Standish Hall Trail Race Feb ’16

This was my first outing in a Harriers’ vest (kindly loaned to me by my husband Mark, who had persuaded me to join Harriers in January, and then made a suggestion that I should give the Standish Hall Trail 10K a go!) Every time I’ve been to watch Mark in this race, the sun has been shining and the wind has been barely above a gentle breeze. It was a pleasurable experience and the figure of 8ish loop meant that there are great spectator opportunities. But not today! Today was cold, rainy, windy and just plain miserable! The sort of day where I would happily not move from my couch, watch a box set of some sort and munch through a vat of chocolate, were it not for the fact that this was my planned run for the day, and it was either this or sitting on my backside making the usual excuses for not managing to fit a run into my busy schedule.

Now I’m a plodder (at the moment). I try to take in the surroundings, feel glad that I can get out for a trot and generally enjoy the race experience. Today was different. I was wearing a Harriers’ vest. I was part of a team. I was no longer, “Unattached!” It felt good!

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Standing on the start line alongside: Dave Collins, Jayne Taylor, Mike Clayton, Stuart Towns, Kellyanne Towns, Danielle Brearton and Alan Boyle, I listened intently to the race director’s pre race safety talk, especially taking in the notes about the mud, the tree that’s come down across the path in the woods, moving over if you’re a slow runner – what had I let myself in for? I weaved my way to the back of the field, keen to keep out of the way as much as possible.

At 2:30 we set off along the path with some big puddles, much to the amusement of my 4 year old, who was doing her best Peppa Pig impression. An excitable Red Rose runner decided to jump heavily into every single one of them, doing his best Peppa Pig impression, in a bid to get us all used to the water, because, “You’re going to get wet anyway!” So 0.1 mile in and I’m already soaked and cold but the face is still smiling!

Running along the path to the crossroads, I see Mark and Nancy cheering me on which is a welcome sight. But I know what’s coming next! Mark had dragged me out on Monday to this very place, so I had a bit of an idea about the race. We had bounced down this path on Monday and today, we were going up it on the first lap. I kept an even pace (I think – The Swinley Hill sessions have taught me a thing or two about that!) and soon(ish) reached the top, greeted by a marshal who sent us onto a muddy path with more puddles. At least I could recover a bit here as I weaved in and out of the puddles before starting on the descent to where Mark and Nancy were waiting again. I enjoyed this descent, as I knew that I was going to have to be shuffling back up it again shortly – a thought I did not relish!

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Turning the corner, I could see and hear Mark and Nancy cheering along with a few others who were cheering the vest – that felt good! I could see the runners spread out ahead of me, disappearing off into the woods. I wondered if I was last. I wasn’t bothered if I was. I had already decided that I would enter this race again in October and smash this time, so this was my PB and I was going to enjoy it. There was a lovely path, weaving down into the woods and this was where I saw Jayne and Danielle coming out of the woods, just as I was going in. I felt proud to be part of the team. I felt inspired to train properly.

A thin trail meant that a few of us had bunched up together, just before we turned right into the mud pit. Thanks to the front runners, there had been a bit of a path trodden down, but there were still some unexpected squelches. Another few marshals cheered on the vest, which gave me encouragement to dig in up the muddy hill, over the fallen tree and continue going up and up and up, until we reached a sharp right turn onto the thin path back to the crossroads. This is where I looked down from my elevated position, and noticed the leader was on his way. How do they do it? It looked effortless to him, like he was gliding. I let him pass me and watched him disappear rapidly into the distance, as I slipped and slid all over the place, resembling Bambi on ice, occasionally becoming ankle deep in mud. Great fun!

I squelched up the path, knowing that I’d have to repeat this again, and knowing that the gradual ascent was going to continue, right past Mark and Nancy and right up to the lovely marshal in the red coat. It felt like a long way. I’d also got Monday fresh in my mind, when I turned to Mark and said, “I feel like I’m going backwards!” Still, more cheers and encouragement for me and the vest meant that it was time to dig in and suck it up – after all there’s a great descent coming up! Back up to the top, time to weave in and out of the puddles in the other direction this time and then enjoy some downhill, recovery time. The rain was horizontal, the wind was blowing too and all I could think about was one word – invigorating.

