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Although not part of the Club Championship, the Hot Toddy 5.8 mile race proved a popular race with 19 RRR members competing. High RRR turnout has been a feature of the 2010 season & this excursion to Yorkshire was no exception. The race started at a civilised 11am, allowing for a gentle start to the morning (John Sweeney was overheard stating that he was still in bed at 9am wondering whether to bother doing the race). The roads were slippery, icy & wet, with the race organiser declaring the 50-metre stretch of cobbles at the beginning of the race as ‘lethal’ – surely not a description that would be accepted on the race risk assessment!

The course was a gentle climb for 2 miles, followed by a severe 1 mile climb, followed by a long descent into Todmorden for a fast finish. Ian McBride was the first Royton runner home in 16th place overall with a time of 33.47. He was (not so) closely followed by Colin Green (36.42), Mark Kelly (36.47), Bernie Cassidy (37.30) & Des Thorpe (38.42).

Other times: Rob Kellett (38.56), Dave McBride (40.08), Bruce Whittam (40.18), Chris Eavers (40.25), John Kane (42.21), Shane Reading (43.13), Mike Harrison (44.13), Steve Shaw (44.50), Dave Smith (45.27), John Sweeney & Valerie Kilburn (both 47.56), Matthew Kilburn (48.04), Ronnie Quinn (49.11), Neil Barker (53.35) & Trevor Grundy (54.46). This was a very well-organised & friendly race with a welcome 'hot toddy' for all finishers, to help us warm up after a tough run on the hills above Tod. Visit YouTube for video footage of the race, click here for full race results & here for 'official' race photos. Pictures from our own Ray McBride can be viewed as usual in the Photo Gallery.  [Colin Green] 

A good showing for RRR at the Stockport 10 on Sunday - despite the race website claiming a sold-out race, Des & I made the icy trip to Woodbank Park for this annual event & managed to enter ‘on the line’. After warming up in Des’s car we then made the frosty trip to the running track for the start. The race starts with a steady two laps of the track before venturing onto the slippy back roads & slightly less dangerous country lanes of Stockport. I am sure that the temperature was never above freezing but this made for a swift race, despite the dodgy underfoot conditions. The course compares to the Derwentwater 10 in terms of profile, with a couple of testing hills, but I felt that recent tough hill sessions in Group 1 really helped. At least in this race I could see Dave Kershaw until the four-mile point, when he steadily disappeared out of view. There were many strong performances on the day with Dave Kershaw running 1.04.56 & PB performances from Colin Green (1.06.05) & Des Thorpe (1.07.46). However, Rob Kellett (1.07.33) beat Des in a battle that is certain to continue into the 2011 season! Other creditable performances by RRR were Andrew Schofield (1.13.11), George Meynell (1.20.03), Val & Matthew Kilburn (1.27.13) & Tony Hunking (1.34.27). Dave, Colin & Rob gained 6th team out of 20…so just think what might happen next year when we have a full strength RRR team at races. Well done everyone! [Colin Green]

Well, my first victory as a RRR! I came home a triumphant first RRR in today’s Red Rose Cross Country League race at Rawtenstall. The race was at the dubiously named ‘Marl Pits’, from which I presume it was once a coal mine. Well, I wish it was again & then we wouldn’t need to run this hellish race. Actually it was a good but extremely difficult course, with calf deep mud in many places & many near-vertical drops into…more mud! I was very proud of the fact that I only landed on my a**e once in the race & finished with all limbs intact. I noticed prior to the race that several junior competitors had developed the need for post-race crutches – never a good sign. The race was only 4.5 miles but the ‘undulations’ and ‘underfoot conditions’ made up for the lack of miles. I hear that it has caused several people to abandon the race in the past and I can’t say I blame them. Click HERE for my Garmin Stats for the run – this only tells part of the tale!! I forgot to mention earlier in the article that I was the only RRR competing in this race, but I will take any victory. With usual RRR XC champ Mark Kelly feeling under the weather, it was dispiriting to be the only RRR at the race after such a swell of initial enthusiasm when the fixtures were announced. I would however like to thank David Emanuel & Brian Moore for their vocal encouragement & ridicule as I made my way round the tortuous course THREE TIMES!!! I am looking forward to the RRR Xmas presentation where I am sure there will be many pairs of UNUSED cross-country spikes donated as raffle prizes. I think I have finished having a dig … but really you should have a go at the XC for some good (un)clean fun!!  [Colin Green]

[Click HERE for photos of runners in mud.

Keswick turned green on Sunday, as two coachloads of Royton Road Runners & supporters descended on the normally peaceful Lakeland town for the Derwentwater 10, the final race in our Club Championship season. New club champion Stuart Carroll finished the season as he started by leading the club home (26th in a 585-strong field), whilst Alan Bodell showed what he's capable of on the road & Bernie Cassidy snatched a couple of trophies at the last...but the real winners were the pubs in the town centre, selling what must have been record volumes of beer (& goulash) for a Sunday in November. An incredible 46 Royton Road Runners took part in the race, including several competing over 10 miles for the first time.

Competition in all of the age categories was fierce, but that didn't stop Dave Phillips picking up his usual 1st V65 prize. Amongst the (slightly) younger men, John Higgins & Chris Eavers claimed 2nd & 3rd places respectively in the V55 category. Overall a great day, a fantastic & fitting end to a great season, marred only by a bit of a problem on the journey home; suffice to say that we'll always have a proper headcount on coaches before setting off in future...

Whilst the invasion of the Lake District was in full swing, some of the newer club members (plus Trevor Grundy) were doing RRR proud at the Lancaster Half Marathon. Ian McBride finished 6th in an excellent 1:15:46, Ian Bishop was 14th in 1:19:18, Dave McBride ran just outside his PB in 1:23:26 & Trevor Grundy recorded a time of 2:05:26. Rossendale just beat our runners to the team prize, by a mere 46 seconds. All augers well for 2011!

