large number of RRRs there was a multitude of PBs & prizes for the club. Rob James continued his fine form since returning from injury, claiming 3rd place with a time of 16:36. He was closely followed by Chris Lowe (5th, 1st V45) in 17:40, with Shane Reading just behind in 17:50 (6th, 3rd V40). Jen Bloor continued her fine form, finishing in 18:59, which gave her 2nd place in the ladies race, with Sophie Wood following shortly behind in 19:24 to give her 3rd place.
Other RRR prize winners were Jenny O’Callaghan (2nd FV35, 28:59), Liz Phillips (3rd FV35, 29:14), Janet Jobey (1st FV40, 20:54), Helen Radcliffe (2nd FV40, 23:48), Selina McLean (3rd FV40, 23:52 - credit must be given to Helen & Selina for encouraging each other during the race), Val Kilburn (2nd FV45, 24:01), Jill Heywood (3rd FV45, 26:55), Gail Shaw (2nd FV50, 26:50), Sue Heaney (1st FV55, 25:39), Bernadette Ball (2nd FV60, 29:14) & Sheila Phillips (3rd FV65, 34:37 in her 25th race for RRR). Our newly appointed press officer, Elliot Stone claimed an excellent 18th place overall (2nd V45, 19:04) & Bernie Goodwin wasn’t far behind (3rd V45, 19:15). Eamonn Nolan earned 1st V50 in 19:58, although his prize of a mug rather than a bottle of wine seemed strange & is still sat in my car boot! Rob Kellett claimed 2nd V50 (20:45) & there was a clean sweep of podium places in the V55 category with Mark Heaney, who continues to get faster & faster earning 1st V55 in 20:57, followed by Bernie Cassidy (21:16) & Gary Smith (22:47). Continuing the men’s prizes, Ronnie Quinn finished in an excellent time of 21:30 (2nd V60) & Rob Nixon shaved yet more time off his earlier run at Cowm in May to claim 3rd V60 (23:14). Completing the men’s prizes were Dave Phillips (1st V70, 23:53) to make a clean sweep of prizes for the Phillips household & George Meynell, starting his first race of 2017 (3rd V70, 31:32).
Funds from the race will go to SUDEP Action, which provides research into epilepsy deaths from SUDEP. My original plan after this race was to run Liverpool RNR Marathon for SUDEP, but unfortunately my rib injury meant this couldn’t happen. However, when I run the Lakeland 50 in July, I will be doing this to raise funds for SUDEP Action. I can’t thank the number of you that turned up to run on Tuesday night, it really meant so much to me. My tears on the 2nd lap were when I suddenly realised how many runners were taking part but also how many wonderful friends I have at RRR. Thanks again.
Other RRR finishers : Angela Rogowskyj (35:08), Emma Bower (completing her first race of 2017
in 32:06), Mary Freer (31:32), Sharon Dracup (in her 10th race for
RRR, 30:07), Nefa Nessa (29:51), Amanda Richardson (29:31), Carol Robinson
(who had a very good race, as she said so on Facebook, 29:02), Judith Bradley
(running her first race for RRR in 28:47), Neil Bradley (also running his first
RRR race, 28:28), Dave Watt (running his 25th race for RRR,
28:00), Martina Naismith (27:39), Steve Jones (27:18), Clare Darraugh (running
her 25th race for RRR, 26:30), Jill Hickson (25:09), Phil Austin
(24:59), myself (24:28), Rachel Shuttleworth (another who seems to be running
faster and faster, 24:01), Paul Cooke (23:11), Chris Nicholson (22:58), Ray
Williams (22:45), Lee Higginbottom (22:42), Garry Bower (22:25), Nick Mallon
(22:01), Adrian Marshall (21:27), Jason Keast (21:12), Mark Rigby (21:00), Paul
Wolstenhulme (20:39), Dave Freer (20:31), Rob Marsden (20:31), Matt Kilburn
(20:18), Dave McBride (19:49), Carl O’Callaghan (19:49), Mick Wildbore (19:06),
Michael Fleming (18:26), Paul Bannister (17:59), Jarrod Gritt (17:55) & Rob
Battye (17:52). [Simon Howard]
Jason Keast, Barry Greaves, newish RRR member Paul Wolstenhulme & I went out to Foe Edge for the 4th in the Run the Moors Grand Prix 2017 series of races.
Foe Edge starts in a field up from the back of a church hall in the pleasant-looking Cowpe village, found off the Rossendale to Bacup road. It's a church call that looked unchanged from the time of the Balfour Declaration.
About 150 of us were counted into a makeshift, taped ‘sheep-pen’ & after a minute's silence for Monday’s atrocity we were set off up the daunting, facing hill. This was almost thankfully so steep we had to scrabble & walk most of it before cresting the ridge. Looking up at the snaking cord of human figures ahead of me, making progress up the slope, provided a strong visual image of the essence of fell running (this was my first for two years). You’re away from the roads & parks, heading out onto the open moor, up close & personal with the sheep & those proliferating wind turbines. We ran in bright evening sunshine with most of the track dry, but some muddy & boggy parts. The real pleasure of fell running is when you’re trying to move at speed over randomly placed sharp rocks, boulders & hillocks, & through deep ruts on a downhill trajectory.
The hill is that steep down to the finish that you feel as if you’re about to run over a precipice. I thought that if I lost my balance then I’d still hit the finish by rolling the last bit downhill, like that daft cheese-rolling tradition they have. Instead I stayed in low gear & made it down safely.
Race over, we took the team RRR photo (above) with Barry looking as those he’s photo-bombed it. Don’t forget your RRR vest next time Barry! It’s great to be back fell-running. [Gary Smith]
OLDHAM 7K - 14th MAY 2017
2 club races in less than 72 hours? Not a problem for your typical Royton Road Runner. Of our 67 finishers on this challenging 7K route (25% of the total field), 46 had completed the Ian Casey 5K just a couple of evenings earlier. That included Rob James, producing another superb victory as he outsprinted Oldham & Royton’s Michael Mannings for a very satisfying win in 24:48.
Mannings, with the help of team-mates Tony Muir & Dave Carroll, did gain some form of revenge by claiming the men’s team prize, despite the fact that RRR had 6 of the 1st 10 to finish – Shane Reading (1st V40, 26:27) beating Jarrod Gritt on chip timing by just 3 tenths of a second, followed by Paul Joyce (8th, 26:31), Chris Lowe (9th, 1st V45, 26:39) & Robert Fairbanks (10th, 26:42). There was some confusion at the prize-giving beside the finish in Alexandra Park when no women’s team prize was awarded, but this was later corrected (with a little prompting from Janet Jobey) by Oldham Community Leisure. So congratulations to our winning trio of Jen Bloor (1st female in 29:03 despite being ill, or hungover, or possibly both), Sophie Wood (1st FU23, 29:42) & Janet herself (1st FV40, 31:42).
No age category prizes were awarded, but that’s not going to stop me recognising the other RRR ‘winners’ – Sheila Phillips (1st FV65, 52:18), Val Kilburn (1st FV45, 33:23), David Phillips (1st V70, 36:29) & Robert Nixon (1st V60, 35:31).
