Chorley 4.4m Coming up!

The first race in the Chorley Trail series is taking place this Wednesday evening with a number of Harries expected to pull on the club vest. Whilst this isn’t one of our targeted races, anyone looking fr a speedy test this Wednesday will have plenty of company from fellow club members.

The Venue is Astley Park in Chorley with registration in the Barons Rest Pub, Astley Village. The senior race starts at 7:30 for a bargain £5 for UKA registered runners, or £14 for the full 4 race series.

Full details here:

Fleetwood 10 2013 – Shonas Report

This week’s ST report: Fleetwood 10m

My first 10 mile – probably the hardest race I’ve run yet and the first where I’ve tried to use any sort of tactics. Fleetwood’s a pretty bleak port town when the rain’s driving horizontally through you. The starter described it as “a bit draughty” – I’d hate think what “a bit fresh” or “might be coming up a bit of a gale later” would feel like. I guess living on a sand bank stuck out into the sea gives a different perspective on things! Some folk kitted up but then blew like sails – I opted for aerodynamic skin but I swear there is a lot less of it now than at starting due to the (wet) sand blasting along the way. Continue reading

London Marathon 2013 Report – Chris’ Story

Before joining the harriers in June 2012, I had been pounding the streets solo for about 4 years, gradually improving my marathon time each year in London. The main reason for joining the club was to meet like minded people and to take my running on to the next level. This year’s event would be the yard stick to see exactly how much the training and support from my fellow club runners had taken me.  The PB to beat was 3.23 set in the capital 12 months ago…….

Winter training had gone very well, supported by Andy Ecc’s tried and tested plan and having a training partner (Neil Prescott) really helped on the long, cold runs. The morning weather report confirmed perfect running conditions, so the list of pre-race excuses was now fully depleted! Continue reading

London Marathon Report 2013 – Neils Race

I traveled down to the start and what was a glorious sunny morning which wasn’t too hot or cold and pretty much perfect conditions for marathon running. The atmosphere as I got off the train was building up and electric, with everyone talking about the task ahead  and this made the nerves really start to kick in. I think that due to my previous 3 weeks in injury worries, I hadn’t given myself much chance of achieving my goal of trying to finish in sub 3 hours, but as I was walking towards the red zone to meet up with Chris Smullens, the butterflies started going.

I met Chris and we started discussing race tactics (that was after he took the mickey out of my orange hair for the day) and how our training had gone and whether my lack of runs over the previous 2/3 would do me any harm or whether it would actually be beneficial to me. We would find out soon enough. After leaving Chris I met up with Barry ‘The Machine’ Abrams in the good for age start and again discussing tactics and previous marathon runs as we did a warm up we wondered how the race would pan out. Due to my injury, I took some (legal) painkillers to help me just in case my ankle or calf started to ‘play up’.

Anyhow, I moved to the start and talking to fellow runners about how the conditions were perfect for both runners and spectators. They then announced the 30 second silence in respect of the Boston Marathon and when this started it was impeccable and moving by all. The loud cheer and applause when the whistle went sent a shiver up your spine and I hope sent a clear message to all those who were involved in Boston.

A few moments later it was the countdown to the main action, which I had been training for for over 8 months and it was now here. The hooter went and a big cheer of excitement went up. I walked to the start line in the crowd and as soon as we stepped over the mats, the watch started and the race was on.

I set about my task to run the first few miles quite quickly (for a marathon that is) so set about my task going through the amazing and loud crowds and setting a steady pace. After a few minutes I looked at my watch and I saw I was going at 6 minutes per mile so I thought wowww I had better slow down. I passed the first few miles at a pace of 6.35 – 6.40 and I thought spot on, if I could sneak a few seconds here and there then it would make the later stages a bit more bearable.

At about mile 5 I could feel my left foot starting to burn, and although my trainer were relatively new, I had ‘worn them in’ so I though that couldn’t be the problem. I later found out that this was the start of a blister coming on, but I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time. It was at this point that I spotted a Harriers vest in front of me. I got a bit closer and it was Barry. I was chatting to him for a bit asking how he had got there as he started behind me and I didn’t see him pass, but then again there were a few other runners nearby so that might be the reason. He gave me a bit of advice by stating that even though it’s not ‘too’ hot, stay in the shade as much as possible, so I took that on board and did, which did mean moving away from the shortest route line…..

