Who’s this ringing me at teatime on a Thursday? It’s Barry, asking if I can go in with him, Neil & Jason to the Lee Mill Relay a week Sunday? So, I’m thinking, I’m the slowest of the four, I'm retired from competitive running for 2018 - recreational runs only - I have the beginnings of a virus & I have already started to eat all the (mince) pies (Asda Extra Special - not bad). I didn’t really hesitate before saying yes. "Guess what - I’ve been selected for the RRR fell relay squad. How good is that?" Bernadette raises her head just slightly from the Boden catalogue & feigns a little interest.

I travelled separately to the team vehicle, where my 3 amigos had been in consultation. After seeing the photos of me doing Marl Pitts cross-country last week, & mindful of my likelihood of going off the grid - will I ever live this down? - Neil was all concern & very diplomatic. "With you at number 2 the runners won’t be too spaced out, you will be able to see someone to follow & you’ll still have the light." So, Jason (A) 1st, me (B), then Barry (C) followed by Neil (D).

This race is in its 3rd year & there are clubs & teams whose natural home is on the fells & who were up for it on the day. Waiting in the huddle for the ‘A’ runners to come in I chatted to the guy in the 'Alehouse' vest - deciding wisely, we agreed to put a base layer on. It was going to be cold on the tops. His team, Alehouse Academicals, are the alumni of the University of Manchester Athletics & Cross-Country Club. He said that they try to enter as many teams of mixed ability & mixed gender as they can into these relays. Why can’t RRR do the same, I thought?

Each of us has an individual running style & we easily spotted Jason’s top half coming back along the other side of the wall, then haring back into the park. The B runners were set off as soon as their A runner came back into the funnel. Neil & I had scoffed at the seconds the faster runners thought mattered at the handover, but seconds accumulate into minutes & some aggregated times were quite closely clustered in the final table positions.

I was overtaken quite easily by at least 6 other B runners - due to my incipient cold, you understand - & this course might be called very 'technical'. To those of us less technically-minded we’d just say it was hard. Whatever, there were loose & slippery rocks to negotiate on the downhill to the access gate & then up the quarry side. The chap in front fell & brought me down on the slope & I couldn’t stop myself sliding sideways nearly over a ledge, at the same time trying to stop with my hands the dislodged biggish rocks from falling on imagined runners below. However I was able to regain my feet, turn around & go on, though with a loss of momentum. I then slipped going over the gate & managed to arrange myself either side of it in the same way that you’ll be arranging your tree decorations - nicely spaced apart. ("Was it you running, or Norman Wisdom?" asked Bernadette). Neil also fell here & carried on with a painful cut on his foot. For reasons best known to myself - I was running a temperature when I read it - I thought that the description of a 'flagged' route was one where helicopters had flown in & dropped down slabs of limestone taken from old mills. I can’t go wrong here, I thought. Thankfully, even though 'flagged' meant fluttery bits of plastic on sticks (doh!), the route was very well-marked out.

Anyway, I made it back to base & it was left to Barry, then Neil to get us back in contention for a respectable placing, 2nd MV50 team. You don’t need to know how many teams were in our category. The time waiting for each of us to get around the route was spent in the park café discussing life, love & why did Jason buy a cherry slice instead of the rocky road, then pick all the cherries out for me to snaffle?

So, to come back to the matter of RRR participation. We could put up several teams for this event & our speedy guys could give the fastest teams a run for their money. The organisers are relaxed about 2nd-claim runners & there were lots of mixed age/gender/ability teams. With the race starting out from the top corner of Stubby Lee Park, I agreed with 2 Rochdale Harriers looking over at the park lake that it’s a little gem of a place & it’s on our doorstep, just a bit further up the road from Andy O'Sullivan's reservoir runs. Even teams from North Wales & the Midlands can make the journey! Fell running can be punishing but it is also exhilarating. You’re more connected with the weather, the landscape & the ground underfoot than you could ever be on a street pavement.


Neil drove & lent me his spare survival kit. Jason bought the cake & Barry shared his pasties. A towel from my boot was shared & it didn’t matter so much that I’d last used it to polish the car off. Fellow RRRs, you are all welcome to join our fellowship!

Oh & two of us did go the wrong way - but it wasn’t Jason & it wasn’t me!  [Gary Smith]


On the coach & Martina has put on her on-trend bone-conduction earphones.

"That’s the first time I’ve seen the coral-coloured ones," I said, showing an interest.

"What did you say?"

"I said I’ve not seen anyone with the coral-coloured ones before," just a bit louder.

"I can’t hear you, what did you say?"

"The coral ones,’ regretting I’d ever started this. "I’ve not seen that colour before." Voice getting desperate, realising I should have just said 'pink'.

Blank look.


"I couldn’t hear you because I haven’t got my glasses on." *

We all spilled off the coach at the same spot as last year & everything was at it was last time. Registration, then putting your number on in that vestibule that all schools used to have, with doors for the Head’s room & school office going off it. I had to sit & wait in such a place for the Head’s door to open a few times in my schooldays.

The weather threatened rain at the start, for the one race I hadn’t applied the vaseline - there have been some horror pics of bleeding male nipples in the past. Fortunately the rain didn’t endure & I didn’t continue to wonder whether Rob Nixon was wearing the nipple guards which he had lifted his vest to show me at the Liverpool Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon.

45 RRRs had booked onto this one. At the end of the season there was nothing to run for in Group 3, just like Ronnie Quinn’s beloved Everton. That said, aside from Garry Bower (1:21:28) imperiously winning 1st place, my group had shown the potential to be one of the most fiercely fought - with established, improving & new club members all capable of taking points off each other throughout the year. For the other groups I presume everyone else got their ducks in a row & knew what they had to do to beat/hold-off their rivals.

We have some astonishingly quick runners at RRR. In an event hosted by a fell runners’ club that will have attracted a lot of gnarly competitors we had 9 runners in the fastest 100, out of a field of 439. As we know the usual suspects, I will just mention that Owen Flage (1:05:10) came in as 1st MV45. The race winner, by the way, was rather fittingly called 'Lightfoot'.

Congratulations to Shane Reading (1:07:22) & Rob Nixon (1:19:33) who both completed all 17 club races. Shane’s unbroken sequence is now an incredible 98. Rob voted to increase the race calendar to 52 races next year. **

Although we have a fair few running couples, we don't have many father & son pairings at present, so well done to Adam (1:23:17) & Neil Farrell (1:23:19) who ran in 1 behind the other. In only his 2nd race of the year - after Dewsbury in February - Neil is back to full fitness, proved by him being in full voice in The Railway at the race after-party. If Adam is going to get away from his dad bending his ear all the way around a race he is just going to have to go a bit quicker!

Thanks to the hard work & encouragement of their leaders Simon Howard, Jarrod Gritt & Garry, the club's RunTogether & 5-to-10K groups have brought on fledgling runners who are now training with the club - one of their alumni is Gareth McCaffrey (1:27:05) who ran an excellent 1st club race. Others 'making their mark' were Mark Phelan (1:27:07) in his 2nd race following The Royton Trail, Mark Kelly (1:24:53) running his 1st RRR race since 2012 & Mar...tina Naismith (1:52:07) in her 25th club race. Warren 'Sid' Siddall (1:59:07) also completed his 2nd club race to add to The Royton Trail.

Finally, it is fitting in the curtain-downer of the season that El Presidente June Allingan (2:03:05) should win her age category again.

Back at the school, I had to smile when I saw Stewart Jones (1:25:11) waiting, then waiting a bit longer for his missus Karen to come out of the ladies changing rooms. Welcome to my world Stewart!

Chief rabble-rouser Elliot Stone (1:18:07) had bemoaned the fact that it was a dry & ergo a quiet coach back last year, but he & others made sure it didn’t happen this time. I did wonder, seeing Dave Peart (1:07:35) walking a little unsteadily, how some ace runners can both drink & run so well? I shall have to keep on wondering, as until Dewsbury next year our club races have all been run.

All the other RRR finishers: Sharon Dracup (1:49:14), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:48:36), Emma Bower (1:47:45), Bernadette Ball (1:45:02), Claire Timms (1:44:48), Elaine Whitehead (1:39:44), Sally Crewe (1:37:06), Jill Hickson (1:35:51), Gail Shaw (1:34:56), Lisa Cummins (1:32:29), Anthony Kane (1:30:40), Paul Cooke (1:30:17), Matt Kershaw (1:29:53), Ronnie Quinn (1:28:38), Helen Radcliffe (1:28:36), Gary Smith (1:27:58),  John Fay (1:27:03), Simon Howard (1:26:56), Nicholas Mallon (1:26:12), Val Kilburn (1:24:59), Jason Keast (1:19:15), Bryan Lawton (1:16:48), Janet Jobey (1:16:28), Robert Kellett (1:15:53), Neil Brock (1:13:38), Carl O'Callaghan (1:10:46), Ian Dale (1:10:36), Bernie Goodwin (1:09:50) Richard Cummins (1:06:00) & Jarrod Gritt (1:01:15).

See you all - in my reports - next year.  [Gary Smith]

*   Martina really did say this, but I have, of course, reported it out of context.

** This isn’t true…I think!


I wasn't feeling particularly relaxed on the morning of this race. Not because of the event itself - after all, it isn't in this year's RRR Club Championship, so there were no points at stake - but for 2 completely different reasons. First, the clocks had gone back overnight & it took me some time to work out what the correct time was - it seems my digital clock radio doesn't update automatically after all. Secondly, I was pretty sure that Gary Smith wasn't going to be present, so I'd have to step back into the race reporter's shoes. Big shoes to fill. I think I remember what to do...

As expected, the fact that OCL opted for a date just before the Derwentwater 10 - with the Holmfirth 15 a week earlier returning to the club championship - meant that most RRRs chose to give this one a miss. That said, there were plenty of club members out at various points on the course giving very welcome support. They had 14 RRRs to cheer on, although quite a few were 'in disguise' & not so easy to spot - Karen Stuttard (2:46:23) in her Oldham & Royton vest, Sam Kent-Brown (2:29:51) running for GMP, Teresa Hollins (2nd FV60, 2:01:55) in Middleton Harriers colours, Rob Fairbanks (an impressive 15th in 1:26:19) representing Sale Harriers & Dave Peart (2nd MV50, 1:31:59) wearing a snazzy orange top because, apparently, it matched his shoes.

Conditions were near-perfect for distance running & I felt surprisingly fresh a week after Holmfirth - it's quite a while since I've attempted 2 back-to-back long races. Regularly running parts of the route to & from work seemed to be paying dividends as I passed Dave Peart on the climb up Ripponden Road towards Grains Bar, but he came charging past me again as we dropped into Delph & disappeared into the distance on the road towards Uppermill. The only consolation was that he was overtaking loads of others as well! I closed a little & managed to gain a few places on the tough Ladcastle Road section. Typically I then spent the next few miles overtaking runners going up the hills only to watch them come sailing past again on the way down. I managed to get my nose in front as we climbed Lees Road, only for a cheery & very relaxed-looking Dominic Sexton of Hyde Village Striders - in my age category! - to ease ahead as we reached the 12-mile marker on Grotton Road. There was no way of catching him on the lung-burster that is Waterloo Street & I crossed the line in a reasonably satisfying 1:33:35.

The 1st person I saw after the finish was Martin Thompson, looking very happy with a half marathon debut time of 1:32:38. Definitely some quick times to come from him at this distance! Soon to come through the finish were Neil Brock (taking it easy in 1:39:13), Brett Spivey (1:49:53), John Fay (1:52:53) & Warren 'Sid' Siddall (1:55:00), followed by Mark Rigby (2:08:47), Debra Cash (2:14:40) & Mary Freer (2:37:27). Remarkably, despite our relatively small numbers, we still managed to finish 2nd in the men's team competition & 4th in the ladies event. 

There were 277 finishers in total this year - 14 more than in 2017 - yet it seemed, despite the great support on the route, that the race was more low-key than it's been in the past. Maybe it just felt like that because of the lack of RRRs in the field? Sadly that's unlikely to change next year, as the race has again been scheduled for the weekend before our annual trip to Keswick. If only the longer local races were spread more evenly throughout the year...  [David Emanuel]           

HOLMFIRTH 15 - 21st OCTOBER 2018

"Blackburn last night, Holmfirth this morning, well you said that we’d see the world together."

(I choose not to reply)

"Also, how come Paul Cooke gets to see U2 at the MEN & we just see tribute bands?"

"Because in mimicry they stay true to the spirit of the original performers, unlike some bloated ego pontificating from a stage that’s miles away." (my voice rising slightly)

"Nothing to do with it being £20 a ticket then?"

"Well for that you got 'Too Petty' AND 'Fleetwood Bac'." I shout.

Well the RRR battalion went deep into enemy territory for this one. It’s not often that the wagon train heads east into West Yorkshire for a club race & everybody agreed that this was not 1 for the faint-hearted. Without checking the profile beforehand most of us suspected that it would be hilly & then there was the distance. Moreover, the retro chip looked & felt like one of Andy Chadwick’s heaviest tackle weights. That said, the weather was just about perfect - cool & dry, just like …

"They’ve had that one!"

(I am now giving Bernadette a very hard stare)

With a relatively small field, the gaps gradually became wider between runners. All the more remarkable then that Dave Peart (1:42:56, 5th overall, 1st MV50) came in ahead of Shane Reading (1:43:04, 6th overall, 1st MV45) by just 8 seconds. Dave said that he was just about ready to let Shane go past on the energy-sapping 2nd-time round ascent from the bottom road up the steep incline, but toughed it out. Well done both of you. When I saw Shane at the end, rummaging around in the boot of his car surrounded by baby paraphernalia I thought, "No rest afternoon for you!" Next we had two 2nd claim runners, Owen Flage (1:43:50) & Rob Fairbanks (1:44:41) followed by David Emanuel (1:46:02), who anchored the highest-placed 3-man team, with Carl O'Callaghan (1:50:27), Bernie Goodwin (1:51:00), David McBride (1:52:46) & Matthew Kilburn (1:54:13) not far behind. Congratulations also to Diane Allingan (2:16:41, 1st FV60), who won her age category. Janet Jobey (1:59:41), Val Kilburn (2:11:21, 1st FV50) & Vikki Smith (2:15:09) were the 3 highest-placed women finishers from the same club. So even when we shuffle the deck, our fastest runners on the day combine to beat the other clubs, although no team prizes were handed out. 'Give 'em nowt' - typical Yorkshire.

I didn’t see much of anyone else. Andy Schofield (2:01:31), in his 50th club race, accelerated away from me early on, seemingly moving through the gears at will & he went on past Rob Nixon (2:06:41) & Simon Howard (2:09:53) before the finish. I managed to get ahead of Stephen Goddard (2:19:30) in his 10th club race, but Val Kilburn ran a disciplined race & reeled me in at 11 miles. I thought, here they come, any moment now Vikki Smith & Helen Radcliffe (2:18:20) will follow Val past me (2:13:43), but they were feeling it too. It was a tough race.

Rob Fairbanks, Simon, Jason Keast (2:21:10) & Sally Crewe (2:41:15) ran a cross-country race the day before, but didn’t seem much worse the wear for it, although Jason doesn’t normally come in behind me. Andy Chadwick (2:27:43) is back running on a high protein diet of casters & maggots.

Bernadette (2:45:01) came back to the car. "Garry wants to know if you’ve seen his post about your gender swap? And if I’ve seen his clock? I think he said 'clock'?"

I had indeed just read his post & as I’d changed Bernadette’s gender as well, I thought it would be fun if she put on the souvenir beanie & the wellies I had in the back of the car & do a 'Compo', this being the home of that godawful Last of the Summer Wine, but she refused. Some people are no fun!

You’ll all be glad to know we have both been realigned back to our normal selves without surgery. Bernadette will continue to insist that all cups have coasters under them & I will continue to 'leave my stuff everywhere'.

Well the next one is the curtain-downer on another great race season. The charabanc leaves for Derwentwater at 8am prompt on 4th November. See you there.

"Have got us two tickets for a great U2 tribute band - #Metoo?"

"Are they really a tribute…oh, never mind." 
[Gary Smith]

There was a fantastic turnout on Saturday afternoon for the 1st cross-country outing of the season on a glorious, sunny afternoon at Heaton Park. However many must have been really disappointed, as surely they had all signed up for a dirty & muddy afternoon, but there was literally no mud & most of the course could have been completed quite safely in road shoes. It's fairly safe to predict that this won’t continue as the season moves into winter, so sales of spikes & trail shoes should keep our Chairman & Vice Chairman in gainful employment!

The 1st problem was finding somewhere to park at a packed venue, with junior races starting in the morning & many other families taking advantage of the weather to bring their children to Heaton Park. After numerous loops of the car park I decided the best plan was to dump the gazebo & hope nobody tried stealing or borrowing it while I went to park elsewhere.

The race was no parkrun, with the ladies completing 2 laps & the men 3 laps of a multi-terrain course running around the outskirts of the park, around the football field & then returning via the woods, before a final lung-busting climb back to the start of the next lap or (even better) the finish. Running up that hill is a nightmare, as supporters urge runners to keep going or take on the runner in front.

From an RRR perspective it was fantastic to see so many cross-country debutants in both races. Congratulations to Sally Crewe (45:37), Amanda Richardson (48:10), Hulya Whittaker (52:30) & Mary Freer (53:54), all completing the ladies race, while also debuting in the men's race were a flying Mick Wildbore (4th V40 in 38:51), Alex Critcher (50:49) & Dave Bardsley (64:06).

The race was tough even with a lack of mud, with Dave Crewe unfortunately having to pull out of the men's race on the 1st lap after tripping in the woods & suffering a recurrence of his recent ankle injury. I was following him, but wasn’t responsible for his fall!

