Monday, Jun 26 at 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Monday, Jun 26 at 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Wednesday, Jun 28 at 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Wednesday, Jun 28 at 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

RACE REPORTS 2014

SOUTH EAST LANCS X-COUNTRY (TANDLE HILLS) - 20th DECEMBER 2014
The South East Lancs League opened its XC season with an event at Tandle Hills - to say it was eventful was probably an understatement. Despite it being on local turf, nobody seemed to have an idea as to where the course was & with more chance of Lord Lucan or Shergar appearing than a map, runners should have wondered what was about to happen.

With Dave Emanuel unable to get a note from his mum allowing him to play out the weekend before Christmas, Gloria was entrusted with other members of the team. Never again will he allow this to happen. Finding a place to erect Gloria (our gazebo, for those unaware) that didn’t involve a cowpat was quite a tricky job. Eventually this seemed to have been managed, but maybe a few more tent pegs would have been a good idea. Suddenly Gloria set off across the field at a speed nobody would be able to achieve later on. Once she was captured & warned she couldn’t go Christmas shopping, a rope was fastened to ensure there were no more great escapes. Maybe a few more helpers rather than posting photos on Facebook would help (no names being mentioned!).


The ladies race set off unaware of the drama that was unfolding, as in the previous U15 boys race a runner had collapsed & the air ambulance called for. Fortunately the injured runner was later reported as being OK after spending a night in hospital. Landing a helicopter in the middle of the course would have been quite tricky, so the ladies’ race was rerouted & the men's race cancelled. An earlier recce of the men’s course had shown what a tough route it would have been (or was for the ladies) - none of the fields were particularly runnable, with huge divots & ruts which could easily have made it ankle-breaking territory if it had been frozen. Kirsty White may have been unaware, as she climbed over the stile at the top of the field, that she was entering the home straight due to the shortened route, but upon been given this information she powered home for a well-deserved 1st place in a magnificent time of 23:56. Kirsty was closely followed home by Jen Bloor (24:36), who continued her excellent form from previous XC events. There was a  close finish between the ever-improving Clare Darraugh (27:48, 4th FV35) & Val Kilburn (27:57), with Val claiming 1st FV45 position. Jenny Newell (31:18) finished 8th FV35 & Kath Brierley 8th FV40 (35:37). Anne Jones claimed 5th FV55 (37:21) & the always-smiling Niparun Nessa came home in 47th place (37:44). All were magnificent performances in tricky conditions. Team prizes were confirmed with the ladies gaining 2nd place in the Senior Ladies & 3rd place in both the FV35s & FV40s.


Most of the men proved their dedication as, instead of going home & getting ready for Presentation Night, they went off & ran the Royton Trail route instead. All in all, some excellent results which sets everything up well for the remaining South East Lancashire League events in 2015.  [Simon Howard]
TODMORDEN PARK WINTER 5K - 11th DECEMBER 2014
And then there was one. On a horrendous evening - when the race route had to be altered following the appearance of a new lake in Tod Park - I found myself the sole RRR representative for the final race in this excellent series. Which made it quite an achievement to still be the one who didn't win a prize!

The nasty conditions (plus the cumulative effect of two tough track sessions in the week) meant that I produced by far my slowest time of the four races, crossing the line in a slightly disappointing 20:08 (2nd V50). That left me in 7th place in the series, my best three times a whole second quicker than my main V50 rival David Lord of Trawden AC. Yet it was the absent Kirsty White who was victorious, her performances in the first three races giving her the overall ladies prize by 7 seconds from Deborah Gowans (Accrington Road Runners). On the form she's shown here I'm pretty sure that Kirsty will be improving her 5K PB in the not-too-distant future...

Sue Heaney, who also ran the first three races, was present but sensibly decided not to run due to illness. However husband Mark (who is certain to be 'persuaded' to become an RRR soon!) was once again 1st V55 in 21:34 & also picked up a 'best improver' award.

So I left Todmorden empty-handed, soaking wet, very cold...but satisfied to have completed the full series. I'm sure the shoes will dry out eventually!  [David Emanuel]     
RED ROSE X-COUNTRY (MARL PITS, ROSSENDALE) - 6th DECEMBER 2014
Why 'Marl Pits'? Apparently Marl is "a mixture of clay & carbonate of lime, commonly used as a fertilizer". Presumably they don't remove much of it any more for this purpose, as there was an awful lot of marl about on Saturday, most of which seemed to be stuck to my legs when I got home.

This is traditionally the last & toughest of the Red Rose series of races, reflected by the significantly shorter distance (my Garmin clocked 4.25 miles), the reduction in numbers (96 senior ladies & 191 men, compared to 136 & 236 respectively at the previous race at Bolton) & the greater number of weeping children at the end of each junior race. Not that this put off the intrepid RRR team, consisting of 20 runners plus enthusiastic support & Garry Bower with his trusty camera. Only 5 of these in the ladies team, but that was a big improvement on last year's (post-Presentation Night) race, when Katherine Brierley was the sole RRR representative.

Katherine was (of course) back again, completing the Red Rose series & retaining her position as our most-improved cross-country runner. Last year just three people crossed the line after Katherine, this time she was way up in 63rd place (11th FV40) in a time more than 8 minutes quicker. That wasn't quite enough to make the top 3 'counters' for the team, as a great run from Clare Darraugh (53rd, 10th FV35) saw her join Kirsty White (10th overall, 2nd FV40) & Jen Bloor (13th) in achieving 5th place in the team race, just 4 points behind a strong Rochdale Harriers trio. Katherine was however part of our 6th-placed Ladies Vets team (alongside Kirsty & Clare). Next home was Niparun Nessa in 90th place, undoubtedly the runaway winner of the Smiliest Cross-Country Runner award; still smiling even on the scary hills!

A fine finish to the season elevated Kirsty to 15th place overall in the Red Rose series. This was good enough for a 3rd FV40 finish which should, we believe, earn her a prize. A great achievement in this really tough competition.

On to the men's race, with some of us (or possibly just me) already worrying about losing toes to frostbite after an ill-advised recce lap. The opposition clearly identified Simon Howard as the main threat, with a spiked foot putting him out of action on the first lap. The course was really churned up by now - even 'Clean Dean' Moynihan finished the race (as 34th V40) with some 'marl' on him, although still less than anyone else. Yet many of our runners were revelling in the challenging conditions. Dave McBride just outsprinted Dan McManus as they finished 34th & 35th respectively (Dave a fantastic 8th V40) & they were joined by Phil Marsden (46th, 10th V40), Gary Fielding (61st, 14th V40), Shane Reading (71st, 16th V40) & Mark Taylor (75th, 19th V40) to leave us as 6th team. Even better, the Vets team of Dave, Phil, Gary & Shane finished 4th, just 2 points behind Burnden Runners. This completed a great Red Rose series for our Men's Vets with an overall 5th place finish; 4th-placed Horwich HRMI Harriers only beat us by 6 points.

Next home was Barry Greaves, another impressive run taking him to 4th V55; this moved him up to 3rd V55 for the series, hopefully another prize-winner. Joel White came home in 104th place, while despite my inability to run fast downhill I just managed to stay in front of an improving Lee Higginbottom, finishing 127th (12th V50) to Lee's 133rd. John Sweeney produced his usual sprint finish (even though he had nobody to chase down) to cross the line as 32nd V40, followed by Ray Williams (44th V45) & James Cashin (186th overall).

So another great cross-country series completed, with a definite step-up in performance. Let's hope we can take that into the South East Lancs league that kicks off on 20th December!  [David Emanuel]     

STOCKPORT 10 – 7th DECEMBER 2014

All eyes were on the sky pre-race at Woodbank Park on Sunday morning. Keeping one eye on the weather (it rained), the other was trying to spot the impressive fly-past (in the spirit of the Great North Run) arranged by the ever-excellent Tom Potson, Tony Audenshaw of Emmerdale fame. We were unable to see the Red Arrows that Tom claimed were zooming overhead & had to settle for a downpour from the heavens as we waited on the line to start.


For those that don't know, the Stockport 10 is a 10 mile race, not 10K - something Ladies Captain Kirsty White clearly didn't as she passed the 10K marker with the finish line another 6.1k away & a quizzical look on her face! While it is classed as a road race there is a good two miles of off-road through farms on uneven & muddy ground; little point in cleaning the club vest after Marl Pits the day before. There are a couple of noteworthy climbs making this a "playful" course; scenery isn't the best, but this is more than made up for by the cheering marshals who appeared at every turn. A mention for the goody bag is also called for, as once again it included mealworms (yes really) amongst other more useful items – if anybody has a spare fluorescent cycling strip they don’t want, I have a home for it.


After slogging through the Rossendale mud the afternoon before, Mark Taylor led the club home in an impressive 64:46 (78th overall, 16th V40). Becki Robinson brought the ladies home in 68:46 (17th lady, 3rd in category), Kirsty White set her worst-ever 10K time with 71:48 & topped her morning's work off by trying to have away with my finisher's tee! Tony McAndrew debuted at this distance in 71:35 while David Leyland continued his work towards April’s VLM with 1:42:39.


Other Royton finishers: Dan Yarwood (65:50), Tawnia Norman (81:24), Nikki Green (89:58), Ann Leyland (1:43:28), Anna Morgan (1:45:05) & Karen Stuttard (1:48:39).


So that's the Stockport 10 done for another year. Even I’m thinking it might be nearly Christmas...  [Dan Yarwood]

TODMORDEN PARK WINTER 5K - 4th DECEMBER 2014
My legendary powers of persuasion: after appealing last week for more RRR ladies to come along to Tod Park, for a pretty much guaranteed team prize, just Kirsty White & Sue Heaney lined up alongside me once again. So it was left to a trio from Rochdale Harriers to collect the wine (did I not mention the alcoholic team prize )?

This was by far the coldest of these torchlight runs so far, but that seemed to bring the best out of us - that & the presence of cheerleader-in-chief Brian Moore - as we all ran our fastest times of the series. Kirsty continued her great battle with Deborah Gowans of Accrington Road Runners, coming out on top this time as she finished 1st lady overall in a fantastic time of 20:05. That's pretty close to Kirsty's 5K PB, so gives her plenty to aim for in the final race next week.

Sue improved yet again with 25:59 for 3rd FV50, a full 45 seconds better than her first run, while my 19:14 only got me 4th V50, despite finishing 14th overall. Where have all these fast V50s come from all of a sudden?

I'm sure the three of us will be back again trying to run even faster in the last race on 11th December. Hope to see a few of you there!  [David Emanuel]  

MANCHESTER 5 MILE PUDDING DASH - 30th NOVEMBER 2014

The call went out to meet at the Assembly Hall Car Park at 9am & lots of RRRs arrived. Even Niparun was early, but then complained that she could have had another half hour in bed when she found out what time the race started (your student days are over Nipa - we get up early on race days). We piled in to our cars & the convoy left for Wythenshaw. The fancy dress was brilliant, with Eloise Bartlett taking top prize with her North Star outfit (for ages 6 to 9). A grand total of 18 RRRs took part in the run, with Mark Oliver & Karen Stuttard supporting & taking some fantastic pictures.


The race briefing revealed that it was a 2-lap course that required us to pass the start/finish line a total of 4 times - which resulted in some puzzled looks amongst the runners - but the route basically set out in one direction for a loop, crossing back over the line & out again for a loop on the opposite side. The course was a mix of tarmac, trails & fields - a challenge for those of us not used to running on a muddy surface. The run off the mud through a 90-degree bend on to a steel bridge promised some Bambi-on-ice moments.


When we set off the atmosphere was first rate, with the only gripe that as we entered the first set of woods the route narrowed which reduced the field to a walk, but this was only for a short time & soon cleared. The way the route was laid out allowed us to see each other as we passed backwards & forwards along the start line & cheer each other on, which was a great boost to those at the front & we could see the fun being had towards the back.


The 1st RRR to finish was Philip Marsden, in 5th place with a time of 31:25. He was beaten by a number of Santas. Philip was followed home an age later by myself in 33rd place (39:01). 3rd home was Lee Higginbottom in 35th place (39:11) – Lee was disappointed because he wanted to be directly behind me in the results & I beat a Chorlton runner in a sprint finish, putting him between us. Sorry Lee. The 1st lady RRR across the line was the ever-improving Katherine Brierley in 53rd place (41:24), followed in by Selina McLean in 68th (44:22), with Fay Royle making up the trio in 79th place (46:19). It should be noted that Selina is carrying a knee niggle, making her performance all the more impressive.


A couple of notable mentions in the overall results - Philip Marsden won the MV40 category & Fay Royle won the LV55. Unfortunately Fay didn’t get the deserved recognition on the day, but you are getting it now, well done Fay. The RRR ladies also took the team prize & Niparun Nessa managed to blag a bottle of wine for all the ladies, not just the 1st three home, top RRR work. The men managed to finish 3rd.


Other RRR finishers: Chris Prince (49th, 41:11), Martin Jones (50th, 41:17), Ray Williams (59th, 42:10), Steve Rogowskyj (62nd, 43:31), Kevin Kennedy (75th, 45:26), Jillian Heywood (81st, 46:23), Niparun Nessa (123rd, 53:54), Angela Rogowskyj (128th, 56:20), Carol Robinson (133rd, 59:22), S Dawn Mills (134th, 59:25), Eloise Barlett (135th, 59:36) & Clare Darraugh (136th, 59:46).


All the RRRs have said what a fantastic day we had & I for one didn’t stop laughing from the time we met up to the time we got back to Royton. It was great to see some RRRs returning from injury & doing themselves proud. This is one that we’ll be doing again next year & the medal was a good one too!  [Garry Bower]

TODMORDEN PARK WINTER 5K - 27th NOVEMBER 2014
Back again to Todmorden Cricket Club for another run in the dark. Just three RRRs this time, as I was again joined by Kirsty White & Sue Heaney. The Fiddlings were there to support, but without Richard's now-famous torch hat. There was also a familiar face at the head of the field, with former RRR Club Champion Ian McBride making an appearance & winning in an incredible 15:38. In daylight that would be a fantastic time, but in the dark? Unbelievable. 

After problems with my headtorch at the first race last week - the fact that it worked loose must mean that my head shrinks when I try to run fast - I decided to splash out on a Cannonball version, which proved to be an excellent move as I improved by a full 8 seconds to finish 10th in 19:27. Still no nearer a V50 prize, though, with Kevin Davies from Clayton-le-Moors running 17:56. Looks like the fast V50s are taking it in turns to come along & beat me.

Kirsty had another fine run, just three seconds slower than her first run & once again 1st FV40 (2nd lady overall) in 20:34. Sue said she was feeling much better & demonstrated that with a 36-second improvement, crossing the line as 6th FV50 in 26:08. If we could get a few more RRR ladies along next week, they would be almost guaranteed to pick up the team prize!  [David Emanuel] 

RED ROSE X-COUNTRY (BOLTON) - 22nd NOVEMBER 2014
First up I'd like to confirm that yes, Clare Darraugh, you did seem to make much easier work of helping carry the gazebo across Leverhulme Park than the men did carrying it back! In their defence, I would argue that they were doing so after the race, so they had 6 miles of muddly slog in their legs. On a more general point, thanks to all the RRRs who help out getting Gloria to & from my car at these events, especially when that means heading in the opposite direction to where you've parked.


Gloria is of course wonderful & I won't hear a word said against her, but I must admit to a bit of gazebo envy as we pitched close to the home of Trawden AC. Admittedly they have a big junior section & thus a lot more runners & supporters at these events, but even so, a table with jugs of tea & coffee? We're going to have to up our game...  


Anyway, on to the running bit...as race time approached, the men's team was looking severely depleted. In particular, where was Dave McBride? We knew he planned to run, as he'd posted a picture of his new monster spikes on Facebook earlier in the morning (Mick Flatley: "Are you wearing them or torturing Christians?"), so where was he? Simon Howard & I started to speculate: maybe the spikes were so long that he couldn't get them through the front door, or he's tried them on at home & was now stuck in the carpet?


Fortunately it turned out it was just heavy motorway traffic & Dave plus several others arrived just in time. By then the ladies were already well into their race, with Jen Bloor leading the way in fine style. It's difficult to compare cross-country races from one year to another, with different conditions & slightly different courses (my Garmin clocked 5.96 miles this year compared to 6.12 in 2013), but the improvements by our three 'counting' ladies really are remarkable - Jen knocking 5 minutes of last year's time to finish a remarkable 13th in 23:42, Kirsty White over a minute faster for 5th FV40 in 24:31 & Katherine Brierley improving by almost 10 minutes for 20th FV40 in 29:06. That combined effort was good enough for 10th ladies team position, while a fine 30:03 (15th FV35) from Clare Darraugh meant that she joined Kirsty & Katherine for 12th place in the ladies vets race.


The pictures seem to suggest that the other four members of our ladies team were having a great time! Eloise Bartlett (124th, 34:38) was next home, closely followed by Carol Robinson (17th FV35, 37:12), Niparun Nessa (131st, 37:19) & Karen Stuttard (15th FV45, 39:20). I think we've got some real cross-country converts here.


