We’re travelling up in the car, but mistime a rendezvous with the coach at Tebay Services, as everyone was getting back on as we arrived. Ronnie Quinn has the Sunday paper under his arm.

"He'll be halfway through the supplement before I finish."

Back on the road.

"I don't think Jarrod is running today."

"I told you I saw him leaving the services. I said he'd miss the coach leaving."

"I'm not sure if I can park close to the coach, all the spaces will have gone."

"I said that to you 10 minutes ago. You agreed with me!"

B & I need to practice 'active listening', according to Steve Wright's "5 things you & your partner need to..." relationship feature. You acknowledge & remember what somebody is saying by nodding while you look at the person, so you remember what you were talking about.

Still with me? OK. Managed to park the car right beside the school entrance & in getting ready for a race the roles are reversed, as B is usually ready before me. The marshal was curious why we weren’t on the coach & also remarked that B must be a better parker than me, which was unnecessary.

Switching Tony Kane's name to mine was done without any fuss (thanks Tony) & we finally meet up with the RRRs off the coach. After another long season all look lean & fit, with legs like toothpicks (or turned piano legs, depending on your build). We set off half-walk, half-trotting the now familiar journey to the start along the main road.

So, am I going to 'actively listen' to my mantra over the next 10 miles (if John Fay can have one then why can't I? See John’s report on the Rochdale Half)?

"LET’S DO THIS!" (repeat as often as required).

For the first 3 miles Helen Radcliffe, Lisa Cummins & myself were in a threesome (careful!), running abreast (careful again!) along the bottom (doing it deliberately now aren’t you?) road. Helen wasn’t actively listening to my inner voice shouting at her to slow down – not a bit of it. Her eyes fixed firmly to the front, she eventually went ahead as I faltered at mile 5 & that was the start as other RRRs began to overtake me. 1st was Adam Farrell with a running buddy, then Mark Heaney, then Garry Bower who had a 'niggling hamstring'. Garry was running with Nick Mallon, who must have had a failed demister on his glasses as he had them on, then off. Garry was still enjoying himself mind, catching me up then running past me, but turning to let on to me each time.


Next past was Mark Goddard in a woolly bobble hat that must surely have got heavier on his head & started to steam with the rain. He was followed by Andrew Chadwick, Damien Mercer, Adam Bolton & Ronnie Quinn in a diamond racing formation. Then the ladies got in on the act with Vikki Smith & Val Kilburn (congratulations on her 100th club run!) running side by side (do they ever run with Vikki on Val’s left?). So, in maybe just 200m of traversing Catbells, all these RRRs reeled me in. Before mile 7 Rochelle Evans joined them, giving me a cheery wave as she eased past. I watched her & the rest accelerate away.


I caught Ronnie & Mark G, now running alongside each other, at  the top of the hill in mile 7 but they went past again on that steep incline after the downhill, Ronnie 'flicking Vs' at me for good measure - lovely race etiquette. Mark Heaney had stopped at the bottom of the incline & was testing his groin. I thought he must be in pain & would be walking in. I got in front of Ronnie & Mark G again but was soon overtaken by Mark Heaney who seemed to be running fine now (hang on there’s two Marks here!?) & once more in the woods at mile 9 by Ronnie & Mark G after I went back to pick up a dropped gel. I tried to stay with these two but they got away from me.



At least Ronnie didn’t have time to open his paper before I finished.

With so many RRRs going past me there must have been some duelling at the finish, with Helen holding off Rochelle, while Andrew Chadwick finished the strongest of the men. Walking back down the finish to the corner it was great to see RRRs come home after supporting each other round the course, as well as those who had had others in their sights. Adam Stopford was a second in front of Michael Harrison, who like Lee Higginbottom was making the final club race his winter warmer in preparation for next season. Karen Jones came in with Warren Siddall & a big warm hug for hubby Stewart Jones, toughing it out accompanied by Susan Heaney on the way in. Tracey Hall came home with Claire Timms. Earlier Neil Brock & Richard Cummins wouldn’t have slowed down for each other as they duked it out with just a solitary second between them.

Kevin Hutchings must have been in at the very least some discomfort with (ahem) bleeding nipples, but at the finish he remained as cheerful as ever. Vaseline, Kevin, always vaseline for a race this long when it’s raining (John Fay puts it over his brows to stop the sweat going into his eyes, as told to me afterwards).

Well done to our top finishers. Great to be able to run with strength & speed whilst being pushed to max your performance against your peers (sold out online, the race had a very fast field), but well done also to the club runners who were still running up to & over 45 minutes after the leaders had stopped their watches. Great stuff, but especially well done to Angela Rogowskyj, completing her 50th club run.

Later in Weatherspoons the gang's all here. June comes sashaying over & demands a drink from me – a large one. No, not true. She did come sashaying over, but to tell me that she had attended the presentation & taken the organisers to task for not announcing her as a winner. She was as well - 1st FV75. Well done June! So then I offered to buy her a 'large one'. Bernadette came 2nd FV65, but as I was still waiting in the cafe area for her to finish blow-drying her hair (women always take longer than men to get post-race ready) I missed whether she had been given a prize.

All the RRR finishing times: Angela Rogowskyj (2:11:21), June Allingan (2:09:22), Bernie Allen (1:58:05), Hulya Whittaker (1:55:53), Tim Dickinson (1:54:55), Sharon Leach (1:50:36), Elaine Whitehead (1:49:40), Debra Cash (1:49:30), Dave Bardsley (1:49:20), Natali Brown (1:48:07), Bernadette Ball (1:46:13), Claire Timms (1:44:27), Tracey Hall (1:44:25), Stewart Jones (1:41:26), Susan Heaney (1:41:25), Amanda Richardson (1:38:25), Warren Siddall (1:37:51), Karen Jones (1:37:49), Jillian Heywood (1:36:49), Kevin Hutchings (1:36:15), Lee Higginbottom (1:34:53), Michael Harrison (1:32:46), Adam Stopford (1:32:45), Martina Naismith (1:30:30), Chris Nicholson (1:30:13), Lisa Cummins (1:30:10), Trish Murdin (1:29:38), Nicholas Mallon (1:29:01), Garry Bower (1:29:00), Gary Smith (1:26:49), Ronnie Quinn (1:26:39), Mark Goddard (1:26:38), Mark Heaney (1:26:14), Adam Farrell (1:25:34), Adam Bolton (1:25:33), Damian Mercer (1:25:06), Rochelle Evans (1:24:46), Helen Radcliffe (1:24:15), Vikki Smith (1:24:14), Valerie Kilburn (1:24:14), Andrew Chadwick (1:24:05), Robert Nixon (1:22:47), John Fay (1:21:39), Mark Foran (1:21:34), Adam Stirling (1:21:00), Jason Keast (1:19:54), Janet Jobey (1:17:23), Darren Ogden (1:14:47), Matthew Kilburn (1:14:25), Ian Dale (1:12:59), Carl O'Callaghan (1:12:05), Elliot Stone (1:11:31), Bernard Goodwin (1:10:54), Richard Cummins (1:09:48), Neil Brock (1:09:47), Owen Flage (1:08:57), Dave Peart (1:07:07), Martin Thompson (1:05:25), Shane Reading (1:03:24), George Booth (1:00:56), Jarrod Gritt (57:42) & Ian McBride (55:08).

Neil, in his souvenir tee, is talking animatedly to Ian Dale. Not about Chicago, but the Snowdonia Marathon the week after. Owen Flage is talking all things running to Ian McBride at the bar. Everyone else is relaxed, eating food & chatting. This continued, by all accounts, on the coach back.

Another club season over. Whilst waiting for B. outside the school gym I looked at photos of paralympic athletes a teacher had put up, including one of an archer with no arms, sighting the target & tensioning the bow with his foot. As well as actively listening to any mantra I’m saying to myself, I’ll also keep this photo in my mind next time I run.


[Gary Smith]


Bolton’s Leverhulme Park is named after the philanthropist Lord Leverhulme, founder of Unilever (Dove Soap, Flora & ‘Square Deal Surf’). He built the factory & workers' village at Port Sunlight & was born & raised in Bolton. Not to be confused of course with Bolton Abbey. One is lovely & scenic, the other is just like Oldham.

Bernadette is not a native of Bolton but lives here & so we were able to leave late - forgetting that every man, woman & their dog is on the road at 1:00 pm on a Saturday. We got caught in slow-moving traffic on Crompton Way (named after Samuel Crompton, inventor of the Spinning Mule, another native of Bolton).

Anyway, both of us had to run to the Ladies start. I ran down the course, with all & sundry watching, to ask the starter to wait for B. who I thought was behind me. Something of course he didn’t want to do. We both looked for B. who had not sunk without trace in the mud but unbeknown had run past & gone to the back of the field. When the official’s wafer-thin patience ran out & he started the race I was thus relieved to see her set off with the others.

After continual heavy rain over the previous 24 hours the course was exceptional muddy, with even the park paths & parkrun course flooded in places. Never mind 'aggressive lugs' & 'sticky grip outsoles', the only shoes to wear today were spikes.

There were just 7 of us & while Sue Heaney, Mandy Richardson & Bernadette were doing their 2 laps, Mark Heaney, Jason Keast  & I huddled together for warmth - without the gazebo - like penguins on an ice floe. Randomly I asked Jason how much he weighed. Strange but true, he had that very morning paid 50p into a speak-your-weight machine which actually printed a slip showing his weight, 11-&-a-half stone. Mark agreed that he was probably similar. So Jason is having his kitchen done, has been eating out a lot, put a bit of weight on, but at 74kg that’s still 12kg lighter than I am! These 2 lightweights will be like mudskippers in this quagmire, I thought. Martin Thompson joined us & again I thought that he is not exactly heavy-limbed. We collectively wondered why no one else was here, remembering that some were at Snowdon but forgetting that others were doing the Oldham Half Marathon the next day.

The course was uncompromising, with the women runners having to ford the rushing River Tonge, the men 3 times. It went past your knees, was cold, black & not tested for water purity. Bernadette had to paddle furiously, head just above water, to make the other side - just like a petrified wildebeest calf trying to get away from the crocs. In front of me, Ray from Rochdale daintily hitched his shorts up every time we went into the river. Was he really trying to keep them clean for the next race? Once out, you had to climb a bank which was treacherously muddy. Tom (MV60 from Accrington) fell in front & went backward past me. If I had tried to help him back up I’m sure I would have also been pulled down (I told myself). A look over my shoulder & he was fuuuminnn! So much so that fired up with indignation he then easily overtook me.

Running just over 10K through mud & standing water saps you. Mark had said that last time here he had stumbled over the last 200m completely drained of energy, but he kept running to the finish this time. Jason came in ahead of him, reversing last week’s Heaton Park result, setting up some great tussles over the remaining races.

All our finishing times: Amanda Richardson (13th FV50, 34:14), Susan Heaney (11th FV55, 35:18), Bernadette Ball (4th FV65, 38:09); Martin Thompson (44:25), Jason Keast (52:12), Mark Heaney (5th MV60, 52:50), Gary Smith (16th MV55, 59:05).

"Did you know that Fred Dinbah’s house is up for sale. Fred the steeplejack..."

"Stop! They’ve had enough history of Bolton. And don’t watch any Attenborough before doing the next report!"

Next one is at Todmoden on 8th November.  [Gary Smith]


Had the gazebo, Tardis-like, whirled up in the air from Leigh & come down a week later onto Heaton Park, I mused? Actually big thanks to Adam Bolton, who must have somehow dragged/half-carried it 150m from the car park to its pitch at the top of the slope going up to the big house. With his knees strapped up, he had a fair go at crocking himself for the race. Well done Adam, but next time wait till the female runners arrive, as they tend not to bother with a warm-up - I’ll send Bernadette ahead to help.

So another soujourn out to Heaton Park for the cross-country. Down the hill & across the path, round the open grassy area, in & out of the woods. The weather was seasonably autumnal - cool & dry – so the park was full of people & their kids & their dogs. The main car park was full when we arrived. Credit then that the race took place without mishap - well done to the organisers & marshals for their efforts.

Ladies 1st - we watched them set off down the hill. A lady from Rochdale Tri ran through the start, with the field disappearing down the dip & up the bank, then promptly stopped & bent down to tie her laces, taking ages doing it. Credit to her then for setting off again! Jill, Rochelle, Bernadette & Mandy were joined by Andrea Dickinson & Charlotte Morgan - all the RRRs ladies did magnificently. All 6 of our women were vets, compared to only just over half of the 17 men (23 RRRs for this race). All credit to our ladies (credit to Dave E for this observation).

Looking at the great photos posted by Andrea & Bernadette, we were all going through gears. I was overtaken by a Norman MV70 & a Ray MV60 from Rochdale, then Robert MV60 from Middleton, who kept barging me ("He hardly touched you."). Then our own Rob Nixon (MV60) & his Burt Reynolds moustache skipped past me. I had to try then to run down Mark MV55 from Lostock at the finish. Well done Rob & well done Mark Heaney (also MV60), who after having to miss a lot of running due to injury ran 49:45, faster than in October 2017 when he posted 49:57. The Comeback Kid!

The next race between Ian McBride & Jarrod Gritt will be interesting, as Ian finished in front this time, reversing their positions at Leigh last week.

"What are you musing about?’"

"I can’t think of anything more to write."

"Why don’t you just copy Dave’s e-mail?"

"Good idea!"

OK, here’s what Dave Emanuel sent me in his email - verbatim. "Some great team results in there - our first 4 men were 3rd overall (behind East Cheshire & Prestwich), with the men's vets 5th in both MV40 & MV50 categories. The women's FV45s finished in a very decent 6th place."

All the RRR women's finishing times: Bernadette Ball (51:05, 4th FV65), Charlotte Morgan (48:49), Amanda Richardson (46:09), Jill Heywood (44:46), Andrea Dickinson (39:22, 5th FV35) & Rochelle Evans (39:00, 5th FV45). For the men: James Wright (59:07), Ray Williams (57:11), Adam Bolton (56:13), Gary Smith (55:34, 10th MV55), Robert Nixon (55:05), Mark Kelly (53:34), Adam Stirling (52:23), John Fay (51:52), Jason Keast (49:54), Mark Heaney (49:45, 7th MV60), Dave Peart (45:51, 10th MV50), Ian Dale (44:54, 3rd MV55), Martin Thompson (43:13), George Booth (43:09), Shane Reading (40:53, 4th MV45), Jarrod Gritt (5th overall in 37:16) & Ian McBride (4th, 36:44).  

The gazebo has the final word. John Fay showed excellent lateral thinking in asking the 'parks & gardens' guy to transport it back to Adam’s car. I remember in 2017 taking it back to Simon Howard’s car with Jarrod, who was telling me that he was going to go straight out in his recovery tights for his post-race cool down. All I could think about when he was telling me this was what my post-race sandwich was going to be?

"You’re right, you really didn’t have anything else to say!" 

[Gary Smith]


Chatting to Dave E at the Run The Moors Presentation Night, he told me that he only compares his run times to those same events & distances he competed in the year previously, as these latter times are his moving benchmark as he gets older. Congratulations btw to Rob James (the overall winner) & to Barry Greaves (3rd MV60), an exact repeat of their successes in the fell series last year. So Rob & Barry have retained their form despite being a year older, I mused.

Dave’s is a sound notion, but on a nostalgia kick I looked up my previous times for this, the 1st cross- country race of the season at Leigh. Most of us will have a race that resonates with us more than others & this one is mine, I think because I ran it sub-45 mins in a purple patch in October 2015. I have never run as quick since, after injury & not training or running as intensively.

Bernadette is quietly seething in the car that after I’ve "done nothing all morning", while she had a very important nail appointment, we have set off too late. She needs to go to the loo, pick up her number, is now certain she will miss the Ladies’ start & she doesn’t have to look too far to find someone to blame. She’s right, sometimes it’s worth getting to a race early to avoid 'partner aggro'. I am also guiltily remembering that I’d half-promised Dave E. that I would be there at 12:30pm to help set up the gazebo.

We made it to the car park with time to spare. B has the door open & is putting in a PB sprinting off to the conveniences. I spot Dave straight away - the gazebo is up & so all is well.

16 RRRs have shown up, including prodigal son of RRR & running prodigy Ian McBride, back with the club after a break. If I touched the hem of his shorts would some of Ian’s running prowess flow through me, I mused? I was advised against it, however, as it would make me look odd (odder).

Women running 1st then - well done to Jill Heywood, Amanda Richardson, Sue Heaney & Bernadette, who had to negotiate some very muddy & slippery parts of the course. Sue eased up after she was barged at the start & then somebody went down in front of her, bringing her down with them. Cross-country’s not a 'run in the park' sometimes!

