That's the way to finish our 10th anniversary year! Way back in February, Ian McBride won our first road race of the season (the Mad Dog 10K) by more than a minute...given that the Hot Toddy is a slightly shorter race, I suppose we can forgive him for winning this last race of 2013 (in 30mins 4secs) by only 49 seconds?

There were so many RRRs in attendance that Andy O'Sullivan was forced to ask if the race was in our club championship.  I made it 20 in total - pretty impressive for a holiday race. David McBride was the next club runner home after his brother (30th in 34:29), showing that he's right back in form for 2014, whilst we saw a first appearance for another member of the family, Deborah McBride (61:35). No doubt she'll be winning races in a few months time!

The ever-improving Shane Reading (43rd in 35:26) followed up his Oldham parkrun PB the previous day by knocking a full two minutes off his time here last year, while Kirsty White produced a fine run (3rd FV40 in 39:05) which was unusually the club's only top-three age category finish.

Christmas is a great time for catching up with old friends...not that I'm saying he's old, but it was great to see former RRR Bill Balmer back at this race. His time of 38:13 shows that he's lost none of his famous 'bounce'!

Other RRR finishers: Chris Lowe (36:05 whilst "not racing", apparently), David Emanuel (36:07), Ian Dale (36:22), Barry Greaves (38:33), Bryan Lawton (40:31), John Lambe (42:00), Jen Hanson (42:04), Steve Shaw (43:20), Helen Knight (44:34), Stephen Jones (46:34), Simon Howard (47:11), Gill Lowe (49:21), Ronnie Quinn (49:22), Kay Fitton (49:45) & John Sweeney (60:17 running with Samantha Davis).

Well done all & best wishes for 2014! [David Emanuel]    


Debbie Fiddling retained her title as 1st Lady of Christmas at this popular race around Hollingworth Lake in Littleborough, finishing fourth overall & comfortably clear of her rivals. Personally I think she should have been disqualified as her specially-designed, top-of-the-range,  aerodynamic Santa suit didn't include a beard, but the organisers didn't seem too bothered. The two other RRR representatives - Richard Fiddling & myself - didn't fare quite so well, despite our best efforts. Richard did finish an impressive second, having inadvertently customised his own Santa suit by adding extra ventilation whilst trying to get into the (admittedly flimsy) red trousers, while I trailed in a distant third in my disappointing attempt to retain last year's title. Both us were comprehensively beaten by a Rochdale Harrier - who we failed to recognise at the start as he was cunningly disguised...in a red suit. Forget the season of goodwill, we'll get our revenge next year!  [David Emanuel]    


It is with great sadness that I have to begin this report with news of the death of a much-loved member of the RRR cross-country squad. Yes, I'm afraid that Gary Gazebo is no more. Since he first joined the team, way back in September, Gary has played a key part in our success - although he was admittedly much better at protecting us from the sun at Leigh than keeping out the rain at subsequent races - as the battle to assemble him took our minds off the muddy challenges to come. Unfortunately a combination of a strong wind & the struggle to put him together whilst being watched by all the other clubs (smugly, from the comfort of their own easy-assembly tents) was too much on this occasion. RIP Gary...

Not to worry, though - we got the contact details for a company that can provide a really good alternative. Hopefully we'll have a new gazebo in time for next year's races & Gary will soon be a distant memory!

The other big news from the final Red Rose race at Marl Pits - apart from the mud, which is hardly news - was the impressive ability of the men's team to recover from Presentation Night hangovers & the total inability of the ladies team to do likewise. In fact Katherine Brierley - who had been unable to attend the previous night's celebrations - WAS the ladies team. At least it meant that she was the first RRR finisher in a race for the very first time, as she completed the ridiculously tough course as 17th LV40 in 36:50. Katherine actually described this afterwards as "the most fun" of the cross-country courses we've tackled so far & it's great to hear that she's already reaping the benefits of taking part in these events, having broken through the 30-minute barrier for the first time at Oldham parkrun the previous week.

On to the hangovers...and two members bizarrely chose the day after Presentation Night to make their RRR cross-country debuts. Very welcome additions they are too - Mark Taylor produced a fantastic performance to lead the club home in 35:12, finishing 11th V40 (58th overall) in a high-quality field, whilst Bruce Whittam was in his element as he ran an excellent 40:35 (good enough for 15th V50) in his first race for six months. Both were part of an RRR Vets team alongside Dave Peart (38:18) & Shane Reading (39:21) which finished 13th, a mere seven points behind an experienced Rochdale Harriers squad. Shane's performance was achieved off the back of a new Oldham parkrun PB in the morning - which makes you wonder what he could be capable of if he was sober & rested! He also stopped for a rest on the first lap to recover a lost shoe from the mud - rumours that this happened because his spikes were trying to burrow their way back home to Uzbekistan have yet to be confirmed... 

Unfortunately the absence of most of our ladies team meant that RRR was not the best-supported club this time, despite the best efforts of myself, Katherine & Sam Davis. That honour must instead go to Darwen Dashers in their pink tutus, firing off party poppers on the last lap. When I asked if it was a special occasion - thinking maybe there was a hen night that evening, or something similar - they looked at me as though I was mad & replied, "Of course - it's the last cross-country race of the year." Note to team for our final race at Boggart Hole Clough in February!

Anyway,  back to the race...impressive performances from Shaun Armstrong (37:37) & Ian Dale (40:57) completed our top six counters for the men's race,  but the quality of the field is shown by the fact that this still left us in 14th & last place (we did slightly better in the Vets, finishing 13th of 15). Rob Kellett was next home in 42:40, followed by Greg Oates (42:51), Yousaf Butt (6th U20 in 43:56), while Simon Howard (47:17) just won his race-long battle with John Sweeney (47:30), despite John's trademark sprint finish which gained him an extra place. If you've seen the pictures you'll know how impressive all of these performances are!  

So that's the end of the Red Rose race series...overall (with best three races to count) we finished 8th of 13 in the Men's Vets, 12th of 15 in the Ladies Seniors & 15th of 16 in the Men's Seniors. Not bad for a first attempt & certainly gives us something to build on next year! Special mention should go to our top-placed finishers in the individual events - Becki Robinson (joint 22nd lady), Val Kilburn (joint 34th lady vet), Shaun Armstrong (joint 50th man), Shane Reading (26th men's vet) & to those who successfully completed all four races - Katherine Brierley, Shane Reading, Ian Dale & Greg Oates. Well done all!  [David Emanuel]      


The Story of the Spike, Part 2: after Shane Reading's stunning spike-assisted performance at Bolton a week earlier, it was the turn of Greg Oates to arrive for this race with brand new footwear. Greg, however, chose not to go down the same route as Shane. Concerned about stories of the treatment of workers in the Uzbekistani titanium fields, plus the carbon footprint implications of importing their product, his conscience forced him to look closer to home. So Greg's accessories came from Spike Island in Widnes - famous as the venue for that outdoor concert by the Stone Roses in 1990, but (little-known fact) so-named because of the naturally-occurring running spikes that can be found all over the island. Maybe these spikes are not as strong & sparkly as Shane's, but they certainly seemed to do the job required of them. After the race I tried to ask Shane whether he felt any guilt about wearing spikes of such dubious provenance, but he was busy doing something strange, first under a towel & then under a gazebo cover, so refused to comment (best line of the day: Ian Dale speculating that when said cover was eventually removed it would reveal, not a freshly-clothed Shane, but Dynamo).

Anyway, to the race...and a magnificent new record 25 RRRs completed this first event of the South East Lancs series. Even our Chairman turned up to run (which was almost as surprising as his revelation that he was free to run because Oldham Athletic's match had been postponed because they had so many players on international duty). Fortunately our running was much better than the gazebo assembly, the latter made more difficult because the labels on most of the poles had been washed off in the deluge at Bolton. Emma Kennedy was once more in attendance despite injury, now expanding her role from photographer & chief cheer-leader to also include dog-handler, key-holder & glove-catcher. I suspect she'll be glad to run next time for a rest...

Once again the nine-strong ladies team set the standard in fine style, finishing in 4th place in both the overall ladies & V35 team events & just a single point from 4th place in the V40s. Kirsty White again produced a true captain's performance, finishing 10th overall (2nd FV40) in 31:48, closely followed by Becki Robinson (14th in 32:11). Jen Hanson was next home in an excellent 25th place (33:26), while Andrea Baker (33rd, 33:52) almost literally ran herself to a standstill by the finish. Karen Mather was 2nd FV50 in 34:33 on her debut for the club, proving that she's a valuable addition to the squad, while Rochelle Evans (9th FV35, 35:22), Angie Hart (14th FV40, 38:18), Rose Rowson (5th FV55, 39:56) & Katherine Brierley (26th FV40, 45:48) all produced splendid runs over a two-lap course that was at least a mile longer than the three previous Red Rose races.

That left a lot for the men to live up to...but I don't think we did too badly! 5th team overall, 5th vets team & 4th V50 team was a huge improvement on our Red Rose outings. Once again the inspirational support crew, led by Emma, inspired another stunning series of sprint finishes - most notably from Dave Peart (8th V45, 42:08), Shane Reading (8th V40, 44:10) & Simon Lake (8th V55, 50:18). It was great to see a number of debutants producing strong performances - Mark Wilde (46:02, despite having to rush back home to collect forgotten footwear), Yousaf Butt (6th under-20, 47:43), Bryan Lawton (48:35) & Eamonn Nolan (48:50) - as strength-in-depth is key to doing well in these events. The 'regulars' also ran well - Shaun Armstrong (43:47), Ian Dale (10th V50, 45:14), myself (12th V50 in 45:44, my first race as a half-centurion), Greg Oates (15th V45 in 46:31, smiling his way around the course as usual - just look at the photos!), Rob Kellett (47:24), John Lambe (51:17), Simon Howard (53:16) & John Sweeney (53:49).


