Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb

A Race Report with a difference as Andy Ratcliffe updates on what he’s been up to whilst recovering from long term injury:

I’ve been feeling a bit left out with all the results you lot have been posting so I thought I’d enter the Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb on the 23 Sept…albeit on two wheels rather than 2 feet.

Luckily I’d entered early as the 150 limit was reached. Start was 10am with riders setting off at minute intervals. My start time was 11.07. Anyone who knows the Cat and Fiddle will know its not a steep climb but does drag on for 6.3miles, and just to make it that little harder there was a strong head wind for the majority of the climb. Off I went but had I gone off to fast as I’d passed 3 riders within the first mile, (albeit 2 juniors and a V60). Three miles done and still feeling good but resisted the temptation to push harder so as not to ‘blow’; this would be a mistake I would regret……..

3 more riders passed and the finish was in sight, but still a mile to go. Now was the time to push as I was still feeing strong although my lungs were burning. A 20mph average for the last mile – if only I’d of pushed on earlier….. Never mind 27.30 for 6.3 miles uphill. I was still pleased, amd now for the easy ride back to find out we’re I stood.

9th Vet 40-49 and 37th overall not bad for a first attempt.

A Multi eventer!!!!

St Helens Dream Trail Race 16.09.12

I don’t know if this counts as my Wigan Harriers debut, because I entered the race ages ago and so was classed as unattached.  It was however my 1st race since joining the club so I duly wore red and black even though a plain red t-shirt and black shorts was the best I could do.

The St.Helens Dream Trail Race was organised by St.Helens Sutton AC together with the Steve Prescott Foundation.  This was the 2nd running of the race and it takes place on the former Sutton Manor Colliery site over 8.5km.

As usual in trail races there was a bit of a sprint at the start to get a good position before the path gets too narrow and I ended up just behind the fast starters, but quite near to the front.  After a short boggy bit the path dropped down steeply towards the M62 and onto one of the few tarmac footpaths.  This was short lived though as we soon turned sharply to run up one of the steepest parts of the course which was off road and the legs were burning by the time I got to the top.

The course was a mixture of dirt tracks, tarmac footpaths and open meadow, but as the forecast rain stayed away, the conditions underfoot were generally very good.  The front runners were well out of sight by the time I got up to The Dream statue, but looking back I couldn’t see anyone close behind me either.  As I came passed the start area for the second lap I was pleasantly surprised as the marshals diverted us down a much easier route that not only avoided the worst hill but made the 2nd lap quite a bit shorter than the 1st.  That’s not to say it was easy as there was still quite a bit of running to do and there were plenty of uphill sections to deal with.  The Statue on the 2nd lap was the beginning of the end and the marshals (who were excellent throughout) told me that it was downhill all the way to the finish. 

I was really pleased with 5th place overall and 1st Vet 40, which won me a box of beer.  It doesn’t really get better than that.

Mark Glynn

Leigh Red Rose Cross Country

The first cross country fixture of the season will take place this Saturday with the Red Rose series opener at Leigh Sports Village.

Wigan Harriers hope to field as many runners as possible on this flat and fast course. There is no maximum number of runners per club with the first 3 ladies, and first 6 men over the line scoring for the A’ Team. However, if we are just one runner short the team doesn’t score at all which is why we are encouraging everyone to get along and take part!

Everyone resgistered as a member of Wigan Harriers will count for the club and Jaqui Jones has e-mailed everyone with the full list of those pre-entered. Non-affiliated competitors can register to run on the day for a small fee and their results will be counted towards the individual standings.

Race numbers will be available for collection from our Race Day Pavillion, (its a blue gazebo!), where Andy Eccles or Jayne Taylor will hand them out. We aim to meet up from around 12:45 to help Richie get the Gazebo set up, giving us enough time to sort out numbers and go for a warm up/recce. The Senior Ladies race start at 1.35pm with the Mens event beginning at 2.15pm.

For anyone who hasn’t run cross country before this venue is a great introduction with a mixture of hard path, tracks, grass and mud to tackle on a relatively level course. With the weather forecast looking reasonable, a good fell / trail shoe would probably suffice if you haven’t yet got hold of a pair of cross country spikes.