In contrast to those running a 2nd race in quick succession, Paul Joyce’s impressive 8th position was achieved in his 1st club championship appearance of the year. Others making their 2017 debut were Sharon Dracup (47:03), Rachel Wood (39:21), Chris Whiteman (38:53), Nick Mallon (34:29) & Dan Yarwood (28:53).
All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (55:28), Stephen Jones (53:35), Karen Stuttard (46:55), Amanda Richardson (44:17), Carol Robinson (43:53, just a day after her excellent RRR Cup victory at the same venue), Martina Naismith (40:35), Jillian Heywood (40:17), Gail Shaw (39:44), Jill Hickson (38:54), Lisa Cummins (38:47), Simon Lake (37:35), Martin Jones (36:42), Rachael Shuttleworth (36:31), Clare Darraugh (36:17), Phil Austin (36:10), Tony Kane (36:00), Helen Radcliffe (35:39), Paul Anderson & Selina McLean (both 35:30), Ray Williams (35:09), Garry Bower (34:51), Paul Cooke (34:24), Lee Higginbottom (34:14), Mark Heaney (32:26), Stewart Jones (31:56), Adrian Marshall (31:55), Jason Keast (31:49), David Crewe (31:48), Matt Kershaw (31:32), Rob Kellett (31:15), Bernie Cassidy (31:09), Rob Marsden (31:01), Matt Kilburn (30:53), David McBride (30:17), Dave Peart (30:11), Elliot Stone (29:49), Carl O’Callaghan (29:34), Bernie Goodwin (29:16), Michael Wildbore (28:58), Owen Flage (28:56), Shaun Armstrong (28:54), Neil Brock (28:41), me (28:26), Alan Bodell & Michael Pickering (both 28:13, with Michael pipping Alan after an impressive sprint finish which I was able to watch from an increasing distance), Michael Fleming (27:50), Richard Cummins (27:45), Rob Battye (27:02) & Paul Bannister (returning from a foot injury in a fine 26:47).
There’s a longer break now before the next club race, the Aaron Ashforth Memorial Race at Cowm on Tuesday 23rd May. I’m sure that you’ll do what RRR does best & turn up in large numbers! [David Emanuel]
MEMORIAL COWM RESERVOIR RACE - 11th MAY 2017
Incredible to think that it’s now 8 years since Ian Casey, one of our most enthusiastic & popular members, collapsed & died whilst taking part in the Gloucester Marathon. Andy O'Sullivan kindly puts on this race in his memory each year & it will be always be an integral part of the club championship. The 65 RRRs taking part was a little down on previous years but still made up more than half of the field & there were plenty more of our members marshaling or supporting. Andy has confirmed that the event raised £400 for various good causes, including the Children’s Heart Association.
Leading the way around the two laps of Cowm Reservoir in impressive style was Rob James. Rob may still be working his way back from injury but his 16:42 was only 6 seconds slower than last year’s winning time & almost a minute clear of Rochdale’s Chris Merchant in 2nd place.
Rob led a procession of RRRs across the line – 8 of the first 10 finishers, 17 of the leading 25. A remarkable 23 RRRs broke the 21-minute barrier. Amongst those was Jen Bloor, 17th overall in a fine 19:20 to claim victory in the women’s race ahead of Sophie Wood (23rd, 19:53). Janet Jobey followed a couple of speedy junior females to finish 1st FV40 in 21:28.
Making impressive debuts in RRR colours on a warm but breezy evening were Phil Austin (73rd, 24:30) & Mark Rigby (44th, 21:15). Good to have you on board! There were also a number making their 1st club championship appearance of 2017 – Sheila Phillips (1st FV65, 34:36), Sally Wood (96th, 27:32), Chloe Clegg & Lisa Howarth (fresh from their London Marathon exploits in joint 54th, 26:52), Teresa Hollins (2nd FV60, 25:47), David Phillips (1st V70, 24:43), John Williamson (41st, 21:09), Eamonn Nolan (36th, 20:44), David McBride (31st, 20:26) & Alan Bodell (1st V50, 19:07).
As RRR dominated the prize-giving, 2 others claimed
age-category awards – Chris Lowe (1st V40, 4th overall in 17:49) & for the
1st time Jenny O’Callaghan (1st FV35, 28:59).
All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (2nd FV50, 36:44), Amanda Richardson (30:54), Nefa Nessa (30:19), Bernadette Ball (3rd FV60, 29:37), Dave Watt (29:01), Martina Naismith (27:32), Jillian Heywood (27:04), Stephen Jones (26:44), Jill Hickson (25:51), Sue Heaney (2nd FV55, 24:52), Rachael Shuttleworth (3rd SF, 24:45), Helen Radcliffe (3rd FV40, 24:40), Clare Darraugh (2nd FV40, 24:23), Martin Jones (24:06), Chris Nicholson (23:44), Rob Nixon (3rd V60, 23:39), Gary Smith (23:24), Paul Cooke (23:07), Garry Bower (22:58), Vikki Smith (3rd FV45, 22:42), Andy Chadwick (22:23), Val Kilburn (2nd FV45, 22:18), Lee Higginbottom (22:14 in his 1st race as a married man) Bernie Cassidy (3rd V55, 22:13), Stewart Jones (21:50), Adrian Marshall (21:45), Jason Keast (21:40), Paul Wolstenhulme (21:28), David Crewe (21:22), Mark Heaney (2nd V55, 21:13), Rob Kellett (21:12), Rob Marsden (20:53), Matt Kilburn (20:33), Bryan Lawton (20:28), Elliot Stone (20:09), Carl O’Callaghan (3rd V45, 19:49), Neil Brock (19:46), Michael Wildbore (19:31), me (3rd V50, 19:29), Bernie Goodwin (2nd V45, 19:26), Ian Dale (2nd V50, 19:16), Shaun Armstrong (10th, 18:42), Michael Fleming (9th, 18:34), Rob Battye (3rd V40, 18:30), Jarrod Gritt (7th, 18:25), Robert Fairbanks (6th, 18:03) & Shane Reading (5th, 17:51).
Another great tribute to Ian – many thanks to everyone who came along. [David Emanuel]
LITTLEBOROUGH 5K – 3rd MAY 2017
Having struggled up the hill from Smithy Bridge & crossed the line around 20 seconds slower than in the 1st race of this series (19:45 for 2nd V50 - beaten, incidentally, by Paul Brannigan of Todmorden Harriers, who turned up for the race without his shorts & obtained a pair from the prize table; I still maintain that he should have been made to run in his pants), I decided that the main theme of this report would be how tough it is to run a 5K so soon after a marathon. Then I remembered how many RRRs managed to run that 1st race just 3 days after completing the Greater Manchester Marathon, while I'd had a full 10 days to recover from London. Not only that but several of those who finished hot on my heels here - Neil Brock (19:49, 3rd V50), Mick Wildbore (19:52), Carl O'Callaghan (19:53) & Sophie Wood (20:04, 1st FU23) - had also run at London & were considerably closer than they had been in April. Then there was Shane Reading (18:09, 2nd V40), another VLM finisher, way ahead of me here & only 3 seconds slower than at Race 1 despite the stiff headwind on the finishing descent from Hollingworth Lake. So maybe it's just that I'm getting old...
