It's hard to say what was worse for Mark Phelan - mistakenly turning off at the 7.5 mile race cut-off into Dent village, thus having to retrace his steps & add more than a mile onto his race, or having to repeatedly explain to his fellow RRRs how he managed to miss the large sign showing the direction of the route the 14.2-milers should take. To be fair he took it all in remarkably good spirit, even as he was still having to repeat the story as we left the coach in Royton later in the evening.

Given the extra distance that he covered, Mark's official time of 2:11:58 - as the 13th RRR to cross the finish line - was particularly impressive, amongst a number of fine performances in ideal running conditions (although they seem to have made the hills a bit steeper since I was last here). The sprinkling of rain that fell not long after our coach arrived in Dent didn't last long & if anything it seemed to get a little too warm during the race (although that may have just been my poor decision to wear a base layer). One of those excellent runs came from Chris Tattersall, finishing 18th overall & 2nd RRR in 1:40:21 on his club race debut, beaten only by James Henderson - making a last-minute decision to run due to an ankle problem & finishing 10th in 1:33:39. Chris & James were joined by Neil Brock (1:40:51) for a 2nd-place finish in the men's team event behind a very strong Elvet Striders (Durham-based, apparently) contingent.

Neil was 1 of 2 RRRs who (for some reason) thought it was a good idea to follow a hilly 14-mile run around Dent by doing another race the following day. Tackling a 5K in Littleborough, as Kevin Hutchings did, sounds challenging enough - my legs definitely wouldn't have managed it - but Neil went a step further & doubled-up with the 20-miler at Trimpell, which he still managed to complete in less than 3 hours. Complete madness...

Incidentally, good to see several other RRRs turning out in club colours at those Sunday events, including some who haven't raced for a while - Bernie Allen, Sharon Leach, Liz Phillips-Rennie, Dave Phillips, Diane Johnson, Andy Chadwick, Gareth McCaffery, Gail Shaw, Tracy Johnson, Ronnie Quinn & Jarrod Gritt at Littleborough, Joanne Brown at Trimpell. 

Anyway, back to Dentdale...where not all the hard work was taking place out on the course. Jill Hickson was busy carrying out extensive 'research' in the village, which included identifying that the Sun Inn stopped serving food at 2pm & booking us a room at the George & Dragon for our post-race refuelling, much welcomed by all. I was amongst the later arrivals, after standing patiently in a now-chilly car park behind the Village Hall for what was left of the awards presentation - only to discover that our only winner (Janet Jobey, picking up the FV45 prize after finishing in 1:52:20) had already collected her winnings & retired to the pub.

All the other RRR finishers in the 14.2 mile race: David Smith (2:40:44), Stewart Jones (2:35:32), Jason Keast (2:34:44), Amanda Richardson (2:22:19), Claire Timms (2:21:48), Natali Brown (2:21:48), Jillian Heywood (2:19:09), Tracey Hall (2:17:39), Kevin Hutchings (2:17:39), Trish Murdin (2:14:45), Bryony Jones (2:10:52), Simon Howard (2:08:03), Bernard Cassidy (1:59:06), Adrian Brown (1:55:38), David Emanuel (1:53:37), Carl O'Callaghan (1:49:49), Mark Baxendale (1:48:42) & Ian Dale (1:42:40). 

That makes 23 finishers in total - only 3 short of the club attendance when the event last took place in 2019. We have a bit of a break in the club championship now for Spring marathon season, so looking forward to seeing a big RRR turnout when we return with the Cowm 5K at the end of April.  [David Emanuel]       

'Twas a dark, rude 7:00am start to the day as jubilant Royton Road Runners set off from Radcliffe Street bound for Settle on the coach. It was a decent turnout - personally, seeing the weather report, I did have to think twice. The route is tough & as it turned out very wet, so well done all for making the trip.

If you did the Settle Half Marathon in 2020 you will remember the debacle of the finish. This year the start/finish line was on the road entrance; the swimming baths are being renovated, so number collection was done outside…in the rain. So it made for a long queue, daft things like finding your number 'by first name' a little odd. Consequently, the line was huge, so the start was delayed. Most of us stayed on the coach for as long as possible - getting soaked was inevitable, so it was a case of keeping warm & dry to the last minute, warm-up on route!

Whilst we were waiting for the bell to ring, the 1st laugh of the day came from James Holdaway, announcing he wasn't sure if he had entered the 'Half Mile' event by mistake. Most of us would have taken a half mile over even 10 miles, those doing the half would have had a longer time out in what was abysmal weather. The bell rang & it seemed RRR was doing a 'takeover' as the field of entrants featured very few others. A lovely sea of green & yellow mustered at the start line & we were off.

