Lostock 6 Race report

Wigan Harriers were represented at the 30th running of the Lostock 6 on Sunday by Dave Collins and Jayne Taylor. A field of 184 runners was down on previous years due to a date clash with the Radcliffe 10m Trail race, but those who did attend were blessed with a still wind and cool but comfortable conditions.  The conditions didn’t make the climb from Lostock railway station any easier and nor did it make the last 200m of muddy track less of an ordeal for tired legs on this tough 6 miler.   

 Dave now fully recovered from the bug that sidelined him at Wrexham last week put in a strong performance to finish 2nd Vet 50. His time of 36:58 was 33 seconds up on his previous effort in 2010, and also earned him 16th overall place. Jayne ended her 2nd successive week of racing by topping her age group with a 40:34 to finish 2nd lady overall. Currently in the middle of marathon training, both runners found the stamina to retrace the entire course to log up a decent length LSR for the weekend.

Lostock 6 Race results

Wrexham Village Bakery Half Marathon 2012

The coaching and training regime at Wigan Harriers bore fruit in impressive fashion in the form of 5 PB times from 11 starters at Wrexham this weekend. Only slightly blustery conditions on the back half of the course prevented a few more record times from other club members on a controversial afternoon in North Wales. Problems on the course led to race results being struck from the North Wales Championships, but all finishers of the full route were relieved to be assured that their times would stand over the validated course distance.

Tim Pilkington

Host Club Wrexham AC report that a deliberate act of sabotage was responsible for sending a number of lead runners the wrong way at mile 9 of the course. Marshalls had already spotted a sign pointing in the wrong direction and corrected it, only to discover that persons unknown had returned to misdirect the following competitors at a crucial junction. Wigan Harriers runner Tim Pilkington was fortunate to realize he was heading the wrong way without losing too much time on the turnaround. This was the second time in a week that Tim had “got lost” whilst on a run, but this time he noticed the error quickly enough to rejoin the correct route and finish as 1 st Harriers runner home in a respectable time of 1:18:22

Other runners were not so lucky and rejoined the correct route having innocently cut off around 2 miles of the race. Some runners realized they were coming up short and opted to run on for the full distance. Others didn’t realize until after crossing the line which caused chaos with the final results.

The majority of runners further down the field were oblivious to the drama up front until after the race, and many took advantage of near perfect conditions to chase down a fast time. Clear blue skies, cool temperatures and only a moderate headwind on parts of the route combined with the predominantly flat 2 lap course to make an ideal opportunity for a quick time.

Julie and Darren

First to record new personal records were Julie Platt and Darren Jackson who ran close enough to encourage each-other over most of the course and finished with only 17 seconds separating them at the end. Darren established a new best of 1:31:57 setting himself up for a fast time in London later this year, whilst Julie shaved a further 2 minutes off a PB that is barely 2 months old to record 1:32:14.

Next in was Graham Millington knocking over 6 minutes off his previous Helsby Half PB with a 1:43:20, closely followed by Stuart Holding who completed his first road race over the distance in 1:44:33. The biggest improvement however was recorded by Michael Dutton who smashed his declared target of a sub 2 hour run, and took 10 minutes of his previous best with a 1:55:51

Andy and Tracey

At the pointy end of the results, Tim Pilkington was followed home for Harriers by Dave Waddington in 1:24:50. Competing in his first road race in a Harriers vest, Kevin Edwards did the colours proud with a 1:25:56, followed by first Harriers lady Jayne Taylor in 1:27:30. Jaynes time placed her first in her age group and looks likely to have meant she was at least 5th d lady overall depending upon how the mix up over short course runners shakes out. Andy Eccles was hot on her heels with a 1:28:30, later describing his run as a Half, with all the pain of a full marathon! Tracey Dutton dipped under the 90 minute mark in 1:29:01 and first W40, but with her overall placing similarly confused thanks to the mis-routing debacle. Jaqui Jones suffered injury troubles but still soldiered on to finish in 1:38:41.

Harriers gathered in the club house afterwards to re-fuel on Julie Platts biscuits and swap tales of missing markers. Whilst none of the Wigan runners were unfortunate to run the short route, it led to a disrupted race even those on the correct course as they wondered if they truly were still heading in the right direction! Club officials made a short announcement that they would attempt to sort out the confused results over the next few days and issue prizes by post once they could determine as best as possible who came where.

Whatever the eventual outcome it was a magnificent turn out from Wigan Harriers showing the commitment within the club to actively competing and striving for improvement. Well done all.

Wrexham Half Results : Wrexham half Photographs : More Wrexham Pics : Even More Wrexham Pics!

Wigan Harriers Top of the League

The results of the Barrow cross country fixture are now available online:

Wigan Harriers Senior Ladies and Seniors Mens teams both top their respective divisions after a sterling effort in Barrow at the weekend. The Ladies recorded a perfect 10, which also saw them consolidate 2nd place in the vet 35 category.

The Mens teams notched their second 9 pointer of the season in Division 4, which also saw them go second in the Vet 40 Division 3.