Other RRR finishers: Rochelle Evans (42:55, making a fantastic return after the recent addition to her family) & Clare Darraugh (46:37) in the ladies race; Martin Thompson (39:31). Ian Dale (3rd V55, 42:12), Michael Pickering (46:20), Bryan Lawton (46:26), Jason Keast (48:12), Simon Howard (49:20) & Adam Stirling (54:52) in the men's event.

A massive congratulations to everyone representing the club in this 1st cross-country race of the season & thanks for the great support from those runners resting before the Holmfirth 15 (or just resting) - Jill Heywood, Shane Reading, Carl & Jenny O'Callaghan. Shane brought Xander along sporting an awesome baby-sized RRR bobble hat, knitted by our multi-talented President June Allingan.

I suppose I should also congratulate myself, Jason & Sally for earning the double achievement/insanity award for completing both this cross-country race & the Holmfirth15 the following day. Hopefully there will be a similar or even better turnout for the next race in December at Tandle Hill - although I’m fairly confident the weather won’t be as favourable, nor the underfoot conditions!  [Simon Howard]


I wasn’t in too bad a mood at 9.15am, after finding a parking space just behind the Town Hall with no parking charges on a Sunday. There was a lively buzzy vibe inside & the weather was just about perfect, cool & dry with only a little wind. "A bit like me," I say to Bernadette - her inappropriate reply cannot be repeated. The route had been changed since the original Rochdale Half Marathon, when it went through Rochdale’s less salubrious areas, with impatient car drivers coming out of the side streets I seem to recall. Now it is the much more pleasant Rochdale canal/Hollingworth Lake circuit.  Martina, Gail, Diane & Bernadette came together in the registration area - how relaxed & smiley they were. Of course, they are now battle-hardened veterans at this distance, but running with your friends in your club vest is a definite mood-lifter!

We had 44 club runners, plus another dozen who ran in the 10K. It was a now familiar merit roll of splendid times, finishing positions & personal bests. Rob James (2nd overall, 1:13:57) & Jarrod Gritt (3rd overall, 1:14:42) both set new PBs, as did Michael Wildbore (1:22:15). With the race positions of Shane Reading (1:24:18), Richard Cummins (1:26:49) & Neil Brock (1:28:36) that made us the winner of the men’s team prize. We would probably still have won it if they had stipulated the 10 highest-placed club runners rather than 6, as David Emanuel (1:28:51), Bernie Goodwin (1:28:53), Carl O’Callaghan (1:31:20) & David McBride (1:31:44) all finished in the top 50. I also observed that Eamonn Nolan (1:38:22) & Dave Hall (1:39:32) put in great times, notwithstanding they are in the same age category as me (MV55)!

It’s wasn’t just our fastest runners at maximum thrust, however. After giving up trying to at least keep sight of Stewart Jones (1:42:23) – he was coasting, apparently - & Jason Keast (1:43:01), I locked horns with a very combative John Fay (1:49:24). John overtook me, stopped at the lakeside water station, then overtook me again before I overhauled him going back down towards Littleborough. We both passed Steven Goddard (1:51:41), who doesn’t like to give ground but was protecting a calf injury - he ran a PB anyway.

Congratulations to Phil Austin (1:49:28) who did his usual mirror, signal, manoeuvre past John & I with just under 2 miles to go. Phil has now completed 3 half marathons in support of Springhill Hospice. Nick Mallon (1:50:15), running his 25th club race, followed Phil past me & for a moment the 4 of us RRR 'band of brothers' were running Indian file along the towpath. It lasted no more than a minute or so before John - refusing to follow (my) team orders - went for broke & sprinted ahead of our little troupe. Phil followed him & Nick came in after me (1:50:05). Nick normally beats me & has run quicker for sure, but Phil & John both ran PBs so I was in good company.

While I am giving out the bouquets, well done to Diane Allingan (1:54:25) who achieved 1st FV60 in her 50th club race, to jet-setting, jet-lagged Gail Shaw (1:57:00) who flew in from New York (recceing their Abbott World Major marathon?) to run a PB & to Emma Bower (2:18:53) who completed her first half, as well as Bernadette (2:12:59) who was rightly thrilled to claim her own PB. We also had club runners Kevin Kennedy (1:58:37) & Tansy Wilson (2:24:30) who both completed a club race for the 1st time this season. A special mention to Sam Kent-Brown (2:22:10) who completed her first RRR race.

All the other RRR finishers: Karen Stuttard (2:29:22), Charlotte Chadwick (2:24:30), Martina Naismith (2:17:30), Sally Crewe (2:14:42),  Mike Keating (2:10:32), Lynda Brookes (2:06:38), Elaine Whitehead (2:01:49),  Paul Cooke (1:58:35), Ian Giles (1:57:53), Gary Marshall (1:54:53), Lisa Cummins (1:54:43), Adam Farrell (1:48:41), Mark Rigby (1:45:27), Robert Nixon (1:40:40), Janet Jobey (1:39:14),  Andy Schofield (1:36:48), Robert Kellett (1:34:04) & Robert Fairbanks (1:24:36),    .

There's still lots of gameplay going on in this vintage club season. In Weatherspoons afterwards there was plenty of talk about who has to run, who they have to beat & who others have to beat in the last 2 races for the final medal positions to be decided.  [Gary Smith]


I arrived early in anticipation that this could be 1 of the biggest races in terms of numbers that Cowm has ever had & I wasn’t wrong. 342 runners turned up to celebrate the great Ron Hill’s 80th birthday in the most fitting way for arguably the greatest-ever British distance runner. As always, all participants were presented with their Ron Hill mug prior to the race. Unlike every other race I have done at Cowm we were treated to chip timing & a full 5K distance!

On the start line I immediately noticed that there was a good quality field present, along with runners from far & wide. I even met a few who had travelled from Ireland to race. The main appeal may have been that this was the last ever of Ron Hill’s birthday races. Unfortunately Ron himself was only able to start the race & not actually run due to ill health.

As soon as Ron shouted "Go" the speed of the leaders was insanely fast. I went conservatively up the hill before opening up & overtaking several runners. The weather was ideal, sunny but not too hot. Just after the bridge on the 1st lap I glanced to my left & it was quite amazing that as I was halfway around the first lap I could still see people approaching the top of the hill. As I started the 2nd lap I was overtaken by a runner from Ribble Valley. I was not happy & picking up my pace I managed to get him again & overtake him just after the bridge. Here I started to catch the tail-end of the field, passing Angela Rogowskyj, June Alligan & a few other RRRs, offering what support I could as I passed.

As I approached the final straight before descending I could sense my friend from Ribble Valley was just behind me. I picked up the pace to try to shake him off, he too increased his pace & I anticipated a real sprint battle at the end as there was only a second or 2 between us. As we approached the downhill he caught me. Not wanting to lose I really put it in & quickly got around the sharp turn, hoping that my fastest pace trumped his fastest pace. Luckily I managed to gain a 2-second gap & finished 7th overall. Credit to our club president June Alligan who continued her fantastic form at Cowm to pick up the 1st FV75 prize in 34:30.

I managed a course PB of 16:47, which is great as it was a full 5K. Usually I feel this would be a time worthy of the top 3 at Cowm, maybe even 1st, but not with the quality that turned out here. The winner, Chris Holdsworth of Ribble Valley, took Joe Bailey’s course record with a time of 15:11, with the 2nd placed finisher also going under 16 minutes. With a field of that standard I am more than happy with 7th.  For the first time ever at a big Cowm race, RRR were massively outnumbered by several clubs.

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (36:21), Karen Stuttard (33:08), David & Liz Phillips (both 32:28), Neil Bradley (31:46), Stephen Rogowskyj (31:02), Elaine Whitehead (28:20), Bernie Allen (27:50), Jill Hickson (26:48), John Fay (24:43), Steve Shaw (23:29), Rob Nixon (22:40), Simon Howard (22:18), Garry Bower (21:34), Mark Heaney (21:28, 3rd MV60), Owen Flage (19:23) & Rob Fairbanks (18:17).

It would be fantastic if we could put out a massive number of runners to support Garry Bower on December 15th at the Bernadette Bower 'Life for a Life’ Tree 5K at Cowm. I’m sure you are all aware of the tragic loss of Bernadette in July. This was a course that Bernadette ran regularly with Garry & her children. The race will follow a tree-planting ceremony & the tree will mark the finish line of the race. I am sure that everyone has fond memories of Bernadette & this is the perfect way to pay your respects. All proceeds will be split between the cost of the tree & Springhill Hospice, which played an integral role in the care of Bernadette & Garry during the final month of her life & have continued to provide support in the tough times that have followed.  [Jarrod Gritt]


In the car...

"Will you be OK finding your way round?" said with mock concern. 

"Don’t just follow the runner in front of you. Ask the marshals which way to go," now giggling.

"I thought we’d agreed you were going to stop!"

We carried on over the roundabout, instead of taking the road to Ikea as usual, heading for Warrington town centre this time. We aren’t too far from Liverpool here & that soft lilting brogue that is the Scouse accent could be heard more often, including that of our own Ronnie Quinn (1:45:13) who walked with us to the race area.

Fortunately the cold weather isn’t quite upon us yet & the air temperature was still warm, so most of us just wore the club vest. The rain stopped & it became quite balmy - & 28 barmy RRRs had tipped up £28 each for this, the 14th club race of the season. We were easy to spot, gathered around & under Garry Bower’s brolly whilst others had already gone into the road for the start, which became as jam-packed as a pair of Jarrod Gritt’s recovery tights. We were set off in waves & l should know by now that you should start as high up the field as your running ability & ego will allow. Dave Emanuel (1:30:35) told me afterwards that he & Rob Nixon (1:42:03) had had to work hard to get amongst their running peers because they hadn’t been able to get into a more favourable (for them) starting position.

The route went out of the town & into its leafy parts, going through 1 or 2 attractive villages. There were plenty of well-wishers clustered along the route, all very pleasant.

To run a good time for a half you must be 'race-ready', injury-free, have the miles under your belt & no little amount of mental toughness. Credit then to Jarrod (1:16:55) who got himself on the front line (his chip time was 1 second less than his gun time) & produced a time that to me looks more like a respectable 10 mile finish, not a half-marathon! He was 11th in a field of over 2,600 runners, a great achievement. What’s more we had 5 more club runners go sub-1:30, with Bernie Goodwin (1:30:29) just outside. All these guys' chip times were within seconds of their gun times, showing a determination on their part to control their running. Dave Peart (1:23:17) & Richard Cummins (1:25:32) were 2nd & 3rd respectively in a V50 age category that had 290 other runners. RRRs has strength in depth!

Congratulations to Diane Allingan (1:52:52) who ran lightly past me on the longish hill climb at mile 7. She gave me the thumbs-up & didn’t turn her head, but I could tell she was grinning because she knew she had a fast time in her legs.

On the climb to the bridge Garry (1:52:59) pulled up alongside for a chat but I didn’t have it in me to return his pleasantries, being almost flat-footed by now & festooned in my own spit-drool. He was moving ahead of Phil Austin (1:54:41) after pacing him for 9 miles. This was Phil’s 2nd half marathon in a series of 3 he is doing to raise funds for Springhill Hospice. Here's a link to his fundraising page if you want to donate. Phil has a deceptively relaxed running style & he didn’t seem to be labouring at all in the closing miles. He ran a PB this time & I think he can go quicker!

Congratulations also to Lisa Cummins (1:55:28) who seemed to be still running easily & efficiently when she went past me in the final mile. I was surprised to still be placed ahead of her on chip time as she had finished so strongly.

Some other fast club runners who haven’t previously been mentioned in my dispatches include Mike Wildbore (1:24:59), who knocked over 3 minutes off his PB, Robert Fairbanks (1:25:47), Ian Dale (1:31:11), Robert Kellet (1:36:59) & Andy Schofield (1:37:43). Well done guys!

All the other RRR finishers: Sally Crewe (2:28:27), Bernadette Ball (2:17:29), Claire Timms (2:12:05), Jillian Heywood (2:07:16), Martin Jones (1:59:26), Gail Shaw (1:58:02),  Gary Smith (1:55:15), Jason Keast (1:47:16), David Crewe (1:40:45), Janet Jobey (1:38:50), Carl O'Callaghan (1:34:06) & Shane Reading (1:27:01).

It’s a conceit to call a race that starts out from Warrington the 'English Half Marathon', but with a red carpet finish in front of the impressive Golden Gates, some slick organisation, a distinctive commemorative tee (whose colour Diane - still grinning - & Gail Shaw said didn’t suit them, despite taking loads of selfies at the finish) & the 'gate' medal that we were all spinning & weighing in our hand, this race was worth the trip & the entry fee. The medal was embossed with the numerals 13.1 - so I can easily remind myself that this time I went the distance!  
[Gary Smith]

The penultimate race in the ‘Run the Moors’ series was the last evening race & close to home. The Hades Hill cairn/barrow – not so prominent anymore - is located high on the moors some 3 miles north-east of Whitworth & the smaller village of Facit, near Rochdale. Ancient remains have been found here & there is a farmer who has dedicated himself to keeping a particular breed - the Hades Hill fell pony.

The start of the race is near the Red Lion pub located in Whitworth Square, which has 5 blue plaques dotted in & around it to mark its historical value & conservation status. It is a delight - another great example of an un-wrecked Britain on our doorstep!

If you look at Rob & Jarrod’s Stravas, they show a single red line that goes from A to B & back to A along the same route. So no wrong turns this time! The weather was cool (but not cold) & dry. The ground was fairly dry as well. Importantly there was a light sky, so visibility stayed good.

Just after I had dared to look at my Garmin (some of us hold off looking for as long as possible) to see if I had (hopefully) got past halfway, the leading runners started to come hurtling down past me like free-falling boulders. This reassured me this time, as I knew that the total distance wasn’t going to be a fell run too far & that I should arrive back before the light went!

Going into the last couple of kilometres, coming down a scree slope, John from Saddleworth Runners - who I tend to find close to me in these races - shouted that he had fallen here last year (it was raining & slippy then). I thought that it seemed fairly stable underfoot but shortly after, when the hard work had been done & I’d already seen Rob & Jarrod on their recovery run, my foot hit something hard & unyielding as I crossed a bit of stony but level ground to get onto the road & I fell heavily. From my horizontal position I saw John (who is an MV65!) continue to sprint to the finish. Your correspondent was OK & I did reach the line, after the runner behind me helped me up & followed me to the finish, showing no concern for his own time. I wasn’t sure if he was the runner who finished directly behind me so cannot name & thank him in this report, but if a runner ever goes down in front of me I will pay it forward.

In the pub afterwards Charlie (yet another MV65, also from Saddleworth Runners) easily bested my injury tale. 2 weeks ago he’d ended up with a dislocated shoulder, hanging head down in a ditch & caught up in some fence-wire. A landrover had to be used to get him to the ambulance. He said he’d never felt such pain, being bumped about without the gas & air. So, I thought, I can’t even win best injury prize!

All the RRR finishers: Rob James (32:04), Jarrod Gritt (34:41), Robert Fairbanks (40:51), Jason Keast (47:20), Mark Heaney (47:29) & Gary Smith (51:15).

Congratulations to Rob & Jarrod who finished 2nd & 4th respectively. Nice to see Mark Heaney complete this race as well - he must have tried to catch Jason on the run-in, with only 9 seconds between their finish times.  [Gary Smith]


Race number 13 in the club calendar, a late replacement for the cancelled Clog & Billycock 10K. RRRs turned out in numbers for the start of the run-in to this year’s championship.

Rob James (35:08) was the winner of a race that didn’t offer any prizes, but this didn’t faze him as his win made him the RRR Club Champion for the 3rd successive season, equalling the number of wins by Ian McBride (2011-2013).

Talking to Rob afterwards, he hadn’t prepared for the Dewsbury 10K, his IT band tightened up & he finished behind Jarrod & Shane. That's the only race in which he dropped points. Now he reckons he’s running better than ever. He came to RRR after trying out another club where they wanted to coach him, telling him which races to enter & to just do track work till then! He went back to his missus & told her that’s not what he wanted from a running club - so that club’s loss has been RRR's gain.

Like all fast runners there is a technical aspect to Rob’s running; in road races he is racing against himself as well as the competition, always looking at his watch to check his mph & PB potential. He doesn’t enjoy this as much as fell running, when he just has to beat the man in front & can go hell for leather on the downhills. No fear. Did I say that Rob wasn’t fazed by not winning a prize? Well this race apart, his total prize winnings this year include over £250 in Up & Running vouchers!

So congratulations to Rob & also to Martin Thompson (39:21) who finished 3rd overall in his trademark white baseball cap. That cap will no doubt be carrying sponsor logos if this form continues. Meanwhile Shane Reading (39:31) can celebrate being 1st MV40 as well as becoming a new dad the night before the race. Shane must have really been stressing that he wouldn’t make this one, but his amazing unbroken sequence of club races continues. Congratulations also to Rochelle, who will be glad to be running & competing again soon - there will be no doubt be yet more buggy-pushers overtaking me at parkrun on a Saturday morning.

If running clubs were arranged in a football-type league, then we would surely be a Premiership side. The club had 9 of the 1st 10 finishers (pretty sure that's not happened before!) & took honours all the way down the age categories - Richard Cummins 1st MV50 (39:38); Ian Dale 1st MV55 (41:46); Carl O’Callaghan 1st MV45 (42:08); Rob Nixon 1st MV60 (45:37); Diane Allingan 1st FV55 (54:52); Bernadette Ball 1st FV60 (1:02:07) & June Allingan 1st FV75 (1:11:54). We also welcome aboard Brett Spivey (43:55), completing in his 1st race in RRR colours, while Gail Shaw (54:08) & Lisa Cummins (55:07) have both now completed 25 club races.