HOLMFIRTH 15 – 31st OCTOBER 2010
Since it first featured in our Club Championship two years ago, the Holmfirth 15 hasn't proved the most popular of club races - not least because it's only a week before the trip to Derwentwater. However, all that changed today! Provisional results indicate that we had 22 runners taking part, with eight in the first 40 to finish & seven breaking the 1hr 45mins barrier. Star performer was Ian McBride, who finished 4th in a superb 1:28:22, which ensured that Royton Road Runners took the 1st team prize (Ian, Bernie Cassidy & David Emanuel) ahead of Dewsbury Road Runners. Prizes were also won by Shiela Waite (2nd FV45), Bernie Goodwin (2nd V40) & David Emanuel (2nd V45). Not forgetting Chris Eavers, who insisted that this report should mention his improvement of three minutes on last year's time. Overall there were some great individual performances, and it was a great team effort - several race marshals commented on the number of RRR vests they'd seen. Now bring on Derwentwater!

The best race conditions of the year for sure saw super efforts from the RRR cross country team… Colin and I… yet again. Just a hint of rain 30 minutes before the senior men started was enough to remind you that it is XC season (here’s hoping for a drier Derwent!).With both our families plus David & Marilyn there to support us it was a pensive start to the SELCC league, with:
  - Colin’s brother forgetting to take the lens cap of the camcorder
  - my wife busy cheering on Rochdale Harriers as I went past her on lap one
  - Colin suffering eye dehydration, forced to take his running shades off after lap one
     (yes it was sunny & RRR have won the 'Looking The Part' award).

Those in the know turned up in trail shoes, as last week it was the Manchester XC in Heaton Park and those in spikes suffered. A change in the course (more tarmac on the route now) & not so muddy for most of the course served a slight disadvantage for spike wearers. I was most annoyed at runners tearing off down the pavements whilst I hunted the mud - it is XC & not road running after all! Colin & I both improved our pace from last week, Colin winning the most improved award (perhaps Brian can do the official stats???). For a lot of the race I thought I was losing the plot as there was a guy called “Paul” in front of me & another called “Saul” a couple of places behind me…so I would hear “Come on Paul”, a time delay, “Come on Saul”! Not what you need when trying to dodge the horse muck! As I will probably be missing the next event on 13th November, as it is the Endurance Coach training weekend, please can one of the other 8 members of the team keep Colin company. If not to run… then catch his shades when he shucks them due the pain of dry eyeballs!  [Mark Kelly]

[OFFICIAL RESULTS: Mark Kelly 26th of 148 finishers in 41:09, Colin Green 54th in 44:05]

A great muddy race from the first XC of the 2010/2011 season! The Kelly family & Marilyn depart from Royton hoping to see the first team take part in XC from RRR, an event to make Barry Greaves proud. Arriving at mud city was a great experience, 20 years on from my XC days at school. My eldest son Stephen taking part in his first race for Rochdale Harriers after joining a couple of weeks ago went well & seeing him & the rest of the under-13s head off up the first muddy hill, real eye opener! Marilyn keeping an eye open for green tops saw red herrings on more than one occasion, till finally we spotted Owen Flage who promptly took me out for a warm up & a quick survey of the course! On return from the warm/cold up the welcome sight of Colin Green brought cheers to my muddy persona. Before long we were lining up for the start & staring at the muddy stretch of hill that all the other races had churned up for us. I beckoned Colin to come to the front but he chose to return to the middle of the pack…later on he confided that the congestion in the first 200 meters had cost him time. It pays to survey the course, a big thanks to Owen for the smart idea! The course was billed as a proper XC race complete with mud & tree roots & did not fail to deliver those key elements, my legs have never felt so…tired. Colin was busy fighting trees & negotiating traffic on the twisty route of a 1.5 mile lap followed by 2 x 2 mile laps. Owen was first back, followed by myself & Colin not far behind me, all in all thoroughly enjoyable day. Those of the XC team that have been noticeably absent today, some debating the build up to Derwent…today's 5.5 mile effort would have started the prime work for you to tackle that mountain at mile 5 of Keswick…for sure. Colin and I hope to see the rest of the team at Heaton next week for fun in the mud!  [Mark Kelly]

The Clare Ryder Memorial Watergrove Reservoir Race took place last weekend. The sun was shining, Ron Hill was on the start line, Lou Gilchrist & the Fiddlings (plus dog) were cheering us on (Richard sporting a very stylish green hoodie) & it was Tony Hunking's birthday - what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon? Once the long drag from the start up to the reservoir was over it was a pleasant & picturesque trail run, despite having to negotiate gates & steps at various points along the way. RRR members taking part were Eileen Ingham, Rose Rowson, Tony H (beating Ron Hill by 8 seconds), Julie Greenwood, Steve Shaw & David Emanuel. I think I can safely say that every one of us achieved a PB for 4.835K!


Congratulations to the Jersey Boys! Well done to the intrepid five who ventured abroad & completed the Jersey Marathon on Sunday, achieving very creditable times: Richard Fiddling (3:32:02), John Kane (4th V55 in 3:34:01), Lewis Shaw (PB in 3:35:32), Dave Smith (3:51:13) & Jeff Cordwell (2nd V60 in 3:54:12). As one of only a few that we know who has completed a marathon on reaching their 60th year, I'm sure Jeff was really pleased with his best showing in a marathon in the last couple of years. Lewis Shaw also earned a PB, knocking a number of minutes off his previous best.  [Shiela Waite]


It's starting to get a bit predictable saying it...but there was yet another fantastic RRR turnout at the Ron Hill 72nd Birthday 5K race. Provisional results show 41 club members taking part, that's 14% of a strong field, and included 13 who broke the 20-minute barrier. Carole Madden completed her ninth club victory of the season to confirm her as 2011 Ladies Champion, a time of 20:25 good enough for 1st LV50 & third lady overall, while Ian McBride showed no ill-effects from two recent marathons as he finished first for the club & 14th overall in a time of 17:44. Despite the high-quality field, there was the usual spate of excellent RRR age-category performances in addition to Carole - Debbie Fiddling 2nd FV45 (22:05), John Higgins 2nd V55 (19:55), Chris 'YMCA' Eavers 3rd V55 (20:50) & Val Kilburn 3rd FV40 (24:06).