The route is out & back, undulating with 1 main stinker of a hill. The water station was just something of beauty - a 10-litre water butt, unmanned, bring-your-own-cup as with all their races. It was much discussed in the pub afterwards, more than 10 litres being drunk by most of us!

There is also a 10K & half marathon on the day, so as we headed out we were catching up with the half marathon back markers, encouraging them as we went past. 5 miles in, you do a dead man turn in the road - at the bottom of a hill. So just like the half they torment you, knowing you have to go back the way you came.

The return leg was brutal. The weather turned nasty - sleet, I'm sure, & a headwind that punished everyone. We had the pleasure of seeing the half marathon folks again & of course club mates, which is the best bit of the route. The stinker of a hill came back into view & personally it felt like hell getting up it, right where the photographer plonked himself. Neil Brock nearly ran into him as he stood in the middle of the road. 

It's one of those races where you are sure there are no more hills (Derwent a prime example), so a few heart-crushing views as you see the 'undulating' course on the way back. The water station gives you a laugh & as you come back into Settle seeing the football pitches tells you you are 'nearly home'. Soon you are rewarded with the finish line - not a repeat of the mess last time, so lessons learned!

All the RRR 10 mile finishers: Dave Bardsley (1:49:48), Judith Bradley (1:44:31), Claire Timms (1:43:11), Amanda Richardson (1:38:57), Stewart Jones (1:38:52), Jason Keast (1:37:51), Kevin Hutchings (1:32:43), Tracey Hall (1:32:43), Bryony Jones (1:28:21), Simon Howard (1:27:57), Adam Stirling (1:22:49), Eamonn Nolan (1:22:15), James Holdaway (1:22:04), Adrian Brown (1:20:33), Andy Schofield (1:20:05), Janet Jobey (1:19:18), Mark Phelan (1:18:27), Dave Peart (1:18:02), Mark Baxendale (1:15:55), Elliot Stone (1:14:23), Carl O'Callaghan (1:13:45), Mark Kelly (1:12:43), Paul Openshaw (1:12:40), Brett Spivey (1:11:46), Neil Brock (1:10:48), James Henderson (1:05:54), Paul Timms (1:05:31) & Rob James (1:01:55).

Our 10K finishers: Neil Bradley (1:09:48), Karen Jones (1:06:23), Lee Higginbottom (59:43) & Andy Chadwick (59:34).

I was told that Claire Timms was in the wars, head-butting street furniture was the rumour in the pub, but she carried on regardless & completed what was a tough day at the office for everyone. 

Who was it that didn't pay for their meal in the Royal Oak? No names, but it was sorted!

Tired from a hard race & perhaps 1 too many beers, we trudged back onto the coach at 6pm & the jubilant Royton Road Runners headed home. I still can feel the cold in my fingers! 

Well done to all who ran the 10 miles, 10K & James' 0.5 miles. If you got a PB on that course & day, then pat yourself on the back! I am not a stats person but I saw that Judith Bradley got her 10 mile PB - superb effort.  [Mark Kelly]


"Daffodil race? Why don’t you do a flowers/garden theme?"

"Right there with you petal."

"Without being condescending..."

"OK sweet pea."

Daffodils are spring-flowering bulbs, which explains them not being visible above the ground for a January race; they hadn’t all been nicked for the patients in nearby Stepping Hill hospital. You saw them represented, however, by 60 Royton Road Runner beans wearing the club’s colours of golden yellow & leaf green. A mixed bouquet containing the hardy perennials, a few new bulbs & those not quite ready for the compost heap yet.

Road congestion makes It sometimes difficult to get to a race these days, so the 9:30am start on a Sunday gives the best chance of getting around the M60 in good time, without the stress of hitting slow-moving traffic.  So it was OK that the organisers wanted to shove everyone into the railway station car park, a mile away, when there was loads of parking on the estate on the other side of the road from Race HQ. Most of us know how to park 'considerately' & I will be parking closer to the HQ next time. That race 'HQ' was in fact just a corner of the football field which quickly got churned by runners’ feet & my brand new race day white (only colour left in my size in the January sale) Hokas got muddy even before their 1st race - as Gary Marshall & Jason Keast were quick to point out.

Looking at the video taken at the start, I looked like I was escaping from my carer Ray Williams. It was good to be going downhill so soon, then some sharp turns onto the link road access paths. Creeper plant Jason, being a good climber, went past me on the uphill gradient before the runners emerged onto smooth tarmac. He’s done this 3 times already this year - twice on the muddy hill at Heaton Park cross-country. We joined the smooth but undulating A555, which seemed to undulate more upwards than down, then ran up & down the other side of the wishbone-shaped course, going out a bit & then doubling back up the first side of the wishbone.