Tuesday Night Hill Sessions

Last Tuesday was the final evening sesssion at Haigh Hall with it now too dark for us to safely train around the trails. As from the 2nd October the Tuesday night session will take place at Coppul Lane, (to the rear of Swinley Labour Club), where we will be tackling an 8 week programme of hill reps.

We will meet up outside the Haigh Hall Gates opposite Wigan Infirmary from 6 to 6.15pm for a warm up before making our way to Coppul Lane itself. If you arrive late, just make your wy to Coppul Lane.

To avoid confusion this year we wont be alternating with a track session, but intend to run the regular hill reps until switching to some track training at Robin Park later in the year.

Northern Road Relay Championships – Leigh 2012

Saturday 22nd September saw the Northern Road Relays taking place in Leigh. It has been over quarter of a century since Wigan Harriers last fielded a team in the Championships. The appearance of both Mens and Womens teams on Saturdays ended a 25 year absence for the red and black vests and helped confirm that Harriers are well and truly back as a competitive club in the north West. A record number of 121 teams entered the event to make for a fantastic atmosphere on a glorious day for running.

Chris Smullen leads the way for Harriers.

The club announced its return to competive action in blistering style as Chris Smullen took on the first 6.8k leg in 21:33. Chris duelled it out with regular visitor to the Thursday evening sessions Stevie Nicholls who was representing Phoenix. Chris handed over to Darren Jackson who toughed out a 24:47 2nd leg despite an increasingly debilitating Plantar injury.

Kevin Edwards was next up and hauled in a few positions with his 22:50 and allegedly caused Team Captain Andy Eccles to spill his beer in excitement as he supported with gusto from the sidelines. Making his debut run for Harriers was Chris Burgess on leg 4. Chris was given some special motivation to do the club proud from an unexpected quarter and turned any negative energy into a  fantastic 23:37.

Richad Noone held the place for team proving he is well on the way to recovery from his “series of unfortunate events” earlier this year, including a contender for the most bizarre running injury award after falling through a loft hatch. His 24:22 leg was followed by anchor man Barry Abram brining the team home in style with a 24:09

The result of their efforts was to earn the club 74th place out of 84 full teams with a cumulative time of 2:21:18. A fine effort that was roundly celebrated in the nearest hostelry shortly afterwards!

Mens 6 Stage Results

Leg 1: C Smullen 21:33 – Leg2: Darren Jackson 24:47 – Leg 3: Kevin Edwards 22:50 – Leg 4: C Burgess 23:37 – Leg 5: Richard Noone 24:22 – Leg 6: Barry Abram 24:09

Next up was the Ladies Team taking on the 4 Stage Relay event. The submission of a full strength squad for the ladies was a triumph in itself, and demonstration of true team spirit as our 4 runners pulled together to represent the club.

Julie in fine form

First out of the block was Julie Platt who interrupted her Berlin Marathon training for a dose of pure speed and a 14:19 opening leg. With just 7 days to go to her marathon, Julie would have been forgiven for choosing the safe option of a gentle taper rather than risking months of training to represent the club.

Julie handed over to Jayne Taylor who posted a fabulous 14:27. Jayne reported enjoying the course and was looking to be back towards her best as she finished strongly. She still managed to find enough reserves to recce a weather battered stretch of the Bob Graham round the following day!

In the words of her team mates, Mandy Borthwick was an “absoloute star” stepping into the shoes of an injured Jaqui Jones and ensuring a full strength team for Harriers. Mandy did both her team and the club proud to complete her leg in 23:17 before handing over to Shona Taylor.

Shona was another runner press ganged into turning out despite not feeling 100% fit for duty! In the event she ran a blinder, and powered round the course in 18:33 to bring it home for the club.The cumulative time of 1:10:36 earned them 50th place overall and more importantly, signified the return of Wigan Harriers to this important event.