A 13-strong men's team set off for three long laps of the now nicely churned-up course, but we lost one of our lead runners early on as Phil Marsden took a heavy fall on the first lap. That left the giant-spike-wearing Dave McBride to lead the way & he certainly rose to the challenge to finish 8th V40 in 40:59. Not far behind was Dan McManus, who seems to be getting better with every cross-country race & came home in 45th place in 41:34. As with the ladies, all four who ran here in 2013 recorded a big improvement, with Dan Yarwood (46:59) 5 minutes quicker & John Sweeney running 52:51 compared to 57:23 last year, while Shane Reading (42:30) & myself (45:58) both improved by around 3 minutes. Barry Greaves (6th V55, 45:46) eased past me on the final lap with a typically impressive finish, with Neil Brock (9th V50, 46:42) not far behind. Next came Jason Keast (49:58), Ronnie Garrod (51:51), Dean Moynihan (52:24, the cleanest cross-country runner ever seen - the mud just doesn't seem to stick!) & Ray Williams (56:51). We didn't quite reach the heights of the last race at Chorley, but 7th vets team (12th overall) isn't bad going at all.


Another great set of performances & an enjoyable afternoon in the mud. Next up is the infamous Marl Pits....not for the faint-hearted!  [David Emanuel]        

TODMORDEN PARK WINTER 5K - 20th NOVEMBER 2014
A small gaggle of nocturnal RRRs crossed the border into Yorkshire for the first in the latest 4-race series organised by Cannonball Events. An impressive 73 runners huddled in the clubhouse at Todmorden Cricket Club, most of them fiddling with their headtorches to get them at just the right angle. The one exception was our own Richard Fiddling, who arrived wearing a hat with its own built-in lights. Everyone else looked on enviously - it's the future!

The race this year is a 3-lap circuit, on a similar route to the summer Tod Park races but with each lap starting & finishing in at the Cricket Club. It was very dark so the torches were essential - I quickly found that the Trawden AC runner I was following had a much better light than mine, so decided to stay with him & try to overtake at the end. A great plan, spoilt by my well-known lack of a sprint finish & the fact that my headtorch had worked loose by this time & was now dangling around my neck. He duly finished 5 seconds ahead of my 19:35 - just my luck that he later collected the V50 prize. I'll get him next time!

Other RRRs were considerably more successful. Richard Fiddling followed me home in 19:57 for 1st V45, while Kirsty White (1st FV40, 2nd lady overall in 20:31) actually turned down the offer of a 2nd prize. Andrea Baker, who seemed to find the sight of runners in headtorches hilarious, finished 9th lady in an impressive 22:49. Sue Heaney, who really shouldn't have been running after suffering a bad fall at a recent trail race in the Lakes, still managed 26:44 for 3rd FV50.

Racing in the dark is certainly a different experience! I'll be back on 27th November for another go - but with a better torch this time.  [David Emanuel]   
RED ROSE X-COUNTRY (CHORLEY) - 8th NOVEMBER 2014
"Like Tough Mudder on the cheap." I think that's how Simon Howard described this race & whilst I've never taken part in those events, it's hard to believe that they can any tougher & muddier than Chorley.

This is one of the more 'technical' cross-country courses in the schedule, which makes it a particularly challenging place for a first attempt - so congratulations to Carol Robinson (17th FV35 in 30:04), Eloise Bartlett (127th lady, 31:05), Karen Stuttard (13th FV45, 33:49), Phil Marsden (13th V40 & 49th overall, 42:06), Dave McBride (15th V40, 43:07), Gary Fielding (23rd V40, 44:47), Lee Higginbottom (194th, 52:41), Dean Moynihan (45th V40, 53:55), Ray Williams (36th V45, 60:03) & James Cashin (230th, 62:41) who all produced fine performances on their RRR cross-country debuts. To see where this could lead, they only have to look at the example of Katherine Brierley, who ran 25:29 for 15th FV40 position & 3rd counter in the RRR ladies team - an improvement of more than 6 minutes on her time on this course last year.

Katherine joined Kirsty White & Becki Robinson to help the RRR Ladies to 14th position in the team event. Team Captain Kirsty led by example with a fantastic return to form, finishing in 21:05 for 3rd FV40 (20th overall). Becki, in her first cross-country race since injury, continued her fine recent form on the road to come home close behind in 27th place (21:27). With this trio finishing just 7 points behind 11th-placed Horwich RMI Harriers, a top 10 finish surely can't be far away?

For once the RRR men were present in greater numbers & produced their best performance yet. Three of the new boys (Phil Marsden, Dave McBride & Gary Fielding) joined Team Captain Shane Reading (16th V40, 43:09) for a magnificent 4th place in the Men's Vets competition, a mere 5 points behind Clayton Le Moors Harriers in 3rd. 9th place in the overall Men's Team event wasn't too shabby either, with those first four vets joined by Dan McManus (a brilliantly-paced run of 42:14 for 53rd overall) & Barry Greaves (showing all his cross-country experience to finish 5th V55 in 45:08). I won't mention where Rochdale Harriers finished in each case, as I don't want to upset Brian Moore...

Amongst the other RRR men there was a great four-way battle between Simon Lake (52:39), Lee Higginbottom, Ronnie Garrod (52:46) & Simon Howard (52:50), while the fast-finishing John Sweeney (53:36) came home just in front of debutant Dean Moynihan, who ghosted past four other runners on the race to the line. Dan Yarwood came home in a fine 48:02, Neil Brock in 49:57 & Jason Keast in 50:48 - Jason was another to respond to the outstanding RRR vocal support with a great finish. I spent the last two laps gradually closing on Joel White (whilst wearing a substantial amount of Chorley mud on my face), only for Joel to come past me again within yards of the finish. Joel recorded a time of 46:15, I was 7 seconds (but 4 places) further back.

So another great team effort from probably our biggest cross-country turnout so far. We even had the confidence to pitch our gazebo right next to the Rochdale Harriers tent! If you want to see just how much mud there was, visit the Photo Gallery. Next stop Leverhulme Park in Bolton on 22nd November - hopefully with even more RRRs in attendance!  [David Emanuel]         
DERWENTWATER 10 - 2nd NOVEMBER 2014
It's been a long hard season, but what a great way to finish! A journey that started with a club record (at the time) 74 RRRs in Southport for the Mad Dog 10K finished with 60 of us racing in the Lakes. That made it the 10th club championship race in 2014 featuring 60 or more club members - even more remarkable when you realise that the record for any race over the previous 10 years was 56. As Brian 'Statto' Moore has pointed out on our Facebook page, the total number of RRR participants in the 17 club races this year was 925, exceeding the previous best by more than 200 & working out at an average of 54 per race. Incredible!

We've always said for these end-of-season club trips that "what happens on the coach stays on the coach". That's guaranteed this time around (although I suspect there may have been some alcohol involved), as your reporter was shuffled off to the mini-bus with the larger vehicle already full to bursting. However, nobody said I can't reveal what happens on the mini-bus. Sex, drugs & rock'n'roll? You bet! And that was just the driver...

That's not the headline story from this trip, though. Club President June Allingan has to get top billing for her heroic efforts during the race, saving a blind runner from almost certain death. As I heard the story, a masked assassin attempted to run this athlete down in his van, but fortunately June was on hand. She somehow managed to reach in through the car window to steer the vehicle away, before dragging the driver from his seat & performing a citizen's arrest before handing him over to the authorities. Then it was straight back to the race to claim yet another FV70 prize. That's why she's our President!

June (1:44:54) was one of only two RRR individual prize-winners in this race, as a very strong New Marske Harriers team (no, me neither; it's a small village on the north-east coast, not far from Middlesbrough, apparently) picked up most of the awards. The second was Becki Robinson, whose magnificent 1:09:07 gave her 5th place overall in the ladies race. On the back of her great run at the Oldham Half Marathon Becki will be disappointed that the season is coming to an end...although hopefully she'll be able to take this form into the imminent cross-country races.

A delay in the calculation of the ladies team results meant that the organisers were not able to announce the winners at the post-race presentation. Not only did our first three ladies (Becki, Jen Bloor in 1:11:41 & Kirsty White in 1:14:33) win the prize, but the Race Director somehow managed to find a few of our runners in a Keswick pub to hand it over...

Of course for a number of our runners there were even more important prizes to be decided. Mo Butt (1:05:47) had a fine run after his Snowdonia Marathon efforts but Mark Taylor (1:06:35) held on to 2nd place in the Championship. Dave Ellis was unable to run but still retained 3rd place in Group 1 ahead of Jason Keast (1:14:19). Laura Walters (1:18:14) completed her 9th race & moved up to 2nd place in Group 2, pushing Helen Knight down to 3rd & leaving poor Simon Howard (1:24:21) out of the medals. Katherine Brierley (1:28:36) secured the Group 3 title ahead of Fay Royle (1:34:56). Rochelle Evans (1:20:24) was not quite able to overhaul Debbie Shaw in the ladies top three. Shane Reading (1:03:35) beat Chris Lowe (1:04:04) to ensure that he finished 3rd V40. Neil Brock (1:11:48) similarly held on to 3rd place in the V45s ahead of Des Thorpe (1:10:10). Last but definitely not least, Ronnie Quinn (1:20:47) claimed the V60 title by completing his 9th race ahead of Mike Doolan (1:31:32) & June Allingan (her again!).

This was also a special race for Shane Reading, Kirsty White, June Allingan (she gets everywhere!) & Nikki Green (1:27:47) who all completed the full set of 17 club championship races in 2014. Not only the first time more than one RRR has achieved this in a single year but also, as several people pointed out to me, the first time that any lady RRRs have done so. A great effort!

Meanwhile, up at the front of the field, new Club & V40 Champion Stuart Carroll was quietly completing an unbeaten season with his 10th victory, finishing 2nd V40 (17th overall) in 59:31. I'm sure I heard Shane Reading say in the changing room afterwards that this time was "within reach" for next year! Stuart was the only RRR to break the one-hour barrier, with Owen Flage (finishing the season well in 1:00:47) & Dave McBride (1:02:15) next home.

All other RRR finishers: Gary Fielding (1:03:57, a great post-Snowdonia Marathon performance), David Emanuel (1:05:04), Bernie Goodwin (1:06:38), Ian Dale (1:07:18), Dave Hall (1:07:29), Mark Wilde (1:09:05), Mike Harrison (1:09:24), Dave Peart (1:10:11), Bernie Cassidy (1:10:25), Bryan Lawton (1:11:58), Neil Farrell (1:13:25), Andrew Schofield (1:13:48), Simon Lake (1:15:44), Chris Eavers (1:17:36), Ronnie Garrod (1:18:55), Steve Shaw (1:18:59), Tony Kane (1:19:44), John Felton (1:20:35), Val Kilburn (1:20:46), Steve Rogowskyj (1:20:54), Dean Moynihan (1:21:45), Stewart Jones (1:21:52), Stuart Brown (1:22:03), Paul Cooke (1:24:41), Martin Jones (1:27:01), Lee Higginbottom (1:27:36), Rose Rowson (1:32:54), Kevin Kennedy (1:34:17), Julie Felton (1:35:26), John Sweeney (1:37:06), Mary Freer (1:37:12), Anne Jones (1:38:13), Ann Leyland (1:45:04), Eloise Bartlett (1:46:17), Niparun Nessa (1:52:00), Carol Robinson (1:52:00), Angela Rogowskyj (1:55:50) & Karen Stuttard (1:57:48). 

Congratulations to everyone who travelled to Keswick, especially those who completed a 10 mile race for the first time, with special thanks to those who didn't run but gave us great support as always. In fact, thanks to everyone in RRR who has helped make this our most successful season ever. There's plenty of cross-country racing to keep us busy over the next few months, but if that doesn't take your fancy...see you on the 'Mad Dog' start line in February 2015 & we'll do it all again!  [David Emanuel]                    
PALMA HALF MARATHON - 19th OCTOBER 2014
After booking a long weekend in Palma, I discovered that the Sunday was the date of the marathon, half marathon & 10K. No wonder we had trouble finding a hotel room!
It seemed like a great opportunity to enter my first race on foreign soil, so I got my application in for the half & collected my number from the picturesque setting of Parc de la Mar in front of Palma cathedral on Saturday. After a quick dip in the pool on Sunday morning, I cycled the 5 miles to the start. Hang on, I don’t remember signing up for the triathlon?

Waiting on the start line, while the marathon & 10K races set off before us , I was joined by a number of familiar fellow UK club runners in a field of around 2500. The run out along the port area was very pleasant in the early morning sun, but as we re-entered the city centre at the 10K mark the mercury was starting to climb. The route meandered through the streets of Palma until we emerged into the sun once again with around 3 miles to go. Now I like it hot, but it must have been close to 30 degrees by now & I was beginning to lose the battle with my 1:30 finish target. I had even resorted to taking water from the drinks stations, which is an alien concept to me, being used to the more wintry conditions of RRR club races. It took a couple of attempts before I managed to prise a bottle from a volunteer’s hand. The race suddenly became psychologically more difficult, with a cruel twist at the end as you pass alongside the finish line & still have a further 1K loop into the harbour before finishing back up the hill. I was quite pleased to finish only 30 seconds over the 90-minute mark, especially after running Congleton & Oldham on the previous two Sundays – three very different races indeed.

Once back at the hotel, with a beer in hand & the sun blazing down, I watched with great sympathy as the full marathon runners battled their way back to the finish. Respect to those RRR runners who have completed this race in the past! I was amazed to find that I finished 132nd overall & 2nd in my age category. I think this would be a good race to add to the RRR club championship!  [Dave Hall]
OLDHAM HALF MARATHON - 12th OCTOBER 2014
Like marmite, I think it's fair to say that the Oldham Half Marathon divides opinion. Some of our members will, it seems, do anything they can to avoid the race; others had been looking forward to it for months. The latter were convincingly in the majority this year, with many of those unable to run still getting out on the course, either marshaling or providing fantastic support (thanks to you all!). The 60 RRR finishers are by far the most we've ever had for a half marathon, in fact for any distance over 10K. On a tough course like this...truly remarkable!

I'd forgotten that, because of a clash with the 10th anniversary Amsterdam trip, we'd left this event out of the 2013 club championship. In terms of organisation it definitely justified a return - everything from number collection & bag storage to marshals &  drinks stations was perfect. What I hadn't forgotten were the hills! My Garmin reports 1,146 ft of climbing but it felt like a lot more than that. At least the fog kept the climb up Ripponden Road partially hidden, but the painful slog up Waterloo Street at the end was far too clear to see...

So everyone deserves great credit for completing this race, but I'll pick out a few highlights: new half marathon PBs for Stephen Lee (1:42:49) & Mary Freer (2:15:06) - I think it's safe to assume they'll go much quicker on an easier course; Becki Robinson finishing in a magnificent 3rd place in the ladies race (1:34:08); Bernie Cassidy (1st V45 in 1:38:38) & June Allingan (1st FV70, 2:25:15) both winning their age-categories; Owen Flage 1st club finisher (10th place overall, 1:23:14); the 1st FOUR finishers in the V50 category were all RRRs (myself in 1:30:01, Des Thorpe 1:33:21, Dave Hall 1:33:23 & Ian Dale 1:33:36), which I can't believed has happened before; another great run from Mo Butt (24th overall, 1:29:19), racing up the hills as though they weren't there; a welcome return from injury for Gill Lowe, getting round impressively on her new ankle in 1:53:34 (3rd FV45, no less) in her 1st club race since the Mad Dog 10K back in February; & finally a special mention for those who joined me in completing the Red Rose cross-country/Oldham Half double over the weekend (Mark Taylor 1:31:01, Shane Reading 1:31:13, Ronnie Garrod 1:49:25 & Simon Howard 1:49:47).

All the other RRR finishers: Phil Marsden (12th overall, 1:24:12), Chris Lowe (13th, 1:25:21), Andrew Davies (3rd V45 in his 2nd race for the club, 1:26:17), Bernie Goodwin (1:31:19, a miraculous recovery from injury at Congleton the week before), Dave Peart (1:32:10), Dave Arden (1:33:10), Gary Fielding (1:34:08), Jen Bloor (6th lady, 1:36:11), Mike Harrison (1:38:03), Andy Schofield (1:40:22), Kirsty White (2nd FV40, 1:40:51), Neil Farrell (1:41:36), Jason Keast (1:44:00), Eamonn Nolan (1:44:49), Steve Shaw (3rd V55, 1:46:16), Chris Eavers (2nd V60, 1:46:40), Simon Lake (1:47:01, multi-tasking impressively), John Lambe (1:49:35), Helen Knight (1:50:12), Stewart Jones (1:50:41), Neil Brock (1:51:09), Ronnie Quinn (3rd V60, 1:52:21), John Felton (1:55:56), Ray Williams (1:58:36), James Holdaway (1:58:41), Nikki Green (1:59:07), Neil Barker (2:02:42), Katherine Brierley (2:03:17), Selina Mclean (2:03:22), Kay Fitton (2:03:41), Sarah Tomassi (2:04:52), Fay Royle (2:08:29), Garry Bower (2:08:31), Julie Felton (2:09:33), Dean Moynihan (2:10:54), Mike Doolan (2:11:41), Mark Oliver (2:14:57), Anne Jones (2:15:21), Nikki Mellor (2:17:16), Melanie Kershaw (2:27:56), Ann Leyland (2:29:36), David Leyland (2:31:58), Carol Robinson (2:34:29), Karen Stuttard (2:35:11), Eloise Bartlett (2:36:19) & Zoe Mcmunn (2:42:45).

Congratulations all & thanks again to everyone who came out to support. A thoroughly enjoyable morning!  [David Emanuel]
RED ROSE X-COUNTRY (LEIGH) - 11th OCTOBER 2014
We're back! Just a year after the dawning of a new era in RRR cross-country running, it was again a warm & sunny afternoon at Leigh Sports Village for the first Red Rose race of the season. Numbers were a bit depleted, with the Oldham Half Marathon looming ominously just a few hours away, but of the 44 who registered we still had an impressive 14 lining up at the men's & ladies starts. Quite a few debutants amongst that number too, with three of the five ladies (Clare Darraugh, Sue Heaney, Niparun Nessa) & three of the men (Daniel McManus, Joel White, Ronnie Garrod) making their first cross-country appearance in an RRR vest.

