Blackpool Mid Lancs Cross Country

Episode V The Master returns….

The Mid Lancs Cross Country bandwagon rolled into the party town of Blackpool on a day to love, Valentine’s Day writes Mike Harris.

Lawsons Ground overlooked by the Blackpool Tower close to Stanley Park and the Zoo was the scene for the latest races. An open flat grassy field it was a benign venue which promised to make for fast racing.

A variety of reasons had robbed Harriers of some of their top runners but we were still out in force.

Maisie Burns was the first Harrier of the day through the finish line in the Under 11 Girls race in 12th place in 8.49, a great performance, well done!

Next race up was the Under 11 Boys featuring our first representative of the day from the Bryers family – Lewis. We arrived just in time to see Lewis storm home in 23rd place in 8.56. A brilliant start to the day for the Bryers family.


We then had two young ladies in the Under 13 Girls. Coming in close together in 22nd and 26th were Sarah Elsden 11.04 and Lara Wilson 11.33. Excellent stuff ladies! Big sister Sophie Elsden was our sole representative in the U15 Girls with a smashing 10th place in 12.49.

Sarah Elsden

Sarah Elsden

It was now the turn of the Seniors and first up was the ladies. Sitting in 5th place in Division 1 just above the drop zone it was vital they pulled off a good result. It was great to see Jayne Taylor back after her autumnal marathon heroics and a super boost to the team. Jayne was joined in great numbers by her fellow Harrier ladies.



Jayne showed she was getting back to her pacy self with a spirited 13th place in 25.10. Fresh from London Marathon training Nina Fisher managed an excellent 26th place in 26.50. Next up was a super strong showing from another one of our coaches Jacqui Jones although due a knee op Jacqui bounded home in 33rd place in 27.33. There are rumours that Waddy even cheered her on! This meant a brilliant 5th place finish for the ladies team.

Top supporter!

Top supporter!

But wait such is the strength of the ladies in the club we had another four runners competing for Harriers – fantastic stuff. Sarah Morton, Shona Taylor, Pauline Foster and Mel Wane all turned in great performances and we registered a result for the B team in 21st place.

The final race of the day was the Senior Mens. Usually the earlier races have chewed the course up but to our surprise we were met with good conditions underfoot. Dave Collins confessed in the warm up it was his first race for three months, what a slacker!!
I refused to believe this would prove to be a reason for the “old master” to slow up and so I was proved right. I had suffered a horrible cold during the week before and had skipped 4 days of training so personally the thought of blowing hard for 40 minutes wasn’t appealing. It was such an open course that there was just no where to hide! No opportunities to ease off, just open fast running. Having head coach Dave Waddington watching also meant there was extra pressure, one line from Dave can clearly let you know how you are doing! Darren Jackson is not fond of Cross Country but it was good to see him bolstering the Mens Vets section. A special mention to David Banks running his first Cross Country for Harriers.

Fresh from becoming a Dad for the third time and a super Christmas 10k performance was Dan Gray in a great 32nd place in 36.48. Next home after a training layoff was Gary Fitzpatrick in 49th with 38.33, well done Gary for competing so strongly after time out.

DC is back

DC is back

Now after these two speedsters there was quite an interesting battle. On lap one we had a procession of Harriers all together for a short period. Pilkington, Jackson, Collins & Harris all locked together. It gradually started to shake itself out. Tim moving ahead followed by Darren, with Dave and I in our usual close proximity. There was more drama & overtaking to come though as slowly, Dave & I caught Darren and passed him, setting our sights on “young” Tim. The field was very stretched out now and it wasn’t until lap 4 that Dave (80th 40.48) broke free to claim 4th place, picking off another couple of runners. As for me I was struggling but determined to keep my place which I just managed (Mike 83rd 41.03). Paul Bryers (99th 42.01) showed just how well his current training regime is going, he went past Darren to claim 5th spot, Darren stuck it out to bring the points home for the team (120th 43.16). Overall the Men’s team were 9th.

