Harriers Champions at Lancaster!

Wigan Harriers Senior men wrapped up promotion in the Mid Lancs League 3 this weekend, and are destined to finish the season as Division champions. Another magnificent display saw them bag maximum points for the 4th time this year resulting in an unassailable position with one race remaining. Adding a gloss to the glory were the Mens V40 team who also go up to the top division of the V40 league as Champions.

For the Senior Ladies its all still to run for at Beacon Park in the final fixture with both the Division 2 Senior and the Vet 35 competition too close to call. The season could still end in promotion or relegation its that tight! A splendid team effort this week saw them finish 7th from 26 teams at the weekend. Thanks to the youthful nature of Saturdays squad there were no points to be had in the V35 competition though!

Kicking off the afternoon were the juniors with Nathan Dunn once again putting in a splendid performance to finish just 2 seconds behind close rival Ben Blacburn in 2nd place. Nathan sits in 4th place overall with just a single point seprating him and Ben after a well fought season long battle. Scott Thompson followed Nathan home with an excellent 11th place in 13:53.

The U17 girls race saw a formation of Harriers finish in 8th 9th and 10th. Natalie Thompson, Danielle Thompson and Victoria Cowling put in a well co-ordinated team performance with just under 40 seconds covering all 3 girls. It ws the first time this season Harriers registered a full team in the event and it is nice to see the table now register points for the squad.

It was then over to the Senior Ladies who were led home by Julie Platt in 17th place, with Tracey Dutton less than 60 seconds behind in 21st. Julie and Tracey now sit 8th and 9th respectively in the L35 standings.

Completing the scoring for Harriers was Nina Fisher posting a very creditable 69th place in only her second senior Cross Country event.  Nina has learned a trick or two since her first outing at Knowsley and this time chose to ignore Mr Collins support rather than respond and be accused of “not trying hard enough”. Nina says she even went as far as making sure to avoid eye contact with Dave, which is something a lot of us try to do during training sessions as it only encourages him.

We were fortunate to have a Ladies team at all as the squad were so engrossed in discussing race tactics that they chose to carry on up the M6 rather than take the Lancaster exit. It is fortunate that Cross Country doesnt require any self navigation!

Andy Kauffman led the way for the men with a blistering performance for 15th overall and his best placing of the campaign so far. Missing out on a few Tuesday speed sessions recently in favour of a cake decorating class obviously hasn’t slowed him down. Hopefully we will all reap the benefits when Andy gets his fondant fancies out in the gazebo at Beacon Park.

Chris Smullen was next home in 38th place (43:32). Not only was this a fine cross country performance, Chris had arrived in Lancaster early to do a few extra miles warm up, and then tagged on a few more at the end to turn the event into a decent length marathon training run ahead of his appearance in London later this year. Kev “Go Hard or Go Home” Edwards is in danger of losing his Harriers Hardcore crown!

Captain Awesome Dave Collins put in another strong performance in 45:00 dead for 47th place. Dave puts his current run of good form down to Tesco lasagne – so Caprtain Horseome it is from now on! Chris Burgess reports himself disappointed with a performance that saw him home 56 seconds later in 57th place. Taking account of a mid week illness and a dubious curry the night before he has no need to hang his head. Those unfortunate to follow him may disgaree.

The final scoring positions came down to a battle between Kevin Edwards and Mike Harris with Kevin prevailing by the slimmest of margins and Mike consolidating the team performance 2 seconds behind him. Both runners posted their highest placings of the season in 50th and 51st positions. Kev had led for the entire race and it was “Mike Worsley” style comedy sprint for the line that brough Mr Harris within touching distance as he out paced Paul Marshall at the death.

Coach Eccles running with a numb foot sustained in the arctic conditions at Knowsley finished in 100th place just ahead of Barry Abram in 103rd. With many years of experience behind him, our fully qualified coach Mr Eccles knows a thing or two about proper pre race preparation. Leading by example Andy demonstrated the performance enhancing benefits of 8 pints, 2 brandies and various “other” drinks the night before a cross country event. It never did Alf Tupper any harm! Mr Eccles had to take advantage of a garden chair in order to enjoy Tracey Duttons’ Muffins post race.

Gary Wane took advantage of a weekend without the wife to get up to some filthy fun on his own. What better to fill the empty hours alone than giving his wonky ankle another good test to bring it home for Harriers in 133rd place overall.

The mens team were a superb 4th from 22 Teams overall which equated to top place in the V40 Teams and top place in the Division. For the men at least, Beacon Park will be no more than a muddy victory lap as we cheer on the ladies in their nail biting end to the season.

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