With Gloria the Gazebo erected in record time (we're getting pretty good at this!), Simon Howard & myself set off to recce the (slightly lengthened) course. Two of our newbies joined us, only to turn back after about a quarter of a mile having "seen enough" before we even got properly off-road. They shall rename nameless...

As last year, the Red Rose standard was extremely high. There were 143 in the ladies race & all five of our runners performed extremely well on a flat but taxing course. Andrea Baker was first RRR home, breaking into the top 50, followed by Val Kilburn (9th FV45) & Clare Darraugh (20th FV35), with those three achieving 15th team ranking. Sue Heaney (10th V50) joined with Val & Clare to finish as 12th Lady Vets team, with a smiling (grimacing?) Niparun Nessa coming home just behind Sue, after recovering from the shock of finding that the circuit of the field at the start wasn't in fact the first lap!

A large men's field of 246 set off with most of the RRRs in the middle of the pack, several of us half-thinking about the Oldham hills to come the next day. Team Captain Shane Reading had arrived just to cheer us on, but once he'd scented mud he was back to the car to collect his kit & he duly led the team home in 78th place (17th V40). The men's team event is based on the first six finishers & Shane was joined by Mark Taylor (19th V40), myself (8th V50), Daniel McManus, Joel White & Ronnie Garrod for a 14th place finish. Shane, Mark, Matt Kilburn (35th V45) & I gathered sufficient points to finish 12th in the vets competition. John Sweeney & Simon Howard had a good battle to finish 39th & 40th V40s respectively. Dan Yarwood sadly had to pull out on the final lap when it looked like he was set for a good finishing position - but I'm sure he'll be back! 

I'm sure now they've had time to recover that our debutants will reflect on an enjoyable first cross-country experience - you can see how happy they look in all the photos taken on the day.


Finally, a special mention for Hamish Kilburn (right), now officially appointed as RRR cross-country mascot. Looks great in club colours!


Congratulations to everyone who took part & thanks to the supporters & photographers who joined us for the day. Hopefully we'll have a lot more running at Chorley on 8th November!  [David Emanuel]

CONGLETON HALF MARATHON - 5th OCTOBER 2014
With the twin challenge of avoiding injury & other commitments that may clash, it's no surprise that so few RRRs have ever managed to complete a full season of club championship races. In fact we've never had more than one person manage this in any year. So it's remarkable that, with two races to go, we have four runners set to achieve this feat in 2014 - Kirsty White, Shane Reading, June Allingan & Nikki Green.

Kirsty appears to be revelling in the heavy workload, recording a new half marathon PB of 1:35:12 as she finished 11th lady (4th FV40) in a strong field at Congleton, with Nikki (11th FV45 in 1:53:30) & Shane (10th V40, 1:23:58) also running well. However it was President June Allingan who stole the show, the only RRR to finish 1st in her age group as she crossed the line in 2:20:49.

It's easy to take performances like this for granted, as June was the only FV70 in the field! Yet when you think about it, that's simply because not many ladies over 70 are capable of running this distance...let alone the occasional marathon & the odd triathlon. A quick check of the runbritain rankings reveals that June is currently the 48th ranked FV70 in the whole of the UK. In fact our senior members are really doing us proud - Dave Phillips is currently 34th in the men's V70 list, while the amazing Lou Gilchrist sits proudly at the top of the FV80 rankings.

Although this isn't the easiest of half marathon courses, Kirsty wasn't the only RRR to set a new fastest time.  Karen Stuttard (2:21:06), Katherine Brierley (1:54:40) & Simon Lake (1:33:19) all knocked significant amounts off their previous bests. Dave McBride didn't quite manage this, but 1:21:52 (for 6th V40) was almost nine minutes quicker than his 2013 Congleton time & gave him the honour of crossing the line as 1st RRR finisher.

Not everyone enjoyed the race quite so much! Bernie Goodwin pulled up with injury around the halfway point but declined the offer of a lift from a marshal if he waited for the race to finish - having decided that he'd get to the end quicker if he kept running - to bravely get there in 1:48:44. Gary Fielding admitted afterwards that he should have stayed on his sick-bed, but still managed an amazing 1:25:12, which only three RRRs could better on the day. More positively, Dave Peart (1:27:17) & Ronnie Quinn (1:51:27) continued their gradual returns from injury - they'll hopefully soon be back running at their best.

Other RRR finishers: Mo Butt (1:24:52), David Emanuel (1:25:36), Ian Dale (1:26:59), David Hall (1:28:32), Des Thorpe (1:31:36), Neil Brock (1:34:22), Ronnie Garrod (1:37:02), Neil Farrell (1:37:11), Debbie Shaw (2nd FV50, 1:39:10), Jason Keast (1:40:16), Helen Knight (1:45:41), John Felton (1:47:15), John Lambe (1:51:26), Kay Fitton (1:57:05), Sarah Tomassi (1:59:17), Mark Oliver (2:06:48), Julie Felton (2:10:06) & David Leyland (2:19:57).

No time to relax - the challenge that is the Oldham Half Marathon is only a few days away!  [David Emanuel]         
SWINTON 10 MILE ROAD RACE - 28th SEPTEMBER 2014
On the day that Dennis Kimetto broke the world marathon record in Berlin, 41 RRRs were otherwise engaged closer to home on the streets of Swinton. It's worth pointing out that Kimetto's winning time was more than a minute slower than the final finisher here (a chap from Burnden RR). Come on Dennis, you really need to try harder...

With this the 14th race in the club championship, the destination of some of the end-of-season trophies is starting to become clearer. In particular a fine 58:32 from Stuart Carroll, good enough for 8th overall & 1st V40 in a high-quality field, ensured that he becomes RRR Club Champion for the 2nd time. Stuart first took the title in 2010, which was followed by three years of dominance by Ian McBride, but he has risen to the challenge & continued to improve his race times year-on-year. A well-deserved victory, noteworthy as the first time that a 'vet' has claimed the RRR crown (NB - it isn't really a crown; although since Stuart buys the trophies, it might well be this year).

Kirsty White had the Ladies Championship sewn up some time ago - completing a fantastic hat-trick of titles - with her 1:11:12 at Swinton (10th lady, 3rd FV40) representing a 13th victory in 14 club races. On this occasion she was pushed hard by Jen Bloor (11th lady in 1:11:45), despite Jen completing a 3rd race in 4 days following her RRR Cup semi-final victory the day before. Together with Debbie Shaw (2nd FV50, 1:13:38) they claimed a fantastic 2nd place in the ladies team competition, behind a very strong Burnden Road Runners trio.

Gary Fielding, beaten by Jen in that great cup match, was also taking part in his 3rd race in 4 days. Remarkably his time of 1:03:19 was a 10-mile PB, to follow a 5K best on Thursday & a new fastest Oldham parkrun on Saturday. There's someone who deserves a rest this week!

Top age-category positions were hard to come by at this event, so congratulations to three RRR ladies for these great performances - Teresa Hollins (1st FV60 in 1:26:35), June Allingan (1st FV70, 1:47:13) & Rose Rowson (2nd FV55, 1:31:32). 

All other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (60:10), Shane Reading (1:02:20), Dave McBride (1:02:40), Mo Butt (1:04:40), David Emanuel (1:04:46), Bernie Goodwin (1:05:22), Dave Peart (1:06:03), Dave Hall (1:06:19), Ian Dale (1:07:30), Mark Wilde (1:07:43), Bernie Cassidy (1:08:43), Barry Greaves (1:08:53), Bryan Lawton (1:10:45), Neil Farrell (1:12:06), Jason Keast (1:13:31), Neil Brock (1:14:10), Matt Kilburn (spotted crossing the line this time in 1:16:27), Simon Lake (1:16:38), Helen Knight (1:19:21), Natalie Fitzpatrick (1:19:59), Val Kilburn (1:23:54), Selina McLean (1:27:11), Katherine Brierley (1:28:14), Nikki Green (1:28:57), Neil Barker (1:29:18), Sarah Tomassi (1:30:32), Sue Heaney (1:30:51), Kay Fitton (1:32:02), Mark Oliver (1:33:13), Claire Timms (1:35:03), Mike Doolan (1:39:06), John Sweeney (1:40:46) & Karen Stuttard (1:47:45).

Not the most inspiring of courses - not the most popular with local residents either, judging by the grumpy old woman who insisted on walking through the finish funnel, ignoring the runners squeezing past on either side of her - but this race was made much more enjoyable by the fantastic RRR support around the course. Not only cheering us on but producing great photos too!  [David Emanuel]    
RON HILL 76th BIRTHDAY 5K - 25th SEPTEMBER 2014
Three things that make you realise winter is nearly here: the next-door neighbours put a cover on the kids' trampoline; the Fiddlings announce that they're putting their camper van back into storage; & an Andy O'Sullivan race finishes in the dark. Fortunately, before darkness descended at Cowm Reservoir, the conditions were ideal for a fast, exciting race to celebrate the legendary Ron Hill's birthday.   

The hardest thing about writing these race reports is trying to make sure you give all RRRs due credit for their performances, particularly when it comes to setting new personal best times for the race distance. So, on the basis of a trawl through last night's Facebook posts, can I start off by congratulating Garry Bower (21:37, a 53-second PB), Eloise Bartlett (28:23, a 46-second improvement), David Leyland (28:25, improving by a huge 1:28), Gary Fielding (17:59, his first sub-18 minute run, perfectly timed for his RRR Cup semi-final against Jen Bloor on Saturday), Karen Stuttard (29:04), Dave McBride (9th overall in 17:40), Katherine Brierley (23:02, a new PB by more than 4 minutes), Kirsty White (3rd lady in 19:56) & Stephen Rogowskyj (22:59 - the magic of RRR membership giving him a new PB in his very first race for the club). Apologies & similar congratulations to any other PB-ers I've missed. On behalf of those of us who set most of our PBs when results had to be sent out in the post & race photos were all black-&-white, I salute you!

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" wrote Charles Caleb Colton. He must have been thinking of Mo Butt, who turned up for this race dressed identically to Gary Fielding, right down to his shiny new Brooks running shoes. The one thing he couldn't do was imitate Gary's time, but Mo's 18:27 for 21st place was still pretty impressive. I'm sure he'll soon be joining the growing group of RRR sub-18 5K runners, which on this occasion included Stuart Carroll (7th overall in 17:13), Chris Lowe (10th, 17:45), Phil Marsden (11th, 17:48) & Owen Flage (12th, 17:50). We also had two more runners in the top 20 of a 211-strong field - Shane Reading (17th, 18:16) & Ian Dale (18th & 1st V50, 18:23).

The RRR ladies produced similarly strong performances, with Kirsty followed home by Becki Robinson (4th lady in 20:06), Jen Bloor (6th, 20:25), Debbie Shaw (8th & 1st FV50, 21:19), Laura Walters (12th, 22:04) & Val Kilburn (15th, 22:49). Becki was particularly proud to win a pair of bright blue running pants - so much so that she insisted on wearing them for the rest of the evening...

A special mention for those returning from injury, including Rochelle Evans (24:02) & Sarah Collins (28:13) - great to see you back racing again.

The many other RRR finishers: Joel White (18:32), Bernie Goodwin (18:47), David Emanuel (18:57), Michael Harrison (19:21), Dave Arden (19:28), Des Thorpe (19:30 in his 1st race as a V50), Ronnie Garrod (19:42), Eamonn Nolan (19:57), Dave Peart (20:02), David Ellis (20:05), Bryan Lawton (20:10, modelling the new RRR shorts with go-faster stripes), Bernie Cassidy (20:11), Jason Keast (20:14), Neil Brock (20:33), Neil Farrell (20:37), Matt Kilburn (apparently wearing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak when he went through the finish, but we estimate he finished in 21:03), John Lambe (21:04), Steve Shaw (21:07), Simon Lake (21:35), Simon Howard (21:36), John Felton (21:43), John Sweeney (22:22), Ronnie Quinn (22:55), Helen Knight (23:13), Selina McLean (23:50), Chris Prince (24:14), Paul Cooke (24:19), Diane Allingan (24:27), Sarah Tomassi (24:29), Rose Rowson (24:54), Clare Darraugh (25:00), Neil Barker (25:17), Nikki Green (25:22), Fay Royle (25:49), Mike Doolan (26:00), Julie Felton (26:40), Niparun Nessa (28:12), Carol Robinson (29:20), Anne Jones (29:42), Stephen Jones (29:50), Amanda Lane (30:06) & June Allingan (31:13).

This was the last of the shorter races in the 2014 RRR club championship, with some dodgy planning (for which I must accept much of the responsibility) meaning that we finish the season with two half marathons & two 10-milers. Hopefully we'll still get a good turnout for those, especially the grand finale at Keswick in early November, but we'll have to go some to match the 65 here - the 5th best RRR turnout for a race this season & in the club's history!  [David Emanuel]            
ROCHDALE KINGSWAY 10K - 21st SEPTEMBER 2014
Having heard good things about this race from people who ran here last year & feeling no ill-effects from Saturday's relay event, I arrived at Kingsway Sports Centre to find a typically impressive gathering of cheerful RRRs (apart from a slightly-less-cheerful Simon Lake, who noted that the quality of the runners he'd already spotted were reducing his chances of repeating his 9th place finish in 2013!). Amongst their number were two of my fellow relay runners, Ronnie Garrod & Phil Marsden, both clearly ready to repeat their impressive performances from the previous day.

Phil may in fact have been too hyped-up, as he stormed away from the start & led the field around 200m of the track before we headed out into the business park. One of the features of this undulating course is that at several points you pass runners coming in the opposite direction, which meant it was possible to see Phil fall behind the eventual winner, Middleton's Mick Flatley (no disgrace in that!), but continue to battle for the top places. 

The course includes a double climb of a hill that will be very familiar to anyone who has experienced Brian Moore's alternative winter sessions when the track is out of bounds - there's a great sense of relief when you finish the second climb, at the 6K mark, knowing that you now 'only' have to retrace your steps for another 4K back to the finish.

Phil was just outsprinted for 3rd place, but claimed a deserved V40 prize in an impressive new PB of 36:13. Next home & also claiming age-category awards were Bernie Cassidy (15th & 1st V55, 41:40) & myself (11th & 1st V50, 39:06), closely followed by Ronnie Garrod (17th, 42:13), Eamonn Nolan (20th, 43:00) & Simon Lake (21st, 43:08). Soon to arrive was Garry Bower (49:33), followed by the first lady RRR finishers Selina McLean (50:33) & Sarah Tomassi (51:42). Next home & claiming the FV45 prize was Nikki Green (52:26), while there were also fine runs from Niparun Nessa (61:08) & Angela Rogowskyj (71:17).

That set of performances ensured a clean sweep of the men's & ladies team prizes, which meant several RRRs leaving Kingsway with a bottle of wine under their arm. Not a bad morning's work!  [David Emanuel]         

NORTHERN ATHLETICS ROAD RELAYS - 20th SEPTEMBER 2014
Oh what might have been! I could be writing now that the RRR men's 'A' team finished a magnificent 70th of the 140 teams that lined up for our first-ever Northern Athletics relay event at Warrington. How - after some superb running from Gary Fielding, Shane Reading, Chris Lowe, Phil Marsden & Dave McBride - Stuart Carroll took over on the anchor leg & charged through the field to get us into that position. And yet...as Stuart rounded the final corner of the two-lap, 6K course, a marshal shouted to him (as he did to all the runners) to "keep to the right of the barrier" separating the finishers from those on their first lap. Eager to please, Stuart did as he was told - but went one step further & also ran to the right of the barrier on the other side of the course. The one that separated the finish funnel from...well, the rest of the world. Following some furious pointing from the officials at the finish & lots of shouting from the assembled RRRs, Stuart had to run back around the barriers to cross the line ("Why didn't you just jump over?" he was asked afterwards; "With my groin? Are you kidding?" came the reply). All of this took just a few seconds, but that was long enough to allow runners from Holmfirth Harriers & Altrincham AC - both of whom Stuart had worked so hard to overtake - to sneak through. So 72nd place it is!

To be fair to Stuart - which I suppose I have to be - even with those extra seconds he was still by over a minute the fastest RRR runner on the day & without that diversion he would certainly have broken the 21-minute barrier. A fantastic run, capping a great team performance in an overall time of 2:14:52.


No such problems for the ladies! 77 teams took part & our foursome of Jen Bloor, Laura Walters, Kirsty White & Becki Robinson came home in a wonderful 30th place in a combined time of 1:44:02. Jen seems to enjoy running the lead-off leg as, for the second week running, she was the fastest member of the RRR team (despite a "few drinks" at a wedding the day before), but there were only a few seconds between leg times. It was great to have Laura & Becki in the team & running so well after an injury-plagued year for both.

Mustn't forget the men's 'B' team. The combined efforts of Ronnie Garrod, Matt Kilburn, Mark Taylor (fresh from a 17-mile 'warm-up' in the morning), Ian Dale, Mo Butt & myself produced a combined time of 2:28:55 to allow us to just creep into the top 100. Top running!      

This event was on a completely different scale to the previous week's North West Counties relays. It hadn't occurred to me beforehand that 'Northern Athletics' would include ALL of the north (except Scotland - I guess their athletes have already got independence?), so we were running against teams from as far apart as North Shields, Lincoln, Wirral & Keswick. It was great to see RRR vests lining up against the big clubs. We really should thank Brian Moore for persuading us to get involved in relay events - something he may be regretting now, when he sees where we finished relative to the Rochdale teams...