All the RRRs were scattered amongst the rest of the field & only Gareth McCaffrey ploughed a straight furrow past me at 5K. Then just before the hill to the finish, Ray put on a fresh growth spurt & nipped the finishing position ahead of me in the bud.

Well done to Jarrod Gritt, who rose to the occasion & was the 1st RRR to finish in 34:35, possibly making a renewed challenge to topple reigning champion Rob James (35:44). James Henderson was 3rd RRR (38:05) in his 10th club race. The Royton 'top seeds' took 3rd male team behind Stockport & Prestwich. Janet Jobey (5th FV45, 43:46), Samantha Hankinson (14th SF, 44:31) & Kirsty Agnew (19th SF, 47:00) took 2nd female team prize. Bloomin’ marvellous!

Andrew Rogers (38:53) was 4th RRR & 2nd MV50, Neil Brock 5th & 2nd MV55 in 40:41. Other superb category positions in the race came from Ian Dale (4th MV55, 41:36), Bernard Goodwin (4th MV50, 41:37) & Carl O’Callaghan (5th MV50, 42:16). Mark Baxendale (43:47) ran a PB in his 1st club race. I saw darling bud John Fay on the other side of the road to me & I didn’t think I would get to the same spot within five minutes. I was right. John also set a new PB of 44:11. James Holdaway (46:12) is a rare flowering orchid, appearing in his 25th club race & his 1st since 2015!

I asked Kirsty Agnew last year whether she had always been a 'runner' & she replied she had. In her second season she continues to blossom & to get faster - a new PB here by 2 secs! A lovely female floral display of PBs were also celebrated by fresh-as-a-daisy Gail Shaw (7th FV55, 50:45); buttercup-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth Tracey Hall (11th FV50, 53:40); cornflour-blue-belle Claire Timms (54:44); pure-as-the-driven-snowdrop Lisa Southward (56:11); ultra-violet Angela Rogowskyj (1:04:48). Meanwhile pretty-in-pink begonia June Allingan was 1st FV75 in 1:23:57.

All the other RRR finishing times: Stephen Rogowskyj (1:20:36), Alison Cresswell (1:13:54), Neil Bradley (1:07:44), Kay England (1:07:15), Amanda Welby (1:06:40), Bernadette Ball (1:04:57),  Nikki Forster (1:03:29), Sharon Leach (1:01:37), Lee Higginbottom (1:00:48), Natali Brown (1:00:43), Diane Johnson (1:00:16), Judith Bradley (59:29),  Jillian Heywood (56:04), Paul Cooke (56:01), Jillian Hickson (55:09), Lynda Brookes (55:04),  Amanda Richardson (54:11), Kevin Hutchings (53:02), Trish Murdin (51:46), Gary Smith (51:03), Ray Williams (51:00), Gareth McCaffery (50:31), Chris Nicholson (50:18), Mark Foran (49:26), Jason Keast (49:15), Gary Marshall (48:17), Bernard Cassidy (47:39), Simon Howard (47:28), Mark Heaney (47:03), Andy Schofield (46:10), Adrian Brown (46:08), Mark Phelan (45:32), Bryan Lawton (45:27), David Emanuel (45:20), Eamonn Nolan (44:14), Dave Peart (44:07),  Darren Ogden (43:45), Adam Stirling (43:38), Elliot Stone (42:40) & Brett Spivey (41:49).  

The Stockport Daffodil 10K replaced the Dewsbury 10K & all of these RRRs ran faster than the Dewsbury race in February 2020 - Jarrod Gritt, Brett Spivey, Janet Jobey, John Fay, Mark Phelan, Simon Howard, Tracey Hall & Amanda Richardson.

We had 30-odd runners at the Colshaw 10K last June & these runners beat their times for that race - Brett Spivey, Janet Jobey, John Fay, Mark Phelan, Simon Howard, Bernard Goodwin, Kirsty Agnew, Simon Howard, Mark Heaney, Gail Shaw, Gareth McCaffrey, Amanda Richardson, Nikki Forster & Bernadette Ball.

Finally, of the 30-odd RRRs who ran the Knutsford 10K last October these runners beat the times they set there - Brett Spivey, Janet Jobey, John Fay, Mark Heaney, Jason Keast & Amanda Richardson.

A good cross-section then of male & female runners, of those that have continued to improve across the different time thresholds & age categories, those who have had to come back from injury & those that have regained form.

A big club turnout, a good quality tee ('large' fitted me perfectly), an attractive wooden 'medal' & a bright cold day, perfect for running, all combined to make a great start to the 2022 season. Everything is coming up roses!  [Gary Smith]


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