Just over four years since its formation, Wigan Harriers Endurance Group membership hit the 100 mark for the first time. Numbers have been steadily climbing year on year, but accelerated over the summer months thanks to our informal relationship with the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust running groups – many thanks to all involved. With the 100 mark in sight, and several regular trainers enquiring about joining, it was only a matter of time before the century was passed. But who would be that 100th member?
Robin Chan put in a valiant bid in transferring from Astley and Tyldesley but his change of club application missed the England Athletics deadline. Regular trainer Rachel Naylor looked as though she might claim the prize, but peaked a little early, coming in at number 98. Mark Hillam appeared on the scene and was desperate to sign up in time for the first cross country at Chorley. His keenness cost him the title, as he claimed 99th position.
So after years of training with us, and avoiding signing up, imagine the surprise when everyone’s favourite Irish bus driver Tony Boyle arrived at training with a completed form and payment! This was about the third or fourth time he had taken a form away and promised to join. The drama still wasn’t over though, as he had to be registered with England Athletics. Since Tony was previously attached to Wigan Phoenix, there was a chance that the system would prevent his registration. Input details, hit return and up came the message “New Member Created”. Job done and dusted.
On a serious note, it is quite fitting that Tony should be the person to take the membership numbers over the 100 mark. He started his running career with Wigan Harriers in 1985. However, he had barely been there a couple of years when the road running group split from the club and left to form Wigan Phoenix. Tony hung on in at the Harriers (probably because he’d paid his fees!) and was the last road runner to leave and move across to Phoenix. After years of being “unattached” but still appearing in race results as a Wigan Harrier, he has eventually rejoined the fold. He brings with him a wealth of experience, having run 3 hour marathons in his prime. He still races regularly, can always be seen offering advice and encouragement at training, and is now our oldest active member.
Welcome back Tony.