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I bounced down and down (in my head I resembled a gazelle; in reality I resembled Phoebe from Friends!) until I came back to the woods, where lots of runners were coming out as I was going in – most of the Harriers were on the final stretch now. I felt more confident to face the mud head on and squelched through it. I weaved through the gate (“Do the front runners jump over it?”), staggered over the fallen tree, shuffled back up the mud path to the sharp right hand turn back on the single file path. I didn’t even bother trying to find a suitable path this time – I trudged right through it slapping my tired feet through every puddle.

Nearly back at the crossroads, I could hear Mark and Nancy still enthusiastically cheering me on. It must have been grim being a spectator – sorry guys, but your support was invaluable. I turned left back onto the path, heading for home.

It was a welcome sight seeing the rest of the Harriers trotting back out for a cool down, cheering me on for the final few steps. I put in a spurt and gave it everything I’d got. I’d done it and it felt great, even if it did take me 1 hour 7 minutes and 9 seconds.

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It was a great result for the rest of the Harriers: Stuart Towns came 8th in 42:21, Dave Collins came 12th in 43:15, Mike Clayton came 15th in 43:49, Jayne Taylor came 32nd in 46:29, Danielle Brearton came 43rd  in 47:25, Kellyanne Towns came 72nd in 50:18, Alan Boyle came 155th in 1 hour 4 minutes and 52 seconds and then there was me: 161st out of 174.

The race was a great challenge. I hadn’t trained much at all and I went out and enjoyed it. Well done to all of the Harriers today – lots of who won prizes for their achievements. I even came away with a bottle of wine, due to making up the numbers for the Women’s team to be the overall winners. Bonus! I feel truly inspired and part of a great team. To anyone who is reading this and is thinking about joining Wigan Harriers or any running club for that matter, all I can say is, “Do it!” You don’t have to be a great runner. You just have to enjoy running. Thanks for the support fellow Harriers – I think it’s time to buy my own vest!

By Leanne Hillam-Morgan

Parbold Hill Race

This is becoming a must do race for us simply because it has everything, trail, mud, road, hills, fields and woods and its early enough in the year that you never cknow what the conditions are going to be like until you set off.

It’s a popular race with a capacity of 500 that sells out well before. Unfortunately we left it a bit late this year and so when I went to enter us both online whilst Warren was at work there was to my surprise only one place left. Well, what does a girl do in this situation? Yes I booked it for myself and left Warren to chance it on the day because I could justify my decision with the fact that Warren loves me and its a Valentines weekend race, he was making a noble sacrifice, he just didn’t know it at the time. However an injured Paul Fisher came to the rescue and gave his number to Warren after managing to persuade the officials to agree the swap. It was then Harriers vests and race faces on and good to go.

We had both set ourselves targets, Warren just wanted to beat last years’ time of 51:00 and I wanted to crack the 1 hour mark having finished last year in 1: 01:11. The weather was fine, cold but that soon fades when racing, however with all the rain from the last few months conditions under foot were horrendous and so it was always going to be a big ask to hit our targets.

 The start is always congested and there was the usual bottleneck getting out of the start field onto the road. The road is flat and easy to pick up speed for the first 1/2 mile but then you hit the first climb leading up to Harrock Hill. This is where half of those that go flying past on the road start to slow and some even stop to walk especially as the track narrows and it becomes difficult to pass. This is where the experienced hill runners take charge and start to dominate the race.

 Having climbed Harrock Hill, the next section was the decent over pastured fields, though deep thick mud, sapping our energy just before we had to climb Parbold Hill. It was like we were running with divers boots on. I always look down when running up hill and realised I had half a field attached to me were my feet used to be.

