Twelve months ago we were handing out plaudits to the brave band of Harriers who endured 5 inch deep frozen slush on their circumnavigation of Knowsley Safari Park. The 2013 Northern Cross Country Championships have gone down in folklore with tales of frost-bitten finishers and frozen runners. With a frost free Winter so far we were looking forward to more benign running conditions at this years event. A bit of rain was forecast for ther afternoon but this wasnt expected to trouble the hardened veterans of the 2013 campaign. How wrong were! Continue reading
The Endurance Wing is scheduled to hold the next bi-monthly meeting this Monday, (03.02.14) at the Red Robin pub from 6.30pm. All members are welcome to come along and contribute to what is a very informal get together.
Subjcts for discussion usually include performance of the month, forthcoming events, preparation for the Amberswood Wigan 10k and training matters. Anyone who cant make the meeting but has an issue or an idea can drop Dave Collins an email and we can make sure it is included on the agenda.
Food is available from the bar and children are welcome if babysitting is a problem.
January started in fine style with an incredible double marathon effort from our Ultra distance specialist Katherine Brougham. There have been more than few outstanding athletes who have worn the red and black vest over the years but Katherine is an elite runner in a league of her own when it comes to extreme distances. After placing first lady in the Lakeland 50 mountain ultra last year she spent New Years Eve running a 3:06:26 marathon finishing first lady in the Liverpool Marathon Double, (Day1). On New Years Day when the most committed runners were basking in the smugness that comes with trotting out for a steady 10 miler, Katherine was winning her second marathon in as many days in a stunning 3:21:30 Well done Katherine and thanks for setting such a hard act to follow so early in the year! Continue reading
Friday 10th January saw the Wigan Harriers Christmas Party and Annual Awards Ceremony at Pemberton Labour Club. Club Chairman John Dobbs presented the awards in various categories across all disciplines of Track and Field. The future of the club looks to be assured if the quality of talent in the junior ranks is anything to go by. Some outstanding young athletes received recognition from the club for performances that have won honours for the club on the national stage.
For the Endurance Wing there were 4 awards on offer. Each year we aim to recognise outstanding performances in distances up to Half Marathon, distances above Half Marathon as well as identifying our male and female athletes of the year. However, the first endurance runner to be recognised on the night was Chris Burgess who collected a nomination for his exploits over 3k on the track last year.
The award for best performance ‘Under Half Marathon’ went to Gary Fitzpatrick. This was a hard fought category with some outstanding personal efforts from our runners this year. Gary took the trophy for his PB performance of 35:26 on his way to 10th place at the inaugural Wigan 10k.
The “Over Half Marathon” award took account of some sterling Marathon performances this year, but also included Ultra Marathon events over and above the classic 26.2. The outstanding performance of the year was decided to be Dave Waddingtons’ run over the 50 mountainous miles of the Lakeland 50 course. Dave came 61st from 480 finishers overall in a field that attracts the elite of British ultra running. His time of 11h 25:30 in particularly difficult conditions that saw the highest drop out rate the event has yet experienced.
The Athlete of the Year awards recognise the runners who have consistently applied themselves throughout the year, demonstrating effort and commitment to themselves and the club in both training and racing.
The Female Athlete of the Year went to Shona Taylor. Shona has had a sparkling year of improving performances as the PBs tumbled, but she has also been prepared to take on new and challenging events such as the quad crunching Wray Caton fell race and the Roddlesworth Roller and Doller. She has also answered the call for runners to represent the club at various team events from cross country to Harrock Hill.
Shona also supplies us with lively and entertaining race reports from many of her events which are a highlight of the blog site during the year.
Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Gary Wane. This is a chap who first joined our club and waxed poetical about the joys of running without a watch, unconcerned with times or PBs and extolled the virtues of running without a thought to competition or personal achievement. Older heads nodded in agreement whilst muttering to each other that we would “soon knock that nonsense out of him”. True enough, Gary is now well known for his raw meat munching, wild eyed, fully committed lung bursting racing style which has brought him a string of PB from 10k to the marathon and beyond this year.
Gary is one of our most consistently competitive runners taking part in cross country and all of the summer series races. He also found time to take lumps off hi 10k time, destroy his Marathon PB in Blackpool and complete 2Ultra Marathons at the Lakeland 50 and the White Rose Ultra. He must have had a little energy to spare after these exploits as he has also managed to start a family with wife Mel this year too.
Congratulations to all our worthy winners!