The lads next & it’s the 1st time that Dave Peart has run this track. After listening to my advice that he didn’t need to wear his new spikes for this one, Dave promptly formed his own 2nd opinion by checking what those on the front line were wearing & scampered back to get his on. Did well. Young George Booth must have been wearing his prom shoes as he claimed he fell over 3 times. All part of the fun. Also ran well.

I also slipped badly…feet went right from under me…in the shower afterwards. Went bum first through the shower screen & Fosbury flopped over the edge of the bath.

"Have you broken anything?’"(Bernadette shouting through the door)

"I’m OK thanks."


Newbie Mark Goddard will have to put himself about the RRR ladies & get known a bit more if he wants his name shouting out in encouragement when he runs past, as nobody knew who he was - this despite Jill telling him, in a motherly tone at the start, that he wouldn’t need his base layer. He kept it on despite the weather being warm. Another runner who must wear something under his vest!

Both Dave E (long-term achilles problem) & Jason Keast (back) ran without complaint & posted great times. Ian Dale & Jill aim to do a competitive run every Sunday & it certainly pays off. Both also ran well.

Race over. Dave E. Dave P. Ian & myself are lugging the (heavy) gazebo, pennant & poles back to the car. From the top of the bank we have the perfect vantage point to watch Jarrod (has had a good season & ran fast) doing a 'Kipchoge' recovery run around the middle lane of the athletics track. I’m sure Kipchoge didn’t have to pack up & hump the gazebo back either.

Later that evening & I’m talking to the esteemed Ronnie Quinn for a piece on him in the Royton Correspondent. To qualify for the English Masters, Ronnie ran the Salford 10K in April in 44:15, thanks to dedicated effort & training. He’s older than me. Could I ever go sub-45 mins at Leigh again? Well with more, much more, effort & training maybe...  [Gary Smith]


The excitement builds as I drop my kit off at the bag drop. I see familiar faces smiling, laughing, joking & keeping warm in Rochdale Town Hall. I look up at the ceiling in the room where people are collecting their race numbers & see marble figurines with the names of the districts in Rochdale. I don’t know Rochdale very well but as I read them I see one which says 'Littleborough' & I think to myself that in an hour or so I will be in that very district running around Hollingworth Lake.


As start time approaches I have a little warm-up jog with Rob Nixon & Adam Bolton to keep loose. We head into the pen for the start & I push my way forward to the middle of the assembled field. The race begins & I move slowly, with a sea of runners, uphill out of Rochdale town centre. We turn left into Broadfield Park & I'm mindful that it's slippery under foot. I cast my mind back to this week's World Athletics Championships hoping that nobody 'does an Ingebrigtsen' & takes somebody out, or even worse if we all go down like skittles.


As I get to the top of the park I feel a bit more relaxed, as everyone can spread out. I get to the 1st mile & look around for people that I know, but can't see anyone. I look at my watch, see my time & say to a stranger, "Wow, mile 1 is here already!" She says to me wisely, "Don't count the miles, you will torture yourself if you do that." I think that's sound advice, thank her & get myself into a steady pace. As we join the canal the race participants spread out even more & I feel at ease, I can see the usual suspects from RRR in the distance & I feel that I am roughly where I need to be to run a good time.


As I travel along the canal & pass under bridges I am amazed by the support. When I reach Clegg Hall I hear a runner with a beard, ponytail & rather large head of hair teasing his friend about having no hair - the victim of the joke quips that being bald helps him run faster & that he will definitely beat him in the race. I join in with the banter & say that if I see a barber's around the lake I'll have a pit stop for a quick haircut & knock half an hour off my time. We laugh & say we are doing well to be close to the nearby pacer, who is wearing a Rochdale Triathlon Club vest with a laminated sheet with '1:45' pinned to his back. As we come off the canal & climb up the hill I can't keep up with this pace. I climb the hill with Adam Farrell & we discuss briefly (with heavy breathing) how well Mark Phelan is running, that it will be tricky to catch him & that he is keeping up with the aforementioned pacer. We see the race leaders running back downhill, they have already been around the lake & we are pleased that there is a strong RRR presence. 


I can hear banging of drums & a carnival atmosphere from across the lake. I try to synchronize my steps & breathing to the beat of the drums. It works well for me & in a relatively short space of time I get around the lake & am spurred on by a rather fast member of Rochdale Triathlon Club. I try to propel myself down the hill back to the canal, but as my brain tells me to move quickly my legs won't respond as fast I would like them too. I know that I’ve not done enough training & the journey back into Rochdale will be a long one as I see the runners ahead move further away from me. I dig in on the canal & mentally cross off the bridges as I come towards them. My legs are fading & I am getting weak as I get towards Crossfield Mill. A friendly voice shouts my name & tells me I can do this, it's someone from Oldham & Royton Harriers who I chat to on the running circuit. This spurs me on a little further as I pass under one more bridge where it's dark & slippery underfoot. I go a little further & a marshal in a wheelchair guides me away from the canal. I think to myself that this is a great community event & I’m amazed by all the wonderful local people who have worked hard to make it work, plus all of the supporters who have cheered me on along the way.


As I work my way through the neighbourhood back towards Rochdale town centre I feel shattered & think to myself, "This was easier last year, I should have done more training." I can’t see many people as I run on the road under a bridge. I can see a mosque in the distance that I saw at the start of the race. I repeat a little mantra to myself in my head over & over again which gets me moving. I find myself shouting it to myself & think I'm glad that no-one can see me shouting out loud! If I’ve got the energy to shout then I can’t be that tired? I get moving & my pace starts to increase slightly. I pass through the streets, guided by the marshals, then push myself down through the park & onto the final stretch of the race. I grit my teeth & focus on my technique. Trying to finish on a spring I push myself over the finish line in 1:50:28.


Pleased that it is all over, I'm met by a smiling Nick Mallon (1:42:13) & Garry Bower (1:47:36). As I take a drink of water, everyone who has made it over the line is sharing their stories. I could see that Janet Jobey was covered in mud & I hear someone say that cross country doesn't start until next week! Janet finished 4th lady (1:37:39), winning the ladies team prize alongside Tracey Johnson (1:54:23), Trish Murdin (1:54:28) & half marathon debutant Liane Gilligan (1:53:18).


It was a good day at the office for the RRR men who also scooped the team prize, with 3 finishers in the top 10 - Ian McBride (2nd in 1:14:40 in his first race for the club since 2013), Jarrod Gritt (3rd, 1:15:07) & George Booth (10th overall & 1st U20, 1:24:43). Rob Nixon (2:07:31) was focusing on a much bigger event, saving his energy to cheer on Oldham Roughyeds in their Promotion Final against Newcastle Thunder (they won!).  Dynamic duo Gail Shaw & Martina Naismith squeezed in a quick yoga session beforehand & completed the race in respectable times of 1:58:08 & 1:58:41 respectively. Kevin Hutchins (2:05:39) completed an impressive 2nd half marathon, then cheered Natali Brown (2:13:42), Dave Barsdley (2:16:05), Tracey Hall (2:16:06), Debra Cash (2:22:06) & Elaine Whithead (2:22:49) over the line.


There were so many sterling performances by the 45 RRRs who took part, placed evenly & competitively throughout the field. All our other finishers: Karen Jones (2:03:27), Chris Nicholson (2:02:00), Jillian Heywood (2:00:45), Gareth McCaffery (1:56:21), Alex Critcher (1:56:07), David Smith (1:55:44 in his 1st club race since 2017), Adam Farrell (1:54:04), Chris Eavers (also his 1st race for RRR since 2017, 1:53:16), Adam Bolton (1:52:41), Damian Mercer (1:50:52),  Mark Phelan (1:45:56), Robert Kellett (1:44:20), Brett Spivey (1:42:03), Andrew Schofield (1:41:23), Bernard Cassidy (1st MV60, 1:39:53), Darren Ogden (1:39:39), Bryan Lawton (1:39:28), Michael Harrison (1:37:53, another returning for his 1st club race since 2017), Matt Kershaw (1:35:10), Rob Battye (1:34:51 in his 1st club race of the year), Carl O'Callaghan (1:33:28), Bernard Goodwin (1:31:33), Elliot Stone (1:31:18), Ian Dale (1st MV55, 1:30:19), Martin Thompson (1:28:27) & Dave Peart (1:27:19).  

Next stop Derwent!  [John Fay]


We were both a bit daunted in the run-up to this event, held at Edge Hill University. There are just 2 reactions from other runners about my race times - either they don’t care or they are pleased to see that I wasn’t as fast as them. So to have your time added to a team total carries some added responsibility.

This event is regionalised, with clubs running against each other in one of the Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside or Greater Manchester districts on the same day, with the district results combined into an aggregated final table. So the RRR teams were in the Greater Manchester league, up against clubs including Salford & Bury, recognised for training & nurturing elite runners for the national squads.

The area around the athletics track didn’t seem that full of gazebos, tents & club pennants, but there were still 75 Senior Men's & 53 Senior Women's teams from across the North West. With 4 men's teams entered & 2 in the women's competition we had one of the best club turnouts; if Dave E counted them correctly, we were only pipped by Salford in numbers attending.

The course followed the perimeter of the campus & was mainly a cement path, with a slope up from the athletics track to get onto it, a second incline at the end to bring you back up to the top & the return down the 1st slope. Those drawings that show how the pyramids were built, dragging the stones up the ramps? Well it was a bit like that. Dave Ellis more usefully described it as a 'switchback'. Dave also noted that the path had deteriorated from last time here – so maybe, I pondered, I could blame my performance on the ground being broken up by the runners ahead of me, like Robert Redford in Downhill Racer ("I’ll be in ruts up to my knees"). Neil Bradley has run the parkrun here. Only 'U' & 'W' to go now & ...er forget now, but some other letters needed to complete his parkrun 'A to Z'.

Instead of a mad charge with all of us going at once as I had imagined, with the slowest team member struggling valiantly to keep up, the 2nd runners only went when their 1st team member had crossed the finish, so I only set off after Simon Howard had got back.

"I only had to explain this to you twice."

Thanks B.

Both Bernadette & Jill Heywood were jittery about going 1st for the Ladies A & B teams, but thanks to the reassurance & encouragement provided in spades by Janet Jobey, the Ladies Captain for the day ("Don’t worry about your time, we’re just here to enjoy ourselves & run for the club."), they duly led off their respective teams.

As I set off & try to chase down the guys in front of me, the faster teams were already coming around for their 2nd lap, running past me with astonishing ease. These speedsters are running their 5Ks in a little over 15 minutes! It was like Simba getting in the way of the wildebeest herd. ("That’s enough of the film references.")

Whilst each team’s individual times clustered nicely, to show most of us running to form - though Adam Bolton should have been swapped out of Team C with myself - the reticent MV65 Barry Greaves (never fusses about kit or talks about Strava times or training, just turns up & runs – fast!) must be congratulated in print for running 19:37, which I think is a remarkable time, especially as the course was a little over 5K. Well done Barry! Also thanks to Dave Peart & Simon Howard, who both did 2 legs in taking the place of runners who couldn’t make it & ran just as fast (in Simon’s case 3:09 seconds faster) than their first 5K.

Bernadette was pleased with her time in the end & we had a celebratory cappuccino in the Uni coffee shop (Starbucks not as good as Costa or Cafe Nero apparently), sitting down with Rob Nixon & his non-dairy pumpkin latte.

"What you do have, Bernadette, is a very particular set of skills. Skills that you have acquired over a very long career.

I would like you to now use these skills to find a frying pan and make my tea".


Full team line-ups, results & individual times can be found on the website here.  [Gary Smith]


I arrive at the pier at Lerwick, the principal town of the Shetland Islands. Thursday night had been a rough crossing from Kirkwall, but I’ve had time to recover. I hear a voice inside my head: "Owen don’t be a hero". Why did I think of that? Maybe I'm thinking of the Paper Lace hit "Billy don’t be a hero"? What goes through my mind, it’s only a parkrun! Do I really need to be competitive? Today is not a day when points are needed to win a club championship prize, or I need to win a race on the track for Oldham & Royton to gain promotion, or even a trial for Wales or East Wales.

Something taps me on the shoulder. What if this is the best opportunity to be a 1st finisher in the M45 age group? I got a 1st finisher once as an M40. It was in Wales & my dad took a photo with me next to the parkrun director, it was 1 for the family album. I think about how close I was at Kirkwall on Orkney last year. 1st lap I took a wrong turning, 2nd lap the runner with me managed to knock over somebody’s son; it was all down to a battle on the 3rd & final lap & I came in 2nd. Duncan Mason, who finished 1st, is a parkrun ambassador for Scotland & has completed nearly every parkrun in the country. It makes me smile - I think whatever happens this week I’ve had a great time; I worked my way up to John o’Groats. Although I didn’t start at Land's End, what a great feeling to run on the roads & trails of this area, then run past the famous signpost on the harbour where many adventures have begun & ended. Then onto Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the British mainland, a mere few miles further north than John o’Groats. A manned lighthouse was there until 1989. Then more adventures around Caithness before taking the John o’Groats ferry to Orkney & then on to Shetland. Unless something goes spectacularly wrong I'll be able to say I have completed the parkrun Northern Islands double.

A seal plays in the water. Shetland ponies are wild & free next to the roadside. A seabird swoops for his prey. This surely is time for a bobble hat. This is the most northerly & remote part of Great Britain. This is Shetland!

The parkrun adventure starts at 9am on Saturday morning, when runners meet at Lerwick Pier to catch the inter-island ferry service - a 7-minute crossing to Bressay. I wait in anticipation; this trip has been a year in the planning. I 1st became interested in the idea when I discovered that a colleague's mother lived in East Shetland & was familiar with Bressay parkrun. I have been to Shetland on 4 previous occasions & it didn’t take much to persuade me to come back. Waiting at the pier, it is obvious that the other passengers are also there for parkrun. Already the atmosphere is incredible. Everybody has their own story to tell. You know it’s going to be something special already.

The boat sets sail. We are greeted by marshals who direct us to the start, a short walk from the Mayfield Hotel. The parkrun director does the normal briefing before a 9.30am start. The course is an out & back consisting of undulating lanes. No trees & lawns around here. The usual question is asked, "Do we have any tourists?". There are certainly a lot, from England & mainland Scotland. A family has travelled from the Falkland Islands - it could be that they feel an infinity with the Shetland climate. Their journey must have taken several days.

We line up on a yellow start line and the parkrun director sets us off. I find myself in the lead, but this is short lived. The wind when we turn onto the harbour road is a killer & there is a chasing group closing from behind. My lead is swallowed up & I’m now behind.

What can I say about the next couple of kilometres? The earlier rain has stopped but the wind lashes against you. At around the 3K mark I have passed Bressay’s only shop that the parkrun regulars have never seen open on a Saturday morning. I am totally bashed & windswept. It feels that things are happening in slow motion.

I have a reprieve. The wind has stopped. There is some more climbing & at 4K I look at my watch. If I can just put in a fast last kilometre it won’t be so bad in the circumstances. I see the marshal at the final crossroads directing people to the cones at the finish next to the school. How glad I feel to have crossed the line.

The first finisher is 14-year-old Reece Black, holding a good style all the way in a close finish. I tell him he will be a future star of Shetland, if he is not a star already. His mum Charlotte Black, Shetland’s leading female distance runner, finishes 4th. I come home 5th out of 62 finishers in 20:39. I found out there was a wind speed of 20mph, so maybe I can say 20 in 20. I speak to a local who says, "It was relatively calm today, around a force 3. Try it in a force 7 or 8". In its history Bressay has been cancelled a few times due to high winds & the ferry not running. "That was the toughest 5K I have run in my life," I reply. "It’s my favourite parkrun."

The celebration afterwards is something else. There is tea & coffee galore, large cream cakes, bacon rolls; everything is home-made. This is all laid out in the old school house, which closed as numbers had dropped to 3 pupils in its final year & is now a community centre for the island. I spoke to many people. A couple from Thirsk recognised me from Kirkwall parkrun last year. I spoke to people I had met when I visited Shetland for the Nat West Island Games in 2006, where I supported a good friend Ian Williamson who captained Shetland at athletics & became a volunteer at the track. The parkrun is well-supported by local athletes. "Ian told me that bad weather seems to follow me everywhere," I told them. I reflect how true this is - I’ve done Dent in wind & rain a few times.

