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!
On the 12th of January our female Athlete of the Year was carrying on where she left off by shaving another 20 seconds off her 10k PB. Shona Taylor took to the streets of Garstang to record a 47:50. Shona was 215th overall and a highly impressive 6th in her age group.
After the club outing to Barrow for the Mid Lancs fixture, the next race to be graced by a Harriers entrant was the Ashurst Beacon race on Saturday 18th. Dave Collins and Jayne Taylor represented the club in this trial by mud with a testing hill climb thrown in. Jayne described the conditions underfoot as ranging from cross country style mud to unforgiving broken rock. Dave recorded a respectable 30th place overall in 46:37. Jayne was closing him down in 48:31 for 44th place and first in her age category. Jayne took home a quality long sleeved top for her efforts which apparently fits Dave very well. Dave also enjoyed the cakes Jayne won in the raffle…
At the same time “Crazy Horse” Chris Burgess was trying to satisfy his cross country addiction with another dose of mud and glory at the South East Lancs fixture at Leigh Sports Village. Chris reaped the benefit of his recent run of solid training with a 39:25 for 31st place overall from 133 runners.
Sunday 19th saw Chris Smullen, Howard Avery and Neil Prescott taking on the Inskip Half Marathon in Preston. Chris is well into his preparation for this years London Marathon and if his performance at Inskip is any measure he is looking good to reach his marathon targets this year. Chris took over a minute off his 13.2 mile PB to come home in 1:20:33 and a fantastic top 20 finish. Neil Prescott was a few minutes down on his PB with a 1:25:36 but still recorded a very respectable 60th place in this early season tester. Hot on his heels was Howard who also notched a huge PB with a 1:26:2
On the same day Chris Lever took on the hellish hills of Helsby for the 4 Villages Half Marathon. This highly popular event takes in a series of testing climbs and is anything but a PB course. Chris recorded a highly respectable 1:36:23 which is not too far away from his PB of 1:27:58 taking account of the gradients.
The mud bath that was Knowsley Safari Park was the next stop on our Cross Country season on the 25th. There was a fabulous turn out from the club to contest the North of England Championships. A full report to follow.
Strutting their stuff in sunnier climes were Paul Mason and Joanne Fairhurst who jetted off to Gran Canaria for the Las Palmas Half Marathon on Sunday 26th. Paul is claiming a strain of Black Death, (or “bit of a cold”), hampered his efforts though still came home in a not too shabby 1:43:05 in hot a humid conditions. Whilst we may have some sympathy for the health issues its is difficult to summon up much concern at having to endure warm and sunny cnditions on race day! Joanne kept up her unbroken run of PB by knocking 7 minutes off her previous run at Lake Vrnwy. Joanne has also tried to elicit some sympathy at the trials of having to run with a dodgy hydration pack to combat the hot and humid conditions. From rain lashed Blighty we cant see that it has affected her too much with a 2:11:15 finish!
We did have a runner contesting the notoriously hilly Helsby Half this month but details are sketchy. If anyone pulls on their Harriers vest and races for the club over the next month please drop Graham a line with race details and results to be included in next months round up.