Shane's excellent performance meant that he was 2nd RRR finisher, preventing a repeat of the '3 Robs' team victory last year as he joined Rob James (2nd overall in a superb 16:45) & Rob Fairbanks (2nd V35, 18:13) to claim the men's prize, with the other Rob (Battye - 3rd V40, 18:20) only just behind. Our women also picked up their team prize, with Sophie combining with Jen Bloor (1st Female, 24th overall in a fine 19:33) & Janet Jobey (1st FV40, 21:49) to win by a distance from Todmorden Harriers. Remarkably, that means we've won both team prizes at every race in this series dating back to April 2015.
Not far behind our winning men's team there was a very impressive RRR debut from Paul Ashton (18th overall, 18:53), while Jill Hickson (6th FV40, 27:22) also ran well in her 1st club championship race. Age category prizes were tough to come by on this occasion, with a strong showing from Todmorden Harriers in particular, which means great credit should go to Gail Shaw (1st FV50, 26:46), Diane Allingan (1st FV55, 25:10) & the in-form Mark Heaney (1st V55, 21:24).
All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (36:22), Amanda Richardson (30:28), Bernadette Ball (2nd FV60, 29:33), Brian Swindells (2nd V65, 29:29), Jenny O'Callaghan (very close to breaking 29 minutes in 29:03), Dave Watt (28:23), Martina Naismith (28:20), Stephen Jones (28:02), Jillian Heywood (27:27), Sue Heaney (2nd FV55, 25:32), Gary Marshall (25:16), Selina McLean (3rd FV40, 24:37), Helen Radcliffe (2nd FV40, 24:36), Robert Nixon (24:32), Martin Jones (24:20), Chris Nicholson (24:06), Simon Lake (3rd V55, 24:03), Gary Smith (2nd V55, 23:23), Kevin Heenan (23:12), Paul Cooke (23:08), Garry Bower (22:51), Andy Chadwick (22:48), Adam Stirling (22:18), Jason Keast (22:12), Adrian Marshall (22:01), David Crewe (21:41), Ronnie Quinn (3rd V60, 21:29), Rob Kellett (21:20), David Freer (21:11), Paul Wolstenhulme (20:59), Rob Marsden (20:53), David Ellis (20:06), Michael Pickering (19:58), Michael Fleming (20th, 19:02) & Jarrod Gritt (14th, 18:32).
A busy month coming up now! There are 3 more club races over 5K & 7K before we return to Littleborough to complete this series on 7th June. A good time for the speed merchants... [David Emanuel]
LONDON MARATHON - 23rd APRIL 2017
In a city of more than 9 million people, it’s amazing how often you bump into a fellow RRR on London Marathon weekend. It started for me on Friday, as I was minding my own business at Bank underground station on the way to pick up my number at the Expo, when Mick Wildbore appeared on the platform. After meeting several more in RRR green at ExCeL I spent Saturday with family outside of London, but on entering 'Green Start' on Sunday morning (after a long & unexpected climb from Maze Hill station) the first person I saw – in the toilet queue – was Bernie Goodwin. Waiting not far behind Bernie, rather fittingly, was a woman dressed as a toilet roll. Turns out this was Susan Ridgeon, who went on to set a new Guinness World Record. I’m sure she’s now feeling flushed with success (I think that's what they call 'toilet humour'; feel free to add your own loo-based joke here).
There were plenty of similarly fine achievements, mostly in more conventional running attire, from the 21 RRRs who completed this year’s race. Nefa Nessa broke the women’s marathon record on her debut for the distance (that was just in case any of her class find this report via a Google search; her time was in fact 5:28:46, achieved despite "a lack of running this last month") while there were also excellent 1st attempts from Lisa Howarth (5:48:15), Chloe Clegg (5:26:58) & Mick Wildbore (a remarkable 3:14:46). Lisa’s official time is pretty misleading, as she waited for some time to meet up with Chloe after they set off from different starts.
Leading RRR across the line – as he did last year - was Shane
Reading, a superb new PB of 2:52:37 knocking more than 3 minutes off his 2016 time & placing him just inside the top 1.000 male finishers. Also
breaking the 3-hour barrier for the 2nd year in a row were Dave Peart (82nd
V50, 2:58:33) & Chris Lowe (114th V45, 2:55:25). Sophie Wood
(3:26:11) added to the growing collection of sub-3:30 RRR women’s marathons
with the 5th best time in the club’s history, despite an injury-plagued build-up. Only Jen Bloor (twice), Janet
Jobey & Becki Robinson have run quicker in RRR colours. There's definitely more to come from Sophie!
All the other RRR finishers: Tansy Wilson (6:54:33), Claire Timms (10 minutes quicker that last year in 4:50:16), Vikki Smith & Jimmy Beadman (both 3:47:04), Rob Marsden (3:38:10), Rochelle Evans (3:37:33, nearly 15 minutes quicker than 2016), Carl O'Callaghan (3:32:05), Bernie Goodwin (3:20:53, just 3 weeks after running 3:16:50 at Manchester), Neil Brock (3:18:47) & me (3:05:58). The disappointment I initially felt at once again failing to break 3 hours was soon offset by the realisation that this was the 1st time in my last 3 attempts that I'd managed to stay on my feet for the full 26.2 miles. No speed bump disasters this time!
If you fancy joining the RRR invasion of the capital in 2018, the public ballot opens on Monday 1st May. Trust me, it's worth it! [David Emanuel]
MIKE McGEE MEMORIAL COWM RESERVOIR 5K - 12th APRIL 2017
Another week, another great race put on by Andy O’Sullivan MBE. This was the 630th race Andy has put on & he has raised 10s of thousands of pounds for worthy causes. Tonight was no different, with the proceeds of this race going to Bowel Cancer UK.
Of the 87 runners that made the start line on a very cool & blowy evening there were 6 from RRR. The best story of the night came from Howard Dracup, who was out for a training run around the reservoir, saw the ‘Caution Runners’ signs & decided to call in to the Cock & Magpie pub on the off-chance it was race HQ.
At registration we were given a pack of Midget Gems (always a welcome treat) along with a Wilmslow Half medal - which I politely declined as I already have one, but all the children that entered seemed chuffed with it.
On to the race...if you’ve not run Cowm then you really should (the Ian Casey Memorial 5K on 11th May is an RRR club race) because after the short brutal hill at the start you are rewarded with a fairly flat 2 laps of the reservoir, followed by a fast run back down the hill to the finish. The course measures 3.05 miles so is a bit short of 5K but nonetheless it always provides a good race & a chance to really open your lungs.
Howard Dracup was the first of us home in 20th position in 20:40, then Mark Heaney (24th, 21:20) who I am really struggling to catch at the moment. The rest of our finishers were Rob Nixon (51st, 24:37), Andy Chadwick (41st, 23:32 for a course PB), Garry Bower (34th, 22:43) & Steve Shaw (30th, 22:06).
Have a look at this website to find other Andy O’Sullivan races plus many others![Garry Bower]
LITTLEBOROUGH 5K – 5th APRIL 2017
The RRR Club Championship has reached its 4th race of the season, the 1st of the Littleborough 5K series. This time last year I was unable to take part in the race due to an injury which ultimately wiped out my entire season. So to be walking into race HQ to collect my race number, pin it to my RRR vest & step onto the start line was an incredibly proud moment for me. There were plenty of other RRRs taking part, including Paul Anderson, Garry Bower, Andy Chadwick, Paul Cooke, Stephen Davies, Jillian Heywood & Matthew Kilburn, all fresh (or crazy) following their recent marathon exploits.