I went past the 10k marker in just over 41 minutes so again I thought spot on. I was feeling ok, but not 100% relaxed and comfortable, but there’s not a lot I could do about that now so I just carried on. The crowds were truly amazing and I actually think more turned out a) because it was a nice day and b) due to the Boston bombing and the noise they were generating was deafening at times.

The miles passed by and it was still going to plan. Every mile under 6.50 was good for me even if it was a few seconds and I reached half way in 1.28.21 so in my head I had a lead of 99 seconds. The miles passed and I was keeping close the 6.50 pace and thought ok. I got to about mile 20 in 2 hrs 15.20 and again I thought spot on as I wanted to be there between 2.15 – 2.17 hrs, and although I felt tired here I just thought that it’s only a 10k left so just keep going and hope all the training would pay off. Everyone says the marathon starts here and they are not wrong….

The next few miles I started to struggle and was clocking times of 7 minutes dead per mile then at mile 23 I clocked 7.19, so the 99 seconds lead I had was whittling away. It was at this point I felt really tired and doubted for the first time of whether I was actually going to ‘do it’.

I had to really dig in and as I was so tired I didn’t take in the scenery and the crowd as I was in so much pain with both my feet now burning. I thought though that I am not going to let this slip by though and I just need to carry on running for 20 minutes although this was taking me close to the 3 hour mark. If I wasn’t close to this I would gladly have slowed down, taken everything in and strolled home at about 9 minute mile pace, but fortunately I was close……

The next couple of miles passed and I just thought I had nothing left to give. At about the 25 miles mark the pacer with the 2.59 flag came along side me, then in front and I thought if I could stay close to him I would be ok. The problem was I didn’t have the energy to stay close to him and I saw him, along with a few other runners around him (not too many mind you) go further and further into the distance and I thought that this is slipping by. I dug in further and I passed my fan base (which was basically my wife, kids, mum, brother his family and friend) but I was so focused on digging in and looking ahead I didn’t see them until I was level with them and heard the shouts of ‘Precky’. I knew it was somebody who knew me then. I gave a quick wave but thought I’ll see you soon enough.

The 800 meter maker came and I thought right 2 laps of the track, but I couldn’t pick up any pace, 600 meters then 385 meters to go. I actually knew then that I would do it. I tried to sprint to the line, but again my legs wouldn’t go as fast as my mind was telling it to, but I got to the line and I just wanted to collapse and lie on the floor (for a week If they had left me). I know I had given everything and literally had nothing left. A few seconds later I looked at my watch to see what time I had got and it was still going, so I stopped it and it was just under the 3 hour mark so I knew I had done it but wasn’t sure what my time actually was. I actually found out my time of 2.59.23 off my sister who was at home who had found out from what Graham Millington had put on Facebook. Technology I don’t know…… but thanks Graham.

Overall, I had plan to get under 3 hours and whilst I can honestly say the last 5 miles were the hardest I have ever experienced, with the blisters and pain I encountered on route, this was all worth it. I will hopefully try again next year, but try and enjoy it a bit more…… if that’s possible!

London Marathon Success

Massive congratulations to all our runners who completed the London Marathon this weekend. They all deserve a  few days to recover before we begin pestering for an account of their day, but in the mean time the Endurance squad are mightily proud of all those who represented Harriers around the streets of the capital.

For anyone who didn’t follow the drama of the race via our Facebook updates, we can tell you that every one of our runners achieved the first objective of any marathon and crossed the finish line to come home with a medal!

First to cross that line was Neil Precott who also broke the magic 3 hour barrier with a 2 hour, 59 minutes and 23 seconds run. Neil provided nail biting entertainment for those watching the on-line tracker as he hammered out those last few miles. He reports that the final 5 were amongst the toughest he has run, and only the prospect of the sub 3 kept him going.

Close behind him was Chris Smullen who recorded a huge personal best of over 31 minutes to come home in 3:05:48. Chris ran a magnificent race and obviously gave everything he had to smash his previous time and come so close to that 3 hour barrier.

Martin Andrews defied pre-race nerves to hit his target of 3:12:42 with almost precision accuracy. He set off for London unsur eof his ideal pacing and on the day started fast before settling in to an evenly paced effort. Martin will be well pleased with his days work.