A number of times we have been blighted by athletes pulling up with injuries so it’s always good to have an extra runner, thankfully no injuries today. The whole team were there to cheer home David Banks in 168th place in 48.22. Well done David!

So where did these performances leave the teams?

Well the efforts from the ladies were enough to earn them a super 3rd position in their league and 5 points. This is enough to consolidate their 5th place overall. They need a solid result in Lancaster to guarantee Division one status next year.

As for the Men their fifth place finish on the day in their league meant they slipped into one of the two relegation spots. Division one was always going to be hard for us against some bigger clubs, we have more chance to pull something special out! After working so hard last season to qualify a B team, it would be great if we could get 12 men out in Lancaster to secure third division status for the B team.

The Men’s Vets are still in the hunt for a medal. There is now a really tight tussle between Horwich, ourselves and Southport for the top two spots. Fast old men – we need you!!

We go again on 7th March so let’s have a super turn out to complete the season in style in Lancaster.

Standish Hall Trail Race

Although I claim to really like this race, I’ve actually only run it a few times over the years, writes Dave Collins. A few niggles in the week looked like ruling it out again, then a well-timed bit of physio intervened to give me a sniff of the start line. A text from Jacqui at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning, informing us that her and Dave were on their way to Kentmere, removed yet another escape route. The drama really began 15 minutes before we were due to leave the house as Jayne bent down to pick up her jacket and promptly put her back out. That would have been a perfect excuse for most of us not to run, but in a flash she had the foam roller and ice-pack out in a desperate attempt at recovery. The fact that she could hardly sit in comfort in the car still didn’t deter her and it was only a light jog to registration which finally convinced her that running might not be that good an idea. Actually, I think she was swayed by the lakes of standing water on the adjoining roads – what on Earth was the course going to be like?

At registration, April and Tony Morgan appeared, with April revealing her dislike of off-road muddy races, and Tony combating this with the “it’s good strength training” card. Next to turn up were Kelly-Anne and Stuart; Kelly-Anne a lover of mud and slutch, and Stuart anxiously asking if base-layers were permitted. The real jewel in the crown though, was the return to racing of “Come on Kevin” Edwards. If you could pick a race which Kev would hate, then this was it; but that’s Kev for you. An announcement from race organiser Paul Carroll that conditions were as bad as he could remember prepared us all for a tough race. The muddier the better for me, I thought, to slow down the fast boys.

My usual racing partner Mike Harris hadn’t managed to make the start line because of an ill-timed cold and so I was feeling a little bit lost as we lined up for the “1, 2, 3 go”. With such a large field (record 239 entries), there was no chance of dodging the puddles on the opening flat stretch, but at least there was no mud – yet! After about half a mile, you turn to run up the legendary “concrete hill”. It now has a good tarmac surface and so is nowhere near as much fun as when we trained on it with Phoenix! It was on this stretch that I realised that Tony Morgan looked like filling the Mike Harris void. I was only really expecting to see Tony’s back some way in front of me, but an unbelievably hard week of racing and training must have reigned him in, as we ran up the hill together. We reached the top and Tony drew breath to comfort me with “Well that’s one down”. The top section didn’t disappoint, with lots of pools of water and plenty of mud, and even the downhill was wetter than I’ve seen it.

Dave & Tony after the first climb

Dave & Tony after the first climb

I’d passed Tony towards the top of the hill and held him off through the mud, but suspected that he’d come roaring past me on the fast flat bit, which he promptly did. We negotiated a Range Rover which had considerately parked in the middle of the track, and then headed off towards the woods. This part of the race was horrendous under foot. It was impossible to pick a line, and I had one slip which could so easily have ended in a head to toer. Somewhere in making our way to THE FIELD, I must have passed Tony again, but I was concentrating so much that I can’t think where. The field is iconic to the race. It used to be quite open so you could attempt to avoid THE PATH and run along THE FIELD. However, it is now a fenced in section which compels you to run in a channel about one and a half bodies wide. If you like to take a risk you can pass someone along here, but it relies on their goodwill in letting you pass!