In no time at all it was "three, two, one" (or was it "on your marks, get set, go"?) & we were off! The start of the race is fast & flat as you head towards the train station, then loop right & back on yourself to join the footpath that takes you to Smithy Bridge Road. Now I don't know about you, but whenever I'm getting ready for a race I have certain words or phrases I tell myself. These are usually things like "don't go out too hard", "concentrate on your breathing", etc & they are generally the same for most races. Except for this one, where "don't run into the bollard" is always at the forefront of my mind. The bollard in question is situated right at the start of the footpath, on its own & ready to take out any unsuspecting runner. Thankfully all of us passed by unscathed.
Once the bollard has been avoided it's a 1K run along the path before you reach Smithy Bridge Road & turn left. At this point I was running with Garry Bower, who was laughing & smiling & looked for all the world like he hadn't ran 26.2 miles a few days earlier.
Once on Smithy Bridge Road the route begins to climb up towards Hollingworth Lake. This stretch of the route is always a little fraught with danger, with motorists pulling out of side streets seemingly oblivious to the stream of runners coming towards them. It reminded me of a phrase used by the organiser of the Dewsbury 10k earlier in the year: "Non-running motorists are ****s". How very true.
At the top of the hill you turn left & the route begins to flatten out as you head towards the Wine Press, with the lake to your right hand side. From the Wine Press you follow the road as it bends left. By this stage I could see the nearest RRR in front of me was Simon Lake. With a long downhill all the way to the finish I tried my best to catch Simon, but he was too quick for me and I couldn't close the gap.
At the awards presentation after the race there were plenty of individual prizes won by RRRs: Sophie Wood (1st female, 20:06), Diane Allingan (1st FV55, 24:56), Val Kilburn (1st FV45, 22:05), Rochelle Evans (1st FV40, 22:27), Natalie Fitzpatrick (1st FV35, 22:44), Brian Swindells (1st V65, 29:47), Mark Heaney (1st V55, 20:55) & Ian Dale (1st V50, 19:17). RRR also won the team prizes in both male & female categories. Sophie Wood, Val Kilburn & Vikki Smith (22:24) won in a combined time of 1:04:42, with Paul Bannister (17:44), Jarrod Gritt (18:03) & Shane Reading (18:06) doing the same in 53.58. Unfortunately, despite rehearsing their acceptance speeches in the toilets & having a smart change of clothing in their cars, neither Martin Jones (22:56) nor Andy Chadwick (25:09) finished in medal positions. Thankfully I was able to console them by reminding them that there are still 2 more races in this series to go, the next of which is on the 3rd May.
All other RRR finishers: Mary Freer (33:35),
June Allingan (33:38), Bernadette Ball (29:57), Jillian Heywood
(27:57), Stephen Davies (27:43), Gail Shaw (26:37), Garry Bower (24:53), me (24:15), Simon Lake
(24:02), Paul Anderson (23:58), Selina McLean (23:57), Gary Smith
(23:46), Kevin Heenan (23:24), Paul Cooke (23:19), Adam Stirling (22:48), Adrian Marshall (21:53),
Dave Freer (21:51), Dave Crewe (21:19), Lee Higginbottom
(21:12), Rob Kellett (20:57), Paul Wolstenhulme (20:45 on his 1st appearance in RRR colours), Matthew
Kilburn (20:43), Bryan Lawton (20:30), Rob Marsden (20:27), Elliot Stone
(20:21), Michael Wildbore (19:35) & David Emanuel (19:27). [Chris Nicholson]
GREATER MANCHESTER MARATHON – 2nd APRIL 2017
The Greater Manchester Marathon is a tough challenge. After all the build-up & preparation, everyone is under pressure to make sure things go right on the day. We make sure to arrive early, probably earlier than strictly necessary, keen to get started. Initially all is calm & relaxed, as those involved make their final preparations, but once things get going there’s barely time to think during several hours of non-stop activity.
That is how it was on the RRR drinks station anyway. I assume that those taking part in the race experienced something similar…
Led superbly once again by Mary Freer, all the volunteers on the drinks station did a great job - a combination of handing out refreshments, clearing the road of discarded detritus, shouting encouragement to as many competitors as possible & (in a few cases) accompanying a weary runner for the remaining 2 miles to the finish. As if that wasn't enough, this generous bunch donated lunch monies totalling £100 to the RRR charity of the year. In the early stages it looked as though June Allingan had lost her magic touch – despite her prominent position at the front of the line, to which she is entitled as RRR Lady Presidentess, the leading runners completely ignored her & it was Rob Marsden who claimed the coveted title of ‘1st RRR to give out a drinks bottle’. June soon hit her stride, however, & before long we were all very busy as the massed ranks of athletes started to arrive, thirsts urgently in need of quenching on an increasingly warm & sunny day. This year we had the added bonus of giving out gels as well as water & this was incorporated seamlessly into our slick routine. Some of us suspected that there wouldn’t be much demand for this extra energy boost just 2 miles from the finish, but how wrong we were (although the benefits at such a late stage are more likely to be psychological than physical). Feedback from many of the (admittedly slightly biased) RRR race participants was that ours was again the best station on the course. Whether members of other clubs felt the same, particularly those whose names Ronnie Quinn repeatedly & probably deliberately got wrong (‘Garlic’ instead of ‘Barlick’ Fell Runners was my particular favourite), I guess we’ll never know.
I suppose I ought to give a mention to the multitude of RRRs who actually took part in the race (although obviously they had a much easier day). Despite the conditions there were some stunning performances, particularly from the numerous marathon debutants. Amongst these was Janet Jobey, completing her 1st 26.2 mile event in a remarkable 3:25:13. A measure of this achievement is that only 4 times before in the history of the club have any of our female runners broken the 3:30 barrier. Amazingly, that feat was achieved on this occasion not just by Janet but also Debbie Fiddling (3:28:31 for a wonderful 8th FV50) & Jen Bloor (a new club record 3:13:08 & a seriously impressive 7th senior female). In fact only twice before have any of these times been bettered, both at Manchester – Becky Robinson’s 3:14:26 in 2015 & Jen’s previous marathon best of 3:17:30 last year.
Others completing impressive first marathons alongside Janet included Rob Battye (3:12:48), Michael Fleming (3:26:04), Shaun Armstrong (3:31:07), Michael Pickering (3:43:15), Helen Radcliffe (4:21:16), Garry Bower (4:34:24) & Stephen Davies (4:53:06). At the other extreme David Phillips (4:20:48) finished in a fantastic 8th V70 position in his 20th (& possibly last?) marathon.
There was also a noteworthy achievement by the 1st club member to cross the line - Rob Fairbanks joined the elite (but growing) group of RRRs to have run a marathon in less than 3 hours with an expertly-paced 2:59:21. That certainly gives Paul Bannister a target to chase when he runs at Boston in less than 2 weeks’ time.