Stuck out on its own on the edge of Cumbria and poking out precariously into the Duddon Estuary and the Irish Sea, Barrow has always been the home of the hardy and the strong of heart. That’s perhaps why the numbers of runners travelling from the Mid Lancs clubs drops off dramatically each time we head up the M6 to visit this far flung outpost of the cross country league.
Harriers men found themselves just one runner short of fielding two complete senior Teams until undue pressure was placed on Dean Atherton to strap on his spikes and accompany the rest of the squad on a day trip to Cumbria. It may have been more sporting of us to let him know he was needed before he had run himself into the ground completing the Thursday session whilst the rest of us had an easy night ahead of racing on Saturday! Continue reading
December started for me with mud, sweat and swears at Rossendale, the last of the Red Rose cross country series, and ended with the rather more civilized surroundings of Avenham park where I knocked 15 seconds off my 5k pb despite the excessive driving and eating over Christmas. More excesses to follow at New Year – you’ll have another piece of cake / glass of whiskey? Oh no I won’t; oh yes you will! (Went to the panto too – it’ll wear off in a bit I hope.)
I’m rather enjoying parkruns with Pennington Flash at Leigh – a beautiful nature reserve and lake in reclaimed mining land – and Avenham park, Preston, on the river behind the station – a Victorian park being gradually restored to its former splendour that I would never otherwise have discovered. It has a hill which you (or at least I) have to gasp up three times so it’s not a flyer so any improvement was good to me.
Rossendale was anything but civilised. It was raining, or possibly sleeting it felt that cold, steadily and had been for some days so the ground was quite damp. You start off round a rugby field and then head up a ~ 30 foot near vertical mud bank then it eases off a bit as you slog up to the top. Nice knee deep mud section on the second lap to sap what little leg strength you’ve got left (so glad I’m not a bloke who has to do this twice as many times). Round and down with a right angled turn after a short, steep drop where I expected to roll each time but managed not to. Then down to the real highlight of the course – for the spectators that is. Down the ~ 30 foot near vertical mud slide. Option a) edge hesitantly down sideways hoping not to slip – most do – or b) run screaming, eyeballs out, arms flailing, legs getting faster and faster till they’re totally out of control by the bottom where you risk going face first into the dirt. Twice I caught Nina (going for option a)) by using option b); twice she got away from me on the flat with her superior power and stamina. We walked into the showers (warm, oh joy!) fully clad (couldn’t get any wetter) in order to find feet and shoe laces and so on as the mud, partially, washed away. Ah heaven! My other half can’t understand the lure of cross country. Can’t think why.
The rest of the world may have been busy with festive excess but at least a few of our members remained focussed on racing during December.
New recruit Howard Avery has been busy with a good run at the Malaga marathon in 3hr 33:42 on December 6th, before swapping sunny Spain for Leyland on Boxing Day. Howard forsook the turkey leftovers to take 3 minutes off his 10k PB for a fabulous 40:15 finish.
The club had a good showing at the Ribble Valley 10k on the 29th with 6 Harriers competing. Mike Harris, Martin Andrews, Barry Abram, Pete Mills, Dave Darbyshire and Steve Whyman took on the challenge where Mike Harris broke the magic 40 minute barrier for the second time with an impressive 39:28, (a new PB Mike?). Martin Andrews indicated he in on the comeback trail with a 40:53, closely followed by Barry in 41:14. Pete Mills seems to have recovered from his Abingdon marathon debut with a solid 44:32.
New members David Darbyshire and Steve Whyman both had impressive runs with Dave destroying his PB to dip under the 50 minute mark in 49:27. Steve Whyman rounded things off with 53:28
Pauline Foster headed for international glory in New York where she very nearly broke the hour barrier for 10k.
There were one or two other members flying the flag for Harriers during December – results to follow as soon as we have them!
Harriers are currently putting together teams for the Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships to be held at Knowsley safari Park on January 25th. This is a blue ribband event in the cross country calendar and attracts a huge entry of clubs from all over the north of England: not one to be missed!
We very nearly have enough runners committed to make up 2 full Senior Men teams, and just need one or two more to make sure the Ladies score points too. Gary Wane or Andy Eccles will collect your entry fee at any of the session this week, but we must submit our final team line up by 10th January.
Over 3000 people attended last years event despite some challenging conditions so be prepared for a great atmosphere! This is an ideal event for friends and family to spectate, with plenty to occupy them around the safari park before, or even during the races!
Memories of last years event here: Knowsley 2013 Report