So another excellent & historic day in the life of RRR. Here's links to the men's & women's full results. We'll definitely be back to take part in more relays next year - hopefully with many more teams!  [David Emanuel]             
 

CROSS KEYS ROAD & FELL RELAY - 13th SEPTEMBER 2014

Whilst a few RRRs were having a gently stroll around Woodbank Park, a couple of us were also taking part in a team relay (albeit under 'Oldham Community Leisure' colours). This annual event, organised by Saddleworth Runners, is designed to bring clubs of different running disciplines together – as the event name suggests, mainly fell & road runners. There are four to a team (although one ‘team’ was given dispensation to run it solo!), alternating between road legs & fell legs.


I was the lead leg for our team & having run the event last year knew more or less what to expect. This mattered not one jot, as even the previous week’s recce had little or no bearing on the day’s conditions. It was warm…very warm! A little on the breezy side too. Nonetheless I set off quite conservatively even though the start line is downhill & eased around the first sharp bend. Another fast downhill almost immediately changes into a gruelling uphill climb. “Concentrate on the form – short quick feet, driving arms,” I told myself as my energy was sapped by the rising temperature. “Oh, look, the sun’s come out…” 


The terrain eases back slightly to no more than ‘undulating’ as we turn onto the appropriately named Running Hill Lane. It is difficult not to have a sense of foreboding as you can see the marshal at the top of the hill – he looks so far away & high up! “Concentrate on the…blah, blah, etc.”


The marshal at the top is far more cheery than any person at the top of a small mountain should ever be permitted to be. He is safe in the knowledge that if you wanted to confront his enthusiasm he could easily out run you in your current condition! He points down the hill – at last, some respite…ya think? This is the quick section – the only place you are going to make any inroads time-wise - & you can’t breathe! Your whole body is screaming at you to stop whilst you tell it to start winding it up. As you round the final bend, you pick your passage through the throng of spectators & other runners awaiting their ‘turn’. For the first to go this is almost orderly - the chaos of relay racing means that later legs often have to scream & shout their way through.


One lap down & one to go! The road leg is 3 miles with 600 feet of climb. The fell leg is a mere 2.5 miles – but that has 800 feet of uneven surfaces, bogs, stiles, barbed wire & sheep to negotiate!


The other RRR in our team was my running buddy Nikki Green, who put in a super effort to help an inexperienced team to 37th position (10th mixed team) on the day. There was a little bit of concern when the 2nd runner of the other OCL team was overdue on her debut as a fell runner. Fortunately the Oldham Mountain Rescue team was on hand, so she was brought safely down & taken for a precautionary check-up at Tameside Hospital. Oldham Mountain Rescue survives on donations, so if you’re ever thinking of a charity to run for or donate to, you could help others who like to do this fell running lark! And maybe next year there will be some RRRs giving this one a whirl.  [Simon Lake]

GARSTANG HALF MARATHON - 14th SEPTEMBER 2014

After a Saturday of parkrun pacing & road relay running, what better way to spend Sunday morning than running a hilly half marathon? Standing on the start line, my legs seemed to be suggesting that they could come up with a few alternatives, but it was too late by then...


Turn up for any race in the North West & there's every chance you'll find another RRR in the field. This was no exception as I bumped into Dave McBride at registration, looking enviously fresh from NOT having run in the relays the day before. That possibly contributed to the fact that I'd already lost sight of him before we'd completed the first mile! I then had the bizarre experience of struggling round the course, at a progressively slower pace, yet constantly overtaking other runners & not being passed once. Eventually I just managed to sneak in under the 90-minute mark (1:29:27 for 21st overall, 2nd V50). I felt slightly more content on discovering that Dave had recorded 1:24:10 to finish in an excellent 8th place (3rd V40), especially when he confirmed that it wasn't only me who found the course & the warm conditions a bit of a challenge...


So don't be tempted to enter a future Garstang Half Marathon looking for a PB. However if you want a small, well-organised & pleasantly rural race which is good preparation for the challenges of the Oldham Half Marathon, you could do worse than put this one on your list...but maybe try to avoid running a relay event the day before!  [David Emanuel]  


NORTH WEST COUNTIES ROAD RELAYS - 13th SEPTEMBER 2014

We knew that there would be a lot to learn from our first venture into the world of road relays. My first lesson - if you've got the gazebo in your car, make sure you arrive early enough to get into the car park & avoid having to park miles from the venue. As a result, Gloria was left in the car...although she seemed to enjoy the trip out to Stockport & is looking forward to a proper appearance next weekend in Warrington.


To be honest there wasn't really any need for a shelter on a lovely warm September afternoon. As we gathered amongst some ominously fast-looking runners & talked about the nasty hills that had been spotted in the middle of the 3.6K course, our team captains Kirsty White & Shane Reading made their all-important selection & running- order decisions. Since we were unable to put out a 3rd men's team, with some of the original volunteers now unavailable, Shane also had to decide who was going to miss out, as we had 9 runners available for 8 places. Despite some of us trying to persuade him otherwise, Shane insisted on stepping aside to give everyone else who had turned up the opportunity to take part. A true leader!


The ladies set off first & each of them produced a fantastic performance. The 'A' team of Jen Bloor, Debbie Shaw & Captain Kirsty finished in a combined time of 44:54 for 11th place overall (of 37 teams) & 4th Greater Manchester team (of 16). Jen even managed to run her lead-off leg 3 seconds faster than Kirsty's final leg, producing the 33rd best individual run (of 118), although Kirsty's absolute refusal to be beaten at the finish by a Liverpool Harrier was a highlight. The 'B' team of Karen Mather, Katherine Brierley & Val Kilburn recorded an excellent 51:08 for 27th place overall, 10th from Greater Manchester. I have to mention that the 'A' team beat Rochdale 'A' by more than 2 minutes, while the 'B' team finished ahead of both Rochdale's 'B' & 'C' teams. Great job!


That left the men with an awful lot to live up to & we didn't do too badly against some scarily strong teams. The 'A' team of Gary Fielding, Chris Lowe, Phil Marsden & Stuart Carroll produced a combined time of 51:32 for 28th place overall (of 54 teams) & a superb 10th of 23 from Greater Manchester. The 'B' team of myself, Matt Kilburn, Mo Butt & Dan Yarwood ran 56:09 for 43rd overall (17th from Greater Manchester). It's an indication of the standard of athlete we were up against that Ian McBride (running for Salford Harriers 'A') was only the joint 9th fastest runner in the field. In the interests of balance I suppose I should mention that the Rochdale Harriers 'A' team was faster than ours...although once again our 'B' team finished ahead of both Rochdale's 'B' & 'C' teams.


There's something very special about running as part of a team. You could see on the face of every runner as they came into the finish how much effort they'd put in to ensure that they didn't let their team-mates down...somehow it makes you dig that little bit deeper when it really starts to hurt. Of course it also helps when you have by far the noisiest supporters! Dan pointed out that while he was waiting at the changeover point for the final leg, with all the other competitors craning their necks to try to see their previous runners arrive, he just had to wait to hear the 'Royton Roar' from the rest of the team to know that Mo was on his way.


So a really enjoyable afternoon - congratulations to everyone who took part, you'll go down in history as the first-ever RRR road relay teams! Full results can be seen here. I think we're getting a taste for this...bring on the Northern Athletics Road Relays at Warrington next Saturday!  [David Emanuel]                   

SALFORD 10K – 7th SEPTEMBER 2014

"It’s not the real Salford 10k" I was told by various members of Salford Harriers, but as far as I can see it’s a 10K & it’s in Salford so it’ll do for me. With a reputation for being a good PB course, hopes were high for most of the participating RRRs. Although not a club championship race, there were still 30 of us proudly wearing the vest at the start line. The weather was better than expected, with clear blue skies & very little wind, so would this be the PB-fest we were all hoping for?


The best part of the day from my point of view (plus a few others who witnessed it) was nothing to do with the race but what happened beforehand. When young Mo went to find a bin for his bottle of water everything in his life was good; when he returned he was faced with me being interviewed live on a big screen & played over the loudspeaker system to the thousands of runners congregating for the start. This was too good an opportunity to miss out on, so I politely informed the guy interviewing me that RRR was a fantastic club with some excellent runners...with one exception! To poor Mo’s horror I went on to explain he was the slowest runner at the club due to his very poor running technique. When the laughter had died down Mo was invited over to join the interview, but the damage was already done. Luckily Mo saw the funny side! [Are you sure? - Ed]


The start of the race was very congested, due to the large number of runners & tight roads on the first half mile, but this soon opened up onto the open flat roads we’d all hoped for. The course was as I expected until the last mile, when it gave the illusion that you were approaching the finish line only to discover a sharp bend & almost another mile to run - a cruel twist. The good weather mentioned earlier also had a part to play, as temperatures gradually increased to make the last two miles that bit tougher. Overall, a good fast course but with a few very tight switchback corners that almost forced you to stop & then set off again.


Now for the times. Phil Marsden continued his very impressive form with a blisteringly quick PB of 36:27 to finish in 24th place. Even more amazing, this was only his 4th or 5th race. I came in next with a PB of 37:44, closely followed by the slowest runner at the club with yet another PB of 37:59. Great running Mo! Continuing the run of PBs was Dave Arden with his first sub 40 10K, finishing in 39:30. Probably the most impressive performance was Becki Robinson. After having to play the role of chief cheerleader for most of the year due to injury, Becki is at long last fit & judging by this performance raring to go. Becki was the 5th female finisher in another PB time of 40:37!


There were so many PBs I lost track of who did what, so here are a list of the other finishers. Apologies if it was a PB: Simon Lake (43:32), Dave Freer (43:59), Ronnie Garrod (42:57), Dean Moynihan (46:42), Tony Kane (48:18), John Sweeney (48:37), Paul Cooke (49:26), Garry Bower (52:06), Mark Oliver (52:16), Selina McLean (52:21), Ray Williams (52:33), Clare Darraugh (56:44), Nikki Mellor (57:10), Liz Phillips (59:01), David Leyland (1:00:07), Niparun Nessa (1:01:02), Ann Leyland (1:03:27), Emma Kennedy (1:03:57), Eloise Bartlett (1:04:03), Karen Stuttard (1:04:17), Melanie Kershaw (1:04:23), Amanda Lane (1:04:38), Sheila Phillips (1:06:26), Angela Rogowskyj (1:08:19) & Zoe McMunn (1:10:27). Garry Bower's performance deserves a special mention, as from what I’ve heard Garry attempted to start a mass brawl on one of the bridges. Apparently there was a large photo shoot taking place which he took exception too. Just chill Garry, anyone would think you were in a race, just smile & say cheese!


Overall I think this was a pretty successful day. A large number of us got PBs & I got to abuse Mo in front of thousands of people!  [Gary Fielding]

LITTLEBOROUGH LIONS 5K - 26th AUGUST 2014
It seems impolite to turn down an event when the Race Director hand-delivers an entry form to your front door...hence the Fiddlings & myself found ourselves on the start line for the Littleborough Lions 5K once again (even though I was feeling a little weary; a quick calculation afterwards revealed that this was my 10th race since the start of July, not including parkruns or the Cotswold Way thingy).

Numbers are normally quite small for this race - which is always held on the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday - but the appearance of 22 Todmorden Harriers (responding to its inclusion in their club championship) boosted us to a total field of 56 despite an unseasonably cold wind. Alongside Richard, Debbie & I were two other RRRs, regular attendee Bernie Cassidy & recent recruit Sue Heaney, fresh from winning a prize at the last event of the Cannonball 3 Dayer a couple of days earlier.

The leading runners charged off into the distance from the start, never to be seen again, led by race winner & Mr Cannonball himself John Lloyd (16:45). I managed to shake off Richard Fiddling on that horrible climb up from Smithy Bridge (including the underpass, now with new, even-more-awkward steps to climb) to finish 12th in 19:33, with Richard crossing the line in 15th place (20:07). Bernie Cassidy came home 19th in 21:07 with Debbie Fiddling not far behind, 3rd lady & 22nd overall (21:29). Sue Heaney produced an impressive sprint finish to move up to 39th place (6th lady, 25:02).

There are always familiar faces turning up for this event & it was good to see a Mr A. O'Sullivan taking part, relinquishing his megaphone to complete the course in 23:36. If you miss Andy's Littleborough races since he moved all his events over to Whitworth, I'd recommend putting this in your race diary for 2015!  [David Emanuel]     
CANNONBALL 3 DAY EVENT - 22nd to 24th AUGUST 2014
I suppose when you've lived (& run) somewhere for a while, it's easy to take it for granted. So it was quite strange to read John Lloyd advertise this new Cannonball event, almost literally on my doorstep on the roads & trails around Shore, as taking place in a "runner's paradise". Having completed this excellent series & talked to others running here for the first time, I think I will appreciate it a little more in future.

As a brand new event on a Bank Holiday weekend, it was always going to be difficult to attract a sizeable field & so it proved. Just 14 runners completed the three-race series - a 4.3 mile road race on Friday, 4.5 mile trail race around Watergrove Reservoir on Saturday & a 3 mile fell race on Sunday - but I think it's fair to say that it made up in quality for what it lacked in quantity! The first three finishers were Andi Jones (combined time 1:03:34), Ian McBride (1:05:59) & Bruno Lima (1:14:42), while 4th place was claimed by George Lewis, a 14-year-old from East Cheshire Harriers who is certainly one to watch for the future. This was Andi Jones's very last competition before he heads off for warmer climbs. It was a real privilege for Ian Dale & I to compete in this sort of company & we managed to finish 6th & 7th respectively. Ian was leading me by just over a minute after the first two races, so I needed to produce something really special in the fell race. I did reach the turn in front after the 1.5 mile climb, but given my well-known inability to run fast downhill I reckon I'd probably have needed to be about a mile ahead at that point to stand any chance of winning! Ian duly came haring past on the descent, beating me comfortably to finish as the 1st V50 with an overall lead of 2mins 37secs.

The fell race attracted the biggest field of the three races, with 42 finishers including two additional RRRs. James Cashin produced a fine run to finish in 33rd place amongst some serious fell runners, closely followed by Sue Heaney who ran well enough to claim the day's FV50 prize.

This was another excellent Cannonball event. Hopefully it'll continue next year, as I'm sure word will spread & there will be many more local runners wanting to compete in this runner's paradise...  [David Emanuel]           

MILLTOWN OLDHAM 10K - 17th AUGUST 2014
There's always a slight element of guesswork involved in selecting races at the start of each year for the RRR Club Championship - with dates for many events not confirmed at the time - but the addition of the Oldham 10K this year seemed perfectly designed to fill a large June-shaped hole in the race calendar, once we'd decided (by popular demand) to drop the Freckleton Half Marathon. Then along comes a little Milltown rearrangement (to accommodate the Oldham Carnival 7K) & suddenly there are only four days to recover from the Saddleworth 6 before lining up for this challenging 10K race.

So particular credit is due to the 38 of 61 RRRs who ran this race (out of a total field of 217) for gritting their teeth & completing the 'Saddleworth-Oldham double'. No doubt the impact of back-to-back races is different for each individual, but you do wonder if Dave McBride, 4th overall & beaten by just one second by Russell Ingham (37:13) in a fantastic sprint finish, might just have hung on to 3rd place if he hadn't had the midweek Greenfield run in his legs? I'm also quite curious to know what Joel White did over those few days, as he moved from 17th RRR finisher on Wednesday to 8th on Sunday (15th overall in 40:17), gaining immediate 'revenge' on Bernie Goodwin (40:35), Dave Hall (41:28), Mark Taylor (41:44), Des Thorpe (42:11), Kirsty White (42:49), Bryan Lawton (42:57) & Neil Brock (46:26). About time they introduced drug-testing into local road races if you ask me...

I'm sure Kirsty wasn't too bothered about finishing behind Joel this time, though, as she came home second lady overall & picked up yet another well-deserved prize. This was just one amongst a procession of RRR prize-winners as Kirsty was joined by Russell Ingham & Dave McBride (awarded 1st V40 as Russell took the overall 3rd place award), new member Andrew Davies (1st V45 in 38:30), Simon Lake (1st V55, 43:26), Dave Phillips (1st V70, 46:40), Diane Allingan (1st FV55, 52:50), June Allingan (1st FV70, 63:07), Sheila Phillips (1st FV65, 67:37) & Helen Knight (2nd FV40 in 48:44, but awarded the prize as Kirsty had already claimed one). Even I managed to take full advantage of Ian Dale's absence to pick up the 1st V50 award after crossing the line in 40:46. As if that wasn't enough, we once again claimed both team prizes courtesy of Russell, Dave & recent recruit Philip Marsden (5th overall in 37:37) for the men & Kirsty, Jen Hanson (4th lady in 43:57) & Laura Walters (9th lady in 48:15) for the ladies.

With new member Lindsay Cowap making an impressive debut - crossing the line just inside the hour - & Liz Phillips (58:29) running her first RRR race of the year, we've now had an incredible 54 ladies competing in club championship events, an unprecedented total...with five races still remaining.