Just as impressive were the RRRs who sacrificed their own marathon ambitions to help a fellow club member achieve their goal. These included Paul Anderson pacing Paul Cooke (3:59:52) to his 1st sub-4 hour finish, David Ellis helping Nick Mallon to a debut 4:13:30 & Matt Kilburn guiding Rachael Shuttleworth around her own 1st marathon in 4:13:56.
All the other RRR finishers: Nick Cuff (3:14:03), Bernie Goodwin (3:16:50), Gill Lowe (3:43:32), Richard Fiddling (3:44:57), Stewart Jones (3:45:47), Jason Keast (4:05:11), Colin Green (4:16:34), James Wright (4:18:27), Sue Heaney (4:27:06), Jillian Heywood (4:28:14), Robert Nixon (4:32:50), Rachel Wood (4:40:27), Sally Wood (4:44:09), Andrew Chadwick (4:44:55), Stacey Andrew (5:47:53) & Karen Stuttard (5:52:14). Well done all! [David Emanuel]
12 RRRs ran in what was, 3 years ago, a championship race; after running it for the 1st time I wouldn’t mind seeing it back on the list. The route takes in some lovely views of Cheshire & gives us a glimpse into how the other half live - I wouldn’t like to guess the prices of some of the houses we ran past.
Martin Jones commented that he had never seen so many marshals on a race route & I must agree. They were everywhere around the course, in at least pairs but mostly many more than this, all giving brilliant encouragement to the runners. There were also lots of children seeking high-fives & it all added to a brilliant on-course atmosphere. Pacers were also provided at various finish times, which I am sure those seeking a PB would have found very useful. So all-in-all a very well-organised race; since it has been run since 1984 you would expect the well-oiled machine which it is.
Anyway I bet you are wondering how the 12 of us performed. 1st home was Nick Cuff as the 167th male (SM103) in 1:25:03, followed by Jen Bloor with an impressive 13th female (9th SF). In a very strong field, attracted by a total prize fund of £10,000, Jen really did our club proud.
Special mention to Adam Stirling who achieved a PB of 1:46:48 (912th male, 448th SM). Adam is getting stronger all the time, I'm sure there are plenty more PBs to come (as well as finishing ahead of me).
The rest of the RRR finishers were Peter Boulton (2:23:30, M 1934th, MV65 25th), Tansy Wilson (2:22:22, F 912th, FV40 190th), Charlotte Chadwick (F 895, FV40 186th), Martin Jones (1:58:14, M 1444th, SM 667th), Garry Bower (1:54:23, M 1444th, MV45 203rd), Kirsty White (AKA Amanda Lane, 1:42:52, F 109th, FV40 24th), Neil Farrell (1:40:02, M 650th, MV50 68th), Mark Wilde (1:32:26, M 367th, SM 198th) & Bernard Goodwin (1:31:06, M 333rd, MV45 46). [Garry Bower]
A breezy day in Lancaster for this popular marathon warm-up race, but it stayed mostly dry & the 10 RRRs who took part will be relieved that they didn't face the conditions 'enjoyed' by those simultaneously running the Oldham Way Ultra.
The new Trimpell course, introduced for the 1st time last year, starts & finishes at the historic Lancaster Castle, currently undergoing extensive renovation works. It's probably the only race in the country where numbers are collected & bags stored in a row of prison cells. Unfortunately castles tend to be built on the top of hills & this one is no exception, meaning that the 20 miles ends with a steep climb from the River Lune, with a particularly painful few yards on (slippery) cobblestones to the finish line. The sole wheelchair athlete told me that he'd never have made it home if 2 race marshals hadn't given him a helping hand.
Apart from that daunting finish the route is mostly fast & flat, involving two out-and-back stretches, the 2nd alongside the river. Paul Bannister & Rob Fairbanks led the way for RRR, finishing in 26th & 28th position respectively in very impressive times of 2:11:34 & 2:12:23 which sets them up very nicely for their April marathons (Paul in Boston, Rob at Manchester). Carl O'Callaghan (12th V45) & Michael Wildbore (17th V40) are both heading for London & ran together in an expertly-paced 2:28:14 - a full 12 minutes quicker than Carl ran in 2016 in much easier conditions - while Val Kilburn & Vikki Smith did the same, finishing in an excellent 2:50:20 for joint 7th FV45. Sophie Wood (26th female finisher) ran 2:37:33, an almost identical time to last year despite her recent injury problems, closely followed by Rob Marsden (2:39:34). Stacey Andrew crossed the line in 4:26:49 while I managed 5th V50 in 2:23:14. Another excellent day out! [David Emanuel]
With accounts of the Dewsbury 10K & Oulton Park Half Marathon written by 'guest reporters' Elliot Stone & Gary Smith respectively, the bar has certainly been raised! I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about maintaining that standard.
Fortunately I get to write about the excellent Dentdale Run. There have been countless memorable moments in the many years that we've been taking a trip to this lovely valley in the Dales. There was the time Chris Eavers managed to demolish an enormous 'Cumberland sausage & double egg' meal in the Sun Inn. In a later year, who could forget Mr Eavers wobbling down the aisle of the coach in a pair of high heels? Then there was the crazy decision to consume a full English breakfast at the service station on the way to the race. Actually, that was Chris too. Seems most of my memories of previous trips involve him & food...
Chris was there again this year, on his best behaviour & sufficiently recovered from the calf strain which spoiled his Oulton Park race to finish 11th V60 in a time of 1:59:14. He was one of a record-breaking 56 RRRs to complete the traditional 14-and-a-bit mile circuit, making a grand total of 60 when you add the four who took part in the new 7.9-miler - Rob Kellett (21st in 57:33), Mark Heaney (84th, 1:09:18), Chloe Clegg (134th, 1:20:52) & Lisa Howarth (135th, 1:20:58). The coach was so full that Bernie Goodwin feared at one point that he'd overbooked & would have to sit on the driver's lap for the journey north.
The introduction of the new, shorter race seemed to have a big impact on entry numbers, with a combined field more than double that in 2016. The longer race alone attracted 35% more runners & there seemed to be more club groups present than in previous years (including a strong team from Quakers Running Club who just pipped us for the men's team prize). This may explain why we were prevented from taking our usual parking spot, instead being directed onto hardstanding on the outskirts of the village. It was only a slightly longer walk to registration & the start, but it felt much further on the way to & from the showers afterwards.
Both races set off together in perfect running conditions. The 14.2-miler followed the traditional undulating circuit, with all the familiar features including spectacular scenery, endless dry stone walls, two curious llamas & those painful cobbles on the run in to the finish (although I'm pleased to say that I missed the dead pheasant that some others spotted).
The highlight of the race was a superb defence of the women's team prize that RRR won in 2016. For the 2nd year in a row this was achieved without the likes of Kirsty White, Jen Bloor & Sophie Wood. Last year it was Debbie Shaw, Val Kilburn & Julie Greenwood who claimed the title; amazingly this time is was a completely different trio - Janet Jobey (3rd FV35, 7th female overall, 1:47:09), Debbie Fiddling (5th FV45, 11th overall, 1:49:39) & Rochelle Evans (5th FV35, 1:50:28).