Most of all I shall remember the incredible story of Kate Wills, Bressay parkrun director, who deserves a report just about herself. It was during a career break that Katie visited Australia & first sampled parkrun. She was determined to bring it back to her native Bressay, despite the fact that the island has a population of a little more than a 100 people. Plus there are the obvious challenges of the remoteness, poor weather & rough sea from the mainland. Yet everyone on the island welcomed parkrun with open arms. When you walk down Lerwick High Street it seems that every business & shop is advertising Bressay parkrun. People can’t help telling me, "Isn’t the parkrun busy & popular?" The biggest turnout has been 94. I smile & wonder what they'd think if they saw Heaton Park, Bushy or even Oldham on a Saturday.

Most people return on the 10.30am or 11.30am ferry back to Lerwick. Everyone is buzzing. There have not been all that many tourists who have return to Bressay parkrun, but I like to think one day I will. We say our goodbyes. I plan to walk across the island of Noss, the next island from Bressay, to hopefully spy on some wildlife. As I walk towards Noss, Kate is doing her long run. "How far are you running?" I shout. "12 miles!" she replies. It feels like I can see miles into the distance. Katie goes round a loch, getting smaller & smaller in the distance. I think to myself, "How can I ever better this?"

Next week it’s windy again. I am swept away at Townley Park, Burnley. That’s my tourism done for a bit.

There is always 1 better. On Facebook I read about the adventures of 1 man & his bike at the 1st event of Mount Stuart parkrun on the Isle of Bute. I read the post & I find it a mouth-watering account. Now there are 3 Scottish island parkruns...  [Owen Flage]


Approaching the entrance to Capesthorne Hall, the new venue for the popular Cheshire Half Marathon, there was a big sign announcing a 'Hide & Seek Festival'. There was no sign of anyone involved in this – which I guess is what you’d expect if they’re any good at it. Later Googling revealed that it’s actually a new music & arts festival which had taken place the day before, featuring performers such as Dan Shake, Jeremy Underground & Shonky. No, me neither…

Capesthorne Hall itself is a very grand-looking stately home, set in 100 acres of parkland. It seems it’s mainly used these days as a wedding venue & film location, having been a backdrop for The Making of a Lady (2016) & Close to the Enemy (2012). No, me neither…

Anyway, the massive grounds did provide plenty of room for an event village as well as ample parking. Unfortunately the walk across the grass from the car park left us all with wet feet. Not really the way you want to start a race. Otherwise, the slightly chilly pre-race conditions seemed ideal for distance running. It did get warmer during the race, until some welcome rain arrived in the latter stages (welcome at 1st – I’d just finished by the time the proper downpour arrived & I don’t imagine it was much fun to run in that).

Rob James went into this race knowing that if he was the 1st RRR to cross the line he’d draw level with Jarrod Gritt at the top of the Premiership table & have an unassailable lead in their 'head to head' record, giving him his 4th successive RRR club championship title. He duly delivered, finishing 3rd in a fine 1:14:28, within a minute of the 1st 2 finishers & just over 30 seconds ahead of Jarrod (1:14:59), celebrating his 50th club race. This has been the closest championship for years, bringing the best out of both of them. As Rob said afterwards, "Massive respect for Jarrod & how hard he has made me work for it."

There was another major milestone here for Dave Peart (1:23:30), who also marked the occasion in style by winning the V50 prize in his 100th race for the club. He is 1 of just 3 RRRs to have completed all 14 championship races so far this year, along with Jarrod & Elliot Stone (1:33:58). Dave was followed home by an in-form Neil Brock (1:27:34), who claimed the V55 award. Our only other age category winner in a high-quality field was Janet Jobey (1:35:08), 1st FV45 & 10th female overall in an excellent new personal best time.

On that wet walk from the car park before the race, Adam Bolton informed me that his target was to "get close to 2 hours". Aim high, I said, try to break that 2-hour barrier! He duly crossed the line in a fantastic 1:51:06. If only I could motivate myself in the same way as I apparently can others; not being stood in the toilet queue when the race starts might give me more of a chance…

Amongst the 29 RRRs taking part – we were once again the best-represented club, by a distance – was Kevin Hutchings in his 1st ever half marathon. The increase in distance proved no problem, as he finished in a fine 2:08:32 & reported that he "really enjoyed it". No doubt he's already trying to decide which marathon to sign up for next year...

All the other RRR finishers: Gareth McCaffery (2:13:50), Elaine Whitehead (2:13:38), Tracey Hall (2:10:15), Debbie Cash (2:09:58), Susan Heaney (2:07:05), Karen & Stewart Jones (both 2:07:03), Trish Murdin (1:59:01), Kevin Heenan (1:54:07), Lisa Cummins (1:53:42, clearly benefiting from her Berlin Marathon training), Helen Radcliffe (1:48:25, also getting set for Berlin), John Fay (1:48:14), Mark Phelan (1:45:34 - a huge PB), Robert Nixon (1:43:37), Mark Foran (1:43:17), Bernard Cassidy (1:37:21), Brett Spivey (1:33:36), Carl O’Callaghan (1:31:20), Bernard Goodwin (1:30:25), me (1:30:00 - thanks to chip timing after my delayed start) & Robert Fairbanks (1:23:00).

Despite the rain causing a boggy exit from the car park – at least one car needed a push to get out – I thought this was a well-organised event on a largely flat, pretty fast course (apart from the narrow & congested path in the 1st mile or so, but my view on that might have been affected by my failure to get to the start line on time). Running on closed roads throughout was a definite plus & they were generous with the goodies afterwards, although something to put them in would have been helpful. The ever-resourceful Bernie Goodwin grabbed an empty flapjack box, as we stood sheltering under the gazebo, to transport his treasure back to the car. 

RRR numbers exactly matched those at the English Half Marathon in Warrington at around the same time last year; we’ll see if this race gains enough support in our end-of-season poll to be included again in 2020.

Next up for a number of RRRs is the North West Counties Road Relay event at Edge Hill University on Sunday 8th September - there's plenty of room on the coach if anyone wants to go along & support our teams! We also now have a month of Oldham parkruns counting as the 15th club championship race of the season. The best time you run at Alexandra Park over the next 4 events will determine how many points you earn, so it’s worth getting there as often as you can! [David Emanuel]


Into the Hopwod campus...

"Why are you pulling over?"

"Swap seats - you can take the car in."

"Ah...have some of the club have seen you trying to park?"

Q. If you were organising a race event, what piece of equipment would you hire first?

A. A loudhailer

Then why do they not do it? If there is stuff that the runners need to be told, why take the risk that they can’t hear you or are not paying attention, especially the bit about everyone having collected their timing chip. Off Ian Dale trotted nonchalantly across the field for his. The winner of the caption competition is Bryan Lawton with 'Chip 'n' Dale'. Or did he mean 'Chippendale'? Squeaky-voiced annoying Disney chipmunks, or antique furniture?

Bernadette: "Or Bryan might have meant The Chippendales, thinking of Ian’s bare bronzed torso, with him wearing just a bow tie & shirt cuffs, gyrating in front of him?"

Possibly. You obviously did.

"Did anyone say the course was up hill & down dale?"


Ian must have also heard the announcement about the delay due to loose horses, because I didn’t - until I was regaled on all sides that this 'must' go in the report. First Elliot Stone told me, then Mark Foran, then Mike Keating (under starter’s orders, etc). Guys, read last year’s report which kept the horsey theme. But the race certainly is a case of 'horses for courses' I thought – different people with different (running) skills.

"Did anyone say 'That’s why it’s called the Hopwood Trot?"


Trotted out for a warm-up with Paul Cooke, who was nonplussed that he had had to pay an entry fee of £15 on the day. The most expensive bottle of water & 3-pack of custard creams (not even Peek Freans) you’ve ever bought Cookie!

The club had 63 finishers compared to 51 last year, making up nearly half the field. Rob James (31:18) & Jarrod Gritt (31:59) repeated their 1st & 2nd place finishes for the 2nd year running & once again we took both team prizes. Rob & Jarrod were joined by Martin Thompson (34:49, 1st MV35) & Shane Reading (34:59, 1st MV45) to form the victorious men’s team, while Janet Jobey (1st female in 39:11), Rochelle Evans (43:50), Helen Radcliffe (45:57) & Liane Gilligan (47:06) made up the victorious women’s squad. Congratulations to our other age category winners Bernie Goodwin (37:21, 1st MV50), Dave Emanuel (37:40, 1st MV55), Bernie Cassidy (40:06, 1st MV60), Gail Shaw (50:39, 1st FV55), June Allingan (1:04:47, 1st FV75) & Stephen Jones (1:08:13, 1st MV65).

There were some very close finishes between club runners, the difference in most cases being the sprint in at the end. Darren Ogden (37:38) edged out Dave Emanuel by 2 seconds, while Ian Dale (38:09) must have just got around the corner to see Mathew Kilburn (38:03) cross the finish line. Damien Mercer (43:48) finished 2 seconds ahead of Rochelle on chip time, although he was 5 seconds behind on the road. Perseverance & patience have finally paid off for Steven Goddard (46:04) who ran past me with ease well before the end of the 1st circuit & got in front of an ever-determined Chris Nicholson (46:06) at the finish. I out-sprinted Jason Keast (47:39) at the finish. 

Hang on Jason wants a word.

"That’s the last time I take it easy in a club race, protecting my back & still slowing down to encourage you to keep going, only for you to do your sprint finish over the final 20 metres. You…" (child-friendly edit)

We now have runners new to the club participating in the races coming from the different organised/social running groups or - as was related to me - looking up the club via Google after seeing our vests at Oldham parkrun. Tracy Johnson (47:25) stayed ahead of me all race, Liane Gilligan ran past on the 2nd circuit & then Tim Walsh (47:01), still running strongly at the finish, overtook all 3 of us. Adam Stopford powered ahead of me briefly before pulling up. Meanwhile Lisa Cummins (47:50) looked suitably disgusted at coming behind the dobbin who she had previously beaten at the Mossley 10K.

All the other RRR finishers: George Booth (35:06), Robert Fairbanks (35:29), Dave Peart (37:31), Brett Spivey (38:26), Owen Flage (38:35), Matt Kershaw (38:58), ,Elliot Stone (40:24), Bryan Lawton (40:37), Garry Bower (41:29), Robert Kellett (41:37), Andy Chadwick (41:45), Mark Foran (41:49), Mark Heaney (42:13), John Fay (43:26), Robert Nixon (43:57), Adam Stirling (44:43), Simon Howard (45:49), Adam Bolton (46:14), Gary Smith (47:36), Trish Murdin (48:12), Sarah Tomassi (48:33), Paul Cooke (49:41), Jillian Heywood (50:01), Warren Siddall (50:28), Kevin Hutchings (50:57), Martina Naismith (51:12), Bernie Allen (52:29), Debra Cash (53:51), Tracey Hall (54:29), Dave Bardsley (54:41), Amanda Richardson (55:11), Natali Brown (56:29), Mike Keating (57:18), Emma Bower (57:26), Elaine Whitehead (57:52), Sue Farrell (58:32), Bernadette Ball (58:41), Anne Jones (1:03:21) & Hulya Whittaker (1:07:59). 

Martina was celebrating her birthday by running 2 laps around a sodden campus in Middleton strewn with horse-muck.

"How old is Martina now B?"

"A gentleman never asks a lady’s age."

"So how old is she then?"

Back in the car...

"As well as seeing you try to park, has anyone in the club heard you speak Spanish Gary?"

"Or have they ever seen you do a body combat class?"

We’re killing ourselves laughing.

"No, thank God!"

Next one is the Cheshire Half on 1st September.

MOSSLEY 10K - 14th JULY 2019

"We choose to go to Mossley..."

"We choose to go to Mossley & do the 10K not because it is easy, but because it is hard."

So 46 RRRs, most of us made of the right stuff (with at least 1 exception) were on the launch pad at the Lilywhites' football ground.

Systems check?

Neil Brock...Go...Dave Ellis...Go...Dave Emanuel...Go...Matthew Kilburn...Go...Nick Mallon...Go...Mark Heaney...Go...Gary Smith...malfunction – stop the countdown...Natali Brown...Go...Stephen Jones...Go...Angela Rogowskyj...Go...(oh, get on with it!)

There was a communication breakdown with the final ignition sequence from mission control (guy with the loudhailer). Something about the klaxon to be sounded once for those running sub-50 minutes & then again for the rest of us - but everyone’s engines fired on the 1st klaxon & we lifted off together.

Up & then down the hill, before the sharp turn at the bottom on the 1st burn & stage separation & already 'Houston we have a problem'. Running out of oxygen, asking for warp factor 5, but my lungs are shouting to me, "We’re giving all we’ve got captain but the legs cannae give anymore." I can’t go any faster. A whole payload of RRRs have already reached escape velocity before I had even finished my preliminary orbit. Obviously not spent enough time in the flight simulator (recces & training nights).

I took some space rations, sucked on a liquid gel wrapped in silver foil, but still felt I was running on depleted reserves. Orange fiery comets kept going past me (Mossley runners). Then Adam Bolton eclipsed me & a short while later shooting star Lisa Cummins came past, defying gravity. Both runners had a trajectory that took them further away from me. Lisa enjoyed recounting her run with Helen Radcliffe & Val Kilburn at the finish: "40,000 steps for a woman, 1 giant leap for womenkind", or something like that.

I switched from manual to autopilot for the final approach, threatening to burn up on re-entry to the space port/football ground, finding that many of my fellow RRRs had already landed ahead of me, so winning their own space race.

Congratulations to Rob James (2nd overall) & Jarrod Gritt (3rd), not to mention to Janet Jobey (1st FV45) & Bernadette Ball (1st FV65). Nice that both Janet & Bernadette were on their 51st club space mission. Neil Brock (1st MV50) & Dave Peart (2nd MV50) were both wearing space age, gravity-defying trainers (Nike Vapours). Great running also from Ronnie Quinn (1st MV60) & Rob Nixon (2nd MV60), whose namesake was the US president when Apollo 11 landed on the moon!

All the RRR finishing times: Angela Rogowskyj (1:17:35), Anne Jones (1:09:52), Martina Naismith (1:07:37), Stephen Jones (1:06:58), Bernadette Ball (1:06:05), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:05:49), Elaine Whitehead (1:05:16), Judith Bradley (1:03:49), Natali Brown (1:02:15), Neil Bradley (1:00:34), Amanda Richardson (1:00:22), Susan Heaney (1:00:17), Warren Siddall (57:11), Kevin Hutchings (56:10), Gary Marshall (54:59), Kevin Heenan (54:30), Trish Murdin (53:21), Lee Higginbottom (52:51), Gary Smith (52:51), Lisa Cummins (51:48), Adam Bolton (51:29), Gareth McCaffery (50:26), Helen Radcliffe (50:04), John Fay (49:25), Valerie Kilburn (48:49), Mark Phelan (48:19), Mark Heaney (48:06), Damian Mercer (47:54), Rochelle Evans (47:46), Mark Foran (47:35), Andrew Chadwick (46:55), Robert Nixon (46:42), Adam Stirling (46:28), Ronnie Quinn (46:18), Nick Mallon (45:34), Garry Bower (45:26), Elliot Stone (44:18), Janet Jobey (43:35), Matthew Kilburn (43:00), David Emanuel (42:10), David Ellis (41:55), Dave Peart (40:57), Neil Brock (40:11), Shane Reading (38:56), Jarrod Gritt (34:45) & Rob James (34:36).

Next flight mission is Hopwood Trot on 7th August.  [Gary 'Buzz' Smith]


The Group Tables have been updated.

"Hey, I’m third in Group 6, never been that high before."

"Really?" (feigning some small interest)

"And first in the Female Over 55s!" (excitedly) "Do you want to know where you are?"

"Are you taking the p***?!"

My own running performance has become a sensitive subject!

We’re here again & I still misjudge when I park up how far it is to the pub from the end of Thornham Road, measured by the time B. spends grumbling about how much closer I should have parked. We finally get to the pub & everything is as it should be. Bryan in his hi-viz, interior of the TH Tavern the same, ladies queue for the portaloo. Except it’s not the same. Brian Moore & his laptop are missing! Instead Jenny O’Callaghan, son Sam, Katie Lawton & Alison Cresswell are behind the registration desk, all wearing their hi-viz...in the pub! Plus there are also...chip -timers.

Still in the pub & a runner is trying to reminisce with Bernie Cassidy about the inaugural Royton Trail way back in 2007.

"Do you remember Bernie when you had to tell us the way?"

Bernie wasn’t much interested in reminiscing, as he is still running very much in the now, finishing this year in 42:58. Great time Bernie!

