I was standing there prevaricating behind Jenny O'Callaghan (volunteer coordinator, sitting at the 'Covid desk' at the cricket club entrance), before finally deciding that I couldn't run, having damaged my left knee & knowing that, despite the up-&-down nature of the tough course, to get any sort of time you need to be running it at something as close to a sprint as you can. A lack of training was also a concern. As it was, the race was already fully marshaled & I was sent to the chicken sheds, where Natali Brown arrived at the 1st fork in the road. So I moved down a bit to where founder member Ray Shaw was in his 'usual' position, just before Andy Andems set the race off.

I fell into conversation with Ray, still turning out to volunteer for The Royton Trail. With a few others back in 2003, Ray decided that not enough was being done by Oldham & Royton Harriers off the athletics track for the road runners & he approached Royton Cricket Club, of which he was also a member, to use them as a base for the new club. Ray told me that he had to stop running because his knees started troubling him in his late 60s (gulp). OK, so I have some time left.

Ray was very proud of how, from a handful - I think Bernard Goodwin was also a founder member - the club has flourished. I would concur. This is due in no small part to the dedication & professionalism of our committee. Many of us became lockdown rule experts only when the chance of going abroad returned, a clap of hands then to the committee for keeping the membership up-to-date with the Covid regs, for putting in guidance for the return of training nights & for making the return of our own trail race possible. The race was full & I saw RRR returnees go past, ex-RRRs running without a club, ex-RRRs who had joined other clubs - Saddleworth and Eden Runners - plus large contingents from Marple, Middleton, Rochdale & Prestwich. Oldham & Royton Harriers had just 3!

Tandle Hill Tavern no longer opens during the week, so Royton Cricket Club as our club base became the obvious alternative. Well done to Warren Siddall, who padded-up & strode to the crease to understudy Bryan as the Race Director, then stepped in at the last minute to ride the lead bike on this occasion.

Gerrard Wood was as lush as the Elk Mill roundabout & kerbside verges, with thick tree cover & no breeze; it was going to be hot, airless & energy-sapping. The winner Lawrence Fairclough of Rossendale, however, scorched his way to 1st place in 36:30, followed by ex-RRR club member Ian McBride. We had 59 club participants - the biggest turnout since last year's pre-pandemic Dewsbury 10K - but that includes Dave Emanuel, who recorded a chip time as a tail-end sweeper?

Paul Timms, 11th finisher & 3/25 MV40, was the 1st RRR home - an achievement to add to his recent qualification for the Ironman Supersapiens World Championship in Hawaii - swim/bike/ run plus Hula dancing? Shane Reading (3/20 MV45) was our 2nd finisher, while Ian Dale - running his 100th club race - was 3rd & 1st MV55. So the club's first 3 runners represented 3 different age categories, proof positive of the benefit of running in a club! Female Captain Janet Jobey was the 1st RRR female finisher & 1st FV45. She was joined by Rochelle Evans, Vikki Smith & Tracy Johnson to take the women’s team prize. Mark Heaney doesn’t like to go much above 10K but is a killer at this distance, with a 1st place in the MV60 category.