Another 6am alarm at the weekend...yes, it's triathlon day again, this time the Tatton Park sprint tri. I use the word 'sprint' with caution, as it was actually a 750m lake swim (my first outdoor lake swim), 12 mile bike ride & 5K off-road run. The race setting was superb, with the transition area at the top end of Tatton Mere where the swim was held. The bike course went through the park twice & felt fairly quick compared to the hilly courses I had ridden earlier in the year - the fastest bike time was just over 20mins, the guy was averaging 36 miles per hour! By 8.40 I was walking barefoot over fresh goose droppings & jumping off a jetty into some very dark cold water - the organisers alleged that it was 14 degrees, but I can't help but think that they had bought their thermometer from Poundland. After five minutes of intense shivering & floating the gun went & we were off, for what for me were 20 minutes (ish) of cold misery! Anyway that's all I'm going to say about the swim, as the more I think about it the more I have flashbacks. Still not really my strong point after nine months of lessons, I suppose there's always next year. So, onto the bike. I managed a fairly quick transition despite sruggling to unzip my wetsuit, due to numb hands, & had a fairly trouble-free & enjoyable blast around the two-lap course. I probably overtook 40+ other riders, but the dozen or so guys who went past me were in a different league - although I can take some comfort from the fact that they were nearly all on very expensive carbon time-trial bikes. I finished the bike in 38.27 & again had a good transition into the running shoes - I went for the time-saving 'no socks' tactic & it worked out really well. It was a real pleasure to be in my comfort zone, only one person went past me & I must have overtaken 50+. I finished the undulating 5K off-road course in 22.00 - doesn't sound that good, but it was about the 20th fastest time from 837 finishers. I get the feeling that most put so much effort into the bike that they crash & burn on the run. Final position: 282nd of 837, total time 1hr 25.47. I told you they had a funny concept of 'sprint'!  [Bryan Lawton]


Conditions were extremely tough for today's Fleetwood Marathon & Half Marathon - winds on the seafront were 72mph according to a race official, with sandstorms thrown in for good measure. However, that didn't stop Ian McBride winning the race, as he completed his first-ever marathon in a time of 2:55:19 - within a minute of Stuart Carroll's season's best of 2:54:41 posted at London in April. There were also several Royton runners taking part in the Half Marathon - Dave McBride finished in an impressive 11th place in 1:23:00, with other good performances from Andy Schofield (1:35:53), Steve Shaw & Dave Smith (both 1:36:39).

Royton Road Runners stepped on to the national stage today, with two top ten finishers in the first ever UK Backward Running Championships. Chris Eavers (9th) & David Emanuel (6th) managed to negotiate the challenging mile course around Heaton Park in times of 12:06 & 11:54 respectively - not bad for a first attempt, although some way behind the winner Garret Doherty (pictured with us here), who raced round in an amazing 7:30. They're hoping to bring the race back to Manchester in 2011 - it was really good fun, with some great people taking part, and judging by the reaction of some of the Royton runners present to offer their support, we might have a few more people involved next year! 

Nobody took me up on my offer to write a report on last week's Saddleworth 6 - so although I was lying beside a Kefalonian pool at the time, here goes...another impressive RRR turnout, with by my calculations 46 athletes (17% of the total field) taking part in the 13th race in the 2010 Club Championship, 15 of them completing the two-lap course in less than 40 minutes. Ian McBride again showed his ability in his second race for the club, finishing just outside the top 10 in 33:32, while his brother David ran an impressive 37:49 to be the fourth club runner home behind Stuart Carroll & Owen Flage. Mark Kelly was next home & claimed yet another new scalp, finishing ahead of Bernie Cassidy in 37:59. The battle for the RRR V40 prizes is hotting up nicely, with just 17 seconds covering the first three finishers, Bill Balmer's victory significantly improving his chances of finishing in the top three at the end of the season. I'm going to assume this was the result of a thrilling finish that had the spectators on the edge of their (non-existent) seats, with Bill marking his return to top form by charging through the field to overtake Bernie Goodwin & Eammon Nolan in the last mile - I can always come back & change the report if that wasn't the case! Age prizes were difficult to come by in a classy field, so pride of place goes to the Royton ladies - Carole Madden's sub-40 minute run gave her second place in the FV45 category (fifth fastest overall), Teresa Hollins was first FV55 in 48:14, while Lou Gilchrist & June Allingan were first & second respectively in the FV65 race. There, that wasn't too bad...think I'll write all future reports from Greek islands...


SALE 10 – 1st AUGUST 2010
Another impressive RRR turn-out at today's Sale 10, with 22 runners competing in the latest race in the club championship & some great performances in a high-class field (it must have been high-class, because I was lapped by the Kenyan winner Edwin Kiporir, who finished in a stunning 47:42). New member Ian McBride showed that he'll take some beating next season, his time of 56:29 good enough for 21st place overall. New club champion Stuart Carroll (or Carroll Stuart as he appears in the results) achieved a great personal milestone, running 10 miles at sub-6 minute mile pace for the first time as he finished 40th in 59:54. Carole Madden's time of 67:36 saw her finish as 6th lady (behind Anne Kibor, another victorious Kenyan), which gave her a magnificent first prize in the FV50 category. Just one negative aspect: judging from the state of some of the club vests at the finish, we're going to have to start giving lessons in pre-race nipple protection (to the men, I hasten to add).


MOONRAKER 10K – 25th JULY 2010
We may have been missing a few of the 'big guns' - including Stuart Carroll, Bernie Cassidy, Colin Green, Bryan Lawton & Des Thorpe - but that didn't prevent some excellent individual & team performances at the Middleton Moonraker 10K today. The leading ladies team (Carole Madden, Debbie Shaw, Debbie Fiddling) came a close second to a very strong team from Accrington Road Runners, whilst the men (Mark Kelly, Bernie Goodwin, David Emanuel) finished third behind East Cheshire/Tameside & Accrington. It's an indication of our impressive strength-in-depth that we had seven of the top 15 men's teams (including Bill Balmer, Richard Fiddling & Paul McHugh in fifth place), whilst the second ladies team (Val Kilburn, Liz Phillips, Kay Fitton) also finished fifth - Accrington was the only other team to feature more than once in either competition. From the 34 RRR entrants there were also yet more top age-related placings - Debbie Shaw (1st FV45), Carole Madden (1st FV50), Dave Phillips (1st V65), Eileen Ingham (1st FV60), Rose Rowson (2nd FV50), John Higgins (2nd V55), Chris Eavers (3rd V55), George Meynell (3rd V65), Val Kilburn (3rd FV40), Debbie Fiddling (3rd FV45) & Teresa Hollins (3rd FV55). However, it was Mark Kelly who was again the main topic of conversation after the race (mainly people suggesting that he should be drug tested) - although he could improve on last year's time by 'only' seven minutes, his 39:31 was good enough to beat everyone from RRR except Owen Flage.