We had 80 club members complete the race, our best turnout this year, an increase on last year’s 70 but well short of the record 103 in 2015. It's funny but I feel that we’re a much bigger club than we have ever been since I joined in 2013 & the times across the different categories have got quicker – or is it I’m getting slower?

As it's Janet's & Bernadette’s 50th club race, let them describe how their races went.

The Royton Trail was Janet’s 2nd ever club race, back in 2015, & it was still 28 degrees at 7:30pm. "I did question at the time what I had signed up for! I worked out that if I didn’t do Oldham’s Toughest 10K, The Royton Trail would be my 50th race. I just thought even though it’s not my favourite, what better way of celebrating this than doing our own club race. I was determined to behave & not go off in my stupid normal style, 'enjoy it' my inner voice tells me, if you feel good at half way push on. That worked, I felt good in the 2nd half & passed more people than normal, including Brett Spivey, who is in my group - extra points are always good. Nice PB (41:04), 3rd lady & a team prize! Well happy with that."

Well done Janet. The Royton Trail not your favourite race? Someone pass Bryan Lawton the smelling salts! You also remembered walking up Thornham Road to the start with B. & myself when you did the RT the first time. It’s fantastic that some years & 49 races later you can run a PB. Well done!

So to Bernadette. "Mark Phelan asked what time I thought I'd do. 'Not sure,' I replied. 'I usually just end up completely on my own. I just hope there's someone to follow.' Oh & there surely was! As we set off, I think I was in the first 3rd of runners (ever hopeful!) on the downward stretch. I noted it wasn't as dry as last year, when I choked on the dust from the flying feet in front. But soon the sea of green white & yellow overtook me! I'm never really sure if I like the race but trails are more motivating than roads, so I enjoyed the run & the weather was kind. I was on my own for the most part but overtook a fellow RRR Sue Farrell who had been in front & behind me at various points before. Quite pleased the time (1:01:23) was similar to last year as I wasn't feeling too good. It was great to be pushed on by the pom-pom wavers & cheerers! - big cheer for Gail Shaw & the rest."

Thanks B. Can’t believe you’ve done 50 races. I’m only just ahead of you, with my 50th at Blackpool this year. You’ve run every distance, tackled all the uphills & downhills, & finished them all with a smile. Well done. Proud of you.

"Now you’re taking the p***!"

"No, I’m honestly not."

Elaine Whitehead (59:37) suffered a collapsed lung 2 months ago, which had to be reflated in an emergency operation, but after several consecutive club races she is getting quicker. "Since the incident I have gained 1:30 minutes per mile on my usual pace. I started out with Mandy Richardson, who soon ran on ahead along with Martina Naismith. Not going off too quick, I stayed with Hulya Whittaker for a while until we reached Hough Lane where I pushed on alone. On the motorway bridge Trish Murdin rushed past me. We had a brief conversation & I wished her well. 10 minutes later I overtook her! I took it nice & easy down Cinder Hill until I got onto Middleton Road. After the water station, I could see Judith Bradley just ahead & we overtook each other several times as we played cat & mouse into Tandle Hill. I decided to take it easy as it was now very muggy with no breeze. I think this worked in my favour as I could see Judith just in front struggling up the hill. By the time we came out on Thornham Lane again, I had passed Judith & felt I had enough energy to push myself to sprint to the finish line. I was a good 3 minutes slower than last year but under the circumstances feel happy to finish in sub-60 minutes. I always find The Royton Trail enjoyable & challenging. Hopefully next year I will be back to full health and up to speed."

Great to hear that you have recovered Elaine from a major surgical intervention. I'm sure Bryan has now recovered as well ("enjoyable & challenging"). Do you think that surgeon could reflate my legs?

Andy Chadwick has rocked up. "So I had the pleasure of the RRR President for company on the 2nd half of the route. Ronnie's encouragement helped me overhaul Nick Mallon on the big hill & finish strongly. Beating Nick kept my chances of winning the group alive, until at least Sunday..."

Thanks Andy. Ronnie’s 'encouragement', are you sure he wasn’t just taking the p***? What happens on Sunday can go in the Mossley report. There's plenty of 'super over' action left in all the groups, including yours Bernadette!

Finally, to the race winner Rob James, who  crossed the line in 32:36. "At the start line I was very nervous as I often am & wasn’t sure how well I was going to do, as I had not eaten very much all day. But once the race got under way I just focused on the job in hand & stuck behind the front 2 runners for the 1st few miles or so. I was alongside Jarrod & then we both overtook the leaders & stayed side by side for pretty much the next mile. I broke away from Jarrod & knew that I just now needed to keep ahead. I just kept going at the pace I was doing, pushed on through the woodland & the hilly bits, then for the final downhill I just used every bit of energy I had left to put in one final push & stepped up my pace. When I came through the finish line I was so happy & proud of myself for winning the race. It felt amazing, especially with all the RRR supporters around the route & at the end. It's a great race put on by a great club, I couldn’t be happier."

Thanks Rob. Some insight into the mind of a really fast & strong runner, but who has to work as hard as the rest of us & doesn’t take it for granted. Congratulations & well done! Rob has now equalled Ian McBride’s record of three wins of The Royton Trail, so he will be back next year I’m sure along with Jarrod (32:59) who pushed him all the way.

Other RRRs were reaching their own milestones. Welcome aboard Graham Batty (51:52) who made his debut in RRR colours, while Dave Bardsley (58:58) & Paul Ashton (37:40) both completed their 10th club race. Ray Williams (52:58) & Matthew Fitton (45:19) both ran their 1st race of 2019. Alan Bodell (39:27) won his age category, also in his 1st club race of the year. June Allingan (1:07:29), Ronnie Quinn (44:13) & Rochelle Evans (44:48) all won their respective age categories.

The RRR ladies team of Janet Jobey, Rochelle, Val Kilburn (45:39) & Vikki Smith (46:44) regained the title that went to Rochdale Harriers last year. We have now won this title in 8 of the 10 years that team awards have been given. It shows the quality of the field when our 4 fastest men - Rob James, Jarrod Gritt, Shane Reading (36:12) & Martin Thompson (36:36) - came 2nd to a resurgent Rochdale Harriers. Pass Bryan the smelling salts again!

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (1:12:50), Stephen Jones (1:12:17), Joanne Lawton (1:07:47), Hulya Whittaker (1:06:28), Sue Farrell (1:01:28), Judith Bradley (59:54), Natali Brown (59:16), Neil Bradley (58:23), Stephen Rogowskyj (57:55), Amanda Richardson (57:40), Tim Dickinson (56:38), Tracey Hall (55:57), Kevin Hutchings (54:52), Emma Bower (54:34), Martina Naismith (54:26), Teresa Holllins (54:22), Bernie Allen (54:16), Gary Marshall (54:08), Karen Jones (53:59), Jillian Heywood (53:52), Warren Siddall (53:27), Kevin Heenan (52:19),  Lee Higginbottom (51:09), David Phillips (50:52), Trish Murdin (50:26), Lisa Cummins (49:53), Paul Cooke (49:37), Adam Bolton (49:20), Gary Smith (49:14), Phil Austin (49:11), Chris Nicholson (49:02), Liane Gilligan (48:53), Gareth McCaffery (48:13), Andrea Dickinson (48:09), Helen Radcliffe (47:34), Steven Shaw (47:20), Natalie Fitzpatrick (46:56), Adam Farrell (46:06), Robert Nixon (45:54), Mark Heaney (45:40), Mark Phelan (45:37), John Fay (45:35), Damian Mercer (45:28), Mark Foran (44:53), Alex Critcher (44:39), Nick Mallon (44:32), Andrew Chadwick (44:07), Robert Kellett (43:56), Eamonn Nolan (43:01),  Garry Bower (42:24), Elliot Stone (42:06), Brett Spivey (41:11), Matthew Kilburn (40:34), David Emanuel (40:28), Ian Dale (40:01), Darren Ogden (39:30), Carl O'Callaghan (39:19), Neil Brock (39:18), Bernard Goodwin (38:52),  Dave Peart (37:23) & Richard Cummins (37:02). 

The next club race has already taken place, the Mossley 10K on 14th July. 2 race reports in 4 days? They’re taking the p***!  [Gary Smith]

ROCHDALE 10K - 2nd JULY 2019

"Stop scratching them."

"I was travelling so slowly the midges were inviting their friends & family onto my legs."

"Well Ronnie did warn us. What you need is a 'Midge Cure'!"

Last year England were scraping through against Columbia on the evening of the Rochdale 10K & this year it would be the women’s ('3 irons on the shirt') turn to go out at the hands of USA. Plus ca change!

I spoke to Dave Peart after parking up. He was looking smooth in his new green vaporflys & now has a nice new pair of socks from this event to complete the look.

James Wright was doing his first club race of 2019, taking time out from his fund-raising & putting together the Bimble in the Park (summer event coming up on 28th July!). Unusual not see him in his Mr Bump or Picachu costume, but he didn’t fancy going into Heywood in them. Understandable.

The club must be well on its way to setting a record for club participation this year [Afraid we've got a way to go to match out peak in 2015, when we averaged nearly 70 runners per race - ed] as we had 62 finishers here, up on 42 in 2018 & making up 30% of the field. With most of the club bunched up at the front before the start in the new vest, it looked like a Costa Rican rainforest from the back. It’s the law of the jungle when an event is non-chipped!

I invited some RRRs to say what they thought about the race. Kevin Hutchings (1:01:34) said, "I really struggled. Went off too fast (as normal!), struggled with the hills & my asthma got to me so I ended up wheezing my way round, which I did despite being six minutes slower than at Colshaw." Thanks Kevin. Runners who ran within a second or 3 of their Colshaw time were Jarrod Gritt (1st RRR finisher in 34:47), Ronnie Quinn (46:49), Adam Farrell (49:15), Tracey Hall (58:06), John Fay (48:35) & Emma Bower (56:09).

Hulya Whittaker (pronounced like 'Julia' with h instead of J, not 'Hull-Ya'!) said, "It was a tough course, both weather & route. The end was confusing, nearly took the wrong turn at the park entrance as there was no marshal. I had various people around me at different stages - at the beginning I started with Liane Gilligan, but she was too fast for me, then Tracey Hall & Martina Naismith ran past me (gracefully), but towards the end I was running behind two other RRRs. It’s like a blur now..." Thanks Hulya. I remember being confused at the finish when I did it the 1st time & am still confused after discussing it with Bernadette just now. Do you keep turning left as the starter says? But there was a marshal present when I came around the park corner. Think those 2 runners were Anne & Stephen Jones (1:09:42 & 1:09:27 respectively).

Martina Naismith (1:00:47): "Bernie Allen & Dave Bardsley were near me for a couple of miles, then Steven Rogowskyi was ahead of me until you turned left just before the football ground. I overtook Kevin Hutchings at about 4.5K as he was struggling. I didn’t like this race last year & only did it this time as being injured at the start of the year I need to get my 7 in, but it was better this time. Maybe it was a bit cooler & I’m also fitter. I think I was a couple of minutes faster than last year." Thanks Martina - you’ll stay super-fit going back & forth to collect prizes on behalf of other RRRs. We came 3rd overall in the male team competition through Jarrod Gritt, Rob James (35:56), Paul Ashton (39:02) & Shane Reading (38:34), while Paul & Shane were joined by Bernard Goodwin (40:55) & Dave Peart (40:55) for 3rd in the Male Vets. There was more success for the ladies as we won the team prize with Rochelle Evans (47:39); Valerie Kilburn (47:53) & Natalie Fitzpatrick (49:40 - 1st FV35 in her 1st club race of 2019). Other age category winners were Dave Hall (44:22, 1st MV55), Bernard Cassidy (44:43, 1st MV60), Dave Philips (53:33, 1st MV75) & June Allingan (1:16:03, 1st FV75).

"Personally, I found it tough, mainly through not being fit enough for the route," said Gail Shaw. "It's not so hilly but the hills it does have are taxing. I mainly ran with Tracey Hall on my tail as she wanted to get a PB (which she did). Emma Bower went past us on Bolton Road & remained in front until just after the 5K point, when she started to move away. We went past Kevin on Bolton Road, he appeared to be struggling." Thanks Gail. I spoke to you after Colshaw & you were glad just to get around there. Well done & thanks for volunteering to marshal at The Royton Trail. Well done also to Tracey.

Robert Fairbanks: "A pleasant evening, good to get my warm-up out of the way with other RRRs. I missed the group photo as I was in the loo queue. I started on the 3rd row & the first 10 (including Jarrod & Rob) disappeared up the hill in seconds. A tough start - then the big hill. I followed Shane for the first 4K & then pushed for 5th with Paul Timms (Rochdale Tri), who led me for the next 5K as we slowly pulled away from Shane. The final hill to 9K was a killer but I continued to chase Paul & had a Bury lad chasing me, the 3 of us in a sprint finish. Paul held on from me & I held off the Bury lad. Happy with the time (37:42) after doing 3 races in 6 days." Thanks Rob. Yes, they took the group photo without me as well, then put it on Facebook without my permission! You captioned your finish photo, showing you in full sprint mode, as 'The Hurt Locker'. Well check out my finish photo, 'The Hurt Walk-in-Wardrobe'.

"I set off fast with Rob, 6th or 7th," said Jarrod. "The first 2K, slightly downhill, was fast. We started to pick people off to get into 2nd & 3rd by about 3.5K. We were neck-&-neck until we turned left onto Queens Park Road (5.5K), when I started to open up a small lead. The guy from Bury got between me & Rob going into the park. I knew I was never going to catch the leader, but I kept him in sight. I knew from around 6K that unless something bad happened I was never going to get caught by the 3rd place & focused on keeping that 2nd spot." Thanks Jarrod. As you go on to say, the fastest aren’t always accelerating & you found the last 3-4K tough.

For myself (51:49), from the start I was trying to catch Gareth McCaffrey (51:40) & Tracy Johnson (51:44), 15 metres ahead running side-by-side, when at 4K Adam Bolton (51:48) charged past me. By 6K he had got in front of the 3 of us. By 9K I had fallen back & a determined Chris Nicholson (51:42) overtook me on the final run-in, catching Tracy & Adam as well. Great running!

All the other RRR finising times: Angela Rogowskyj (1:16:23), Hulya Whittaker (1:10:21), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:05:51), Elaine Whitehead (1:04:22), Bernadette Ball (1:04:17), Dave Bardsley (1:02:47), Tim Dickinson (1:00:31), Bernie Allen (59:46), Gail Shaw (57:37), Debra Cash (56:46), Teresa Hollins (56:27), Trish Murdin (55:16), Adam Stirling (55:16), Adam Stopford (54:11), Liane Gilligan (53:50), Paul Cooke (53:23), James Wright (52:51), Stephen Goddard (52:33), Steve Shaw (48:52), Robert Nixon (47:28), Andrew Chadwick (47:24), Eamonn Nolan (46:41), Robert Kellett (45:52), Andrew Schofield (45:49), Garry Bower (45:07), Nicholas Mallon (44:40), Matthew Kilburn (44:01), Brad Howard (43:55), Elliot Stone (43:34), Brett Spivey (42:20), Darren Ogden (42:17), Matt Kershaw (42:14), David Ellis (41:09) & Neil Brock (40:59).

Back home, nurse Bernadette is dispensing some tough love.

"Stop scratching, you’re making them bleed!"

"They’re itching like mad."

"You’ll live." (Followed by) "Be careful - I’ve just changed the bed."

Next one is The Royton Trail on 10th July.  [Gary Smith]

ENDURE 24 (LEEDS) - 29th/30th JUNE 2019

Where do you start? Literally, where do you start? Endure is not like any other race you'd normally complete for a number of reasons:

  1. Camping is all part it
  2. The race spans 2 days – midday Saturday to midday Sunday
  3. Fuelling, hydration & sleeping gets complicated
  4. The weather forecast just adds to the fun/challenge.

All of this requires military-style planning before you even leave home. I have no idea how many lists we had between the team members of myself, Janet Jobey, Simon Howard, Stewart Jones, Mark Rigby & Alex Critcher.  I was the new member of the team, so perhaps was over-thinking it. The remainder had been part of the RRR team in 2018.


Whilst the race starts on Saturday, you can arrive from 10am on Friday. Looking at the picture of the traffic queue on Facebook early on Friday, it was clear it was going to be a big event!

Fortunately for us, Alex had taken half a day off work & set off early to grab a section of the field for our camp.  He dutifully sent a picture of the location to us all - it didn’t help at all when you are faced with a big field full of tents (left) on arrival.  

