A successful 2013/14 season saw Jack Dee take joint first place in the U11 Boys, Men’s A Team and Ladies Teams promoted to the First Division and the Men’s B Team promoted to Third Division. It was with much excitement that everyone awaited the start of the new season.
Some of the Harriers finest talent was drawn away by the lure of running Marathons and doing DIY but I’m pleased to say that the strength in depth meant we still fielded strong teams with a total of 37 runners representing the club. With so much representation I apologise in advance if there are any inaccuracies!
First up were the Under 11 Girls where we had a massive 6 runners. Storming to 9th place in 9.05 was Maisie Burns. There was then a steady stream of future Wigan stars – Emily Edwards (23rd, 9.47); Alice Singleton (34th, 10.05); Amelie Bartholomew (37th, 10.08); Louisa Stewart (45th, 10.20); Isabelle Aldred (56th, 10.56). Fantastic performances by all.
Showing his Dad how to do it was Lewis Bryers in the Under 11 Boys. Thankfully unlike his father Paul, Lewis had resisted the temptation to dive off wheelie bins and stayed injury free, running home in an excellent 29th, 9.04.
Next up was the U13 girls where we had a fantastic five runners which gave us a great 6th place team result. Charlotte Edwards led the charge with 9th in 10.48, Lara Wilson made 33rd in 12.07, and the black and red vests just kept coming! Robyn Burns was 39th in 12.53, Sauna Marrow and Annabel Stewart in 45th and 48th places with 13.41 and 13.54 respectively. Another Harriers group that parents, friends and coaches could be proud of.
The next representation for Wigan was in the U15 Boys. Leading the challenge was Tim Hartley who finished just seconds away from the top three in an excellent 4th place in 14.27. There was also further representation from Bryers household, this time it was Sam Bryers finishing in 37th place with 18.32, well done Sam.
It was now time for the old folk! Senior men and women – the ladies first. Shorn of regular first finisher Jayne Taylor, the ladies were able to welcome back a number of familiar faces back to the team.
The ladies were now battling in Division 1 after their exploits of last season. Looking very determined was Julie “Ultra” Platt, the race distance a little on the short side. Julie lead the team home in 27.38. Next was Jacqui Jones with a sprightly 28.21 swiftly followed by our triathlete Nina Fisher in 28.58. Like in most of the other races that afternoon, one team was not enough, we had plenty more! Cat D’ascendis was delighted to finally dirty her spikes properly however they were not enough to prevent a full swan dive. Unfortunately this delightful manoeuvre was not captured on film. Cat followed up her Leigh debut with 29.40 – a delightful warm-up for the following day’s Trail Marathon! Our chief baker Tracey came in next with 30.42 – delightful muffins again Tracey! Anne Marie Craven failed the first test of cross country – get the right race number pinned on but thankfully passed the second one successfully with 33.50. With two teams scoring there were still yet more Harriers! Pauline Foster ran an excellent 35.53 and Mel Wane racing herself back to fitness ran a great 42.26. That left the Harriers double act of Pat Cole and Pauline Taylor finishing together in 45.53, more on those guys later.
The ladies teams managed 12th and 27th, an excellent start to the season. Over 35’s team a fantastic fifth and the Over 45’s a great 8th.
After a quick photo call it was time for the men’s race at 2pm. It’s always a privilege to run the course after everyone else has churned it up. It was debatable whether the course was harder/same as/easier than previous years but it was certainly what you would class as a true cross country course after the fairly firm and dry conditions of Leigh.
The men’s team were also shorn of some cross country regulars – Dave, Chris and Colin opting for the firmer going of the Snowdonia Marathon. Trying to compensate was Tim Pilkington making his racing comeback and Chris Smullen doing his first cross country since the mud and storms of Knowsley Northern XC Champs.
The conditions were certainly tough enough to cause plenty of runners to take a tumble and enjoy a mud bath. Unfortunately at the start of the men’s race we ran past Pauline Taylor limping to the finish. Such was Pauline’s dedication to the cause she had just got back from holiday, unknown to us at the time she was hobbling to the line with a broken ankle. Hope you recover well Pauline, best wishes from all of your club mates. Well done to Pat for sticking with you.
With the pressure of first division status, the men kicked off with a creditable 5th place and three points keeping us out of the relegation zone.
After his strenuous welly boot warm up Andy Kaufman came home as customary first man even though he managed to roll around in the mud en route to 37.22. 2nd man was Mark Rogers in great form with 38.44 swiftly followed by Gary Fitzpatrick in 39.10. Counting for the first time as a Vet was Chris Smullen who proved his new elderly status hadn’t slowed his legs with 41.24. Running home in 5th place for the men and 3rd for the Vets was Mike Harris in 43.00, who was scared to loom over his shoulder in case Dave Waddington repeated his trick from Leigh and stormed past. Taking the final place for the A team and Vets was Waddy with 43.45.
Such was the strength in depth of last year we managed to get the Men’s B team promoted to Division Three which meant this year it was even more important we fielded two teams at every fixture. Hyndburn was great start to the year with a baker’s dozen, lucky 13!
Leading the B team home to 25th was Gary Wane in 46.16, pumping his legs like pistons all the way to the finish line. Just one and a half minutes separated the whole B team, a fantastic effort by all. Next home was Andy Eccles in 46.29 who usually treats the bushes and trees of Hyndburn with great disdain hurtling through them in the most direct but improbable manner. After a long layoff from running Tim found the course a real stamina sapper, perhaps even harder to take considering his storming performance last season but a great start to his comeback with 46.56. Next in was Daniel Atkinson who earlier in the week was assured that running without spikes wouldn’t be a problem. Once Dan was safely in the car en route to proceedings his fellow Harriers kindly offered their thoughts on the thick treacherous mud. Thankfully Dan managed to make his way round in one piece in 4th place on his Harriers XC debut in 47.32. Not put off after his debut at Leigh was Stuart Towns in 5th place just three seconds down on Dan in 47.35. Running home in 6th place for the B team was our Marathon man Barry Abram in 47.48. The men were not finished though, there was more! Really important that we had extra runners as the ladies race had proved that XC racing is not always straight forward. Michael Dutton raced home in 1.01.10 to make sure he didn’t miss out on one of the marvellous muffins on offer.
In the Mens Vets over 40 we managed teams in a brilliant 3rd and 18th. Only two points off second!
Another great day out for Wigan Harriers. Next Cross Country is at Chorley – Astley Park in the Red Rose league. A great course and venue close to Wigan.