Great running & once again a great team atmosphere before, during & after the race. Kirsty even brought oranges! Let's hope we can maintain that into the inevitably more wintry events to come.  [David Emanuel]          

Royton Road Runners? Not any more! You now have to add mud, stream & waterlogged field to the list (although 'RRMSWFR' admittedly doesn't have the same ring to it as 'RRR'). This was the race when our cross-country team truly came of age - the most runners so far, some great individual & team performances & by some distance the best support of any club.

Heavy rain in the morning, adding to that from earlier in the week, made conditions in Leverhulme Park pretty appalling - we had to wade through ankle-deep mud just to get from the car park to the tent village. Mud-caked, sobbing children were heading in the opposite direction, having completed the early junior races - never a good sign! The club gazebo was once again erected with impressive efficiency, although a heavy downpour just before the start of the ladies race revealed it to be somewhat lacking in waterproofing. Still, it's only water...

One advantage (or disadvantage?) of being able to watch the ladies race first is that we can tell, by the looks on their faces, as they reach the finish, just how tough the course is going to be. As we cheered our runners across the line, it was obvious that this one was quite challenging! Yet the performances were outstanding - Captain Kirsty White led the RRR ladies home in 25:40 (5th FV40, 23rd overall), with Becki Robinson (34th in 26:18) & Andrea Baker (40th in 26:42) contributing superbly to an 8th place in the team event (out of 16), our best finish yet. Not far behind were Jen Hanson (28:44) & Val Kilburn (12th FV45 in 30:51), with the ever-improving Katherine Brierley coming home as an impressive 25th FV40 in 38:45.

For the men's race we had a secret weapon. Not the returning Shaun, Simon, Simon & John or the debuts for Dave Peart, Dan Yarwood & Rob Kellett, welcome as they all were. No, it was Shane Reading's new spikes. These are no ordinary running accessories - grown in the secret titanium fields of Uzbekistan, these sparkling little beauties are sharp enough to cut through mud like...something very sharp through something very soft, allowing Shane to skate over the tricky surface like Torvill & Dean performing Bolero (for those too young to remember T&D at their peak, before 'Dancing On Ice', they were like the Jessica Ennis & Mo Farah of the early 1980s...only with ice skates & music). Thus Shane glided serenely through the field to finish 78th (14th V40) in 45:21, ahead of Shaun Armstrong (45:47) & only just behind the impressive Dave Peart (8th V45 in 44:55). With Ian Dale battling to a 15th V50 finish & Greg Oates (49:02) pushing me all the way, we finished as 13th men's team, with Dave, Shane, Ian & myself finishing 7th team in the vet's event, ahead (at last!) of Rochdale Harriers.

As I started the final circuit of the field I became conscious of a huge amount of noise coming from the finish area. This turned out to be our fantastic support team - all of the ladies who ran earlier, plus Emma Kennedy, injured & muddy but still present to give (very) vocal support. Egged on by Andy O'Sullivan (even though his megaphone was now being drowned out), the noise got ever louder as more of our runners reached the end of the three tough laps - Rob Kellett (50:41), Dan Yarwood (51:56), Simon Lake (11th V55 in 54:24), Simon Howard (55:59), John Lambe (56:25) & John Sweeney (57:23). The fantastic support inspired several magnificent sprint finishes - especially from John Sweeney - which gained us valuable extra places & additional points.

So where does that leave us with one Red Rose race to go? The cumulative results show RRR ladies currently 11th in the team competition, with Becki Robinson nicely placed at equal 22nd in the individual standings & Val Kilburn 8th V45. The men sit down in 15th place in the team event but a much more healthy-looking 8th in the vets, with Shane Reading & Ian Dale the star individual performers - Shane as 13th V40 & 64th overall, Ian as 8th V50 & joint 65th overall. Plenty still to play for in the final Red Rose race at Rossendale in early December - just a shame that it's the day after Presentation Night!  [David Emanuel]        

Scrolling down through this page earlier, I realised that I've written a huge amount of waffle & nonsense this year...so I'm going to keep this one fairly short.

Given experiences in Keswick in previous years, it was no surprise that this race should prove to be the perfect end to our 10th anniversary road race season. The numbers speak for themselves - 44 RRR finishers in a field of 347, making it a club record 687 in the 17 club races this year (an average of more than 40 per race). An incredible 93 members took part in at least one club race, also a record. Our runners left Keswick with numerous PBs & the ladies team prize, in addition to age-related awards for & great performances from Kirsty White (1st FV40), Rochelle Evans (1st FV35), June Allingan (1st FV70), Stuart Carroll (3rd V40), Dave Peart (3rd V45), John Higgins (3rd V60 - on his 60th birthday!), Dave Phillips (3rd V65) & Diane Allingan (3rd FV55).

I could go on with the numbers...but you can see all the details of this race & the final group tables on the results page (thanks once again to Brian Moore for his efforts in producing all of this data throughout the year). I will just give a special mention to John Lambe, who became only the third person in club history (after John Sweeney & the late Ian Casey) to complete every race in a club championship year; & to Dave Freer, whose 70:05 in this race gave him a full set of new PBs in 2013 over 5K, 10K, 10 miles & half marathon - beating some previous best times from more than a decade previously.

Great as all the race statistics are, they don't tell you what makes RRR really special. Instead I'd point you to a road just outside Keswick on Sunday where Ray Shaw & George Meynell, two founder members of the club in 2003, stood in the cold & wet to cheer every one of our 44 finishers through the finish line. I don't think you'd find many clubs with that level of support & commitment.

Here's to the next 10 years!  [David Emanuel]      

You couldn't help but feel a twinge of sympathy for the 'RRRs On Tour', stuck over in Amsterdam while we gathered in glamorous...Chorley for the latest Red Rose League event. We're just two races into the cross-country season & a number of things are already becoming clear:
1. Those RRRs new to cross-country are really embracing the challenge; although the weather & temperature were just as (surprisingly) pleasant as they were at Leigh last month, this was a properly tough cross-country course, with plenty of mud, hills & muddy hills - but all of our runners coped with it fantastically well.
2. We have the best supported cross-country team! We may not (yet) have the number of competitors that some of the other clubs do, but nobody else had so many people cheering their runners on, both out on the course & at the finish; special thanks here to those non-runners who came along to support & take photos including Simon Howard, Samantha Davis & Rachael Shuttleworth.
3. We have a hard-core team of runners who are totally committed to the RRR cross-country campaign: for the ladies, Becki Robinson (21:37) once more achieved a top-30 finish & Val Kilburn (9th FV45 in 24:21) produced another excellent run, while Katherine Brierley (31:14) & Emma Kennedy (31:25) both managed the remarkable feat of recording faster times than at Leigh on a much tougher course; in the men's race, Ian Dale (7th V50 in 44:51) & Shane Reading (20th V40 in 45:20) again ran superbly, with myself (47:24) & Greg Oates (47:57) scoring valuable points in the middle of the field; Becki & Shane produced those great performances despite knowing that they had the Oldham Half Marathon to come less than 24 hours later.
4. Our cross-country debutants also did us proud: Laura Walters finished in an excellent 51st place (23:01) in her second cross-country race of the week, closely followed by new RRR member Andrea Baker (62nd in 23:42); Tony McAndrew ran an excellent 50:56 & John Sweeney (57:42) battled all the way to the finish to bring the team home. Even though an under-the-weather Ian McBride was not able to complete the race, these performances helped us to a creditable 14th place in the ladies race & 12th in the men's vets.
5. The erection & dismantling of the club gazebo & flag is already being conducted with military precision; at this rate, by the end of the season it truly will be a sight to behold!

Really well done everyone! Next race is on 9th November at Leverhulme Park, Bolton - the road race season will be finished by then, so let's hope to see a few more RRRs in attendance, either taking part or joining the very best support team!  [David Emanuel]


RRR flag assembled & proudly displayed for all to see? CHECK.

New club gazebo, kindly provided by Simon Lake, erected & secured? CHECK.

Non-playing team captain Kirsty White present to hand out race numbers, take photos & offer support & encouragement? CHECK.

A group of enthusiastic runners kitted out in their finest cross-country gear & raring to get going in the first race of the cross-country season? Most definitely CHECK.


For those new to these events, this couldn’t have been a more gentle & enjoyable introduction to the world of cross-country. Warm & sunny, with barely a speck of mud to be found on the course, we didn’t even need to put the sides on the gazebo. Before the races started everyone was looking for their sunglasses rather than their hats & gloves. Fell shoes or spikes were completely unnecessary – in fact the weather was better suited to flip-flops, if you could run in them. If this is the effect of global warming, then I might just be in favour…


29 RRR members pre-entered the Red Rose League. We knew that some were unable to run this first race due to various factors – injury, work commitments, marathon training or a clash with other races – so to get a team of 14 to Leigh was pretty good going. Add a very vocal support team of Kirsty, Nikki Green & Steve Jones (plus Brian Moore, trying not to be too biased towards Rochdale Harriers) & it felt like we were a proper cross-country team. Although that may just have been because of the gazebo?


There was a small amount of confusion before the ladies race, as the presence of boys on the start line (the under-17s run the same distance) made our team think that it wasn’t their race. Once they lined up & joined the stampede for the first corner, however, all six of them put in a fantastic effort. The ever-improving Becki Robinson started steadily & worked her way through the field to finish in a marvellous 20th place in 20:05, just 54 seconds behind the race winner Carly Needham (Rochdale Harriers) & one place ahead of another experienced Rochdale cross-country runner Anna Blomfield. Next home was Jen Hanson, 42nd in 24:14, with Val Kilburn (65th & 9th FV45 in 25:35) making up the trio that claimed a fine 14th place in the team race. Anne Jones was next to finish, her 28:46 good enough for 11th FV50, followed not far behind by Emma Kennedy (31:28) & Katherine Brierley (32:02).


