THE ROYTON TRAIL - 14th JULY 2021
I was standing there prevaricating behind Jenny O'Callaghan (volunteer coordinator, sitting at the 'Covid desk' at the cricket club entrance), before finally deciding that I couldn't run, having damaged my left knee & knowing that, despite the up-&-down nature of the tough course, to get any sort of time you need to be running it at something as close to a sprint as you can. A lack of training was also a concern. As it was, the race was already fully marshaled & I was sent to the chicken sheds, where Natali Brown arrived at the 1st fork in the road. So I moved down a bit to where founder member Ray Shaw was in his 'usual' position, just before Andy Andems set the race off.
I fell into conversation with Ray, still turning out to volunteer for The Royton Trail. With a few others back in 2003, Ray decided that not enough was being done by Oldham & Royton Harriers off the athletics track for the road runners & he approached Royton Cricket Club, of which he was also a member, to use them as a base for the new club. Ray told me that he had to stop running because his knees started troubling him in his late 60s (gulp). OK, so I have some time left.
Ray was very proud of how, from a handful - I think Bernard Goodwin was also a founder member - the club has flourished. I would concur. This is due in no small part to the dedication & professionalism of our committee. Many of us became lockdown rule experts only when the chance of going abroad returned, a clap of hands then to the committee for keeping the membership up-to-date with the Covid regs, for putting in guidance for the return of training nights & for making the return of our own trail race possible. The race was full & I saw RRR returnees go past, ex-RRRs running without a club, ex-RRRs who had joined other clubs - Saddleworth and Eden Runners - plus large contingents from Marple, Middleton, Rochdale & Prestwich. Oldham & Royton Harriers had just 3!
Tandle Hill Tavern no longer opens during the week, so Royton Cricket Club as our club base became the obvious alternative. Well done to Warren Siddall, who padded-up & strode to the crease to understudy Bryan as the Race Director, then stepped in at the last minute to ride the lead bike on this occasion.
Gerrard Wood was as lush as the Elk Mill roundabout & kerbside verges, with thick tree cover & no breeze; it was going to be hot, airless & energy-sapping. The winner Lawrence Fairclough of Rossendale, however, scorched his way to 1st place in 36:30, followed by ex-RRR club member Ian McBride. We had 59 club participants - the biggest turnout since last year's pre-pandemic Dewsbury 10K - but that includes Dave Emanuel, who recorded a chip time as a tail-end sweeper?
Paul Timms, 11th finisher & 3/25 MV40, was the 1st RRR home - an achievement to add to his recent qualification for the Ironman Supersapiens World Championship in Hawaii - swim/bike/ run plus Hula dancing? Shane Reading (3/20 MV45) was our 2nd finisher, while Ian Dale - running his 100th club race - was 3rd & 1st MV55. So the club's first 3 runners represented 3 different age categories, proof positive of the benefit of running in a club! Female Captain Janet Jobey was the 1st RRR female finisher & 1st FV45. She was joined by Rochelle Evans, Vikki Smith & Tracy Johnson to take the women’s team prize. Mark Heaney doesn’t like to go much above 10K but is a killer at this distance, with a 1st place in the MV60 category.
All the RRR finishers: Alison Cresswell (1:30:07), Anne Jones (1:30:06), June Allingan (1:24:32), Angela Rogowskyj (1:18:43), Sharon Leach (1:18:14), Lindsay Gregory (1:17:27), Karen Rush (1:17:26), Kay England (1:17:25), Bernadette Ball (1:16:58), Amanda Welby (1:15:35), Sally Crewe (1:14:21), Sarah Fitton (1:14:05), Liz Phillips (1:12:58), Judith Bradley (1:11:27), Elaine Whitehead (1:10:40), Jillian Heywood (1:09:01), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:07:25), James Wright (1:07:24), Amanda Richardson (1:07:17), Lisa Southward (1:07:11), Debbie Cash (1:06:18), David Smith (1:03:39), Susan Heaney (1:03:30), Chris Nicholson (1:03:07), David Phillips (1:00:32), Paul Cooke (59:29), Andy Chadwick (59:00), Ray Williams (58:45), Liane Gilligan (58:32), Gareth McCaffery (58:09), Trish Murdin (57:35), Tracy Johnson (57:18), Simon Howard (56:49), Bryony Jones (56:23), Victoria Smith (56:06), Gary Marshall (55:26), Rochelle Evans (55:06), Adrian Brown (54:18), Bernard Goodwin (53:37), Mark Phelan (53:28), Mark Foran (53:22), Ronnie Quinn (53:17), Bernard Cassidy (52:46), Adam Stirling (51:26), Mark Heaney (50:31), Michael Harrison (50:28), Eamonn Nolan (50:15), Andrew Schofield (50:11), John Fay (49:54), Janet Jobey (49:10), Elliot Stone (47:58), Neil Brock (46:55), Brett King (46:41), Carl O'Callaghan (46:38), Mark Kelly (46:31), Ian Dale (46:00), Shane Reading (45:41) & Paul Timms (42:17).
Congratulations to those running for the 1st time in an RRR vest - Adrian Brown, Bryony Jones, Amanda Welby, Brett King, Lisa Southward & Sarah Fitton (who ran this race in 2019 as a base group runner before joining the club).
contacted the 1st timers for some feedback:
'The volunteers were amazing (thank you).'
'Very well organised especially with the start & finish.'
'Really well prepared. Start of the race was tough especially the hills (sic) in Tandle Hill but overall I really enjoyed it.'