Two more RRRs were amongst the first 10 to finish in Shane Reading (8th, 38:31) & Owen Flage (10th, 38:47), with the rapidly-improving Mo Butt only just behind in 11th place (38:56). Others who also ran both here & at Saddleworth were Ronnie Garrod (43:18), Eamonn Nolan (43:20), David Ellis (43:33), John Lambe (44:05), Jason Keast (44:12), Neil Farrell (44:31), Matt Kilburn (44:51), Gary Smith (47:50), Garry Bower (49:42), Paul Cooke (50:54), Nikki Green (51:58), Katherine Brierley (52:40), Mike Doolan (53:57), Rose Rowson (54:27), Fay Royle (55:02), Julie Felton (57:02), Anne Jones (58:26), Nikki Mellor (59:15), Eloise Bartlett (63:16), Karen Stuttard (64:09) & Carol Robinson (64:18). Last but by no means least, the remaining RRR finishers were Dave Arden (41:33), Dave Peart (coming back from injury with 42:02), Stewart Jones (45:53), Dean Moynihan (47:12), Simon Howard (48:20), Val Kilburn (48:58), Sarah Tomassi (51:37), Lee Higginbotham (51:41), Mark Oliver (53:20), Kay Fitton (54:39), Lisa Howarth (54:40), Ann Leyland (64:24), Sarah Butler (64:47) & David Leyland (66:35).

So 12 races down, five to go & by my calculations almost every trophy is still up for grabs. Apart from Kirsty White & Jen Hanson having guaranteed 1st & 2nd places in the Ladies Group already, it's still all to play for...

Bit of a break now before we resume with another mad dash around Cowm Reservoir at the Ron Hill 76th Birthday 5K on 25th September, the last 'short' race in this year's calendar. Worth registering in advance for that one, as there's a "strict limit" of 250!  [David Emanuel]           
COTSWOLD WAY CHALLENGE - 8th to 11th AUGUST 2014
Not really a race - there's no official timing, no final positions & no prizes - but I thought it still worth giving this event a write-up, on the off-chance that it might encourage some of you to take part next year. Eileen Ingham & Julie Greenwood are already in, deferred from this year, so you'll definitely have some RRR company!

Colin Green & I have run a few of the National Trails together over the last few years, so this seemed too good an opportunity to miss - a chance to run the 102-mile Cotswold Way over four days with other people, camping & food provided, checkpoints along the way & massages/ice baths on offer at the end of each day. Unfortunately Colin's preparations were severely affected by injury, to the extent that he set off for Bath with the intention of just walking the route...but just a few miles into the first day he was so fed up moving at that pace that he changed his plan. We ended up running the final three days together, with Colin actually dragging me along for much of the time. Who needs training?

The Cotswold Way is a lovely route, although the hills weren't quite as gentle & rolling as I expected. You pass through a few ridiculously picturesque villages such as Broadway & Stanton, but much of the time is spent climbing up to & down from various ridges offering spectacular views, including the famous Cooper's Hill where the annual cheese-rolling event takes place (the TV pictures really don't do this justice - you would have to be completely mad to try running down that hill, whether chasing a cheese or not). We experienced quite a wide range of weather conditions - it was scorching on the first day & then, although the remnants of Hurricane Bertha were never quite as bad as forecast, we spent a fair amount of the time running in the rain. As with all the National Trails the route is really well-signposted. On the few occasions when we did go wrong, it was partly down to over-confidence & a failure to check the map.

The organisation of the event was excellent. There were just over 50 runners & walkers taking part & when we arrived at the campsites at the end of each day all the tents (with airbeds) were ready & waiting. The atmosphere was great, food was good (generous portions) & the two physios were amazing - everyone who wanted a post-run massage got one, even though it meant them working non-stop until about 9pm each evening. On the second night we were treated to an inspirational talk from Jamie McDonald - I must admit I'd not heard of him before, but he's an incredibly charismatic guy with a fantastic story to tell. I think everyone started the next day with an extra spring in their step as a result.

The fourth & last day of the challenge is the longest, covering the final 33 miles into Bath... although we managed to make it about 36 by failing to correctly follow a diversion around a closed section of the trail. As can be seen in the photo above, we were greeted by a massive crowd of enthusiastic supporters at the finish outside Bath Abbey - well, a couple of curious tourists - but that mattered not a jot. As with all our long-distance runs, we reached the end with a strange mixture of satisfaction, exhaustion & elation. The difference this time was that we could head off to a nice pub & share those feelings with a bunch of new-found friends over a beer (or several). Highly recommended!  [David Emanuel]                      
SADDLEWORTH 6 - 13th AUGUST 2014
The evening of the Saddleworth 6 race was fast approaching. The weather forecast was mixed, sunny with showers, light wind (runner's diet), cloudy & 18 degrees. In fact, everything needed for a great race - not too hot but with some refreshing rain if the going got tough.

This was race number 11 of the 2014 RRR club championship. I had attempted it last year, as a very new 'athlete' who couldn't run up hills & had a stride turnover that matched a zombie bimbling through a graveyard. So a year on & several races later this was my chance to prove myself. In a quick warm up before the race I encountered the usual buzz of excitement & anticipation from other runners who were limbering up. A curt nod of the head, a wave & a smile, a brief exchange of pleasantries between members of different running clubs. All were there to prove something, either to themselves or to other people.

About 10 minutes before the start of the race, the heavens opened. Runners took shelter underneath the trees dotted around the side streets, spectators popped open their umbrellas, marshals were glad of their all-weather jackets & the extra layer of fluorescent yellow bibs. Then, as suddenly as it had started, the rain eased off & the sun came out to light the way to the start. Runners jostled in a good-natured way for their position in the line-up. The dead-set winners started at the front, where they had earned their place. Next came the runners who were determined to push themselves, but knew that they weren't quite up to the winners' level. Following these were the runners who were after a decent time but weren't quite brave enough to push further forward. Then we had the runners who were happy to bring up the rear, chatting with their friends & treating the race as a social event, who would be happy just to complete the full six miles.

There were 213 competitors in the race. Out of these, 59 were from RRR - over a quarter of the numbers there. Another great turnout from the club with numbers to be proud of. The sea of green, white & yellow vests were spread evenly throughout the race. From our fantastic first finisher David McBride in 6th place (35:31), through to one of our newest recruits, Angela Rogowskyj, who crossed the line in an impressive time of 1:07:29. Following David over the finishing line were Owen Flage (36:08), Chris Lowe (36:30), Shane the Train Reading (36:55), Gary Fielding (37:24), Bernie Goodwin (38:16) & Ian Dale (39:08). Then the Brat Pack arrived in close formation, consisting of Mohammed Butt (39:13), Neil Brock (39:15), David Hall (39:16), Michael Harrison (39:33), Des Thorpe (39:49), Barry Greaves (39:53) Bryan Lawton (40:16) & Mark Taylor (40:19). Our first lady was of course Club Captain Kirsty White, who came flying in with the incredible time of 40:20). Hot on her heels was Joel White (40:42), then David Freer (41:03), followed by the second lady in RRR to do the club proud, Jen Hanson (41:08). Bernard Cassidy was in next with a respectable time of 41:09, then John Lambe (41:32), Simon Lake (41:49), new member Ronnie Garrod (41:54), Eamonn Nolan (42:02) and David Ellis (42:07). Other RRR finishers were Neil Farrell (42:16), Jason Keast (42:17), Deborah Shaw (42:47), Matthew Kilburn (43:48), Laura Walters (44:55), Gary Smith (45:17), Karen Mather (45:41), John Sweeney (46:46), Helen Knight (46:54), James Cashin (46:55), Garry Bower (47:12), David Smith (48:32), Paul Cooke (49:04), Teresa Hollins (49:41), Nikki Green (49:54), Katherine Brierley (50:05), Kevin Kennedy (50:57), Mike Doolan (51:31), Selina Mclean (51:45), Rose Rowson (51:47), Fay Royle (51:53), Neil Barker (52:16), Julie Felton (53:51), Diana Hand (55:48), Anne Jones (55:49), Nikki Mellor (56:01), Eloise Bartlett, (58:45), June Allingan (59:16), Mary Freer (59:25), Carol Robinson (1:02:28), Niparun Nessa (1:03:42), Karen Stuttard (1:04:00), & Joanna Conway (1:06:18).

This was a tough race & the first of two in five days. Despite the looming Oldham 10K, which is known for its horrendous hills, club members put their all into this race to produce some fantastic results, with RRR scooping both male & female team prizes. An enormous well done & congratulations to everybody who took part - not forgetting a big thanks to the RRRs who were marshaling due to injury or just out of the goodness of their hearts. We couldn't do it without you! See you all next year...  [Katherine Brierley]
TODMORDEN PARK 5K SERIES (RACES 3/4) - 24th JULY/7th AUGUST 2014
Well my previous ramblings about this excellent race series seem to have had an effect! A few more RRRs made an appearance at these last two races & very well they did too.

Race 3 took part on one of the hottest days of the summer & there was no sign of it cooling down by the evening. This didn't seem to affect race winner & Blackburn Harriers star Ben Fish, whose presence meant that I (finally) had to suffer the indignity of being lapped...although he did have to run a new course record of 15:13 to get ahead of me, just before I started my fifth & final lap. Ian Dale was just quick enough to avoid this fate & he raced on to be 1st RRR finisher & 1st V50 in a time of 19:14, beating me by 16 seconds (23 seconds down on my previous two runs on this course, which I can only put down to the oppressive heat!). Next home for us was David Ellis (20:31), losing only three seconds on his time from Race 1, then Debbie Fiddling (3rd FV45 in 21:30) & new member Sue Heaney (2nd FV50 in an impressive 25:17).

This event was also noteworthy for the presence of Isla, the Fiddlings' young dog celebrating her first birthday with an outing to West Yorkshire & the chance to chew on a plastic cup after the race. Not sure it was exactly what she was hoping for...

I can't tell you much about Race 4, as at the time I was sitting on a train with Colin Green, heading to Bath to run the Cotswolds Way. The results show that Owen Flage put in an appearance & finished 3rd V40 in 18:31, that Richard Fiddling completed the five laps in a fine 19:43 & David Ellis improved again with 20:01. I finished up in 8th place in the series (best three time counted), which would have been good enough for the V50 prize...if there was one.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable, well-organised series of races. I suspect that the Sale Sizzler 5K course may be slightly quicker, but the five laps here make for an interesting & slightly different challenge. If you're feeling disappointed that you missed out, why not try the Winter Night Series starting on Thursday 20th November - this time with head torches!  [David Emanuel]  

IAN TERRY MEMORIAL 5K – 16th JULY 2014

As torrential rain bounced off the roof of the car on the way to Whitworth, I assumed that numbers would inevitably be down for this race…if only because some people would choose to stay at home & start building an ark. I was probably right - though maybe not about the ark - in that Andy O’Sullivan attracted 92 non-RRR athletes to Cowm for this race, compared to 115 last year at its original Littleborough home. One big difference though - this was now an RRR club championship race after the cancellation of the Middleton Moonraker. Not so easily deterred by such a downpour, 60 of our members assembled on the start line.

 

It would easy to start taking turnout like this for granted. After all, we’ve already had four other races in 2014 with more RRR finishers...but it’s worth bearing in mind that, before this year, 60 runners would have been an all-time club record. To put it in some sort of perspective, 17 other clubs were represented at this race & apart from us only Rossendale Harriers reached double figures. So please note: these levels of participation are definitely NOT taken lightly. We appreciate every single one of you who pulls on an RRR vest to represent us in any race, whether in the club championship or further afield.

 

Sorry, getting carried away with the stats again! Back to the event itself...where those who ignored the weather were rewarded with muggy but mercifully dry conditions for the duration of the race. This seemed to suit some better than others - take for example the ridiculously quick time from first RRR finisher Stuart Carroll (1st V40, 3rd overall in 17:23). There were also some huge improvements on times posted on the same course in the Ian Casey 5K just two months earlier. Simon Howard (22:48) takes pride of place for knocking more than a minute off his previous time, but great credit also to Sheila Phillips (3rd FV65 in 33:05, a 52-second improvement), Fay Royle (2nd FV55 in 25:18, 46 seconds better), Mary Freer (2nd FV35 in 29:50, improving by 39 seconds), Neil Farrell (3rd V50 in 20:32, 36 seconds quicker), June Allingan (1st FV70 in 29:28, 35 seconds faster), Katherine Brierley (27:37, a 33-second improvement) & Bernie Cassidy (30 seconds faster, 1st V55 in 20:18). Meanwhile Dave McBride raced into the top five (2nd V40) with a time of 17:54 which was 22 seconds quicker than his time in May.   


Chris Lowe (6th overall, 18:10) made it a clean sweep of the top three V40 places & Philip Marsden produced a fine 18:20 for 8th place overall in his first run in club colours, one of 7 RRRs amongst the first 10 finishers (also including Owen Flage, Shane Reading & Gary Fielding finishing in 18:13, 18:40 & 18:45 respectively). Meanwhile the RRR ladies once again picked up most of the prizes - Kirsty White 1st FV40 (2nd lady overall, 20:06), Debbie Shaw 1st FV45 (21:26), Diane Allingan 1st FV55 (24:54) & Teresa Hollins 1st FV60 (25:07). Jen Hanson (20:34) was 3rd lady & it was great to see Rebecca Robinson returning from injury to finish as 4th lady in 20:46. There were more excellent age-category performances from Dave Phillips (1st V70, 21:48), Bernie Goodwin (2nd V45, 19:11), Chris Eavers (only just getting to the start line in time but finishing 2nd V60 in 21:28), Karen Mather (2nd FV50, 23:03), Val Kilburn (3rd FV45, 23:09), Susan Heaney (3rd FV50 in 24:24 in her debut appearance for the club) & Rose Rowson (3rd FV55, 25:44). Taking advantage of Ian Dale's absence even I was able to claim the 1st V50 prize, but only by 7 seconds from Dave Hall (2nd V50, 19:29), who seems to be improving with every race.


All the other RRR finishers: the fast-finishing Mo Butt (14th, 19:15), Neil Brock (19:46), Dave Freer (19:58), Bryan Lawton (20:08), Jimmy Beadman (20:11), Jason Keast (20:20), David Ellis (20:39), John Lambe (20:54), Barry Greaves (21:30), Simon Lake (21:35), Matt Kilburn (21:44), Natalie Fitzpatrick (21:49), Laura Walters (21:55), Gary Smith (22:00), Garry Bower (23:10), Steve Jones (23:38), Dean Burgess (24:10), John Sweeney (24:36), Sarah Tomassi (24:59), Paul Cooke (25:09), David Smith (25:14), Lisa Howarth (25:20), Mark Oliver (25:22), Mike Doolan (26:04), Nikki Green (26:23), George Meynell (26:49), Julie Felton (27:14), Sarah Collins (28:27), Emma Kennedy (another returning from injury with an impressive 28:38) & Eloise Bartlett (29:07).

 

A bit of a break now, after the hectic last few weeks, until we resume with the popular Saddleworth 6 on 13th August. Meanwhile, make sure you check out the great photos taken at Whitworth by Garry Bower's daughter!  [David Emanuel]

TODMORDEN PARK 5K SERIES (RACE 2) - 10th JULY 2014
A very warm evening in Tod Park, a much more congested field as this race was being used as part of the Pendle Grand Prix, tired legs just 24 hours after the Royton Trail...yet I ran exactly the same time (19:07) as in Race 1. Consistent or one-paced, you decide!

As the sole RRR representative on this occasion, a stronger field meant that I wasn't able to claim the vet 50 prize. Still, another enjoyable Cannonball Event. I'll be back for Race 3 in a couple of weeks!  [David Emanuel]
ROYTON TRAIL - 9th JULY 2014
The record-breaking RRR year just became even more record-breaky! If only Roy Castle was still alive (there's one for the teenagers). I'm sure some of you aren't the slightest bit interested in the statistics, in which case you might want to pass quickly on to the next paragraph. For the rest of you, strap yourself in for this lot (with thanks to Brian Moore for some of the more obscure facts): 276 finishers represents an incredible 35% increase on the previous Royton Trail record set last year; 84 RRR finishers is the most in any race ever, beating the 74 at February's Mad Dog 10K; amongst those 84 was the 5,000th RRR finisher in a club championship race since the club was formed (I'm sure Brian will confirm who can claim the honour); at the halfway stage of the season, well over 100 members have taken part in at least one championship race (previous record was 94 in 2013); more RRRs have taken part in the first 9 championship races than in each of the complete seasons 2003-2009; and we've so far had a record 47 ladies run in the 2014 club championship. Amazing! 

It really was fantastic to see so many RRRs taking part in the race - such a great advert for the club. OK, we didn't quite get the 100 that Ronnie Quinn had been earnestly campaigning for...but when you count all those wonderful people who volunteered as timekeepers, marshals, results producers, etc there can't have been many members who weren't in the vicinity of Tandle Hills on Wednesday night. Then there's all the Royton Run Englanders who took on this tough challenge - looking at their finishing times, I'm sure it won't be long before some of them are making the transition to running in RRR colours.

We didn't have an RRR crossing the line first this year - although Ian McBride completed a hat-trick of titles, he did so in the (slightly less attractive) colours of Salford Harriers. This was however the slowest of Ian's three race wins, providing definitive evidence that running for RRR makes you go faster. Probably...

Fortunately our new Ladies Captain Kirsty White was able to step up & make amends for the loss of the men's title, as she finished first lady for the first time in 38:53. Combined with fine performances from Jen Hanson (3rd lady & 1st SF in 39:21) & Debbie Shaw (1st FV50 in 40:35) this ensured that RRR won the ladies team prize for the third successive year.

