December and January has seen super numbers of Harriers flinging off the winter layers (most of them) and donning their club vests.
Guys 10 mile
Guys 10 mile road race is a long standing event staged on the quiet country roads around the Lancashire town of Bilsborrow. Unfortunately the weather forecasters were correct and the runners were greeted by 30 mph winds which promised to make fast running very tough.
Injury stopped Mark Rogers leading the Harriers home but running for Wigan were Chris Burgess, Paul Bryers, Dan Atkinson, Dan Gray, Andy Ratcliffe & Mike Harris. People often wonder why Chris is called Crazy Horse, because he’s crazy? We were about to find out!
Heavy rain had turned the start line into a lake, no amount of pondering could fathom a way to avoid starting the race with wet feet, not what you expect on a road race.
The first three miles were all into the savage headwind, it was after the first one we past a horse rider struggling with her steed, obviously spooked by 500 runners charging along in the other direction. We veered around the equine obstacle but within seconds there were shouts as the horse galloped past us showing the athletes a clean pair of heels.
What followed is now legendary, enshrined in Harriers folklore. Chris showed his horse whispering skills by collecting the horse not one but twice. Either that or it was a ruse for a particularly slow run from Chris, not sure?
The course itself is fairly flat and tailor made for PB running however winter often brings difficult conditions and the wind certainly made the first half of the race very tiring, thankfully the wind was on our backs on the run in to the soggy finish.
Blasting round in a magnificent 56.37 was Daniel Gray, an excellent 9th place. Another great performance was Andy Ratcliffe breaking the sixty minute barrier with a brilliant 59.22 although not enough to take an age category prize much to Andy’s frustration (and ours as we waited for him to get it!) Next in for Harriers was Mike Harris, his maiden voyage in a 10 miler, notching up 65.47. Once he put the horse back in the field Chris stormed around the second half of the course in double quick time to finish 46th in 66.03. Finishing things off for the Harriers were two excellent performances from Dan Atkinson & Paul Bryers in 66.27 and 70.41
It was a PB for everyone – how fantastic is that!!
Ribble Valley 10k
Next up for most of the Harriers was a festive treat in Citheroe, the Ribble Valley 10k. Still but very cold conditions lay in store for the runners, the roads were generally ice free apart from a nasty patch right by the turning point.
There was a massive club turnout but such is the size of the event that it was hard to see everyone before the race started especially as it seemed 1,500 were waiting to use the loo!
It’s generally an undulating route through closed country roads, not pancake flat but nothing you could call a hill.
Leading from the start was Tim Pilkington gradually returning to form, week after week of hard sessions starting to take affect. From here was a constant stream of black and red vests cheered on by a great crowd and a good number of Harriers which included three of our coaches.
It was brilliant to see nineteen Harriers on the results. A number of PB’s were broken which was fantastic for such a chilly day. Among them were Mike Harris with 39.20 chipping a few more seconds off and Paul Mason 39.57, breaking the magic 40 minute barrier for the first time. There were PB’s for the ladies, Nina, Karen & Mel were among those who walked away with shiny new PB’s. Well done to all for some great racing!
148th Tim Pilkington 00:37:46
220th Mike Harris 00:39:20 00:39:26
240th Colin McEvoy 00:39:47 00:40:04
248th Paul Mason 00:39:57 00:40:16
300th David Darbyshire 00:40:54 00:41:13
310th Warren Moorfield 00:41:24 00:41:37
327th Andy Eccles 00:41:48 00:42:06
328th Barry Abram 00:41:47 00:42:06
364th Gary Wane 00:42:33 00:42:51
420th Nina Fisher 00:43:48 00:44:07
475th Richard Noone 00:45:07 00:45:26
528th Karen Schofield 00:46:28 00:46:41
701st Tony Foster 00:48:56 00:50:06
889th Lindsay Freeman 00:54:32 00:55:31
890th Robyn Fawcett 00:54:32 00:55:31
966th Pauline Foster 00:56:53 00:58:06
1066th Melanie Wane 01:03:29 01:04:42
Worden Park 10K
With Christmas Day festivities barely digested three Harriers indulged in a Boxing Day 10K at Worden Park in Leyland. It’s the setting for a couple of 10k’s every year in pleasant surroundings on level terrain. Dan Gray, Howard Avery and Peter Gregory were representing Wigan Harriers.
Dan Gray had been back in Wigan for the previous few weeks, working hard doing double sessions most weeks. This clearly paid off as Dan was able to smash out a 35.41 in 11th place. Next in was Howard Avery after a year of excellent training and improvement was keen to notch a time to reflect this, managing this with 36.58 in 18th place. Peter Gregory came home in 56.39. Well done men!
Inskip Half Marathon
This was the last of a three part trilogy of Dec/Jan road races which I was using as a yard stick for the Spring Marathon season. Throughout I had been plagued by a sore hamstring, just enough to be unpleasant when tired so I was slightly apprehensive how the latter stages would go.
Three runners were representing Harriers, Mike Harris your scribe, Colin McEvoy and Emma Souness. Colin and Emma were using the race as part of their London Marathon training.
It was a cold and foggy morning, minus two on the dash so I wasn’t eagerly anticipating the start. Thankfully the fog lifted so the sun was able to warm things up slightly.
Whilst doing a warm up run I found the roads slippy so made the decision to get my trail shoes out of the car. It seemed to work as I had much better grip and confidence through the icy sections.
The course follows country roads around Inskip that are not closed to traffic but very quiet. Part of the route overlaps Guys 10 which was interesting to retrace old steps.
My plan was to run 6.30’s which lasted until I started to lose some speed around the 8 mile mark. The last mile was a killer and a real struggle.
Colin’s plan was to run 6.40’s so with me tiring, unknown to me Colin was gradually catching me. Thankfully for me we were only doing 13.1 miles today. I came home in a new PB of 86.46, a couple of places behind was Colin with 87.09. A good morning’s work done rewarded by a goody bag and a very nice hotpot.
Emma came home in 2:16.54, a shiny new PB, well done!