That certainly gave the men something to live up to! A pumped-up Shaun Armstrong (maybe disappointed to have missed all the pre-race photos) actually led the race into the first corner & maintained an impressive pace throughout to finish 53rd overall in 38:28. Next home was Ian ‘The Iceberg’ Dale (65th overall & 8th V50 in 39:20), just holding off one of Shane Reading’s legendary sprint finishes in which he usually manages to take out race officials, timekeepers & anyone else who gets in his way. Shane (10th V40) was officially one place & one second behind Ian, although I gather it was probably closer than that. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see how close, as I was quite a way further back (79th & 6th V45 in 40:08), losing out in my own sprint finish to Dan Hitchings of Rochdale Harriers (well he was sprinting; I’m not sure the term can be applied to the speed I was moving at).


Shane was one of four of our runners who had already taken part in the Oldham parkrun earlier that morning. Remarkably, Greg Oates (13th V45 here in 43:59) & Simon Lake (11th V55 in 46:05) had actually been racing against each other in their RRR Cup quarter final. At least John Lambe (21st V50 in 44:26) had the ‘luxury’ of a walkover in his earlier RRR Cup match. Another to produce an impressive sprint finish was Simon Howard (50:01) as he battled with a Darwen Dasher right to the line.


With six to count in the men’s team event this left us in 10th place overall, whilst we also claimed 7th place in the Male Vets team category. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon & a great team effort – let’s hope to see more of you for the next Red Rose race at Chorley on 19th October! [David Emanuel]
I'm sure I'm not the only runner who considers it an honour & a privilege to line up in a race alongside a great athlete celebrating a special occasion.

So happy 40th birthday Shane Reading! Admittedly the various camera crews & photographers seemed more interested in Dr Ron Hill...but sport is a results business, so I'd just point out that Shane (42nd & 3rd V40 in 19:25) finished a full 252 places & 8.5 minutes ahead of the great man. Even allowing for the 35-year age difference, I think we all know who came out on top there...

Littleborough was full to bursting ahead of the race. The race results show that there were 358 finishers, despite having reached the 400 limit several days beforehand - the shortfall presumably due to a combination of the reported motorway congestion & camera shyness. Even amongst such a large field, the RRR vests were prominent - there were (on a provisional count) 49 of us in total, plus several very vocal supporters.

The size of the field didn't stop Ian McBride chalking up another fine victory by a wide margin - his winning time of 15:51 putting him 49 seconds clear of 2nd-placed Bruno Lima (Oldham & Royton Harriers). Three other RRR members finished in the top 20 - Owen Flage (15th in 17:55), Dave Peart (17th, 17:57) & Russell Ingham (19th, 18:00). In addition to birthday boy Shane there was yet another fantastic set of age-related performances, including Debbie Shaw (1st FV45, 21:46), Lou Gilchrist (1st FV80, 30:02), June Allingan (1st FV70, 30:26), Dave Williams (2nd V50, 18:34), Rochelle Evans (2nd FV35, 22:23), Ian Dale (3rd V50, 19:39) & Bernie Cassidy (3rd V55, 20:28).

Amongst the sub-20 minute finishers there were impressive runs from Shaun Armstrong (18:28), Bernie Goodwin (19:26), Lee Smith (19:37), Dave Freer (19:43), Mark Wilde (19:46) & the fast-finishing Greg Oates (19:58). Kirsty White (21:17) led the Royton ladies home, with the ever-improving Laura Walters (22:05) not far behind. Roy Miller (56:02) once again did a great job accompanying Brian Hurst (56:01) around the course.

Other RRR finishers: David Emanuel (20:04), Elliot Stone (20:05), John Lambe (20:52), John Williamson (21:00), John Higgins (21:13), David Ellis (21:21), Steve Shaw (21:34), Simon Lake (21:36), Bryan Lawton (21:41),  Ronnie Quinn (22:32), Stephen Jones (22:45), Tony Kane (23:08), Stuart Brown (23:21), Dave Phillips (23:24), Simon Howard (23:35), Tony Hart (23:39), John Sweeney (24:22), Angie Hart (24:51), Adrian Bowcock (25:26), Rose Rowson (25:37), Nikki Green (25:58), Diane Allingan (26:33), Dave Smith (27:38), Anne Jones (27:50), Karen Stuttard (30:37), Mary Freer (31:10) & Katherine Brierley (31:35). 

This was Andy O'Sullivan's last race in Littleborough, as he plans to move all of his races to Whitworth from next year. Truly the end of an era! [David Emanuel]  

John Lloyd brought his Cannonball Events roadshow to Littleborough for the first time...and despite a clash with the Rochdale Kingsway races, he'll have been pretty pleased to see 111 finishers in what was an enjoyable & well-organised multi-terrain event on a lovely Autumn morning. It was interesting to observe that, despite the venue, this race attracted a different group of runners to those you would normally see at an Andy O'Sullivan Littleborough race. Andy himself was (of course) present, loudspeaker in hand, telling everyone about the huge number of camera crews expected for the imminent Ron Hill Birthday 5K. Make sure you comb your hair & wash behind your ears!

Just four RRRs were tempted out for this new 10K, but all performed well. Ian 'The Iceberg' Dale (see RRR Cup reports for an explanation of his new nickname) was extremely cool under pressure - just like a real iceberg, in fact - as he edged out Shaun Armstrong in a great battle to finish 13th overall (1st V50) in 40:17. Shaun was just one place & one second further back. Recent recruit Katherine Brierley (1:06:27) ran an excellent race to finish as 2nd FV40. Meanwhile I was able to watch the battle between Ian & Shaun unfolding as I followed them round in 40:48 (17th, 1st V45).

More Cannonball events are coming - including a Tandle Hill Trail Race in October, a Todmorden 5K series in November/December & a Littleborough 5K series (using Andy O'Sullivan's route) in 2014. See John's website for more details!  [David Emanuel]

In a busy period of races & summer holidays, no surprise that there was only a small bunch of RRRs in the field of 48 for this year's Littleborough Lions 5K...but what a delightful bunch it was! The sort that you'd want to arrange in a nice vase & put right in the middle of the mantlepiece for everyone to see...

It's a little-known fact that this annual race is an important fund-raiser in the ongoing battle to keep Littleborough free of lions & other dangerous wild cats. You've never seen a lion in Littleborough? Well that just shows how successful they've been - but you must never become complacent.

For those who haven't taken part in this race before, it's completely different to the usual Andy O'Sullivan races in Littleborough that form a regular part of our club championship. Right from the start, rather than head straight out onto the main road, the race sets off in the opposite direction before turning right & joining the A58 a little further up. OK, I admit that is the only difference, but it still makes a nice change.

Controversially, the race marshals allowed runners to go straight across the level crossing at Smithy Bridge when there wasn't a train coming - which was great for those at the front & the back of the field but not for those of us the middle. How depressing it is to hear the beeping of the gates as you approach the bend before the railway line! That's my excuse for finishing nearly three minutes behind race winner Ian Grime (16:59) - I'm sure I would have been MUCH closer otherwise.

Our first runner home was Martin Schofield, an impressive 5th place finisher in 17:18. Debbie Fiddling (21:28) was not quite able to defend her ladies title from last year, beaten into second place by Sarah Cumber of Halifax Harriers (18:37) - no disgrace there, as Sarah finished 12th overall & beat all of the RRR men apart from Martin.

Dave Freer (19:45) ran a very strong race, staying just out of my reach all the way around the course as I trailed in behind him in 19:50. Richard Fiddling (20:19) was close behind, with Tony Kane (23:27) also having a good run. All good practice for the Ron Hill Birthday 5K at the end of September!  [David Emanuel]       

Race reports on this website don't have headlines, but if they did - after a stunning half marathon victory on the Fylde peninsula by the RRR club champion - the title for this one would have to be 'Fleetwood - Mac'.

Right, so you know what's coming next...despite Rumours (1977 album) that he would be facing tough competition in this Bank Holiday weekend race, Ian McBride proved that these were just Little Lies (1987 single) as his time of 1:10:11 resulted in victory by more than four minutes ahead of 2nd-placed Scott Harrington of Otley AC. That's the sort of race win that Dreams (1977) are made of. They say that Heroes Are Hard To Find (1974), but our club certainly has one - all we can ask of Ian is that you Don't Stop (1977) running, continue to Go Your Own Way (1976) & keep winning races Everywhere (1988). Certainly on current form it would take a Landslide (1998) or a swooping Albatross (1969) to stop him...

Enough of this song-title nonsense...once again Ian was just one of many RRR athletes who produced peerless performances at Fleetwood (although since the town's famous structure, built in 1910, was sadly destroyed by fire in 2008, the reality is that everything about Fleetwood is 'pier-less'; but I think my point stands). With this race a fairly late addition to the Club Championship & taking place on a holiday weekend there were concerns that numbers would be low, so it was great to see as many as 26 club members make the long trip to the coast. Despite the potentially fast & flat course conditions turned out to be far from ideal for a fast time, with an unhelpful combination of sea breeze & high temperatures (I can't remember seeing so many competitors stopping to walk during a race). All of this makes it even more impressive that several RRR members produced half marathon PBs, including the ever-improving Dave Peart (11th overall & 1st V45 in 1:18:32), Shane Reading (1:27:43) & Nikki Green (1:53:59).

Stuart Carroll (13th overall & 2nd V40 in 1:20:14, despite having just returned from holiday) joined Ian McBride & Dave Peart to comfortably claim the men's team prize - which we seem to do in most races these days. Stuart & Dave were just two of a number of noteworthy age-category performers, as June Allingan (2:31:13) continued her impressive run of FV70 victories, Teresa Hollins was 2nd FV45 in 1:56:34, Dave Williams (1:32:14) claimed 3rd V50, Debbie Shaw (1:43:29) was 3rd FV45, Dave Phillips 3rd V65 (1:48:28) & Eileen Ingham (2:09:37) warmed up nicely for her forthcoming RRR Cup match as she finished 3rd FV60.