In addition to Kirsty & Debbie we saw age-category victories for Ian Dale (1st V50 in 36:26), John Higgins (1st V60 in 41:12 - beating deadly rival Chris Eavers by just 6 seconds) & Dave Phillips (1st V65 in 41:31). Our first finisher was Stuart Carroll (3rd V40, 8th overall in 33:02), but he was chasing Russell Ingham (12th in 34:40) for a big part of the race & finished less than a minute clear of Owen Flage (10th, 33:41) & Dave McBride (11th, 33:56). Fascinating age-category fact: the first 7 RRR finishers were all V40s & if it wasn't for the injection of youth introduced by recent recruit Daniel McManus (18th, 36:14), you'd have to go down to the 19th RRR finisher Mo Butt (39:20) to find another non-veteran.

Plenty of runners made great improvements on their 2013 Royton Trail performances...but I can't report them here because it would spoil the announcement of the club handicap winner at Presentation Night. I can however welcome two new members running for RRR for the first time - Ronnie Garrod (40:13) & Angela Rogowskyj (69:50). Great to have you both aboard!

I hope you'll forgive me for not listing all 84 RRR finishers here - you can see all the finishing positions & times on the results page. It just remains for me to thank everyone who ran the race, volunteered or came out to support. It's days like this that make you even more proud to be an RRR!  [David Emanuel]     

ROCHDALE 10K - 1st JULY 2014
Seems like a long time since the last Club Championship race, the Dovestone Diamond at the end of May. For myself & many other RRRs there have been plenty of races in-between to keep us busy...but judging by the number of club vests on display in Springfield Park, lots of our runners had been looking forward to this one.

It's an indication of the continuing growth of the club that a number of recent recruits were making their club championship debuts. So welcome aboard to Amanda Lane (68:00), Sarah Tomassi (54:38), Lee Higginbottom (52:11), Natalie Fitzpatrick (5th senior lady in 47:26), Stewart Jones (46:48) & Daniel McManus (32nd overall in 39:44, despite carrying a bit of a knee injury). It's great that we're attracting new members who want to race & perform so well, even if in the case of Daniel (another runner from the Greenfield Greyhounds production line) they're younger & faster than me...

So, with the help of this influx of new RRR blood, the club records continue to tumble. Our 68 participants was by some distance the most we've seen at the Rochdale 10K & is the third highest we've ever achieved, behind only this year's Mad Dog 10K (now officially corrected to 74) & Ian Casey 5K (70). We also made a major contribution to the race achieving a new record 346 finishers, with an incredible 20% wearing RRR colours. Now let's go even better at the Royton Trail!

Anyway, I really ought to write something about the race itself. In decent running conditions the battle at the front of the field was remarkably fierce, so Russell Ingham did a great job to get into the top 10 as our first finisher in 37:26. That's the second time this year that the ever-improving Russell has been first RRR finisher & it was good enough on this occasion for an excellent 3rd V40 position. Russell was joined by Dave McBride (13th, 37:36) & Chris Lowe (18th, 38:37) in claiming 3rd place in the men's team race, while Russell, Chris & Shane Reading (19th, 38:39) won the male vets team prize ahead of a strong Salford Harriers trio. Of course the RRR ladies more than matched that as usual, claiming overall victory in their team race (ahead of Middleton & Rochdale Harriers) through great performances from Kirsty White (1st FV40, 42:40), Jen Hanson (2nd senior lady, 43:49) & Debbie Shaw (2nd FV50, 44:31). In fact we had three of the first seven ladies' teams, with a 'B' team of Debbie Fiddling (44:56), Rochelle Evans (46:33) & Laura Walters (46:51) finishing 5th just ahead of our 7th-placed 'C' team of Natalie Fitzpatrick, Helen Knight (3rd FV40, 48:32) & Nikki Green (53:56).

In addition to those already mentioned, there were plenty of other superb age-related performances from the likes of Lady President June Allingan (1st FV70, 64:41), former President Dave Phillips (1st V70, 46:44), Teresa Hollins (1st FV60, 52:33), John Higgins (1st V60, 44:22), Chris Eavers (2nd V60, 44:45), Bernie Cassidy (3rd V55, 42:26) & Ian Dale (3rd V50, 39:49).

With so many runners & other fine performances it's difficult to pick out particular individuals...but I will mention Dan Yarwood. First race as a proud new dad (to Abigail), very little sleep but still managed 40:09. He's since taken his daughter on her first Oldham parkrun (in a pushchair, of course). Respect due!

The many, many other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (37:30), Gary Fielding (38:52), Bernie Goodwin (39:31), Mark Wilde (39:42), David Emanuel (39:55), Neil Brock (40:10), David Hall (40:39), Joel White (41:12), Dave Arden (41:59), Richard Fiddling (42:19), Bryan Lawton (42:37), John Williamson (42:56), Yousaf Butt (43:05), Neil Farrell (43:36), Barry Greaves (43:40), David Ellis (43:47), Jason Keast (44:15), John Lambe (44:27), Steve Shaw (45:49), John Felton (46:03), Simon Lake (46:05), Dave Freer (47:08), Gary Smith (47:11), Ronnie Quinn (48:38), Stuart Brown (48:50), Dean Moynihan (49:28), Andy Hayhurst (49:48), Simon Howard (49:51), John Sweeney (50:13), Stephen Jones (51:22), Dean Burgess (51:40), Garry Bower (52:37), Mike Doolan (55:58), Fay Royle (56:02), Julie Felton (56:36), Mark Oliver (56:50), Anne Jones (59:03), Katherine Brierley (61:08), David Leyland (61:15), Eloise Bartlett (63:53), Mary Freer (64:34) & Sarah Butler (64:41).

Great performances all round.  RRR goes marching on!  [David Emanuel]                   
TODMORDEN PARK 5K SERIES (RACE 1) - 26th JUNE 2014
The Cannonball Events roadshow moves across the border for another excellent series of races. Having missed out on these last year I decided to take advantage of a move from Wednesday to Thursday nights, meaning that it's possible to take part without upsetting Brian Moore by missing out on his track sessions.

On a lovely warm evening, with the race starting at the perfect time to allow everyone to watch the end of the USA v Germany game in the pub beforehand, there were just the two of us from RRR on the start line - myself & David Ellis. Race Director John Lloyd explained that the course had been tweaked slightly from 2013 to make it as fast as possible & it seems he's certainly achieved that...although if you think running three laps at Oldham parkrun is mentally challenging, try doing FIVE laps here! I was quite relieved to avoid getting lapped (the race was won by the unattached Nathaniel Williams in 15:50 - if I could have caught up with him afterwards I would have tried to sign him up) & came home in 19:07 (1st V50), with Mr Ellis not far behind in a fine 20:28.

There were 74 finishers, although more are expected for Race 2 on 10th July, as it is part of the popular Pendle Grand Prix - they may even run the men's & ladies races separately. As with all Cannonball events the race was extremely well-organised, with Andy O'Sullivan on the megaphone, some generous prizes & results published very quickly. I'll certainly be back - partly because I've paid for the four-race series, but mainly because I reckon this might be my best chance to get under 19 minutes for 5K!  [David Emanuel]        

IAN CASEY MEMORIAL COWM RESERVOIR RACE - 15th MAY 2014

It's a bit late in the day to be writing a report on this race, but the official results still have some missing names & it's only through Brian Moore's excellent detective work that we know all the RRR finishers!


So I'll keep it brief...you can see all the race details in Brian's results files, so I won't focus on individual performances, but it is definitely worth mentioning some of the overall team achievements. Such as a grand total of 70 RRR finishers, well over half of the total field & beaten only by this year's Mad Dog 10K in the club's 11-year history. Or 18 of our runners breaking the 20-minute barrier, with 15 of us in the first 20 to finish. Or, perhaps best of all, an incredible 53 club members running sub-25 minutes.


For those of us who had the privilege of knowing & running with Ian Casey, one of the club's most-loved members, this race will always be a special occasion. It means an awful lot to have so many RRRs supporting the race - not just those taking part but also those helping out as marshals or out cheering us on. As Dave Smith said before the start, the sun always shines on Ian's race.  [David Emanuel]

NORDEN 6 MILE ROAD RACE - 13th JUNE 2014
Friday 13th? Clashing with Spain v Netherlands at the World Cup? A bit humid for running? Little things like that don't stop RRRs from taking part in races. Nine of us turned up on the start line for this tough 6-miler, although only a hardy five were planning to complete the full Rochdale 3-Day Event of which this was the first part.

The race starts with a long, long climb up Edenfield Road from Norden. I remembered that bit from my previous attempt in 2011...but I had no recollection of all the other tough little climbs over the remainder of the route. These contributed to a great battle between the in-form Neil Brock & myself, as I opened up a bit of a gap on each uphill only for Neil to come charging past on the subsequent downhills. Fortunately we eventually ran out of downhills & I was able to just about stay ahead to finish in 18th place in 40:40, with Neil just behind in 23rd (41:03). Then again, he must have had the remaining two races in mind, so I think he claims the moral victory!

However, both Neil & I were some way behind the first RRR finisher (and winner of the V40 prize) Dave McBride, who came home 10th in a great time of 38:21. Dave was joined by Dave Phillips amongst the prize-winners, Mr Phillips claiming his usual V70 award as he came home 58th in 47:33. Bryan Lawton, taking part for the first time here "in at least eight years", was an impressive 34th in 43:40.

Alongside Neil Brock, the four others entered for the full three day event also produced fine runs. Steve & Anne Jones finished in 53:02 & 59:16 respectively, with Steve's run good enough for 2nd V60. Great credit goes to Jason Keast & Gary Smith, who (along with Neil) followed their strong performances here on Friday (47:20 & 48:43) by using RRR parkrun day at Oldham on Saturday morning as a warm-up for the second event in this series, just a few hours later. Incredibly, Neil wasn't just jogging round Alexandra Park but running as the 22-minute pacer. Brave or mad, you decide!  [David Emanuel]

POSTSCRIPT: Congratulations to the fearless five who completed the full Rochdale Three Day Event. Neil Brock finished 18th overall (4th V45), Jason Keast was 33rd (9th V45), Gary Smith 44th (9th V50), Steve Jones 50th (2nd V60) & Anne Jones 58th (4th FV50). A great achievement to complete this tough challenge!  [David Emanuel]     


LE TWO-R HALVES TEN - 8th JUNE 2014

I thought there's be quite a few RRRs lining up on the start line for this race. With so many keen cyclists amongst our membership, many of whom have already ridden up Cragg Road, the prospect of racing on the longest continuous gradient in England a month before the Tour de France riders climb the same hill would surely be impossible to resist? Apparently not. Still, if it's just me I'm guaranteed to be first club finisher. And they all count!

Just 68 runners took on the challenge, with others clearly not believing the description of "a very run-able 5 mile uphill stretch". As it turned out that was pretty accurate - despite the hot sun & nasty headwind all the way up the hill. Apart from a tough third mile, which took 8:19, I managed sub-8 minute miles all the way, making the turn in about 39mins 30secs in 13th place. I even went past a couple of (slow) cyclists on the way!  I suspect that Froome & co might just complete the ascent a bit quicker next month...

Immediately overtaken after the turn, by a Pudsey Pacer who'd clearly been sheltering behind me into the wind, I was expecting a procession of others to come past given my well-known inability to run downhill. Surprisingly, this didn't happen & I ran 6-minute miles all the way down, on my own, to finish 14th (though only 3rd V50) in an official time of 1:09:43. Race winner Shaun Livesey (Blackburn Harriers) just failed to break the one hour barrier.

Indications afterwards were that this could become an annual event & I'm sure there'll be a bigger field next time. So come on you RRR cyclists - see you there in 2015!  [David Emanuel]      

CHESHIRE TRIATHLON - 1st JUNE 2014

I'm not quite sure who suggested doing a triathlon as my next challenge, after running the Amsterdam Marathon for my 70th birthday in 2013, but I'm sure that wine was involved when I agreed. I remember thinking to myself the morning after that if nobody else mentions it again then I won't. However, five months later, Diane had us all signed up.


That's when the panic set in. I could only do breaststroke (in my own fashion, having never been taught to swim correctly), I didn't like water in my eyes, up my nose or in my ears, I hadn't been on a bike for at least 10 years (in fact the last bike I rode didn't even have gears), plus I didn't even have a bike. The only thing I was confident about was the run part.


Natalie was the only one of us who has competed in triathlons before, so of course Diane & I had to up our game, Diane being a little like me regarding the swimming & cycling. We signed up for improver swimming classes & after receiving a super-duper pair of goggles for Mother's Day there was no looking back. I am now a swimmer - well at least I can put my face into the water & breathe correctly.


Surosa Cycles on Huddersfield Road in Oldham supplied me with a wonderful bike with 21 gears (21 gears - what on earth was I going to do with all of them?). Luckily they also supplied me with lots of advice & support. We went out training on our bikes around the Saddleworth hills & down the Canal du Midi in France. I am now a cyclist - well I think I am.


Race day dawned bright & sunny. We signed in, all of us at least looking the part in our Tri Suits, only being a little bit scared of the first event (salt water pool - ugh; supposedly heated - heard that one before; other competitors thrashing up & down at the side of me & overtaking & me choking on salt water), but surprisingly it was OK & I even managed to swim the 16 lengths in 19 minutes, knocking three minutes off my best practice time. Dripping wet it was a short run to the transition area (I know all the terms now!), where after a quick toweling down & drying of my hair (no I didn't put any lipstick on, but I think Diane & Natalie did) it was off on the 12-mile cycle ride through the leafy lanes of Cheshire on a beautiful sunny morning. I managed to do the ride in 16 minutes less than my best practice run, finishing that part of the race in 54 minutes & thoroughly enjoying it all.


The hardest part was the run - there was me thinking it would be the easiest. By the time we dismounted from the bikes the sun was beating down mercilessly & we had four laps of the park to complete on legs that were a bit jelly-like. Our three supporters on the day - Sarah Butler, Mike & Phil Allingan - cheered us every step of the way to the finish line. We all exceeded expectations with our times & I even got first place in my age category. 


Celebratory pink champagne afterwards never tasted so good. Would we all do it again? A resounding YES! In fact we are thinking of doing it as a family next year - I just haven't told the family yet.  [June Allingan] 

LITTLEBOROUGH 5K SERIES (RACE 3) - 4th JUNE 2014
The last of John Lloyd's inaugural Littleborough series & finally some decent weather! In damp & mercifully calm conditions, RRR were once again well represented & took away several prizes - including the first ladies team award, impressively won by our only three female entrants Debbie Fiddling (21:47), Nikki Green (25:08) & Karen Stuttard (31:34). This was just one of several prizes for Nikki as she also won the FV45 prize (Debbie claimed 3rd lady overall) & was rewarded for her performances over the three race series.

This race was won in 16:51 by someone you may know...although it still seems a bit strange to hear Ian McBride announced as a Salford Harrier. Dave McBride was the first RRR home (8th in a fine 18:36), followed by Ian Dale in 10th place, once again 1st V50 in 19:30. Mark Taylor's 12th place (19:41) gave him an aggregate time good enough for 3rd place in the series. Not far behind Mark I was having a great battle with Joel White, which I managed to win by the rather sneaky use of course knowledge, timing my 'sprint finish' (well it felt like a sprint to me) to cross the line in 19:45 & beat Joel by just two seconds.

Next RRRs home were Jimmy Beadman (20:48) & an under-the-weather Richard Fiddling (20:57), followed by Simon Lake (21:39) - although the latter appears in the results as Lake Simon, which I believe is a popular (if rather expensive) tourist destination in southern Switzerland. Or not. Andy Hayhurst came home in 23:46, improving on his Race 2 performance by a huge 1:24, while John Sweeney sadly hobbled home injured in 30:08.    

Thanks to our supporters out on the course & well done everyone who took part in this series. Total numbers were again a bit disappointing, with only 59 finishers. If these races return next year, I'm sure they'll be highly recommended by all of those who've had a go this time!  [David Emanuel]   


DOVESTONE DIAMOND TRAIL - 28th MAY 2014
Race Director is certainly not a glamorous job, as I mentioned to Dave Emanuel when I set off to check that the toilets were clean at 10.15pm...

Entries for Dovestone Diamond 2014 opened in January & as expected the fourth edition of the race filled before closing date. This was only my second attempt at race organisation, with last year's race providing a steep learning curve under the guidance of Jason Chapman from Kiwi Classic Events. I was very aware that we needed to avoid the problems at the beginning & end of the evening in 2013, with registration & result-checking. I made an early decision that the race would be pre-entry only & that number transfers would end a week before the event. This enabled us to approach race day with a complete entry list & also reduced the admin work in the hectic seven days before the race. I also recruited the best results & finish-line team that I could muster - thanks go to Brian Moore, Bryan & Joanne Lawton, Richard & Debbie Fiddling for delivering the speediest results I have ever known.

I am aware that this is definitely a 'race of two halves' in which runners would benefit from a shoe change at the 5K point. I have run the course countless times & it is never the same twice. I'm sure that everyone would agree it is one of the most scenic routes around. I have to thank Tanner Brothers Business Centre & United Utilities for allowing us to use their facilities & land.

Race day went like clockwork this year, with no untoward occurrences, although St John's Ambulance were available again just in case (this time on wheels!). Thanks also to the 30+ volunteers From Greenfield Greyhounds & RRR for their enthusiastic support of the event.

On to the race itself. The stand-out performance came from Joe Stewart (East Cheshire Harriers) who, at 17 years old, beat the rest of the field by 2mins 30secs with a stunning run. I hope that Joe returns next year to improve on his time of 37:19. Another great performance came from GB runner Sarah Tunstall (Kendal AC) who came fifth overall in a time of 40:29. Royton Road Runners (Stuart Carroll, Dave McBride, Shame Reading) deservedly won the male team prize, with Glossopdale Harriers claiming a ladies team victory - prizes provided by Greenfield Real Ale Brewery.