Next up was Barry “the machine” Abram who just keeps lapping up everything London can throw at him and going back year after year for more. Barrys love affair with the London Marathon shows no sign of abating as he crossed the line in 3:18:51 to place 191st in his age category.

Finally Mandy Borthwick made her marathon debut with a 6:42:18 and the biggest smile we have seen yet from our runners. No news of how husband Darren fared in his own endurance event in the public hostelries of London for the duration of the race.

Well done all

Anniversary Waltz Fell Race 2013

Although I run a lot of trails in the Lake District, my competitive outings in full on fell events amounts to no more than a quick 1.5 miles in the Grasmere Senior Guides Race, (which involved more sliding downhill on my bum than actual running), and an ill-fated Two Lads event at Rivington which ended in A&E and 3 broken ribs! With that level of experience behind me I should maybe have resisted Dave Waddingtons beer fuelled suggestion that we make a late entry to the 2013 Anniversary Waltz fell race near Keswick. If common sense and caution were our watchwords we probably wouldn’t run at all, so despite Dave sobering up and trying to retract his suggestion we found ourselves lining up last Saturday in a muddy field in the Newlands Valley looking up at huge and intimidating mountains.

The Anniversary Waltz takes place over a mere 11 miles of Lakeland scenery, but takes in 6 individual mountain summits along with 3,600 foot of climb. To give that some perspective; Sca Fell Pike is the highest mountain in England and weighs in at 3,209 foot. If heart-rates hadn’t already risen at the £5 to park in a farmers field, the panoramic view of every one of those 3,600 feet did the trick!

Conditions couldn’t have been much better with a chilly start gradually warming in the first of the Spring sunshine. Despite this we both agreed to forgo machismo and donned a baselayer given the prospect of sharper conditions up on the summits. The chiselled looking regulars all seemed to have done the same so we were in good company

A word about those regulars: its not often these days that I get intimidated on the start line but a glance at my fellow competitors revealed possibly the toughest, leanest looking bunch of runners I’ve ever seen. Some of them appeared to have been made purely of tanned leather and weathered oak, whilst others had odd muscle growths on their legs which defied anatomical explanation. Most unnerving of all were the sideburns. I have seen photographs of fell runners from back in the 70s showing a mean looking bunch of hardy men and women with sideburns like Teenwolf. These are a different species of runner that belong in black and white photographs, not let loose in full colour to frighten soft “Townie” trail runners like me. Needless to say there wasn’t a fancy dress or a pink tutu to be seen….

Dave Waddington quickly abandoned his plan to “..take it steady and run with you Graham” and bolted off in pursuit of the chaps with sideburns when we finally set off. On paper the first few miles of the route look like a steady run along some comparatively flat trails up the valley towards Littletown before the serious business of the first climb up Robinson begins. Unfortunately fell races aren’t run on paper and I was at my lactic threshold within a few hundred yards of the uphill start. By the time we reached the foot of the mountain I was looking forward to marching uphill as a rest from trying to keep running.

The first ascent up Robinson on the right of the pic. Image courtesy of Rob @

The first ascent up Robinson on the right of the pic. Image courtesy of Rob @

At this point the path turns at a right angle and heads straight up the hill in a near vertical ascent and provides anything but a rest. Hands are needed as well as legs to make progress up the grassy flanks or Robinson, with one lady overtaking me virtually on her hands and knees crawling quickly. Running here is impossible, even for the elite, yet Dave Waddington reports that a lady runner in her late fifties suddenly decided to shame the entire field by breaking into a light, tippy toe run and gradually pulled away from him up the mountain. Having been on that mountain that day I quite frankly don’t believe it!

When running meets climbing!: pic courtesy of Rob @

The climb up Robinson – pic courtesy of

After finally reaching the ridge the route then turns right and defies all decency to become even steeper. It is so steep in fact that the path has worn away to bare rock and involves a proper bit of mountaineering to clamber up. Whilst it doesn’t quite qualify as outright rock climbing, it definitely falls into the ‘downright scary scrambling up rocks using hands to …erm…climb’ category!