I rarely report on races that aren't in the Club Championship...but this occasion really justifies it! 11 Royton Road Runners took part in the Ian Terry Memorial 5K in Littleborough on Tuesday, but Mark Kelly put us all in the shade with a stunning performance. Having recently knocked 10 minutes off his Rochdale 10K & Royton Trail times from 2009, he could 'only' run about two minutes quicker than at the Vera Hirst 5K in March - but Mark's time of 18:40 was good enough for 8th place in the race & by my calculations would have beaten every RRR runner apart from Stuart Carroll in the Vera Hirst. If he carries on improving at this rate, watch out Stuart! Other RRR finishers were Bryan Lawton (no doubt inspired to be running for GMP to record 19:48), David Emanuel (19:58), Matt Oldham (20:06), Bruce Whittam (20:25), Dave Phillips (21:41), Elliott Stone (22:11), David Freer (23:28), Tony Kane (24:29), George Meynell (24:42) & Neil Barker (30:07).   


There was thunder & lightning in the distance as the runners assembled on the start line, but the worst of the weather just about held off for yesterday's Royton Trail. As we all hoped, this was a record-breaking day - 186 runners completed the course, including 56 members of Royton Road Runners (30% of the field), and although on a slightly different (but still tough) course I think we can all consider the winning time of 29mins 34secs a genuine 'new course record'. In achieving this time, Ian Grime of Newham & Essex Beagles finished almost two minutes ahead of the field & registered his third successive Royton Trail victory (there's no truth in the rumour that he gets to keep the Tandle Hill Tavern as a result). Alison Sedman (Belle Vue Racers) also defended her ladies title in a time of 37:10, although Royton's own Carole Madden (second lady in 37:51) will be working hard to challenge for that prize in 2011. Middleton Harriers, with three runners in the first 10 to finish, were deserved winners of the first-ever Royton Trail team prize, whilst it was a 'home win' for the ladies team from Royton Road Runners (Carole Madden, Debbie Shaw & Debbie Fiddling). In the RRR club championship it was business as usual for newly-crowned club champion Stuart Carroll, 11th place overall in 34:03 giving him maximum points for the 10th race in a row. Elsewhere Mark Kelly continued his excellent form & clinched promotion from Group 2, his time of 36:09 an incredible 10 minutes faster than in 2009 - that improvement certainly has nothing to do with the course changes! Eamonn Nolan also produced a fantastic run in 36:44, beating five fellow club members who had finished ahead of him at the Rochdale 10K just a week earlier. RRR picked up another impressive haul of age-related prizes: Alan Bodell (1st V45), Carole Madden (1st FV50), Dave Phillips (1st V65), Teresa Hollins (1st FV55), Val Kilburn (1st FV40), Debbie Shaw (2nd FV45), Makelia Walton (2nd FV35), June Allingan (2nd FV60), John Higgins (3rd V55), Jeff Cordwell (3rd V60) & George Meynell (3rd V65) - but there were also a number of great first-time performances from newer club members. All in all another great success - thanks & congratulations to Bryan Lawton & his team, all the race marshalls & everyone who took part in the race.


ROCHDALE 10K – 6th JULY 2010
There may have been a World Cup semi-final on the TV, but that didn't stop 33 Royton Road Runners (14% of the field) taking part in Tuesday night's Rochdale 10K (it would have been 34 if Colin Green hadn't suffered a pretty awful bike crash at the weekend - gory pictures showing the effect of hitting tarmac at speed can be seen on Facebook if you're not squeamish; get well soon, Colin). As is now becoming the norm, there were many impressive performances in different age categories - Dave Phillips 1st V65 in 44:37, Teresa Hollins 1st FV55 (50:14), Brian Hurst 1st V70 (89:54), Debbie Shaw 2nd FV45 (45:11), John Higgins 3rd V55 (42:20), Debbie Fiddling 3rd FV45 (45:32), George Meynell 3rd V65 (50:28) & Rose Rowson 3rd FV50 (50:42). Mark Kelly recorded yet another PB - his time of 41:09 was an incredible 10 minutes faster than he achieved in last year's race. But pride of place must go to Stuart Carroll, comfortably the first Royton runner home & 8th overall in 37:14 (precisely six minute mile pace). Most important of all, however, this was Stuart's ninth victory in the nine Club Championship races this season, giving him an unassailable lead & guaranteeing that we will have a new Club Champion in 2010!     


Sunday 20th June saw five brave/foolish 'athletes' take to the water, bike & tracks to compete in the first Cowm Clash Triathlon. This event was over the Olympic distance, with a 1.4K open water swim in Cowm Reservoir, 42K scenic/undulating bike ride (as in Royton Trail undulations) & 9.2K trail run based around Cowm Reservoir. For ease of reference the two RRR teams will be referred to as Team Lawton (swim: George Meynell, bike: Bryan Lawton, run: Dave Kershaw) & Team Green (swim: John Williamson, bike & run: Colin Green). This was my first dip into the tri-world & as my swimming still looks like a man in distress I requested John Williamson's assistance, which he ably provided along with George for Team Lawton. John completed the swim in a swift 21:08 followed by George in 24:36. Both Bryan & I looked on in admiration as they braved the cold waters - we tend to splutter our way through swimming lessons in the 'beginners' lane. I managed a transition of 1m 21s compared to Bryan's sluggish 1:23, which opened up a lead of 3:30 for Team Green going into the 42K bike ride. Would this be enough to fend off Bryan's advances bike-wise on his new set of go-faster wheels? I thoroughly enjoyed the bike course, which included some hard climbing & fast, technical descents at speeds reaching 42mph, & completed the course in 1:32:08. I had managed to fend off Bryan during the ride, which he completed in 1:35:34, but I was unsure of our lead as I entered Transition 2...I feel that this was where I was really introduced to the fun of triathlon, as I parked my bike & changed from cycling to running shoes. I felt wobbly on my legs but knew that as a reasonable runner [please note Mr Green's modesty - Ed] the run would see me overtaking some of my fellow competitors, & I knew I must have a fair lead on Team Lawton by now. However, I had not bargained on an encounter with a steep grassy bank & a rejuvenated, rested Dave Kershaw on the run. I set off confidently from the transition area & was directed down the very steep grass bank. My legs still felt like they were cycling when I reached the bottom of the hill & I went head-over-heels over the dried-up sheep droppings. I had to hurriedly pick myself up to continue on the first of three laps around Cowm Reservoir's neighbouring hills & tracks. I was always nervous that Dave K of Team Lawton would catch me with his fresh legs & so it was (almost) to be. I completed the hard 9.2K course in 46:46 while Dave gained over four minutes on Team Green to finish in 42:32. I am pleased (& surprised) to report that Team Green emerged the winners of a close RRR race in an overall time of 2:42:51 (21st out of 65), ahead of Team Lawton in 2:45:20 (25th). This was an excellent event & must be praised for great organisation, support & marshaling - a credit to the organisers, Rochdale Trialthlon Club. Hopefully it will become an annual event...see you next year for all three events!  [Colin Green]     