I'm sure that the refreshments from Ravenstone Catering & Coffee Run went down well. The staff at Greenfield Real Ale Brewery commented on how thirsty the runners were, as they had to change barrels at least once. Finally I would like to thank ViaductVideo for the excellent race video, produced by Alex Miller, which can be viewed on YouTube. Keep your eyes on the event page on Facebook for race photographs from Jen Grace, Harry Barclay & our own Simon Howard (the latter also in our own Photo Gallery). 

See you all next year! Watch this space for the date of Dovestone Diamond 2015: "There Will Be Mud".

PS: in case you were wondering, the toilets were fine!  [Colin Green]     


BRATHAY WINDERMERE MARATHON - 18th MAY 2014
A return visit to the self-styled 'Beautiful Marathon', my seventh time since 2007 having missed last year due to illness. No other RRRs in attendance this year - a clash with the Chester Half Marathon didn't help, but I seem to be running out of club members to persuade to give it a go. Of those that have been tempted - including Colin Green, Richard Fiddling, Bernie Cassidy, Des Thorpe & several others - none have (strangely) returned for a second visit...

For once it wasn't just the hilly course that made it tough this year but also the surprisingly warm weather, as those running the Chester Half at the same time will no doubt appreciate. I seemed to be coping with the conditions pretty well until about 23 miles, when the wheels came off in spectacular fashion & I struggled home to finish 21st in 3:15:45. Three people passed me in those last few painful miles, including one V50 who thus deprived me of the 3rd place trophy. Normally I'd be really disappointed about that - except that the man in question was a certain Steve Edwards.

For those who haven't heard of Steve, he's a bit of a marathon legend. I first encountered him as a founder member of the 10in10 Club (every year a group of runners complete the Windermere Marathon route on 10 successive days, running their 10th circuit on the day of the race), as he completed this gruelling challenge four times from 2007-2010 & set a then world record cumulative time of 35:20:45 in 2008. In 2012 Steve became the first person ever to run 500 sub-3:30 marathons (out of 577 he had run to that point) & in March this year he set a V50 world record for seven marathons in seven days (averaging 3:22:13 per day) at an event in Milton Keynes. Given all of that, I suppose I should be quite proud that I managed to stay in front of him for most of the race!

Once again this was a wonderful event to take part in - spectacular scenery, superb organisation & great support especially at the finish in front of Brathay Hall. Running long stretches on my own, it struck me that you couldn't find a greater contrast to last month's London Marathon. So if you're looking for a new marathon challenge, you could do a lot worse than heading to Windermere in May 2015. Just don't expect a PB...  [David Emanuel]  


LITTLEBOROUGH 5K SERIES (RACE 2) - 7th MAY 2014
Back to Littleborough again & a slight improvement on the horrible conditions experienced at the first race of this series last month...although a torrential early evening downpour may have put off some of the 'fair weather' runners, with the number of runners down from 71 to 50. Not that any RRRs could be accused of this, of course, as we made up 28% of the field - not bad for a midweek race with some big club championship races on the horizon. Not only that, but we picked up both team prizes - Dave McBride (5th in 18:49), Mark Taylor (6th, 19:19) & Ian Dale (7th & 1st V50, 19:33) winning by some distance in the men's competition & Debbie Fiddling (4th lady, 21:34), Nikki Green (5th, 25:15) & Nikki Mellor (29:22) similarly dominant for the ladies. John Sweeney (23:42) also got a mention for one of the most improved performances compared to the first race in the series.

Other fine performances came from Zoe Mcmunn (33:24), Karen Stuttard (31:30), Mike Doolan (27:01), Andy Hayhurst (25:10), Simon Lake (22:25) & David Ellis (21:08), while I managed to avoid finishing inside 20 minutes...or being part of the winning team...or winning the V50 prize...as I came home 9th in 20:03. Remind me why I encouraged Ian Dale to join the club?

This series has been organised by John Lloyd (as Cannonball Events). John is making a great effort to put on a wide range of races over different distances & terrains, most of which are local to us. Those RRRs who have taken part so far only have good things to say about the organisation, range of prizes, etc. Check out the list of forthcoming races on the Cannonball Events website!  [David Emanuel]           


VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON - 13th APRIL 2014

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." So said Samuel Johnson. He could have added, "When a man is tired in London, it might be because he's just finished the marathon on a hot day", but he didn't - possibly because he died in 1784 & the London Marathon was first held nearly 200 years later. Judging from his portraits I don't think he was the marathon running type anyway...

Enough about Dr Johnson...you don't want me waffling on about a long-dead writer when there's a big race to tell you about. All the attention (not to mention the even-bigger-than-usual crowds) may have been focused on Mo Farah, but for one small corner of Greater Manchester it was the RRR contingent that really mattered. By my reckoning there were 16 club members on the start line & every one of them produced a great performance, either by the time they recorded or by overcoming adversity which made just completing the race a fantastic achievement.

Once again it's difficult to know where to start...so to try to be fair I'm going to lead with the best 'age category' performances. That (of course!) means the legend that is Dave Phillips, who came home in a magnificent 4:04:42 for 16th V70. To put this in perspective, only 11 V70s finished in less than four hours (the best being a French runner in a frankly ridiculous 3:03:50). Given that Dave was potentially out of the race a week before (a grandchild-related injury, I understand), this was another outstanding performance to add to his collection.

Just as fabulous was Dave Peart's time of 2:43:52, a huge PB which placed him 26th V45 & only two minutes behind our first finisher Stuart Carroll. Once again Stuart improved his own marathon best to 2:41:59 (39th V40), a performance spoilt only by his shameless celebration at overtaking Paralympic athlete Richard Whitehead just before the finish on The Mall. At least that's what it looked like what he was doing...witnessed by millions on TV as well!

Amongst the ladies there were similarly stunning times from Teresa Hollins (29th FV60 in 4:11:36) & the incredibly consistent Debbie Shaw (57th FV50 in 3:40:41), while Anne Jones managed to record a new PB (4:54:16) despite pulling up with a knee injury about six miles from home. There's clearly a much faster time to come from Anne! Kirsty White also had to overcome major difficulties, including forgetting to take her shorts to London ("everything that could go wrong did"), but still recorded a very respectable 4:01:32. Very disappointed immediately after the race, those who've seen the photos will know that Kirsty had cheered up considerably by the evening (that's all I can write about the post-race celebrations - partly because I sneaked off earlier than most, but also because I promised not to reveal anything & it would be a cat-astrophe if I broke that promise). 

Rose Rowson & Karen Stuttard were running their first marathons & both did extremely well - Rose finishing in 4:42:39 & Karen ("the heat made it tough but didn't ever think I wouldn't finish") in 6:12:00. Stuart Brown completed the second leg of his incredible 'two marathons in a week' challenge in 4:10:41 & somehow still managed to look remarkably fresh after the race. Chris Lowe took it so easy for the first half that I still had him in sight before he (very annoyingly) disappeared into the distance to finish in a perfectly-paced 2:57:52 (while I struggled home some way behind in 3:04:12). Val Kilburn's race was even better paced as she crossed the line in 3:59:55, with Matt Kilburn coming home in 4:25:06. Bernie Goodwin was very satisfied with his time of 3:18:52 & Andy Schofield was another to run well enough to break three-and-a half hours (3:28:47).

Well done everyone & thanks to all those supporting us on the course, including Shane Reading, Jen Hanson, Gill Lowe, Neil Farrell & Brian Moore. With so many of our members now qualifying automatically as 'good for age' (even 'elite' in some cases), hopefully we'll have a similarly large group at VLM 2015!  [David Emanuel]         
GREATER MANCHESTER MARATHON - 6th APRIL 2014
There are some days that I feel proud to be a Royton Road Runner. Then there are the rest, when I feel INCREDIBLY proud. Sunday was definitely one of the latter. From the look on President June Allingan's face when she gave out the very first drink from our station to race winner Andi Jones (I suspect she won't wash that hand for at least a week), through all of our fantastic runners coming through on their way to the finish, to our volunteers supporting, helping & encouraging every last competitor (usually by name), this was RRR at its very best.

Andi Jones - with June's assistance - took most of the headlines (well, him & the bloke who completed the race on a pogo stick), as he won the race at the third attempt in a new course record of 2:16:55, but there were so many fantastic achievements amongst the RRR contingent. Leading us home was Ian McBride who bade farewell to the club in fine style, finishing his last race in a Royton vest in 9th place in a hugely impressive 2:24:41 to beat his previous best (which also happens to be the club record) by nearly three minutes. But surely the ultimate RRR winner amongst so many heroes in this race was Shane Reading.

Some of you may not know Shane's story...that just to get on the start line was an achievement & the end of a journey (if you'll excuse the X -Factor language) recovering from a hit & run that left him with two broken legs, a broken arm & lengthy recuperation. Shane's running performances over the last few years have been remarkable enough & he set himself the massive challenge of completing his first marathon in less than three hours. He didn't quite manage that - but a debut time of 3:18:25 is something to be very proud of. Shane pushed himself so hard that he ended up in an ambulance & then the Critical Unit after the race. A truly gutsy performance & I'm sure he'll produce many faster marathons in future!

It's difficult to know who to write about next. Rochelle Evans running 3:31:04 to get very close to the long-standing RRR ladies marathon record? Julie Greenwood producing a PB of 3:49:10 (good enough for 21st FV45)? Chris Eavers with a speedy 3:31:58 for 8th V60? Stuart Brown running 3:57:51 in the first leg of his double marathon, with London to follow next weekend (Stuart's fundraising total has reached a fantastic £5,400, you can still sponsor him here)? Jen Hanson producing an excellent 3:42:36 to achieve her goal of a 'good for age' qualifying time for London? Mark Taylor's perfectly-paced run in 2:59:41? Very impressive debut marathons from the ever-smiling Mo Butt (3:25:45) & Elliot Stone (3:27:44)? What about Dan Yarwood's fine run to finish in 3:12:05 or Dave McBride's 3:07:39? And then there's Colin Green (3:12:47), Neil Farrell (3:39:13), David Ellis (3:48:28), Steve Shaw (3:49:33), Simon Lake (4:03:41), Tawnia Norman (4:08:23), Nikki Green (4:29:03), Simon Howard (4:29:58), Fay Royle (4:40:22), John Felton (4:48:48) & Sarah Butler (4:57:50). Sorry if I've missed anyone, but the results aren't particularly search-friendly if you weren't registered as a Royton Road Runner! Well done to you all.

And then there's the drinks station. I suppose it's possible that they may be a little biased, but I believed our runners when they described it as the best on the course! Thanks to Annabella Gloster's superb organisation, plus the hard work of all the volunteers, everything worked perfectly & we left behind probably the cleanest street in Manchester. Thanks to Annabella & everyone who gave up their day to help out - this was a great advert for the club!  [David Emanuel]  
LITTLEBOROUGH 5K SERIES (RACE 1) - 2nd APRIL 2014
A tricky fixture clash on this Wednesday evening - should you go for Andy O'Sullivan's latest 5K race at Whitworth (as Kirsty White did, running an impressive 20:49 to finish as 4th lady), or the first of John Lloyd's three-race series on Andy's old Littleborough circuit (which I & many other RRRs opted for)? Of course if you're preparing for the Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday you should be wrapped up in cotton wool at home, but try telling that to Mo Butt, Simon Lake, John Felton & Mark Taylor, who all ran here. Mark was 'fresh' from completing the Oldham Way Ultra on the previous Sunday. I'm guessing that he missed out the chapter on 'tapering' in the Marathon Training Manual...

I've been running Andy's Littleborough races for close on 20 years, but never known conditions like this, with a vicious wind which seemed to be blowing from all directions & made fast times near impossible. So Ian Dale's 19:37 was a lot more impressive than it sounds, only 2:36 behind the race winner & good enough for 1st V50 prize & 9th place overall. Mad Mark Taylor, clearly not thinking about Sunday, chased Ian round the course to finish 11th (3rd V40) in 20:08.

There was an impressive clutch of age-category prizes for RRR in addition to Ian's, as Simon Lake finished 1st V55 in 21:37, Nikki Green 1st FV45 in 26:46 & new member Mike Dolan 1st V60 in 27:00. A number of the members of our Run England Group also braved the conditions to take part - that's a sign that they've become real athletes!

Other RRR finishers: David Emanuel (20:16), Mo Butt (21:34), John Felton (22:38), John Sweeney (24:15), Lee Higginbottom (25:56), Julie Felton (28:52), Nikki Mellor (29:58), Karen Stuttard (33:09) & Zoe Mcmunn (33:29).

So Cannonball Events certainly proved the winner on the night with RRR & came very close to outdoing Andy O'Sullivan, with 71 finishers compared to 72 at Whitworth. A few teething problems to sort out, such as making everyone run through the tunnel under the railway at Smithy Bridge, but overall a well-organised event. No doubt numbers will be higher for the next race in the series on 7th May - there's no clash this time & John Lloyd has apparently guaranteed better weather!  [David Emanuel]            


WILMSLOW HALF MARATHON - 23rd MARCH 2014

Judging from some of the times recorded in this race - including 15 RRRs finishing in less than 90 minutes - they're going to have to rename it the 'WilmFAST Half Marathon' (do you see what I did there...spectacular wordplay in the very first sentence!). Not only did Altrincham's Mohammad Aburezeq win in a very speedy 1:06:01, but a brief scan of Facebook posts reveals new PBs for Simon Howard (1:44:20), Nikki Green (1:53:03), Simon Lake (1:33:53), Ronnie Quinn (1:44:21), Mo Butt (1:31:12) & David Leyland (2:32:18 - a huge improvement of 11 minutes). Apologies if there's anyone else with PBs that I've missed!

First impression of the Wilmslow race on arrival was that they seemed to have spent most of our entry fees on the many balloons which decorated the early part of the route. Second impression was that this race has more marshals than any I've ever attended (outside of the London Marathon), as at least 29 different yellow-vested helpers directed us to a parking space at Waters Corporation (strapline "The science of what's possible", presumably on the basis that spending time on the science that's impossible - perpetual motion machines, immortality, etc - would prove less popular with their shareholders). After a bit of a debate in our car about what to wear in the chilly wind (Ian Dale & I opted for long sleeves under our club vests; Richard Fiddling chose to go for a rather snazzy 'Sport Relief' headband), we made the cross-country trek to the start, aided by another 40-50 friendly marshals pointing the way to where Andy O'Sullivan was entertaining the crowds.

Wilmslow is probably now the biggest race in the RRR Club Championship calendar (although who knows how many we'll get at the Royton Trail this year?), but even with 3,885 finishers it never felt congested on its route around the local villages & country lanes. Though not quite as flat as I'd been led to believe, it has certainly produced some quick times over previous years & this was no exception. However, with the Greater Manchester Marathon only two weeks away, not everyone was running flat out - I'm pretty certain that this will be the only time that I & several other RRRs will ever finish a race ahead of club champion Ian McBride (1:31:02), so we'd better enjoy it while we can! Ian's decision to take it easy opened up an opportunity for Stuart Carroll to lead the club home & he duly did so in an impressive time of 1:16:56, good enough for 7th V40 (39th overall). Not far behind were Dave Peart (7th V45 in 1:18:56) & Russell Ingham (1:20:06).

Meanwhile, Championship Group runners Mark Taylor (1:23:05), Mark Wilde (1:25:34), Gary Fielding (1:26:58 despite injury) & Ian Dale (1:27:05) ran at a pace that is clearly good enough to put them at 'Premiership' level. Kirsty White (10th FV40 in 1:35:36) once again led the Royton ladies home, followed by Rochelle Evans (1:40:02) & Jen Hanson (1:41:12). The best age-related position achieved was by June Allingan, 4th FV65 in 2:20:56, almost certainly deprived of a prize by the lack of a FV70 category.

Other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (1:21:09), David Emanuel (1:24:20), Shane Reading (1:26:50), Colin Green (1:27:34), Bernie Goodwin (1:28:12), Dave Arden (1:28:44), Chris Lowe (1:29:05), Dan Yarwood (1:29:26), Elliot Stone (1:30:26), Neil Brock (1:30:45), Barry Greaves (1:32:02), Richard Fiddling (1:34:47), David Ellis (1:37:23), Helen Knight (1:44:34), Dave Freer (1:47:08), Vikki Smith (1:48:58), Gary Gloster (1:50:00), George Meynell (1:50:06), John Felton (1:52:35), Kate Instone (1:54:08), Stephen Jones (1:55:08), Kay Fitton (1:58:47), Eileen Ingham (2:00:46), Selina McLean (2:03:32), Sarah Collins (2:03:49) & Karen Stuttard (2:23:37).

So this looks like a good addition to the Club Championship roster. Now time for a bit of a break - except for all those running marathons in April - until we resume with the Ian Casey Memorial 5K in May. See you all at Cowm Reservoir!  [David Emanuel]

OLDHAM PARKRUN - 22nd MARCH 2014

This was the second of the RRR pacing events at Oldham parkrun. Ever-present Simon Howard was joined by David Ellis & Dan Yarwood, with Gary Fielding unavailable due to injury. Stories circulating on social media that he was busy working on his 'selfie' are unconfirmed.


The main feedback after February's pacing event related to difficulty seeing the pacers, so parkrun have kindly invested in some bright orange vests...which did make some of the team feel like they could be working on a building site. The sizes were generous to say the least! Before the start the team were introduced to the assembled runners as "yellow hat", "black hat" & "no hat". Finishing times on their backs might be a better option - but it must have worked as a number of runners either latched onto the pacers or used the vests as a visual marker for their run.