After another great battle between our faster male runners, the leading 4 crossed the line within a few minutes of each other in exactly the same order as at Oulton Park. Club captain Shane Reading (1:30:14) was again 1st RRR to finish, closely followed by Paul Bannister (19th, 1:30:59), Jarrod Gritt (20th, 1:31:19) & Rob Fairbanks (25th, 1:33:00). Shane was unfortunate to find himself in an incredibly competitive age category - his 18th position overall was only good enough for 12th V40.
A number of club members chose this challenging distance for their 1st club appearance of the year, including Robert Nixon (2:15:01), Ray Williams (2:06:18), David Crewe (2:00:13), Steve Shaw (1:55:55), Andy Schofield (1:48:57), Bernie Cassidy (almost certainly running against doctor's orders in 1:47:14) & Richard Cummins (3rd V50, 1:36:51).
It's only fair to report that not everyone enjoyed the running bit of this year's Dentdale experience. Selina McLean (2:09:04) completed the course alongside Paul Anderson & subsequently posted that "I definitely won't be doing it again". Carol Robinson (3:02:05) described it as "pure hell". By contrast Jenny O'Callaghan (2:41:30) ran round happily with Claire Timms (2:41:31) & Tracey Hall (2:41:32), with no evidence of the 'Runner's Tourettes' which husband Carl (1:39:20) had predicted.
All the other RRR finishers: Mary Freer (2:39:09), Nefa Nessa (2:38:13), Bernadette Ball (2:35:45), Jillian Heywood (2:29:40), Sue Heaney (2:19:21, 10th FV55), Clare Darraugh (2:17:33), Lisa Cummins (2:13:17), Martin Jones (2:10:46), Jason Keast (2:07:54), David Smith (2:07:16), Helen Radcliffe (2:07:01), Tony Kane (2:03:53), Gary Smith (2:03:17), Garry Bower (2:02:54), Lee Higginbottom (2:02:50), Paul Cooke (2:00:53), Elliot Stone (1:57:47), Vikki Smith (1:57:09), Simon Howard (1:56:58), David Freer (1:55:14), Val Kilburn (1:54:59), Neil Farrell (1:54:47), Stewart Jones (1:54:14), Bernie Goodwin (1:50:28), Rob Marsden (1:47:14), Matt Kilburn (1:46:49), Richard Fiddling (1:43:58), Michael Wildbore (1:39:40), Neil Brock (1:38:59), Ian Dale (1:37:45), Dave Peart (1:37:11, 4th V50 on his debut in the category), Shaun Armstrong (1:36:36), Owen Flage (1:35:11) & me (1:34:23, 1st V50).
Sadly (for me at least!) that's the last of the longer club races for a while - there's nothing further than 10K until August, so it's time for the speed merchants to take over. Next up is the 1st of the Littleborough 5K series on 5th April - if you intend to run it's worth pre-entering! [David Emanuel]
OULTON PARK HALF MARATHON - 26th FEBRUARY 2017
Oulton Park is in a part of the world that doesn’t seem to attract too much attention, but you know when you’re in the land of posh when you pass the Cheshire Polo Club on the way in. On arrival we joined a slow-moving registration queue & I had time to wonder out loud that this could put a crimp in our pre-race nervous excitement if it started raining heavily from a threatening sky for the part of the queue outside the entrance.
Registration done, everyone wandered onto the starting grid & then with a fanfare of nothing we set off. In the absence of some guy in ear defenders holding taut a green flag before whisking it away, the revving of engines to screaming point & then the screech of tyres, my visualisation strategy of being in an F1 cockpit alongside Hamilton was ditched.
In anticipation of needed motivation to do the same course 6 times without flagging, I had as usual left it too late to resurrect an old ipod mini sans charger, so Bernadette had kindly lent me hers. However her running playlists were - as I discovered too late - not ‘power trax’ by AC/DC & the like, but James Taylor & other easy listening songs! Must have a word...
Thankfully the rain held off & most of the circuit didn’t feel the wind - which did, however, blow strongly in the runners’ faces in some sections. The race progressed. It was good to get the 1st & then the 2nd laps out of the way. The closed circuit wasn’t too long, but I was surprised how quickly our own RRR shocktroops came round to lap me. Shane first, followed by the usual suspects in quick succession. I had seen RRRs out on their own on weekdays first thing, running in addition to the club training runs, attending Brian’s track training, racking up the mileage & it was clearly paying off for them. Yet there is another aspect to our club, noted by a post to our Facebook page, which is worth recording in this report: "Whilst going around the track I noticed one of your female runners giving encouragement to other runners that were struggling & spurring on a number of the other competitors. We had a brief chat but unfortunately i didn’t catch her name or number. Just to say sometimes there’s more to competing than times & PBs. A couple of words of encouragement could be the difference between giving up or keep pushing on & I’m sure she got a fair few people pushing on. It didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you." Rob Battye (1:26:12) also posted that a runner on his shoulder couldn't believe how many RRRs were on the course & the support we all gave each other going round. "Must be great to run for a great club," he said.
Selina McLean (1:54:17) encouraged me to ‘go for it’ when I pushed on to cross the line in 1:49:30 & most if not all the RRRs who went past me at full throttle took the trouble to give me words of encouragement. These gave me more of a boost than my reserve visualisation technique of coming off the bank ahead of Bryan Lawton in the keirin. Many RRRs do not obsess about PBs but run & participate for their own reasons. These observations are testament to the friendly, supportive club we are all part of. Sharon Dracup was not running today, Lisa Howarth & Chloe Clegg had earlier completed the 10K, but all were there to give their support.
The race over, Rochelle Evans (3rd FV40, 1:41:28) flummoxed me when she told me that she had won a ‘golden ticket’. Is there really a Willy Wonka chocolate factory? I regress so easily! She went onto explain that it allowed her to pick a free race in the Xtra Mile series. And Jenny O’Callaghan (2:18:55) made me laugh when she didn’t finish the ‘take as many as you want’ brazil, goji & chia (sic) protein snacks that were "like rabbit food". Yes they were! And they even looked like those pellets that you give to wabbits!
Big commiserations to Chris Eavers who after complaining in club training that he wasn’t completely race ready to a sceptical me, had to pull up, but managed to finish the race in 1:53:37.
The presentation of the prizes was hardly ceremonious, with no women's team prize (which we would have won) & our leading men's trio pipped by Sale Harriers. Yet we did get age category prizes for Shane Reading (1st V40, 11th overall, 1:21:54), Kirsty White (1st FV40, 4th overall, 1:36:15), Debbie Fiddling (1st FV50, 1:39:11 as she joined the 50 Club), Susan Heaney (1st FV55, 2:02:34) & Ronnie Quinn (1st V60, 1:43:52). Ronnie might entrust Everton with his trophy so they at least have something in their trophy cabinet. Some seriously gutsy running here!
