Sefton Park – Mcain Cross Challenge 2012

Sefton Park is the big event on the annual cross country calendar, combining both the Mid Lancs league with the McCain Cross Challenge series. Coach loads of runners from all over the country descend upon the park last Saturday, (24th November 2012), for a series of races offering European qualification to some of Britains’ elite runners.   Wigan Harriers responded to the a chance to test themselves against the best in the UK with a bumper turn out to contest both Junior and Senior distances. The trusty Gazebo was bursting at the seams with a full 15 Senior men, along with the Ladies Team and our younger runners. Base camp  looked splendid with our brand new Wigan Harriers “shark-fin” banner declaring our presence amidst the rest of the Mid Lancs clubs.

Welly booted wives and children also turned up in numbers to support the Harriers, whilst Darren Jackson and Andrew Meadows took care of photographic duties.

First out to test the course were our junior runners, many of whom were fresh from success at the Greater Manchester Schools Cross country last week.  The Under 11 boys set off at 11am and Mathew Baptista had a great run for 40th overall and 32nd in his age group from 136 runners in total. The Under 13 Girls were next out on the 3km course and Kim Baptista flew the Harriers flag in 12:5, bagging  34th  from 98. The U13 boys ran the same route with 127 contesting the race. Nathan Dunn was the first Wigan runner home posting 11:26 for a fantastic 17th place. Scott Thompson was 70th in 12:47 finishing well amongst a pack of closely matched runners. Kerian Dunn rounded off a grand showing from our U13 boys with 13:28 for 95th place.

In the U15 Boys rave Henry Lucas once again did the honours for Wigan with a strong 12:35 whilst in the equivalent girls race, Rachel Sidebotham can be proud of 13:42 for 78th spot. Representing the club in the U17 Girls category were Daniele Thompson and Natalie Thompson who distinguished themselves in 20:49 and 21:35 respectively.

The Senior Ladies were next out as they joined a bumper pack of quality runners for the 1:20 start. Standing on the first bend to support or lady runners, the mens’ team were mightily impressed with the sight of several hundred female athletes charging towards them like a mud spattered Lynx advert. First through for Harriers was Tracey Dutton testing her strength on her way back to full fitness. A determined looking Julie Platt came next, followed up by Jacqui Jones. For some reason, regular team member Jayne Taylor chose the attractions of the Benidorm Half Marathon and some International Glory, (podium place in the V50 category), over the delights of South Liverpool in November, so the ladies were short of their usual 4th member.

Sefton punishes fast starts as some of the men were to find later. After a very quick first mile or so at 6:40 pace, the ladies settled down to a steadier  speed that saw them running with little more than minute covering the three of them. Unlike the rest of the series, Sefton Park sees the women race over 8k rather than the usual 5k. The extra distance was never going to trouble our Endurance Group runners with Julie Platt crossing the line first for Harriers in 35:32, and Tracey hot on her heels in 35:41. Jacqui Jones was just a minute behind in 36:43.

A weeks worth of rain had deposited itself on the North West leading up to this years Sefton Park fixture, but the weather had thankfully abated long enough to run the 10 races that make up the event. The temperature may have been in single figures but the still air and the odd splash of sunshine meant no excuses when it came to vest and shorts “man-suit” attire. Tim Pilkington seemed to have forgotten a few of the standing regulations during his time away from cross country, and turned up with a brand new Helly Hensen base layer with price tags still attached. A concerted effort of group humiliation persuaded him not to bring shame on the club and he duly packed his extra layers away for another day.

Kauffman vest crime

Apparently immune to the ridicule of the pack was Andy Kauffman who opted for a white t-shirt beneath his new Harriers vest.  No amount of bullying disuade him from his fashion crime, although he did at least forgo the full length winter tights. “Its because he’s so scrawny”, claimed his loyal support crew, failing to note the collection of knock kneed and bony runners shivering around her in their vests!

480 Senior Men stampeded down the start straight at Sefton Park to the surreal sounds of Queen and “Don’t Stop Me Now” blasting over the tannoy. Although relatively flat in Mid Lancs terms, the course at Sefton seems particularly unforgiving of the enthusiastic fast start.. Stuart Holding and Graham Millington both went off like scalded cats for the first half mile and spent the rest of the race clawing back the oxygen debt! No such problems for Mike Harris who cruised away from the detonating duo to record in impressive 42:01 in his first cross country outing for the club.  Proof of the pudding was the more measured start of Richard Noone who ran deliberately within himself during the first mad cavalry charge, before gradually ramping up the pace for the rest of the race. He overhauled Millington and Holding with breath to spare for a word of encouragement, before inexorably pulling away for a 1min 30 gap by the end of the race.