Just over the top of Parbold HIll past the many spectators (thanks Andy & Chris) at the MIller & Carter, it’s then a dash across the fields up once again to the Highmoor taking a left through the estate. The solid road at this point bringing welcome relief from the mud, even if, only for a brief few moments. For me the estate also has a demon cattle grid and again this year it also got me. By sheer luck I managed to stay upright by a quick grab of the fence with my right hand, it really did test my reflexes when tired.

From the estate its climbing again through woodland, dodging those tree roots whilst at the same time navigating yet more mud. Then there are a few more wet and muddy fields before a very technical steep decent knee deep in mud. Moving on to a steeple chase field decent flying over fences at record pace. The finish is then more muddy energy sapping fields before hitting the road for about 200 metres and turning back into the school field to finish with a buff, water and mars bar.

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Looking back over last year’s result almost everybody seemed to be down on their times. Warren finished 2 minutes down on last years; however I PB’d by just over a minute but missed out on breaking the hour mark as I finished in 1 hour dead.

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Excellent afternoons racing and the best way I would describe it is to think of the mud of Rossendale Cross Country and add that to Parbold Hill and Harrock Hill and that should give you a good idea of the conditions. I wouldn’t change a thing and now all that’s left for me to do, is go back next year and break that hour mark. For Warren he still has to go for that PB. So Parbold Hill Race, we will be back next year!

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By Karen Schofield

A runner by accident!

The latest in our “Profiles season”, everyone’s favourite…David Collins.

Most of us have been asked by fellow runners “How long have you been running for?”, shortly followed by “Why did you start?” So here, in probably more detail than anyone is interested in, is my inglorious running background.

As a sedentary forty something year old with an ever expanding waistline, I decided to take up cycling. Well actually, I bought a bottomish of the range mountain bike from Halfords and took to riding a few miles once or twice a week. I wasn’t the classic Middle Aged Man in Lycra, as my kit involved some long legged corduroy trousers and a pair of boots – ever the fashion icon. Interest quickly became obsession as I began to do the 16 mile round trip to work most days of the week, as well as taking in longer rides on a weekend. My weight started to come down, my fitness improved and I would have withdrawal symptoms if I couldn’t ride every day. After several spills on dodgy winter roads, I eventually came off on a patch of ice and broke my elbow. Believe it or not, I did try cycling one-handed the next week, much to the frustration of the physio.

So with that bad experience and another winter looming, I needed something to keep me fit when I couldn’t cycle. Cue someone at work suggesting that I run with them one lunchtime. I commandeered a pair of my son’s football trainers and tagged along fully expecting the worst. My previous dabblings with running had always ended in breathlessness, walking, and usually both. Much to my surprise, I coasted the 4 mile run, and actually enjoyed it. As with cycling, I soon became obsessed, but still refused to buy any proper gear, and rarely ran more than 5 or 6 miles at a time. This was back in late 2004 (just turned 43 for anyone who is trying to work that one out), and even once it became safe to cycle again, I kept the running up.

Then, never having done a race in my life, I entered the Liverpool half marathon in the Spring of 2006. I knew even less about training then than I do now, so I did several short runs in the week and then each Sunday ran 13 miles as fast as I could! I wasn’t really used to hurting when running, but that first race did, and I was ecstatic to get under 1.35. Rather than kick on from that race, I just went back to running for fitness. However, I obviously still had some unfulfilled ambitions, as I decided to enter the London marathon ballot. Unbelievably, I managed to get in on that first attempt.

I downloaded an “Intermediate” training plan from Runners World and followed it to the letter. As part of my build up, I had to do a half marathon, and this time selected Blackpool. As a vocal critic of those who run in baselayers and wear earphones, I have to confess that donning a Lance Armstrong cycling shirt, Ron Hill tracksters and having my iPod to listen to was an amalgam of all that I now look down on. Needless to say I overheated – lesson learned.

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Running dressed like that?!

And so to London. I loved every minute of it. High fiving, waving, running with Bertie Bassett, and recording a negative split, I got round in what I considered to be a respectable 3.42.