The chip timing at this race produced some interesting results, with Greg Oates & Tony Hart crossing the line together in a 'gun time' of 1:39:09 but Tony (1:38:47) claiming victory on the chip by 11 seconds; similarly, John Lambe's three-second 'win' over David Ellis on the clock was turned into a 13-second victory for the latter (1:40:48) in the official timing. John (1:41:01) won't be too disappointed, though - having already secured a guaranteed top-three finish in Group 1, he is now just three races away from becoming only the 3rd RRR in the history of the club (after John Sweeney & the late Ian Casey) to run every club championship race in a season.

Other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (1:24:13), David Emanuel (1:28:44), Dan Yarwood (1:32:58), Mark Wilde (1:33:55), Rob Kellett (1:34:25), Simon Lake (1:36:48), Rochelle Evans (1:49:04), George Meynell (1:52:10), Stuart Brown (1:56:21), Angie Hart (2:00:36) & Rose Rowson (2:09:43).

Well done everyone & thanks for turning out - hope you think it was worth it!  [David Emanuel]     

Another week, another race dominated by Royton Road Runners! On a damp, muggy evening in Greenfield, our 55 finishers at the Saddleworth 6 represented a remarkable 22% of the total field.

Unusually for races this year I can't report a victory for Ian McBride - despite a frighteningly fast time of 30:51 he was on this occasion beaten to the line by Ben Fish of Blackburn Harriers (29:58). Fish is a dab hand at this distance & he showed Ian a clean pair of 'eels to claim first plaice, but he was the sole person to finish ahead of our club champion. Although Ian cod not claim victory, Fish will have known he had a close (haddock?) rival & he must have been feeling some tension (tench?) when herring Ian's footsteps behind him. Of course Ian isn't one to carp about this result & he wasn't koi afterwards in expressing his determination to knock the Blackburn Harrier off his perch at a future race.

That's probably enough bad fish puns for now - I'd betta ("a genus of small, often colourful freshwater ray-finned fishes in the gourami family" apparently, including the delightfully-named Siamese fighting fish - isn't Wikipedia great?) get back to the race report...

In the absence of Stuart Carroll it fell to Chris Lowe to lead the RRR vets contingent & he did so in fine style, his time of 35:54 giving him 12th place overall, just 13 seconds & three places ahead of the in-form Dave Peart (36:07). However, due to the complexities of the age category team allocations, it was Ian McBride, Russell Ingham (36:30) & Shane Reading (38:38) who claimed the senior men's team prize ahead of Salford Harriers - a feat matched by the senior ladies team of Kirsty White (41:53), Becki Robinson (42:50) & Laura Walters (45:11), if I've interpreted the results correctly.

Amidst tough competition it took more great performances to win age category prizes, with June Allingan excelling as 1st FV65 in 1:00:33, Debbie Shaw claiming 3rd FV45 (44:37) & Dave Wiliams 3rd V50 (37:42, good enough for 24th overall). There may have been more prizes, but George Meynell reported from the presentation that "I had to collect so many I've forgotten".

The club's strength in depth was further demonstrated by the fact that 14 RRRs finished inside 40 minutes, with an amazing 31 breaking the 45-minute barrier.

Other RRR finishers, including several returning impressively from injury: Owen Flage (35:06), Alan Bodell (4th V50 in 37:44), Ian Dale (38:07), Lee Smith (38:59), Dan Yarwood (39:03), David Emanuel (39:28), Rob Kellett (39:35), Elliot Stone (39:55), John Higgins (40:13), Bernie Cassidy (40:19), Bernie Goodwin (40:22), Tony Hart (40:26), Colin Green (40:32), Dave Freer (40:43), Andy Schofield (40:51), Simon Lake (41:25), Tony McAndrew (41:46), John Lambe (41:57), David Ellis (42:46), Barry Greaves (43:05), Neil Farrell (43:52), Steve Shaw (43:55), James Cashin (45:00), Helen Knight (45:13), Jen Hanson (45:46), John Sweeney (46:27), Stephen Jones (46:50), Rochelle Evans (46:55), George Meynell (48:18), Angie Hart (48:58), new member Simon Howard (50:21), Teresa Holins (50:40), Rose Rowson (50:50), Nikki Green (51:36), Kay Fitton (53:20), Bryan Lawton (53:50), Eileen Ingham (53:51), Adrian Bowcock (54:15), Anne Jones (55:24), Liz Philips (56:06), Tansy Wilson (1:03:47), Mary Freer (1:03:47), Karen Stuttard (1:03:50) & Emma Kennedy (1:05:04).

Well done all! Next up is the Fleetwood Half Marathon on the Bank Holiday weekend, a new race in the RRR Club Championship. Let's hope that Macca'll (mackerel? getting desperate now!) produce a winning performance...  [David Emanuel] 

With many club members taking the 'easy' option & running the Great Warford 10, plus the absence of Chris Eavers through injury, RRR representation was reduced by 50% for this year's UK Backward Run in Heaton Park - i.e. it was just me.

I did manage to persuade/trick Stephen Senior (Middleton Harriers) into taking part in this, the fourth staging of the race. I've no doubt that he'll now be spreading the word about what a great event it is. With a record field of 58 this year, plus plenty more in the 'fun run', it does seem to be (slowly) growing in popularity!

Star of the show, as always, was Garret Doherty. The charismatic Irishman retained his title in a remarkable time of 6:59 over the hilly one mile course, just a single second outside his own course record. Having set myself the target of breaking the 10-minute barrier this year, I was pretty pleased to finish fourth in a personal best of 9:48 & I'm now one of just three people to have completed every UK Backward Run. Beat that, Mo Farah! Steve did Middleton proud on his debut, his creditable time of 13:00 giving him 11th position in the men's race.

As a firm believer in the many benefits of reverse running, I'll be continuing to practice my backward technique before & after track sessions on a Wednesday night - regardless of the heckling. If anyone wants to join me - possibly with the intention of attempting the race next year - you'll be very welcome!  [David Emanuel]    
Maybe not too surprising, with so many club races at the moment, that there were only three RRRs amongst the 118 who braved record temperatures to run Andy O'Sullivan's latest Littleborough race...but they certainly did the club proud. Dave Phillips was also present but not fit to run, having neglected to wear a hat at the funeral for Middleton Harriers president Jack Kirk & suffering a (hopefully) mild case of sunstroke, whilst my feeble excuse was sheer exhaustion following Brian Moore's track session the previous evening.

No surprise that Tony & Angie Hart were amongst the few RRRs in this race, as they run in pretty much every local race that takes place (if they did decide to miss a race, would that be a Hart bypass? Just a thought).  Tony produced an impressive 20:33 to finish in 14th place (4th V45), with Angie also running extremely well to finish 36th in 24:35, good enough for 2nd FV35 & 5th lady overall. However, the star of the show was Eileen Ingham, her new PB of 26:59 ("Don't tell Brian!") winning the FV60 category (11th lady overall). Well done all!  [David Emanuel]   

Records galore! More than 200 finishers in our Royton Trail race for the first time, a fantastic new course record of 28:49 by own Ian McBride to defend his 2012 title...and although the 55 RRRs in the race was just one short of the previous high achieved here in 2010 & 2011, by my calculations a total of 67 different club members took part in either the Rochdale 10K, the Royton Trail or (mostly) both races.

Ian's success, winning by nearly three minutes from Mick Flatley of Middleton Harriers, was just one of many prizes picked up on the night. The men's team of Ian, Stuart Carroll (3rd V40 in 32:35) & Chris Lowe (33:46) also retained their title, while our leading women - Becki Robinson (the best RRR finisher for the first time in 39:11), Kirsty White (1st FV40 in 39:24) & Debbie Shaw (41:44) - regained the title that they loaned to Saddleworth Runners in 2012. Dave Peart (34:02) was 1st V45 & Dave Williams (35:04) 1st V50, while June Allingan (56:11) would once again have been 1st FV70 if there had been such a category!

Other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (33:17), Russell Ingham (33:53), Shaun Armstrong (35:26), Alan Bodell (36:09), Lee Smith (an impressive debut performance in 36:11), Shane Reading (36:20), Ian Dale (nearly three minutes quicker than 2012 in 36:29), Michael Harrison (36:45), Eamonn Nolan (37:18), Elliot Stone (37:32), David Emanuel (37:34), Bernie Cassidy (37:37), Bernie Goodwin (37:39), Tony Hart (37:41), Bruce Whittam (38:14), Greg Oates (38:34), John Williamson (38:40), Simon Lake (39:06), Roy Miller (39:22), John Lambe (39:49), Jamie Holdaway (40:20), David Ellis (41:30), Helen Knight (42:09), Jen Hanson (42:39), James Cashin (42:40), Ronnie Quinn (43:03), Dave Phillips (43:17 - for once not the first V65!), John Sweeney (43:58), Jayne Roberts (44:23), Stephen Jones (44:24), Laura Walters (46:02), Angie Hart (46:05), Annabella Gloster (46:13), George Meynell (46:49), Rose Rowson (47:03), Rochelle Evans (47:07), Teresa Hollins (48:00), Kay Fitton (48:57), Nikki Green (51:02), Julie Greenwood (51:43), Eileen Ingham (51:44), Adrian Bowcock (52:38), Liz Phillips (53:23), Diana Hand (56:10), Tansy Wilson (56:14) & Karen Stuttard (1:00:18). 

The surprisingly good weather left the course dry & dusty but certainly no easier, particularly those dreaded hills through Tandle Hill Country Park, but the record turnout seems to indicate that local runners enjoy the challenge...or maybe its the friendly atmosphere...or the food in the pub afterwards?  [David Emanuel]        

ROCHDALE 10K - 2nd JULY 2013
Just when you think RRR participation in races can't get any better...an amazing 52 club members completed this year's Rochdale 10K - if you discount our own Royton Trail, that's more than any previous race in the club's history. The race seems to have gained in popularity amongst other runners too, with an increase to 340 runners (from 254 last year) resulting in long queues at registration & a delayed start.