All the RRR finishers: Alison  Cresswell (1:30:07), Anne Jones (1:30:06), June Allingan (1:24:32), Angela Rogowskyj (1:18:43), Sharon Leach (1:18:14), Lindsay Gregory (1:17:27), Karen Rush (1:17:26), Kay  England (1:17:25), Bernadette Ball (1:16:58), Amanda Welby (1:15:35), Sally Crewe (1:14:21), Sarah Fitton (1:14:05), Liz  Phillips (1:12:58), Judith Bradley (1:11:27), Elaine Whitehead (1:10:40), Jillian Heywood (1:09:01), Stephen Rogowskyj (1:07:25), James Wright (1:07:24), Amanda Richardson (1:07:17), Lisa Southward (1:07:11), Debbie Cash (1:06:18), David Smith (1:03:39), Susan Heaney (1:03:30), Chris Nicholson (1:03:07), David Phillips (1:00:32), Paul Cooke (59:29), Andy Chadwick (59:00), Ray Williams (58:45), Liane Gilligan (58:32), Gareth McCaffery (58:09), Trish Murdin (57:35), Tracy Johnson (57:18), Simon Howard (56:49), Bryony Jones (56:23), Victoria Smith (56:06), Gary Marshall (55:26), Rochelle Evans (55:06), Adrian Brown (54:18), Bernard Goodwin (53:37), Mark Phelan (53:28), Mark Foran (53:22), Ronnie Quinn (53:17), Bernard Cassidy (52:46), Adam Stirling (51:26), Mark Heaney (50:31), Michael  Harrison (50:28), Eamonn  Nolan (50:15), Andrew Schofield (50:11), John Fay (49:54), Janet Jobey (49:10), Elliot  Stone (47:58), Neil Brock (46:55), Brett King (46:41), Carl O'Callaghan (46:38), Mark Kelly (46:31), Ian Dale (46:00), Shane Reading (45:41) & Paul Timms (42:17).

Congratulations to those running for the 1st time in an RRR vest - Adrian Brown, Bryony Jones, Amanda Welby, Brett King, Lisa Southward & Sarah Fitton (who ran this race in 2019 as a base group runner before joining the club).

I contacted the 1st timers for some feedback:

'The volunteers were amazing (thank you).'

'Very well organised especially with the start & finish.'

'Really well prepared. Start of the race was tough especially the hills (sic) in Tandle Hill but overall I really enjoyed it.'

'I really enjoyed it, looking forward to more races.'

'I ran with a lady called Sally [welcome back Sally Crewe], she had a baby a few years ago [Hello Charlotte - smiley emoji] & was the most amazing supporter all the way round.'

There were some cracking photos taken by Paul Taylor - who also put up a video of the course, that, despite being speeded up, seemed to go on for a long, long time - & club member Neil Bradley, including a superb one by Neil of a group of us on the pavilion steps, which can all be found on the RRR Facebook page. Maybe we should have a photocall for all the current membership to assemble some time here for a formal 2021-22 photo? Proof that the club continues the legacy of Ray & those other founder members back in 2003!  [Gary Smith]

COLSHAW HALL 10K - 20th JUNE 2021
We were late setting off for Colshaw & thought we’d be cutting it fine, but it gave me a chance to pretend I was in the Monaco Grand Prix, taking the Cheshire lanes at speed in the Corsa diesel. Arrived with time to spare. Shouted over at Rochelle & Shane in the car park. Joined up with Stewart & Karen Jones. Good to see Stewart again, who is on dialysis & waiting for his cousin’s donor kidney to be matched up. Karen is entered in the Manchester Marathon this October.

This is the 3rd time in the club championship for the Colshaw 10K, with 33 RRRs getting through the M56 closures & diversions. Robert Fairbanks organises his staycations around competitive running, but the Abersoch 10K had been cancelled; no matter as he came home as the 1st RRR in 37:23, 3rd MV40. Neil Brock was 2nd of our racing whippets, finishing 4th MV55 in 40:01 - much faster than his 2019 time of 41:36. Typically for Neil, he had continued to monitor his VO2 over his bout of covid (maximum rate of oxygen consumption & not the shampoo, Gary). Shane Reading must have had Neil in sight round most of the circuit to finish just 9 seconds behind in 40:10. Ian Dale was 4th RRR again, with a time of 40:27 smashing his 2019 time (43:07). Captain Carl O’Callaghan posted 41:50, just outside his 2019 time of 41:16.