This bit over and we finally reach a section of ground that it would be possible to jog across were it not for levels of lactic pain that I have never known in my life. My legs were each a solid, unfeeling lump and my glutes had turned to stone. I was looking forward to just walking a little on this stony ground and admiring the stunning views out to sea, but those around me suddenly broke into a run and some deeply ingrained competitive instinct kicked in and I was once more in a running race.

Dave nearly came a cropper on this unforgiving terrain, tripping on the rock formations that protrude from the ground and seem purpose made to catch unwary runners. As he said afterwards, if he hadn’t saved himself it would almost certainly given him the DNF he was secretly beginning to hope for by then!

I passed the first marshal point at the summit in a biting wind that had me blessing my baselayer and then turned to the descent. In a matter of minutes I had plunged down the hill side losing all the altitude I had fought so hard to gain in a flurry of wind-milling arms and flat out sprinting as gravity proved just how powerful it is. A glance backwards had me amazed that I had been stood on top of the towering peak behind me only minutes before; a glance forward at the trudge back uphill towards Hindscarth had me deciding there and then, “never again”. Jelly legged and thinking up excuses to drop out I slogged up hill to the second marshal point, quickly downing a handful of nuts and raisins for energy. Once past the summit it was a more manageable section of downhill running and across the hause towards Dale Head.

Route to Dale Head with that drop to Honister on the right. Pic courtesy of:

Route to Dale Head with that drop to Honister on the right. Pic courtesy of:

This is a delightful section of pathway that clings to the steep mountainside and affords a birdseye view of the Honister slate mine way below like a set from a model village. A slip here could be end up with an impromptu vertical visit to said slate mine so I concentrated on my footwork along the twisty path to the peak. From here the descent is sudden, severe and pathless down towards a tarn at the bottom. With no distinct route the runners scattered in various directions making use of local knowledge and experience to find the best way to batter their quads to oblivion. Without the benefit of either I followed the runner I judged to look the most “fell-runnerish” and miraculously found my way down without breaking any bones.

Even photographs can’t quite convey just how steep the ground is here. Think of slightly less steep than a sheer cliff and you are nearly there. Now think of running down that “nearly cliff” and the pressure on ankles, knees and all the tortured connective tissue in-between… and then its best not to think about it all but just get on with it!

Dropping from Dale Head to the tarn. pic courtesy of

Dropping from Dale Head to the tarn. pic courtesy of

Once at the bottom I seemed to have lost all the people I had been with for the first half of the race. It was difficult to know if I had hitched a ride on a better route and come out ahead, or if they all went a better way and had left me behind! This was to become a familiar pattern once we had climbed up to High Spy and finally hit the best running section of the event. The path here is level enough to be runnable as it meanders across gorse and moorland towards Maiden Moor and then downhill to Catbells.

Runners would vanish off the main route on some line of their own that probably meant a shortcut or faster diversion leaving the following runner with the dilema “to follow or not”. I chose to shamelessly follow a lady runner I later found to be called Wendy Dodds as she really did seem to have some cracking routes known only to herself. She would peel off the path and find a nice, firm route hidden in the heather that would give us a few yards lead over runners previously ahead. By taking advantage of her skills I found myself making up a few places and enjoying my best spell of speedy running, (thanks Wendy!). I even had time to steal the odd glance at the awesome scenery and vaguely regretted not being up there with time to spare for the view on such a glorious day.

The thrill of speed came to a sudden halt as we hit the final climb up Catbells and my legs refused to co-operate with any suggestion that I run up it. Once over the top it’s a short scramble over bare rock and past irritated walkers waiting for an opportunity to climb up amongst the steady flow of runners streaming over the summit! From here the finish is in view  – albeit almost 1500 feet vertically below. In true fell race style the route ignored all the sensible and safe paths to take the most direct route possible over the side of the mountain and towards that postage stamp field way below.

starting the descent from Catbells: pic courtesy of

starting the descent from Catbells: pic courtesy of

That final, insane dash down the hill had ankles squirming on the adverse camber and knees and quads protesting painfully at the agony of such a steep descent. If I had paused to consider for a moment what I was doing there is no way I would have attempted to even crawl down an incline as steep as that. I’d have told you it was impossible borderng on suicidal. With the thrill of the race my mind simply closed to possibilities of a tumble and I threw myself down with the same daft urgency as everyon else. A sprint down the road saw me take another couple of runners and charge to the finish just in time to beat a growing calf cramp.