All this makes Ian McBride's first victory in the race even more impressive, as he knocked almost a minute off his 2012 time to romp home in 32:16, a massive 1min 41secs clear of the field. Stuart Carroll joined Ian in the top 10, his 36:02 good enough for 6th place overall & earning him the 2nd V40 prize.

Impressive as Ian's performance at the head of the field was, there were other club members who improved by considerably more on their 2012 times - Kay Fitton (52:57) by nearly 7 minutes, Dave Freer (40:36) by more than 6 minutes & Adrian Bowcock (53:44) by around 4 & a half. Stephen Jones (48:45), Ronnie Quinn (46:39 - 2nd V60) & Ian Dale (39:54) all gained around 3 minutes.

In addition to Stuart & Ronnie there was the usual glut of age-related prizes, even in such a large & competitive field. Dave Williams (38:53) produced an excellent run to win the V50s, Lou Gilchrist (1:01:13) improved on her FV80 UK record from just a week earlier to win the FV80 prize & June Allingan (1st FV70 in 1:02:13) continued to dominate her new age category. Third places were also achieved by Kirsty White (FV40, 43:23), Becki Robinson (SF, not far behind Kirsty in 44:05), Debbie Fiddling (FV45, 44:48) & Eileen Ingham (FV60, 58:40).

There was also success in the team events, as our male vets team of Stuart Carroll, Chris Lowe (37:20) & Dave Peart (37:45) claimed first place, while our leading ladies (Kirsty White, Becki Robinson & Debbie Fiddling) were only just beaten into 2nd place by Salford Harriers.

I'd like to say that I enjoyed the race, but for the second year running Shane Reading (40:22) spoilt it for me by appearing from nowhere to overtake me on the line, although at least this year he didn't also take out the timekeeper & several spectators. Having said that, the way Shane's times are improving I'll soon be looking back longingly at the times I was close enough to be involved in a sprint finish with him...

Other RRR finishers: Owen Flage (37:13), Russell Ingham (38:09), David Emanuel (40:23), Elliot Stone (40:41), Eamonn Nolan (40:53), Richard Fiddling (41:01), Alan Bodell (41:24), Dan Yarwood (41:26), Bernie Cassidy (41:34), Bernie Goodwin (41:44), Rob Kellett (41:47), Tony Hart (42:07), Bruce Whittam (42:13), Greg Oates (42:15), Simon Lake (42:52), John Lambe (44:15), Steve Shaw (45:45), Jen Hanson (45:53), Debbie Shaw (46:07), Helen Knight (46:28), Dave Phillips (47:21), John Sweeney (48:30), Stuart Brown (48:34), Jayne Roberts (48:38), Laura Walters (50:02), Gill Lowe (50:39), Angie Hart (50:47), Rose Rowson (51:55), Teresa Hollins (52:03), Nikki Green (54:07), Anne Jones (1:01:19), Mary Freer (1:02:10), Karen Stuttard (1:04:32) & Emma Kennedy (1:17:31).

Next stop the Royton Trail!  [David Emanuel]

OLDHAM 10K - 23rd JUNE 2013
Sunday 23rd June saw the welcome return of the Oldham 10K. The last running of this event was so long ago I think we wore clogs & shawls! It was a different course this time, billed as fast & flat (well as flat as Oldham can be), which proved to be quite a challenge for the near 500 runners who took part...although it didn't seem to bother Andi Jones as he raced to victory in 31 minutes, closely followed by our very own Ian McBride in 32:58.

There were great runs by Dave Peart (1st V45), Owen Flage & Shane Reading as all three finished in the first 20. Elliot Stone, Lee Smith, Ian Dale, Dave Freer & Rob Kellett also showed excellent form to complete the course in less than 42 minutes. First lady home for Royton was Kirsty White (2nd FV35 in 44:29), followed by talented newcomer Rebecca Robinson (44:56).

It was however some of our more senior runners who hogged the limelight. The star has to be the enigmatic Lou Gilchrist, whose magnificent time of 1:01:36 is (we think) a new FV80 UK record. What a legend! Not to be outdone, our ageing President & his better half Sheila both claimed 1st place in their respective V65 categories - surely a unique record? June Allingan also caught the eye with a fine run to win the FV70 prize, while a great run by 74-years-young Brian Hurst had the local press beating a path to his door demanding an interview, resulting in a great article in the Oldham Advertiser.

There were a few teething problems at the start, but with a few tweaks here & there I'm sure this is set to become a welcome addition to the local running scene.  [Dave Phillips] 

I'm not exactly sure where the hot weather came from - but I certainly didn't enjoy it! We must have run club championship races in similar temperatures before, but I can't remember ever feeling so uncomfortable during a race. Some of my lethargy might have been due to completing Brian Moore's 20x400m track session on the Wednesday beforehand - but I can't believe Brian would do anything to jeopardise my race performance or affect my club ranking...

Still, some RRR competitors seemed to positively revel in the heat. Stuart Carroll led the way, finishing in 12th place (4th V40) in an impressive 1:18:55 behind regular race winner Ben Fish from Blackburn Harriers (1:10:09), but Dave Peart was just one minute behind Stuart, his 1:19:55 good enough for 15th place overall (2nd V45) & achieved despite attending the 'Oldham parkrun social' the night before. Helen Knight managed to produce a half marathon PB of 1:45:31 despite missing the start!

The age categories are extremely competitive at Freckleton, which makes the achievements of Dave Phillips (1st V65 in 1:49:39) & Rose Rowson (1st FV55 in 1:58:56) even more impressive. Eileen Ingham also picked up a well-deserved award, 3rd FV60 in 2:08:05. Given the way that Dave Hall (4th V50 in 1:28:26) charged past me at halfway & immediately disappeared into the distance, I'm surprised that there were three faster V50s!

Also worth a mention - John Lambe (1:41:02) completed his 50th club race in impressive style & is now the only 'ever present' in this season's club championship; while Shane Reading produced a really strong run to finish in 1:29:26 - a great time in these conditions.

Other RRR finishers: Chris Lowe (1:26:04), Colin Green (1:28:56), David Emanuel (1:30:52), Tony Hart (1:38:46), Dave Freer (1:39:24), Kirsty White (1:40:13), Simon Lake (1:42:41), Debbie Shaw (1:48:20), Stuart Brown (1:49:07), Stephen Jones (1:54:17), Jayne Roberts (1:54:34), Angie Hart (2:00:02), Kay Fitton (2:01:16), Teresa Hollins (I think? - running in Bruce Whittam's number - 2:02:20), Nikki Green (2:13:24), Adrian Bowcock (2:18:40), Anne Jones (2:19:43) & Mary Freer (2:29:13).

Well done everyone. Hopefully the winter weather will return for the next club race, the Rochdale 10K on 2nd July!  [David Emanuel]    

Crikey! I now have a new respect for race organisers. The lead-up to the Dovestone Diamond was smooth & controlled, but nothing prepares you for the onslaught of runners on race day.

Jason Chapman (Kiwi Classic Events) & I had planned the event & gained permission from the many different agencies involved well in advance of the day. It was a revelation to me to discover that so many people need to be consulted regarding the staging of a relatively low-key event. We needed to consult with landowners, residents, caterers, race adjudicators, sponsors, police, St John's Ambulance & many more.

On race day itself Jason spent a great deal of time marking the course, only to find a new fence had been erected the previous day across the planned route, which required a minor re-route. I arrived at 5.30pm after a busy workday to finish preparations for registration to open at 6pm. To my surprise quite a few runners arrived early. I also had the task of briefing the 20-plus happy course marshals who did a sterling job throughout in the poor weather.

Registration proved to be the most stressful time, with the race already being full, but we managed to get many people signed-up on the day in place of people who had not turned up by 7.15pm. Although this flexibility was appreciated by those runners who benefited, it did add to the logistical problems.

The race set off at 7.30pm in wet conditions in the muddy abyss of Dovestones & its environs. Once the runners had set off we had to set up the finish line & prepare for the first runners to come back home in around 35 minutes. It was very strange to have no idea what was happening in the race until we saw a very muddy Ian McBride approach the finish line to complete the taxing course in 36 minutes & 1 second. Full results can be found elsewhere on the website here.

For the next 50 minutes we watched the rest of the runners cross the finish line whlst recording their times. Regrettably there was a wait for some of the runners to register their times back at registration & this is an issue that will be discussed at the race de-brief.

Thanks to all the RRRs who supported this race. It is the intention that I will be race director next year under the Greenfield Greyhounds banner - with this in mind I would really appreciate any constructive comments by e-mail, which we can take into account when planning the Dovestone Diamond 2014.  [Colin Green]           

It seems there are two categories of people when it comes to the Windermere Marathon - those who love it & return time after time (me) & those who run it once & are never seen at Brathay Hall again (every other RRR member who has ever taken part). I think Richard Fiddling may be joining the majority...

Sadly, for the first time since 2007, I wasn't on the start line this year (due to man flu/a chest infection - delete according to your level of sympathy), but I couldn't resist travelling up to watch the race & support Richard - partly, I admit, because I had a room booked for the night before.

I don't get to watch races very often, so I now have much admiration for all the club members, wives, husbands, children & assorted family members who willingly give up their time to support us at races throughout the year. The atmosphere at Brathay is great & it was inspirational to see so many of the '10 in 10' runners in action (including the legendary Dave Bayley, completing a record fifth successive 10 in 10, which equates to a grand total of 1,310 miles around this course since 2009), but how I wished I'd felt healthy enough to take part rather than spectate!

Debbie Fiddling & I tried to get involved by running to the 23-mile point & then accompanying Richard back to the finish, but that made it even worse. We spent most of the way out explaining to marshals & spectators that we weren't "running the wrong way" & all the way back trying to convince people that we really weren't in the race & there was a good reason we still "looked fresh".

I'm not sure we helped Richard much either - having suffered with knee problems from quite early in the race he looked like he'd had enough by the time he reached us & my feeble attempts at encouragement ("not far to go now!") were probably not what he wanted to hear. Still, he battled on & crossed the line in a very respectable 3:51:52. It may be small consolation to Richard, but the race winner Marcus Scotney (2:38:50), a GB international ultra-runner from Kendal who is ranked 7th in the world at 50K, said afterwards that he "found it extremely tough" & realised quite early that on this course he wasn't going to achieve his marathon PB as he'd hoped.