Harriers Men also recorded their fist 5 points in the Vet 50 category thanks to the efforts of Michael Dutton as 3rd Man.

Barrow Mid Lancs Cross Country

Despite the long trek up the M6 on a chilly Saturday morning, Wigan Harriers still managed to muster full strength senior mens and ladies teams to contest the Mid Lancs Barrow fixture. A convoy of vehicles took runners from the relatively balmy condions in Wigan towards the frozen playing fields at Thorncliffe road. The major preocupation on the journey north was with the rising and falling digits on the car temperature sensors, along with the increasing depth of snow visible through the freezing mists of South Lakes.

Wigan runners are made of stern stuff though, and discussion soon centred around how many would reach for the “mardy” base layers, and how many would “man up” and opt for vests and frostbite. Conditions at the venue itself were not as bad as first feared with mean temperatures hovering somewhere just above freezing. A recce of the course confirmed that the ground was sufficiently thawed to offer stretches of traditonal cross country mud and a tough racing challenge.

Tracey Dutton and Jaqui Jones at Barrow
1st lap: Tracey and Jaqui

The Ladies Team were first to test the route under racing conditions with Tracey Dutton, Jaqui Jones and Julie Platt all making a good start. By the end of the first lap the Harriers ladies were running strongly towards the front of the pack, close enough together to form and impressive formation of red and black vests.

The Wigan ladies were still within shouting distance of eachother as they entered the field for the final time, with Tracey Dutton putting behind her the cold that had troubled her in the week to lead the group home. Jaqui Jones and Julie Platt both turned into the finishing straight carrying an impressive turn of speed, with Julie accelerating all the way to the line to round off a great team performance.

Julie running well on lap 2

Julie in good form

Barrow seemd to have suffered for its place on the calendar this year, with fewer clubs making the effort to attend this fixture than several others in this seasons Mid Lancs competition. That’s a shame, and a loss to the clubs that couldn’t manage a showing as both the welcome and the organisation at Barrow made the journey more than worth while. Cheery marshalls ran a tight ship and offered welcome encouragement throughout: a credit to the host club.

With a stiffening breeze picking up from the Irish Sea in time for the mens race, the majority of runners had opted for the “mardy” baselayer choice; only a couple of heroes from Wigan had gone for the vest and hypothermia look. After a fast start, your author suspected himself to be a little higher up the field than ability warranted. A suspicion that was confirmed by a polite comment from behind in the shape of Dave Collins: “You’re in my place Graham – shift!” With the soft ground proving to be heavy going, I can confirm that I wasn’t in his way for long!

Andy Ratcliffe proved he is quickly returning to form by leading the way for the Harriers team, with Dave Collins battling it out with a resurgent Andy Eccles for most of the race. Kevin Edwards and Dave Waddington were followed by Darren Jackson completing the scoring as 6th man. Graham Millington acted as first reserve, with Michael Dutton putting in a great effort on his first cross country of the season.

Brambles Bite Eccles

3 large laps of the Barrow course after a leg sapping circuit of the supposed, “small lap” left little in the tank at the end of this race. Andy Ratcliffe finished first for the Harriers after a fine run, and Dave Collins managed to find something left to win his battle with Andy Eccles with a sprint to the line. Mr Eccles had also come second in a battle with a thorn bush somewhere on the route and shed a little blood for the team.

Dave Waddington, Kevin Edwards and Darren Jackson completed the scoring. Graham Millington finished in 7th for the Team, with Michael Dutton valiantly battling a stitch in the later stages of the race to come home in style.

The collective efforts of the squad raised both the Senior Ladies and Senior Mens teams to first place in their respective divisions. Both vets teams are also sitting pretty in second place too.

There may have been a couple of fine individual efforts, but the day was a triumph for the Wigan Harriers Team as a whole. Great cameraderie, some good laughs and whole-hearted support for every runner made this toughest of the fixtures into one of the most memorable.

Wigan Harriers - Barrow

Wigan Harriers Corss Country Team at Barrow

Beacon Bash 2012

Sunday 5th of February saw the 11th annual Beacon Bash held by the South Lancs branch of the LDWA. Newburgh Sports Club acted as headquarters as a record entry of 169 walkers and runners set off to tackle to a complicated course of bridleways, footpaths and muddy fields. The walkers had been sent on their way at 8am before those attempting to run the 21 mile event assembled for the off at 9am.

Around 60 runners togged out in winter gear gathered in the early morning fog to recieve final instructions. Those instructions deivered by the event organiser consisted of a stern warning to keep the gates closed on the route, and to “go on then, do your best”, before we were set free along the lanes out of Newburgh towards the Leeds Liverpool canal.

beacon bash badgeWhist the area around Parbold had escaped the heavy snowfalls affecting the rest of the UK, the first few miles along the canal towpath made it clear that it hadn’t escaped a hard frost: sheet ice covered the actual pathway, and runners were forced to seek as much grip as possible from the grass verges to either side. A few runners took early tumbles on the treacherous surfaces, with one unfortunate coming perilously close to testing the thickness of the ice on the canal itself!