I first met Mark Kelly at the Blackpool 10 miler in 2018, coming back into the club. A die-hard Oldham AFC fan (home & away matches), he has returned to some serious form (unlike Oldham) with 42:01 here. Adam Stirling (42:53) & Brett Spivey (43:17) had a switcheroo on their times compared with 2019, when Brett ran 43:29 & Adam 45:28 - again both recording significantly faster times than 2 yearsago. Andy Schofield (44:25) drops into club races as preparation for marathons elsewhere, but always seems to pull out a fast time - sub-45 mins. John Fay, in hard pursuit of going ever faster, at 44:53 knocked over 4 minutes off his 2019 time of 48:51. Women’s captain Janet Jobey (45:02, 5th FV45) followed John home (Janet & John reads better than John & Janet though), slightly over her 2019 time of 43:44. Dave Peart, still very quick at 46:21, came in outside his sub-40 minute 2019 time of 39:52, followed as he was in 2019 by Bernard Goodwin (46:53). This was Bernard’s 225th club race, which is a total distance of...ummmm...where is the back of that fag packet? Well done Bernard & long may it continue! Mark Heaney (7th MV60) doesn’t run distances above 10K often & has been coming back, but still posted a sparkling 47:12.

I introduced myself to Kirsty Agnew at the Saddleworth Cake Race. She was, I think, being a little coy in saying she had 'done some running' before joining the club & on the smooth leafy Cheshire lanes in perfect running weather ran a great time of 47:23. Rochelle Evans is probably on a 3rd set of tyres on that running buggy & it is paying off judging by her time of 48:19. Gary Marshall - by his own admissionis a gung-ho runner - is now either imposing some self-discipline or is still running gung-ho to post a sub-50 time with 49:05. After being unlucky with injury, Simon Howard fought back to his old form with 49:21. He was followed by a group of runners who enjoy training with each other - Gareth Mccaffery (50:42,just outside 2019’s 49:57), Trish Murdin (50:52 just 3 weeks after completing the Boston (UK) Marathon) & Gail Shaw (51:02, easily bettering her 56:03 in 2019). Gareth, Trish & Gail are all setting their sights on the Manchester Marathon in October. Post-race interview with Gail: "What’s the secret to your improved times?" "Physio, planning my runs & mobility exercises." "So what’s your secret?"

Stewart Jones said he enjoyed his run & was pleased with 51:29, followed by 1st-timer at Colshaw in her 10th RRR race Liane Gilligan (52:43). Jill Heywood would have been pleased to compare her 53:08 to her 2019 time of 55:52. I came in next, my 54:31 predictably slower than 51:05 in 2019. Congratulations to Susan Heaney, coming back after an operation & convalescence for a fine 56:36. I overheard Karen Jones tell Stewart 'you go on' 50 metres after the start & she continued to run well with a 56:36. Well done also to Amanda Richardson, yet another returnee to Colshaw who ran faster this time, keeping it under 1 hour with 59:36 compared to 59:56 in 2019. Elaine Whitehead’s 1:02:54 compares favourably with 1:01:59 2 years ago. Then 1st-timer Nikki Forster (1:04:52), Bernadette Ball (2nd FV65 in 1:05:56, less than 3 minutes adrift against 1:03:11 in 2019). Anne Jones (1:19:47) is hopefully now going to be able to run a whole season & she was followed home by the evergreen June Allingan (1st FV75, 1:20:03).
Nice to see ex-RRR Garry Bower come down off the Lakeland fells to spend Father’s Day with daughter Emma, who ran a PB. I went home to my own daughter’s Father’s Day card which had on the front 'Happy Father’s Day to the Most Run-derful Dad Ever!', which made me smile & agree with myself to up the training & keep running.

Bernadette - can you get the silver paper off this medal please?

Next club race is The Royton Trail on Wednesday 14th July.
[Gary Smith]
HEATON PARK 10K - 23rd MAY 2021

Bernadette and I saw a chap in full Edwardian gear on a penny farthing going along Blackburn Road on our way from Bolton to Heaton Park for the inaugural club championship race of 2021. Sales of these bikes have gone up over the lockdown. It made me nostalgic for past club runs when I had actually done some training in preparation. I was hoping my legs would remember the good ol' days.


"How much training have you done?"

"I’ve been running virtually. I've done virtually nothing."

"If you haven’t done any training then where’s your motivation?"


A free entry courtesy of Steve Goddard of course! Went to pick up Steve’s number & sensed his frustration. He was back to running well at the start of the year, but was now having problems with his IT band. B wasn’t running as the 'IT girl' has the same problem. Hope you recover soon Steve.