I realise this isn't selling the Windermere Marathon any better than I've managed in previous years...but it really is a fantastic event. The setting is perfect, the organisation superb & the field small enough (719 finishers this year) to avoid congestion on the narrow roads. If you don't mind a few(!) hills, it's definitely worth adding to your 2014 race calendar!  [David Emanuel]

As always, Royton Road Runners were out in force at Cowm Reservoir to take part in this race in memory of much-loved & much-missed club member Ian Casey. Amazing to realise that this was the 5th time this race has taken place, with Andy O'Sullivan introducing it in the year that Ian left us.

Sadly the race still isn't attracting many other runners (possibly due to the frequency of Andy's Whitworth races?), to the extent that our club provided 47 (53%) of a total field of 89. That compares to 42 of 74 in 2012.

Despite the absence of some of the club's leading runners (Ian McBride, Stuart Carroll, Chris Lowe, Martin Schofield, Dave Peart, Bernie Cassidy & Carole Madden were all missing) RRR was still very prominent at the head of the field, providing six of the first 10 to finish. Owen Flage showed that he's back in top form as he finished 2nd (1st V40) in 17:48, closely followed by Russell Ingham (3rd in 17:51) & the ever-improving Shaun Armstrong (4th in 17:53). Alan Bodell (7th in 18:44) & Dave Williams (8th in 18:52) were the first two V50s to finish, while Brian Moore continued his fine 5K form to claim 10th place (2nd V45) in an impressive 19:04. Given Brian's rapid recent improvement a sub-19min performance can't be far away!

The Royton ladies as usual produced some excellent performances & dominated the age category prizes, with Kirsty White 2nd overall (1st FV40) in exactly 21 minutes, Debbie Fiddling 3rd (1st FV45) in 21:38 & Debbie Shaw 4th (2nd FV45) in 21:55. Angie Hart was 1st FV35 (24:18), Rose Rowson 1st FV55 (25:24), Diane Allingan 1st FV50 (26:14), June Allingan 1st FV65 (29:18), Theresa Hollins 2nd FV55 (25:37), Mary Freer 2nd FV35 (30:08), Anne Jones 2nd FV50 (37:51), Helen Knight 3rd FV40 (22:46) & Nikki Green 3rd FV45 (25:01).

Dave Phillips (22:37) followed up his fantastic V65 victory at the Chester Half Marathon with yet another win in his age category, with George Meynell following him home (2nd V65, 23:37). John Higgins stormed to V55 victory in an impressive 19:14, while Dave Freer just pipped Elliot Stone to the 2nd V40 spot (I think - the times in the race results are a little confusing!) & Ronnie Quinn (21:49) was 2nd V60. Further down the field Roy Miller once again did a great (unselfish) job accompanying Brian Hurst around the course in 46:54, making Brian the 2nd V70 finisher.

Other Royton finishers: Shane Reading (11th in 19:08), Bruce Whittam (19:27), Bernie Goodwin (19:29), Dave Hall (19:36), Colin Green (19:38), Tony Hart (19:56), Rob Kellett (19:59), Eamonn Nolan (20:09 in his first club race for well over a year), David Emanuel (20:32 - I'm claiming 'man flu'!), Simon Lake (20:50), John Williamson (21:03), John Lambe (21:05), Dave Ellis (21:45), Steve Shaw (21:52), Jen Hanson (22:33), John Sweeney (22:41), Jayne Roberts (23:36), Steve Jones (23:44), Rochelle Evans (23:59), Laura Walters (24:40) & Adrian Bowcock (25:21).

Thanks to everyone for supporting this race - not least those who didn't run but helped out as marshals instead!  [David Emanuel]     


For various reasons - not least the disappointment at failing to achieve my target of breaking three hours - I've taken far too long to write this report! Since most RRR members were involved in some capacity on the day anyway - or if not, have heard about it since - I've decided to avoid the 'conventional' race report format & simply share a few observations of the day. Some of these might help anyone considering taking part in the GMM in 2014!

First up - parking. A great idea to move the start to Old Trafford, with its huge car parks; also very efficient to surround said car parks with 'Road Closed Ahead' signs from very early in the morning in every possible direction. However it might have been a nice idea to have at least ONE sign telling people which route to take in order to actually get into the car parks. I lost count of the number of U-turns we had to make - even our normally placid driver Chris Lowe was starting to get a little hot under the collar.

Organisation - the 'race village' met all the requirements (well the one main requirement, plenty of toilets) & they certainly seemed to have learnt their lessons from last year with regard to the baggage tent, as drop-off & collection were very efficent. The chip timing was a bit of a problem for some of us, but I've previously explained (on the 'News' page) what apparently went wrong here. And with Andy O'Sullivan on the tannoy it was just like being at Cowm Reservoir...sort of...

The course - maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind on the day, but I didn't find the route terribly inspiring. Too many similar streets, several out & back sections of which I'm not a great fan (maybe I just don't like seeing how far ahead the leading runners are?) & for the "flattest marathon in the UK" I certainly noticed the (few) hills!

Our athletes - all did a great job! From Ian McBride setting a new club record of 2:27:35 in 5th place, to Steve Jones finishing in 4:23:52 after an injury-hit build-up, & featuring some great personal achievements such as Rochelle Evans's 3:51:23, Dave Peart's 4th V45 & Barry Greaves 4th V55 finishes, not to mention Stuart Carroll finishing in 33rd place overall...congratulations to everyone who took part, you did RRR proud!

Support - plenty of enthusiastic support around most of the course, although I seem to recall some quite long stretches where it was pretty quiet. Nothing compared, of course, to the 'wall of noise' that greeted runners at the final Water Station just after mile 23, staffed by our very own team under the brilliant leadership of Annabella Gloster. The one disadvantage when you're running the race is that you're through the station before you know it - if only you could take some of that support with you for the rest of the race! (I know that Gill Lowe did this, with Ronnie Quinn accompanying her to the finish, but these were special injury-related circumstances.) Everyone I've spoken to since - not just the RRR competitors - has commented on what a great boost our drinks station provided. Thanks to you all!  [David Emanuel]      
One-one-two-one ... not the soundcheck from Chris Eavers' latest gig, but Ian McBride's finishing positions in four local 5K races, all achieved in a hectic 15-day period that make Rafa Benitez's complaints about fixture congestion look feeble by comparison. Only Rochdale's David Proctor was able to spoil a perfect record - and even then Ian ran a new PB of 15:11 in second place.

Although the Spring marathon season is now underway & the main focus for many RRRs, we were well-represented in all four of these 5Ks - starting with two Littleborough races, continuing with the Lottie Wilcocks race in Rochdale (see reports below) & culminating in this two-lapper at Cowm on a pleasant Wednesday evening. Bruce Whittam deserves a special mention, alongside Ian, as the only other RRR to complete all four races.

An impressive 177 runners lined up for this race, commemorating the 80th birthday of a man who has made a great contribution to local athletics for over 60 years as well as giving his name to the nation's favourite condiment. Only one of these statements is true. RRR were represented by 19 athletes, with Ian (1st in 15:40) joined in the top 10 by Martin Schofield (7th in 17:18) as he continues his return to form & fitness, while Shaun Armstrong was the third club finisher in an impressive 18:32.

Our runners dominated several age categories as usual, with John Higgins 1st V55 (19:06), George Meynell 1st V65 (23:56), Eileen Ingham 1st FV60 (a new PB of 27:00), Lou Gilchrist 1st FV80 (30:08), Angie Hart 2nd FV35 (24:29) & Alan Bodell 3rd in his 2nd race as a V50 in 19:01. Brian Moore swapped his laptop for a running vest & stormed round the course in 19:12, making him the sixth RRR finisher. There'll be more to come from Brian in the club championship, no doubt, if only in the shorter races!

Other RRR finishers:  David Emanuel (19:24), Bruce Whittam (19:36), Ian Dale (19:48), Greg Oates (20:19), Barry Greaves (20:33), Tony Hart (20:36), Stuart Brown (22:53), John Sweeney (23:33) & Tony Hunking (28:12).  [David Emanuel] 

A dozen Royton Road Runners joined 71 other athletes for a very flat & potentially very quick 5K race named for wheelchair athlete Lottie Wilcocks. The race was held to raise funds for additional equipment & was well-received locally.

The race started on the running track at Kingsway Sports Centre & there was a little confusion initially as many of the runners lined up facing the wrong way! A lap & a half of the track was run clockwise (which takes some getting used to if you are a track regular) before heading out onto the roads. Only by running down the middle of the street did you see any semblance of a hill & that was only the speed bumps!

There were a couple of right-angle turns to be negotiated at speed & one or two places could be lost or gained, but on the whole there was nowehere to hide. At the far end of the course we did a couple of laps of a small loop - this could cause problems in future events should the race become more popular. I was in 30th place out of the 80 runners & three wheeelchair racers & was overtaken on the loops by the frontrunners. Had there been 200 participants it may well have descended into chaos. Heading back the way we came we also encountered the wheelchair athletes who had set off five minutes behind the main field. Again if there had been more it could have been a problem.

As we headed back along the streets we ran past the outside fencing of the track & it did help seeing the fast guys finishing & indeed standing around chatting (the really quick ones!), it helped you find a little bit more. Coming back onto the track (the 'right' way this time) left about 350m to the finish & there were plenty of people winding up the sprint as they came off the first bend.

As a recent addition to the club I don't know many of the runners, if they had good runs or were disappointed. I know Nikki Green & Karen Studdard sprinted for all they were worth to record personal records for the 5K distance, despite having run almost five miles to the venue!