A small but perfectly-formed group of seven from RRR took part in today's Freckleton Half Marathon, officially the oldest half marathon in the UK. High temperatures made life difficult for everybody (except, it would seem, a certain Ben Fish from Blackburn Harriers, who won the race in 68 minutes & beat the field by nearly seven minutes). Stuart Carroll recorded his eighth successive club race win in 1:22:10, while Carole Madden was first FV50 home in 1:33:37. Other RRR finishers: David Emanuel, Bernie Goodwin, Mark Kelly, Rob Kellett & Dave Smith.


My fun Sundays keep getting better! If you've not heard of the Prestwich Challenge Race before, let me introduce you to racing with a twist. Each year, Prestwich AC host a race on Prestwich Clough, 8 miles of beautiful scenery, undulating & full of challenge. As a member of a team of four (my nutter colleagues from Prestwich said it was going to be fun), we were handed one large tyre & one small tyre. The race starts - after a loop of about half a mile you can thankfully drop the large tyre! You're then sent into a stream for about a mile, until you reach the tunnel (not for claustrophobics!). Still lugging the tyre, you exit the tunnel & carry on until you reach a pile of logs - all four team members then have to carry a log around 80 metres. Back into the stream again & now it's getting deeper & super muddy, the tyre is passed around the team & after miles of streams, running up & down hills & through more tunnels you reach the lake. Drop the tyre, take your shoes off, don lifejackets & do a lap of the lake in a dinghy - needless to say we were in danger of sinking & went in circles more than once! Scraping half of Prestwich Clough out of your shoes you pick up the tyre & carry on. As you wind your way to the highest part of the course you have more challenges, like dropping down from a bridge back into the river & traversing up & down very steep hills, all still with the tyre. There is a cargo net to climb up & down (the tyre is sitting waiting for us on the other side), you then run for around a mile until you get a tyre each -all runners are now sharing the same grimace as the tyre digs into your shoulder for another mile. Finally you ditch the tyres...and as a team roll atractor tyre around a course! You then scramble under a cargo net & run around to a body of water with a log you have to swim under. Your body hates you right now (and hates tyres even more). Getting to the end of the deep pond, you exit & are greeted by the cheers of supporters as you enter...the obstacle course. Tyres to run through, a cargo container to climb over, a tyre to climb through, up a scaffiold frame, shimmy across the scaffold poles & drag yourself through SEVEN more tyres that have been stuck together to make a tunnel. Finally you clamber over a tower of hay bales & jump into a skip of soapy water (I took the opportunity to wash my hair!) & do a 100m dash towards... more tyres, which you run through military-style (ish). The last part of the course involves two planks of wood with rope handles, so you have to walk in unison, which takes great co-ordination (something if you recall from our lake boating challenge we struggled with). Regardless, looking like four men spooning each other, we planked over the line & finished 3rd team out of 50! In around 1hr 41mins we had gone through eight miles of mud, water, tunnels & TYRE HELL! Asked would I do it again next a shot, hell yes, bring it on!  [Mark Kelly]  


Second Tri in the bag & I'm starting to feel like Tim Don...or is it Chrissie Wellington? Last Sunday saw me swap the leafy lanes of Cheshire for the misty Lancashire hills as I took on the Rossendale sprint distance triathlon (not a dead badger to be seen). The race was over the usual sprint distances of a 400 metre swim, 13 mile cycle & 5K run, with a full entry of 250. As I am still in the 'special needs' swimming category, I set off for an early start of 0847 - I can't wait to be a decent swimmer, then I can have a lie-in! I was meant to be up against other swimmers of my ability, but once again had some half-wit in my lane who had obviously lied on his estimated time to get an early start. After he had lapped me a couple of times we had an accidental clash of arms as we passed for the third time, oops! The swim was a bit of a chore, although I managed to knock a minute off my last effort, climbing out of the water on 11 minutes (226th position thus far), which I was fairly happy with. Then it was off to the bike racks & for me a fairly quick transition. I only had one thing in mind, to catch & beat the guy who had just done me big-style in the pool - imagine my elation when after about half a mile there he was limping along with gear trouble...there is a god! The bike leg went really well & no-one overtook me from this point on to the end of the race. It was a tough course which followed the old Rossendale Half Marathon route (I actually ran the last one in 1997) & on the hill tops it was very misty. On the big descent I beat my bike speed record, with my speedo hitting 38.5mph - I'm just glad that I didn't come off, as that would have hurt dressed only in a pair of tri shorts. I was back at transition in 51mins (103rd place) & quickly into the run, although I'm not sure I'll ever get the hang of the wobbly-leg syndrome which hits you as you jump off the bike. The run course was mainly off-road, consisting of three hilly laps, where I overtook loads of other competitors to finish in 22.51 (35th) & a combined time of 1hr 25mins 10secs & 101st overall. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the event - there's something about having a number drawn onto your arms & legs & cycling in wet shorts that I can't quite put my finger on!  [Bryan Lawton]