Simon was the last to arrive at 8pm (these schoolteachers have a hard life!) but to be fair he had stopped off to pickup the RRR gazebo. Being the athletes we are, the remainder of the team had already started on beers & pizza, all in the name of 'carb loading'. Friday evening was for relaxing & readying ourselves for the next day - the support crew of Jenny, Graeme (with Henry & George), Karen, Sarah & team mascot Ted (Stewart's dog) perhaps enjoyed it more than the runners! The highlight had to be Alex wandering around in a dressing gown, which drew many laughs as he wore it whilst fully clothed.

Everybody was awake early to a Saturday morning mist (see below) after a fairly cold night. However it was clear from the sky & the forecast that we were in for something of a scorcher! I took the 1st leg starting at noon & made a point of getting on the front row to advertise RRR - which also had me setting off at much too fast a pace.

The course is a very undulating loop of 5 miles around Bramham Park in Leeds, some of it under tree cover, some of it completely exposed to the elements. You are never on your own on any loop, as there is mixture of people running in groups, pairs & even some going 'solo' (Paul Bannister was 1 such mad person, in a quest to complete 100 miles in the 24 hours).


Building on experience from the previous year we had a schedule set up to indicate who was running in what order & at what time - that is me over-planning again! - but it really helped. The schedule had us running roughly every 4.5 hours, of which the 1st lap was great for everybody as we were just itching to run. By late Saturday afternoon/early evening it became very tough due to the soaring temperatures (NOTE: the support crew at this stage had retired to the bar to match each lap with a pint) & whilst by early evening it had cooled a little, the humidity still made it challenging. Between the hours of 8pm & 6am you were required to wear a headtorch. The laps in the dark were just fantastic, given the light effects around the course. I wish I had taken my camera out with  me! Our final laps, between 5am & midday, were of course on tired legs but equally enjoyable.

With 4.5 hours between laps you'd think that there is enough time to rest. Sadly not! This is where it gets somewhat challenging as you desperately try to repair & refuel your body, rehydrate & of course sleep.  Each team member managed around 2 hours sleep overnight, which of course leads to fatigue.

As a team we completed 33 laps. Special mentions for Stewart J, who had not been able to run much recently but still completed 30 miles; Simon H, who has battled injury & loss of mojo but also ran 30 miles (I think he might have found his mojo now!); Alex C, who said, "I am not running any more laps" but promptly did so anyway; Janet for completing 30 miles & being collared by a fellow runner who I heard mention Tigger (she's famous!); Mark R for his artistic photos across the weekend (look at his Facebook page for the evidence!); & me for going off stupidly fast in a bid to get RRR on the map & for convincing Mrs O'C that this was a good idea on our wedding anniversary...


Now I should mention that the winner of the event in the solos covered an insane 135 miles, roughly equivalent to 50 minutes per lap. Paul Bannister completed his quest to do 100 miles but looked in serious discomfort at the end - well done Paul! He did say "never, ever again" - I suspect the heat played a big role in the pain he felt.

Ask any of the team about this event & they will thoroughly recommend it, I'm sure.  We have already entered next year's Endure - if any fellow RRRs fancy making up another team I know that Karen Jones definitely fancies taking part!  [Carl O'Callaghan]


Every year I tell myself that I will do this race. After all it is my local training ground, just a mile up the road, in my home town of Shaw. Yet year after year something seems to crop up that stops me from participating. Not this year, not again!

Having run the route several times in training leading up to the event & knowing the area very well I felt prepared, almost as if I knew where to place my feet on every step without looking (although I do advise looking anyway), knowing each ascent & descent, where to speed up & where to hang back. Looking at the weather forecast beforehand I was bracing myself for 1 of the hottest nights of the year. Luckily, however, the conditions weren’t as hot as expected, to my own relief & no doubt the rest of the runners on the night.

When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised at the RRR turnout. Of course, the usual suspects were in attendance - Rob James, Neil Brock, Barry Greaves & Gary Smith - but some others fancied a lovely Wednesday evening fell race, including club chairman Bryan Lawton, John Fay & Chris Nicholson, not to mention former member Howard Dracup (running a race of less than 100 miles for once). Our sole female runner was none other than Jill Heywood; it would be nice to see some of our other ladies join some of the local fell races. They are fun, I promise!

On to the course. The race starts at the entrance gate to Brushes Clough, next to the Shore Edge Methodist Church, & immediately heads towards the car park, turning right onto the trail path just before reaching it. From here you ascend to the very top of the hill. I was around 8th position upon reaching the bottom of the hill, thinking that this was a fast field. However I picked people off 1 by 1 as I ascended, reaching 4th place by the top. Ahead of me were my friend from Rochdale Harriers, Lewis Hinchcliffe, Rob James of course, plus his mate from Marsden Racers Tom Mitchell. Coming down I started to gain on Lewis & ahead I could see Tom take a lead (just) on Rob. What was going on? Had that 150-mile coast to coast bike ride slowed Rob down?

The next climb takes you to the highest point of the race, the mast at the summit of Crompton Moor. On this ascent the gap between myself & Lewis closed, as I eventually overtook him with about 200 metres to the summit. Ahead, Rob did the same to Tom. Now for the longest descent of the race, where I let my legs go, knowing where to step as I’ve run this downhill section more times than I can count. I opened a gap on Lewis & closed on Tom. Rob was now in his element & stormed ahead. By the very bottom of the descent I had Tom within overtaking distance. Knowing I had 2 shorter (but steepish) climbs to go, before running the perimeter of Brushes Clough Quarry, I resisted overtaking for now & waited until the best moment to overtake - 100 metres or so before the top of the last hill. I knew I’d then have it in my legs to speed up on the flat & the final descent to the car park, where I crossed the finish line in 2nd place in 25:33, behind the inevitably 1st placed Rob James (24:32), winning the race for an impressive 3rd year in a row.

Former RRRs Michael Fleming (17th in 20:32) & Howard Dracup (21st, 30:27) put in good performances & the next RRR home was Barry Greaves (42nd, 32:30) closely followed by Ian Dale (50th, 32:48) & Brett Spivey (53rd, 33:16). There was a close-fought battle between Mr. Chairman (Bryan Lawton, 57th, 33:54) & Neil Brock (58th, 33:59) with just 5 seconds separating the pair! Our sole lady Jill Heywood came in 117th in 47:49, while the other RRRs were Chris Nicholson (111th, 43:55), John Fay (100th, 40:23) & Gary Smith (91st, 39:08).  [Jarrod Gritt]

COLSHAW HALL 10K - 23rd JUNE 2019

There’s a sense of déjà vu as we park up in much the same place as we did last year, but crossing the field you didn’t have to avoid the cow pats this time. Straight away I notice that the club has a big contingent here, as we pass waves of RRRs going back to the cars, all seemingly going about in 3s - 1st Val & Matthew Kilburn with Helen Radcliffe, then Bernie Goodwin, Janet Jobey & Carl O’Callaghan. Next we stopped to chat to Mandy Richardson, John Fay & Elaine Whitehead. We spoke briefly to Chris Nicholson (Rafael Benitez?) on his way out for a warm-up & then Dave Emanuel, about to do the same. "What’s the theme for the report then?" "Gawd I don’t know Dave, whatever nonsense comes to mind."

We carried on & here’s Dave Phillips by my side; always has a jauntiness about him & is a great advert for enjoying your running in later years. He has only slowed down gradually since running every distance at 6.5 minute miles (as he told me) & is still super-competitive in his age category. Talking about 'age', big congratulations to Bootle’s finest Ronnie Quinn on reaching 100 not out in club races & probably 1,000 not out in leading Group 2 on training nights. Well done & thanks Ronnie for all those 'go down pallet alley' posts. Race organisers will soon need to include a MV100 category for these guys.

Onto the race & I am going to propose that in future all RRRs wear their race numbers on their backs so that I can name-check them more easily as they go past. Matt Kershaw (43:10), in his 25th club race, looked strangely out of place as he nonchalantly went through. "What’s he doing here amongst us?" I wondered. But then came Brett Spivey (43:29) who was just 'feeling his way round' because he didn’t know the course. Their pace enabled them to quickly disappear out of sight. Next was Rob Nixon (46:18), using me as a way-marker. Ronnie Quinn (46:51) was next, with a customary pat on the back as, with an economy of effort, he also went ahead of me.

Any real hopes of bettering my time from last year were crushed as flat as the roadkill (tried not to look) as the 50-minute pacer moved ahead & then went further away. Elliot Stone (45:22) 'helpfully' pointed to the guy’s pennant for me, as he - another fast club runner who had set off well behind his peers - went past at the same time.

I had pretty much resigned myself to being caught, as the downhill bits weren’t very downhill & didn’t make up for the uphill bits, so wasn’t surprised when Val Kilburn (48:59), being chaperoned by hubby Mathew Kilburn (50:30) went past next. I was starting to falter at 7K & thus an easy target for Helen Radcliffe (49:09) & Gareth McCaffery (49:57) to go past. Gareth suspected & then would have been delighted to have had it confirmed that he had gone sub-50 minutes. Tracey Johnson (50:18) came up from the same RunTogether group as Gareth and would also I think have been delighted with her time. I ended up with the same time as I did last year (51:05) so will take some comfort from this. I joined 57 other RRRs, a big increase from the 43 last year & only beaten so far by the Dewsbury 10k & Ian Casey 5k (both 68) in 2019.

Time for some other random observations...

Well would you Adam & Eve it! We had four 'Adams' running in the same race - Stirling (45:28), Farrell (49:14), Bolton (51:18) & Stopford (56:05). Hang on a minute, we even had five 'Daves' complete the event - Peart (39:52), Ellis (40:33), Emanuel (40:48), Hall (43:17) & Bardsley (1:02:19 – great run & time for The Bard!).

Jason Keast (48:35), Neil Brock (41:36) & myself are now using our old club vests for the muddy fell races & keeping our shiny new vests for 'Sunday Best'. Look at the Brown Wardle fell photo for proof!

While I am grouping runners together, we had 3 2nd-claimers competing here - Robert Fairbanks (Sale Harriers, 38.10), Owen Flage (Oldham & Royton Harriers, 40:42) & Alex Critcher (Glossopdale Harriers, 46:42). Notice a pattern here?

I also noticed that Dave Peart has manged to team the new vest with some smart, matching compression shorts (Attiq brand). Just wait until we see Dave in his new ‘viper green’ Vaporflys to complete the look!

As it was a Sunday, Neil (59:41) & Judith (1:00:31) - aka 'The Travelling Bradleys' - could take a break from their parkrun odyssey & do this one.

It was nice to see Garry Bower’s latest RunTogether hatchlings all gathered round him in the shade having finished their first 10K as a group. They are now fully-fledged & can 'run free' like Elsa. Garry will be getting broody again no doubt, ready for the next batch. Emma Bower (56:15) meanwhile ran her quickest 10K to date, on a tough course as well.

Congratulations to Sharon Leach (1:03:55) who completed her 1st RRR race this year & why not a mention to our other Sharon Dracup (1:04:44). Also June Allingan (1:12:13), who wins her age category so many times I don’t need to check how to spell her last name any more, I’ve typed it that often!

All the other RRR finishers: Stephen Jones (1:08:52), Anne Jones (1:08:38), Sue Farrell (1:04:33), Bernadette Ball (1:03:11), Natali Brown (1:02:32), Elaine Whitehead (1:01:59), Nikki Forster (1:00:02), Amanda Richardson (59:56), Tracey Hall (58:03), Bernie Allen (56:32), Gail Shaw (56:03), Jillian Heywood (55:52), Kevin Hutchings (55:02), Chris Nicholson (53:55), Lee Higginbottom (53:26), Neil Farrell (52:59), Lisa Cummins (52:41), Steve Goddard (51:08), John Fay (48:38), Garry Bower (45:44), Nicholas Mallon (44:47), Janet Jobey (43:44), Ian Dale (43:07), Carl O’Callaghan (41:16), Bernard Goodwin (40:33) & Jarrod Gritt (34:48).

On our way out...



I’ve frozen. B is stood stock still, listening, motioning me to be quiet.

From the loudhailer: "And the winner is Bernadette Ball".

B broke the world landspeed record haring back for her prize!  [Gary Smith]


Alexandra Park was in bloom & appearing like a well-looked-after public park should look when we arrived for the race. The outside toilets in the boathouse had possibly been opened for the event, as we correctly supposed that there might not be any portable loos at the Lion’s Den. They were reasonably clean. On the wooden jetty a heron ignored us as we crept around the lake to get a closer look at it. I remembered that the last time I walked around the lake was when I first came to Oldham some 30 years ago. Oldham Athletic were in the semis, the Rougheds were in the final & the basketball team were also doing well. I remember thinking that ‘this town is on the up’. Oh well...



"Stop with the nostalgia, get on with the report."

"What report?"

Oh yes, the report. Well 55 RRR members had entered Oldham’s Toughest 10K. I remember doing this race in 2014...

"You’re reminiscing again."

"I was just going to go on to say that the 2014 times for this race for the runners I’ve checked - even allowing for the age increase - were faster going the other way round – anti-clockwise."

Moreover, there are 2 club runners who can rightly wallow in nostalgia: Bernard Cassidy (47:00, 1st MV60) was running his 150th club race & Elliot Stone (46:43) his 100th. Congratulations & well done to both these long-time members. Blackpool was Elliot’s "most memorable" race to date, being only 2 weeks ago. June Allingan (1:14:17, 1st FV70) also had reason to celebrate as it was her birthday - obvious really as we’re in the month of June - & she still had breath left to blow birthday bubbles in the boathouse afterwards. Congratulations & happy birthday June!

After lashing it down all Saturday, the bad weather had broken & running conditions were just about perfect - dry, not too warm with no wind. This of course didn’t matter for the speed-kings, as Rob James (35:22) came in as the race winner then dashed off for the Knowl Hill Fell Race later that morning, with Jarrod Gritt (35:38) finishing runner-up just 16 secs later. Then there was a parade of RRRs, many of whom took the honours in their age category. We took both the team prizes, with Shane Reading (39:44, 1st V45) joining Rob & Jarrod for the men whilst Rochelle Evans (49:37, 1st FV40), Jill Heywood (58:23) & Sue Heaney (1:00:35, 1st FV55) claimed victory for the women.

I only saw Damian Mercer (51:03 in his 25th club race), who went past me on Alt Lane, but ahead there are now some real battles going on between our club runners. Dave Ellis (42:27) finished just 1 second ahead of Dave Peart (42:28, 1st MV50) on chip timing, while only 5 seconds split Paul Ashton (42:33), Carl O’Callaghan (42:37) & George Booth (42:38, 1st MU20) & there were only 2 seconds between John Fay (50:49) & Mark Foran (50:51). Incidentally, Mark Foran, Mark Phelan (50:02) & myself stood in exactly the same clockwise positions at the start as we had done at Blackpool, so my new running maxim still holds.

Some 'first time in the report' mentions for Owen Flage (41:55), Michael Pickering (45:13) & Martina Naismith (1:02:52) who all ran their 1st club race of the season. Also for Martin Thompson (41:21, 1st MV35), Robert Kellett (47:29), Elaine Whitehead (1:06:30) & Karen Stuttard (1:09:58).

Nice to see Mark Heaney (53:35) not on assignment for Sports Illustrated for this race & back running. Same goes for Lee Higginbottom (54:05) & Steve Goddard (54:19), the latter running without his right calf support for the 1st time & both coming back into it. Well done also to Anne Jones (1:11:51), back in an RRR vest & back on the comeback trail. Hubby Stephen Jones (1:14:41) was desperately trying to protect his knees & bravely toughed it out to the finish.

It must have been warm at the finish because RRR Chairman Bryan Lawton (44:46) gave permission to Andy Schofield (47:43) to remove his vest. Bryan had to get straight off to 'open the shop' & this time he wasn’t running up Huddersfield Road after the ‘Toughest’ 10K!

As both of us examied the medal, Mike Keating (1:03:40) remarked that it was the same colour as his new bathroom. So I’m picturing Mike in the bath, holding his champagne flute, the suds hiding his modesty, with gold taps & ‘gold’ toilet seat - before he assured me that his bathroom is the same grey as the front of the medal, not the ribbon.

Bernadette (1:05:57) complained that she didn’t get a goodie bag with banana. Jill told her that there were only 50 put out. Hell hath no fury like a lady runner deprived of their post-race banana! However, it all turned to smiles when Bernadette collected her prize for coming 1st in her V65 age category.