All the other RRR finishers: Karen Stuttard (2:28:13), Nefa Nessa (2:27:55), Carol Robinson (2:24:31), Bernadette Ball (3rd FV60, 2:18:36), Clare Darraugh (2:06:47), Dave Watt (1:57:25), Scott Hampson (1:52:58 on his club debut), Garry Bower (1:50:03), Paul Cooke (1:47:29), Lee Higginbottom (1:47:11), Simon Howard (1:43:49), Neil Farrell (1:43:42), Jason Keast (1:42:38), Janet Jobey (2nd FV40, 1:37:25), Rob Marsden (1:37:15), Dave Hall (3rd V55, 1:36:25), Shaun Armstrong (1:36:14), Paul Anderson (1:34:53), Elliot Stone (1:34:03), Richard Fiddling (1:33:42), Michael Wildbore (1:33:38), Bernie Goodwin (1:32:21), Carl O'Callaghan (1:31:31), Neil Brock (1:30:38), Ian Dale (3rd V50, 1:28:53), David Emanuel (2nd V50, 1:27:29), Dave Peart (1:27:15), Owen Flage (3rd V40, 1:25:47), Robert Fairbanks (2nd V35, 1:24:57), Jarrod Gritt (1:24:14) & Paul Bannister (another RRR debutant in 1:23:45).
Although quite a few shot back home to watch
United, the large number of RRRs participating, of all abilities, gave the whole
afternoon the feel of club family day out & was all the more enjoyable
for that. [Gary Smith)
Royton Road Runners go abroad! Well just over the border, into Wales for the Wrexham Village Bakery Half Marathon. The price of this race was just too tempting for me not to enter - the £18 included a medal & the promise of some baked goods from the bakery, so I twisted the arms of Jillian Heywood & Simon Howard to join me for this one. On arrival, walking in to Race HQ, we bumped in to Eileen Ingham & Julie Greenwood giving us 5 RRRs in a field of 1422 runners.
The race starts in the middle of Wrexham Industrial Estate & on driving in it looked like the scenery was going to be a bit grim, but we needn’t have worried. Once we got out of the estate we were running through lovely country lanes, with open fields either side. It was my kind of running environment & the weather gods had been very kind, light wind & 10 degrees with sunny spells, perfect conditions.
The course consists of 1 small loop & 1 larger loop with a total elevation of 170 feet, which when compared to the Oldham Half (1200 feet) makes this route pancake flat, although to me we seemed to be gently climbing all the time & I didn’t notice the downhills at all.
Simon Howard led us home - considering he had done his RRR Cup race at Oldham parkrun the day before (getting a new PB) & then run cross-country afterwards, his time of 1:47:22 was very impressive. This put him 642nd overall & 89th V45. Next in was myself in 1:53:39 (742nd, 99th V45) - I had a good run considering I was coming back from a very rough cold.
Now for our ladies. Jillian Heywood came home in 2:04:10 (1026th, 41st FV45). Jillian had also run the cross-country race at Chorley the day before, despite failing in her appeal for other ladies to help make up an RRR team. Next was Eileen Ingham in 2:14:40, 1190th but brilliantly the 1st VF65. Well done Eileen - plenty more wins this season for you I think. The sad news is that Julie Greenwood pulled up injured & failed to finish. Hopefully it’s nothing serious & we'll see her at another race very soon.
So all in all a very good race for a very good price, as generally seems to be the case for Cute Fruit Events (check them out - the Colshaw Hall 10K in June is another top race). The medal was very good & the baked products? A pack of 6 crumpets. Jill’s only contained 5 - I swapped with her, so she was happy. Next up Oulton Park on 26th February, see you all there! [Garry Bower]
So close & yet so far! We went into this final cross-country race of the winter in 2nd place in both the senior men's & senior women's competitions, but sadly couldn't hang on to podium positions in either. With the SEL series finishing in the picturesque surroundings of Astley Park, rather than the usual much tougher season-ending race at Boggart Hole, our inability to field a complete women's team proved vital. As did the fact that the RRR men's team was so depleted that 4th counter was an old bloke suffering from a bad back...
Just 11 RRRs made the trip to Chorley - our smallest turnout of the 8 races this winter - as marathon training took priority for many. Only Jillian Heywood (59th, 10th FV45) & Sophie Wood (a welcome return from injury) made it to the senior women's start line, but both ran strongly. Sophie was "taking it easy" but still finished in 10th place, putting her in an excellent 6th for the series overall. The team thus dropped to 5th place in the standings, just a single point behind Burnden in 3rd.
The men's team also finished an agonising 1 point outside the medals, despite the best efforts of Jarrod Gritt (a fine 13th), Rob Fairbanks (15th) & Michael Fleming (38th despite having run his RRR Cup match at Oldham parkrun in the morning). I managed to be next to cross the line (55th, 8th V50), closely followed by Mike Bundy (69th, 9th V40). There followed a great battle between Lee Higginbottom (92nd) & Simon Howard (93rd, 14th V45), with their sprint for the line taking both of them past Oldham & Royton's Darren Mannings. The team was completed by Martin Jones (110th) & Ray Williams (112th, 19th V50). Ray was one of 5 (along with Rob, Michael, Mike & I) to complete all 4 of the SEL races.
There was some consolation in the series results, as performances in the 3 previous races were enough to keep us in the silver medal position in the men's V40 series. Shane Reading & Carl O'Callaghan also held onto their individual 2nd positions in the V40 & V45 categories respectively. A fine effort! [David Emanuel]
DEWSBURY 10K - 5th FEBRUARY 2017
It was that time again - the 1st race of the year. For some, this would be where ambitions met the reality of hard graft. For others, it’d be the chance to see how well the marathon training was coming on. For a few it would be their first race in an RRR vest & that is an achievement always worth noting.
After a ridiculously early start, Ronnie Quinn & I set off
over the Pennines. The excitement built as we passed the ‘highest motorway
in Britain’ sign on the M62. Through the fog, we wound our way down into
Dewsbury. This old mill town is the birthplace of the Brownlee
brothers & as we arrived a smile of delight appeared on my face as I
envisaged Ronnie 'doing a Jonny’ somewhere close to the finishing line.
We arrived at race HQ, not surprisingly, in plenty of time. The standard hoard of green RRR sweatshirts was there to meet us. It was the first time since 2011 that Dewsbury had been a club race & the 62 who took part easily beat the previous record of 40. After a short chat with some of the others we proceeded to make our way to the start, passing the bemused market stall holders as we went. The starting line was directly under a large bed factory & I think a few of us wouldn’t have minded sampling its wares. However, after a quick warm-up through a maze of steep back-streets, most of us were ready to go (though some found themselves halfway to Leeds).
The course was an ‘out & back’ (or should that be owt n’ back?) up the ring road heading towards Batley. The uphill section, ironically passing through an area called Mount Pleasant, was the ‘out’ section, with the return downhill, which suggested most people would be getting negative splits & fast finishes.
So, how did we all do? Given that the race organisers have subsequently confirmed that the course was 200 metres too long there were some pretty impressive performances. First past the tape for RRR was Rob James with a 34:48 chip time (all times shown here are 'chip' rather than 'gun' times), seemingly determined to defend his 'club champion' title. Rob was closely followed home by Shane Reading (36:31 for 4th V40, making his one millionth consecutive appearance) & Jarrod Gritt (36:38), who threatens to make a dent in the Premiership top 3 this year. In the women’s race Jen Bloor (38:54) started off where she finished last year by coming out on top. She was followed by the ever-reliable Kirsty White (42:26. 9th FV40) & the ever-improving Janet ‘Tigger’ Jobey (43:14). Interestingly, Stewart Jones (47:21) had stealthily tried to break into the women’s top 3 by racing as Yvonne Phoenix, but was sadly unsuccessful.