MERSEY TUNNEL 10K – 30th MAY 2010
Until a shock discovery last week, I thought I was the club's first & only Scouser, but no, Ronnie Quinn beat me to it. Perhaps coming second will be my lifetime best. What I can be certain of is that I was the first & only Royton Road Runner in the weekend's Mersey Tunnel 10K. The route loops out of the city centre before going under the river to the Wirral. From behind me down the tunnel, which is surprisingly fume-free & like the rest of the route free of traffic, the sounds of "Oggy oggy oggy" & other chants bounced off the walls. This happens every year, but the Welsh contingent did appear a little larger than usual. Or perhaps I just noticed vests more than I have done before, this being the first time I've run it in club colours. Anyway, the submarine novelty of running the tunnel has not worn off since this became my first ever race in 2007. There is a tough climb out of the tunnel & on the other side the course does another loop before it runs alongside the Mersey for a couple of miles to the finish at New Brighton. The sea air & sunshine on the river were marvellous, but the wind was a challenge. There were 2,000 finishers, the first man home timed at 32.27, the first woman at 36.16. I beat Middleton Harriers' only tunnel runner comfortably, but Rochdale's sole representative crossed the line well ahead of me. My own time was a little off my official target & well adrift of my private fantasy performance, but at 48th I did manage the top 50 performance I predicated & I consoled myself with the realisation that 39.13 is my best time yet in this event. The race has a great atmosphere & the organisation was really good, which has been my experience at all events arranged by the good folk at L1310K. If the council gives them the go-ahead, it seems they could be running a Mersey Marathon in October 2011, so fingers crossed...but the really good news is that they've run out of the cranberry sauce that they've been putting in the goody bags since the bygone days of the Santa Dash.  [Bill Balmer]         


Sunday's Edinburgh Marathon started in cloud, cool enough for an uncool Macmillan bin bag! The first half was a doddle & I was on good form, then the sun came out & it started to get tough. I spotted Ian Grime as he was on the return leg & managed to blurt out something like "Well done Ian". Hitting the wall at 20-21 miles, for some reason I decided to walk - twas instant hamstring lockup! Fortunately there was a picnic bench right in front of me & I managed to stretch it back out. A kind lady offered a cool glass of water which I was glad to take & then make my way on. Going down the finishing straight every muscle was screaming, but still managed something resembling a sprint & my time was 3hrs 32mins 13secs.  [Mark Kelly]  [Official results show Mark finished 905th of 9459 finishers; Ian Grime finished 5th in 2:32:12]


Liz & I chose a more gentle option than the Chester Half Marathon, joining 36,000 runners in the Great Manchester Run. Despite the numbers the race is very well-organised & apart from the first 1K there is plenty of room to run a comfortable race. I managed to knock half a minute off last year's time, finishing in 43.40 & first out of 85 V65s, so I was well pleased with that. Liz was a bit disappointed with her time of 61mins (she did 58mins last year), but given the fact that she raised £100s of pounds for The Christie, I think she should be very proud of her performance. The people of Manchester gave fantastic support to the runners, creating a great atmosphere in the city centre. A visit to Weatherspoons & a tapas restaurant after the race was a fitting finale to a memorable day."  [Dave Phillips]


Five intrepid RRR members tackled the challenging lake circuit that is the Windermere Marathon - with support & encouragement provided by Bryan Lawton (aboard his tandem, accompanied by Mrs Lawton) & the injured Matt Oldham. This marathon seems to provoke quite different reactions - whilst I keep going back every year (and was rewarded this time with a PB of 3hrs 11mins 17secs - still only good enough for 5th V45), Des Thorpe seemed to be quite certain he wouldn't be returning! Although given that Des was racing again just three weeks after taking part in the London Marathon, and suffered severe leg pains in the latter part of the race, his time of 3:39:55 was pretty impressive. Bernie Cassidy was also returning for a second attempt at the race, but he suffered even more injury problems, eventually crossing the line in 3:52:22. Neil Barker & Vicky Bramley did admit that they enjoyed the course & the spectacular scenery, as they finished in 5:40:00 & 5:40:01 respectively. You may want to get the views of some of the others...but if you're looking for a well-organised, tough but picturesque marathon for next year, you can't do much better than Windermere!  [David Emanuel]     


As the alarm sounded at 0545hrs, I had an OMG moment - had my ongoing mid-life crisis now driven me to the verge of my first Tri? Yes it after waking Mrs L (my swimming goggles, bike & shoe mechanic) & downing a large bowl of porridge, we headed off for the affluent town of Wilmslow & its rather functional leisure centre. My swim was set to start at 0810hrs, as I am not the quickest swimmer, so I registered with great haste, was issued with my ankle chip (yes, you even swim with a chip!) & scurried off to the gents for the usual pre-race sit-down. Then it was back to the car to collect my bike & kit & attempt to get it all to the transition area in one trip. Running is a doddle compared to this, normally I just have to remember my nipple plasters & trainers! And so the big moment approached. I set off the last of four swimmers in my lane, my race strategy at this point was to complete my 16 lengths without drowning. One of my fellow lane swimmers almost got punched after lapping me for a second time & making me give way to him (they have weird rules in Tri) & I also lost my ankle chip at one point & had to stop to re-attach it. After a very hard 11-and-a-bit minutes I hauled myself out of the pool & set off into transition to find my bike. At this point I was blowing a little as a result of the swim & spent the next 2 mins changing into my Bradley Wiggins gear before setting off on the 15-mile cycle tour of Cheshire's leafy lanes - I've never seen so many dead badgers! The bike section went quite well, I was by no means the quickest but I really enjoyed overtaking at least a dozen other racers who had just battered me in the pool. All the time I was thinking, "Bring on the run!" As I got back to transition & jumped off the bike I had a rather worrying 'where have my legs gone' moment. I dumped my bike, slid into my elastically-laced trainers & did an impression of that old Italian marathon bloke with the wobbly legs. Fortunately after a couple of minutes I got into a bit of a rhythym & my legs started to recall how to run. Over the 4.2 mile course I overtook in the region of 20 other runners, with no-one overtaking me - more revenge on my more able swimming competitors. I finished the run in just over 26 minutes, which I was very happy with - if only I could swim & get dressed quickly. Sorry, but I've now got the Tri bug, it's awesome & you can buy loads of kit! Bring on the next race!  [Bryan Lawton]  


Andy O'Sullivan yet again holds a great 5K race using the Cown reservoir course! Five Royton Road Runners braved a slightly damp evening to take part in the Norman Pool Cowm 5K on Wednesday with some top-class athletes, a course record under threat no less. For John Lambe & myself this was an opportunity to see the course prior to the upcoming Ian Casey Memorial Race, which hopefully will see a huge turnout, especially from Royton. The course has a tricky running surface & the hill at the start/finish plays a big part! Two laps of the reservoir are flat with narrow paths & tight gates, sharp corners & a wooden bridge, all 'interesting' to navigate. Brian Moore did a great job marshalling along with his daughter & a couple of other last-minute volunteers (the story of my Saturday mornings at parkrun)! Club results: Mark Kelly (25th in 19:14), Bruce Whittam (30th, 20:00), Chris Eavers (appearing in the results as a Rossendale Harrier, 34th 20:41), John Lambe (49th, 23:09) & Lou Gilchrist (80th, 27:18). Photos can be found in the Gallery. [Mark Kelly] 