“It should be called the Beacon Mince” remarked one wag as the participants demonstrated a variety of spectacularly camp running styles in an attempt to stay upright. The initial climb up to Parbold Hill proved particulary difficult for all but a couple of canny lady runners who had the foresight to equip themselves with running crampons. For once it was the rougher ground acoss open fields that offered the best propsect of a decent running surface, as all of the smoother bridle and pathways were similarly coated in thick sheets of frozen sleet.

Leaving Parbold Hill and taking to the usually muddy field tracks towards the first Checkpoint revealed that this rough ground had a drawback too: the rutted fields had frozen as hard as concrete leaving a surface like broken cobbles. There was less chance of a slip or slide, but a much greater chance of turning an ankle on the rock hard divots.

The ladies with the crampons proved that their foresight wasnt restricted to packing the right gear. They had also been sensible enough to conduct a few recces of the course over previous weeks and I shamelessly benefitted from their knowledge over the next few miles as I ran along with them with barely a glance at my OS map. Thanks ladies! 

I am assured that there are some spectacular views to be had from the trails around Hunters Hill en route to Checkpoint 2, but I’ll have to take that on trust. The fog that started the day persisted even at the as we climbed out of the valley restricting the vistas to ice encrusted trees and a few curious sheep. Although the temepratures were not as severe as recent days, there was no doubt that we were running through a true winter landscape. This fact was brought home on a particularly ice blighted uphill section were the only way to make progress was to grab hold of a handy wire fence and haul yourself up hand over hand!

Harrock Hill Windmill

I didnt actually notice this on the run: the ruined windmill at Harrock Hill.

I managed to get as far as the road crossing before Fairy Glen before skidding across the frozen lay by and landing on my backside. Luckily with no damage done I was soon skating my way down the frozen pathways of the Glen itself. It was along this stretch that I expanded my ever growing catalogue of running injuries as a low branch whiplashed me in the face leading to a not very pleasant whack in the eye. It makes a change from the usual calf strains I suppose.  

Appley Bridge Community Centre marked the halfway point. As a runner, it is not very often that I stop halfway through a run for a cup of tea amd a slice of cake, but that is one of the wonderful things that makes these LDWA events special. The community centre offered a sprawling selection of sandwiches, cakes and various other temptations to lure the weary runner into a cosy break. Seldom have I enjoyed a slice of maltloaf and a cup of tea quite so much!

With a wrench it was back out into the cold with the consolation of some slightly easier running down to Roby Mill before looping round to begin the final climb up towards Ashurst Beacon. It was at this point that I fell in with a couple of runners from Horwich who were travelling at a fair clip up towards the final checkpoint. Providing the impetus to up my efforts we settled into a good rythym along the trails through Beacon Park Golf Course. We were grateful for the help of a local Newburgh runner who had wisely recced this stretch, as these trails arent actually marked on any maps.

I resisted the soup on offer at the Ashurst Beacon Checkpoint and hurried on towards the Beacon itself before finally getting my fist glimpse of the view. As the mists began to clear Parbold Hill appeared. It seemed an awful long way, and a very long time, since I had slithered my way up that particular hill! The last few miles of mainly downhill running was a joy. With the watery sun now managing to defrost the frozen fileds a little, the resulting muddier terrain was a welcome change for sore feet.

I arrived back at the Sport Hall in 4h 12min. This was a little over my target time of 4 hours but a time I was quite pleased with given the conditions. The LDWA had a lovely bowlful of hot pot ready to serve to each finisher along with a personalised certificate. The bar was also open so replenished my depleted carb levels with a helping of hot pot and a pint!

beacon bash finishers certificate

Beacon Bash Finishers certificate

Wrexham Half Marathon

The Wrexham Village Bakery Half Marathon is the next Road Racing date on the calendar for Wigan Harriers Endurance runners on 19/02/2012.

At least 10 runners will represent the club on this famoulsy fast PB hunters course, with the promise of a “bara brith”, or speckled cake for all finishers! The race sold out all of its 500 available places several weeks ago so a competitve event is assured.

An interactive Course Map is availablehere: http://www.racephotos.org.uk/Village_Bakery_Interactive_Map.pdf

Cross Country: Final Fixtures:

11/02/2012: Barrow-in-Furness

Point your Sat Navs at: Thorncliffe Road, LA14 fort he next Mid Lancs League Cross Country Fixture.

Wigan Harriers are hoping to field full teams in both the Senior Mens and Ladies races, with both Teams currently sitting 2nd in their respective divisions, (Mid Lancs XC – Latest Divisional Standings).

03/03/2012: Leyland

The Final fixture of the season will be a little closer to home at Worden Park, Leyland.Drivers are advised to use the car park at Runshaw College off Langdale Road, (PR2)

Full details here: http://www.midlancs.org.uk/XC/Leylandinfo12.pdf

Penine Relays Cancelled

Confirmation has now been issued that the Penine Bridleways relay race for 2012 has been cancelled.Treacherous conditions underfoot due to ice are unlikely to improve before Sunday.

With no race in Sunday, the usual session at Haigh Hall will now take place on Saturday morning