He’s behind you Tim…

At the faster end of the field it was a blistering performance from Andy Kauffman who did the club proud with a fabulous 36:44 effort to earn 155th overall. We can only wonder how much better he could have done without that extra layer weighing him down. Tim Pilkington returned to cross country for the first time this season and had a battle on his hands with the in-form Chris Smullen. They chased each other around the park for most of the race, with Chris edging it to finish with a 15 second advantage in 37:53 against Tims’ 38:09. Mark Rodgers was breathing down his neck just 4 seconds behind in 38:13.

Stevie Nicholls marked his debut for Wigan Harriers by turning up earlier than his usual 5 minutes before race start and had a solid run to finish in 39.31. Completing the A-Team was 6th man Dave Waddington in 41:11.

Conditions underfoot varied throughout the looping course. In places it was surprisingly firm with good sections of run-able turf despite a week of rain. Elsewhere the soft ground had churned up into a fair impression of the  Somme, with the gloop thick enough to grab at tired ankles and make forward progress a quad sapping affair. Organisers had arranged for a peat mix to be dumped on the path crossings which was generally agreed to be an improvement on the bark chippings of previous years.

Taking all of this in his stride was Kev Edwards who led the Harriers B-Team home. In his usual unorthodox manner, Kev had begun his warm up with 7 miles around Wigan that morning before heading up the M62 for another 10k! It seems to have done him little harm as he charged home in 41:30. Mike Harris proved his recent 2nd place in the Ullswater 10k was no fluke with a great cross country debut. He was followed by team coach Andy Eccles coming back from a nasty calf pull to record a 42:57 just ahead of Barry Abram in 43:11. Richie Noone cruised home as fifth finisher in the B team and was pleased to plant no more than his feet in the mire this time out.

Graham denies growth steriod advantage over tiny Stuart

The battle for the final scoring position was well fought between Graham and Stuart, with Graham pulling away in the middle of the race, before Stuart came back to take the position with a mile to go. He then made it stick with a strong run in to the finish to round off the scoring for the B-Team in 45:27.  Graham  followed up in an OCD pleasing 46:00 dead, and mumbled something about a cough, coughed dramatically, made sure everyone had heard his cough and wandered off to think up excuses for the write up….. 

Rounding things off for Harriers was Michael Dutton who is racing himself to fitness with each cross country outing. Michael stormed up the finish straight in 54:10 for possibly his strongest run in the series to date. Sub 3 marathon man Mark Glynn stepped off the course with a hamstring pull which we all hope will prove to be a minor glitch in a fabulous year of running for Mark.

It isn’t yet clear how these overall results translate into terms of the Mid Lancs League as organisers pick their way through the listings to sort out championship placings. Given the performances of some of our runners last weekend though, we can expect to have built on the good work at Burnley in October. With such a large contingent making their way to Liverpool the atmosphere and team spirit were outstanding this weekend, and everyone who turned out to run or support can be proud to be part of the club.  Next up is Crooklands in Kendal on the 8thof December where we hope to match, if not improve on our fabulous turn out last weekend.

Harriers Mens Team: currently taking bookings for hen nights

Schools Cross Country Success

As the Senior wing of Wigan Harriers Endurance runners ready themselves for cross country action in Liverpool tomorrow, we are delighted to report some tremendous success from the younger members of the club last weekend.

A fabulous 41 of our youngsters took part in the Greater Manchester Schools Cross Country, recording some tremendous results. Many of the names will be familiar to those of us who train on a Thursday evening. Remember them well as we may be bragging about having trained with some of these youngsters in a few years time!

It would be wrong to single out performances so below is the full list of those who took part and where they finished:

Year 4 Girls: Isobella Morris – 8th  Cassidy Platt – 25th

Year 5 Girls: Grace Whittle 12th

Year 5 Boys: Harry Scarborough – 8th, Thomas Scarborough – 16th

Year 6 Girls: Jade Kinnear – 1st, Bethany Wilkins – 4th, Erin Baker – 14th

Year 6 Boys: Daniel Dean – 1st, Jamie Marshall – 2nd

Year 7 Girls: Kim Baptista – 1st, Georgia Walsh – 12th, Rebecca Jones – 13th, Victoria Booth – 19th, Abbie Higham – 25th

