Wilmslow Half and Muddy Bottoms 17 Race Reports

Weekend Round-Up 24th and 25th March 2012

Despite the fast approaching Spring Marathon season Harriers runners continued a busy few weekend of competition at Wilmslow and Bamber Bridge this weekend. Andy Ratcliffe and Darren Jackson lined up at Wilmslow to tackle the famously quick Cheshire half marathon course, whilst Tracey Dutton bravely took on the ominously named Muddy Bottoms 17miler.

Andy was fresh from a blistering 10 mile outing at St Annes last week and set to continue his run of form even with his Manchester Marathon looming ever nearer. Darren was proving his credentials as a true Harrier by running against his better judgement with a niggling injury!

Andy stuck to his usual tactic of going out hard from the start and trying to hold on to the end. Its a method Andy says sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t: this years Wilmslow he categorizes as a “doesn’t”. Even so, a 1:21:17 chip time is an indication of the speed he is carrying at the moment. Andys perception that “the wheels fell off” at mile 12 proved with the benefit of Garmin assisted hindsight to be only a drop to 2:50 marathon pace, and promises plenty for the big one next month.

Darren Jackson had doubts about a calf problem before the race, but felt sufficiently confident after the warm up to head off a a spirited pace. Like a lot of popular events, Wilmslow suffers from a little congestion in the early stages, with the narrow beginning making it difficult to progress at first. Darren soon settled into a PB potential pace though and was looking good up to the 9 mile point when an increasingly tight calf dictated that discretion be the better part of the day.After stopping to stretch it out Darren was forced to abandon the event as a race and use it as another pre-marathon long run instead.

In the long term this will probably turn out to be a wise move as the calf was tight enough to require assiatance from the St Johns people in the form of an ice pack at mile 11. The story of his race is evident in the split times with a quick first 10k of 42:32 and an eventual finish time of 1:43.33 .

Muddy Bottoms

Tracey Duton continued the theme of mixed fortunes this weekend with a tough outing at Bamber Bridge in the Muddy Bottoms event. This is self navigated course taking place across some gruelling cross country terrain with mud promised in abundance.

Competitors are required to run in pairs for safety whilst out in the wilds around Preston, but Tracey was faced with a problem with a late cancellation from intended running partner Graham Millington. Graham had some lame excuse about sore legs following an ill advised run around the Fairfiled Horseshoe leaving Tracey to team up with a similarly solo runner from Morecambe called Paul.

Even with the benefit of 2 heads to do the map work the duo found the navigation tough. Tracey reports that although being 2nd placed lady at one point, numerous wrong turns saw them clock up a total of 21 miles insted of the intended 17. The finishing time of just under 4 hours reflects both the extra mileage and the difficulty of the ground covered, although Tracey claims that the pie and peas at the end made it all worthwhile!

Bent and Bongs!

From the club that brings us the highly popular Gin Pits 5 race comes the fabulously named Bent and Bongs 10k Trail Race!

Astley and Tyldesley Road Runners are holding the innaugural running of their off road event around around Astley, Tyldesley, Hindsford, Atherton and Howe Bridge on 1st April 2012. With a memento on offer to all finishers the entry fee of £7 for affiliated runners looks to be cracking value.

For further details visit the Astley & Tyldesley RR club site, and find out why “Bents and Bongs”?

Cartmel Lakeland Trail 18k Report

Graham Millington represented the club at the Cartmel “Sticky Toffee Trail” at the weekend:

No sooner had I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the cross country season that I was pulling on my Inov8’s to tackle the 18k of muddy, trail based madness at Cartmel for the Lakeland Trails season opener. These events offer a range of distances from the kids fun run, to a 10k “sprint” around the fells aswell as the the longer distance Challenge and Race events. With a programe of entertainment throughout the day to keep race supporters happy, these are a fun day out for all. Once my two kids had earned themselves a medal in the junior dash, it was time for me to line up at the start of the 18k Challenge.