'I really enjoyed it, looking forward to more races.'
'I ran with a lady called Sally [welcome back Sally Crewe], she had a baby a few years ago [Hello Charlotte - smiley emoji] & was the most amazing supporter all the way round.'
There were some cracking photos taken by Paul Taylor - who also put up a video of the course, that, despite being speeded up, seemed to go on for a long, long time - & club member Neil Bradley, including a superb one by Neil of a group of us on the pavilion steps, which can all be found on the RRR Facebook page. Maybe we should have a photocall for all the current membership to assemble some time here for a formal 2021-22 photo? Proof that the club continues the legacy of Ray & those other founder members back in 2003! [Gary Smith]
Bernadette and I saw a chap in full Edwardian
gear on a penny farthing going along Blackburn Road on our way from Bolton to Heaton
Park for the inaugural club championship race of 2021. Sales of these bikes have gone up over
the lockdown. It made me nostalgic for past club runs when I had actually done
some training in preparation. I was hoping my legs would remember the good ol'
"How much training have you done?"
"I’ve been running virtually. I've done virtually nothing."
"If you haven’t done any training then where’s your motivation?"
A free entry courtesy of Steve Goddard of course! Went to pick up Steve’s number & sensed his frustration. He was back to running well at the start of the year, but was now having problems with his IT band. B wasn’t running as the 'IT girl' has the same problem. Hope you recover soon Steve.
Came over the brow of the hill & had to ask Dave Watt’s first name - it's been a while since I’ve seen everyone. He is coming back after a 2-year hiatus, so best of luck on the long road back to where you were before Dave.
So most of the gang were here, fist-bumping, elbow-tapping, head-nodding. The ones I spoke to had all kept their training going. Mark Phelan was a solitary runner before he joined the club & was seemingly going quicker with every race up to lockdown. He was able to return to his solitary running, sometimes joining up with others including John Fay - who has not only kept his running going, joined an EA coaching programme with (you’ve got a) Nurv running insoles to monitor cadence & stride pattern but also started a running blog. Probably types faster than me as well! Mark unfortunately ran past the finish & had to double-back twice after June Allingan put him right.
Ronnie Quinn, Adam Stirling & Mandy Richardson have been on the same coaching programme, while Ronnie is also in preparation to represent England in the V65 category at the English Athletics National Championships in September. Now working from home, Janet Jobey has also been doing solo runs to break up her day & Club Chairman Bryan Lawton will no doubt be back to his routine of running & cycling back & forth to his home from home - the shop! Meanwhile Jason Keast is back on it after his hip operation last February. He has already been rehabilitating himself by jogging around Chadderton Park & was just 'tip-tapping' around this race, chaperoned by Chris Eavers. Both were to post a faster time than me!
I chatted to Lee Higginbottom in our wave & got nostalgic with him - 4 years ago he was running 5K in 20 minutes. He said he seems to hit injury trouble when he runs faster. I next saw him sitting on the ground with the ambulance car about to assist after going over on his ankle & suffering serious ligament damage. Bad luck Lee - hope the recovery goes well (6-8 weeks, yikes).
It was good to see Bernie Cassidy, who has had corneal grafts & was going back to have the stitches out - after he'd run in a race! He finished 1st MV60. Probably still running to work & up Buckstones Road every Sunday. Jill Heywood & Ian Dale have gone back to their '1 organised run per week' routine & had completed the Birmingham Half Marathon the Sunday before.
From the waves there was a rolling start & I was soon engulfed by a tsunami of runners going ahead of me, including a very determined Gail Shaw - with elbows tucked in, very quick & compact running steps, she was soon past. Gail is a Trainng Group Leader & intersperses her running with yoga, pilates & other gym stuff. Trish Murdin followed her. With the staggered start I only saw these 2 RRRs before I staggered over the finish.
The club had 31 finishers. Time to unmask some great performances, including Rob James (4th overall, 1st SM & 1st RRR in 35:50), Neil Brock (1st MV55, 40:47) Janet Jobey (1st FV45 & 1st female RRR, 45:34) & Jill Heywood (1st FV50, 55:33). Recent new recruit Kirsty Agnew ran her 1st race in RRR colours, posting 49:17 & finishing 2nd FV35.
All the other RRR finishers: June Allingan (1:27:10), Jill Hickson (1:04:58), Dave Watt (1:03:04), Elaine Whitehead (1:02:11), Amanda Richardson (1:01:24), David Smith (57:19), Chris Eavers (57:14), Jason Keast (57:13), Gail Shaw (52:31), Trish Murdin (52:09), Gary Marshall (50:51), Ronnie Quinn (49:03), Rochelle Evans (48:47), Bernard Goodwin (48:44), Bernard Cassidy (47:04), Andy Schofield (46:45), Mark Phelan (46:42), Bryan Lawton (45:42), John Fay (45:35), Elliot Stone (43:57), Adam Stirling (43:45), Carl O'Callaghan (42:46), Ian Dale (41:43), Shane Reading (40:27), James Henderson (39:06) & Robert Fairbanks (38:58).
So how do I get myself back to some sort of running fitness?
"From this photo you took B, I don't know whether I’m flat-footed or a heel striker?"
"You need to show some balls."
"I mean show the ground the balls of your feet first. And grow a pair."
"Excuse me?" (hearing ain’t what it used to be either)
"Buy a pair - a new pair of running shoes."
Next one is Colshaw Hall 10K on 20th June. [Gary Smith]
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