All the other RRR finishers: Emma Bower (1:07:12), Sally Crewe (1:05:37), Martina Naismith (1:02:48), Claire Timms (1:01:27), Elaine Whitehead (57:55), Chris Nicholson (54:15), Ian Giles (53:46), John Fay (50:15), Stephen Goddard (48:20), Garry Bower (47:43), Dave Hall (44:05), Robert Kellett (43:18), Bernie Goodwin (41:39) & David Emanuel(41:27),

Unfortunately my name is missing from those who completed the race, as I went in front of the house on the second lap & not behind it.

"Did you not see the marshal?"
"No, was there one there? If there was, he might have been facing the runners coming from behind the house & his back might have been to those coming up the hill."

"Did you not see the large arrow pointing right?"

"You’re not helping here!"

Those of you who witnessed me at Friday night’s quiz, getting up 4 times to pick the next winning raffle ticket & turning away without collecting a prize, will already know that I get easily distracted!

Now what was I talking about? Oh yes, the penny should have dropped when I saw Dave Crewe (47:01) sprawled out just in front of me at the finish & Jason Keast (47:32) coming in behind me. The penny should have dropped when Neil Brock (40:13) said the course was (slightly) short & I seized on this after wondering why it hadn’t felt like 10K - the race organiser looking baffled when I challenged him over the course distance. The penny definitely moved when I saw Ray Williams (50:12) come over the finish when I had been running behind him all race, but like I say I get easily distracted. I forgot my increasing unease when going back up the course to give encouragement to Bernadette & then talking about pensions with Neil on the way back to the car.


Only later on the sofa, when the results came through, did I finally pick up that penny. Hopefully I’ll have some good luck as a result!

"We need tomatoes, some coleslaw, I’m OK for wine & chocolate."

Followed by, "Why don’t you put the Garmin on & you can add your trip to the Co-op to the 9K you did earlier?"

Even I laughed. What an idiotic thing to do! *

* In mitigation, I followed a runner who I now realise probably wasn’t running the race. Also, after labouring up the hill, I was just looking at the ground & was zoned out with my headphones on!  [Gary Smith]


This was the last 1 of 4 races that make up the annual midweek series organised by Rossendale Harriers. It was also chosen to go into the 'Run the Moors' Grand Prix, to replace a race cancelled at the beginning of the year due to bad weather. Remember the snow we had at the beginning of the year? Seems ages ago now.

I was initially surprised to see Michael Fleming & Mick Wildbore in the registration queue & knew that Jarrod Gritt wouldn’t be far away. Having twigged that Rob James' running prowess is at least in part due to his bi-weekly fell races, these 3 amigos were looking to get in on the action. Michael asked me what the course was like & I said it was just the usual rough trails & 'farmers paths'. Not, you understand, like those that gentleman famers in Barbour jackets take their Range Rovers on. These are the paths that Lancashire hill famers in greasy old Gabardine raincoats, tied at the waist with string, crash & bump their rusty Land Rovers over. You also go across 1 or 2 of the spoil heaps at the back of the farm as well!

The race is a compact 5.5 mile track that climbs around 900 feet. After googling I still can’t find out what the distinctive ‘golf ball’ structure - white geometric diamond-shaped panels - is used for. You catch sight of it running around the hill. The weather was just about perfect, dry & cool with little wind. Also, after running in recent fell races on ground that had completely dried out, we were now back to glorious mud. The final stretch was a charge in single file diagonally down & across a field, which allowed you to really go for it if you had any legs left.

Back at HQ all the runners were allowed to tramp into the building & over to the bar without taking off their running shoes. Mud all over the carpet – my mum would have fainted! Having been properly house-trained, however, Barry Greaves (2nd MV60) accepted his prize in bare feet. Rob James came in 2nd overall & revealed the problem for a front runner -if you don’t know the course, there is no one to follow, & he had lost time going the wrong way.

The prize list went down all the age categories of those participating, so the Todmorden Harriers MV75 - who finished ahead of me – & the Radcliffe AC FV70 both took home a bottle of something. Hopefully we’ll all still be running competitively at these ages! For your £4 entry fee you also got a pie & pea supper. Plus, as the last to leave & nearest the prize table, the organisers offered each of us a leftover ale from the prize collection. I call that a bargain!

So we have a few more RRRs join the fell running fraternity. Already I have seen a shared link on Facebook from Mick for another one & before I’ve even finished typing up this report, on a wet Sunday afternoon, Rob has been out, competed in & come first in another race – the Tour of Norland. It must be obvious, then, that fell-running is addictive & you need your regular fix.

RRR finishing times: Rob James (39:15), Jarrod Gritt (41:16), Mick Wildbore (44:49), Michael Fleming (45:08), Barry Greaves (50:32), Jason Keast (55:27) & Gary Smith (1:02:10).

Meanwhile in Bernadette’s hallway...

"Look at the mud you’re traipsing in here! Get them off, get those dirty clothes off, get in the shower, & after that you can tidy your mess up!"

They do say you end up with someone like your mum (not for long at this rate!). [Gary Smith]


From 2 sun loungers somewhere abroad...

"Are we doing the Hopwood Trot? It’s the Wednesday we get back."

Thinks. "How many cakes & croissants have I had for breakfast? How many Pizza Sicilianas & Birra Morettis? How much running since we got here?"

Gawd it’s hot. Slowly drifts off…

"Gary, wake up! It’s your turn to book."

The route for this new race involves 2 laps on grass, tarmac, concrete & cinder paths & bridleways (why don’t I just say 'multi-terrain'?) with some progressive gradients up & down. The rain began just before the start & then came down harder. People stopped thinking that the car will get a clean to worrying about getting drenched. The going on the grass went from good to soft as we came out of the gate, hard against the rails going around the paddock before heading out.

So let’s have a look at the runners & riders amongst the 51 RRRs on the race card. You’d have only got short odds on the thoroughbreds Rob James (race winner in 31:00), Jarrod Gritt (2nd in 32:37) & Rob Battye (5th, 34:21) coming in to take the men’s team prize & our fillies Janet 'Jockey' Jobey (40:26), Val Kilburn (43:10) & Helen Radcliffe (45:00) claiming the women’s team prize. Also from the RRR stables were age category winners Michael Fleming (1st MV35, 35:24) Richard Cummins (1st MV50, 35:54 - his bottle of wine generously donated to the RRR Grand Summer Raffle) & Diane Allingan (1st FV55, 48:02). Lynda 'Beechers' Brookes (53:43) had a 2nd run out for the club & Sue 'Farrier' Farrell (59:27) had her 1st try out in RRR silks. Also, a big welcome back to Anne Jones (1:02:45) who has been struggling with injury for a long time & congratulations to the coltish Garry Bower (42:04) who has won Group 3 by several lengths.

Sally Crewe (58:18 in her 10th outing this year in a club race) & a skittish Bernadette Ball (58:19) came in neck-&-neck for a photo finish at the line, after Sally had come around on the outside. Only after a steward’s enquiry was Sally given the edge when the chip times came through.

Gary Marshall (45:20) ripped up the form book, coming past me (47:29 - put him out to pasture!) at halfway. He then went onto to gain ground on & overtake both Simon Howard (45:36) & Adam Farrell (45:24) in a great gallop to the finish. Then Chris Nicholson (46:24) & Phil Austin (46:28) both showed me a clean pair of hooves as they trotted past. I did finally pass an RRR stablemate, but only when Alex Critcher pulled up & retired himself after the 1st lap.

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (1:08:11), June Allingan (1:06:15), Stephen Rogowskyj (58:46), Martina Naismith (56:50), Amanda Richardson (54:09), Lisa Cummins (52:19), Jillian Heywood (51:34), Gail Shaw (50:48), Kevin Heenan (48:51), Paul Cooke (48:36), Teresa Hollins (48:25), Martin Jones (44:49), Ronnie Quinn (43:12),  Stephen Goddard (42:30), Robert Nixon (42:16), Mark Heaney (42:06), Jason Keast (41:49),  Dave Hall (40:00), David Crewe (39:58), Robert Kellett (39:48), Eamonn Nolan (39:24), Bryan Lawton (39:18), Matthew Kilburn (38:58), Ian Dale (38:52), Darren Ogden (38:43), David Emanuel (37:41), Dave Peart (36:48), Bernard Goodwin (36:40), Shane Reading (35:31) & Martin Thompson (35:28).

So a good evening out for the club. We had 6 out of 9 in the winning enclosure. The race was local (some 40 RRRs went with Simon to do a recce the Thursday before), well-organised & marshaled, with the route mostly clear of other people & parking close to race HQ.  The next race is the Heaton Park 10K on 1st September, here I am cantering past the Premiership also-rans. "Gary! Wake up!"

PS - I thought of giving this report a 'day at the races' theme whilst at Pontefract Races with Stewart Jones (non-runner) & the bookies favourite Jason Keast last Sunday. From the top of the grandstand steps you could see the whole racecourse, just over 2 miles long, stretched out in front of you. To think that our fastest runners could run that course in a little over 15 mins. Astonishing! Yet just as astonishing is the fact that 51 of us from the same club, of all ages & abilities, ran the same distance – twice! So I hope you all treated yourselves to a rub-down, a warm bran mash supper & fresh hay &, then got under your favourite blanket afterwards.

PPS - did anybody enquire why we were given 2 timing chips?  [Gary Smith]
RACE TO THE STONES - 14th/15th JULY 2018

Whatever made me say yes?

Why am I doing this?

Because it’s a challenge.

Because I am doing it with great friends.

Because I can raise money & awareness for Mesothelioma UK & Maggie’s Oldham.

Because Mike would be the first person to tell me I could do it.

And...because I can.

At the time I agreed to sign up I was only drinking hot water & lemon, so I can’t blame the Prosecco this time.

The 100K Race to the Stones starts in Banbury, Oxfordshire & finishes in Swindon, Wiltshire. It goes along the 5,000-year-old pathway known as The Ridgeway, passing The White Horse at Uffington & ending at the Avebury stone circle.

There were 5 Royton Road Runners committed to doing it – Charlotte Chadwick, Diane Allingan, Fay Royle, Natalie Yates-Bolton & myself.

Thursday 12th July: Just heard that they have cancelled the 100K Trailwalker event in Brighton this weekend (on the advice of the military & the Ghurkas) because of adverse weather conditions expected  (i.e.  a heatwave). I am getting a bit nervous now.

Saturday 14th July: We were up & off early from our hotel, arriving at 7:.15am, & already it was a hot day. There was lots of buzz & excitement in the air & by 8:15 we were all assembled in 'D Wave', limbering up & waiting for the countdown to set us off on the 1st stage of The Ridgeway.

And we’re off. A nice gentle pace for the 1st few kilometres along grassy lanes, quite shady – then we hit the hill. Up & up & up through steep woodlands on rough pathways, trying to avoid all the tree roots. Running stopped & walking took over. Of course the path eventually levels out, the terrain changes & all of a sudden we were running through fields of gold with poppies & wild flowers (I was going to say ‘dancing in the breeze’, but there was no breeze). By this time the sun was well & truly beating down on us in the beautiful open countryside of Oxfordshire.

Our 1st pit stop was a welcome sight. We made the most of all the pit stops & boy were we ready for them. They were like mirages in the desert – but for real. Apart from the medical tent, which fortunately none of us needed, we fully utilised everything else on offer. Hot & cold drinks, sandwiches, fruit of all description, buckets of cold water for dousing your hat (bonus), toilets & the opportunity to relax in a little bit of shade before setting off again.

The going was tough, hot, hot & hotter. On hilly, uneven ground, running on dry, dusty gravel, the last 12K of the 1st day felt never-ending, but finally there was Base Camp & the 50K finish line. The 1st thing I saw as I crossed the line was the bar. Double tonic (although I really fancied a double Prosecco) with ice & lemon tasted like nectar. After locating tents, having a massage & a welcome shower it was time for dinner. The choice was endless.


Base camp was another adventure. It really was like Glastonbury for the injured, with people arriving with blisters like I have never seen, bloodied knees, shins, arms & faces where they had fallen, cramp, sunburn & more. Sited on a slight hillside, the 1-man tents themselves were fine, it was just the closeness of them. After watching a beautiful sunset we all settled down for an early night sleep. That was wishful thinking – all you could hear was snoring & cries of “Oh - I’ve got cramp!”. Every time someone unzipped their tent I felt sure they were coming into mine.

Sunday 15th July: We'd planned an early morning start for our second 50K. We didn’t think it would be 4:30 though - someone’s alarm went off & suddenly everyone was up & by 5am we were eating a hearty breakfast. At least we had the advantage of a cooler few hours to start, but the sun was again relentless & at 29.5 degrees it was hotter than the previous day.

For some bizarre reason I was the only one of our group who found the 2nd day easier than the 1st. I think I just zoned out, or was delirious, but then again my sister says I am not normal. The only disappointment was that when we passed the white horse carved into the hillside at Uffington we were on the wrong side of the hill to see it. A sign gave us the option of a slight detour to it, but at this stage of the race we all passed. Again we made full use of the pit stops & always set off with lots of encouragement from the marshals who willed us on, probably thankful that they weren’t doing it.

We climbed hills again, up & over & along the North Wessex Downs, passing through long open stretches of glorious wheat fields & through hamlets with chocolate-box thatched cottages. We ran on chalk paths & were dazzled by the sun beating down on them, making it feel like you were running over hot  coals. Then suddenly there was the 99K sign. What a pick-me-up! Avebury stone circle, the finish line & the 100K marker were within sight. After running & dancing round the stones, the last few kilometres up to the finish seemed never ending - but then the line was crossed, the medal put around my neck & a 1st ultra ticked off my list. One blister & one lost toenail were a small price to pay for one of the biggest achievements of my life.

Would I do it again? Ask me next year.  [June Allingan]

MAN V BARGE - 11th AUGUST 2018

Not a race I’ve ever thought of doing before, but a good friend asked if I fancied it so I thought why not. Starting at the Standedge Tunnel entrance in Marsden, runners are directed mostly off-road up & over the tunnel to the other end at Diggle. The route is about 4.5 miles long - provided you don’t go wrong.

The day itself was beautiful,. There was another event on at the Marsden end, a yoga festival, so there were lots of different stalls to have a look at before starting the race. It was also Yanks Weekend in Saddleworth, so there was plenty to see & do upon finishing. The race started at approximately 11am as the nose of the barge entered the tunnel. I was told before the race that the barge actually takes at least 2 hours to get through, so even walking you could beat it…

Tom McGuinness took an early lead, with me tailing him. After the 1st bit of climbing he missed a turn, of course I naturally followed as did 3 or 4 others. What an error. As we had dropped down a hill we now had another hill to ascend & as we were only 1K in, the field hadn’t spread massively, so when we got back on course I must have been about 20th. To make it worse we then had to cross 3 stiles in quick succession, which we couldn’t leap as people were queuing to get over them. At this point I thought that was it, I was never going to medal or even get in the top 10. Tom & I kept overtaking more & more runners. Eventually, approaching 5K, I stopped overtaking people. I knew that Tom was ahead (naturally) & started to wonder how many more. At this point the race is all downhill so I let my legs carry me as fast as they would allow.

As I passed through the last gate & onto Boat Lane I knew the end wasn’t too far. I darted down until I got to the Diggle Hotel & gave it everything as I ran round to the canal & the finish. Unbelievably, I found that there was only Tom there, so despite the mess up & covering an extra little climb I’d managed to finish 2nd. I was presented with a medal which doubles up as a bottle opener, a great duel use. We also got to see the Lancaster fly over as we enjoyed a pint at the Diggle Hotel. A great morning out.

This race is well worth doing & tickets are on sale already for next year. I would recommend signing up now, as all the 'early bird' tickets have already gone & the event sells out every year. There's a free pint & chip butty at the end!  [Jarrod Gritt]

RIVERSIDE 10 - 5th AUGUST 2018

After the last few weeks of hot weather, the days leading up to Riverside suggested it was cooling down a bit, which for many of us was probably very welcome. However, come race day the sun started to shine again & the humidity rose. Whilst it would normally make for a lovely day, the prospect of running 10 miles in it seemed a little daunting.

Most RRRs were on the coach, as per normal with an 'away' race. I myself wasn’t, however I imagine there were plenty of shenanigans, but as the saying goes ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’.

I arrived early but was soon greeted by the coachful of RRRs. As usual we put out the most runners in the race (34). I was also told, having not done this race before, that the route had changed from previous years, making it much flatter, following two out-&-back stretches. I find this format is quite motivating as on the 'back' leg you get a lot of support from those on the 'out' & having such a big team of runners only enhances this.

On the 1st (shorter) leg Rob James quickly slotted in behind the race leader while I hung back a little, keeping my own pace. For the first couple of miles I overtook about 5 or 6 runners & could still see the lead cyclist, with about 7 runners ahead of me. After completing the 1st out-&-back loop I crossed the bridge to start the 2nd, longer loop. I could see that I was slowly gaining on the runner in front of me & knew that I could reel him in. For the next mile or so I slowly gained on him, until eventually I caught up with him. At this point I had no idea which position I was in as the path was much more winding. Just as I had caught the runner ahead of me I saw the lead runner on his return leg. That couldn’t be right, I knew the turnaround point was at about 7.5 miles. I knew he was fast, but surely he couldn’t have that much distance on me, especially as I couldn’t see Rob approaching with him? Then I realised he was jogging with little pace & had dropped out.

After starting to open a gap on the runner I had just passed, a marshal informed me that I was now in 5th place. As I reached the turnaround point I was starting to feel the heat & in my head I was starting to think I wouldn’t make it back. Luckily on the return I had a stream of runners coming in the opposite direction. Supportive words from many RRRs really helped me to keep my head in it. For the last 2 miles or so it was really tough, as the shade disappeared & the sun was beating down. As I was approaching the path leading to the bridge, around a kilometre from the end, I passed June Allingan & just behind her Angela Rogowskyj. At his point I felt in bits, but with a final few motivational words & a quick glance at my watch I knew the finish line was close. The runner ahead of me seemed to stay exactly the same distance away all along the return leg. I paid no attention to who was behind me, as I knew if there was someone close it would put me off. I tried to quicken my pace just in case there was someone approaching. As I crossed the bridge Simon Howard was there to clap everyone in just 200m or so from the finish. As I crossed the line I had never been more grateful for a bottle of water.