Year 7 Boys: Matthew Lynch – 7th, George Scarborough – 11th, Jacob Green – 15th

Year 8 and 9 Girls: Charlotte Newsham – 1st, Alice Rowe – 2nd, Rachel Sidebotham – 5th, Emma Wheatley – 6th, Maisi Ashurst-Williams – 11th, Katrina Dean – 13th, Ellie Leigh – 20th, Emma Blake – 23rd, Olivia Green – 25th, Alivia Hanley – 28th, Rebecca Wlakden – 38th, Ellie Harrison – 45th, Samantha Walkden – 82nd

Year 8 and 9 Boys: Faizal Khan – 1st, Tim Hartley – 2nd, Lewis Barlow – 5th, Henry Lucas – 6th

Year 10 and 11 Girls: Danielle Thompson – 1st, Zoe Hughes – 4th, Emily Borthwick – 5th, Toni Clayton – 6th, Olivia Rowe – 7th, Jade Mills – 47th

West Lancs Schools Cross Country: Jack Dee-Ingham – 1st

Sefton Park – Liverpool Cross Challenge

Next up this seasons’ cross country campaign is the Mid Lancs League fixture at Sefton Park in Liverpool on Saturday 24th November.This always a major event on the calendar as it also constitutes the second meeting in the UKA Cross Challenge Series.

The races will attract some top talent as it also doubles up as the Eurpean Cross Country trials. This is a great opportunity to run with some of the best athletes in the UK at the moment, and Wigan Harriers expect to be there in force this weekend.

For all Harriers planning on travelling to Liverpool, please take careful note of the changed race times from the rest of the Mid Lancs series. It is also worth getting there a little earlier than usual to show support for our super junior runners and witness some of the talent in the IAAF events. Jaqui Jones will be issuing special numbers and chips on the day as the usual Mid Lancs race numbers won’t be used.

Race Schedule

Race 1: U11 Boys and Girls 11:00am

Race 2: U13 Girls 11:15am

Race 3: U13 Boys 11:30am

Race 4 U15 Boys 11:45am

Race 5: U15 Girls 12:00

Race 6: U17 & IAAF Junior Women 12:15

Race 7: U17 Men 12:35

Race 8: IAAF Junior Men 12:55

Race 9: Senior Women 13:20

Race 10: Senior Men 14:00

Course Maps

Map to Sefton Park

Preston 10 miler 2012 – Graham

With a brand new pair of toxic yellow racing shoes on I headed for Preston full of optimism for a new 10 mile PB. It wasnt just the couple of ounces saved in my lightweight New Balance that fuelled this confidence, but also the fact that I had set my current time over 2 years ago on this very course. The 1:23:30 I set back then was good at the time, but after training with the Harriers over the intevening period it would have been very dissapointing not to knock a good few minutes off.

The Preston 10 was apparently once known locally as the Preston 9 n half due to the number of people who ran a PB on its fast 2 lap course. This also fuelled rumours that it was a short course. When I last ran it in 2010 a cock up with the marshalling on the first lap had it most definitely long. After being robbed of a sub 1:40 time a couple of weeks ago by a similar cock up at the Guild Half, I felt the town of Preston owed me a couple of hundred metres anyway!

The threatened cold front hadn’t materialised by Sunday morning and clear sunsine soon melted the early frosts. After a brief warm up I ditched the thermal layers and went for the full “man-suit” kit of shorts and Harriers vest only. The race had chip timing this year which alleviated the usual fretting about how far up the pack to be positioned before the start. Even so, I could probably have pushed a bit further up as the first few hundred metres suffered from a little congestion. This years 10 miler had been incorporated into the Guild Series of 5k, 10k, Half/full Marathon so that runners who completed all 4 events were awarded with a special T-shirt and medal. No doubt this had added a few numbers to an already popular race so that over 600 hundred set off.

I found myself passing quite a few runners in the first mile or so, and steadily moved up the field as the race wore on. My target pace was 7:30min miling pace to bring me home in 1:15. This was an quite optimistic target roughly based on doubling the 5 mile time recorded during my recent 10k pb. It was failry ambitious to plan on matching my 10k time and carrying on for another 4 miles at the same pace, and I would have been fairly happy with 1:16ish.

I struggled to find a consistent speed oer the first few miles and seemed to be most comfortable at about 7:15 pace. I worried for the first 5 miles if I would be able to maintain this speed given it was faster than 10k pb miling. With the first lap over I decided to ignore the Garmin and just run as hard as I felt I could sustain.

This course is about as flat as you will find in this part of the world, although it does have a few gentle undulations. On the first lap these are barely noticeble, but on lap 2 you do begin to feel the pull uphill to the start of the 2 mile dual carriageway stretch. On largely open roads we were relying on the marsahlls to keep the flow of the race going, and they did a superb job of keeping us race-focussed runners safe at the few places where cars need to cross our path.

