Astley Park 4.4m Report 5th June

Wigan Harriers were again well represented at the second of this four race series which is hosted by Chorley Athletic and Triathlon Club.

A sunny & warm evening welcomed competitors arriving at the Barons Rest to collect race numbers. Representing the Harriers were Dave Collins, Jayne Taylor, Gary Wane, Colin McEvoy, Mike Harris, Peter Mills and Gary Fitzpatrick.  

The evenings activity began with the juniors 1.6km race in which, yet again, Wigan Harriers performed fantastically. In a field of 94 (a considerable improvement on the 77 competing in May) all four Wigan Harriers finished strongly. Matthew Lynch edged out Scott Thompson by two seconds to achieve  sixth place with a 5:38 finish with Danielle Thompson and Rachel Sidebotham finishing in 21st and 31st respectively with very good times. A great effort all round.

Entering Astley Park, dominated by a great Hall surrounded by open park spaces and scenic woodland the seniors began their warm ups. Gary Fitzpatrick was taken around the course by Dave Collins and Jayne Taylor and commented it was ‘a bit hilly’ – especially noting we would be tackling the biggest climb three times.

After a good warm up the Harriers joined the field of around 120 at the start line.  News that the Landlord of the Barons Rest had started to provide deodorant in the toilets (subtle) raised a few laughs & we were good to go. Quick handshakes and “good lucks” all round done and the hooter went to signal the start of the race.

It was a great course but challenging. The conditions meant the ground remained solid, alleviating fears of slipping on the undulating trails held by the under-prepared amongst the field (well Gary Fitzpatrick who only had road shoes).  A shopping trip is in order!

Working their way through the park on paths and woodland trail, runners were treated to a good crowd enjoying the sun and cheering them on. 

All Harriers finished this tough race with a strong push up the final hill achieving good times. Gary  Fitzpatrick crossed the line in 27:33, quickly followed by Mike Harris on 28:22 (taking a healthy 38 seconds off his time at the May fixture). Dave Collins was next in at 28:31 a 10 second improvement on his May time followed by Jayne Taylor on 29:23 whose 36 seconds improvement on her May performance ensured she won her category again. Colin McEvoy finished in 30:41 just ahead of Gary Wane in 31:04. Completing a successful nights activities for the Harriers was Peter Mills finishing in a very good 33:20.

After the race Gary Fitzpatrick had a good debate with Mike Harris on what constitutes ‘hilly’, it is fair to say that given his recent exploits Mike won that one!

After a warm down lap a few retreated to the Barons Rest for a debrief & rehydration session of lager and Guinness.  Presentations followed and it was nice to see Jayne Taylor yet again collecting a prize.

It was nice to see that this race attracted representation from a number of North West clubs beyond the local area. The next race is Wednesday 3rd July and it would be great to see another strong Harriers representation there.

Gary Fitzpatrick

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