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A Stella before encountering Barry (Ed’s note – nice vest!)

Having a few well deserved Stellas in the hotel bar, I overheard a conversation involving Wigan, butted in and got talking to that marathon legend Barry Abram. Barry had just run yet another sub 3 hour marathon and I was in awe of how he made it sound so matter of fact, while congratulating me on my effort. I had toyed with the idea of club running, but like most other runners I didn’t feel that I would be good enough. Barry assured me that I would and encouraged me to come down to Wigan Phoenix.

From the first time that I went along to training, I enjoyed it. It’s no coincidence that many of the friends that I now have at the Harriers were the first people to talk to me and help me to settle in. Andy Eccles was particularly welcoming and encouraging, and in those early club running days I never realised what a phenomenal runner he was. We all trained hard, three sessions and a regular  70 miles plus a week – the more I tell the story, the greater the mileage becomes.

My first race as a club runner was the old Haigh Hall 4 miler and I couldn’t believe how hard I ran. I’d never pushed myself to that level before and managed to sustain it. A few months later, I ran my first 10k, at Rufford, and was just behind Tracey Dutton in 40.22. I was now getting ambitious and began to set myself targets; a sub 40 10k and a sub 90 half to start with. I achieved both of these within a few months and re-adjusted my aims. In those days, I never thought too much about training or racing, I just did what I was told and then raced as hard as I could!

Like most people who join a club, I saw consistent improvement over the next few years, and surpassed virtually all of the targets that I had set myself; the exception being that I never managed to break the 80 minute barrier for a half marathon. My most satisfying achievement has to be running under 3 hours for a marathon, which I did in London in 2010. It was shortly after this that the split started to develop at Phoenix, and under the guidance of Dave Waddington and Andy Eccles, I ran what I consider to be my best race; 1:20:12 at the Palma half marathon, which Mike Harris still insists must have been a short course!

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Towards the end of the Palma short half marathon

Trust me that age does catch up with you, and although I have not suffered as bad injuries as some of my contemporaries, I have slowed considerably. I now seek solace in calculating my age graded performance, and setting new age category pbs – V55 this year!

The setting up and development of the Harriers Endurance Group has been extremely rewarding for all of those who were involved from the start. I probably gain more satisfaction now from the performances of our members rather than my own. I particularly remember Pauline Foster breaking the hour mark for 10k after coming so close on several occasions. Team spirit has always been important to me, and the way people have embraced events such as cross country and the relays has been very satisfying.

I have no coaching qualifications whatsoever, but I have listened to a lot of experienced and talented runners, and taken on board a great deal of advice; I’ve also dismissed a lot of it! Unless you are a “natural”, then you will need to train hard and run lots of miles to get decent times. In my opinion, a large part of racing is done in the head. If you let the negative thoughts in (chimp!!!), they will take over and you will lose. If you are hurting, then there is a good chance that everyone around you is too, so try not to show it!

Good luck to all of our members. Set yourselves realistic goals, whether they be distances or times, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourselves – you may be surprised at how good you actually are. Since first reading it, I have always liked Charlie Spedding’s sentiment – accepting that only a few can become the best, you need to “become the best you can”.

Favourite race: Harrock Hill.

Toughest races: Rossendale cross country and Great Langdale marathon.

Worst race conditions: Manchester marathon 2012 – ask Graham Millington.

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Best performance: Palma half marathon 2010 – 1:20:12 – best age graded performance of all my races.

Worst performance: Never had a bad one!

Biggest problem: Memory loss.

Biggest dislike: Inaccurately measured long courses.

Most entertaining race: Snowdonia 2014, thanks to the non-stop chat from Chris Burgess.

Most respected runners: Andy Eccles, Barry Abram and of course Jayne Taylor.

Biggest fear: Being beaten by Jayne!

Favourite statistician: Mike Harris.

PBs: 5k 17:23, 10k 36:25, 5 mile 29:57, 10 mile 61:42, Half Marathon 1:20:12, Marathon 2:58:24

Wane sets up permanent home at Witton Park shock!

