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.
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.
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.
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.