Stu minus base layer

Stu minus base layer

Kelly-Anne with base layer

Kelly-Anne with base layer

The path eventually becomes paved before you run through the biggest group of spectators on the course to negotiate the top loop in the reverse direction. It’s then a case of déjà-vu and gritted teeth as you take on the woods and field for a second time. One bonus of being a local race was that there were loads of people on the course who I knew. Apart from all the encouraging shouts (“Looking good”?!), it took my mind off the race trying to spot who was shouting. Nina – didn’t see you until the end, but I did wave at a camera half way round.

Super Kevin Edwards with baselayer & buff!!

Super Kevin Edwards with baselayer & buff!!

I managed to pass 1st lady Kirsty Longley just before the field, slogged my way up that and then headed for home. Having left your legs in the mud, you have to dredge energy from somewhere to make the most of the relatively good surface to the finish. Conscious of Mr. Morgan’s pace, and suspecting that he couldn’t be far behind me (I didn’t look) I just put my head down and chased the group in front of me. I managed to reel a few of them in, and more surprisingly didn’t let them back.

Time is pretty meaningless on this course because of the different conditions year on year, so it’s more about where you are with respect to other runners. I was happy enough with my run (43.10 and 17th) and Tony (43.26 and 21st) must have been pleased with his after a heavy running week. Run of the day for me was by Stuart Towns who again showed his strength in tough conditions by coming in just over a minute and a half behind Tony (45.01) in 33rd position. It was also a great comeback by Super Kev who battled to the end to finish 54th in 47.53. Although having entered as “Unattached”, recent recruit Danny Parkinson showed plenty of promise in a 49.03 time for 71st position; this with a heavily strapped up calf.
The two ladies showed what battlers they are as they fought right to the finish line. Kelly-Anne defied an Achilles problem to finish in 51.26, 99th overall and 15th lady. April had a sprint finish with the experienced off-road specialist Kath Hoyer of Wesham, finishing in 53.04, 116th overall and 15th lady. Some training run April!!!

I’m not sure if people were just cold, wet and tired, or modest about their achievements, but they gave me and Jayne some Harriers glory by not attending the prize giving. After I got my 2nd place V50 voucher, there was a V35 prize for Kelly-Anne and a V45 for April, which Jayne was delighted to receive – she will pass them on; honestly. There then followed the crowning glory as the men received 12 cans of Carlsberg for being first team. Kev doesn’t drink and Tony doesn’t do Carlsberg, so that’s me and Stu sorted.

It’s not every race that you feel satisfied with, but if you ever want bringing down to earth, talk to a fellow runner. Having been pleased to have beaten Kirsty Longley, she told me (in the nicest possible way) that she was just racing herself back to fitness after having a baby! Then back in work on Monday, Mark Glynn asked me “How did you manage to beat Tony?” What are you saying, Mark? I can’t say I don’t deserve it though, Graham Millington.

Great race, superbly organised by Paul Carroll and well marshalled by our friends from Wigan Phoenix. Thanks to those who ran and even more to those who turned up to shout us on in the cold.


Training week commencing 23rd February

Tuesday 18.30 Hill Session

Please note that Tuesday 24th Feb. Latics are playing a home game so we will move to Coppull Lane for the hill session.

We meet at The Swinley Club WN1 2LQ

There is some parking around the club and restrictions are lifted along Wigan Lane near the Infirmary and around the Monument area, but please check before you leave your car. We’ve also been offered additional parking off Lord St.,-2.628667,3a,75y,89.94h,62.09t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sJduWdI19wA3vKJa6j4K7Rg!2e0

This is behind the Sports Office WN1 2BN Lord St is a one way St. If you rotate the map, you will see a tunnel through the buildings before the shop. There is room for approx 10-12 cars. If you park up and walk up to the end of the Street, you will see The Swinley on the other side of the main road.

This is a really good hill session that everyone can get their teeth into. The efforts are only 35 seconds each. This is a great preparation for when we move the Tuesday sessions into Haigh Hall next month.