By 7 miles a number of people had started coming back to me, and I found myself catching up with and tucking in behind a pack of about 5 club vests. Suddenly it became a race rather than a time trial! We all seemed to be pushing ourselves at around the same pace and so I indulged in a bit of drafting for half a mile or so before a guy in a red top made a break for it and opened up a gap. I thought about going with him but his sudden increase in speed was too fast for me. At about 8 miles another runner made his move and this time I went with him and we steadily dropped the group.

Half a mile later he seemd to run out of steam and I drifted past him. The guy in the red top began coming back to me too, and we were soon side by side when he asked what time I was aiming for. I had no breath left for a chat, glimpsed at my watch and just shook my head as I realised I hadn’t set it to show me the elapsed time. I knew I had to be on course for my A target but had no idea how close it was.

Into the final mile and Imade my move. I used a tactic I’d read in Charlies Speddings’ book about speeding up at water stations, and chose a point where the course turns sharp left to put in a surge and break away from the guy in red, (thanks for the loan of the book Kev!). It worked, and with a final surge I was running alone up the last incline and trying desperately to find some kind of sprint finish as we turned towards the school.

The crumbly concrete on the last 150 metres is cruel to tired legs and I felt myself wobble a bit as I ran for the line; there was no sprint left in me, and I didnt even have the energy for my usual “celebrate like you won it”. I caught a glimpse of the clock as I crossed the line but it seemed to be broken. It was just ticking past 1:12:37. Oddly enough this was the same time my Garmin said. I took a few moments of wondering how they could both have gone wrong before it filtered into my head that I had slightly smashed my target time. Thats when the “celebrate like I won it” silliness began!

The official results pinned up in the school later confirmed a chip time of 1:12:27 and 132nd place overall from 659 finishers. The last two races in Preston have granted me 2 PBs this past month. I was beginning to regret not signing up to the whole Guild series, particularly when I spotted the quite snazzy medal handed out to those who ran all 4 races, (I do like a nice medal). The only problem I have now is how to top that at the Guys 10 in a couple of weeks!

Graham Millington

Hyndburn Red Rose Report 2012

The going was decidedly heavy at Hyndburn last week for round 3 of the Red Rose Cross Country League.  Heavy rainfall over recent weeks meant there was no shortage of mud underfoot for those representing Wigan Harriers. It didn’t seem to slow Nathan Dunn on his way to another 2nd place, as he finished an agonizing 2 seconds behind closest rival Josh Boyle. With 3 races gone Nathan is riding high in second place in the table overall with just 1 point between him and the Hyndburn runner.

Charlotte Newsham did herself no harm in the league standings with a fine run for second place. Her second run of the campaign so far puts her comfortably in 3rd place. Our only remaining ever present for the U13 girls is Alice Rowe who recorded her best finish yet in 11th place. This puts her in 13th place in the league. Henry Lucas also notched his best placing so far in 23rd place in the Boys U15 race. That result puts him in 22nd overall.

Emma Wheatley and Rachel Sidebottom ran in the red and black vests in the U15 girls category. Emma was first across the line for Harriers in 18:47 and 13th place, with Rachel placing 19th  in 19:17.

Whilst we rightly celebrate the individual achievements of our runners, cross country is perhaps the closest running gets to being a team sport outside of relay events. This it makes it doubly satisfying to see the Senior runners manage to put out full strength teams for the third Red Rose event in succession keeping both our point scoring and 100% attendance intact.

The ladies were lead home by Jayne Taylor in 12th place who had a fabulous run to also bag 1st L50. This was Jaynes’ best placing in the series so far and puts her in joint 14th place in the individual standings, and still with everything to run for as joint 4th in the Vets League. Marking her steady return to form with a strong run to 22nd place was our second lady home Tracey Dutton. Tracey sits in joint 27th in the individual ranking after 2 races, and joint 10th in the vets league. 

Jaqui Jones completed the scoring for Harriers in 33rd place as 5th L45. Jaqui is currently 37th overall and 19th Vet. Rebecca Maoin from our Endurance Training group ran to an impressive 55th place, marginally ahead of Shona Taylor in 62nd place. Shona has run in all 33 Red Rose events so far earning herself  69th overall land joint 39th Vet.

Their combined efforts gave the Ladies Team 5th from 14, which converts to a fabulous 2nd place in the Vets competition.