Cartmel Start

All the races begin beneath the main Grandstand at Cartmel Racecourse, with runners assembling on the actual course itself. Full of confidence from recent performances, and adopting the over optimism tactics I employ at cross country meetings, I chose to position myself somewhat closer to the font that I would normally do in a road based race. I was a little surprised by the comparitively sedate start, expecting the usual mad dash that characterizes a Mid Lancs fixture! As a result I found myself in the unfamiliar position of mixing it in the leading pack of runners in the first furlong

My confidence may have increased following results over recent weeks, but even I couldnt fool myself that I belonged in such elevated company at the sharp end of a race. As we were led out of the racecourse and onto the first sections of trail by a bicycling marshall, I resisted the temptation to go for an early lead just for the hell of it! Instead I made the most of enjoying the novel expereince of being up at the front as I settled in and awaited mass overtakes as the natural order re-asserted itself.

As the first race in the series, and the course involving the least overall altitude, it could be assumed that this is an easy introduction to the delights of trail running in the Lake District. Most of the other events involve at least a partial ascent of a significant Lakeland fell such as Consiton Old Man or the flanks of Skiddaw. The fact that this course is also affectionately known as “The Beast” may give a clue as to how tough it can be!

Within the first couple of miles we had already slogged our way up a few testing climbs and out onto the twisting trails heading north. Although a few runners had drafted past me, I hadn’t been swamped by the hordes I had expected to come charging up from behind. In fact, inspired by having overhauled a couple of runners myself, I decided to dig in a give it my best shot of hanging on to the surprisingly elevated position I had started with. This meant attempting to conserve a little energy on the uphill sections bearing in mind that I would still need something in reserve to tackle to the notoriously muddy ascent in the final couple of miles.

Glorious views of the southern fells opened up as the race progressed making me wish I had the chance to admire the scenery a little more. With tricky technical sections varying from rocky paths, to ankle deep ploughed mud, full attention to the trail was essential. A large part of the skill of maintain good speed in this race was being able to pick a good line through the terrain. The more obvious racing line often proved slower to negotiate than a deviation to less muddy or uneven ground. Perhaps this explained why I still hadn’t been trampled by hordes of faster runners who must surely be gaining ground by now?

Race Support

By 5 miles in I confess that I was beginning to feel the pace. I had found myself tied in with a group of haf a dozen or so runners who seemed to swap positions depending upon the going. Some would make a break on the swift downhill sections, only to be overhauled once again on the next uphill bit. Others seemed to make up more ground once back on the interlinking sections of tarmac, but none of us seemed able to make a decisive break. None of the group were tempted by the Guiness on offer at the aid station in honour of St Patricks day, (I kid you not!), opting instead for a swift mouthful of more traditional hydration.

After a very tricky and twisting sprint through gorse and heather we finally came to the infamous mud on the approach to the penultimate summit. I have plodded my way through some quagmires during the past season of cross country, but nothing has sapped my strength and reduced me to a stumbling crawl more effectively than the Cartmel mud! Having chosen the wrong line on one particular stretch, I found myself calf deep and virtually stopped dead. To my rescue came a friendly Blackburn runner who seflessly gave me a huge shove from behind and told me to “come on lad, keep going!”

Once through a knee deep stream water crossing there was just the final short, but cruel climb through the woods before entering the racecourse once more for the finish. By this point I was alone, having dropped off the back of the Blackburn runner but with no-one threateningly close behind me. It was a surreal few moments to be running alone through silent, tranquil woodland but hearing the increasing racket of the samba band and cheering crowds at the finish. Even odder was knowing that I would soon be out of this peaceful wood and my own little world of pain, and entering the impending din!

The incredible energy generated by the Samba band cant be underestimated and it lifted me to a semblance of a sprint finish. It felt fabulous to run the final hundred yards between ranks of exuberant drummers and I even managed to applaud them, smile and cross the line arms aloft! By the time I collected my souvenir T-shirt some 20 yards later I was performing that half-trip, half walk shuffle of the truly knackered runner!

The day would have been perfect if left at that, but discovering that I had somehow hung on to that good start and finished 26th overall lifted me to a whole different level. Chuffed is not the word for it! Half a fruit loaf and a can of coke later I was sufficiently revitalised to sit back and enjoy the after race entertainment provided by Pete Lashley and his guitar, (who had also just finished the 18k challenge and then found the energy to sing and perform for a further half an hour!).

