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.
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.
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
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.