The attractions of Wigan Athletic V West Brom, race commitments further afield and late injuries reduced the numbers available for the senior men. After rallying the troops to ensure a full turn out Chris Burgess was himself forced to miss out due to a foot injury. With the greater strength in depth the club now has, we were still able to put 7 men over the line to keep Wigan on the scoreboard.


Caption competition…….?

First home was Andy Ratcliffe in 38th place who ploughed through the mud in a pacey 40:28. Making a welcome return to cross country action was Tim Pilkington in 41:38 and 53rd place. Cross country stalwart Darren Middleton maintained his 100% record in 92nd place  and 19th V40. This places him 77th in the league and 39th Vet so far. Super Stuart Holding kept his footing to come home as 4th Wigan Harrier in 127th overall, closely followed by Barry Abram in 133rd, (13th V50). Stuart is now 121st with Barry 91st and 47th Vet.Ensuring the points as 6th man was Richie Noone who had a close up view of the mud and turf when he chose to plant his face in it on lap 1. Richie was 30th V40 on the day, coming home in 138th place. As far as league standings are concerned, Richie is 118th after 2 races completed and 61st Vet. The 14th Vet 55 over the line was Michael Dutton who now places 161st and 101st Vet.

The Senior Mens Team placed 11th from 13 on the day which was a good 7th from 14 in the Vets Teams. This now places Harriers men 10th from 13 overall in the league competition, and  6thVets Team from 11.

We are expecting a good turnout for the last Red Rose fixture in Bolton on December 15th. With a few places still to be decided amongst us in the individual standings there will be plenty to race for ahead of our club Christmas Meal later than night!

Hyndburn Red Rose Results 2012

Red Rose League Standings

Amberswood 10k Trail Run 2013

Wigan Harriers are delighted to confirm that the highly rated Amberswood trail event will take place again in 2013. After such well supported races over both 10k and 2.5k in 2012, the Wigan club have set Sunday June 2nd as the date for this years’ run.

The event takes place around the Greenheart tracks and trails of Amberswood on the outskirts of Wigan, (between Spring View and Hindley). This beautifully reclaimed site offers a mix of firm packed lakeside paths, meadow crossings and a splash of mud here and there!

There will be a 2.5k fun run for youngsters and those new to running off road, followed by the hugely popular 2 lap 10k run for all abilities. Pencil the date in your running diaries and check back here for further details and entry forms in the next month.

Amberswood 2012 Race Report

Video of last years event:

Ullswater Lakeland Trail 14k

The second part of the epic Dirty Double Lakeland Trail weekend was blessed with gloriously clear skies and bright winter sunshine. On arrival back at Jenkins field the runners were presented with a stunning panorama of snow dusted fell tops with even a little warmth in the air.

My other half was due to take part in the 10k race and so we were there early to see her safely aboard the 9am steamer crossing. The Ullswater trail races must be unique in boasting a scenic boat trip across a beautiful lake as the beginning to a running adventure; a wonderfully romantic way to begin a race. The breathless air left a glass like surface to the lake as the first boat of the day drifted away from Glenridding Pier. As she made her way towards Howtown on the other side, the strains of “Here Comes the Sun” floated back across the still waters as Pete Lashley struck up on his guitar to entertain the runners onboard.

An hour later and it was my time to climb aboard the 10 am sailing and make my way over for the 14k Challenge event. As the boat made its way up the lake we began to spot the 10k runners on the fellside going the opposite way back to the finish in Glenridding. Those of us on the boat began whooping our encouragement to our fellow runners, reaching a hollering crescendo as the occasional tiny figure would wave back in acknowledgement. This became good sport for the next half hour as we settled our own nerves by encouraging those already running their race.


To my delight I spotted the wife making her away along the shore and gave her a big shout by name. My shipmates joined in and we were rewarded with a cheery wave from her. “Come on Sandra”, I shouted, “you can still win it!” Thankfully she did find this amusing!

As the route back along the far side of the shore is quite remote in parts, we had all been advised to take a jacket, hat and gloves with us along with full length leg wear. Most of us were wearing the full kit to fend off the chill out on the lake, but were soon shedding layers once disembarking in the sunshine over at Howtown.

There was enough time for a brief warm up before Race Director Graham Patten had us assembled for the start. It was an odd contrast to the jazz band and big send off of yesterday to be lining up in a quiet country lane next to the “official start tree” ready to run. We counted down, Graham shouted “Go” and we were away!