Came over the brow of the hill & had to ask Dave Watt’s first name - it's been a while since I’ve seen everyone. He is coming back after a 2-year hiatus, so best of luck on the long road back to where you were before Dave.


So most of the gang were here, fist-bumping, elbow-tapping, head-nodding. The ones I spoke to had all kept their training going. Mark Phelan was a solitary runner before he joined the club & was seemingly going quicker with every race up to lockdown. He was able to return to his solitary running, sometimes joining up with others including John Fay - who has not only kept his running going, joined an EA coaching programme with (you’ve got a) Nurv running insoles to monitor cadence & stride pattern but also started a running blog. Probably types faster than me as well! Mark unfortunately ran past the finish & had to double-back twice after June Allingan put him right.


Ronnie Quinn, Adam Stirling & Mandy Richardson have been on the same coaching programme, while Ronnie is also in preparation to represent England in the V65 category at the English Athletics National Championships in September. Now working from home, Janet Jobey has also been doing solo runs to break up her day & Club Chairman Bryan Lawton will no doubt be back to his routine of running & cycling back & forth to his home from home - the shop! Meanwhile Jason Keast is back on it after his hip operation last February. He has already been rehabilitating himself by jogging around Chadderton Park & was just 'tip-tapping' around this race, chaperoned by Chris Eavers. Both were to post a faster time than me!


I chatted to Lee Higginbottom in our wave & got nostalgic with him - 4 years ago he was running 5K in 20 minutes. He said he seems to hit injury trouble when he runs faster. I next saw him sitting on the ground with the ambulance car about to assist after going over on his ankle & suffering serious ligament damage. Bad luck Lee - hope the recovery goes well (6-8 weeks, yikes).


It was good to see Bernie Cassidy, who has had corneal grafts & was going back to have the stitches out - after he'd run in a race! He finished 1st MV60. Probably still running to work & up Buckstones Road every Sunday. Jill Heywood & Ian Dale have gone back to their '1 organised run per week' routine & had completed the Birmingham Half Marathon the Sunday before.


From the waves there was a rolling start & I was soon engulfed by a tsunami of runners going ahead of me, including a very determined Gail Shaw - with elbows tucked in, very quick & compact running steps, she was soon past. Gail is a Trainng Group Leader & intersperses her running with yoga, pilates & other gym stuff. Trish Murdin followed her. With the staggered start I only saw these 2 RRRs before I staggered over the finish.


The club had 31 finishers. Time to unmask some great performances, including Rob James (4th overall, 1st SM & 1st RRR in 35:50), Neil Brock (1st MV55, 40:47) Janet Jobey (1st FV45 & 1st female RRR, 45:34) & Jill Heywood (1st FV50, 55:33). Recent new recruit Kirsty Agnew ran her 1st race in RRR colours, posting 49:17 & finishing 2nd FV35. 

All the other RRR finishers: June Allingan (1:27:10), Jill Hickson (1:04:58), Dave Watt (1:03:04), Elaine Whitehead (1:02:11), Amanda Richardson (1:01:24), David Smith (57:19), Chris Eavers (57:14), Jason Keast (57:13), Gail Shaw (52:31), Trish Murdin (52:09), Gary Marshall (50:51), Ronnie Quinn (49:03), Rochelle Evans (48:47), Bernard Goodwin (48:44), Bernard Cassidy (47:04), Andy Schofield (46:45), Mark Phelan (46:42), Bryan Lawton (45:42), John Fay (45:35), Elliot Stone (43:57), Adam Stirling (43:45), Carl O'Callaghan (42:46), Ian Dale (41:43), Shane Reading (40:27), James Henderson (39:06) & Robert Fairbanks (38:58).


So how do I get myself back to some sort of running fitness?

"From this photo you took B, I don't know whether I’m flat-footed or a heel striker?"

"You need to show some balls."


"I mean show the ground the balls of your feet first. And grow a pair."

"Excuse me?" (hearing ain’t what it used to be either)

"Buy a pair - a new pair of running shoes."


Next one is Colshaw Hall 10K on 20th June. [Gary Smith]


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