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (1:19:02), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:04:08), Amanda Richardson (1:03:16), Dave Watt (1:02:42), Dave Bardsley (1:01:30), Gary Marshall (57:05), Chris Nicholson (55:32), David Phillips (55:19), Steven Shaw (54:58), Mark Kelly (54:31), Mark Rigby (53:19), Gary Smith (52:30), Adam Farrell (48:54), Nicholas Mallon (48:33), Jason Keast (47:56), Robert Nixon (47:30), Alex Critcher (47:21), Dave Hall (45:01), Brett Spivey (44:34), Ian Dale (43:37) & Robert Fairbanks (39:38).

Next up is the Colshaw Hall 10K on 23rd June.  [Gary Smith]


"What have Tunisia, Egypt, my ex-mother-in-law’s & Blackpool all got in common?"

"Another Facebook thread you’ve been wasting time on?"

"They are all places that people visit once & never want to go back to."

"And that’s the only occasion today that Vikki will be behind me today," I observed on seeing Vikki Smith’s number envelope behind mine on the registration table.

The start of this race is from the pretty bleak Middle Walkway. After looping the main drag once you head out north, but turn around & come back without seeming to leave the town proper, following the concrete walkways & tarmac paths that make up the ‘promenade’ route. Scenic? Not really.

Everybody is off the coach - well done to Martina Naismith for showing such organisational flair in arranging this - & we’re milling around in groups. Going clockwise were Jason Keast talking to Bernadette & Mark Foran, then Mark Phelan & myself. Apart from Bernadette we arranged ourselves in the exact same order around the table in Weatherspoons – new running maxim.

Gareth McCaffrey has signed up to do the New York Marathon, his 1st, so was starting to think about that. Mark Foran asks if my fresh trim was aerodynamically styled to reduce drag resistance?

"Whatever it takes Mark." (showing some mental toughness here I thought)

Paul Cooke & I agreed to literally 'run together' as we thought our 10-mile times must be fairly close, but all that overtime at work on his feet paid off for Paul, as he went ahead early & stayed there for the whole race. My race plan was affected however, by Helen Radcliffe trying to push me over the seawall at the start. Mark Heaney’s photo clearly shows this!

Pass my readers Bernadette, because I am going to scrutinise Dave E’s spreadsheet & name check mostly those that I haven’t previously mentioned (in a frivolous manner) in previous reports...

47 RRRs turned out on a May Bank Holiday, more than we have had for all the other races over 10K this year. As a club we pretty much dominated this event, which had just under 200 runners on the day.

1st though, a necessary mention of the race winner Rob James (55:39) & runner-up Jarrod Gritt (57:03). Rob is a '3-day eventer' as he then won the Saddleworth Fell Race on Sunday & finished 2nd at the Huddersfield 10K on Monday. Rob & Jarrod are similar build but whether they have the same running style I’ll never know, as they finish their races so far ahead of me. Congratulations to both. They should donate their bodies to running science.

"Do you think I should donate my body to science, B?"

"I don’t know - they might already have a draught excluder."

I have mentioned Ian Dale (1st MV55, 1:07:51) previously, but he won his age group here & seems to be running better with age (being very aware of course that he is in the same category as me). Elliot Stone (1:14:10) also had a great run - well done Elliot. Meanwhile our American RRR cousins (well they have very American-sounding names) Brad Howard (1:12:06 in his 1st club race of 2019) & Brett Spivey (1:13:20) finished close together. Mark Phelan (1:18:11) is now well into his stride in his 1st year with the club, an ever-present on training nights & running impressively (I'm running out of running adjectives already).

I asked Adam Stirling (1:15:48) if it was his 1st season with the club & was surprised to be told that he is 3 years in, but being a young dad just uses parkrun to train (another buggy-pusher no doubt) & doesn’t get to club training nights. He did sterling work & would have been pleased to finish just behind Elliot. Elliot your’re now up to 2 mentions!

Well done to Adam Boulton (1:26:37 in his 1st race in RRRs colours). Adam remembered his sunglasses, but did this redhead remember his Factor 30? Then Mark Kelly (1:28:09) also in shades & on-trend (maybe) calf-length socks. I've not mentioned Lisa Cummins (1:28:34) since the English Half Marathon last season - she finished just behind Mark. Next was Kevin Hutchings (1:29:53), shades again (forecast must have been for sun), baseball cap & maybe less on-trend just-below-the-knee socks.

I've not mentioned Chris Nicholson (1:32:31) recently, here in his customary bandana. Good to see him doing one of the longer races.

On with the 1st mentions for Trish Murdin (1:33:02) & then Susan Heaney (1:33:40) in black & white cap, who was rightfully pleased to be back after a long-term injury & put in a great sprint finish. Emma Bower (1:33:49) in a white cap pounded the last 50 metres followed by Tracey Hall (1:38:04) in shades & stylish patterned leggings. Dave Watt (1:40:07) was followed by Nikki Forster (1:40:16) in shades & RRR buff worn as a headband, followed by Bernadette Ball (1:44:13) feeling some pain.

"Yet you tell people that you are 'pain-free' when I’m not there?"

Bernadette rightly complained that there were no age category prizes for the ladies at FV65/FV70 & that the organisers were therefore sexist. I have to agree - how much for just 2 more bottles of Lambrini for the laydeeez?

Debbie Cash (1:45:23) had dropped back, followed by Dave Bardsley (1:49:39) running his longest distance to date - well done Dave! Then June Allingan (1:51:38), followed by Bernie Allen (1:55:28 - the club is up to four Bernies now) & then Angela Rogowskyj (2:00:26) powering home in a shocking pink cap.

All the other RRR finishers: Amanda Richardson (1:34:45), Karen Jones (1:31:18), Gail Shaw (1:30:47), Jillian Heywood (1:30:28), Steve Goddard (1:29:56), Helen Radcliffe (1:24:43), Gareth McCaffery (1:24:10), Gary Smith (1:22:31), Paul Cooke (1:22:02), John Fay (1:21:48), Steven Shaw (1:20:17), Rochelle Evans (1:18:52), Valerie Kilburn (1st FV50, 1:18:29), Vikki Smith (1:17:55), Mark Foran (1:17:47), Jason Keast (1:17:45), Robert Nixon (1st MV60, 1:15:55), Garry Bower (1:13:32), Andy Schofield (1:11:39), Janet Jobey (3rd female, 1st FV45, 1:11:00), Dave Peart (1st MV50, 1:05:03) & Shane Reading (1st MV45, 1:02:17).

"Have I forgotten anything?"

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea….tiddley-om-pom-pom."

Oh yes - a big thanks to the pom-pom girls (Jill Hickson, Martina Naismith, Sharon Dracup & Diane Johnson) who provided such great encouragement to all the runners. "Massive tanker" shouted Jill, pointing as I came in with the tide. I’m sure it was a ferry Jill?

Next club race is the Oldham 10K on 9th June.  [Gary Smith]


Back again for "the most scenic UK marathon"! This was the 13th time the race has taken place since it began in 2007 & my 11th attempt. Over those years I've managed to persuade numerous RRRs to join me, but none have yet run it more than once; I'm quite hopeful that my two companions this year, Simon Howard & Neil Brock, might be tempted back after a glorious day in the Lakes.

Of the 3 of us, I was the only one really here to 'race'. Simon had managed just 2 weeks proper training, after an injury-plagued few months which had forced him to pull out of the Manchester Marathon, so he was simply using the event as part of his preparation for bigger challenges to come - Endure 24 in June & the Lakeland 50 (July) in particular. For Neil, who had kept his appearance here 'under the radar', this was really just a training run in his build-up to the Chicago Marathon in October. His 'tapering' (which wasn't tapering at all) had included the tough 14-mile Pendle Cloughs Fell Race the previous weekend (with over 4,000 feet of climb), lots of work-related travelling during the week & a 20-minute parkrun in a narrow RRR Cup defeat to Andy Chadwick a day earlier.

Conditions before the race were perfect - cool & overcast, with a bit of dampness in the air. It stayed like that for the 1st hour or so, but soon started to warm up. Then continued to get hotter. There's not a lot of shelter on the road around the lake & with the sun reflecting back off the tarmac I think we all ended up a bit burnt - there had certainly been nothing in the forecast to indicate a need for suncream. The heat apparently didn't affect the quicker runners, especially Rob Corney (2:29:55) & Mary Hammond (3:02:56) who both set new course records, Mary doing so in her 1st ever marathon. For the rest of us though...Neil finished looking very comfortable in 3:43:31 (7th MV50), Simon said he "found the wall" but still beat his target as he crossed the line in 5:24:06 & I came home in 3:25:28. That's one of my slower times for the event,  but the wheels didn't come off as spectacularly as they did last year. Whilst I just missed out on a MV55 prize (they award trophies to the top 2 finishers in each age category - I was 3rd), I take some consolation from the fact that I was 48 when I won the 2nd MV45 award in 2012 & 52 when finishing 2nd MV50 in 2016. So there's still plenty of time to add another to the collection!

With a spectacular view over the lake, in the grounds of Brathay Hall, I haven't yet come across a better marathon finish. It was a beautiful spot to wait to cheer Simon home, although I must admit I spent a lot of that time flat on my back, gulping down water, whilst Neil (made of sterner stuff) was happily rehydrating with a couple of pints from the beer tent. I'll definitely be back next year - if you fancy joining in the fun, early bird entries open on 1st September!  [David Emanuel]             


25th January 2009. It’s now more than 10 years since Ian Casey tragically died whilst taking part in the Gloucester Marathon. For those RRRs who knew Ian, our club will never feel quite the same without him.

This is the 11th time a race has been held in Ian’s honour & it was fanastic to see a new record field of 179, including Ian’s son Jason (pictured right, in red). As you would expect we were the best-represented club, with our 68 finishers equalling the number we had at the Dewsbury 10K in February – plus a splendid 16 graduating from the latest Royton Run Together group, with times suggesting that they could soon be competing in RRR colours – but we were run pretty close by 66 very enthusiastic members of Ramsbottom Running Club.

Given those numbers, it perhaps isn’t that surprising that all of the 18 finishers who broke the 20-minute barrier were representing either RRR or Ramsbottom. 13 of those were from Royton, including 6 who had completed Sunday’s race over the same course. The 1st 3 across the line were all RRRs, with Shane Reading (17:59) once again the 1st V45 finisher in 3rd place, but the order ahead of him was different as Rob James (16:40) knocked 8 seconds off his Sunday time to gain immediate revenge over Jarrod Gritt (16:50), who definitely prefers racing in the morning. However, since Jarrod was 14 seconds ahead in the previous race, I guess he could claim a narrow victory ‘on aggregate’ – if such a thing existed.

It was fantastic to welcome 5 new recruits, all completing their 1st club race in fine style - Joanne Lawton (35:29), Tim Dickinson (28:46), Adam Stopford (28:10), Trish Murdin (26:30) & Andrea Dickinson (1st FV35 in 24:08). In addition there were a number of existing members returning to race in club colours for the 1st time this year - Stephen Jones (31:58), Mark Kelly (24:30), Dean Burgess (24:28 in his 1st club race since 2017), Dave Hall (21:18), Darren Ogden (20:16), Paul Ashton (19:44) & Martin Thompson (18:57). Mark Kelly was completing his 25th RRR race after a bit of a break – this was only his 2nd since 2012 – but he seems determined to make up for lost time & I’m sure that his times will soon be coming down pretty rapidly.

I spent most of the race unsuccessfully trying to keep up with some of our age category winners - David Ellis (1st V40, 19:39), Ian Dale (1st V55, 19:38) & Dave Peart (1st V50, 19:11) - as well as the speedy Carl O'Callaghan (19:31) & Bernie Goodwin (19:51). Whilst I wasn’t closing the gap on any of them I felt confident I could maintain my position - until we hit the descent towards the finish, when Matt Kershaw (19:44) came flying past at such a pace that he also managed to overtake Bernie & Paul Ashton on the home straight. I assume that this finishing kick was responsible for his ridiculously mud-splattered vest (see left). I can’t claim that this won’t ever happen with our stylish new club vests, but at least the dirt won’t show up quite so much…

Other RRRs triumphing in their age category were Janet Jobey (1st FV45 & 2nd female overall in 20:42), June Allingan (1st FV75, 32:57) & Dave Phillips (1st MV75, 40:13). Dave pulled up with a muscle injury on the 1st lap of the reservoir but still continued on to finish the race, giving June a rare victory in the battle of the V75s.

Here’s a fascinating statistic (well I thought so, anyway): of the 38 RRRs who ran in both of the 2 races in a week at Cowm, 17 went quicker on the Thursday evening than they had on the previous Sunday morning. Pride of place goes to Dave Watt (24:55), Bernie Allen (26:13) & Emma Bower (26:15), who improved their times by 54, 49 & 43 seconds respectively over the space of just 4 days. Maybe they’re just not ‘morning people’?

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (34:17), Anne Jones (33:29), Stephen Rogowskyj (32:50), Dave Bardsley (30:38), Sharon Dracup (30:03), Sue Farrell (29:23), Judith Bradley (29:10), Natali Brown (29:07), Nikki Forster (28:36), Neil Bradley (27:45), Jillian Heywood (27:38), Gail Shaw (27:09), Stephen Goddard (26:26), Simon Howard (25:35), Kevin Hutchings (25:23), Liane Gilligan (25:22), Gary Marshall (25:17), Lee Higginbottom (25:14), Paul Cooke (24:40), Martin Jones (24:37), , Tim Walsh (24:18), Tracy Johnson (23:50), Steven Shaw (23:31), Neil Farrell (23:20), John Fay (23:08), Gareth McCaffery (23:01), Elliot Stone (22:48), Robert Nixon (22:46 despite a heavy fall), Rochelle Evans (22:44), Mark Heaney (22:41), Mark Foran (22:19), Jason Keast (21:56), Bernard Cassidy (21:46), Adam Farrell (21:34), Adam Stirling (21:23), Andrew Chadwick (21:19), Nicholas Mallon (20:50), Bryan Lawton (20:49), Garry Bower (20:48) & Neil Brock (19:57). Well run all!

Next club race is the Blackpool Promenade 10 Miler on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May. There are still places available on the RRR coach to this event – book now to avoid disappointment!  [David Emanuel]


This race has not fitted in with our training schedule. We’re still finishing the Easter eggs & Bernadette’s birthday cake.

"Plus that half-price egg from Sweet Deals you gave me for my birthday."

"That was a Celebration egg, & it didn’t stop you wolfing it down!"

Pinning my number on at the back of the pub, the guy inputting the registration slips held up Dave Peart’s for my inspection.

"Look at that!" he said crossly. I couldn’t see anything wrong with it.

"How am I supposed to know what that stands for?" He pointed to the letters ‘RRR’ Dave had written next to 'Club Affiliated To'.

I gawped at him in astonishment. How come at this venue, of all places, 1 of the registration guys didn’t know what RRR stood for?

On to the race & most of us have been here before. Peg it as fast as you can, up the hill & round twice, while trying to overtake/keep up with as many people as possible. This account will mostly be just that - a roll call of people who either stayed out in front or overtook me.

Ronnie Quinn (21:22 for 1st MV65) had heard that Rob Nixon (22:14) was getting back to form & so had got out of his bath chair for his first club race of the season. They were the 1st to chug past me, running parallel to each other. Rob is certainly returning to form, but Ronnie’s was an astonishing run, coming from the back of the field to get ahead of a cluster of RRRs all finishing on or around 21:30 - Andrew Chadwick (21:29), Bernard Cassidy (21:30) & Jason Keast (21:30). It’s a pity no one got a photo of these guys going all out to get to the finish in front.

I hadn’t even reached the dam by then & could only watch on as John Fay (23:01) overtook Rochelle Evans (23:05) further up front, both putting in fast measured runs. Just ahead of me after the 1st circuit, I thought Mark Rigby (23:06) was flagging until he started to pull further ahead. Steven Shaw (23:08) had already nonchalantly gone past me (yet another sexagenarian*). My torment wasn’t over as Gareth McCaffrey (23:35) went past on the dam wall. I 'overtook' Shane Reading (17:43, 1st M45) with Xander in the buggy at the boathouse, thinking that he hadn’t run, but of course some guys are so quick around this course that he had already finished & run back up the hill to meet Rochelle coming in!

A final RRR went past me - another young dad & buggy-pusher Damian Mercer (23:37), coming back after taking a year off. I’ve got to thank Damian for encouraging me to sprint to the finish line for a time of 23:38 in my 50th club race. Bernadette, please find me a baby in a stroller to train with. It’s the future!