Rob had won the race & in doing so set a course record of 56:30 as the 1st winner on the new course, one that is well deserved. I was just over 2 minutes behind in 58:52, which given the heat I was happy with. Next home was father-to-be Shane Reading (3rd MV40) in 1:04:24. This clinched an RRR team victory in a close battle with Preston Harriers.

There was a similarly close battle between Dave Peart (2nd MV50, 1:05:11) & Mick Wildbore (1:05:12) which must have made an exciting race for the pair. In the ladies race Janet Jobey continued her fine form to finish 2nd lady & 1st FV45 (1:14:43), with this victory confirming her as the 2018 RRR Ladies Champion with 6 races yet to come.

As ever we had some notable age category performances, including Rob Nixon (2nd MV60, 1:13:19), Teresa Hollins (1st FV60, 1:25:47), Gail Shaw (3rd FV50, 1:31:10) & of course our president June Allingan (1st FV75, 2:05:02) a fantastic achievement! Rob even got a spot prize for 'best beard'.

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (2:06:43), Sally Crewe (1:56:04), Martina Naismith (1:43:16), Claire Timms (1:39:13), Elaine Whitehead (1:36:02), Jillian Heywood (1:35:36), Jill Hickson (1:34:48), Chris Nicholson (1:34:14), Phil Austin (1:28:54), John Fay (1:28:30), Martin Jones (1:27:21), Helen Radcliffe (1:24:26), Elliott Stone (1:23:06), Vikki Smith (1:22:38), Jason Keast (1:21:17), Steve Goddard (1:19:40), Nick Mallon (1:19:24), David Crewe (1:15:35), Dave Hall (1:11:46), Robert Kellett (1:11:04), Bernard Goodwin (1:09:56), David Emanuel (1:08:44), Carl O’Callaghan (1:08:35) & Ian Dale (1:08:08).

Next up, the inaugural Hopwood Trot!  [Jarrod Gritt]

THE LAKELAND 50 - 28th JULY 2018

Grab yourself a brew - this is quite a long race report!

The last weekend in July saw the Ultra Tour of the Lake District, which has 2 races – The Lakeland 100 (which is actually 105 miles) & The Lakeland 50 (which is exactly 50). This was my 3rd attempt at the latter race & I was hoping to get somewhere between my previous 2 attempts with time - but races of this length are more about finishing than setting any PBs.

The recent glorious weather, that had been in the UK since early June, saw plenty of questions on Facebook asking whether we really needed to carry everything on the lengthy kit list. The weather gods were definitely observing these Facebook pages, but more of that later!

Arriving in Coniston just after lunchtime on Friday allowed plenty of time to pitch my tent & get through the kit check, which for this race is very thorough. This may seem fussy, but runners are self-sufficient for the whole event with the exception of checkpoints & the marshals obviously knew what was coming over the weekend! The rest of Friday was spent chilling in the glorious sunshine in a variety of Coniston pubs (no alcohol, which is quite an achievement!) & lounging outside my tent enjoying the  weather. It would have been perfect, except for the little outing I was about to undertake.

I didn’t even need to look out of the tent on Saturday morning to check the weather, as the battering it had taken during the night told me what I'd find. The Lakeland 50 finishes at Coniston, so after a bacon butty for breakfast I hopped on the bus to Dalemain estate. I just couldn’t believe I was in 4 or 5 layers trying to keep warm & keep my race kit dry. However after arriving at Dalemain the rain started to ease off, so maybe the forecast was wrong.

I actually started the race wearing just a T-shirt - but not for long. After completing the short loop of the estate, the race starts for real & heads for Pooley Bridge at the far end of Ullswater. It then climbs out of the village & heads up towards the old Roman road alongside the lake. The rain became so torrential on this climb that my waterproof coat had to come out & it never went away for the rest of the race. Once the short climb is completed there is a great section which is fairly flat & runnable, although this is probably helped by only having completed about 7 or 8 miles at this point. I reached the 1st checkpoint (CP) in a very similar time to last year but feeling quite strong. On previous ultras I feel I have spent too much time in CPs, so I had decided pre-race to go for less CP-faffing. So straight in & out, although I made sure I had full water bottles, as the next CP is nearly 10 miles away & it's quite a tough leg. I bumped into a great friend of mine from Swansea, who I met on Snowdonia Marathon a few years ago - we keep meeting on events like this, although this was her first Lakeland 50.

The next section is the climb up Fusedale, a never-ending ascent which takes runners to the highest point of the race. It’s one of those routes that just goes on & on & on…This was where the pre-race questions about kit requirements were answered. About halfway up there is a ruin of a building & before reaching it not only were we having torrential rain, but the weather gods also sent fierce winds & hailstones. I sheltered in the building for a couple of minutes to put on an extra base layer & waterproof trousers. In fact, to show how the weather compared to previous races, these trousers have never been worn previously & have just sat in the bottom of my pack!

After finally reaching the top of Fusedale the route goes across High Kop & Low Kop before dropping to Haweswater. Then the runners take the lengthy technical track along the side of Haweswater, which was proving quite slippy with the weather of the last few hours. At least by now the hailstones had stopped, but there was still plenty of rain. A couple of miles before the CP there were some huge crashes of thunder & lightning was clearly visible looking towards Mardale Head where the CP was based. I was quite relieved to have run without poles, as I wouldn’t imagine they mix well with lightning, but at least I was at a lower point of the race at this point.

Another quick stop at the next CP, although I was happy to remove my waterproof pants & allow my legs to breathe (not my best decision!). Then I started the huge climb up Gatescarth, which is an uphill mile on a winding path with about 1,500 feet of climb. I was really happy with my performance at this time & knew I was about 20 minutes quicker than last year at this point. My legs were feeling good, even though I was just under halfway. The route then drops a similar descent but is still tricky as the terrain is quite technical, so I didn’t want to push down the hill too quickly. I was surprised about halfway down to bump into a friend of mine supporting - on long routes a familiar face is extremely welcome.

Eventually I reached the checkpoint at Kentmere (27 miles) where I refulled with pasta, so this was a slightly longer rest. The route then continues to Ambleside, although it tends to use the hilliest route possible. This is one of the highlights of the race as there are so many people around giving runners encouragement. Unfortunately, running down the final hill into Ambleside I felt a twinge in my knee which by the time I left the CP was quite painful. I realised at this point that there was no way I was going to be able to continue running, but this is where ultra runners have a totally different mindset. I focused on the T-shirt & medal. There was no way I was becoming a DNF statistic, so I decided even though it would be slow, I would walk the rest of the race. It was only 16 miles!

By the time I reached the next CP at Chapel Stile I was feeling rather wiped out, but I had taken strong painkillers & kept on moving. The rain was torrential again & it was extremely windy, but every step was a step nearer Coniston. As I worked my way past Blea Tarn I encountered a 100 runner coming towards me - he had fallen asleep & was lost. I navigated him through the next section, as it is quite tricky and technical, plus it was dark at this point. I didn’t want him to miss the unmanned CP, as that result in disqualification, but after getting him there I left him & continued with my race.

I reached the final CP at Tilberthwaite feeling shattered but knowing I could finish. At this point there are only just over 3.5 miles to go, but this includes a technical climb so I was still expecting it to take a couple of hours. By this point my knee pain was agonising but the end was in sight. In a bizarre way I really enjoyed this section as I navigated over the Coniston fells in pitch darkness & at no point did I feel lost! After negotiating the fells I walked down to the road past the Coppermines & hobbled home to finish in 16 hours 55 minutes, a full 44 minutes quicker than last year. Ideally I'd wanted a sub-16 hour finish, but considering the problems with my knee I was absolutely delighted with sub-17. I will be certainly returning in 2019 as long as I can negotiate the tricky entry process - the race usually fills in about 5 minutes.

Given the conditions I would definitely put this down as the toughest race I’ve done & with the unbelievable scenery it still ranks in my mind as the best ultra around. It isn’t just the awesome views but the whole organisation of the event, from checkpoints to the whole weekend, is 2nd to none.

If anybody wants to join me next year, entry opens at 9.00am on Saturday 1st September (and inevitably closes very soon afterwards). [Simon Howard]


The Run the Moors Grand Prix mixes up the races chosen each year, just like our own club championship & they are spoilt for choice given that 'fell' describes high ground covering the Pennines, Peak District, Lake District & Yorkshire Dales, with dozens of races throughout the season. The Ingleborough 11K was not included last year & this race was a first for Jason, Neil, Barry & I. Also, I think, for Rob who had brought family in tow - literally, as they had rocked up in the family caravan.

The race starts in the middle of the sports field, as a featured event on the day of Ingleton’s Village Gala. Neil was strong-armed into paying an admission as well as his race fee, whilst the rest of us unwittingly bunked in. The race goes up through the main street of the village & after 400 meters turns right off the road onto the public footpath, up to the summit of Ingleborough - the 2nd-highest mountain in the Dales at 723m (2,372ft) & one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The top of the mountain is unusual as it resembles a cone with its top sliced off. "Best mountain to be rescued from, as the helicopter can land on it!" joked Barry.

You climb from the get-go & even the race leaders have to walk for the greater part of the ascent. The route resembles less a path but rather a steeply-inclined dry river bed with irregular, sharp, & overhanging energy-sapping rocks to negotiate. About 40 minutes into the race we middling runners had to give way to a landslide of the fastest runners coming back down at speed, following different trajectories both on & either side of the path. I got a bit fed up of having to constantly break what rhythm I had to give way to these runners not making eye-contact or acknowledging me. I saw Rob & Barry go past me, but missed Neil. I crossed paths with Jason nearer the summit on a ledge above me, looking down to where he was going to put his feet next.

Providing you had some life left in your legs & were able to summon up a degree of recklessness, the descent was a blast, with the proviso that it did seem to be a further distance coming back than the outward section. I think that by hurtling down the steep bits you felt you had covered more ground on the horizontal than you actually had. At the finish you go straight down a steep embankment back into the field & the continuing gala. 

Our finishing times: Rob James (4th place, 51:02); Barry Greaves (1st V60, 66:27); Neil Brock (74:12), Jason Keast (77:34) & Gary Smith (85:19) 

Rob said that if he hadn’t hesitated at the top of the embankment he could have improved his placing, but his own kids will probably remember the day more for him finishing last in the three-legged race he took part in afterwards!  [Gary Smith]  

"Where’s my medal?" exclaimed Bernadette as she swerved my embrace at the end of this half marathon & headed for the motley huddle of tents & the pile of medals being handed out by a girl that had missed the pre-race briefing to smile & congratulate the runners. The tables in the tent weren’t exactly groaning under the weight of much else to give out to the finishers - just some Freddo chocolate bars that probably were bought cheap (short-dated?). It was one of those events I’m afraid where most of the expense had been spared by the organisers.

After missing the online entry deadline ("You had one thing to do!"), I had then failed to get to the cashpoint, so we parked up on the other side of Fairhaven Lake & walked the long way round, not knowing if they would take plastic or not. The guy in the trailer was able to do this using his phone, but he couldn’t offer any change to two others who wanted to pay cash, with the unhelpful advice for them to find a cashpoint - the nearest of which was 2 miles away in the town centre. So dear RRR readers, advice is not to leave paying for a race until the last minute, which I know a lot of you don’t.

Nobody else from the club had said they were going to this event, so just when Bernadette & I had started our umpteenth conversation about how hot it was going to be, we were surprised to see Neil Brock sprinting past us doing his 'warm up' (for a half marathon on one of the hottest days of the year!). He was shouted to stop & come back for the obligatory photo of the 3 of us.

The route involves a lap of the park, out to the end of the road, then back along same & onto the promenade to & beyond the windmill, before turning around & doing the circuit again. It is certainly the flattest course I have raced on. You could have put a marble down on any part of it & it wouldn’t have rolled anywhere. I got ahead of the 2-hour pacer but shouldn’t have reassured the Rochdale Tri guy with me - whose fastest time to date at this distance was 1:58 - that he was going to 'smash it', as the pacer soon accelerated & went past us both. Neil later said that the 1:30 pacer had also had to speed up, leaving behind the runners that had been with him. They had been using the course distance signs for reference & some had evidently been put up in the wrong place.

Going around the 2nd time, you had to dodge the day-trippers who’d finally managed to find a space to park their cars & were now wandering along the promenade, not having a clue that there was a half-marathon in progress.

Our finishing times: Neil Brock 1:31:55, Bernadette Ball 2:30:22, Gary Smith 2:03:50.

Although Neil had been warned that on-the-day entrants wouldn’t get a medal, Bernadette did get hers. Hell have no fury like a woman deprived of her race bling!

OK, I have been a bit mealy-mouthed with this report, but I think that for £20 (£25 on the day) the organisers could have spent a bit more on the runners.  [Gary Smith]


Well some things don’t change - there’s Race Director Bryan's Oakleys pushed up on top of his head, Race Director hi-viz on & megaphone in hand, whilst the other Brian was safely ensconced in his usual place in the tap room. But something was different, as the start was moved back up the slope from the motorway bridge to outside the pub itself. David Emanuel explained to me that this put the race start in the same place as the race HQ to simplify administration & communication, plus "you avoid the mad dash round the 1st corner". "A 'mad dash' for the 1st corner," I mused: There are 2 running planets & I’m from the one that doesn’t do a 'mad dash' to the 1st corner.

There were 70 RRRs in the regulation green & yellow, which was down on previous years, but as this number is more than most running clubs’ full membership we still had other runners looking on in awe as the clan was brought together for the club photo call. That photo shows that the club membership is indeed a moving feast as we had several making The Royton Trail their 1st-ever RRR championship race: Warren Siddall (47:31), Mark Phelan (47:45), Matthew Fitton (48:41) & Nikki Forster (1:05:37). For some other RRRs - Ray Williams (48:54), George Meynall (53:41), Peter Boulton (57:34) & Joanne Webb (1:01:46) - it was a 1st club race of the year, while Phil Austin (53:04) was completing his 10th club race. They all joined over 240 runners keen to tackle the country lanes & woodland paths in the under-threat green belt of land between Oldham & Rochdale. The recent very hot & dry weather had completely rid the course of any puddles & mud, but had turned slightly cooler this evening, making for more ideal running conditions.

Once again Rob James blazed a trail home to cross the finish line 1st in 31:34, almost a minute clear of Michael Mannings of Oldham & Royton Harriers. Rob thus regained the title he won in 2016. A hard-fought women’s race was won by Kay Welsby of Rochdale Harriers. The men’s team prize - awarded to the club with the 3 best-placed runners - saw Royton’s Rob James, Jarrod Gritt (33:39) & Michael Wildbore (35:48) narrowly beat the top Salford Harriers trio, reversing last year’s result & giving us victory for the 1st time since 2015. Rochdale Harriers claimed the women’s team award for the first time, breaking a long-running streak by RRR.

Last year Ray Williams sprinted past me at the finish & this year we were once again seemingly joined at the hip running down the final straight back to the pub. Thinking that I had edged it over Ray, Tony Kane (48:48) sprinted past me on the other side – if you’re old enough to remember Wacky Races, it was just like that! Next year I may risk a glance over both the left & right shoulder for that final 100m 'mad dash'!

If you stayed for the presentation you’d have seen the Salford trio surround Bryan like Colombian footballers, questioning how they lost the male team prize, you’d have wondered what Prestwich AC runners had been smokin’ when their runners came up for their prizes & you’d have seen RRR ex-President David Phillips (50:58) collect a well-earned 1st MV70 prize. 

Whilst there are quite a few running couples in the club, we run our separate ways when the race starts, with the faster partner only running alongside the slower if either injured or just not feeling it that day. It was great therefore to see Angela (1:12:48) & Stephen Rogowskyj (1:12:49) run into the finish funnel together, just as they had done at the Rochdale 10K the week before. Fab! Well done to both of you!

No matter where competitors finished in the race, there were enough tasty sandwiches laid on for everyone to enjoy with their post-race refreshment in the Tandle Hill Tavern afterwards.

Finally, let’s put on record a big thank you for those that responded to Mary Freer’s plea for volunteers, covering roles such as course marking, lead bike, tail bike, tail runner, marshal coordinator, marshal, registration team, finish official, water station, post-race catering, etc, etc (takes some organising doesn’t it?) & who were willing to watch Love Island on catch-up later on.

Amongst many positive comments, this from runner Mick Harwood was typical: "I found it tough going, but in a very good way, it felt like a real community thing. Everyone was buzzing and very smiley. I’m glad that I made the effort!".

All the RRR finishers: Stephen Rogowskyj (1:12:49), Angela Rogowskyj (1:12:48), Hulya Whittaker (1:05:57), Nikki Forster (1:05:37), Joanne Webb (1:01:46), Karen Stuttard (1:01:42), Judith Bradley (1:01:37), Neil Bradley (1:01:31), Bernadette Ball (1:01:04), Sally Crewe (59:44), Claire Timms (59:41), Mike Keating (59:26), Amanda Richardson (59:16), Dave Bardsley (58:19), Stephen Jones (57:49), Peter Boulton (57:34), Martina Naismith (57:02), Elaine Whitehead (56:18), Jillian Heywood (54:29), George Meynell (53:41), Phil Austin (53:04), Teresa Hollins (51:14), David Phillips (50:58), Gary Marshall (50:37), Paul Cooke (50:11), Leonie Glynn (49:48), Helen Radcliffe (49:46), Ray Williams (48:54), Gary Smith (48:51), Anthony Kane (48:48), Matthew Fitton (48:41), Vikki Smith (48:27), John Fay (47:50), Mark Phelan (47:45), Andrew Chadwick (47:40), Warren Siddall (47:31), Nicholas Mallon (47:15), Adam Farrell (46:57), Stewart Jones (46:36), Ronnie Quinn (46:21), Val Kilburn (46:19), David Freer (45:33), Bernard Cassidy (45:11), Stephen Goddard (44:31), Mark Heaney (44:17), Jason Keast (43:47), Alex Critcher (43:38), Garry Bower (43:23), Robert Nixon (42:55), Paul Ashton (42:07), Robert Kellett (42:03), Matt Kilburn (41:21), David Crewe (40:50), Ian Dale (40:34), Eamonn Nolan (40:33), David Emanuel (40:23), Darren Ogden (40:20), Elliot Stone (40:03), Bernie Goodwin (39:36), Dave Peart (39:09), Carl O'Callaghan (38:44), Neil Brock (38:28), Martin Thompson (37:36), Richard Cummins (37:32), Michael Fleming (36:57), Shane Reading (36:17), Rob Battye (36:03), Michael Wildbore (35:48), Jarrod Gritt (33:39) & Rob James (31:34).