Womens 4 Stage Relay Results.Leg 1: Julie Platt 14:19 – Leg 2: Jayne Taylor 14:27 – Leg 3: Mandy Borthwick 23:17 – Leg 4: Shona Taylor 18:33

Photographs courtesy of

Great North Run 2012 – Darrens Report

Amongst the thousands who took part in the Great North Run on Sunday was Wigan Harrier Darren Jackson – in his own words:

Well the visit to the physio (Stansfield Sports Injury Clinic) was an experience, the preparation prior to this weekends event!  Those who have been around me the last two months know I’ve been suffering with plantar fasciitis!!! – say no more.  The foot was taped in the Wigan colours ready to be displayed over the weekend.

As always I did a Park Run as the warm up the day before and to test the foot. Nevertheless, I was determined to do the GNR regardless of time completed. I decided not to go hard out on the Park Run but get the legs turning with a finishing time 21:19.  My compatriot Andrew Berkley also took part, finishing in around 25minutes.

Rest, rest, rest was the objective in readiness for the day to follow, although the foot was sore after the short distance so it was in my mind that the PB would not be achieved over the 13.2 miles – it had to be a training run.

I collected my number on the Saturday and watched the City Games in the sun on the Quayside. The foot was nagging already and I contemplated, only for a short period, whether I should run. Having had to pull out last year due to knee injury the decision was made. I love the GNR and thanks to Pete Riley from the Great Run Team I had the opportunity to take part.   Ice, stretching and massage was all that I could do to elevate the soreness.

The time came – do or die. The warm up – the heal was already on fire! I told myself that I had to finish below 1:45 regardless of the pain. At the gun the Garmin switched on and a look briefly to check pace (6:55) at around .5 of a mile. I wished Ewan Thomas good luck and continued to focus and TRY and relax.  I did not look again until 10 miles, however, the mental agility had been tested all the way around and concentrating on landing the foot triggers off other niggles – I had to stop at just past 11 miles to stretch the right hamstring – dynamically I was running in a totally different style but although no PB the goal was achievable, having gone through 10mile at 71minutes.

Prior to reaching12 miles there is a decline, which was difficult underfoot, and I had to practically walk down the hill.  When reaching 12 miles I wanted to pick up the pace but foot would not allow me to get upon my toes so the maintained pace it had to be. When going through 200 meters I heard that Joe McElderry had just reached the 200 meters.

I was glad to finish and at the end Cain Dingle from Emmerdale had just finished so I congratulated him.  The walk to the baggage bus was tough but the walk to meet Andrew and Steven was tougher.

Other than the pain in the foot I really enjoyed the race (as always) but would have loved to have PB’d.  My next big outing prior to my knee operation is Chester Marathon.  I am going rest the foot with the hope of being able to take part in Chester before a good 10-week rest.

Stand out from the Crowd

The nights are beginning to draw in now that our glorious British summer is coming to a close. The shorter days mean the sun will be setting earlier on our training sessions, and it is likely to be pretty murky by the time we finish the session on Thursday nights around the DW Stadium.

Most of our circuit is closed to traffic, but we do share a few sections with the odd vehicle or two.  We may be able to see them coming but it can be tricky for drivers not expecting a horde of athletes charging about to spot us in the gathering gloom of Autumn. With that in mind it is suggested that we all make the effort to increase our visibility on Thursday nights. A Hi-Viz training shirt, bib or even small running light are recommended items for the Thursdays sessions from this week on. All runners are asked to dig out those garish yellow, green and flouro pink tops from the cupboard and brighten up Robin Park and its environs.

We hope to obtain a supply of gilets or tabards to have on hand for anyone who forgets, but until then lets see just how dazzling we can all be!

Wigan Harriers Race Round-Up 8th 9th Sept 2012

Wigan Harriers Endurance runners were in action at a variety of road race events up and down the country this weekend.

Chris Smullen and Barry Abrams tested themselves over the 13.1 miles of the English Half Marathon course over in Warrington on Sunday. Chris is on something of a roll at the moment having scored PB in his last 2 races. Warrington was to make it 3 in a row as he stormed home in 1:25:50. This was an immense 3 minutes and 25 seconds off his previous PB set at the same event last year. His efforts earned him 34th place overall out of 1122 starters. Barry Abrams grabbed 7th M50 with a 1:30:55 bagging 73rd overall.