A cracking day out and I cant wait for my next Lakeland Trail at Staveley in May.

St Annes Ultra Fit 10 Report

Sarah McDonald and Andy Ratcliffe represented Wigan Harriers at the St Annes 10 miler this Sunday. Sarah recorded a fabulous result winning her category as 1st Junior Female in 1:26:33. Here’s Andy Ratcliffes report of his race:

With near perfect conditions the question’s were how close could I get to 60mins and would I go off to fast???. Even though I don’t like to blow my own trumpet I have to say I ran a near perfect race.

The race starts with a quick lap of the car park to try and break up the field before you exit onto public roads,once under way my main thought was not to go off to fast, so concentrating on my pace imagine my joy when what I thought was going to be the 3 mile marker actually tuned out to be the 5 mile turn around. What came next was a shock to everyone: someone had turned the wind up and thoughts of a sub 60 went straight out my head to could I hold this pace for 5 miles.

I took shelter behind a couple of fellow runners for a while and couldn’t believe how much easier it got, then with a rush of blood to the head I tried a burst to try and break their spirits(4 miles to go)and it work but could I hold on. The 9 mile marker came into sight with foot steps from behind ringing in my ears, could I up my pace any more with what felt like a minute a mile pace increase(probably 2sec’s) the finish came onto sight a final check over the shoulder to make sure no one was going to pip me on the line and it was done. No complaints..61.11 13th overall and 3rd V45…bring on Wilmslow… ..

2012 Trafford 10k & Dent 15 Race Reports

Wigan Harriers continued a hectic schedule of races this weekend with the club represented at both the Dent 15 and the Trafford 10k. Kevin Edwards incorporated an appearance at Dentdale on Saturday with his scheduled marathon training. Not content with just a race over 15 mles, Kevin trotted out a further 5 to make it a 20 mile LSR in his Spring marathon countdown. A finishing time of 1:40:05 earned him a very creditable 42nd place out of 345 finishers.

Over at Trafford on Sunday, Dave Collins and Graham Millington pulled on the red striped vests to tackle the renowned 10k. This slickly organised event boasted chip timing in line with its reputation as a PB hunters course. Many of the assembled 800 runners were in attendance with just that in mind, including Graham who was looking to build on his recent success at Wrexham to bag another landmark time. Dave was using the race to assess his current fitness and predicted a time around a minute down on the PB he set on this very course


Dave Collins

A two mile warn up soon had the pre race nerves under control as the early morning crispness gave way to some pleasant intervals of sunshine over West Manchester. With a bit of warmth in the air, but no noticeable wind the conditions were perfect for some fast performances. The potential for swift times has attracted an impressive list of elite runners to Trafford in previous years including Chris Thompson with a blistering course record of 28:02 in 2010, and last years winner Kenyan Edwin Kipkorir in 29:15.

This year the sharp end of the field attracted Olympic Marathoner Serod Batochir along with the likes of Andi Jones and Northern Cross Country champion Lizzie Adams. The win went to local runner Anthony Ford of Sale Harriers in a blistering 29:04. First lady was also a local runner Elle Baker of Stockport Hariers in 32:42.

Dave Collins found himself initially hindered by a number of runners who had gone off too quickly and slowed within the first few twisty miles of the course. Even chip timing doesn’t seem to discourage some runners from getting over-excited in the early stages of a race! When Dave did manage to settle into his rythym he ran a strong race to finish within 10 seconds of his predicted time in 37:40. This represented a fanastic 4th in age category – no mean acievement in such a strong field.

Graham in the home straight

Graham was also having a good race further down the field with the benefits of recent interval training bearing fruit. A final surge in the finishing straight saw a time of 44:57, some 4 minutes up on his previous PB, (44th in category).

As is fast becoming the fashion amongst Harriers runners, the “couple of miles” warm down turned into a 7 mile re-tracing of their steps as both runners added a few miles towards their Marathon trainining!
 Full Race Results

Leyland Cross Country Report

Wigan Harriers made the short journey up the A49 to Worden Park in Leyland with high hopes of a successful end to the cross country season on Saturday. The ladies team needed to confirm their 2nd place to guarantee promotion, with an outside chance of topping their Division should they clinch all 10 points. The Senior men went into the fixture lying in second place in Divison 4, but with ambitions of grabbing first place to go up as champions.