So, here’s looking forward to the next year’s The Royton Trail. Let’s hope the scenery doesn’t change, I’d rather dodge potholes & run between hedges & fields than on new tarmac through a housing estate!  [Gary Smith]

ROCHDALE 10K - 3rd JULY 2018

“Have you started that report yet?”

“No.” (rolls eyes).

“Well you’d better get a wriggle on then!”

"OK." (rolls eyes again).

It was game, set & match last Tuesday at Springfield Park (“I wouldn’t bother with any Wimbledon analogies.” - Dave E.). Rochdale 10k was the 9th race in the 2018 club championship season & some more crafty runners will be making tactical choices about their races from now on, as any lower point scores than your best 9 are henceforth discarded.

Even before the start of the race, Jill ‘Tommy Smith’ Hickson was putting the boot in, raking her studs down the back of my leg whilst saying, “That’s what you get for not mentioning my PB in the last report, I’ll ‘ave you.” OK - at Colshaw Hall Jill ran 52:11 yo take 33 seconds off her PB. Well done! Better still put the shin-pads on though...

Race numbers were down this year, 142 compared to 280 last year, as many wanted to watch England send Sweden flat-packing. Comparing the times of some of our galacticos to last year the heat had a slowing effect on individual times, with only Neil  ‘he has pace, power & technique’ Brock (42:00) and Matt ‘he always gives 110%’ Kershaw (44:30) coming in at a faster time, although Carl ‘he’s got two good feet’ O’Callaghan came close (41:52). This is discounting, of course, the fact that Golden Boot contender Rob ‘he’s a top, top player’ Nixon (45:54), went faster & in his 25th club race to boot. This race also gave Carl his 50th cap for the club. Shane ‘on his day he’s unplayable’ Reading (38:42) came away with 1st MV40 prize as the 1st MV40 was 3rd overall. Andy ‘always puts a shift in’ Chadwick (50:35) could have got the kerb yellow-carded for a nasty (non-fishing) tackle, but he kept his feet & seems to have made a full recovery from saying that he’s not fully fit.

The women’s team came through a hard, bruising encounter with Diane ‘over the moon’ Allingan (54:26) getting the player’s player award for 1st FV55, whilst June (1:13:39) must have been as sick as a parrot not to get a prize for finishing 1st FV70.

We are now 9 races into the club season with 8 remaining, so it’s a season of two halves with the clock ticking down & everything to run for. We’re got a home game next with The Royton Trail on Thursday 12th. It could all go to a head-to-head record penalty shoot-out. ("OK, that’s enough football clichés." - Dave E). Final mention to the stalwart that always puts his club 1st, Dave ‘gifted playmaker’ Emanuel (42:21) ("OK just that one.") - it’s all a matter of owning the process Dave.

All 42 RRR finishers: Stephen Rogowskyj (1:20:25), Angela Rogowskyj (1:20:24), June Allingan (1:13:39), Bernadette Ball (1:06:46), Sally Crewe (1:05:57), Sarah Butler (1:03:57), Martina Naismith (1:03:57), Amanda Richardson (1:03:25), Emma Bower (1:03:03), Stephen Jones (1:02:20), Elaine Whitehead (1:01:10), Claire Timms (1:01:08), Chris Nicholson (1:00:46), Jill Hickson (57:40), Kevin Heenan (55:06), Teresa Hollins (54:44), Diane Allingan (54:26), Leonie Glynn (53:16), Gary Smith (52:37), John Fay (51:10), Ronnie Quinn (50:40), Val Kilburn (50:39), Andrew Chadwick (50:35), Mark Heaney (49:53), Nicholas Mallon (49:45), Steve Goddard (48:55), Garry Bower (47:11), Bernard Cassidy (46:26), Robert Nixon (45:54), David Crewe (45:17), Matt Kershaw (44:30), Robert Kellett (43:53), Darren Ogden (43:17), Elliot Stone (42:56), David Emanuel (42:21), Neil Brock (42:00), Carl O'Callaghan (41:52), Dave Peart (41:41), Michael Fleming (40:44), Michael Wildbore (39:12), Shane Reading (38:42) & Rob James (37:44).

"Have you finished it yet?"

"Yes. Have you brushed your hair, it’s looking a bit Messi?’

"Gareth Southgate wouldn’t say that, he’s a gentleman."

(rolls eyes)

[Gary ‘he divides the fans’ Smith]
ENDURE 24 LEEDS - 30th JUNE/1st JULY 2018

The last weekend in June  - by the end the first Sunday in July - saw the 1st attempt by an RRR team to complete the Endure 24 race at Bramham Park, between Leeds & York. The race was a 5-mile loop of the park which needed completing as many times as possible in the 24 hours between midday Saturday & midday Sunday. We were extremely lucky as a club to have won a free team entry, but the event was so well-received that most of the team want to return in 2019. Also included in the cost (or free entry in our case) were 2 nights camping on the site, so half of the team went up on Friday & set up camp. The weather was absolutely fantastic with brilliant sunshine, although the temperatures during the event made it quite challenging at times.

The team set up camp on the Friday evening & in true RRR fashion, a brilliant time was had by all. Various different containers were used as wine glasses! However, as said in all reports after coach trips, what happens on the bus stays on the bus; so unless you were there, what happens on the field stays on the field...but we did have to hydrate as we were about to embark on a tough 24-hour challenge.

Saturday morning saw a team meeting where plans were put in place. We had a Plan A & Plan B to start with, as we were unsure whether Rob Nixon & Andy Chadwick were going to make it on time, so we set up a running order for a 6-person team & an 8-person team. This gave us an idea of roughly when our first laps would be, to allow the correct nutrition & hydration plans. Rob & Andy arrived about an hour before the start, which was a relief to myself as team captain as I was going out 1st on the 6 person plan but 5th on the 8 person plan, so at least I knew when I was going to run. Also, we were all quite relieved to be running with a full team, as laps in the extreme heat were going to be tough.

Mark Rigby had the honour of starting off the team. As we waited we were amazed at the pace, with the 1st few teams lapping in under 30 minutes, but Mark did a fantastic job to complete his 1st lap in 37 minutes. Janet Jobey set off on the next lap & completed it in 40 minutes, before our later arrivals Rob & Andy completed their laps in 38 & 46 minutes respectively. I then completed my lap in 45 minutes, the conditions great for hayfever sufferers with grass & tree pollen combined with chalky paths. Michael Pickering then completed his first lap in 38 minutes, with Alex Critcher running round in 40 minutes before Stewart Jones brought the team round with everyone having run a lap with a time of 41 minutes. Our plan was to try to keep the order the same, to have a rough idea of when we were running. There were a couple of mad laps as the sun started to set, as due to the race rules you had to wear a headtorch after 8pm but due to the low height of the sun you also needed sunglasses!

The lap was an interesting route & would make a fabulous 5 mile race, but it becomes a different challenge when knowing you are repeating this loop time & time again. The park appeared flat from the campsite but there were a few killer hills & each lap had an ascent of about 300 feet. The event is billed as 'Glastonbury for Runners' & there was a brilliant atmosphere as you completed each lap by running through an arch before a lung-busting climb up to pass on the 'baton' (which was actually a wristband).

All our plans seemed to be going perfectly until shortly after midnight, when we were standing near the start/finish area & could hear Janet shouting for the next runner. At first we were rather concerned as we thought the shouting was a recurrence of her ankle injury, but luckily nothing like that. As a result I then set off on an interesting lap, as I was running about 2-3 hours earlier than expected so set off on a lap in the dark without nutrition or hydration. Fortunately, there is a feed station about halfway round so I managed to hydrate there. The team were brilliant while I ran this unexpected lap, as they juggled the order round. Running this lap I had various plans in my head & didn’t even know if I was going back round again. I was fairly relieved to see Rob there so we could reorganise the running order. The night runs were the highlight of the event for most of us, with the experience of running through the woods in the dark. Some may say we were delirious by this point & we’re all a bit strange! All sorts of messages were left on the table at the campsite, about order of runners & who you had to wake up next. Luckily the garden cane I had brought for the club flag was never needed as a prod to wake anybody up! There was a grumpy moment when I tried juggling the order round about 6am in the morning but it was only due to lack of sleep!

As daylight broke, one or two runners were starting to struggle with injuries, heat & fatigue, so we hatched a plan to utilise the whole of the 24 hours. The way it all panned out, myself, Janet, Stewart & Mark ran an unofficial 6th lap with Alex so we could complete the last lap as a team. This showed how mad we had become running for 24 hours. The rules were that you could run the last 200 metres as a team if you took your chip off but we decided we’d do the whole lap. What’s 5 miles between friends? The last lap was a marvellous experience, even though we adopted more of a walk/run strategy as hills seemed like mountains & we could praise the unbelievable solo runners.

The whole event was a marvellous experience, making a few new RRR members of the 'ultra club'. The organisation was fantastic, with marshals there all night, with showers & food available throughout - as a team we couldn’t recommend the event more.

Talking of the team...this was a fantastic debut at endurance team running as we came home in 9th place in the 'mixed large team' category, out of 83 teams. Including our unofficial last laps, we ran as a team an amazing 190 miles during the 24 hours.

We are planning taking a team again next year due to the positive experience we had, but I’m sure with the number of runners we have, we could take more teams & make it a regular event on the RRR calendar.  [Simon Howard]


Kinder: sub-classification of a geological term.

Trog: a blending of the words trudge & slog (sic).

Neither Jason or myself had done this long fell race before & perhaps it was a good thing that we were a couple of innocents, as this was hard. You will become fatigued & you could easily take a wrong turn. It was a hot, but more importantly it was a cloudless day, so seeing where you had to go & using navigation skills took a back seat to just toughing it out. Last year the weather was ‘claggy’ & I would not have liked to have been constantly checking the way forward.

The race starts from the scout hut in the picturesque & seemingly un-wrecked village of Hayfield in the High Peak of Derbyshire, hidden alongside the bypass road. After climbing out of the village, the circular route takes in the different highpoint landmarks.

There are several problems that can affect you running such a long distance on the moors. First, you become footsore - your toes & balls of your feet (that’s ‘balls of your feet’, Bernadette) become very tender, the flagged paths become uncomfortable to run on & you end up doing little baby steps on the later downhill stages when you can no longer go full pelt. Secondly, you start to fight the onset of cramp; more than once I was stood stock still on a steep slope waiting for the cramp to subside. Also, it helps if the guy in front of you knows the route when you don’t; he didn’t & we went all the way down to the bottom of a hillside field before turning to see the runners that were behind us going across the top of the same field. I had to go diagonally back up through 2-foot-high grass. Mercifully that field was adjacent to the village & the finish was close by.

So glad to just get back & it was more like 15 miles than the 16 advertised. Jason had experienced similar cramping problems half-way round, but after getting slowly back to the truck we eased up. Those gambling ads say that when the fun stops, STOP! Fell running is great fun but sometimes…nah, it’s still great fun, you just have to keep going when your body is starting to hurt.  [Gary Smith]

COLSHAW HALL 10K - 17th JUNE 2018

Well I arrived at the finish with it looking like a field hospital. Janet Jobey (46:42) was sat down, leg outstretched having damaged her foot & you could see she was running in pain from her photo at the line. Shame, as the last time I saw her she was bouncing home from Thursday’s training, but she still managed to post a great time. Meanwhile Gail Shaw (54:31) bravely carried on after tripping & falling heavily on the cobbles on the approach to the finish. Gail is a regular at Thursday’s club training & has quietly been running very consistently & improving her times. She was comforted by her running buddy Martina Naismith (1:00:49), back in an RRR vest herself after coming back from injury. Both Gail & Jill Hickson (52:11) have me in their sights I think, after seeing them both come in close behind me - Jill no doubt running with renewed energy after her RRR Cup win 24 hours earlier.

Jillian Heywood (57:47), Elaine Whitehead (57:52) & Emma Bower (59:41) all went under one hour. Amanda Richardson (1:00:01) & Sarah Butler (1:00:08) came agonisingly close to beating that same bloomin’ hour, while Sally Crewe (1:03:13) - not wanting to be a running widow to Dave this year - will surely go under an hour for 10K soon enough. My post-race analysis with Bernadette (1:01:40) about her going outside the hour ended abruptly when she cheerfully informed me that she had stopped to take a pic of Jodrell Bank. "When the Premiership guys stop to take a selfie then you can!"

Further up the field, Val Kilburn (49:35) & Vikki Smith (49:42) in the vanguard of our lady’s contingent moved ahead of me in smart formation.

Judith Bradley is in her 2nd season with the club & is, as she told me, running for the fun of it - which of course is what we should all be doing. One person who does precisely that is our President & doyenne of the club June, who came barrelling across the line in 1:15:11 with a big wide smile. June’s cheerfulness needs no recovery period & she triumphed as our one age category winner. Well done to all our brilliant lady runners!

Elsewhere it was a matter of taking care of business as club runners strived to go faster than they did last week at Tatton. This being the Cheshire Plains, although not completely flat, the inclines on the route shouldn’t have troubled too many. Ronnie Quinn (47:48) & Steve Goddard (47:51) buddied up to use my gravitational pull to accelerate past me in the same way those space probes do (yeah, right). I overheard Ronnie ask Steve if he was OK, but Ronnie’s shepherding of a fellow RRR round a course doesn’t extend to the finish in a club race & he edged Steve out by just 3 seconds.

Congratulations to Rob James, who came 2nd in a race that had over 1,000 runners. Rob seems to prepare for his road races by competing & winning fell races, as he had done the Holcombe 2 Towers (4 miles & over 1300 feet of climb!) only the Wednesday before. Rob Nixon ran a now inevitable course PB. It will be a crumb of comfort to the others in Rob’s group that he must surely plateau out eventually – mustn’t he, shouldn’t he? 

Noteworthy milestones included Chris Nicholson (55:56) running his 25th club race, with Neil & Judith Bradley (1:04:48 & 1:06:06 respectively) both completing their 10th. Another milestone of sorts – that’s milestone not millstone - saw Phil Austin (1:00:48) competing in a club vest for the first time this year.

All RRR finishers: June Allingan (1:15:11), Judith Bradley (1:06:06), Neil Bradley (1:04:48), Sally Crewe (1:03:13), Dave Bardsley (1:02:11), Bernadette Ball (1:01:40), Martina Naismith (1:00:49), Phil Austin (1:00:48), Sarah Butler (1:00:08), Amanda Richardson (1:00:01), Emma Bower (59:41), Elaine Whitehead (57:52), Jillian Heywood (57:47), Chris Nicholson (55:56), Gail Shaw (54:31), Jillian Hickson (52:11), Tom Giles (52:08), Gary Smith (51:04), John Fay (50:51), Ian Giles (50:17), Vikki Smith (49:42), Val Kilburn (49:35), Steve Goddard (47:51), Ronnie Quinn (47:48), Nick Mallon (46:50), Janet Jobey (46:42), Matt Kershaw (46:25), Garry Bower (46:15), Alex Critcher (45:21), Andy Schofield (45:07), Robert Nixon (44:24), David Crewe (44:24), Ian Dale (42:48), Matthew Kilburn (42:32), Carl O'Callaghan (41:51), David Emanuel (41:19), Elliot Stone (41:09), David Ellis (40:54), Bernie Goodwin (40:46), Dave Peart (38:54), Shane Reading (38:01), Jarrod Gritt (36:17) & Rob James (34:00).

So another great showing by the club in 2 races on the spin, which prompted the race organiser to praise our "enormous turnout" over the PA. And it’s not over yet, no sir. Next up is the Rochdale 10k on July 3rd & this one is on our doorstep!  [Gary Smith]

TATTON 10K - 10th JUNE 2018

"It’ll be no’but a cock’s stride". Bernadette sometimes comes out with her Yorkshire mum’s idioms. Well OK, it’s 10K & not 10 miles, on what is an only-slightly-extended undulating parkrun-like track through the lush grounds of Tatton Park, but we all had the air conditioning on - or windows down if you were in a less fancy motor - on the way in. Whatever your heat tolerance the morning was going to be warm.

The race was in the club calendar for the for the 2nd consecutive year & the 7th race in this year's championship, so all the club training nights, parkruns, RRR cup matches, gym work & Strava miles should now be paying dividends. The course runs along the ground’s main access road, with several diversionary loops off it. I felt I was in a massive human game of ‘snake’, with the tail following the head along its body as runners ran the same path in opposite directions. So it was easy to see how far my fellow RRRs were ahead of me.

A highlight of the day came after the race, as Bernard Goodwin was congratulated on his 200th appearance in a club vest & received a bottle of champagne from President Bryan Lawton to mark this marvellous personal milestone. If you look at the Roll of Honour you'll see that Bernard has joined a very exclusive club - which at the moment only has him in it! A big collective well done from all of us.

