And so to the final race of the Jubilee series and another strong turn out by the Harriers (writes Dave Collins). I never really liked this race, probably because it’s tough. However, with the Snowdonia marathon looming, tough hilly races had started to feature in the training plan, which explains why I found myself on the start line for the third time this summer. Kev Edwards regularly completes the series of runs, but nearly missed the start of this race after a stressful time on the motorways of Manchester. What a disaster that would have been given the performance that he was about to put in.
There was a good size field of 149 runners, but the start didn’t seem quite as congested as in previous races. As always these days, there were individual battles within the team, hunters and hunted! Andy Kaufman was far too classy for any of his fellow Harriers to trouble him. Despite recovering from illness and an ill-fated ultra, and not being in his best shape, Caveman still pulled on the vest for a jog round in 28.19 and 8th place. Chris Burgess again practiced walking up the hill, but still managed to take an impressive 29 seconds off last month’s time, finishing 28th and getting under the 31 minute barrier (30.55).
Just behind Chris, there was a bit of a ding-dong going on between me, Kev and Mike Harris. Mike had emailed me earlier that day claiming to be “a bit rusty” after his holiday. Kev still had motorway traumas in his head. The scene was obviously then set for them both to beat me, which they duly did! Mike and I had one of our customary Siamese twins runs, while Kev continued to pull away on the downs, then let us claw him back on the hills – “Come on Kev” I hear you cry. Kev eventually came out on top with an excellent 30.59 for 33rd place overall and 4th V45. Mike’s legendary sprint finish (because he doesn’t run hard enough) saw him home in 31.04, 33rd overall (7th V40), while I got the bronze for a supremely impressive 31.07, 34th overall (2nd V50).
What was unfolding behind us had a real comic element to it. Waddy had also decided to put his reputation on the line after a recent illness, and Jayne Taylor very nearly harvested it. Having almost caught him at Harrock, she shadowed him all the way round to finish 2 seconds behind. Dave clocked 31.45, 43rd (3rd V50), and Jayne 31.47, 44th (5th lady, 1st F50). Dave had been highly encouraged by the support that he received from the Wigan Phoenix spectators around the course. Repeated shouts of “Come on Dave” seemed to spur him on. He was particularly impressed by some roadside coaching from Mark Melbourne as he came down the final hill. “Lean forward Dave”, Mark advised, and Waddy took the advice on board, thinking “Fair dos to him”. Jayne was a bit more aware of what was really going on as she implored Waddy to put his foot down and go for it. Safely crossing the line in front of Jayne, our own Dave turned round to see Phoenix’s Dave Walters only a few more seconds behind her! There really are too many Daves in this world.
Our final four runners were spared intra-club battles, and all performed admirably. Steve Bayliss continued his steady improvement by taking over 30 seconds off his previous Horwich time, finishing in 32.35, 49th. A good cross country season should see him take chunks off that time next year! Gary Wane escaped baby pushing duties to also beat his best Horwich time, achieving 34.02 and 62nd. A tremendous result given his interrupted training routine. Jacqui Jones had decided that if she is going to do the Woodstock 12, a bit of practice on a much easier course such as Horwich was required – as someone lined up to also do Woodstock, this was not a comparison I cared to hear! Jacqui shook off the years (don’t take that the wrong way, Jacqui), to finish only a minute down on her best course time, from 2006; 34.41, 75th overall (2nd L50). Karen Schofield had managed to get her new vest just days before the event and was determined to christen it in style. She certainly did that taking nearly 3 minutes off last month’s time to cross the line in a very respectable 40.20 in 122nd position. Great coaching Warren and much more to come from Karen.
The lads’ team managed 5th position against some very strong opposition. It was highly satisfying to put out a ladies team for the first time at Horwich this year and they were placed 2nd behind the host club.
Since this was the last race of the series, there were also series prizes awarded. The only Harriers winner was “Come on” Kevin Edwards who took the V45 award. A tremendous result for someone who always gives his all for the club, and who just gets on and does the job. Graham has already pointed out that Kev doesn’t drink, so if he wants to thank me for these kind words, I’ll gladly make use of his bottle of wine.
Well done to everyone who raced at Horwich this summer and watch this space for Mike Harris’s summer round-up.