RRR finishers: Ian McBride (2nd, 15:11), Shaun Armstrong (10th, 17:55), Alan Bodell (1st V50, 18:36), Bruce Whittam (1st V45, 19:28), Greg Oates (19:33), John Williamson (20:20), Simon Lake (2nd V55, 20:44), Tony Kane (2nd V60, 23:02), Laura Walters (23:39), Nikki Green (3rd FV45, 24:37), Mary Freer (2nd FV35, 28:56) & Karen Studdard (30:00).

Hope to see you all soon at training or on a race day!  [Simon Lake]             

The start of marathon season dawned with unseasonally perfect conditions on the Fylde coast. The Blackpool Marathon & Half Marathon had a new venue & course this year, starting & finishing at Blackpool FC (Bloomfield Road), which certainly gets a thumbs-up for parking & toilet facilities. The Half Marathon may be a good alternative to the Great North West Half in the club championship, as it is only one big lap of Blackpool...but unfortunately for the three RRRs in the marathon they had to run two.

There was disappointment for Matt Kilburn, who suffered with injury but bravely continued, finishing in 3hrs 55mins & helping a fellow marathoner gain a sub-4 finish for the first time. By contrast it was jubilation for Debbie Fiddling, with a PB of 3:31, while I finished in a very average 3:30 (back to the drawing board...or golf!).

It's a good marathon for supporters, as we had Val Kilburn & Rachael appearing at various stages on the course offering vocal encouragement. There were also three further RRRs spotted getting some extra half marathon practice in - congratulations to Eileen Ingham, Tony & Angie Hart, who all ran great times.

Thank God my marathon is over. Good luck to the rest of you in April, let's hope the weather is kind!  [Richard Fiddling] 

A slight improvement in the weather, plus more light after the clocks changed at the weekend, brought a bigger field of 144 to Littleborough for a second successive 5K on this tried & tested route. Not quite so many RRRs in attendance, but not bad for a race not counting towards the club championship & with so many members now deep into their training for a Spring marathon.

Possibly due to the better conditions - but in my view more likely to be a result of my enthusiastic support on the run down from Hollingworth Lake to the finish - almost all of the RRRs recorded a better time than at the Vera Hirst race a week earlier. Ian McBride knocked five seconds off his time to record another comfortable victory, although 'only' by 44 seconds this time. Lou Gilchrist, meanwhile, knocked over a minute off her time as she raced round in 28:48 - the UK Masters website shows a current FV80 record of 37:40 (recorded in 1996), so looks like that's yet another national record for Lou!

Martin Schofield showed that his troublesome knee isn't really slowing him down, as his 10th place time of 17:23 would have beaten Chris Lowe & given him 4th place last week. Teresa Hollins was 1st FV55 in 25:19, Dave Phillips 2nd V65 (23:05) & Angie Hart 2nd FV35 (24:25).

Other RRR finishers: Bruce Whittam (19:53), Tony Hart (20:23), Steve Shaw (22:50) & Helen Knight (23:42).  [David Emanuel]

VERA HIRST 5K - 27th MARCH 2013
As if a little bit of snow would deter the mighty Royton Road Runners! In a depleted field of just 112 for Andy O'Sullivan's first Littleborough race of the season, there were by my calculations a magnificent 42 in RRR colours - that's 37% of the field, without counting those cheering us on whilst snugly wrapped up in ski jackets & silly hats.

It's not just quantity, of course, but quality too. Ian McBride romped to victory in 15mins 50secs, a full 45 seconds clear of Middleton's Mick Flatley in second place. Ian was one of our three in the top 10, seven in the first 20 & 12 who broke the psychologically important 20-minute barrier. Kirsty White (21:10) was third lady to finish (1st FV40), closely followed by Jen Hanson (21:52) & Debbie Shaw (1st FV45 in 22:02), while there were impressive debut RRR performances from Stuart Brown (3rd V50 in 23:40), Nikki Green (3rd FV45 in 25:16) & Karen Stuttard (30:54).

Amidst a clutch of very strong age-related performances special mention must go to Lou Gilchrist, whose 30:03 must be some sort of record for a FV80 runner, while having unsuccessfully chased John Higgins round the whole course, I can definitely vouch for the fact that he's transferring his very fine track form into races - 1st V55 in 19:07 here following a 65:31 (3rd V55) in the recent St Annes 10-miler. Bernie Cassidy was 1st V50 (19:28), Angie Hart 1st FV35 (24:42), June Allingan 1st FV65 (30:12), Chris Lowe 2nd V40 (4th overall) in 17:36, John Lambe 2nd V50 (21:31), Ronnie Quinn 2nd V60 (22:42), Anne Jones 2nd FV50 (29:27), Mary Freer 2nd FV35 (31:17), Barry Greaves 3rd V55 (20:14), Tony Kane 3rd V60 (23:42) & Helen Knight 3rd FV40 (24:27).

Amidst all this success there was some controversy, however - in his eagerness to get the race finished before it got properly dark, Andy O'sullivan set the runners on their way a few minutes early, meaning that Dave Peart amongst others missed the start. His own timing suggests that this cost us another top 10 finisher!

Other RRR finishers: Russell Ingham (18:26), Shaun Armstrong (18:47), David Emanuel (19:23), Dave Freer (19:25), Shane Reading (19:27), Mark Wilde (19:31), Rob Kellett (19:48), Dave Williams (19:58), Elliot Stone (20:02), Ian Dale (20:11), Bruce Whittam (20:13), Tony Hart (20:27), Greg Oates (20:36), Bryan Lawton (21:16), Steve Shaw (22:15), John Sweeney (23:32), Steve Jones (23:45), Rochelle Evans (23:46), Jayne Roberts (23:47), Laura Walters (25:13) & Adrian Bowcock (27:16).

Time for a bit of a 'break' now as people concentrate on their Spring marathons. The club championship resumes with the Chester Half Marathon in May - enter soon as the race is filling up fast!  [David Emanuel]  

A non-race report! Shiela Waite & I should have been running the Black Brook Challenge last Saturday - a nice little jaunt consisting of one 11-mile loop & back for nosh, then a second loop of seven miles, back for nosh, then a little finisher of four miles (22 miles in total) & you guessed it, back for a final nosh-up. Amazingly, it was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions!

Not to be thwarted I ran the Royton Trail twice, some 13 miles from my house, through some six-foot snow drifts at the back of Tangs. A bit of a let-down really (I missed the nosh-ups) but very enjoyable. Needless to say, after a shower, I didn't move out of the house for the rest of the day!  [George Meynell]

EAST HULL 20 - 17th MARCH 2013
My message over the last couple of years, that this excellent 20-miler is the ideal preparation for a Spring marathon, seems to have been received almost as well as my attempts to get more RRR members to take part in the UK Backward Run in Heaton Park! Yes, I was the sole club representative in East Hull, which meant that all the pressure was self-imposed as I tried to post a time to indicate that I was on track for a three-hour marathon in April.

Despite ideal running conditions - apart from a bit of a headwind on the return section - things didn't quite go according to plan. For the first 15 miles of this mostly flat course, much of which is on an old railway track, I was right on target at an even 6mins 45secs pace, running with a nice chap from the inappropriately-named Idle Athletics Club. Sadly I tailed off over the last five miles, finishing in 2:17:38, a minute slower than I managed last year with the help of Colin Green's perfect pacemaking. So still some work to do!

One thing I haven't mentioned before is the sumptuous post-race buffet in the East Hull Harriers clubhouse. As far as I can recall, this is the only race I've ever run that puts on free food for the runners, apart from our own Royton Trail!  [David Emanuel]         


Apparently it was the actor, comedian & ex-Mork Robin Williams who said, “If you can remember the 1960s you weren’t there.” I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the same applies to the annual RRR coach trip to Dent, but I suspect that a few members of the party woke late on Sunday morning with fairly hazy memories of what had happened the day before. This report will hopefully help fill in some of the gaps…


However, sticking to the time-honoured principle that “what happens on the coach stays on the coach”, I’m going to concentrate on the primary purpose of the trip (for most of us), which was to take part in the excellent Dentdale Run. For this year, even in the absence of last year’s race winner Ian McBride, RRR achieved unprecedented success.


Departing Royton at a more reasonable hour meant that we didn’t arrive in Dent quite as early in the morning as last year (when I seem to remember we were so early that we nearly ran over the milkman & the paperboy), which ensured that we created quite a tailback of cars on the narrow lanes from Sedburgh, delaying many race participants including (to the amusement of all) Mr & Mrs Lowe. It also only left us with about an hour to get off the coach, feel how cold it was & get straight back on again.


Eventually we all had to disembark & head for the start line, where runners huddled together for warmth as the sleet arrived. Actually, apart from a nasty headwind between 7 & 10 miles, the conditions weren’t too bad once you were running, but it sounds a bit more dramatic to suggest that we were all suffering in Arctic conditions.


The superb RRR performances in the race were neatly summed up by the number of times our runners were called up for prizes at the post-race presentation. Stuart Carroll (1:27:58) led the way as 3rd finisher (1st V40), with Chris Lowe (1:29:13) & Dave Peart (1:29:31) coming home in 6th & 7th places (3rd & 4th V40s) respectively. It was no surprise that this trio retained the men’s team prize we won last year – but what we hadn’t expected was a magnificent victory in the ladies race for Kirsty White (1:50:33), Debbie Shaw (1:57:05) & Gill Lowe (2:03:45). We’re pretty sure that this is the first such ‘team double’ in the club’s 10-year history.


Just outside the age-category prizes, but also thoroughly deserving of recognition, were John Higgins (7th V50 in 1:36:32, almost five minutes faster than 2012) & George Meynell (8th V60 in 2:01:41). If there had been V55 & V65 categories then George would have won, with John claiming second place. Teresa Hollins (2:10:43) should have been in 4th place in the FV55 category, but does not appear in the age category results – presumably the downside of lying about your age on the entry form?