Bernard posted a great time of 40:53 but all RRRs performed well, with Jarrod Gritt (37:01), Rob Battye (37:27) & Shane Reading (37:43) in the top 10 finishers & Michael Fleming (39:11) just outside. The gun times for these guys were almost identical to their chip times, which shows just how determined they are to go out as fast as possible. Dave Ellis has always been quick but after a longish lay-off posted a fine comeback time (40:43) in his 1st club race of the season. Janet Jobey (1st FV45, 44:42) came home just in front of Rob Nixon (1st MV60, 44:45) with both winning their respective age categories. Val Kilburn took the honours in her category (1st FV50, 48:42) & Bernadette was chuffed after finding out that she had also won her age category (1st FV60, 1:01:21). New boys to the club this year are also coming to the fore, with Alex Critcher (45:12), Stephen Goddard (47:40) & Mike Keating (1:00:01) all ‘finding their feet’, as well as new girl Lynda Brookes (57:36) who ran her inaugural club race. We can all commiserate with Dave Watt who toughed it out to finish despite suffering a tear/pull in the groin/calf/knee/foot (please circle Dave) region.

With a decent medal, water & ice tea drinks (which Mike Keating & I agreed was ‘orrible, but Bernadette liked), a health chew bar that you could pretend was like chocolate & a flapjack, 8 out of 10 RRRs who expressed a preference said the race was an enjoyable one. Plus we run more than enough times in the cold and wet, don’t we?

All the RRR finishing times: Jarrod Gritt (37:01), Rob Battye (37:27), Shane Reading (37:43), Michael Fleming (39:11), Dave Peart (39:48), Neil Brock (40:11), David Ellis (40:43), Bernie Goodwin (40:53), David Emanuel (40:57), Elliot Stone (41:21), Matthew Kilburn (42:50), Matt Kershaw (43:56), David Crewe (44:16), Janet Jobey (44:42), Robert Nixon (44:45), Alex Critcher (45:12), Bryan Lawton (45:20), Jason Keast (45:57), Garry Bower (46:37), Ronnie Quinn (47:15), Nicholas Mallon (47:18), Stephen Goddard (47:40), Val Kilburn (48:42), Adam Farrell (49:10), Paul Cooke (49:26), John Fay (50:45), Gary Smith (51:16), Gary Marshall (51:54), Gail Shaw (55:00), Lynda Brookes (57:36), Elaine Whitehead (59:37), Mike Keating (1:00:43), Bernadette Ball (1:01:21), Sarah Butler (1:01:45), Emma Bower (1:03:23), Dave Watt (1:03:35) & Sally Crewe (1:04:29).

Only a week to wait for another club championship 10K, this one at Colshaw Hall. It could be another warm one!  [Gary Smith]

Despite having taken part in Bernadette's race just 24 hours earlier, 10 RRRs were sufficiently intrigued by the novelty of running in a handicap race to join a field of 61 racing around Hollingworth Lake one last time. It would have been 11 if Rochelle Evans had not injured her foot at the end of the previous evening's race - she was really disappointed to be missing out. This is the first event of this type that Cannonball Events have tried - where the slowest runner (based on average finishing time over the series) sets off first, followed by the rest of the field at intervals based on their own average performances. Despite a few teething problems, with some runners not exactly sure when they should be starting, it all seemed to work pretty well on what was a muggy, midge-full evening. 

Big winners amongst the RRR contingent were Dave Watt & Amanda Richardson. Dave finished just outside the prizes, 4th across the finish line in 24:07 - 51 seconds quicker than his previous best time in the series & a full 79 seconds better than his time at Cowm the evening before. Amanda had been far from positive before the race, dreading the prospect of all the fast runners charging past her ("At least in a normal race they all disappear off at the start & I don't see them again!"). In reality she wasn't overtaken by many as she finished in a fine 27:41, smashing her 5K PB & going sub-28 minutes for the 1st time. 

None of the rest of us managed to improve on our series bests, although Jason Keast (22:44) & Jillian Heywood (29:40) both ran quicker than at Cowm, Jill having overcome the cramp that hampered her in Tuesday's race. Judging the pace was quite difficult, especially if you set off with no-one directly ahead of you to chase - Stephen Jones had decided to 'go for broke' & set off really quickly before fading to finish in 29:04. Our other finishers were Rob Nixon (22:10), Garry Bower (21:51), me (20:10), Darren Ogden (19:43) & Shane Reading (18:29).

Overall winner on the night was former RRR Paul Wolstenhulme, to nobody's great surprise given that he'd run 30 minutes in the 1st race in the series. However he was so clearly delighted with his victory ("I've never won anything before!") that nobody could begrudge him his moment of triumph.  [David Emanuel]


When I was asked to write this report, I thought I would be able to tell you all that Bernadette has won her battle against cancer & that this race was a celebration of that victory. Unfortunately at 1pm on the day of the race, we sat in the Victoria Breast Care Unit at Oldham Hospital - in the same room we sat in on the 4th July last year when we were told she had triple negative inflammatory breast cancer - to be told that after all the chemo, radiotherapy & the mastectomy that the cancer has returned. Devastated doesn’t do justice to how we were both feeling. B has won the battle once & now it’s Round 2. With all the support of her family & friends, plus the RRR family, she will face this one & beat it again to end the war.

There was a full body CT scan booked for B at the X-Ray unit at Oldham Hospital for 6:20 & we thought that was it, there was no way we were going to make the race that was being run in B’s name & raising funds for the Victoria Unit. But B so wanted to be there & as soon as she was called from the waiting room (early at about 6:10, nice refreshing change to get called in early for an appointment) she asked how long it would take & explained about the race. They told her 10 minutes & she shouted to Tansy & I, who were in the waiting room as she walked back past, that she’d be just 10 minutes & she was. I must thank Tansy at this point for her love & support, she has become a valued friend to the pair of us over the last 11 months & brings a calmness to both of us when we are stressed. She seems to have a 6th sense & calls just when we are in need without us even speaking to her.

As we left the hospital I double-checked B wanted to go to the race & also if she minded if I ran it. She wanted both, so a desperate phone call to Jill Heywood to ask Andy O’Sullivan to postpone the start for 15 minutes was followed by a mad dash home to get changed (I don’t think Superman could have changed as quickly as I did). Then it was straight back out the door, pulling up outside the Cock & Magpie at 7:05pm just in time for me to grab my number from Jill & use the climb up the hill to the start as a warm-up, giving B 10 minutes to walk up to set us all off on our way. As I walked in to the crowd at the start I have to admit all your kind wishes gave me a huge lump in my throat & I got reaffirmation that I belong to the best running club around. You truly are my 2nd family & you have all helped me to stay strong & positive for B, I don’t think I could cope without you all.

Before I get to the race results I just want to mention how the monies you’ve helped to raise - in excess of £750 - will be spent. When B & I 1st went to the unit for her 1st dose of chemo the nurses explained that the heat pad that they put on her arm to bring up her veins was paid for out of the nurse’s own pockets. They didn’t need to say anything further, I had already decided that they would never have to do that again & set about with B to raise as much money as we could for the unit. They also told us that they didn’t have towels so that the ladies who were using the cold caps could dry their hair afterwards, there was also no entertainment in the rooms & they said they wished they had digital radios. Since that 1st visit B & I, along with very many friends, have raised in excess of £4,000 - hopefully when tonight’s funds are added we will be pushing past the £5,000 mark. The monies have so far gone to pay for the heat pads, towels, a digital radio in each treatment room, a fridge for storing drugs & a unit like the cold cap, but this one is for gloves to try to protect the nerve endings in the ladies’ finger tips that some of the chemo drugs damage. All the extra monies raised will ensure that those amazing nurses never have to dip in their own pockets again to give the care these ladies deserve as they battle this awful disease.

A quick mention for a couple of groups who are not members, yet we live in hope that they do eventually join our ranks. 1st the Royton RunTogether Improvers Group, who I have the immense pleasure of leading each Monday. I started with them back in January & they are now becoming seasoned 5K runners - you had better watch out because when they graduate in August at 10K they are going to be quickly moving up through the groups within the club. Secondly the Oldham Up & Running Social Group, who used this race for their 1st away night. This is an excellent group & if you fancy a nice gentle 5K on a Tuesday evening at 7pm pop along to the shop on Huddersfield Road & join in, you can always loop if you want an bit extra.

So onto the results. Of the 165 runners, 63 were from RRR, making up just under 40% of the field & our biggest turn out of the year so far. Out front leading us all home were the usual suspects, Rob James winning the race in 16:44 with Jarrod Gritt taking 2nd in 17:04, very impressive running from both.

There were 7 RRRs in the top 10 & 14 in the top 20, a very strong showing. Our ladies were led home by Janet Jobey, who was 3rd female & 1st FV45 in 21:28 (thanks for trying to drag me around Janet).

We had some age category winners too, who need to be commended on their impressive performances: Shane Reading (1st MV40, 18:06), Elliot Stone (1st MV45, 19:25 - becoming a habit now Elliot), Alan Bodell (1st MV55, 19:36 - 1st club race of the year too), Rob Nixon (1st MV60, 22:07) & Ronnie Quinn (1st MV65, 23:07 - so good to see Ronnie back from injury, won’t be long before I’m back in his slipstream).

Other notable mentions need to go to Steve Goddard (23:16), Dave Bardsley (28:22), Bernie Allen (29:19) & Hulya Whittaker (33:59) who all made their RRR debuts. Welcome all of you to the family! Well done also to Gary Marshall (23:32) who reached the 10-race milestone & several other runners making their 1st club race appearance of the year - Liz Phillips-Rennie (29:22), James Wright (29:53), Karen Stuttard (29:58) & Emma Kennedy (40:26). We also need to mention Lee Higgingbottom who finally succumbed to his calf injury, bringing his amazing sequence of 43 consecutive club races to an end. Get fit soon Lee & get back on it. Some way off Shane still, but there’s the target for us mortals to aim at for 2nd place in the consecutive races list.

All the rest of the RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (34:28), Mary Freer (34:06), Judith Bradley (32:42), Stephen Rogowskyj (31:39), Emma Bower (29:58), Sharon Dracup (29:44), Jillian Heywood (29:40), Neil Bradley (29:35), Sarah Butler (29:29), Susan Heaney (29:11), Sally Crewe (28:38), Mike Keating (28:31), Elaine Whitehead (28:24), Stephen Jones (28:19), Amanda Richardson (28:00), Claire Timms (27:52), Rochelle Evans + Bump (26:56), Jill Hickson (26:36), Dave Watt (25:26), Tony Kane (24:47), Gary Smith (24:44), Simon Howard (23:55), Andrew Chadwick (23:31), John Fay (23:12), Chris Nicholson (22:58), Dave Freer (22:52), Jason Keast (22:46), Mark Heaney (22:39), Adam Farrell (22:33), Nicholas Mallon (21:51), Alex Critcher (21:35), Garry Bower (21:31), Bernard Cassidy (21:15), Bryan Lawton (20:57), Robert Kellett (20:49), David McBride (20:34), David Crewe (20:25), Ian Dale (20:01), David Emanuel (19:59), Dave Hall (19:55), Matt Kershaw (19:46), Darren Ogden (19:35), Bernie Goodwin (19:30), Martin Thompson (18:54), Michael Wildbore (18:20), Michael Fleming (18:09).


That just leaves me to say thank you all for supporting this race on behalf of Bernadette & myself on what was a very difficult day. Every one of you made us feel loved & supported. Royton Road Runners YOU ROCK!   [Garry Bower]

Back to Hollingworth Lake for the 4th & final race (apart from next week's free handicap run, for those who qualify) in what has been an enjoyable month-long event. 10 RRRs left it until this point for their 1st appearance, making a grand total of 74 for the series. Amongst those 10, Angela Rogowskyj (35:14), Stephen Rogowskyj (31:34) & Owen Flage (20:39) were each running their 1st Club Championship race of 2018. Angela & Stephen were both rewarded with their quickest 5Ks of the year. 

A stiff breeze - which somehow seemed to be against us most of the way around the lake - plus a more crowded footpath meant that most of the remaining RRRs weren't able to match their previous best performances in the series. Even Rob Nixon (who will now have to be known as Rob 'Mr Usually PB' Nixon) wasn't able to match 2 of his previous attempts, as he crossed the line in 21:58. In his defence, Rob was still recovering from a tough Liverpool Half Marathon just 3 days earlier (see Gary Smith's excellent report below). It's worth noting, incidentally, that the Rock'n'Roll website assesses Rob's performance at Liverpool as 'lead singer' ("You screamed past the course to a roaring fan finish. Way to rock!"), while Gary only rates as a 'guitarist' ("You totally smashed your solo performance. Take a bow!"). You'd never know that the Rock'n'Roll series originated in the United States...

Rob Battye was one of the few to beat his previous time on the Hollingworth Lake circuit, coming agonisingly close to breaking the 18-minute barrier as he was given an official time of exactly 18:00 for his 10th place finish. Of those who ran all 4 races, only 2 ran their best time here. Garry Bower (21:40) exactly matched his time from Race 3, while the amazing Rochelle Evans (26:04) keeps getting quicker as 'the bump' gets bigger - Rochelle has improved her time by 59 seconds across the series.

Rochelle was also part of the RRR team which again won the ladies prize, alongside Janet Jobey (1st FV45, 21:46) & Diane Allingan (26:00), while the men's team of Jarrod Gritt (17:07), Rob Battye & Michael Wildbore (18:15) also repeated their win in Race 3. Jarrod, 1st across the line for RRR, thus finished 3rd in the series competition with a superb average time of 17:04. Meanwhile we had just 2 few age-category winners this week in addition to Janet - Gail Shaw (1st V50 for the 3rd time, 26:23) & Ronnie Quinn (1st MV65, 22:21).

All the other RRR finishers: Sharon Dracup (31:36), Sarah Butler (31:18), Bernadette Ball (30:05), Amanda Richardson (28:05), Claire Timms (27:46), Jillian Heywood (26:34), Dave Watt (25:50),Ian Giles (25:24), Gary Smith (24:37), Gary Marshall (24:10), John Fay (23:41), Chris Nicholson (23:24), Simon Howard (23:14), Jason Keast (22:22), Alex Critcher (21:35), David Emanuel (20:55), Matt Kershaw (20:14), Ian Dale (19:56), Darren Ogden (19:49), Dave Peart (19:35), Carl O'Callaghan (19:33), Paul Ashton (19:17), Martin Thompson (19:07), Michael Fleming (18:41) & Shane Reading (18:33).   
This was my 10th attempt at this spectacular race, with familiarity making it no less enjoyable & certainly no easier! With injury-interrupted training & not having completed my usual April marathon, I wasn't expecting to match my better finishing times of previous years - but was still a bit disappointed to crawl across the line in my slowest time to date, 3:34:29, for 93rd place of 837 finishers.

The heat probably contributed to my dramatic decline over the last 4-5 miles, although I don't think it was as uncomfortable as the conditions experienced on the same day by RRRs competing in Manchester & Liverpool. It also doesn't seem to have affected race winner Neal Emmerson (Radcliffe AC), who finished in an excellent 2:44:00.

Once again I was the only RRR taking part, but I can't recommend the 'beautiful marathon' highly enough. An anti-clockwise circuit of the roads around Lake Windermere, I admit that there are probably too many hills to make it a PB course, but the scenery & atmosphere more than make up for that. I'll certainly be back next year! [David Emanuel]        


We picked up the lean, keen running machine that is Rob Nixon & set off for Liverpool early doors on a sunny & what was to become increasingly warm Sunday morning. This is a mass participation event that, as well as club runners, attracts many social running groups, casual runners & people who for some reason like running with their partners. Amongst all the charity vests with motivational slogans, one lady’s said "I’m out of puff and don’t give a chat" which made me smile.

You are allocated a pen according to the date you registered - earlier entrants closer to the start - but Bernadette, Rob, Neil Bradley & I stayed together in one of the rearmost. This is a mistake if you intend to get any sort of time, as you must work your way through a phalanx (or is it flange?) of people who, incredibly, just seem to be running for pleasure.  Neil was in his home city for the weekend & as a die-hard Liverpool FC supporter was obviously loving being back. His Judith was further ahead in another pen.

Rob is now so confident in his running that he zoomed away from me within the first 50 metres, moving around the others as if on a hoverboard. There was my problem. Not fast enough to get amongst the more purposeful runners, I had to cope with entrants walking the route, forming a very democratic line from one side of the road to the other, 1 who checked me by cutting diagonally, without looking, across to a water station, 1 who nearly took my eye out, shooting their hand up to high-5 a bystander & avoiding the takers of selfies & those that felt the need to chat/text whilst ambulating. [Bernadette: "Anything else you can moan about?"].

Anyway, the course unwound & if you’ve done it once you know where you are going. The same bands were in the same places as last time. Neil & Judith did the Vegas Rock'n'Roll last November & Neil said that the Elvis performer had been phenomenal. I did try to keep up with runners going past me but don’t currently have the ‘Mo’ in my mojo. I was down 10 minutes on last year’s time but couldn’t use the warmer weather as an excuse, for a quietly-pleased Rob greeted me at the finish to reveal that he had gone 9 minutes faster than his 2017 time. Astonishing!

Bernadette did well, just 4 minutes over last year’s time & the only pain she had was me lamenting that the medal & tee weren’t quite up to snuff as last year [Bernadette: "He never stops!"].

So we took our pints, included with the entry fee (no red wine alternative I’m afraid), & sat on the grass enjoying the sun in front of the Arena concourse for a short while before setting off back to the car. Rob has been a vegetarian for a few years – from this year a vegan - & is teetotal. but he reckons the real boost to his running has come from no longer eating bread. Food for thought. Here’s a few more: I enjoy spamming my kid’s inbox with photos & updates of my running exploits - although my son won’t get up on a Saturday morning to do a parkrun he was sufficiently impressed with the medal bling to enter a half himself. So, you can nudge people - even your own kids - into starting their own running journey. Meanwhile in the Ladies, the bald girl at the mirror next to Bernadette said, "Silver-lining of having chemo is you can stay cool in the heat". So I shouldn’t even think of criticising & be more tolerant of the dawdlers that want to have fun, raise money & stop to listen & dance to the music.  You run your own way at your own pace. Always.