Five Royton Road Runners decided to take on the'Bluebell Trail' 10-miler in Stainland on Sunday 2nd May. If anyone has run this race in the past they will know about Trooper Lane - is it a hill or a stairway to the skies, whatever, it's bloody steep. Anyone with a pointed chin, big nose or suffers from vertigo, don't enter! We are as daft as all you other runners, because it was so enjoyable & challenging that we'll be there again next year. No prizes, apart from three in the raffle - is this a club record? - but we all finished. Dave/Bruce Whittam was our first runner home in a time of 1-25-19, followed by Budgie Barry Greaves (1-27-13), George Meynell (1-43-27), Julie Greenwood (2-03-21 as a first-timer) & Tony Hunking, who was hoping Julie would trip & fall in the river so that he could overtake her, but managed to catch her up anyway on the run-in to finish with the same time. Afterwards the red-hot shower, ice-cold beer & bacon-cum-sausage sarni made it all worthwhile. [George Meynell]  


The club's marathon season proper got underway today - not counting the pack run at Gloucester in January - as an intrepid group of Royton Road Runners took part in the Lochaber Marathon at Fort William. Unexpectedly high temperatures seem to have affected the times of everyone in the race, but this didn't stop Bruce Whittam recording a PB in 3hrs 29mins 21secs & Richard Fiddling taking the early lead in the marathon championship with 3:25:43. Bernie Goodwin (3:28:03) & Chris Eavers (3:28:15) made it four Royton athletes going under the 3:30 barrier - Bernie achieving this despite being knocked to the ground by another (clumsy) runner during the race & suffering nasty bruising. Other unconfirmed times so far: Dave Smith (3:46:47), Jeff Cordwell (4:09). Well done to everyone taking part!

It's no exaggeration to say that Royton Road Runners dominated the Steve Rothwell 4 mile race on Wednesday. Despite the number of club members with an imminent marathon (at (Lochaber or London), everywhere you turned you saw the RRR logo - on the running vests of our 33 participants at the start (except mine - apparently it's down to using the wrong sort of washing powder), on the jackets of our loyal supporters cheering us on at the finish, in the pub afterwards...but most memorably of all, right at the front of the field throughout the race. Stuart Carroll said beforehand that, with the London Marathon less than two weeks away, his priority was "not to get injured" - which he apparently intended to achieve by keeping out of the way of everyone else, as he set off in the lead & stayed there for most of the race, passed by only one other runner to finish in a fantastic second place. This must surely be his best race performance to date (notwithstanding his two victories in the 2007 & 2008 Santa Runs at Hollingworth Lake, which presumably makes him our Christmas Carroll?), and arguably one of the best ever by a Royton Road Runner. And Stuart wasn't the only one to pick up a (chocolate) prize from race organiser Andy O'Sullivan - we also had John Higgins (1st V55), Dave Phillips (1st V65), Rose Rowson (1st FV50), Debbie Shaw (2nd FV45), Debbie Fiddling (2nd FV40), June Allingan (2nd FV65), Bernie Goodwin (3rd V40) & Brian Hurst (3rd V70) winning prizes in their respective age categories. But to be honest, we're all winners, as members of a club that can get this level of attendance at a midweek race!


VERA HIRST 5K – 24th MARCH 2010
A momentous day at the Vera Hirst 5K on 24th March, as Stuart Carroll made an historic breakthrough with a stunning victory over Owen Flage - the first time that Owen has been 'properly' beaten in a club race. After taking the lead within the first mile, Stuart powered away to finish in 18mins 01secs, beating Owen by a remarkable 40 seconds. Bernie Goodwin also proved that he's lost none of his speed in the shorter races, pushing Owen all the way to finish a mere four seconds further back & claim his first V40 maximum points of the season. Elsewhere, the first 5K of the season really separated the (slow) men from the (fast) boys, as Bill Balmer, Richard Fiddling & John Higgins made significant progress in the V40 & V50 age categories with times of 19:26, 19:35 & 19:38 respectively. David Emanuel, after an impressive start to the season, could only manage a disappointing 19:40 for 6th club place overall. Other finishers were Eamonn Nolan (20:15), Mark Kelly (20:32), Rob Kellett (20:52), Dave Phillips (20:58 for 2nd V65), Steve Shaw (21:37), James Holdaway (21:52), Debbie Shaw (22:53 for 1st FV45), Shane Reading (22:55), Debbie Fiddling (23:06 for 2nd FV40), Ronnie Quinn (23:17), John Lambe (24.02), Rose Rowson (24:05), Steven Hayes (24:54), Tony Kane (25:17), June Allingan (30:31) & Marilyn Guest (31:56).    