Other impressive performances came from Rob Kellett (1:42:21 a remarkable 10 minute improvement on last year’s time) & Anne Jones (two minutes better in 2:19:49), whilst excellent times were posted by several debutants on this tough, undulating Dentdale course including David Williams (1:38:39), Mark Wilde (1:39:38), Shaun Armstrong (1:39:43), James Marshall (2:01:27), Jayne Roberts (2:05:30) & Vikki Smith (2:14:44).


Other Royton finishers: David Emanuel (1:36:24), Bernie Cassidy (1:38:25), Bernie Goodwin (1:39:31), Dave Freer (1:41:32), Ian Dale (1:42:08), Elliot Stone (1:42:19), Colin Green (1:44:49), Andy Schofield (1:45:14), Bruce Whittam (1:47:07), Chris Eavers (1:50:00), John Lambe (1:53:35), Steve Shaw (1:55:52), Julie Greenwood (2:05:37), Stephen Jones (2:06:54), Helen Knight (2:07:33), Mary Freer & Natalie Yates-Bolton (both 2:30:42).


Post-race celebrations, including the traditional Cumberland sausage-eating contest, were delayed slightly by a logjam at the bar caused by the simultaneous arrival in the Sun Inn of the sizeable squad down from Dumfries Running Club (a feeble attempt to engage in some football crowd-type banter with chants such as “Who are you?” & “You’re slow & you know you are!” went unheard in the noisy bar, which was probably for the best). Fortunately both team prizes consisted of a large number of bottles of Dent Brewery ale, so the party could continue all the way back home (despite the fact that most of the winners were not actually on the coach).

Another fantastic club outing - looking forward to Keswick already!  [David Emanuel]


On the day that Mo Farah set a new British record for the half marathon in New Orleans (61 minutes exactly, stats fans), members of Royton Road Runners were excelling themselves over the same distance in Blackpool in the second race of the club’s 2013 road race championship.

A small but perfectly formed team of 28 Royton athletes completed the Great North West Half Marathon – slightly down on last year due to a combination of injury, a focus on marathon training & a failure to get entries in early enough. If you’re thinking of running the Chester Half Marathon in May I suggest you enter soon to avoid further disappointment!


The biggest shock of the day was the absence of John Sweeney after 36 consecutive club races spanning more than two years. John bizarrely chose a holiday in Dubai over the chilly sea-front at Blackpool, clear evidence that he isn’t quite so committed to his running (or ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats) as we all thought he was…


Ian McBride followed his victory in the Southport Mad Dog 10K with third place in this race in 71:09, close behind Matthew John of Otley AC (68:53) & Iain Quinn of Barrow & Furness Striders (70:53). Running a mere 10 minutes slower than Mo, in conditions a lot less favourable for distance running, this gave Ian his second successive ‘podium finish’ in the race, following second place in 2012.


A very strong field of over 1,000 runners made age category prizes hard to come by & once again it was the Royton ladies who delivered the goods. Kirsty White celebrated her move into the FV40 category with 3rd place in 1:36:58, whilst a personal best time of 2:06:00 was good enough to earn Eileen Ingham the 3rd FV60 prize. Teresa Hollins (1:59:12) finished just outside the FV55 prizes, whilst Stuart Carroll (77:48) & Chris Lowe (a PB in 78:50) were both amongst the top ten V40 runners to finish.


10 of the Royton contingent broke the magical 90-minute barrier, including Mark Wilde (88:34) for the first time. Richard Fiddling (88:16) produced an impressive PB for the distance, while Shane Reading (89:20) & John Lambe (1:40:13) beat their previous best times on this particular course by a remarkable 19 & 10 minutes respectively. If we’ve missed any other PBs I apologise! Dave Peart (83:14) continued to suggest that he will dominate the club’s V45 chanpionship this year, whilst new member David Williams ran an impressive 88:58 in his first race for the club.


Other Royton finishers: David Emanuel (86:00), Elliot Stone (89:43), Rob Kellett (1:30:26), Tony Hart (1:32:11), Tony McAndrew (1:35:27), Jen Hanson (1:38:26), David Ellis (1:41:37), Debbie Shaw (1:44:36), Gill Lowe (1:44:38), Michael Harrison (1:47:09 after suffering an injury in the latter stages), Rochelle Evans (1:48:26), Angie Hart (1:55:25), Tony Kane (1:59:17), Anne Jones (2:03:04), Kay Fitton (2:05:20) & Tansy Wilson (2:19:27).


Next up it's everyone's favourite trip to Dentdale on 9th March! [David Emanuel]

All good things must come to an end - and so must all muddy things - but there was a touch of sadness as the one-strong RRR cross-country team assembled myself at Boggart Hole Clough (according to my extensive research, so named after a mischievous spirit living underground which looks remarkably like a former Derby County & Nottingham Forest football manager) for the final South East Lancs race of the season.

They certainly saved the toughest race until last! To say it was a bit muddy would be like saying that Mount Everest is a bit high, David Beckham is a bit wealthy or some of those Findus burgers are a bit horsey. I've never tried to run in mud like it, and I'm sure there are some runners still stuck out there on the course (although judging by the shower afterwards, I brought most of the mud home with me).

Still I managed to get round, with a lot of people ahead of me & a few behind. By turning up for all four races I somehow managed to finish as 9th V45 over the series, which I'm pretty happy with. More importantly, since no other RRR ran more than one race, I can officially declare myself the club cross-country champion for 2012-13. Now to buy myself a trophy befitting this achievement - I'm thinking something along the lines of the  Champions League trophy... [David Emanuel]  

SOUTHPORT MAD DOG 10K - 10th February 2013
Things didn't look terribly promising for the first club road race of the season at Southport - thoroughly miserable weather, traffic chaos delaying the start by half an hour &, to cap it all, Bruce Whittam managing to lock himself out of his car.

But all these issues (apart from the weather) were forgotten once the race got underway. A grand total of 49 RRRs took part - five more than last year & making us by some distance the best-represented club in a field of more than 1700. Ian McBride won the race for the second year in succession, over a minute clear in a time of 32mins 32secs (defending a title, I believe, for the very first time) while Stuart Carroll (7th in 35:27) & Owen Flage (9th in 35:54) made it three of the top 10 from Royton.

13 of our finishers crossed the line inside 40 minutes, including Shane Reading (39:45) breaking that barrier for the first time. Meanwhile Brian Moore (39:52) provided evidence of the beneficial effects of joining the RRR Committee whilst Julie Greenwood stands out amongst a number of PBs, her time of 50:44 knocking almost five minutes off her previous best at Dewsbury in 2007 (or so I'm told; if that statistic is not correct, blame Brian Moore).

This first outing of the season suggests that the Championship is going to be a very competitive group this year, with Richard Fiddling (39:31) responding positively to relegation from the Premiership to finish ahead of Shane Reading, new member Mark Wilde (39:49), Brian Moore, John Higgins (40:05) & Ian Dale (40:57). Dave Freer carried his excellent track form onto the road to finish his 50th club race in 40:14, giving him an early lead in Group 1 ahead of Greg Oates (42:18). John Lambe's 3rd place in this group (44:17) would seem to suggest that he doesn't need to enter races as a FV45 to give him a chance of a prize...

Despite the continued absence of injured 2011 champion Carole Madden the Ladies Championship looks increasingly strong. Jen Hanson (44:40) made an early move to break up last year's top three of Kirsty White (43:28), Debbie Fiddling (44:34) & Debbie Shaw (45:10), with Gill Lowe (46:34) looking set to push them hard this year.

Each of the RRR age categories has new entrants who made an immediate impact - Owen Flage 2nd V40, Dave Peart 1st V45 (38:06), John Lambe 3rd V50 & Ronnie Quinn 1st V60. Ronnie's time of 45:23 was good enough for the 3rd V60 Mad Dog prize. Rose Rowson was somehow given a finishing time whilst sitting at home in the warm...which I'm sure many of us wish we could have done!

Other RRR finishers: Chris Lowe (36:36), Russell Ingham (37:48), Alan Bodell (39:11), Bernie Cassidy (39:29), David Emanuel (39:36), Tony Hart (40:39), Bernie Goodwin (41:17), Bruce Whittam (41:23), Rob Kellett (41:28), Andy Schofield (42:05), Elliot Stone (42:17), Roy Miller (45:08), David Booth (45:23), Neil Farrell (45:51), John Sweeney (48:51), Stephen Jones (48:54), Jayne Roberts (49:22), Rochelle Evans (50:05), Tony Kane (50:23), Angie Hart (51:32), Annabella Gloster (52:07), Diane Allingan (53:44), Helen Knight (54:11), Anne Jones (55:57), Eileen Ingham (57:20), Adrian Bowcock (62:14), Tony Hunking (63:12), June Allingan (63:16) & Mary Freer (64:32).  [David Emanuel]


It was great to have some RRR company for a cold & snowy cross-country race at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday - especially when that company was the returning Ian McBride, demonstrating that becoming a dad can have a positive impact on running performance as he raced to a really impressive victory. Ian completed the three-lap, 6-mile course in a time of 33mins 58secs, putting him more than 30secs clear of a high-quality chasing pack including David Proctor (Rochdale) & Michael Flatley (Middleton) in 2nd & 4th places respectively.

Unfortunately for Ian, since this was his first South East Lancs appearance in the four race series, his victory still leaves him trailing a long way behind me in the RRR Cross-Country Championship (that I've invented). Admittedly I did only finish 75th (of 133 senior men) in 43:45, and I was also a long way behind Owen Flage (27th in 38:02), but my cleverly-devised points system means that I now have an unassailable lead going into the final race at Boggart Hole on 16th February. And in case you're wondering, yes I am considering buying myself a trophy...

Seriously, it was great to see Ian back & in such excellent form (although I admit I didn't see much of him after the two laps of a field at the start), suggesting he's in a great position to defend his Mad Dog 10K title next month. I won't bang on yet again about the benefits of cross-country racing...I guess I'll just have to prove it by producing a fast run at Southport myself!  [David Emanuel]          

Click here for 2012 race reports archive.
Click here for 2011 race reports archive.
Click here for 2010 race reports archive.