Other age category winners in addition to Shane were Robert Fairbanks (18:37, 1st MV40), Janet Jobey (21:02, 1st FV45 & 2nd female), Ronnie Quinn, Dave Philips (24:50, 1st MV75), Liane Gilligan (22:50, 1st FV35), Bernadette Ball (30:37, 1st FV65) & June Allingan (32:50, 1st FV75). Rob Fairbanks & Sophie Wood were scanning the results print-out back in the pub. "You’ll find me on Page 3, 3/4 of the way down, where I always am, never a category winner." I said, but I don’t think they were scoping my time.

"See Bernadette, the upside of having a birthday is that you’re the youngest if you go up a category!"

I spoke to other runners who are coming back after some disruption to their training: Bernard Cassidy (you’d never have thought it), Steven Goddard (25:42), Dave Ellis (19:34) - who stayed with Dave Peart (19:14) until the latter 'hit the afterburners' to finish just in front - & Sharon Dracup (28:48) who is running really well. Paul Cooke (24:12) was working the next day (on the Bank Holiday) & we agreed that despite doing the gym work & spin sessions, you still need to do the pack runs on training nights to put in a faster race time, which of course is not easy if you’re busy in work all week, every week.

"I always do my planks correctly in the gym, don’t I Bernadette?"

"Yes, I’ve always said you’re a right planker."

Welcome to those doing an RRR club race for the 1st time: Tim Walsh (24:02), who was just behind me, & Karen Jones (26:45) who is in training for her first marathon. It was also nice to take a picture of June with her granddaughter Megan, who were running together for the 1st time. With Sue (28:42), Neil (22:59 in his 50th club race) & Adam Farrell (21:51), in addition to Garry (21:04) & Emma Bower (26:58), we are a club that spans all generations & has winners in all age categories! We are RRR! Somebody tell that guy in the Cock & Magpie.

All the other RRR finishers: Elaine Whitehead (30:11), Natali Brown (29:14), Amanda Richardson (28:02), Tracey Hall (27:36), Bernie Allen (27:02), Gail Shaw (26:38), Debra Cash (26:25), Kevin Hutchings (25:50), Dave Watt (25:49), Gary Marshall (24:11), Phil Austin (24:04), Mark Foran (22:08), Adam Stirling (21:11), Alex Critcher (21:08), Nicholas Mallon (21:07), Bryan Lawton (20:52), Elliot Stone (20:27), Matt Kershaw (19:58), Rob James (16:48) & Jarrod Gritt (16:34).

"Thank you for buying the new club vest for me B."

"You won’t make the mistake of wearing this one back to front!"

Next race was (by the time you’ve read this & probably before I’ve finished it) the Ian Casey Memorial 5K on 9th May.  [Gary Smith]

* 'sexagenarian' - a person who is between 60 & 69 years old, in case you were worried. [Ed]


So, an early start - 4:30am alarm for breakfast. I knew from the forecast the sun would be out in just a few hours in time for the 7:00am start time. Upon arrival at Castleshaw Centre I was greeted by some familiar & friendly faces - Paul Anderson, Fiona Floss, Jason Keast, Jon Crooks & Neil Brock, to name a few. As this would be my longest race to date I was - as expected - incredibly nervous, not only from all the calls that I was going to win, but with some thinking I could even break the course record.

Warm up done, bag loaded, sunglasses & cap on (maybe a sight not known to regular runners of the OWU), I made my way to the start line. At bang on 7am we all departed, 1st crossing the 2 reservoirs & up our first hill. Had I set off too quickly? A gap had already appeared, despite thinking I was going easy. The weather was pretty good for most of the 1st half of the race, not too hot & relatively well-shaded. From Castleshaw we headed over to Crompton Moor with a couple of little climbs into Dunwood, across the tops of Shaw into Royton, through Tandle Hill & then following part of The Royton Trail route to Chadderton Park. From here we ran behind the park onto the canal to Farnsworth.

It was this bit that worried me the most, slightly downhill, good weather, only 16K in & feeling fresh as a daisy. I needed to ensure I didn’t get carried away with my pace. I held back, knowing what the 2nd half had in store.

We left the canal at Failsworth to jog through the lovely Brookfield Park (I don’t know why there isn’t a parkrun here, there is plenty of space for one!), then along toward Daisy Nook & through there, eventually reaching Abbey Hills Road. This is where the real climbing starts - 1st up to Hartshead Pike, then up to Dovestones, meeting the Dovestone Diamond route & around the reservoir anti-clockwise to Binn Green car park. Here I had my cheerleading squad of Mick & his 2 little ones at the Aid Station manned by Anne-Marie Lord. The friendly faces were a huge relief. I was running low on both water & Mountain Fuel on the tops around Dovestones, so a top-up was definitely needed. In fact one of the best moments of the race was on the tops at Dovestones where there is a little stream - here I just took 30 seconds to refresh myself, wash my hands & face & tip water on my head.

Back to Binn Green. It was very hot now, 29 degrees. Not an inch of shade since leaving Daisy Nook! Looking up at the monument at Pots & Pans I could sense how difficult this last 12K was going to be. I ascended to Pots & Pans with great difficulty, my quads at the top started to cramp despite regular consumption of electrolytes, almost an entire pack of salt tablets & regular handfuls of salted peanuts! I took a minute, stretched the quads & had 2 more salt tablets. Not feeling too bad now, I tackled the flat section & the descent, knowing I only had one hill left, Boat Lane, normally easily runnable. My cheerleading squad was back to greet me at the Diggle Hotel & walked the first bit of Boat Lane with me. A quick high-five from Elliot gave me encouragement. After walking most of Boat Lane & jogging the flatter bits I knew I wasn't going to break Charlie Sharpe’s course record of 6:04:00. All I had left now was the final descent of around 4K. This hurt, but I told myself to keep going, telling myself that 2nd place was just behind me. Approaching the finish back in Castleshaw I was cheered on by a small crowd, including my nan & granddad plus Mick & the kids. I had won in 6:16:10. Brilliant, now to see Linda Isherwood for a post-race massage! My time is the 2nd fastest ever on the course, my saving grace is that Wane Law described the year Charlie Sharpe set the record as "the perfect conditions". Maybe I’ll attempt it again & hope it isn’t so ridiculously hot.

I waited for the 2nd-placed finisher before leaving for lunch - he was precisely an hour & 10 minutes behind me - not right behind as I kept telling myself for the final few kilometres.

So what about the other RRRs? Jon Crooks finished in a fine 6th place in 8:04:18, although having seen his Strava he didn’t have much luck. He was in 2nd place through to halfway, where he choked on an ice pop. Happy to settle for 3rd, he was overtaken with about 8K to go, but then overshot near the end at Marsden Moor, having to run back through some tough terrain adding some distance & costing him 2 places. I hope he still enjoyed the race despite his misfortune. Jason Keast & Neil Brock appear from the results to have run together, finishing 17th & 18th in identical times of 9:55:57.

I cannot describe how hot it was going up to Dovestones & Pots & Pans. I really have to thank Mick & Allen for their support, it really helped keep me going. I had a layer of salt on me at the end despite the masses I took on during the race. A massive well done to Jon, Jason, Neil & every other runner that competed.  [Jarrod Gritt]


"You could have gone there, it’s free parking on a Sunday."

"There's a space."

"Hun the station is just there."  [pointing]

When we're not running, some of us are very sensitive about having to walk to a destination!

We walked around the corner to see a sizeable number of RRRs already milling between the trestle tables, just in time to fall in for Mary's briefing. Mary has had her hair done. She's gone fairer with blond highlights but left her fringe alone.

"Will you stop going on about female RRR's hair!"

OK. Mary needed to disseminate some essential information. "Don't leave your backpack with your sandwiches unattended otherwise they'll have to be made safe by the bomb squad" & "Collapsing runners should be firmly encouraged to continue", or something like that. Briefing over we could resume the main task of the day, which was to gather into little groups to chat about our upcoming holidays & why we might possibly do the marathon next year.

There were enough yellow jackets for everyone & we became Les Jeunes Vestes, not to overthrow the government but to load the tables with water & gels before the first runners arrived. It didn't seem long before the quickest came clip-clopping through. These front-runners think that if they even make eye-contact with you, never mind exchange a few friendly words, then they’ll lose momentum & show a weakness to the guys next to them. I suppose when you've forked out around £250 for orange Nike Zoom Vapours & been training since before Christmas, on a fast course where you want to run quicker than last year, then exchanging pleasantries with the volunteers does not come high on your list of priorities.

With more Biffa bins than previously & the genius idea someone had of putting a target board at the back of them to encourage jump shots & throwing accuracy, there were less bottles sent skittering across the road. With the concern over single-use plastic I'm not sure about the provision of plastic bottles at these events & most of the water in them was thrown away. A cattle trough maybe, sponges, carry your own containers? Anyway, well done to all the RRRs, several of whom were running for charity. All seemed to go according to plan, although Neil Brock had to pull up with a hamstring injury. There was an array of different costumes - foam heads, bridal wear & people being pushed, all enjoying themselves or just toughing it out. Special mention to the guy in the rhino outfit doing baby steps but still going after 23 miles! The runners kept coming past, but many had lost interest later on in keeping their energy levels up with gels & were just keeping going through the pain. Come to think, gels don’t seem to have any effect on me.

"Telling you to unload the dishwasher doesn’t have any effect on you either."

All the RRR finishers: Phil Austin (4:15:40), Garry Bower (4:20:09), Neil Brock (3:54:34), Ian Dale (3:26:45), Rob Fairbanks (3:11:12), Bernie Goodwin (3:20:15), Jill Heywood (4:27:35), Janet Jobey (3:25:17), Sam Kent-Brown (4:55:33), Val Kilburn (3:50:31), Nick Mallon (3:50:54), Gary Marshall (4:52:12), Carl O'Callaghan (3:15:58), Dave Peart (2:50:38), Helen Radcliffe (3:57:47), Vikki Smith (3:44:24) & James Wright (5:30:42).

"We should do the marathon next year."

"Didn’t we say that last year?"

"And the year before that."

Finally well done to Mary, organiser extraordinaire for pulling it all together for another year.  [Gary Smith]


Twas the night before the race...


"I can be a little distant at times it’s true."

"Just give it to me, now!"

"Pardon, I thought you wanted to watch telly? Anyway, you know the rule, not before a race."

So 42 mad March RRR hares came down to Wilmslow to hare around a course capable of rewarding your entry fee with a PB. This is a big event, with 2,800 entrants. It's only the 2nd time that Wilmslow has been in the RRR Club Championship - by coincidence, with the same number of finishers (42) as the previous time in 2014 (thanks to Dave ‘Statto’ Emanuel for this factoid).

I always feel like the amateur I am when I see runners doing warm-up runs before any race, never mind a half marathon, & so it was on seeing Dave Peart (1:22:34 for 3rd MV50, the best RRR category position) & Andy Schofield (1:38:45) jogging on the other side of the road on the way in. Judging from their times it certainly pays off. The weather was cool but dry, just about perfect for the flat course - so flat that the organisers advised against setting off too fast! Of course, it wasn’t that flat, but sufficiently so for those that felt they had a PB in them to go for it.

With such a large field, many of whom probably only notionally set off from the correct timing pens, our club runners set off in small friendship groups & ran I think unsighted of other RRRs. So the more technical of us would have run against their watch, whilst others were encouraged to go faster to keep up by their running companions & others like me just hoped to hang on to whoever was in front of me. It also meant that there were considerable differences between the gun & chip times that fed through to the final positions.

Jason Keast (back on it in 1:46:20) said his goodbyes just after the start & I was left to fend for myself. I came up to Emma Bower (2:03:54) with Phil Austin (2:03:55), I think dedicating this race to his marathon training, then Dave Watt (2:11:13) & Gareth McCaffrey (1:54:17). Soon John Fay (1:48:53) came past me & I thought I must try to keep with him for as long as possible, which I did until the 9th mile. Obvious I know, but it really does help to try & stay with a faster runner. Gentleman John then went ahead & I observed that he passed the runners ahead giving them plenty of room, instead of trying to barge past like a bloke did to me earlier. He may of course have been trying to avoid the kids wanting to glad-hand you as you went past. Bernadette (2:16:55 – knee problem) told me that she high-fived willingly because they were more likely to have been made to wash their hands, this being Wilmslow!

The race unwound & after John had gone past I came up to Helen Radcliffe (1:51:01). We stayed together for the 10th/11th mile. Helen chose not to have a photo finish with me & went ahead to go neck-a-neck with John, both pushing each other to the end & thus both getting a PB.

So who else PB’d & is making me turn a countable noun into a verb? In the order in which I met them at the finish or was told on Facebook there was Garry Bower (1:37:08) & Nick Mallon (1:35:48) standing as meeters & greeters at the end, waiting for Garry’s Emma. In her 25th race for the club Emma improved her time for a half by a full 15 mins! Then Diane Allingan (1:52:44) & Gail Shaw (1:56:54) came in with new best times. On the way back to the car pacemaker Bernie Goodwin (1:41:48) called out that his young protégé Adam Farrell (1:41:51) had gone under his target time of 1:45. Alex Critcher (1:42:32) was first on Facebook to answer my PB roll-call, followed by Gareth McCaffrey & Tracy Johnson (1:51:00), Robert Fairbanks (1:20:59) & Vikki Smith (1:42:50). Congratulations to you all.

If you didn’t get a PB you have to sometimes be sanguine about it & it was nice to chat at the finish to Kevin Heenan (1:56:01), who is coming back to running regularly but feeling it & had run his RRR Cup race a day earlier. Then Amanda Richardson (2:13:40) who had completed the Langsett 10K also on the Saturday ("Hilliest 10K I have ever done") & Susan Heaney (2:07:00) racing for the 1st time after an operation. Finally Rob Nixon (2:25:34), who is carrying a few niggles but is taking it literally 'in his stride'. Well done to you guys as well.

Other points to note were George Booth (1:22:52, finishing 66th of 731 Senior Men) running his first half marathon with the insouciance of youth in a fantastic time & for the 1st time I will have mentioned all the 2nd claimers by reporting Gary Fielding’s time of 1:31:40 in his 1st RRR race since 2017. Welcome back Gary. We’re back to full strength with at least four Gar(r)ys in the club!

All the other RRR finishers: Elaine Whitehead (2:13:03), Mike Keating (2:12:09), Jillian Heywood (2:03:19), Teresa Hollins (1:59:57), Gary Smith (1:50:17), Rochelle Evans (1:49:57), Mark Phelan (1:46:53), Valerie Kilburn (1:42:31), Brett Spivey (1:39:15), Robert Kellett (1:37:33), Matthew Kilburn (1:36:07), Bryan Lawton (1:35:58), Elliot Stone (1:35:20), Ian Dale (1:28:02), Shane Reading (1:20:53) & Jarrod Gritt (1:14:10).

Back home...

"You can have the remote for your 'Line of Duty', I’m giving up on 'American Gods', it’s just too weird."

"What even weirder than you?!"

"Don’t go there..."

Next club race is the John Purdy Springhill Hospice Cowm 5K on Sunday 5th May.  [Gary Smith]


"Did you tell them that I wasn’t running due to my hip flexor?"

"Umm...not exactly."

"I told you not to tell them I was on a spa day!"

"June beat it out of me."

"So what else was said on the coach?"

"Well they all know that what happens on the coach stays on the coach - & goes into the report."

It did get a bit lavatorial, with both Warren 'Sid' Siddall & Garry Bower showing everyone their emergency loo roll, but not any emergency soap & water. So I made a note to self, do not shake their hands before or after the race.

Sid then listed every drinking den & nightclub in 80s & 90s Oldham. The Cat’s Whiskers, Dreamers, Froggies, Bali Hoo, Sheddings, The Candlelight...only when he name-checked The Regent & June said "You’re going back a bit there" was he stopped in his tracks, which allowed us all to get off the coach. Respect to the coach driver who thought he was going into the main car park, then had to back up & reverse into the campsite with 20+ back-seat drivers giving advice.

Off the coach we were joined for the team photo by Bryan Lawton (1:54:26) who was on a weekend getaway with wife Jo & had promised her a romantic meal, specially prepared on the Primus stove. Bryan hasn’t done this race for a few years but ran one of his quickest times.

The forecast had been for snow flurries, after heavy rain the day before which had threatened to cancel the race, but in the event we enjoyed a window of cold but dry weather. Notices were handed out advising that, due to flooding, the course had been changed - but did not mention that it had been lengthened to 14.4 miles from the already demanding distance of 14.2. We still ran through stretches of foot-deep standing water though. A few thought they were OK in just their RRR vest, but most of us had an extra layer underneath. It was cold, with the wind acting like a not-unpleasant cooling fan on your back once you had run through & then out of the village after 7 miles (someone should have used a thicker marker pen & written in bigger letters on the whiteboard that sent the longer race runners to the left & the 7.5K runners to the right, by the way) but then was blowing you to a standstill on the return back to the village.