Dave had already finished and was there to greet me along with Jacqui. For the first few minutes I could find no words to express the trauma of what we had just done, and we simply exchanged looks and shook our heads.  A mouthful of antiseptic tasting orange juice, (with nidentified solid bits), had us heading swiftly for the village hall and the very welcome free post-race beer.

Our target had been to finish in under 2hours 30. A target which I had re-assessed as a bit unrealistic once I got a good look at the mountains and had adjusted to ”happy to finish under 3 hours”. In the end Dave managed a spectacular 2:09:40 for 75th whilst I was surprised and delighted with 2:23:48 for 152nd. The winner finished in 1:35 which I am struggling to accept is humanly possible, (I didn’t get to see if he had sideburns though). Apparently 269 runners finished so we were both a lot further down the field than we would be in a road or cross country race which gives some guide to just how hard these fell races are.

I can honestly conclude that was the toughest, most brutal yet exhilarating event I have ever taken part in, and it has given me an even greater respect for fell runners in general. My pulverised quads haven’t been so painful since I finished my last marathon, and 2 days later I’m still having difficulty walking. ..and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Graham Millington

Many thanks to Rob of Northumberland Fell Runners for permission to use his fabulous pics. More stunning images of the 2008 event here: Anniversary Waltz

Langdale Daffodil Report 10k 2013

Graham Millington: The Langdale Daffodil 10k is run over 2 separate days to ease the congestion along this remote but beautiful Lakeland valley. The Saturday event had been blessed with the first of day of fine Spring weather whilst the Sunday was hit with a sudden return to finest Cumbrian drizzle with a gentle gale thrown in. Showing my usual foresight I had opted to enter the Sunday event and so spent the first half hour huddled in the car watching the rain bounce off the windscreen.

Despite the conditions my youngest still wanted to take part in the kids fun run and so my warm up consisted of a 3k jog up and down the only flat part of the valley accompanying my daughter, and gently encouraging her to reel in and destroy the opposition in true Competitive Dad style.

Already drenched to the skin and half frozen I decided to chuck my base-layer on the basis that all it would do was gather more “wet” and weigh me down. So it was that I joined the other shivering souls seeking shelter in the lee of the dry stone walls clad manfully in Harriers vest and shorts awaiting the start.

The first few hundred yards are the only flat bit on the whole course and  it took a conscious effort not to go off like a whippet with a the assistance of a ferocious tail wind. It was difficult to know how to pace the run. With 6 miles of repeated, short, but very sharp climbs and descents this was obviously not going to be a PB course, but neither was I there to have a pleasant jog in the countryside. The unpleasant conditions also added to the incentive to knuckle down and get it over with as quickly as possible!  I opted to keep to a 10k PB pace on the flat, (7mm), and see what the climbs and descents would bring.

The first couple of “hillocks” were despatched without much discomfort thanks to fresh legs. After about 2 miles I was already feeling the lactic from the hills and checked my Garmin to discover it had somehow malfunctioned and was showing only 0.9 of a mile completed. Oddly enough this tallied almost perfectly with the 1 mile marker board I passed shortly afterwards whereupon I re-evaluated just how tough this race was!

The route runs down the valley from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel towards the picturesque villages of Chapel Style and Elterwater. The narrow roads were open to traffic but thanks to expert marshalling it was never a problem despite most competitors taking the racing line around blind corners and ignoring the “keep left“ advice! After the first few miles I shook off a guy who had been on my shoulder by putting in a bit of an effort over a relatively flat section and continuing it up the next incline. In front of me was a lady runner who turned out to be first lady home, and a couple of blokes keeping just ahead of her. Try as I might I couldn’t make up much of the 50 or so yards between us as we seemed to be matching our pace perfectly.

At the turnaround point my watch showed 21.30 for 5k which put me on course for a 10k PB. Whilst encouraging, I knew that we would still have to make our way back up those hills on the return leg, and this time into a headwind! With no-one close enough to trouble me from behind I concentrated on the road ahead and noted one of the male runner starting to come back to me a little. This gave me a target to aim at.

Coming out of Chapel Style is a particularly mean hill climb with a kick at the end but I managed to keep my pace up as I finally caught and passed the other guy. From here onwards it was a battle against the wind and the contours.