On Sunday 7th February, Ste Bayliss and myself descended upon Witton Park. A check on the Power of 10 website showed that I’d been there twice already in 2016. Both had left me with mental scars. This was a road race rather than a XC so what could possibly go wrong… Our warm up started in the cafe debating how long we could leave it before venturing out into the icy wind and drizzle. Apparently 15 mins before racing was the answer. We dashed out for a quick warm up, then back into the cafe to warm up again, before doing a lap of the Blackburn track for good measure. After a mumbled race director speech and me saying to Ste Bayliss, take it easy up Buncer about 29,463 times, someone shouted, ” Go!” and we were off. To be honest I think it may have been a racer who was getting cold.

GW 10K overhead

A quick lap of the track ensued, with what seemed like half the field passing me, and soon Mr Bayliss was pulling away from me. We started up a path and started uphill. In a few minutes I turned left and there was Buncer. For those who don’t know Buncer lane, it’s a hill that gets steeper the further up it you go. And it goes on forever. The racers went silent as the gradient increased and smiles left people’s faces to be replaced by grimaces. This was the story for 1 1/2 miles. The further up you got, the steeper the gradient. My pace slowed and legs began twitching. Better still I was also running into a headwind. I was keeping pace with people around me and was digging in. Soon I was near the top, a sharp left turn with 20-30m of the steepest gradient of all. The wind gusting here just to try and push you back down the hill. Now this is where the fun starts. It’s a false top. Yes the gradient relaxes but you’re still climbing. The first downhill part came on 2 miles! Relief. I picked up my pace in an effort to make up for lost time. Still somehow into a headwind despite turning left. I passed the 45 min pacer and carried on. Mile 3 was twisty but flat. I went through 5km in 23m 14s. Gutted. Well outside my PB pace. “Dig in and carry on!” I was passing people now. Mile 4 started with a sharp downhill which tore up my thighs after the earlier climb. Still a headwind, how????? Then a little up sharp uphill. 5miles gone and I was flying. My pace was increasing. I was passing more and more people. The last mile was a long, straight run in to the finish. Soon I dodged the bench with 1km to go and carried on going. Soon I was in the track and picking up my pace. Finally, I’d finished. Still into a headwind!!! 60th place in 44m 50s. With 440 finishers. L That’ll do. Overall I was happy. Tough race, murderous hill, I’d run a negative split and ran into a headwind all the way around. There’s more to come from me, I can feel it and my running mojo is coming back. Well done to Ste Bayliss also – 40th place in 42m 23s.

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Our heroes – Steven Bayliss and Gary Wane.

Coach notes

Harriers Coach Dave Waddington shares some Marathon training thoughts…

After having a marathon plan request for 20 to 25 miles a week it reminded me of that some people maybe need to get an appreciation of the commitment required to take on a marathon. The accompanying schedule is a recommendation from a well known training book on the number of weekly training miles that are suggested for race distances from 5k to marathon. It shows the number of miles per week that would generally be expected from beginners to elite runners.

If any members would like any guidance or race training plans please ask one of the coaches who will be glad to provide guidance.

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A trip to the seaside?

Well that’s what’s on offer to all Harriers on 13th February. The 5th fixture of the Mid Lancs Cross Country takes place at the Rossall School Cleveleys. For a change it looks like it’s destined to be a flat one with the possibility of a refreshing breeze to accompany the sea view.

Can you join us at the seaside?

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Ooh that looks flat for a change?

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Buckets and spades for afterwards? An afternoon at the seaside with a nice cross country run!

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Go on come and join us on the coast. 😎

https://wiganharriersendurance.wordpress.com/fixtures/cross-country-fixtures/

 

Defibrillator Training

We recently received a mail from the Mid Lancs League, they have purchased a Defibrillator for League events and are encouraging coaches/athletes to get trained up to use it. Unfortunately the first session is on a Wednesday afternoon so that might rule out some of our group but hopefully later sessions may be at weekends. This would include the track meets so this is relevant to the whole club and not just the Endurance Group.