A strong turnout from Harriers senior runners assembled beneath incogrously clear and sunny skies in Leyland. The forecasts had threatened everything from hail to rain, but not the sudden squall that greeted the start of the U13 girls race. Alice Rowe, Olivia Greene and Rachael Sidebottom representing Wigan set off in the U13 race just as the heavens opened and reduced at least one club tent to a twisted wreck. Kieran Dunn represented the U11 boys and came a magnificent 15th for the club. Whilst the youngsters battled it out on an increasingly heavy route, the seniors huddled bravely in the tent taking turns to hold it down!

Wigan Harriers Ladies

When the sun emereged once again, so did the Harriers in time for the senior ladies race. Jaqui Jones and Jayne Taylor had both struggled with injury over the past week but turned out at Leyland for the sake of a good team result. Tracey Dutton overcame her own injury woes with a fine run to lead the Harriers home. Hot on her heels was an increasingly impressive Julie Platt with perhaps her best run of the cross country season just 8 seconds later. Both runners ran almost in formation throught the race working their way through the field as a pair. Jayne Taylor and Jaqui Jones finished with just 10 seconds and a Preston Harrier between them to round off the season.

The ladies efforts earned them 9 points on the day to take second place in their division, just a single point behind a strong Liverpool Pembroke and Sefton team. In the Vet 35 category the ladies earned a victory on the day with them finishing in second place in the league. The four competing team members can be extremely proud of their achievements this season after scoring well in 5 fixtures over a demanding season.

The men were next out on a generally flat but heavy course that was proving to be a real strength sapper. Endless analysis of the league tables resulted in the conclusion that Preston Harriers or Barrow B Teams could snatch the title with a win if Wigan were to collect 8 points or less. The mission was simple: to finish in front of as many Preston and Barrow vests as possible!

A contingent of 8 runners set off but were shortly reduced to 7 when Andy Radcliffe suffered an asthma attack. Fortunately Andy was able to recover quickly but he had been forced out of the race after a promising start. Tim Pilkington led the charge to promotion for Harriers followed by Dave Collins who is continuing his current run of good form. Dave Waddington, Andy Eccles and Kevin Edwards followed in close order with Darren Jackson finishing as 6th man. Graham Millington finished as first reserve as 7th man home.

Preston Harriers B team had indeed collected 10 points for their winning performance on the day, but an excellent 2nd place saw Wigan Harriers clinch the top spot in Division 4 to go up as champions. The Vet 40 team actually notched their first outright victory of the season to consolidate a solid 2nd place in the Div3 vet category too.

Dave Collins

Dave Collins in action

Although the season may nave been a triumph for the Harriers Teams as a whole, there remain one or two individual achievements worthy of note.  Dave Collins ended the season in joint 4th place from only 4 results in a very competitive V50 category, with Andy Eccles an admirable 11th. Tim Pilkington did the club proud in 27th place overall. For the ladies, Jaqui Jones was 12th lady overall with Tracey Dutton and and Julie Platt in 13th and 14th respectively.

The teams gathered in The Brocket later on Saturday night to swap war stories over a few celebratory pints and reflect upon a highly succesful cross country season for the Harriers.

Thats Champion!

Wigan Harriers finished the cross country season off at Worden Park, Leyland yesterday by securing promotion for both the womens and mens senior teams. The Ladies Team finished a fine 2nd in a packed Divison 3, just one point behind winners Liverpool, Pembroke & Sefton. Their performance also earned them 2nd plce in the V35 category.

The Senior Mens team are celebrating their gold standard performances that gained promotion as the champions of Division 4. In a nail biting end to the season, Wigan pipped Preston Harriers B Team by a single point thanks to a closely fought race at Leyland.

The men also secured 2nd place in Division 3 vet 40 category to round off a highly sucessful return to cross country competition for Wigan Harriers AC.

A full Race Report to follow…….

Mid Lancs Cross country Division Results


Wigan Harriers Cross Country celebrations