The annual RRR invasion of the normally peaceful village of Dent in the Yorkshire Dales was a triumph once again! There was barely an empty seat on the coach that headed north from Royton on Saturday, full of runners quietly focusing on the challenge ahead (the return journey was a little more boisterous, but more of that later). For some, bravely ignoring generally-accepted nutrition guidelines, part of the plan for maximum performance included a full English breakfast at Tebay motorway services, a mere two hours before start time. The team arrived in Dent in glorious sunshine, with none of the usual flooded roads, and we quickly discarded the various extra layers of clothing, hats & gloves normally required for this event. Temperatures remained high throughout the race, which only added to the challenge of the course itself (although Colin Green has subsequently produced so-called 'evidence' from his Garmin thingy that 51.6% of the course is actually flat). Full results can be accessed via the 'Seasons Results' page - club positions & group tables will be added soon - but as usual there were lots of impressive performances, including several near-misses for prizes (Dave Phillips 4th V60, Debbie Shaw 4th FV45, Bernie Cassidy 6th V50, Teresa Hollins 7th FV55). But we did have some winners: Stuart Carroll, who later claimed to have "never won a prize in my life" (has he forgotten all those Presentation Nights?), was rewarded for knocking a minute off his previous best to take 12th place overall; and we took 3rd place in the team competition, beaten only by Wesham Road Runners & Sunderland Harriers. Then off to the Sun Inn, which we all but took over for the rest of the afternoon. Mike Harrison proved that the calf injury that forced him to withdraw from the race had not affected his appetite by demonstrating that he can cope with a 14-inch sausage (insert your own punchline here); James Trollope did the same, but only by ignoring everything else on his plate. With everyone well-fed & suitably lubricated, the return journey began in high spirits, which self-styled 'trolley-dolly' Bruce Whittam helped improve still further. Colin Green & Chris Eavers led rehearsals for the Royton Road Runners (mainly) Male Voice Choir, in their preparations for this year's Britain's Got Talent. Colin vainly tried to introduce some 'standards' (in more ways than one) to the repertoire, but it was a hearty rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' that will live long in the memory of everyone lucky enough to hear it. Only one real note of controversy - although several notes not in the right place - as a performance of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' almost had Manchester United fan Dave Phillips heading out of the emergency exit. Mike Harrison's mood improved further as he collected a bottle of wine for correctly forecasting both male & female 5th finishers. I'm sure there are more tales to tell from those (with more stamina than me) who retired to the pub on our return to Royton. Overall, another fantastic trip!


Three debutants were amongst 29 Royton Road Runners braving the snowy conditions to take part in the Great North West Half Marathon at Blackpool. This made RRR the best-represented club in this popular race. All three recorded good times, with Katie Cumkin coming home in 2hrs 2mins 12secs whilst Anne Jones & Joanne Clarke finished in 2:23:13 & 2:30:33 respectively. Mark Kelly, also running his first half marathon, completed the two-lap course in an impressive 1:35:27, while the slightly more experienced Dave Smith knocked a huge 16 minutes off his 2009 time in 1:41:17, just pipping Debbie Shaw (same time) in an exciting sprint for the line. Debbie was the second Royton lady to finish as Carole Madden continued her great start to the season, her time of 1:31:28 good enough for second place in the FV40 category. Other impressive age group performances were recorded by Teresa Hollins (2nd FV55 in 1:54:21), June Allingan (2nd FV60 in 2:23:23), Bernie Cassidy (3rd V50 in 1:24:40) & Chris Eavers (3rd V55 in 1:33:54), but it was club championship leader Stuart Carroll who led the Royton runners home, his time of 1:20:32 ensuring a top 20 finish. Other finishers were: David Emanuel (1:25:49), Bernie Goodwin (1:27:41), Colin Green (1:28:38), Bryan Lawton (1:29:08), Rob Kellett (1:31:01), Richard Fiddling (1:32:08), Bruce Whittam (1:33:43), Eamonn Nolan (1:35:57), Lewis Shaw (1:41:47), Martin Kay (1:42:13), Jeff Cordwell (1:47:37), Shane Reading (1:51:48), Val Kilburn (1:52:30), Julie Greenwood, Tony Hunking (both 2:01:31), Helen Knight (2:00:55) & Jenny Newell (2:09:15). Full results & positions can be seen on the 'Season Results' page - to view (and buy?) official race photos, click here or here


The RRR club championship for 2010 kicked off with the usual excellent turnout for the Dewsbury 10K road race (click here for official race photos). Despite a few absences through injury, a total of 24 Royton runners took on the out-and-back course in the early morning cold, suffering the usual mental anguish (or maybe that's just me?) of seeing lots of faster runners running in the opposite direction after the halfway turn. On the evidence of the first race, this season's trophy winners are going to have to work harder than ever - 15 club members finished inside 45 minutes & at least three PBs were recorded (Stuart Carroll, first club runner home in 36mins 39secs, Chris Eavers in 41:39, Mark Kelly beating his previous best by 3mins 45secs in 43:05), while Carole Madden became early favourite for the Ladies' title, her time of 40:17 good enough to win third prize in the FV45 category. Bernie Cassidy was second club runner home, putting last year's injury problems behind him to finish as second V50 in 38:18, while Dave Phillips started his annual trophy collection by winning the V65 category in 43:13. Other finishers were: David Emanuel (38:51), Richard Fiddling (39:08), Bernie Goodwin (39:58), John Higgins (40:13), Stuart Hulme, Rob Kellett, Bryan Lawton (all 40:18), Eamonn Nolan (42:23), Bruce Whittam (43:38), Dave Smith (46:01), Shane Reading (46:19), Rose Rowson (46:57), Dean Burgess, Ronnie Quinn (both 47:01), John Lambe (49:00), Valerie Kilburn (50:49), Paula May (56:07) & Liz Phillips (59:27). Full results & positions can be seen on the 'Season Results' page. It's going to be an interesting year!  [David Emanuel]  


A sizeable RRR contingent of runners & supporters took the long journey to Gloucester for the marathon on Sunday 24th January, in memory of club member Ian Casey, who sadly collapsed & died whilst taking part in the race last year. The 17 club members taking part - all bar four of whom completed the full 26.2 miles - ran in three packs, and pride of place goes to Julie Greenwood, who completed her first marathon (accompanied all the way by Tony Hunking) in an impressive time of 4hrs 50mins 51secs. It was a fitting tribute to Ian - including a collective gathering at the fateful point after 15.5 miles - as evidenced by some very nice comments on the Runner's World forum ("good to see the large entourage of Royston Runners, specifically there in memory of their colleague Ian Casey..."; "hooked up with the guys from Royton from about 2 miles. I have to say thanks to them. What a great bunch of lads and a true honor running a marathon with them all..."; "we ran with Royston for a few miles and followed them close behind. Great bunch of guys (we were the 2 women - one in yellow vest, one with pink headband)..."). On this evidence, it's probably time we accepted the inevitable & changed the club name to 'Royston Road Runners'. Although traffic-related issues almost threatened to spoil the day, this was soon forgotten by those of us fortunate enough to witness John Higgins's party trick (I would give more details, but this is a family website). For the record: in addition to Julie, Tony & John, other finishers were Bryan Lawton, Colin Green, Bernard Cassidy, Stuart Carroll, David Emanuel, Bernie Goodwin, Chris Eavers, Barry Greaves, Dave Phillips & John Kane, while Dave Kershaw, Owen Flage, Bruce Whittam & Shiela Waite ran most of the course. For full results, click here.  [David Emanuel]