It was an immediately uphill start as we charged along to the flanks of Hallin Fell pumping some warmth into our legs in the shady side of the hill. I had tagged along at the back of a group of 10 runners who made a pacey start and was feeling quite pleased with myself. I was then passed by what I later found out to be the first lady, and first finisher overall of our run as she shot past me like I had gone into reverse!

The route settled down into a wonderfully rocky and technical path that meandered up and down along the lake shore. There was barely a section of the route that wasnt a sort climb, or a plunging descent demanding full concentration. Personally I love this sort of rocky Lakeland path and was enjoying tagging along behind another runner who seemed to move at about the same pace as me.

As we entered a wooded section I remembered Grahams warning words about the Autumn leaf fall concealing the uneven track ,and his suggestion that we walk along here. Moments later the guy I was following hopped to the side of the path with a yell of pain as he seemed to turn his ankle. I checked he was ok before carrying on at a suitably reduced pace myself, (although still not actually walking!)


As if the demands of the trail were not enough, the view across Ullswater towards the Helvellyn range was also breath taking. The wintry white mountain tops above the greens, golds and oranges of Autumn lower down the fells were perfectly mirrored in the still surface of the lake. I risked brief glimpses away from the trail surface to take in the glory of it. The silence was then broken by the hollering and cheering as the next Lakeland Trail sailing made its away across the lake, and the next boatful of runners cheered on those of us on the route.

I had settled into a bit of a solo run at this point, with the guy in front being too far ahead to reel in, and no-one in sight on the occasions I stole a look behind. I was beginning to feel the exertions of yesterdays race in my legs as a marshall directed me away from the 10k route and an appealingly flat path, to instead head directly uphill on the longer 14k route. The lactic caught up and I was reduced to a hands on knees plod on the almost vertical climb, and by the top I was suddenly caught by another runner.

It turned out to be my companion from earlier who had recovered from his ankle scare and made up enough ground to haul me in. Once again I tagged on his slipstream. Jenkins field came into view on the opposite side of the lake and sounds of the race commentator reached us all the way from the other side. We clearly heard him telling the tiny dots assembled around the finish that the first runners in the 14k event would with them in the next 10 minutes.


With legs wearying rapidly it gave some encouragement to hear we weren’t too far from home, no matter how far it actually looked across the lake! As I charged to the finish line my support crew applauded politely but not realizing that it was me heading out of the sun in 8th place. They later told me they hadn’t been expecting me until much later which I suppose is a backhanded compliment of sorts! Clubmate Mike Harris obviously has a little more faith and encouraged me to a sprint finish from his rather comfy looking position sat on a park bench watching the runners go by!

I’ve had some fantastic experiences through running, met people and been to places I wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed were it not for the sport. Its almost impossible to pick out favourites from all the events that fill the running calendar, but as I left Glenridding I was fairly sure that this was the most fun weekend of running I think I’ve ever had. The entire weekend became a celebration of the trails, the fells and the running made more pleasurable still by spending it with a group of positive, like minded stangers that somehow formed a proper little community. Roll on next year and some more Lakeland Trails.

Lakeland Trails Helvellyn 10k

The weekend of the 3rd and 4th of November saw the finale of this years Lakeland Trails series with a “Dirty Double” header of running fun across the fells around Glen Ridding. Saturday was taken up with events around the lower slopes of Helvellyn, whilst Sunday involved a magical steamer trip across Ullswater for races of various distance back around the lake shore.

My own organisational ineptitude meant that I had forgotten to book myself in for any of Saturdays races, so I jumped at the chance of a place in the 10k in return for helping out with a spot of marshalling for the later races. That meant an early start on Saturday, and as we made our way over the Kirkstone Pass the drizzle that blighted the morning turned to snowflakes and a blizard by the summit. All it took was a hidden patch of ice beneath the fresh snow and the car was quickly spinning through 180 degrees between the unforgiving dry stone walls. We were as lucky not to crash then as we were to inch our way down the rest of the pass without mishap.

Once at Jenkins field we made ourselve known to the race crew and ran through a thorough briefing. I was to run the 10k first, then make my way back up the mountain to swap over with another marshall who was taking part in the later 15k race. I’d roped my race support crew into helping out with marshaling too – so that was my mother relieved of child minding duties in exchange for trail runner minding duties!