If you are late, wait near the Swinley as we will have gone for a warm up to the Cherry Gardens and back. If you know where that is, run towards us.

Thursday DW Stadium 19.00 as normal

See you in the week


Standish Hall Trail Race

2.30 pm Saturday 21st February

If you fancy a fix of racing this coming weekend then there are a few Wigan Harriers planning to enter the very local Standish Hall Trail Race. More recently the race has often clashed with Cross Country fixtures but this weekend spikes can be swapped for trail shoes.

The race is headquartered at the Britannia Hotel Almond Brook Standish, which is where registration takes place. The race itself starts and finishes 5 minutes walk away just off Arbour Lane.

The course is approximately 10k with two loops of Elnup Woods to savour. Underfoot it’s a mixture of firm farm tracks, muddy woodland and muddy field paths but don’t worry there is plenty of firmer stuff to aid your speed. It’s not mountainous but there is about 130 metres of climb, enough to get you blowing a little harder.

Cost is £7 but the organiser’s website was a little out of date so don’t blame me if it’s changed!

A good local race and recommended, just make sure if you enter you run extra fast – Wigan Harriers!!

Click to access 150221standish.pdf

Cross Country News

For those attending the final two Cross Country fixtures please note the following issued by the Mid Lancs League:


Lawson’s Fields has on-site parking in the form of a surfaced track that could take hundreds of cars. For safety reasons the manned barrier will only be open for entry before the races start. Once parked inside, drivers will be able to leave when they wish. Do drive carefully and obey the 5mph speed limit. Entry times are:
from 9:30am to 11:45am.

Later arrivals will be able to find parking kerb-side on Lawson Road or in the estate. Anyone with mobility problems is advised to arrive early enough to park inside.

Leave the M55 at J4 and drive west on the A583 for 2 miles. Turn right (signed to the Zoo) onto the A587. At a mini-roundabout the left fork leads to the Blackpool Sports Centre and toilet facilities and the right fork to Lawson’s Ground (right at the next traffic lights). A nearby postcode for Lawson’s Fields is FY3 8LL.

At both venues toilet facilities are minimal so please make use of the facilities at the leisure centres before you arrive.
Blackpool Sports Centre, FY3 9HQ
Salt Ayre Sports Centre, LA1 5JS


Parking for Ryelands is at Salt Ayre Sports Centre. Leave the parking in front of the Centre for regular customers and drive on beyond the buildings to the normal parking for track & field. There’s a 12 minute walk from here to the start along the cycle path. If you have mobility problems phone 01253 721514 after 1st February for advice on parking.

Leave the M6 at J34 and drive west on the A683. Take the one way system left towards the centre of Lancaster keeping right and then follow signs to Morecambe. Cross the bridge and continue straight ahead towards Morecambe. Turn left at a large roundabout onto the B5273. Pass the Asda entrance and turn next left into the sports centre by the waste tip.

Take the steps up onto the cycle path and head towards Lancaster. When the path reaches the road leave the path and cross the road at the pedestrian crossing into Ryelands Park. Follow the
path left until you see the start area.

Appleby’s Catering Services will be at Blackpool and Lancaster selling hot drinks and food to enhance everyone’s enjoyment of their day out. Don’t forget to bring money
with you.


Wigan Trail 10k 2015 – 28th June

IMG_1435Fancy a portion of pie and peas?  – Are you prepared to run 10k for it?

Well Wigan Harriers  are so keen for you to sample our local signature dish that we will pay for your dinner as long as you book your place for the 2014 Wigan Trail 10k in advance!

We are delighted to confirm that this increasingly popular off-road event, and accompanying 2.5k fun run will return once more, with Sunday 28th of June the all important date for your diaries. Held on the relatively flat, firm and fast paths and bridleways of Amberswood nature park near Springview the event caters to both the competitive runner looking for a speedy time, alongside those simply looking to try the trails in a friendly and supportive event.