Honourable mentions for top 10 age-category finishes in a very strong field must go to Chris Lowe (37:14, 3rd V45), Debbie Shaw (44:50, 5th FV50), Ronnie Quinn (44:32, 6th V60), Val Kilburn (45:09, 8th FV45 despite a heavy mid-race fall), Mark Heaney (47:11, 9th V60) & Sue Heaney (55:28, 9th FV55). Although I’m sure there were many more, PBs were gained by Shane Reading & Ronnie Quinn. In fact Ronnie’s was the best time by anyone aged over 100...
A special mention & well-done to the RRR first-timers Martina Naismith (56:49), Andrew Chadwick (49:00) & Paul Anderson (42:40).
All the other RRR finishers: Amanda Lane (1:10:09, definitely not amongst the 'stragglers' mentioned in the pre-race communications), Mary Freer (1:06:21), Amanda Richardson (1:05:32), Adrian Bowcock (1:02:43), Tracey Hall & Jenny O'Callaghan (both 1:02:32), Bernadette Ball (1:01:46), Becky Mercer (1:01:19), Liz Phillips (56:51), Jillian Heywood (56:40), Lisa Cummins (53:54), Gail Shaw (53:32), Chris Nicholson (53:26), Rachael Shuttleworth (52:07), Helen Radcliffe (51:32), Martin Jones (51:26), Selina McLean (51:24), Lee Higginbottom (51:05), Tony Kane (50:44), David Smith (50:32), Dave Watt (49:21), Damian Mercer (49:14), Gary Smith (48:00), Vikki Smith (47:18), Dave Freer (46:38), Paul Cooke (46:03), Rochelle Evans (45:19), Neil Farrell (45:13), Simon Howard (44:58), Jason Keast (44:44), Matt Kilburn (43:39), Elliot Stone (42:57), Bryan Lawton (42:49), Matt Kershaw (42:35), Dave Peart (41:53), Mick Wildbore (41:18), Carl O'Callaghan (40:56), Neil Brock (40:09), Bernie Goodwin (39:45), David Emanuel (39:35), Brad Howard (39:27), Ian Dale (39:07), Michael Fleming (38:39), Owen Flage & Nick Cuff (both 38:16) & Shaun Armstrong (38:04).
Finally, a well-done to all who competed & supported this
event & made it another great RRR day out. Next (pit) stop is Oulton Park Half Marathon on Sunday 26th
February. [Elliot Stone]
(SHAMELESS PLUG: I am currently training to be a freelance
writer/journalist & need to build up a portfolio of work, so that I can
generate some business. The ’writing’ covers articles or features for any
publications such as magazines, newspapers, club or association magazines,
‘in-house’ publications & so on. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested,
please contact me by email. Many thanks – Elliot.)
In a field of 2,525 runners, 14 RRRs turned up for what was for the last few years the first of our Club Championship races, but this year had been removed in favour of the Dewsbury 10K.
This race has a reputation for tough weather conditions but this year we were rewarded with no wind & sun, making the old motto of 'dress for the second half of the race' even more important, as some of us had to discard gloves etc part way round & regretted putting long sleeves on.
It was strange not having lots other RRRs to look out for on the course & use them to drag you around, but I personally made up for this by chasing down an Oldham & Royton runner & then someone dressed as Scooby Doo. I wasn’t going to be beaten by someone in fancy dress if I could help it!
The course is almost pancake flat & is a great place (weather permitting) to get a PB - which Rob Fairbanks, our 1st runner home in 14th place, did with a fantastic time of 36:42 (8th SM). Rob was followed home by Paul Bannister in 20th position (37:14, 12th SM) & then our first lady Sophie Wood. Sophie told me in the starting pen that she was going to take it easy...I then waved her goodbye as she disappeared into the distance on the 1st straight to finish in 77th place & 9th SF (41:16). Take it easy Sophie, we have an RRR Cup match to race very soon...
We should also give a glowing reference to David Phillips for his M70 category win with a time of 49:22 (488th overall). I am sure he is going to be collecting quite a few more prizes this year based on this evidence.
The other RRR finishers were Rob Marsden (42:32, 113th, 48th SM), Dan Yarwood (45:13, 224th, 90th SM), Garry Bower (48:25, 409th, 113th M40), Adam Stirling (48:31, 415th, 139th SM), Simon Lake (50:36, 578th, 77th M50), Lisa Howarth (57:56, 1255th, 129th SF), Chloe Clegg (57:56, 1258th, 130th SF), Eloise Bartlett (1:01:17, 1589th, 163rd SF), Ann Leyland (1:09:51, 2136th, 343rd F45) & Sheila Phillips (1:10:06, 2143rd, 12th F65).
Hopefully I'll see you all at the next club race, the Oulton Park Half Marathon on the 26th February (or at the Village Bakery Half on 19th February if you managed to get in before it was full). [Garry Bower]
A cold, wintry & surprisingly boggy return to Leigh Sports Village for the first cross-country event of 2017. I wonder whether, given that Boggart Hole is missing from this year's SEL series, they decided to import some of that special Boggart mud to the middle section of the course...
An impressive 23 RRRs started their races, sadly reduced to 21 finishers as Kirsty White & Lee Higginbottom were waylaid by illness & injury respectively. They joined the injured Sophie Wood on the sidelines to cheer us on to some fine performances.
Leading the way for RRR in the women's race, on her 1st appearance of the winter, was Janet Jobey, crossing the line in a superb 11th place (2nd FV40). Backed by Rochelle Evans (a fine 25th, 4th FV40) & Jillian Heywood (62nd, 10th FV45) that performance secured 9th place in the overall team rankings, 4th in the FV35s & 4th in the FV40s - not bad going without Sophie, Kirsty & Jen Bloor. Meanwhile Bernadette Ball (82nd, 8th FV60) & Anne Jones (89th, 10th FV55) joined Jillian for a 5th place finish in the FV45s. Nefa Nessa (former World & Olympic champion, for any of her class who might have found this in a Google search) came home a place ahead of Anne in her 2nd race of the cross-country season.
With 1 race to go, RRR sit comfortably in 2nd place in the overall ladies league table & 4th in both the FV35 & FV40 standings. A strong turn-out at Chorley in February (fitness permitting) would give our team a great chance of picking up another significant medal haul.
A very strong men's competition meant that our leading foursome - Rob Fairbanks (an excellent 17th place), Jarrod Gritt (24th), Shane Reading (32nd, 4th V40) & Michael Fleming (43rd) were pushed down to 7th place in the standings. They were followed home by me (62nd, 4th V50), Carl O'Callaghan (65th, 7th V45), Bryan Lawton (74th, 8th V50), Mike Bundy (83rd, 10th V40) & Rob Marsden (93rd). A thrilling sprint finish saw Simon Howard cross the line in 112th place (15th V45), with Ray Williams (140th, 21st V50) & Gary Smith (148th, 14th V55)) next home. Our 15-strong men's team was completed by Martin Jones (160th), Adam Stirling (162nd) & Stephen Jones (164th, 12th V60).
In the overall men's standings we have 2 athletes currently sitting in medal positions - Carl O'Callaghan (2nd V45) & Shane Reading (3rd V40) - while the team positions show us top of the V40s & 2nd overall. It promises to be an exciting finale at Chorley! [David Emanuel]