The view from the finish at Jenkins Field: snow on the hgh fells

Huddled in the communication tent watching the drizzle thicken I contemplated abandoning the 10k altogether. Even beneath my layers of clothes I was damp and cold! By the time the runners assembled ready for the off, we were muttering about it being too warm for the full winter tights, hats and gloves we were all wearing. The winter sun had made an appearance and whist the snow on the high fells glistened in icy splendour, there was enough power in the rays to add a touch of warmth to the day.I deliberately set off slowly for once, having fully concluded my experments into the “go out fast and see what happens” method, (the conclusion being I blow up in spectacular fashion!). The route made its way through the village and past the campsite towards the Glenridding valley and the approaches to Helvellyn, encountering some steep tarmac ascents on the way. The track leads steadily upwards towards the slate mines and provides a good test of the legs on generally stable crushed stone paths.

Not me! Slippy going in parts, (pic by

As we turned and began the descent down the opposite site of the valley the terrain changed to traditional technical, rocky Lakeland paths with a healthy dose of churned up mud thrown in! A runner in front of me took a tumble on the treacherously slippy grass banks, prompting fellow runners to ask if he was alright. He was ok, and getting to his feet again as I passed and informed him in my most smartest alec voice that “its all part of the fun”. The Gods of justice were listening and within 10 steps I’d taken an identical fall and slid along the mud and grass at speed, eliciting a cry of “all part of the fun!” as he returned the compliment!

I took a little more care on the slopes past Lantys Tarn and lost touch with the group I was chasing as they bravely hurtled down the grass banks at high speed! I was content to let them go until I passed young walker who was happily counting the runners as we passed him. “You’re number 21” he said and all of a sudden it was game on! I managed to claw back a couple of places on the very fast tarmac descent back towards the village, but was slowing dramatically on the last half mile to the finish. I surprised myself by crossing the line in 19th place from 154 runners.

There was no time to glory in my run. I quickly changed out of my Harriers vest into my marshalls hi-viz and was trudging back up the mountain to do my duty!

The ethos behind the Lakleand Trails series is to offer races of varying distances and levels of competion to be as inclusive as posisble. The 10k race is often seen as the perfect introduction for new trail runners, with the 15k challenge offering a longer distance challenge to less competitive runners. The final event of the day is always the full on 15k race which can attract the elite of the fell and trail running world both from the UK and abroad.

Its a good ethos, and it works. My first foray into an organised trail run in the Lakes came at Staveley a couple of years ago. From that first nervous run I gained confidence and experience enough to regularly train on the high fells, and eventually take on my first Ultra marathon across in this years Lakeland 50. I have a lot to thank the Lakeland Trails for! On that basis it was great to get the opportunity to give something back by helping out marshalling the route.

Rainbow over Glenridding

I settled into my marshal point and pondered the fact that if there was every a place worth hanging about for a couple of hours, it was right here overlooking Ullswater with a vista of snow dusted Lakeland fells beyond. I then had a fascinating afternoon listening in to the Marshalls radio network marvelling at the huge amount of activity that goes on to make these runs happen.

The organisers were co-ordinating 3 consecutive races over some rough and fairly remote ground, keeping everyone safe and accounted for, closing and opening roads and updating marshall points throughout the day to ensure full coverage of the route. All this was going on as the wet weather plan was in full swing, involving the bussing in and out of hundreds of runners from Penrith due to soggy car parking in the village. I have marshalled a couple of events but I dont think I’ve witnessed or appreciated the effort and expertise that goes into putting on a safe, and slick trail race like this – impressive stuff!

For my own small part in this well oiled machine I shouted encouragement to the runners, warned them off the particularly slippy rock section about to come up and stopped adventurous sheep from making a break for it through the open gate I was guarding. I reserved the mosy vocal support for the runner I recognised, which included Pete Lashley who thundered past me on his way to a fantastic 27th place. St Helens Strider and regular Lakeland Trailee Gary Spriggs wasnt far behind in 33rd place and got a rousing shout.

It gave a whole different perspective on the day and I enjoyed being a part of the Lakeland Trails race crew as much as I did being part of the running community. The rain returned just as the races finished and we all took shelter in the main tent as Pete Lashley swapped his running shoes for his guitar and soon had the place rocking! With so many of us crowded into the tent, and with the drama of the weather outside the atmosphere for his post race gig was top notch.

After that it was a long and circuitous drive home to avoid the perils of the Kirkstone Pass, before icing up, carb loading and getting ready to do it all again the next day…..

Tuesday Night Track Sessions

Please Note: Tuesday night saw the last of the much loved hill sessions at Swinley and we now move to the track for the next few weeks. Harriers will be meeting up from 6 to 6.15pm for a series of interval style efforts at Robin Park Arena.

There is a charge of around £3 for access to the track so please remember to bring some cash with you. Discounts are applied for anyone with a Lifestyle card and/or a Wigan Harriers membership.