The number of RRRs taking part this year was down on previous years - 26 is the lowest number since 2010 - with another 8 doing the 7.5 miler. Jarrod Gritt (our 1st finisher in 1:25:46), who is now being chauffeured to the races, came in 5th. Janet Jobey (1:45:26) claimed the prize for 1st lady. Val Kilburn (1:58:18) & Vikki Smith (2:00:07) made up the rest of the victorious RRR ladies team, continuing a winning streak after Carsington. Well done also to the rest of the ladies - Helen Radcliffe (2:08:20), Jillian Heywood (2:26:50), Emma Bower (2:29::22), Sam Kent-Brown (2:35:10) & Debbie Cash (2:40:12) who all toughed it out to the finish.

Great runs were also delivered by our fastest males Dave Peart (1:36:34), Carl O’Callaghan (1:39:43), Neil Brock (1:41:06), Ian Dale (1:43:01) & Bernard Goodwin (1:44:04) who all finished high up the field & in the top 10 in their respective age categories. Mark Foran (2:07:26) ran well in his first RRR race & with his long legs will continue to do so. He was beaten to the finish by Simon Howard (2:07:15), who came past me with about 1K to go & then cheerfully remarked afterwards that he was never going to be caught power-walking up the last hill. He was followed by Helen Radcliffe going past me (2:08:29) with room to spare in the final 500 metres, getting a boost from Val & Vikki shrieking as one, "Watch out Helen, Gary’s behind you!" So now I’m the pantomime villain runner, am I?

Garry Bower (1:56:15), by including DIY on the new house in his cross-training, remarkably ran a PB even though the course was longer. Well done! Meanwhile Jason Keast put his back out, but instead of retiring when we went back through the village he carried on for the full distance (in obvious pain) taking in the scenery to finish in 2:57:02. After going to the walk-in surgery at the George & Dragon he took two Stellas for his back & felt much better.

All the other RRR finishers: Dave Watt (2:24:44), Warren Siddall (2:24:25), Kevin Heenan (2:24:14), Robert Nixon (2:21:36), Stewart Jones (2:03:53) & Elliot Stone (1:51:14).


Finally, well done to those who tackled the 7.5-mile route. I know Steven Shaw (1:05:38) is coming back from injury & is being supported by Andy Schofield (57:26). I don’t know why Owen Flage (47:58) & Rob Kellett (56:53) chose the shorter distance this time, but hope to see all 4 of them competing in future club races. The same goes for Jennifer O’Callaghan (1:25:03), Tracey Hall (1:25:03), Claire Timms (1:25:03) & the stalwart June Allingan (1:30:33).

Next up is the Wilmslow Half Marathon on Sunday 24th March - last club race before 'marathon season'.  [Gary Smith]


In the hotel room...

"Jarrod & Simon Reeve?"

"Hmm not really & you’d better stop this."

"You’ve not seen my new trainers? After reading up I have deduced that Carsington is mostly an earth track, so I’ve bought a crossover light trail/road shoe."

"That’ll be a 'rail' shoe then?"

"Or a 'toad' shoe?"

"If you run slowly a 'snail' shoe!"

Titter ye not. "Make space for the other towel?"

Race day, we drove from our hotel without breakfast, as I wasn’t going to pay for just a bit of porridge & a piece of fruit. Every link for this race uses the word 'scenic', so it was a bit distracting to be driving along country roads with a heavy mist on the fields either side, lovely scenery that we couldn’t see!

"I hope you’ll be able to see where you are running?" (more tittering)

There’s always some tension getting to a new event. Finding your way there, parking up (when there are parking charges, the race organisers are always coy about telling you what it costs to park at their event), the toilet queues, etc. so it was great to see the RRR coach (should we have our own liveried transport?) parked up near us & we soon made out the distinctive RRR vest in the vapour. Thanks to Dave Emanuel who found us to hand over our bib numbers just as we were going to set off to look for him, after I thoughtlessly had ignored his "We’ve arrived!" message.

To the race then. Round the reservoir, out into the country park & back again, with a final straight out then back the same way, so that the faster runners were coming past the ones behind them, like the Tatton 10K & the last 2K of Bolton parkrun. Jarrod Gritt & Rob James showed great chutzpah starting in the front line with fellow RRR shocktroops close behind. Bernadette - earwigging as usual – had overheard Jarrod talking to Rob about the course record - 1hr 17mins - so when he came home 1st in 1:16:23 as the new course record holder, there had been some forethought given to the matter! Well done also to Rob (1:19:04), who came in 2nd overall, as well as Shane Reading (4th, 1st MV45 in 1:23:58) & Dave Peart (5th, 1st MV50, 1:24:35) who made up the winning men’s team & both won their respective age categories. It is some achievement to win an age category & so well done also to Dave Emanuel (1st MV55, 1:31:50) who won his. This was his 3rd race in a new age category, proving the adage that as you get older you win more races in your age category.

"There is no such adage!" said Bernadette (with feeling).

Not only but also, as our first 3 women took their team prize - congratulations to Janet Jobey (2nd FV45, 1:37:04), Val Kilburn (1:45:40) & Vikki Smith (1:48:11). So we came, once the mist had cleared we saw & then we conquered!

There was a RRR wagon train running over the dam wall with myself (1:53:35) Rob Nixon (2:04:54), Simon Howard (1:55:16) & Helen Radcliife (1:55:20) all running behind each other, Simon in his 50th club race. Later, at mile 10, just as I was wondering where my nemesis John Fay (1:49:58) was, he hove into view coming in the opposite direction, way ahead! Yet another age category winner was Diane Allingan (1st V60, 1:58:48) ahead of Mark Rigby (2:02:20), running his 10th club race.

This 'undulating' course was a bit marmite, with only a short but quite steepish incline towards the end, but the up & down repetition I think had a gradual greater tiring effect on the legs. I even saw Richard Cummins (1:40:08) & Bernie Goodwin (1:34:07) falter, while at 11 miles I was pretty much done in. But what did others think?

Warren 'Sid' Siddall (1:58:29) liked the course, 'a bit lumpy' (great description), would do it again although he would have liked to have gone sub-1:55. By the way thanks for the encouragement yesterday at Oldham parkrun Warren, marshaling at the start of the woodland path. For Adam Farrell (1:52:47) the race 'had its ups & downs' (clever!) & nice scenery - he's wishing his dad Neil a speedy recovery from making excuses not to run so that he can beat him again!

Gail Shaw (2:05:07) is like me - companionable with a cheerful disposition. No, not just in this respect, but in deciding that it was a tough course. After having a word in high places, telling Dave Emanuel that the event was full & him then getting her in, she wished she’d kept quiet. She went one adjective further than Neil Brock (1:29:09) in describing the course as a 'tough undulating one which never seemed to end' & like me finished slower than her previous half marathons. Gail is now looking forward to 'going back to her regular marathon training & hills now'. When I confronted Neil at parkrun & demanded that he think of something other than 'undulating' he caved & went for 'rollercoaster'.

Amanda 'Mandy' Richardson (2:14:22) loved the course even though, guess what, she found it 'undulating'. Her only previous half marathon was back in February 2018 & flat, but with the encouragement of the cheerleaders she managed to be only 4 minutes slower. She is looking forward to doing more long runs & is a great advert for someone who starts running & then with more confidence goes in for longer & (with her cross-country races) more varied running challenges.

Bernadette (2:27:30) also found it hard but really appreciated the out & back at the end, when the 'big guns' all encouraged her to keep going.

All the other RRR finishers: Angela Rogowskyj (2:57:01), Claire Timms (2:34:07), Sharon Dracup (2:34:06), Elaine Whitehead (2:21:14), Tracey Hall (2:17:14), Dave Watt (2:15:00), Jillian Heywood (2:13:25), Lisa Cummins (2:09:24), Martin Jones (2:08:25), Tracy Johnson (1:56:51), Jason Keast (1:48:07), Elliot Stone (1:38:24), Ian Dale (1:32:32) & Carl O'Callaghan (1:31:32).

The mist lifted & the sun came out so that the RRRs on the coach could enjoy some pub grub & raise a glass to toast Shane Reading, who was presented with a framed list of his 100 consecutive club runs. A great day out in a nice part of the world. Just a shame that the souvenir tee wasn’t included in the entry fee.

Thanks to everyone who contributed with their thoughts on the race. Next up is Dent on Saturday 9th March.

Finally, big thanks to the cheerleaders Jill Hickson, Jenny O’Callaghan & Martina Naismith, who just need to work on their routine & remember their pom-poms next time.  [Gary Smith]


The night before the race, Bernadette & I debated how much winter training we were short of & how much Dave Peart looks like Luke Goss (not separated at birth, but close, we agreed). All things come back to running!

After Simon cancelled Thursday’s club training, then parkrun was cancelled with the freezing temperatures & icy conditions, I was coming into this race with the hopeful notion that no final preparation was good preparation. At my age you shouldn’t overdo it is, I’m certain, one of those things in the '10 things you should know about running' article.

"That’s a good inscription for your gravestone - 'He never overdid anything'."

"Well let’s just see how much time that new sports bra, new flip-belt, new Nike Pegasus trainers, new Runderwear & new 'wind defence thermoregulated compression leggings' saves you, shall we?"

Yes, this is the time of year when we can all disport the new gear we got for Christmas because they didn’t know what else to buy us & in the January sales. The warranty for all this 'energy return' and 'graduated compression' never guarantees a new PB though!

In the car, Jason (new Sauconys, bought from a well-regarded local running shoe shop emporium), ever the builder, delicately enquired as to how many moves away Bernadette & I are from our 'retirement bungalow'. Let’s just get on with the report shall we...

Old habits die hard & once again RRRs all gathered in the same place on the ground floor of the Sports Centre. No Ronnie this year as he’s overwintering somewhere in the Southern Pacific, but we still had 68 RRRs come out of hibernation on a stone-cold morning that justified the buffs, hats & gloves. Hipster Jason was setting a trend with his Johnny pirate buff & wearing daughter Harriet’s 'Frozen' Disney princess sparkly gloves. His kids took all his running gloves to go to play in the snow & now he’ll only find 'one' of them if it has been picked up & left on a bench somewhere. Good to see Chairman Bryan & Vice-chairman Dave at the same race. I know they wouldn’t have greeted each other with "I thought we agreed that you were opening the shop this morning!"

We don’t pay 3 months in advance (what a pain!) to come to Dewsbury for the scenery, the facilities or the 'unique' tee, but to see if we can smash our best 10K times & this year's race event produced a veritable cornucopia of RRR PBs. So, drum-roll & trumpet fanfare for the following: Jarrod Gritt (first RRR home in 33:47 - down to his racing weight & looking like he should be saddling-up for the 3:30 at York; I’m idly wondering whether all runners could be handicapped based on weight, VO2 max, BMI or anything else that could give me a semblance of an advantage?), Richard Cummins (38:34), Carl O’Callaghan (39:35), Matthew Kilburn (40:58), Alex Critcher (44:02), Andrew Chadwick (44:40), Adam Farrell (47:19), John Fay (47:30 - went past me like he was on a rocket sled), Warren ‘Sid’ Siddall (49:35), Gary Marshall (49:42 - fessed up at Thursday’s training - wasn’t going to say anything as he 'only' PB'd by 20 seconds!), Lisa Cummins (51:39), Liane Gilligan (53:21), Elaine Whitehead (55:11), Kevin Hutchings (55:33), Huyla Whttaker (1:03:41 - "Knocked 1 min off my last one" gets her a place at the PB top-table), Dave Bardsley (57:06), Emma Bower (57:46), Sharon Dracup (59:13) & Sue Farrell (1:00:10). Well done everyone. What’s interesting about this PB roll of honour is the different runner profiles on it - there are people who’ve always run fast, those coming back from injury, those just starting out, those who have been club members for a long time, those not so long, those who’ve taken time out & all the different ages represented as well. It’s a great advert for club & social running. Again, bravo.

Also, bouquets to those running in a club race for the first time: George Booth (a blistering 37:37), Tracy Johnson (49:06), Liane Gilligan, Kevin Hutchings, Debra Cash (55:39) & Natali Brown (1:03:17). Yet more plaudits for Jillian Heywood (completing her 50th club race in 54:06), Dave Crewe (his 25th race in 46:34) & Stephen Rogowskyj (also his 25th race in 1:01:19). A special mention too for reigning RRR Ladies Champion Janet Jobey (41:40), our 1st female finisher, 6th in her age category out of 148 & for Anne Jones (1:06:36), back running after being injured for 2 years. Good luck Anne with the rest of the season. Great stuff!

My own time (48:42) was down on last year, in distance about 1 circuit (400 metres) of Brian Moore’s Kingsway track at my pace, so I can commiserate with fellow club runners who didn’t smash it this time.

"What shall I say about your time Bernadette?"

"Don’t bother mentioning me, 51 seconds out (from a PB), I’m still stuck on 60 minutes."

"It might help if you fell pregnant, certainly hasn’t harmed Rochelle’s running." (As being a new father hasn't affected Shane’s performance - 36:27 in his 99th consecutive race for the club. I don’t think he’ll flake out before his 100th.)


Er...I’m just off to get Jason to quote for a walk-in shower for a bungalow...

All the other RRR finishers: Neil Bradley (1:09:07), Angela Rogowskyj (1:09:03), Karen Stuttard (1:08:26), Sally Crewe (1:06:42), Judith Bradley (1:06:13), Jenny O'Callaghan (1:03:32), Bernadette Ball (1:00:50), Dave Watt (58:24), Tracey Hall (58:21), Lynda Brookes (57:57), Nikki Forster (56:59), Susan Heaney (56:53), Amanda Richardson (56:43), Gareth Mccaffery (53:50), Lee Higginbottom (53:03), Kevin Heenan (53:02), Gail Shaw (52:49), Chris Nicholson (50:17), Simon Howard (49:28), Paul Cooke (49:27), Mark Heaney (49:17), Mark Rigby (48:27), Helen Radcliffe (48:20), Rochelle Evans (47:00), Vikki Smith (46:45), Jason Keast (46:41), Stewart Jones (46:39), Valerie Kilburn (45:33), Adam Stirling (45:02), Garry Bower (44:48), Bryan Lawton (44:02), Elliot Stone (43:13), Brett Spivey (42:13), Ian Dale (39:50), David Emanuel (39:29), Bernie Goodwin (39:21), Dave Peart (38:58) & Chris Lowe (38:25).

Next up is the Carsington Water half Marathon on Saturday 23rd February. Nice early 9.30am start!  [Gary Smith]


So, what can be said about the start of this year’s season? Cold? Freezing? On the approach to Dewsbury Sports Centre I noticed a reading of -6°C, that didn’t stop Team RRR from racing in numbers. 68 of us braved the cold for what is possibly the fastest 10K course around. A simple out & back, with a very gentle climb out & a gentle descent back, the course gives the perfect opportunity for a big negative split as well as a shiny new PB.

In the Sports Centre it seemed as though we had taken over most of the ground floor. It was great to see some new faces running for the club as well as a return for some of those who have been out for a while. I think some people thought I was mad donning my shorts & vest, but to be fair I did wear gloves & a buff.

Such is the popularity of this race that not only did it sell out, but they even introduced a penning system at the start. This is a massive bonus as it ensures that runners are in the correct start area & ensures everyone can get off to a good start.

One of the great things for me, with the course being an out & back, was the amount of support I got from RRRs on my return. My apologies for my lack of response to you all, I did hear you, but was just too focused on keeping alive. Upon turning around I could feel my legs gather more speed as I started the descending part of the race. As I passed those cheering me on I gained confidence & with just 2K left, feeling the burn, I managed to push myself to maintain my pace & finish in my best-ever 10K time of 33:47. A big thanks to Anne Jones for the water before the race, whatever was in there clearly made the difference.

I just about managed to stay on my feet to receive my t-shirt, this year long sleeved & significantly less rude than last year. I waited there to see some of my fellow RRRs cross the line - normally I’d stay longer but I could feel myself getting cold & needed to layer up. A massive well done to George Booth, running his 1st club race in RRR colours, who was 3rd RRR to finish in 37:37, knocking just over 2 minutes off his PB. George came in just behind Shane Reading, who ran his 99th consecutive RRR championship race in 36:27 - 1 more to reach his landmark goal of 100 at the Carsington Water Half Marathon. A mention for another big PB of about 2 minutes to Andy Chadwick; I am sure there were many other PBs along the way.  [Jarrod Gritt]


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