Rossendale Red Rose Cross Country

Kevin Edwards gives us his honest feedback on Rossendale Cross Country…

Marl Pits XC was the last fixture of the Red Rose League, after the last 18 months of being plagued with injures and set backs, I was determined this year I would complete a season of cross country races, whatever my level of fitness or injury.

The first 3 had gone without much incidence, yes I had fallen over on them all and turned my ankle, but that’s all part of cross country running, it makes you stronger for the road races in summer.

Well Marl Pits XC has a reputation of being one of the toughest XC courses in the northwest and I was not to be disappointed! Going into the race I knew my injury was far from recovered, but I wasn’t backing out, did a two mile run in the morning to see how it felt and I could put one leg in front of the other so that’s enough for me.

Battling my way through storm Desmond, I made it, always a good start with my navigational skills. Walking to the start I saw Andy Eccles in his car, I had secretly been hoping no one else from Wigan Harriers seniors would turn up to see my exploits, then I saw Tracy, Jane and Shona warming up and Dave Collins.

Me, Dave and Andy made our way back to the changing rooms (yes changing rooms we normally do it alfresco) everybody was joking and smiling in that sort of nervous way that happens before something really bad is coming up.

Warm up done. Off we go two laps round the field in ankle deep mud and water, a bit of water, well it is meant to be a cross country.

Argh first climb near vertical hill covered in mud, don’t walk little steps, keep moving, phew made it, didn’t fall over! Next big obstacle was a muddy decent with no path, a stream at the bottom with a plank over it about 6 inches wide, ok I admit defeat I am walking this one, there is no way mountain rescue are taking me of the course on a stretcher (yes, we had mountain rescue in attendance) ok crack on, next mud covered incline pulling myself up using every available tree within reach, hit the top, swamp, yes the swamp I had heard about the swamp but how hard can it be, very when you ignore the marshal and go left and end up waist deep in mud, pulling yourself out using you hands. We now start the decline back to the start, some were rocky narrow paths, some were slide down on your backside ones, some had ditches at the bottom, but the hardest was a 20 meter mud slide with spectators and cameras at the bottom cheering and waiting for some classic photo opportunities, made it down that one very slowly. Yeh back to the start, two more laps to go.

All this time I was getting passed constantly and getting a little bit dejected, my hamstring wouldn’t let me run and stride properly but come on man up.

Lap two was pretty much the same with me going really slow on inclines and decline, at the swamp I started to get lapped not just by 1 or 2 but it felt like the whole field, I just hoped Dave and Andy didn’t lap me.

Lap three, we are not going to DNF. Now I am right at the back of the field, not many people are passing me now, its just me sludging through the mud with me thanking the marshals, nearly home and a guy runs past me wearing running tights and a big waterproof jacket, the humiliation is complete.

Jane meets me at the finish with my jacket, I smile but inside I am far from happy.

Make my way back the changing rooms where gallows humour is in full flow, Dave and Andy already showered and changed.

Marl Pits is the top of my list for the hardest cross county I have ever run, even tougher than Knowsley in the snow, and you now what, I would do it again (maybe with a injury free hamstring) don’t give up, we will lose the occasional battle but the war continues.



KEVIN 161th out of 175
DAVE 60th
ANDY 94th


Congratulations Kev, great write up and excellent commitment to complete the series. Well done to all the Harriers who competed in the Red Rose series this year.


NEW!! Harriers Online Kit Ordering

We are really pleased to announce that you can now purchase kit from our new range directly online with the manufacturers. Kit can either be collected from their premises on Miry Lane Industrial Estate or can be delivered direct to your home address for a small fee.

Please have a browse as we have new items and the option to personalise your own kit.

To access the online shop visit

The online shop will be open until January 11th initially and items will be delivered approximately three weeks after that date.

We plan to make the shop availale for orders 3 to 4 times a year.

We have samples for people to try on for size only. Please either speak to Many Borthwick or Pauline Foster.

Vests remain available to purchase direct from either Mandy or Pauline.

Andy Eccles Ultra Runner

We will be introducing some of the coaches and senior members of the club over the next weeks. There will be some detail on their running background and a few pointers along the way. First up is a piece from Andy Eccles, one of the Endurance group coaches.

I started running in the early nineties to help my fitness whilst playing football at a distinctly average level.

I ran my first marathon in April 1994 clocking a painful 3.35 in the Canberra marathon, I was hooked. I increased my running and ran my next marathon, the Sydney marathon in August 1994 and improved to 3.08.09. The following year I moved back to sunny Wigan and joined Wigan Phoenix with the ambition to break 3 hours for the marathon. I remember saying to one of the lads that if I ever break 3 hours I will pack in running on the spot and that will do for me. London 1996. 2.58.48 time to pack in.

I enjoyed my running with Phoenix but was not happy with some of the aspects of the training regime. I started to read up on things such as VO2max and LT (Lactate Threshold) and found that once you are reasonably fit VO2max does not increase much even when training really hard. LT put really really simply is the point at which my running intensity causes lactate to accumulate in my blood which will force me to slow. I learned that LT responds really well to fairly intense training from around 5km pace to 10 mile race pace, which is exactly what Dave prescribes on most of the Thursday sessions. The point is, we are all limited by our maximum speed, say the fastest we can run one mile once fully warmed up. If we can move our LT to a higher percentage of our max speed then our cruising speed for races will improve, add a shed load of miles, hill sessions, will power and faster marathons and ultras will follow that was my plan.
All my times gradually improved and as I approached 40 my marathon was down to 2.40, however all my PBs came at 40 and over when I believe my LT was at its highest and I was able to cruise nearest to my max speed (VO2max). This point is proved by the fact that most of the runners around me in the marathons and ultras had 10km PBs much faster than mine.

In my view never back off on your speed work, to run a good marathon you need to be close to your best for 5 and 10km. If your speed sessions start to suffer back off on your mileage until you are able to handle your sessions then slowly increase your miles again. In my view garbage mileage is pointless you trudge round on a Wednesday for a horrible 10/12 miles then cannot do a good session Thursday, better to have done an easy 5 or rested altogether.

Some of my best races as a vet are:

Copenhagen Marathon 2001. 2.39.41. 1st vet 40. 15th overall 1.17.55 half marathon on route.

April 2002 Don Valley 6 hour track race. Won with distance 48.37 miles. June 2002

Dartmoor Discovery ultra 32.5 mile 4th overall 1st vet 3.58.26. March 2003

Madrid International 100km road race 9th place 7hrs 51.34.

June 2003 Lake Vyrnwy marathon 2nd 2.42.29.

July 2003 represented England in the 100km home international Anglo Celtic Plate finishing 4th in 7hrs 43.37.

Andy locked in battle with the lead Scottish runner at the 70k mark, Andy would later pull away at 95k to clinch 4th place behind three English team mates.


Feb 2004 Draycote 35 mile road race 3rd 3.49.18. 1st vet.

April 2004 Speyside 50km trail 2nd 3.24.11 vet 40 record.

May 2004 Marlborough Downs Challenge 33 miles won 4.08.34 course record.

March 2005 Barry 40 mile track race 161 laps 3rd 4.36.13.

PBs: 5km 17.14. 10km 34.11. 10mile 56.09. Half marathon 1.16.02. Marathon 2.39.41. 50km 3.20.

Hope I’ve not waffled on too much.