With the 2.5k Fun Run taking place half an hour before the main race, this is an ideal event to involve all the family. Our fully licensed race HQ will also provide somewhere for race supporters to wait in comfort, with a small play area to entertain the very young.

Along with the free pie and peas we are also aiming to offer a free race photography service with downloads available within a week of the event.  With all this for less than £8 for non-affiliated runners its no wonder we expect to beat the bumper entry of over 250 runners from last year! To be sure of your race place make sure you enter advance either by downloading our postal entry form here:Trail10k_2015pdf

Or via the on-line booking services at Runners World or at BookitZone

More details of start times, the race route and age group prizes see our dedicated race page


Cumbria Way Ultra

10665916_1694924064065431_1835723928291524202_nCalling All Harriers : Keep your diaries free for Saturday 19th September when we intend to defend our title as Relay Champions at the Cumbria Way Ultra Marathon!

Last year we managed to send an incredible 3 teams of 5 runners a piece to Ulverston to run the 72 miles of this iconic route through the heart of the Lakes to the spectacular finish at Carlisle Castle. Our A Team fought a fierce battle with a strong team from TriKudo who began plotting their revenge even before the 2014 event had finished! We are going to need to be at our best if we are to bring the title back to Wigan for the 2nd year running!

However, its not just about the front runners going for glory. We can send as many teams of 5 as we cam muster and intend to do exactly that. Competitors of all levels can take part in individual legs of 15 to 17 miles of beautiful Cumbrian trails. Team Manager Graham Millington will arrange the running order so that each of our teams are paired up so that no-one runs alone, (apart from Howard when he gets lost again…).

The race itself was a fabulous day out last year, but the numerous trips to Lakeland for recce runs were an adventure in themselves! Don’t miss out!

We don’t need a firm commitment to run just yet but anyone interested let Graham know so we can begin to get an idea of just how many teams we can send this year.
More details of the event here: the Cumbria Way Ultra
Last years write ups here: Cumbria Way Race Reports 2014


Training week commencing 9th February

The sessions are both at DW Stadium this week. New starters feel free to come along and introduce yourself to the coaches.

Tuesday 6.30pm

Thursday 7.00pm


Cross Country this coming Saturday in sunny Blackpool – 14th February.




Harriers Memberships

Hi Everyone,

Just a friendly reminder that membership renewal fees are due – in fact they were due on 1st January!

I try to keep a record of who has paid so that your England Athletics registration fee gets settled when it becomes due. I know that some of you send payment directly to the club, so could you please let me know if you have done this.

I have listed those people below who I am aware of having paid. If you are not on this list, but have paid, please let me know asap so that we can sort any problems out.

Also, if you are not renewing, it would be helpful to let me know. I promise I won’t hassle you, but it is useful to have our records up to date.

If you are not yet a member, but are thinking of joining, then now is as good a time as ever. A year’s membership is only £37 and this get you England Athletics registration, which entitles you to discount off races. EVERYONE is welcome to join and run in the club colours, irrespective of ability. Application forms are on the Endurance Blog. Speak to me or one of the coaches on training nights if you want more information.

Thanks for your continued support

Dave Collins

Simon Baines
David Banks
Jonathan Blackburn
Paul Brierton
Paul Bryers
Chris Burton
David Collins
Annemarie Craven
David Darbyshire
Michael Dutton
Kevin Edwards
Sarah Edwards
Joanne Fairhurst
Robyn Fawcett
Nina Fisher
Gary Fitzpatrick
Tony Foster
Pauline Foster
Lindsay Freeman
Stuart Gibson
Mark Glynn
Christopher Green
Mike Harris
Gareth Holland
Jacqui Jones
Bozhidar Kasabov
Chris Kinsella
Adele Lowe
Paul Mason
Colin McEvoy
Warren Moorfield
Daniel Parkinson
Tim Pilkington
Paul Platt
Neil Prescott
Andy Ratcliffe
Karen Schofield
Stephen Sheldon
Emma Souness
Shona Taylor
Jayne Taylor
Dave Waddington