Pacing on this undulating Oldham course is harder than it sounds. David paced at 25mins (finished 24:53), Dan at 28mins (27:37) & Simon at 30mins (30:02). Looking at the results there are PBs showing around each pacer, so we must be doing something right! After just two events we are getting a lot of interest from runners, with some people asking if we can provide additional times - if you would like to get involved please e-mail Dan Yarwood. A date for an event in April is yet to be confirmed, due to marathons, but Saturday 26th is looking promising!  [Dan Yarwood]


TRIMPELL 20 - 16th MARCH 2014

Who knew? Turns out Trimpell isn't a place at all. It's also not (my second thought) the way posh people say the word 'trample' ("Marmaduke - get the shotgun, the oiks are trimpelling on the begonias again"). In fact Trimpell is the name of a Sports & Social Club built on playing fields near Lancaster owned by three companies - Trinidad Leaseholds, Imperial Chemical Industries & Shell Oil (hence TrImpEll).

 

That's the informative bit of this report done! As it happens the Trimpell 20 Road Race doesn't even start at the club from which it takes its name, but sets off from Lancaster & Morecambe AC's rather nice running track at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre. The race does however go past the Sports & Social Club as it meanders its way around various mostly waterside bits of Lancaster. It's a very flat out & back course, an ideal marathon warm-up, which is of course what attracted a good number of RRRs amongst about 500 starters on a breezy Sunday morning.

 

There are various different ways to approach a pre-marathon 20-miler. After some discussion Colin Green & I opted to run a nice easy first seven miles, aiming to then pick up the pace & run the second 10 quicker than the first, finishing strongly & getting the confidence boost of overtaking plenty of people on the way home. This went pretty much according to plan, as I came home 57th in 2:18:09 & Colin 73rd in 2:21:02. Ian McBride, by contrast, just set off running fast & kept going, completely destroying the rest of the field & finishing in a remarkably quick 1:51:16 to win the race by more than two minutes. Dave McBride also went for the "start fast & keep going" option, running an impressive 2:12:17 to finish in 29th place.

 

Dave Phillips (2:48:36) was (as usual) the first V70 to finish, by a considerable distance, with his nearest 'rival' finishing in 3:37:43. Elliot Stone produced a good, evenly-paced run ahead of his first marathon in April, running 2:29:02, followed home by Dave Arden (2:40:02) & Simon Lake (fresh from his RRR Cup victory the day before & finishing in 2:42:20). Val Kilburn produced a fine run to cross the line in 2:49:20, with Matt Kilburn (2:53:07) not far behind. After completing the first half of the race together, Nikki Green ran 3:06:39 & John Felton 3:09:30. 

 

A well-organised race with a nice, relaxed atmosphere, the Trimpell 20 can definitely be recommended as part of anyone's preparation for a Spring marathon. It'll also be interesting to see how those who ran this race get on at Wilmslow next weekend - I suspect most of us will show the benefits of competing over 20 miles!  [David Emanuel]

ANGLESEY HALF MARATHON - 2nd MARCH 2014
9am Sunday morning found Liz & I perched precariously, in very windy conditions, high on top of the Menai Suspension Bridge. Scary or what! Along with 1100 other athletes we were about to set off on the Anglesey Half Marathon. Not ideal conditions, with strong winds & heavy showers on a tough, undulating course. The occasional glimpse of the snow-covered tops of Snowdonia made the effort worthwhile. On the return journey, with the strong wind in our faces, we had to try to dodge the waves breaking over the sea wall at Beaumaris. Interesting!

Despite the challenging conditions Liz had a superb run, knocking over three minutes off her marathon PB as she finished in 2:09:16. Dad got in on the act too, taking the V70 prize by 30 minutes in 1:46:09. Scott Rennie was also in our party, having a great run after injury to finish in 1:30:52 - but even Scott couldn't get near the race winner Andi Jones, who despite the inclement weather managed to break the course record to win in 1:07:23.

I would highly recommend this race, especially if you combine it with a couple of days away as we did. The scenery is stunning & on a better day it would be superb.  [Dave Phillips]

GREAT NORTH WEST HALF MARATHON - 23rd FEBRUARY 2014

The fastest you'll normally see anyone moving in Blackpool is when they are running away from drunken men wearing 'kiss-me-quick' hats (or women - those hen party groups can be pretty scary). But several times a year, thanks to the nice people at Fylde Coast Running, the town plays host to more conventional running events which attract significant numbers, including this February half marathon (described as "a great warm-up for the VLM", like just about every race over 10K between January & April).

I'm not sure that the Blackpool Hilton fully buys into the idea of 'playing host', however. There weren't any bouncers on the main entrance, as there have been in previous years, but they certainly do all they can to keep the running crowd as far away from the paying guests as possible. It's almost tempting to book into the hotel the night before the race, just to see how they'd cope with someone turning up for breakfast in race gear...judging from some of the comments on the RRR Facebook page about the cost of entry & various organisational issues, this race could be at risk of losing its place in the RRR Club Championship next year.

Anyway, on to more positive stuff, as we saw new club records achieved for the second successive race (incidentally the record number of finishers at the Mad Dog is now up to 72 with the inclusion of an 'unattached' Anne Jones). The 44 RRR members completing the Blackpool circuit comfortably beat the previous best (36 in 2011), but more significantly Ian McBride became the first RRR overall winner of this race, having finished 'on the podium' in each of the last three years. No chance of Ian being beaten this time as he romped home almost two minutes clear of his nearest rival in a remarkable 1:14:01. I can only assume that when you run that fast the wind just goes around you...

Talking of the wind...that's two races now where a nasty headwind has messed up everyone's race times (not to mention their hair). Remarkably we still had several people reporting new half marathon PBs, which suggests we're going to see some pretty amazing performances when (if?) we finally get to run a race in decent conditions.

Behind Ian we showed some impressive strength-in-depth, with another three runners in the top 25 - not bad in a race of this quality with more than 1300 finishers - as Stuart Carroll (14th overall, 4th V40 in 1:21:17), Chris Lowe (20th, 7th V40, 1:21:35) & Dave Peart (22nd, 2nd V45, 1:21:37) all finished within 20 seconds of each other. The next group was even closer! I usually avoid writing about my own race in these reports, but I'll make an exception on this occasion because I thoroughly enjoyed my race-long battle with Shane Reading, Dave McBride & Mark Taylor. On the second lap Mark & I managed to get ourselves into a bunch that worked together superbly, peloton-like, into the wind. This enabled us to catch both Dave & Shane around the 12-mile point, but as soon as we turned for home Shane produced a Mo Farah-style burst to pull away & finish in 1:25:29. The remaining three of us swapped places several times in that last mile until Mark & Dave crossed the line together just ahead of me. Only after the results were published did we find that, on 'chip' times, Mark & I had been given identical times & Dave (1:25:46) had beaten us by a single second. A great race, which dragged me along to 2nd V50 position. If this carries on, I might start to quite enjoy being part of the 'Saga generation'...

As is so often the case, it was the Royton ladies who really starred in the age-category competitions. Leading the way were President June Allingan (1st FV70 in 2:26:58) & Teresa Hollins (1st FV60, 1:56:53), closely followed by Debbie Fiddling (2nd FV45, 1:40:15), Eileen Ingham (2nd FV60, 2:11:49) & Debbie Shaw (3rd FV50, 1:41:15). Kirsty White's great time of 1:33:55 gave her not only the 3rd FV40 prize but also 9th place overall in the ladies race.

All race times & group positions can be seen on our results page. Congratulations to everyone who took part, especially those completing a half marathon for the first time. There will be easier races to come...although I can't guarantee that'll be the case at Dentdale next month!  [David Emanuel]
SOUTH EAST LANCS X-COUNTRY (BOGGART HOLE CLOUGH) - 15th FEBRUARY 2014
Boggart Hole Clough - not the forgotten son of Brian & brother of Nigel, but a picturesque nature reserve in Blackley, the largest wooden clough in Manchester & the venue for our final cross-country race of the season.

Actually, 'picturesque' might not be quite the right word. The place may well look wonderful in summer, but in mid-February it's a muddy bog & there's something special about Boggart Hole mud, as anyone who has tried to remove it all in the shower afterwards will be able to confirm.

In case you're wondering, a boggart is a malevolent spirit from English folklore, often described as "relatively human-like in form, though usually uncouth, very ugly & often with bestial attributes". Which perhaps makes it appropriate to start the race report with the RRR men's team...

Although missing a few key members this was a strong men's team, aided by debutants Neil Brock (12th V45 in 49:30), Jason Keast (16th V45, 51:39) & Gary Smith (19th V50, 60:50). Leading from the front was Mark Taylor (24th overall & 4th V40, 41:46), chased all the way by Shane Reading (25th & 5th V40, 41:56). Shane was helped by wearing spikes so long that any lurking boggarts would have received multiple piercings, while several kangaroos may have had their feet tickled. Next home & helping Mark & Shane to an excellent 3rd-place in the V40 team race was Ian Dale (7th V50, 45:15), the latest team member to succumb to the lure of the spike.

Annoyingly outsprinted by Ian Stainthorpe (Rochdale Harriers), I managed to get home in 45:18, just about staying ahead of Mark Wilde (45:41). Next home - after new boys Neil & Jason - was a still-smiling Simon Howard (53:15)
, followed by John Sweeney (54:55) & Stephen Jones (55:15). Great performances all, in ridiculously tough conditions, with the usual impressive set of sprint finishes inspired by our fantastic ladies support team (including Becki Robinson, injured but still out in her wellies to cheer everyone on).

The remaining four RRR ladies all produced fantastic performances, led by Andrea Baker (13th place overall in 34:10) & Karen Mather (an exceptional 2nd FV50, 19th overall in 35:44), followed by Anne Jones (47:34) & Emma Kennedy (49:17). Again, a really great effort by all four!

With only three races in this South East Lancs series, the best two counted towards the overall results. Our best individual performances were achieved by the ladies, with team captain Kirsty White finishing 2nd FV40 overall & Karen Mather 2nd FV50. RRR also finished a magnificent 3rd in the FV35 category, 4th in the ladies overall competition & 4th FV40, while the men achieved a full set of 4th places at V40, V50 & overall. All the overall results can be found here.

So that's it, the end of RRRs best-ever cross-country season! Aside from all the benefits in stamina & endurance that we've gained individually - which I'm sure will be evident in forthcoming road races - it's been fantastic to be part of the best-supported team at every race. Special mention must go to Shane Reading & Ian Dale , our only two runners to complete all seven races, to Gloria the magnificent new gazebo & Sam Davis our official cross-country photographer, responsible for a great many of the mud-filled pictures you'll see in the Gallery.  Huge thanks to everyone who has taken part - hope to see you all back (plus a few more?) when we start again in September!  [David Emanuel]  


SOUTHPORT MAD DOG 10K - 9th FEBRUARY 2014

Here's one for the stats fans (I know there's lots of you out there) - up to the end of 2013, the most RRRs to take part in any race was 56, at the Royton Trail in 2010 & 2011. Pretty impressive, when you consider that several club members were also involved in officiating & marshaling...but it is of course our own club race, right on everyone's doorstep, cheap to enter (with entries allowed on the day) & held on a (usually pleasant) summer evening in July.

Fast forward to Southport in February. Cold & wet, with weather forecasts warning of high winds on the west coast, a sizeable entry fee payable well in advance & far enough away to justify a coach trip from Royton. So how many RRRs took part in the Mad Dog 10K at the weekend? 71, that's how many. Even though several regulars were unable to run due to illness & injury. There have been lots of things that have made me proud to be a club member over the years & this fantastic new record is most definitely one of them.

So onto the race...did I mention the wind? To say it was blowing a gale is a bit of an understatement, the only Mad Dog we were likely to see was Toto, flying past with Dorothy on the way to Oz (I'll leave you to cast the other characters; given my stiff-legged running style I'd like to make an early bid to be the Tin Man, although Bryan Lawton may also want to make a claim for this role). This was the ultimate 'race of two halves', with a fierce headwind for the outward 5K blowing us back home after the turn. Unfortunately the effort required to get to halfway had a real impact on everyone's race times - race winner David Hamilton (Southport Waterloo AC) finished more than five minutes outside of Ian McBride's course record.  

With Ian deciding to concentrate on his marathon training & declining the chance to go for a 'three-peat' - having won the race in 2012 & 2013 - this was the opportunity for some of our other runners to shine; despite the conditions they did exactly that. Two RRRs finished in the top 10, with Chris Lowe (9th overall, 3rd V40 in 39:11) just pipping Dave McBride (10th in 39:18). Three more of our members featured in the top 20 - Owen Flage (13th), Russell Ingham (15th) & Shane Reading (16th) - although Russell should have been placed higher, the results indicating that his actual 'chip' start time wasn't recorded.

The best RRR age-related finish came from Diane Allingan (1st FV55 in 51:23), although there were also excellent performances from Kirsty White (3rd FV35, 44:10), Debbie Shaw (3rd FV45, 46:06) & Ronnie Quinn (3rd V60, 48:14). I'm sure we'd have had even more if they'd had an age category above FV55! Even I got in on the act with a 3rd V50 finish (41:27), although that would have been 2nd if positions were based on chip times. Not that I'm complaining, that's my first significant performance as a V50... 

There were some fine debut Club Championship performances from some of our newer members including Mark Taylor (41:14), Gary Fielding (running arch-rival Colin Green very close in 42:08), Dave Arden (43:12), Yousuf Butt (44:26), Joel White (44:31), Neil Brock (45:07), Jason Keast (47:11), Tawnia Norman (47:13), Karen Mather (49:06), Andrew Hayhurst (49:42), Simon Howard (49:51), Gary Gloster (50:17), Selina McLean (54:29), Fay Royle (54:41), Karen Hayward (55:15), Mark Oliver (55:46), Sarah Collins (58:46), Sarah Butler (59:20), Julie Felton (59:32), Katherine Brierley (60:47), Ann Leyland (63:37) & David Leyland (65:40). It's great to see so many recent joiners embracing the philosophy of the club & getting out to take part in races, especially in such difficult conditions. You can all look forward to better weather & much faster times in the races to come!

In the past I have tried to list all RRR finishers in these reports, but with so many people running I think that's becoming a bit impractical. A full list of finishers & early Group Tables will be published on our Season Results page once Brian Moore has sorted out a few anomalies. Watch that space!

And finally...based on past form, no doubt some of you were expecting a report full of dog-related puns. Well given the deluge of stuff we've had from the Mad Dog organisers over the last few weeks, I decided it wasn't appropriate to make you suffer even more of that terrier-ble stuff. I'm sure you'll beagle-ad (be glad?) that I'm not going to do so, although don't take that as a pointer (gun dog) towards future reports. Anyway, afghan (I've gone?) too far already - well done everyone, look forward to seeing lots of you at a hopefully calmer Blackpool later in the month.  [David Emanuel]

SOUTH EAST LANCS X-COUNTRY (LEIGH) - 18th JANUARY 2014

A combination of injury & (reportedly) the January blues meant that the RRR men's cross-country team was a little depleted at Leigh...but no matter, as the ladies were out in force & performed magnificently.

More of that later. The highlight of this first race of 2014 was undoubtedly the debut appearance of the new club gazebo. Gloria (as I've just decided she's called) certainly made an impression. Seen from the start line, amidst the frankly rather drab offerings of the other clubs present, it looked very much as though the circus had come to town; or, if you were feeling less charitable, as though God had vomited in the middle of a field. Either way, I think we got noticed...

Anyway, back to the running stuff. Despite several members of the team saying before the race that they "didn't feel up for it", this was the best display yet from a very strong ladies team over a longer course than the usual 5K. Three finishers in the top 20 - led from the front by a distinctly under-the-weather Kirsty White (12th overall, 2nd FV40 in 30:22), followed by Becki Robinson (14th in 30:37) & Jen Hanson (20th in 31:28) - delivered another excellent fourth place in the overall team race, with Kirsty joined by Karen Mather (3rd FV50 in 32:55) & Val Kilburn (36:48) to finish fourth in both the FV35 & FV40 categories. Karen & Val, along with Anne Jones (40:59), made it a clean sweep of 'fourths' with their placing in the FV45s. Meanwhile Andrea Baker had another impressive run to finish 34th in 33:50, while the ever-improving Katherine Brierley came home 68th in 41:14. That's not to mention the welcome return from injury for Emma Kennedy (77th in 45:41).

With only 10 runners in the men's event, it was always going to be tough to match the performance of our ladies team. However, it's now well-known that not only can they run like the wind, but the RRR ladies also provide the best & most vocal support around - which inspired some spectacular sprint finishes from Shane Reading (5th V40 in 39:42), Simon Howard (49:58) & Stephen Jones (52:41) in particular. I can't remember the precise numbers, but Mark Taylor had already run around 20 miles in the morning, plus parkrun, but still finished this race in 40:41 - a mightily impressive performance, unless you were the one following him around the three-lap course thinking "surely he's going to start feeling tired at some point?". An excellent run from Bryan Lawton (45:36) made him the sixth counter in the RRR team - along with Shane, Mark, David Emanuel (41:10), Mark Wilde (41:22) & Ian Dale (42:19) - which finished in a respectable but distant fifth place. Mo Butt produced another fine performance to finish in 47:27 while John Sweeney, in disguise having forgotten his club vest, came home in 51:02.

So just one more cross-country race remaining, the muddy challenge that is Boggart Hole Clough. Longest spikes highly recommended!  [David Emanuel]


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Click here for 2012 race reports archive.
Click here for 2011 race reports archive.
Click here for 2010 race reports archive.