A big thanks to Susan Heaney & Garry Bower, who gave over their numbers to Bernadette & I because they couldn’t run.  [Gary Smith]

3rd race in the series & clearly time for the RRR 'big guns' to make an appearance! June Allingan, Ronnie Quinn, Lisa & Richard Cummins, Bryan Lawton, Simon Howard & several others turned out for the 1st time here amongst 45 RRRs, contributing to a series-high 161 finishers on a pleasant Wednesday evening (not pleasant enough for Mr Lawton to run without gloves, but he was definitely the exception). Also lining up for the 1st time in RRR colours was Martin Thompson, making a much-anticipated & very impressive club debut in 19:06.

Rob James (16:34), another making his 1st appearance at Hollingworth Lake, was leading RRR in 4th place overall, coming out on top in what is turning out to be an epic season-long battle with Jarrod Gritt. Despite setting a new 5K PB, Jarrod was slightly disappointed to be given an official time of exactly 17:00 in 7th place, rather than the 16:59 on his watch, meaning he'll have to wait a little longer to break that particular barrier. Only a matter of time I'm sure...

Some of those who had competed in previous races in this series seem to be getting the measure of the course & recording faster times - notably Leonie Glynn, crossing the line in 23:49 to set a new 5K PB by a huge 44 seconds. That once again put Leonie in a victorious ladies team, this time alongside Janet Jobey (1st FV45, 20:50) & Val Kilburn (1st FV50, 22:05). Not to be outdone, the leading RRR men also claimed top prize with Rob & Jarrod joined by Michael Fleming, whose impressive 18:08 saw him finish ahead of Rob Battye (18:12) & Shane Reading (18:22). 

Janet & Val were 2 of several age-category winners on a highly successful evening for RRR. June Allingan (33:00) claimed the FV70 award, with Dave Phillips (24:51) taking the men's equivalent, while Ronnie Quinn (22:36) was the fastest MV65. Rob 'PB' Nixon (21:31) didn't win his category, but did (of course) set a new best time for the course, while Jill Heywood (25:56) has improved by more than 2 minutes across the series so far & Rochelle Evans (26:27) is also getting quicker even though 'the bump' is growing!         

All the other RRR finishers: Richard Cummins (19:10), Bernie Goodwin (19:14), Elliot Stone (19:29), Paul Ashton (19:30), Carl O'Callaghan (19:31), Ian Dale (19:36), David Emanuel (19:41), Matthew Kilburn (20:13), Dave Hall (20:19), Robert Kellett (20:28), David Crewe (20:42), Eamonn Nolan (20:43), Bryan Lawton (20:45), Garry Bower (21:40), Jason Keast (22:20), Simon Howard (23:05), Andrew Chadwick (23:19), Paul Cooke (23:43), Kevin Heenan (23:48), Gary Smith (24:22), Martin Jones (24:29), Dave Watt (24:58), Gail Shaw (25:36), Lisa Cummins (27:50), Martina Naismith (27:57), Amanda Richardson (28:03), Stephen Jones (28:35), Sarah Butler (29:03), Bernadette Ball (29:58) & Ian Giles (30:13).

Just one more race to go in the series (apart from the free final 'handicap' race on 30th May for those who qualify by running 3 times or more). Hope to see a similarly strong RRR turnout next week!  [David Emanuel]  

MARKET DRAYTON 10K - 13th MAY 2018

Martina, Jill & I set off to Market Drayton on a sunny Sunday morning. We were met on the motorway by Martin Jones & Rob Nixon, who apparently had been trying to attract our attention for some miles, but we were busy chatting as ladies do. They eventually got noticed by driving behind us & flashing their lights, which elicited a comment along the lines of “Who are you flashing your lights at, it’s a 50mph limit!”, for us then to realise who it was.

We all arrived safely at the venue & collected our race t-shirts, where we also met up with fellow RRR participants Angela & Stephen Rogowskyj & Garry Bower.

The run starts with a lap around the edge of a school field, then out onto the roads of Market Drayton. The course is slightly undulating around the residential areas surrounding the town centre, with an uphill climb into the town centre, then back out towards the school, finishing on the school field. The run was well supported along the route where 1 or 2 spectators sprayed the runners with hosepipes to help with the heat.

All the RRR finishers: Rob Nixon (44:25, another course PB), Garry Bower (49:07), Martin Jones (52:36), Gail Shaw (53:55), Jill Hickson (55:11), Martina Naismith (59:44), Angela Rogowskyj (1:13:14, also a course PB) & Stephen Rogowskyj (1:13:14).

After collecting all our goodies at the finishing line - which including 3-packs of Muller Yoghurt, a pork pie (some got 2), medal, bag, banana, sweets & water - we said our goodbyes to all the RRRs we could find. We then headed for home, stopping for lunch & a chat at the Swan With 2 Necks.  [Gail Shaw]


The 3rd race in the ‘Run the Moors’ series was the first fell run together for Jason, Neil & myself this season. They had however done the Yorkshire Three Peaks in April - a blue riband fell event with sponsored teams, national running champions & tough qualifying criteria to enter. Neil is pretty much semi-pro himself these days & had good reason to be pleased with finishing a truly punishing course. Jason, good-humoured as ever, told me his tale of feeling great for the first stage, less good on the second, & at the start of the third knew he had too much time to make up so put himself in at the checkpoint & onto the ‘bus of shame’ back to the start.

Anyway, onto this race on a hot Bank Holiday Monday & a steep sloping field in Mytholmroyd (a town name that needs some effort to enunciate, so it’s some relief that the race name proper is ‘Coiners’) where Calder Valley Fell Runners have devised a varied route, properly marshaled & flagged, taking in some fine scenery. We were joined by Barry, Ian & Jill with Rob materialising before us - once again - just before the start.

We were advised that the track was drying out but still boggy in parts. No kidding! It was like crossing Middle Earth’s Dead Marshes on the tops & through the forest. The first stage is over a stile & then a steep traverse up through the wood, which I enjoyed, as everyone bunches up, comes to a stop, waits their turn & then pretty much moves at the same pace as if you are climbing the stairs at home. Break over, we had to start running & it’s the usual mix of sheep trails, cart tracks, reed beds, flagged paths & general ‘rough land’ all the way to a hairpin turn at Stoodley Pike, coming round in a big circle. The last mile is a descent with a great final plunge down the hill where ‘Greaves came to grief’, taking a massive tumble but surviving to win his age category.

RRR finishing times: Rob James (7th overall in 53:01), Neil Brock (1:07:22), Barry Greaves (V60 winner in 1:08:10), Ian Dale (1:09:18), Jason Keast (1:15:06), Gary Smith (1:23:04) & Jill Heywood (1:49:57).

Congratulations to Jill for waving the flag as our sole female fell runner!  [Gary Smith]


It was always a bit of a risk, scheduling back-to-back club championship races; given the fact that there are 4 opportunities to run at Hollingworth Lake this month I wasn't expecting many to turn out on Wednesday. But of course this is RRR! Our 29 finishers for the 1st of these 2 5Ks was actually 1 more than the previous week & 22 of those were back racing the following day.

Amongst those doubling-up, as I predicted in last week's race report, was Rochelle Evans (plus bump), somehow running more than half a minute quicker on the Hollingworth Lake course. The intrepid trio of Jason Keast, Gary Smith & Neil Brock went one step further & started the week with the Coiners Fell Race on Bank Holiday Monday (that's an additional 6.7 miles with 968 feet of climb). Pride of place, however, goes to Jill Heywood - not only did she complete all of these races but she made it a remarkable 4 in 5 days by adding the Oldham 7K on Sunday. As if that's not enough, she somehow managed to set a new all-time 5K PB in the process, with some handy pacing support from Rochelle.

The reason that we were squeezing in 2 races in 2 days, of course, was because this particular Cowm race is very special to RRR. It’s now 9 years since Ian Casey, one of our most popular members, collapsed & died whilst taking part in the Gloucester Marathon. Andy O'Sullivan kindly puts on this race in his memory each year & it will be always be an integral part of the club championship. It was great to see 61 RRRs on the start line - almost two-thirds of the field of 100 - & there were more of our members out on the course marshaling, supporting & taking photos.

At Hollingworth Lake several of our runners (Bernadette Ball, Sue Heaney, Amanda Richardson, Vikki Smith, Mark Heaney, Robert 'Mr PB' Nixon & Neil Brock), were just edged into 2nd place in their respective age categories. That left Gail Shaw as the only RRR to pick up an individual prize, 1st FV50 for the 2nd successive week. Our ladies team of Vikki Smith, Helen Radcliffe & Leonie Glynn did however claim a comprehensive victory, their combined time a full 5 minutes better than 2nd-placed Trawden AC.

It was a different story at Cowm, where our numbers helped ensure that we dominated the prize-giving. Janet Jobey (1st FV45) & Rob James both finished 3rd in the overall standings, with Rob getting away from 4th-placed Jarrod Gritt on the 2nd lap of the reservoir, while June Allingan (FV70), Claire Timms (FV40), Teresa Hollins (FV60), Ronnie Quinn (MV65), Val Kilburn (FV50), Robert Nixon (MV60), Dave Hall (1st MV55) & Elliot Stone (1st MV45) all won their age group award. It won't surprise you to hear that Robert Nixon set yet another PB in the process...         

All the Hollingworth Lake RRR finishers: Shane Reading (18:50), Darren Ogden (19:31), Neil Brock (19:34), David Emanuel (19:55), Brian Moore (20:05), Ian Dale (20:20), Robert Nixon (21:35), Alex Critcher (21:38), Garry Bower (22:07), Mark Heaney (22:09), Eamonn Nolan (22:21), Jason Keast (22:35), Vikki Smith (23:29), Paul Cooke (23:37), Helen Radcliffe (23:50), Gary Smith (24:07), Leonie Glynn (24:33), Lee Higginbottom (24:37), Dave Watt (25:30), Gail Shaw (26:16), Rochelle Evans (26:28), Jillian Heywood (26:39), Amanda Richardson (28:31), Stephen Jones (29:05), Sarah Butler (29:36), Susan Heaney (29:49), Bernadette Ball (30:12), Judith Bradley (32:43) & Neil Bradley (32:44).

All the RRRs at the Ian Casey 5K: Rob James (16:39), Jarrod Gritt (16:51), Shane Reading (18:09), Michael Fleming (18:18), Rob Battye (18:25), Michael Wildbore (18:32), Dave Peart (18:55), Elliot Stone (19:20), Bernie Goodwin (19:25), Neil Brock (19:27), Carl O'Callaghan (19:32), Matt Kershaw (19:43), David Emanuel (19:52), Matt Kilburn (20:04), Dave Hall (20:08), David McBride (20:09), Colin Green (20:22), David Crewe (20:31), Robert Kellett (20:36), Eamonn Nolan (20:40), Janet Jobey (20:48), Bryan Lawton (20:54), Bernard Cassidy (21:03), Mark Heaney (21:07), Garry Bower (21:21), Mark Rigby (21:23), Robert Nixon (21:33), Alex Critcher (21:51), Adam Farrell (21:56), Val Kilburn (21:59), Jason Keast (22:41), Nicholas Mallon (22:45), Andrew Chadwick (23:08), Chris Nicholson (23:13), John Fay (23:25), Vikki Smith (23:31), Lee Higginbottom (23:41), Gary Marshall (23:49), Tom Giles (23:56), Ronnie Quinn (24:02), Ian Giles (24:05), Simon Howard (24:12), Gary Smith (24:24), Paul Cooke (24:27), Dave Watt (25:26), Gail Shaw (25:57), Teresa Hollins (26:08), Jillian Heywood (26:47), Claire Timms (27:52), Mike Keating (27:53), Rochelle Evans (28:02), Martina Naismith (28:08), Amanda Richardson (28:09), Sally Crewe (28:56), Sarah Butler (30:02), Bernadette Ball (30:12), Emma Bower (30:36), Sharon Dracup (31:26), Neil Bradley (31:38), Judith Bradley (33:09) & June Allingan (34:36).

A great turn-out, but there's no time to relax - we're back to Hollingworth Lake on Wednesday 16th May for the 3rd race in the series. Please note that you need to complete at least 3 of the 4 races to qualify for the free 'handicap' race on 30th May! [David Emanuel]
I haven't written a race report for a while, with Elliot doing all the heavy lifting, so I'm a bit out of practice. What's the big story here? It can't be the new PB for the course achieved by Rob Nixon (3rd MV60 in 22:04), as he's setting one of those pretty much every time he laces up his running shoes; it might be the chaos before the start, with junior rugby players' parents already occupying much of the limited parking space before any runners had arrived...but frustrating as it was for some, writing about car parking problems is just a bit dull. Then I saw Rochelle Evans approaching the finish...

I was quite surprised to see Rochelle with a race number in her hand before the start. I knew that she was continuing to run through her pregnancy, but didn't expect to see her lining up for a race. Yet her only concern seemed to be that she might need to acquire a new vest, as she was struggling to get the current one over her growing 'bump'. That same bump came to her aid at the end of the race, however. Rochelle & Jill Heywood were side-by-side along the pot-holed road all the way to the finish line, to the extent that they were given exactly the same time - but Rochelle claimed victory as her chipped race number, attached to the bump, was 1st across the timing mat.

(Jill did actually finish ahead on chip timing, 27:00 to Rochelle's 27:03, but I'm not letting the facts get in the way of a good story).      
After congratulating them both we retired to the rugby club for the post-race presentation. Age category prizes were (for once) hard to come by on this fast, flat circuit of the lake, so congratulations to Janet Jobey (1st FV45, 7th overall in 21:11) & Gail Shaw (1st FV50, 26:24) for doing RRR proud. We were much more successful in the team competitions though, with our leading ladies - Janet, Gail & Rochelle - only beaten into 2nd place by a strong Rossendale Harriers trio & our men winning their event ahead of Rochdale Harriers. With Shane Reading (18:26) & Michael Fleming (18:31) both having departed earlier it was left to Jarrod Gritt (an excellent 3rd place overall in 17:07) to collect the prize. He duly gave his beer away to other RRRs, while I'm currently holding the others hostage (pictured right). We'll see if they stay unopened long enough for me to hand them over to Shane & Michael next week...

Although numbers were a bit lower than we've seen for the Littleborough 5Ks in previous years (just 28 RRRs in a field of 146), we were still strong enough for our '2nd string' to claim 3rd place in the men's team rankings, thanks to a fine RRR debut from Darren Ogden (19:55) alongside Matt Kershaw (20:26) & me (19:51).

All the other RRR finishers: Sarah Butler (29:56), Stephen Jones (29:28), Jenny O'Callaghan (29:24), Amanda Richardson (2nd FV50, 28:46), Martina Naismith (28:45), Sally Crewe (28:35), Mike Keating (another welcome debutant in RRR colours, 28:34), Dave Watt (25:42), Ian Giles (24:34), Gary Marshall (24:15), Steve Shaw (22:45), Nick Mallon (22:32), Garry Bower (21:52), Alex Critcher (21:44), Bernie Cassidy (2nd MV55, 21:24), Rob Kellett (20:49) & Dave Crewe (20:43). Excellent running all round!

'5K month' continues next week, with the 2nd race in this series on Wednesday followed immediately by the Ian Casey event on Thursday. Newer members may not be aware that the latter race is put on for us each year by Andy O'Sullivan - with proceeds to heart charities - in memory of Ian, a popular RRR who died 9 years ago (can it really be that long?) whilst taking part in the Gloucester Marathon. For those of us who knew Ian this is one of the most important events of the year, so will obviously take priority - but I reckon most of us can cope with a couple of consecutive 5Ks; I bet Rochelle can...  [David Emanuel]  


A chat in the café post-parkrun at Alexandra Park brought up the topic of this race. Jill Hickson was running it due to her commitment to her other club's championship (North West Finance Professionals) & I fancied also having a go too. So I promptly entered, completely forgetting that it was London Marathon Day & thus I'd miss my normal position on the sofa trying to spot RRRs & other people I know.

I put the call out to see who else fancied it - in came Nick Mallon & Gary Marshal. Unfortunately Gary found the lure of beer more appealing & Martin Jones took his place on the starting line. Add to this Ian Giles & Niparun Nessa (who took Simon Lake’s place) along with Adam Stirling (also a Finance Professional) & this gave us 7 RRRs in a field of 390. 


Ian, who ran it last year, told me it was uphill for a couple of miles, then flat & downhill all the way home. I think he stretched the truth a little bit - let’s try uphill for 4 miles & then downhill all the way home. Judge for yourself:

At bang on 9:30am we set off - as soon as we did the heavens opened & we were all soaked by the end of mile 1.  I had decided to try something new & used one of my RRR buffs as a wristband, covering my watch to try to run on feel. For the 1st mile Adam & I ran together but then he dropped back, I think he did too much celebrating at Wembley the night before! I fully expected him to catch & pass me on the numerous hills over the next 3 miles & was surprised when he didn’t.

Turns out it was Nick Mallon who was chasing me down & had we not had a very steep downhill in mile 6 I think he might just have got ahead, but pulling out a 6:24 mile at the end was just what the race gods ordered to get me across the line as 1st RRR home in 47:47 (92nd position). Not sure if covering the watch worked or not, as this is about average for me, but I will give it another go in the future.