MID LANCS LEAGUE DEFIBRILLATOR TRAINING

The date and venue for the first training session is now fixed and all who participate in the Mid Lancs League, either in cross-country or track and field as coach, team manager or athlete are welcome to attend.

2pm – 4pm on Wednesday 10th February

St Michaels an All Angels, Egerton Road, Preston PR2 1AJ

There’s a £1 fee per person to cover room hire and each session takes a maximum of 20.

Contact Dawn at dawnlock@tiscali.co.uk or 01253 721514 to book a place.

Future training sessions are planned for those wishing to take advantage of training but unable to attend this session.

Petzl Night Runner Rivington

The Moorfield/Schofield double act are back…..With December being a complete wash out, first Guy’s 10 then Ribble 10K casualties of the flooding, no racing at all done that month. New Year, new start, hit the ground running and what better way to get back to racing than the Petzl Night Run. We could of eased back in, but that’s not us, thats just not our style, we chose a 10K trail race, up Rivington and back down, in the pitch black during a snow blizzard. The race has a 250 entrant limit and 230 of us were crazy enough to brave the snow and ice to compete and complete what is a very well organised and marked out course.

I had been nervous and anxious about my first ever night run all day. Warren has done this race before and lets not forget he has run in the dark at the end of the Lakeland 50 with 40-45 miles in his legs so he could not get his head around my apprehension.

It was amazing lined up on the start line with everyone, wrapped up in more layers than I had expected, with all their head torches lit on full beam. The countdown and we were off along the road for a few seconds before turning and staring the first climb. By the time I reached that first corner Warren was gone, off and out of sight.

The climb seemed to last forever, for anyone who has been up Rivington it does at times feel relentless. I am not the best climber, I know this is an area that I want to improve and this is the first of hopefully many races to help with this. I hate looking up when I’m running up hill and I personally feel it helps to look down at the ground, that way I can pretend its not that steep and don’t get suckered in by false summits. The conditions however snow and ice on the ground and snow battering my face meant I had no choice but to look down.

The ground was very rough under foot all the way round the course. As I initially climbed people started overtaking me almost immediately, but not all of these people would finish before me. The climb from the car park above the barn up to the pigeon tower was brutal, I did power walk a section of that but then again so did the 10 people in front of me that I could see and I’m sure those behind as it appeared no one was overtaking anyone until after the pigeon tower when it flattened out.

Relief to be running on flat ground for a short section past the bottom of the pike before turning near the dog kennels to head up towards the mast. Flat but bumpy and I definitely recall going over on my ankle during this section and there were lots of times in front of me.

Almost at the mast the the course went off the road and across the fells. Full on concentration needed, my eyes drarting across the white snow to try and find sticks coming out of the ground with little reflective bits of tape on the top. The briefest flashes of panic as I realised I was off course, but relief quickly followed as I was soon back on track and hey its all part of the greatness of this type of race.

Soon I was heading down again, down all the way for the last part of this race. I enjoy running down hill and now it was my turn to pass people and it felt good as I headed on open fell back down to the flat road that runs past the pigeon tower. On this flat part I was running side by side with a guy, we had a bit a of chat as we ran along the flat and turned off to head back down to the start. it was a different path, it was cobbley and so uneven to run on, this bit now slowed me down and the guy pulled away from me. it was extremey hard going under foot with my ankles twisting and turning in every direction. every step taking me closer to the end and soon i could hear and see the finish to my right. I knew I had done it and all I had to do was run down and around the school grounds to the finish gantry.

It took a nervous wait for the final results to come out and I knew I had done better than I had expected at the start line. 4th female in a time of 68:23 and Warren had a fabulous race too 19th overall in a time of 59:13.

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The apprehension and nerves I had felt all day and even on the start line were gone the moment I began that first climb. This is an amazing and exhilarating event, for people of different abilities. I love trying new things and If your like that too, then you have try this one.

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