At the 5 mile point my Garmin was still telling me I stood a chance of beating my 10k time. However I knew that there were two more hills to come, and the last incline had just sapped my legs as I really felt myself tiring for the first time. With 2 more of the same to come I knew would tie up and slow down too much before being able to take advantage of the final downhill run in. Lactic burn accompanied the drag up the penultimate hill until a fabulous sight greeted me: I’d miscalculated and that really had been the last ascent.

All that was between me and the finish was a beautiful downhill stretch of tarmac which I covered with legs pumping and arms wind-milling in a desperate effort not to miss out by a few remaining seconds. I think I startled a few of those gathered at the finish line with my wild celebrations of a modest 15th place finish – but a final glance at the Garmin had told me I’d just taken over a minute off my official road PB to come home in 43:52 on perhaps the toughest road course I’ve run yet!

I celebrated with a Guinness in the delightfully atmospheric New Dungeon Ghyll pub and basked in the glow of my first ever placing as 3rd V40. Now for a nice flat, fast course!

Catforth 7 2013 Report

After a glorious start to the weekend it was looking good for a fine day for Tracey Dutton at the Catforth 7 mile race on the Sunday. By the time of the 10am start the British weather had performed its usual trick of switching from Spring to Winter with a sharp wind and accompanying blasts of drizzle to greet those lined up to tackle the race.

Cold and wet are not Traceys favourite conditions but she got off to a good start along the pancake flat first couple of miles. The trouble started after the 2 miles point where the route turned towards Inskip and right into the teeth of the wind.

Tracey described it as a “gale force wind” which runners then had to battle all the way to the finish. Just to add an final insult to the mix, a heavy downpour greeted runners in the final stages. The general consensus post race was that the weather had added at least an extra 3 minutes on previous times.

Despite this Tracey was pleased to finish 2nd lady in a still impressive 49:03. Her placing earned her a bottle of Chile Merlot wine which we expect went well with the 2 pieces of Ginger Cake she snaffled at the end!

Wigan Strike Gold

Its was gold and silver all round for Wigan Harriers this weekend at the Mid Lancs Cross country awards night. The Harriers
turned out in force at the Bamber Bridge venue to collect their hoard of trophies after a highly successful season for the Senior Mens and Ladies teams. The event was well attended by a collection of Mid Lancs clubs all looking a little more presentable than when we usually see them spattered in mud and sweat! It is hoped that’s what Dave Waddington meant when he commented on how different the lady runners of Preston looked with their clothes on.


First up were the men who were presented with individual gold medals along with a handsome trophy for their table topping performance in Division 3. As by far the largest contingent present it was tricky to fit all of the Harriers in the one photo. It was even more difficult to contain Chris Burgess’ delight at hosting aloft the Championship plaque to a room full of bemused runners. Visions of Wembley were clearly going through his mind at the time.

The Veteran Ladies teams were next with a clutch of sliver medals for their valiant performance in the Vet 35 league where they were pipped for top spot by a single point from a strong Wesham team. Tracey Dutton did try to sneak back up to swipe an individual trophy, “on behalf of a friend” but was beaten to it by an even faster glory hunter!

Rounding off the evening was the presentation of the Veteran 40 Mens League award. Harriers once again took gold and the coveted Division 2 Trophy as reward for a series of dominant performances this year. With club membership increasing year on year Harriers are already looking forward to the challenge of next years cross country and the chance to add a few more trophies to the bulging cabinet at Robin Park

Tuesday Nights at Haigh Hall

Its a sure sign that Spring is almost here when we are able to switch the Tuesday night session from the stadium up to the leafy environs of Haigh Hall. As from Tuesday 9th April we will be taking advantage of the lighter nights to resume training around the paths and tracks of Haigh Country Park.

The meeting point will be the Hall itself with the warm up starting at 6.15pm. We will then re-group outside the Hall before starting the session proper at 6.30pm.

Anyone who can make the session is encouraged to do so. The softer tracks around Haigh are an ideal surface for avoiding injury, and we couldnt have a more pictureque place to train. Depending on the weather over the next few weeks we may even begin some short intervals entirely on grass.

Parking: There is usually plenty of parking available on Hall Lane, or for those travelling from the M61, along Higher Lane up to the “2 tonne bridge” Those using the car park near the golf club be warned that parking charges still apply in the evening.