Kevin Edwards made the long journey to Mid Wales where he took on the Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon. Kevin stuck to his usual “go hard or go home” startegy”, going out at a pacey 6:30 mintue mile pace until around mile 10, when in Kevs words, “the wheels came off”!. He still managed a respectable 17th Male V45 to finish 133rd overall. Running the last 3 miles feeling decidely unwell dropped his average pace to 6:46mm and a time of 1:28:45

Gary Wane took on his long anticipated Paras 10 Challenge at Catterick barracks. The Challenge involves tackling the P Company 10 mile selection course wearing a 35lb Bergen and full pair of boots. Whilst most of the country welcomed the sudden arrival of summer temperatures this weekend, Gary could probably have done without 28 degree heat whilst carting a 35lb dead weight around North Yorkshire! Gary may have missed his sub 1h30 target time but finishing in 1:56:58 hours is no mean feat.

Closer to home Andy Kaufman and Graham Millington turned out in the red and black vests to represent the club at the Parbold, Farmers Arms 10k. This is an undulating course around the country lanes of Parbold and Hilldale organised to raise money for Belarus Aid. Andys relaxed approach saw him still chatting with Graham as the race started, leavng him with half the field to sprint through before reaching the sharp end of the race! Andy also admitted to issues assessing his pacing given the fact he wasnt too sure if it was a 10 mile or 10k event he’d entered! Opting for the 10k option Andy finished strongly in 5th place overall in 37:49

Graham had his hope of a 10k PB attempt dashed by a surprisingly hilly course. Billed as a fast event, the ups and down of the byways of Bispham actually bordered on the downright hilly! Even so, he was 40 seconds up on target time until the final slog from mile 5 to the end cost vital effort and seconds. His final time of 45:30 was over 30 seconds past the PB target, but represented a good 42nd place overall in a well organised and testing event.


Wigan Harriers Round-Up August 2012

Its been a busy month for Wigan Harriers Endurance as the local race series reach their climax, and our runners put their Summer Training to the test over a variety of distances.

At the start of the month Chris Smullen recorded his fastest time in the Chorley 4.4m race series racking up an impressive 27:53 for 23rd place. This was perhaps a sign of things to come for Chris as he was back in action again on the 11th when he achieved a PB of 39:03 over 10k at the Pennington “Run the Flash”. Those intervals session at Haigh Hall are clearly paying off and he can be very pleased with his podium position in 3rd place.

Next up was Kevin Edwards who rounded off an excellent showing in this years Horwich Jubilee Series with a 9th place in 35:07. Kevin was the only Harrier to score in all 4 races and this particular  run helped to secure him 9th place in the Series and 7th Vet. Our congratulations to Kevin for a well fought campaign.

Harriers were represented by Michael Harries and Jayne Taylor for the final race in the Harrock Hill series on the 22nd August. Michael brought the red stripes home in 30th place with a solid 40:54.

Jane Taylor did the club proud as 2nd lady, and 1st L50 in 40th place in 41.49.

Jayne finished as 3rd lady, (1st L50) in the series which is particularly impressive as she only ran in 3 out of a possible 4 races. She was also the highest place Harrier ahead of Andy Eccles in 40th place who will have special memories of Harrock this year.

Farmers Arms 10k, Parbold

The next “club outing” will be the Farmers Arms 10k at Parbold coming up this Sunday, (9th September).

As this is such an easy to reach local race we are hoping to get as many Harriers runners competing as possible. Anyone not able to produce a Doctors note to excuse them, (or provide photographic evidence of a particularly gruesome injury), are called upon to turn out!

There is also 2 mile fun run also taking place to cater for younger family members or new runners. Entry for the 10k is £7 on the day with the fun run a bargain £2.50. All profits go to Belarus Aid. The fun run starts at 10am with the 10k setting off at 10:30am

Venue: Farmers Arms – Chorley Road – Hilldale Near Parbold – Lancashire  (L40 3SL)