Nick followed me home in 99th place in 48:27 (he’s getting quicker, watch out Group 3!), then Adam Stirling looking like he had been shot (remember, if it’s looking like rain boys, we need to protect those nips) in 50:21 (124th). Next RRR home was Martin Jones in 52:42 (162nd), followed by Ian Giles in 53:33 (171st). Ian is currently training for Edinburgh Marathon with his son Tom & had run 19 miles the day before - very impressive. Our other financial professional & 1st female RRR Jill Hickson was next to finish in 53:48 (174th). Niparun Nessa completed our finishers with a bigger than normal smile on her face in 1:04:25 (308th). I'm not sure if the smile was because she enjoyed the race or that she knew we’d be going for brunch afterwards; pretty sure it was the latter.

A great race this one & I wouldn’t be complaining if it were to make the RRR Championship list next year. It is normally earlier than April but was postponed due to the bad weather we had in March.  [Garry Bower]


"What we gonna do?"

"I don’t know, what do you wanna do?"

"I don’t know, what d’you wanna do?"

Bernadette & I sounded like the vultures off Jungle Book thinking about this Good Friday. We checked for runs over the holiday & as the Salford 10K & Hale 5K were both full, we booked on the Calder Vale 10 miler. We all know Calderdale & there is Calderstones in Liverpool, but I had never heard of this place. Even Google Maps had to think for a bit.

Calder is a Celtic word that means 'from a stony river'. Anyway, the village is just inside the Forest of Bowland & it’s like finding human habitation in the Lost World, a tiny hamlet on both sides of a deep v-shaped wooded valley. After Bernadette & I had played Top Trumps for forgotten kit - gloves & club vest (doh!) - we picked up our numbers in a village hall that hadn’t changed since Ronnie Quinn was in the cubs. 

The race set off alongside the village’s cenotaph & this run is a toughie. A look at the race profile will show that you run progressively uphill most of the way - but remembering Alex Critcher’s comment at the start of the Wrexham Half that "you need the uphills so as to catch the downhills", there were some steepish descents. My legs, however, wanted to turn back before the 2nd mile & my lungs wanted to join them. It’s always a bad sign when runners go past & then pointedly check their watches just in front of you like they’re not even in their red zone yet. But it’s a good buzz at the end when you are running down to a finish that you can see below you. Bernadette was pleased with her time, being very unsure that she had the stamina to complete the course after suffering from a persistent virus.

The big surprise was the medal, which was as big as a drinks coaster, attractively designed & not without some heft to it. There were pie 'n' peas, hot drinks & a great choice of cakes back at the hall, as the locals maximised their revenue-raising opportunity from these incomers. I could easily envisage fellow RRRs chilling there at the end of the race. Where else would anyone need to rush off to on a Good Friday? 

So a challenging but rewarding away day run & only £12 for affiliated runners.

"Well what are we gonna do tomorrow?"

"Now don’t start that again!"

[Gary Smith]


Now in its 34th year, the breathtaking scenery of the Dentdale Run attracts runners from far & wide. With RRR being attracted to that sort of thing, not to mention to any village with its own brewery, it is a well-established fixture in the RRR championship. The ‘secret’ Yorkshire dale of Dent, nestled in the Howgills right on the Cumbria/ Yorkshire border, always offers RRR a hearty welcome. Maybe one year they’ll even hire a pub band that can play a decent tune.

The 14.2 mile, figure-of-8 course literally goes up & down the dale (& some hills), out one side of the small village of Dent & back in the other. The scenery is outstanding & the course is tough. Whoever 1st said the last mile is the hardest had probably run the race at some point.

The run was ‘sold out’ & over 400 finished the long race, including 39 RRRs. Paul Cooke (2:09:25) was the standout achiever, completing his 50th club race. This makes him the 38th current member of the prestigious ’50 Club’ & earns him the equally impressive gold-embossed 50 Club polo shirt.

In the main event, Jarrod Gritt (1:26:50) claimed full championship points again & finished a very creditable 7th overall. He was followed home by Shane Reading (1:31:25) who also finished 2nd in the MV40 category. In the MV50 grouping Dave Peart (1:33:01), who is preparing for both the Manchester & London marathons in April (2 weeks apart!) claimed 2nd and 21st overall. This leading trio just missed out on the men's team prize, by less than a minute. 

In the ladies race  Janet Jobey (1:49:04) grabbed maximum points & finished 3rd in the FV45s. Well done also to Claire Timms (2:30:02) who amongst many setting new PBs for this course managed to knock a remarkable 11 minutes off her previous time.

For those on the coach you might have failed to notice, if you had your eyes & ears closed all the way home, that in the ‘fun run’ shorter 7 mile race there was a magnificent men's team victory for Andy Schofield (17th, 59:36), Steve Shaw (19th, 1:00:53) & Adam Farrell (28th, 1:03:55) - Adam picking up a prize in only his 2nd race as an RRR. There were some people who said the prize of 3 bottles of wine went quicker than the lads ran the race, but as Steve so rightly said, "Jealousy is a terrible thing." 

Also taking part in the shorter race were Neil Farrell (29th, 1:04:18), Tracey Hall (122nd, 1:25:27) & Sharon Dracup (133rd, 1:29:22).

All the other RRR finishers(in the 14.2 mile race): Robert Fairbanks (1:36:23), Richard Cummins (1:38:40), Carl O'Callaghan (1:38:43), Neil Brock (1:39:29), Ian Dale (1:41:57), David Emanuel (1:42:28), Elliot Stone (1:43:47), Bernard Goodwin (1:47:03), Valerie Kilburn (1:57:53), Vikki Smith (1:59:10), Howard Dracup (1:59:23), Gary Smith (1:59:30), Robert Nixon (2:00:47), Garry Bower (2:01:28), Alex Critcher (2:01:37), Helen Radcliffe (2:05:22), Jason Keast (2:06:59), Teresa Hollins (3rd FV60, 2:15:20), Andy Chadwick (2:16:02), Jillian Heywood (2:19:06), Simon Howard (2:20:47), Lisa Cummins (2:21:27), Ian Giles (2:30:57), Tom Giles (2:30:57), Lee Higginbottom (2:33:24), Martina Naismith (2:36:29), Jenny O'Callaghan (2:37:03), Bernadette Ball (2:39:27), Sarah Butler (2:53:15), Charlotte Chadwick (2:53:18), Natalie Yates-Bolton (2:53:18), June Allingan (1st FV70, 2:56:10) & Mary Freer (2:56:11).

The next club race will be the 1st of the Hollingworth Lake 5K series in May. 5K – now doesn’t that sound like a lovely distance!  [Elliot Stone]


It might have been the fact that we were running in a different country, but the impressive start to the year made at Dewsbury was continued in Wales. The conditions were near-perfect & the course, apart from a dodgy start around an industrial estate, was near-perfect too. 13.1 miles of scenic Welsh countryside in beautiful winter sunshine made running a pleasure for 57 RRRs (more than we've ever had in a Club Championship half marathon, with the exception of Oldham) & the accompanying times backed this up.

Once again, it was a personal best (PB) bonanza & then some. Jenny O’Callaghan (2:11:08) managed to knock off over 8 minutes off her previous best. In the men’s section, Robert Nixon (1:42:20) beat his by over 4 minutes. Even your press officer (1:28:08) succeeded in slicing 90 seconds off his former PB, which was set over 6 years ago. There is life in the old dog yet!

Aside from these great times, in the main race Jarrod Gritt was reinforcing the marker he laid down at Dewsbury by finishing in an astonishing time of 1:14:48. This resulted in him finishing 20th overall, 5th Senior Male, which in a field of 1800 runners is mightily impressive. Following him home was Shane Reading (1:19:32) in 59th place, completing his 81st consecutive club race.

Janet Jobey (1:36:11) maintained her fine start to the season & cemented her place as the woman to beat in this year’s championship by claiming 44th position in the female race, 4th in the FV45 group. Joint best position of the day went to Eileen Ingham (2:08:29), who finished 3rd in the FV65 category, & Teresa Hollins (1:53:05, 3rd FV60).

In the RRR Roll of Honour both Michael Fleming (1:24:31) & Rob Battye (1:25:57) joined the esteemed ‘25 Club', confirming that running is indeed a bug that is very hard to shake off. Andrew Chadwick (1:50:40) joined the ‘10 Club' too, marking himself down into posterity.

A few 'firsts' worth mentioning - Alex Critcher (1:48:20) produced an impressive debut in RRR colours & Amanda Richardson (2:11:33) completed her 1st ever half marathon, while Bernie Goodwin (1:27:23) - closing in on 200 club races - ran for the 1st time as a V50.

After the race & a short trip on the coach, Chester & its Roman walls hosted the large party of RRRs. In Wetherspoons, the world’s longest table was assembled in order for all the food & drink to be swilled down in a hearty manner only matched by pigs around a trough. There were some rumours that a ‘pervert’ had infiltrated the party & had managed to sneak into the women’s changing room earlier on, not once but 4 times. However it seems that the perpetrator was duly named & shamed & might never, ever live the event down!


All the other RRR finishers: Chris Lowe (1:21:19), Robert Fairbanks (1:23:34), Neil Brock (1:25:54), Richard Cummins (1:26:03), Dave Peart (1:28:28), Carl O'Callaghan (1:28:59), David Emanuel (1:29:18), Ian Dale (1:30:24), Brian Moore (1:31:53), David Hall (1:34:11), Andrew Schofield (1:37:18), Stewart Jones (1:38:47), Matt Kershaw (1:39:58), Mark Rigby (1:41:52), Steve Shaw (1:41:59), Valerie Kilburn (1:42:41), Vikki Smith (1:43:41), Gary Smith (1:46:38), Paul Cooke (1:47:18), Howard Dracup (1:47:32), Leonie Glynn (1:48:24), Jason Keast (1:52:48), Helen Radcliffe (1:53:02), Julie Greenwood (1:53:05), Adam Stirling (1:53:15), Tom Giles (1:53:39), Ian Giles (1:54:47), Diane Allingan (1:57:40), Gail Shaw (1:58:11), Simon Howard (2:03:30), Jillian Heywood (2:05:23), Lisa Cummins (2:07:35), Claire Timms (2:09:34), Martina Naismith (2:10:49), Bernadette Ball (2:14:50), Sarah Butler (2:16:10), Lee Higginbottom (2:16:16), Tracey Hall (2:16:39), Charlotte Chadwick (2:16:47), Sharon Dracup (2:22:52), Niparun Nessa (2:23:37), Natalie Yates-Bolton (2:24:07) & June Allingan (2:41:20). 

Next stop is Dent, which I'm sure will write its own story. See you there.  [Elliot Stone]


To Astley Park for the final race of the 2017-18 season, at arguably the best of all the courses in the league, with all the components of a great cross-country route - lots of mud, a lovely bog, a cold river crossing & a beast of a hill to put a sting in the tail at the end of each lap. Due to an unfortunate motorway incident a couple of our ladies didn’t make the start line. Our only starter was therefore the fantastic Bernadette Ball who finished in 44:56.

The start of the men’s race was very generously delayed by 5 minutes to allow those stuck in traffic to arrive. This unfortunately wasn’t enough for Jason Keast & Neil Brock who subsequently missed the start, but like true heroes they still completed the course.

The race starts on a flat, but muddy field, which then drops into a lovely little bog. After ascending from the bog you reach - with very little pace - what feels like the muddiest little section of the course, which I found took the breath away the most. After cutting across & down into the woodland you have a nicer trail-like path, soft enough for spikes & the development of some good speed. This speed is quickly diminished as you hurdle into a river & must ascend the wet, muddy banking. This again drops back to water, however this time with a small bridge crossing. From here you climb a gentle path which eventually leads out of the woods to the final (killer) part of the lap, the steep ascent to the finish. Although not a very long hill it really burns the legs & requires some strong propulsion from the arms.

During the last lap of the course there was a real race on for 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th. At the beginning of the lap I was neck-&-neck with Michael Mannings of O&R & Craig Jones of Manchester YMCA Harriers, with Joe Hudak of East Cheshire & Tameside AC quite a distance ahead. As we approached the bog I picked up the pace in a bid to open up a gap, but by the time we reached the woodland I was overtaken by both Michael & Craig. On the steady ascent I kept with them both, all 3 of us gaining pace. Joe appeared to be nearing & before too long it was a 4-man battle with positions changing several times.  Approaching the final hill & push to the finish line all 4 of us gave all we had to reach to top 1st, it was a real test of character and determination. I knew that the order we reached the top would be the final standings. After coming off 3rd in that battle I pushed as hard as I could to catch Michael & Joe but just missed out, finishing with my legs on fire & nothing else to give. Craig (36:24) fell back a bit on the hill while I finished in 36:17 just behind Michael (36:11) & Joe (36:15) in a tough but enjoyable battle. 

Next in for us was Shane Reading (38:58) to complete a great campaign which has seen him claim silver in the male V40 category for the 2nd successive year. Rob Fairbanks (40:14) was our 3rd man to finish & also the only other RRR to complete all 4 races in the series (along with myself & Shane). It is great to see Rob regaining his fitness after injury setbacks that marred last season, I have no doubt this fitness will continue to grow as the season progresses. Michael Fleming (41:03) completed our team for the day & has featured in 3 of our 4 men’s teams during the series. 

Other RRR finishers: Jason Keast (1:03:23), Neil Brock (59:51) - despite their late arrival - Gary Smith (52:32), Paul Wolstenhulme (49:30), Bryan Lawton (47:31) & Barry Greaves (42:24).

After some very hard-fought battles, the South-East Lancs series ends with me narrowly missing out by 2 points on a podium finish in the senior men’s category & the men’s senior team being pipped for silver by Oldham & Royton by just 3 points. However the team has still walked away with an excellent 3rd place.  We narrowly missed out on bronze in the MV40 category, losing out by 2 points to O&R, but Shane Reading showed fantastic form to claim silver in the individual MV40. In the MV50s we had another great success, with our team just edging Manchester YMCA Harriers by a single point for bronze.

This year has been slightly disappointing on the ladies side - numbers have been down & we’ve struggled to make a team in most races. Sophie Wood enjoyed a fine run of form, coming 3rd at Heaton Park, 2nd at Tandle Hill & 1st at both Leigh & Chorley; although the last 2 performances didn't count for RRR we must recognise this achievement & we all wish you success at Salford Harriers. A big well done to those ladies who did compete in one or more races - Bernadette Ball, Chloe Clegg, Rochelle Evans, Susan Heaney, Jillian Heywood, Selina McLean, Martina Naismith & Nefa Nessa.

I hope that next year as a team, both men & women, we can build on this year’s achievements. For those who have never tried cross-country please don’t be scared - yes, it is often cold, wet & muddy, but you will have the full support of the club & despite it all it is a great afternoon out.  [Jarrod Gritt]


It was over the hills to Dewsbury for the 1st race of the 2018 RRR championship. The Yorkshire town hosted the well-organised & well-attended 10K – over 1500 runners entered – that sets the tone for the rest of the season.

The race certainly didn’t disappoint. Lots of RRRs managed to grab personal bests (PBs) even at this early stage of the season, including Bernadette Ball (8th FV60, 61:38), Sharon Dracup (62:58), Jenny O'Callaghan (58:28), Carl O'Callaghan (39:48), Michael Wildbore (37:45) & Michael Fleming (37:43). They were helped by the straightforward route - heading through Batley towards Birstall & back again, the speedy downhill finish provided the platform for some excellent times.

First honours of the season went to Jarrod Gritt (34:50), who finished 33rd in a very strong field. Jarrod began to show his potential last season & has worked hard through the winter months to ensure his progress. By being the first RRR home, he managed to beat Shane Reading (9th V40, 35:34) & last year’s club champion, Rob James (35:42). Both Jarrod and Shane recorded new PBs, emphasising the quality of their runs.

In the women’s race, Janet Jobey (43:49) lived up to her billing as favourite by coming home 1st among the RRR women. This was quite an achievement, coming early in her return from a serious foot injury.

June Allingan (1st FV70, 1:10:58) gained our only prize in any category, proving once again that she is not ready for the quiet life just yet. However there were a number of impressive age category positions in this top-quality field, including Diane Allingan (9th FV55, 51:17), Val Kilburn (8th FV50, 46:34), Ronnie Quinn (6th V65, 45:00), Robert Nixon (5th V60, 43:35) & Chris Lowe (4th V45, 36:25).

Despite the tough competition our men's & women's teams put in commendable performances for 9th & 14th positions respectively.

Big congratulations & a very warm welcome to our ‘first-timers’ Adam Farrell (48:37), Leonie Glyn (48:53) & Sally Crewe (59:37). We’re sure your names will appear in these reports many times in the future.

All the other RRR finishers: Mary Freer (1:10:58), Lee Higginbottom (an injury-plagued 65:01), Tracey Hall (62:04), Sarah Butler (60:37), Martina Naismith (59:43), Elaine Whitehead (57:08), Jillian Heywood (56:26), Amanda Richardson (54:09), Rochelle Evans (54:06), Lisa Cummins (53:23), Gail Shaw (53:19), Jill Hickson (53:04), John Fay (50:59), Tony Kane (50:06), Gary Marshall (49:56), Dave Watt (49:38), Simon Howard (48:45), Chris Nicholson (48:19), Adam Stirling (48:14), David Freer (47:59), Helen Radcliffe (47:56), Gary Smith (47:09), Neil Farrell (46:57), Paul Cooke (46:53), Andy Chadwick (46:44), David Crewe (46:40), Vikki Smith (46:39), Mark Heaney (45:53), Jason Keast (45:14), Garry Bower (45:06), Steve Shaw (44:38), Bryan Lawton (43:58), Stewart Jones (43:56), Matthew Kilburn (43:16), Matt Kershaw (42:32), Bernie Cassidy (42:22), Ian Dale (41:21), David Emanuel (40:44), Elliot Stone (40:32), Dave Peart (39:28), Richard Cummins (38:57), Bernie Goodwin (38:50) & Rob Battye (37:13).

Overall, 62 RRRs completed the race – let’s see if we can keep those numbers up throughout the rest of the season.

The next event is a new one on the calendar, the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon. See you there!  [Elliot Stone]


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