The 2nd fixture in the Red Rose League took place in the pleasant surroundings of Astley Park in Chorley.
There was a superb number of athletes representing Wigan Harriers across the whole range of age groups. Heavy overnight rain had muddied the course up but the going was still classed as ‘good’ after a pre-race meeting by the stewards aka Men’s Senior Team. So much so that there was debate initially about whether to wear spikes and then what length. As quick as an F1 team our boys changed down from 15’s and 12’s to whatever they could find lurking in the depths of their sportsbags.
First up for Harriers were Under 11 Boys and it was great to see two competitors from Wigan. Scott Thompson registered a fine 9th place with 9.38. Max Lucas came home in 12.06 in 43rd place.
The U13 Girls also saw us enter three athletes, this was tremendous and gave us a team placing of 9th. First home was Rebecca Jones in 33rd place in 11.57 swiftly followed by Olivia Smith in 36th place in 12.02 and Georgia Walsh in 51st place in 12.42. Well done to all three of you.
Henry Lucas’s excellent 10th place in 15.50 in the Boys Under 15 was achieved despite some indecision about which way to go on one part of the course.
The girl’s U15 also an enter of 3 competitors from Harriers, and the girls managed to be 3rd placed team. Alex Rowe led the team home in exactly 18 minutes in a fine 7th place. Emma Wheatley was 13th in 18.46 and bringing in the team was Rachel Sidebotham in 19.28, 17th place. Great stuff!
Next race for Harriers was the Senior and U20 Ladies. The gents jogged round the course trying to see the Ladies in a few different parts of the course. What was startling was the sheer numbers of Ladies running for Harriers, even with the stalwarts of recent years Jacqui and Jayne away there was six runners across the two classes.
First home was Tracey Dutton fresh from her Ultra running exploits in 31st place in 21.46.
Next in was U20 lady Natalie Thompson 38th place in a great 22.16. In search of some mud was Nina Fisher (Harriers uber mudder specialist) finding the course very short but tiring at speed, coming home 45th place in 22.43.
The black and red vests just kept streaming over the line, a wonderful sight!
Next in was Rebecca Morton in a fine 53rd place clocking 23.01 showing that the training sessions were paying off. 67th place was Shona Taylor in 23.54 who showed her liking for tough courses today and throughout the summer at Harrock Hill. Sarah Morton followed on swiftly behind in 24.43 taking 76th place.
It was fantastic to see six ladies crossing the line and taking 11th placed team well done!
The final event was the Senior Men’s race. Even with other commitments we managed to field 7 runners including debutants Colin McEvoy and Gary Fitzpatrick. After the dry conditions at Leigh it was also the debut for some very brightly coloured spikes, the pretty colours were soon to banished by the multiple mud and stream crossings.
After his successful return to racing at the recent Relays and a summer of cutting his neighbour’s grass rather than his usual 8 days a week training (author is Mark’s neighbour), it is with mixed emotions that I announce that Mark has finally cut the swing ticket off his vest and donned it for a second time. My lawn’s loss is the club’s gain as Mark will strengthen Harriers considerably in the Cross Country Season. He can also drive me home when it’s freezing cold and I can’t feel my fingers.
The chaps had 3 big loops to do of the course which provided plenty of opportunity for drama. This meant three crossings of both the mud trench and the stream, judging by the state of some of the finishers not everyone navigated across successfully.
Gary Fitzpatrick had a rare off day and unfortunately pulled up and didn’t finish. Leading the men home was Mark Rogers in a superb 36th place, 41.17 for the 6 miles.
Behind Mark was a battle for 2nd Harrier home. Mike Harris enjoyed his return to Astley Park (home to summer series of Chorley Trail Races) managing to prevail skipping up the final hill like a ‘mountain goat’ according to Chris Burgess who came in just behind. Mike managed 60th place in 43.26 and Chris was 65th in 44.01.
Debutant Colin McEvoy managed an excellent 47.33 in 115th place, swapping his usual vibrams for cross country spikes to great effect.
Leigh didn’t put Dean Atherton off and he was back for more, coming home in 53.53, 169th place. Michael Dutton came in with clean knees, pleased with his run managing 190th place in 1.01.04.
The men managed to take 14th place and the bandwagon moves to Bolton next month.