Harriers Round Up: October 2012

I seem to start the round up every month by remarking on how busy everyone has been at various events around the country. With the nights drawing in and the road racing season coming to a close, we seem to be busier than ever with a packed race calendar.

Along with a great start to our cross country campaigns in both the Red Rose and the Mid Lancs Leagues, our runners have been flying the flag, (or the black and red vests), in all sorts of road and trail races.

Gary Wane enjoyed a honeymoon in the Lake District last month but understandably found himself wondering what on earth to do for entertainment in the evenings. Along with the new Mrs Wane he did what any of us would in his position and donned his headtorch for a bit of fun in the dark. Sadly, his exertions were ended prematurely,  (which has happened to all of us at some point).

Gary says he had been looking forward to the Petzl Pitch Black night run at Grizedale Forest having entered the 20k option on the 27th October. Unfortunately he lost his footing in the dark and turned his ankle, ending up with his first DNF. Thats bad enough at the best of times but a DNF on your honeymoon? Thankfully its a minor injury and he’ll be back in action soon.

Also in action that weekend were Kevin Edwards and Mike Glynn in the Preston Guild Marathon, along with Graham Millington making a big fuss about his jog in the concurrent half marathon.

Kevin had initially feared that the moody weather would turn into a repeat of the arctic conditions that blighted the Manchetser Marathon earlier this year, so ended up relieived at just a mild gale and dose of hailstones! Kevin has never been accused of being one of our “Mardy” runners, but even he augmented the man-suit with a woolly hat and pair of mittens at the start. He was to run the whole route with his soggy hat depsite it gradually creeping down his foreheaed the more drizzle it soaked up.

Along with a lot of runners, he found the course more challenging than expected, finding it difficult to maintain a consistent pace over the continually change of gradient. The last tortuos mile into the town centre also features high on his list of least favourite finishes with its twists, turns and cruel inclines. Kevin brought his marathon home bang on the pre-race target though with a fantastic 3:11 effort to place him. Read Kevins Race report here:

We have yet to get the full gory details of Mark Glynns run, but congratulations are in order form all at Harriers: Mark not only took down his PB, he also smashed the 3 hour marathon milestone for the first time with a tremendous run. Also in action in Preston were Pat and Pauline who train with us regularly on a Thursday evening. Both ladies braved the conditions to complete a successful Half Marathon.

Darren Middleton is another of our runners who can find nothing better to do on a family holiday than go running about in public in his vest and shorts. Giving his wife and kids a break whilst on their break on the South Coast, Darren took part in a local 5 miler. Details are scant but on a crackly line from somewhere near Cornwall Darren repeatedly used the words “hills”, “mountains”, “horrendous” and “scrumpy”. Given the proximity to Hallowe’en when the race took place, it is appropriate that “The Reaper” snuck up on the locals to come home in about 16th place.

Harriers also turned out in force at the annual 8 mile Though the Villages event. Dave Collins was the first Harrier home bagging 4th M50 in the process. He finished a few minutes ahead of the rapidly improving Chris Burgess who found the repeated hill climbs for which this race is famous to be particularly tough. Kevin Edwards recovering from his marathon efforts just 7 days previously very sensibly decided just to jog round the course. That rare bout of sensible running lasted about a mile before he got stuck in and raced as hard as ever to finish 4th M45. 8th M40 and final Harriers man home was Mr Middleton makign a bold attempt to reap a weakened Kevin Edwards but finishing just 40 seconds behind in the end.

Representing the ladies in fine style were Julie Platt and and Jayne Taylor. Jayne got herself in a podium position as 3rd lady overall and and 1st F50. Julie Platt ran with Jayne for most of the race before losing a little ground on the descents. In the closing stages of the race she made a huge effort to pass another lady runner ahead in order to finish behind Jayne. It was only as she passed the long blonde haired lady rival at maximum effort she relaised that it was a male runner and she needn’t have bothered! Julie was 4th lady and 1st in the F40 category.

Also running last weekend were Mike Harris and Graham Millington who headed for Cumbria and the Finale of the Lakeland Trails series held in Glen Ridding on the shores of Ullswater. With 2 days of racing over 2 days, Graham is still hard at work on Chapter 3 of his epic race report. In the mean time congratulations go to Mike who placed 2nd in the Ullswater 10k race on the Sunday. Graham was delighted with 8th place overall and 2nd V40 in the 10am 14k Challenge on Sunday. This was after a solid run for 18th place in the preceding days Helvellyn 10k. A full race report will no doubt be released in hardback in time for Chrismas…watch this space!