Marvellous medal haul

The 2015-16 Cross Country season fizzled out into a damp squid, the last race of the season being cancelled due to flooding. This meant however the results after five races stood and with that fantastic success for Wigan Harriers.

The prize giving was again held in Bamber Bridge as customary the weekend of Manchester Marathon. A number of Harriers represented the club and brought back a trailer load of awards.

Leading the charge towards the prize table were the Ladies. In both V35 and V45 classes they swept to victory taking top honours, finishing top of the table picking Gold medals. The senior ladies also consolidated their position in Division One with a great third place yielding Bronze medals. Well done to the ladies for a brilliant season, a real team effort! 🏅🍾

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Although not quite as awesome as the Ladies, the Harriers Men also had a great season. A big turn out for race 5 at Rossall School saved the B team from Division 3 relegation. The V40 men maintained their Division 1 status which with several new recruits joining us over the course of the season bodes well for the 16-17 season. Finally the Senior Men managed to snatch some prizes from that top table, against pre-season expectations they bounced straight back into Division One securing promotion in 2nd place behind the impressive Barlick. Achieving this without a number of Harriers stalwarts was excellent and hopefully bodes well again for next season. Silver medals for the men. 🎖

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Wigan Harriers were not finished though….Jayne Taylor picked up not one but two individual prizes. 🍾 Third in V35 and first in V45 – brilliant! Whisper it quietly but all that was achieved on the cusp of turning 55 (Apologies for mentioning that but it makes the achievement even more special).

As is now customary at awards ceremonies Howard obliged as official photographer. Dave struggled to hide his feelings on seeing Howard produce his phone. 😦

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Well done to all the Harriers who represented their club this year in all age groups from Juniors through to the most senior of seniors! Another fantastic year.

 

Is summer going to happen?

I make no apology for it but this is an updated article from last year. Guess what? Same weather again……Hailstones the size of small pebbles, frosty cars in the morning! It doesn’t seem like summer is with us yet but fear not it’s just around the corner. One of the first signs of summer is the return of mid-week racing. Hurrah!!

First race on the calendar is the Chorley Trail race at Astley Park, well worth giving it a try as there are always plenty of Harriers for company. Here are some more details.

Chorley Trail Race Series, registration at Baron’s Rest Pub by entrance to Astley Park, Chorley.

Dates: A series of 4 races first Wednesday of the month – May to August at 7.30pm

Further details: http://www.ukresults.net/forms/160803chorley.pdf

Distance/Ascent: 4.33 miles 60 metres

Terrain: Park paths and trails – wooded sections can sometimes be slightly muddy – Road or Trail shoe

What you need to know: Good race for all abilities. Two lap course but three times up the hill including the finish in front of Astley Hall. Excellent venue for spectators as plenty of opportunities to watch. Junior race held earlier in the evening. Results and prizes are given out in the pub afterwards. Harriers have a good track record of winning indivdual and team prizes. Don’t be too late arriving as the car park fills up fast. Don’t let anyone tell you the hill is hard, you guys are Harriers, you blast bigger hills in training for fun!😀

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Here’s a dip in the photo archive!

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For any further information just ask one of the coaches, Dave Collins or Mike Harris. Don’t worry if you can’t do this one, there’s a race nearly every week, more news to come on these soon.

Wigan Harriers Endurance Group Awards 2015

In March Wigan Harriers had it’s annual presentation night, at which the Endurance Group were invited to present awards to our runners.

Choosing the award winners had been tough as there been many exceptional performances in 2015. A committee comprising coaches, team captains, committee members and the club statistician had met earlier in the year to decide the winners. In order to be considered for a “Athlete of the Year” nomination, the person needed to have been a member for the whole of 2015. Performances from those who have been members for less than a year were eligible for “Runs of the Year” provided they were registered as a Harrier.

The presentation night was held at Highfield Cricket Club on Friday 18th March. The first part of the evening was spent celebrating the notable achievements of the track and field athletes. It was then the turn for the endurance section.

At this point I have to point out the official photos seem to have vanished but luckily we had an excellent photographer (not) among our ranks to fill in with a few cheeky shots or was that the drinking later?

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Female Awards
Athlete of the Year – April Morgan
Most Improved Athlete of the Year – Karen Schofield
Cross Country Athlete of the Year – Shona Taylor
Run of the Year Under Half Marathon – Nina Pilkington (43:48 at Ribble Valley 10K)
Run of the Year at Half Marathon and Over – April Morgan (3:15:33 at Manchester Marathon)

Male Awards
Athlete of the Year – Howard Avery
Most Improved Athlete of the Year – Stuart Towns
Cross Country Athlete of the Year – Mike Harris
Run of the Year Under Half Marathon – Gary Fitzpatrick (34:24 at Catforth 10K)
Run of the Year at Half Marathon and Over – Warren Moorfield (11:11:18 at Lakeland 50)

Commendation
Paul Derbyshire
Paul answered a last minute call to run in the Northern Road Relays at Blackpool in September. He ran the final leg for the third team, which meant that the team ran “complete”. Shortly afterwards, Paul was taken ill and was admitted to Hospital. Thankfully, he has recovered and is now back in light training.
Why not check out the Harriers Endurance Group on Twitter or Facebook?

 

Wilmslow Half Marathon

Wilmslow Half Marathon by Colin Mcevoy

This is a long one but please read at least the last half, thanks

With a 1030 start and the promise of a fast course, Wilmslow half was Emma’s final race before the big day in London. Unfortunately, although a day of great running and a new PB, it was to be clouded by a stark reminder of the importance of, amongst other things, filling in the information on the back of your race number.

Arriving nice and early (0900) and with the sun trying to force its way through the clouds we arrived in Wilmslow and decided on a walk up to the start area to get the important stuff done, hot brew and scope for cake at the finish.
We had a chat with the volunteers at ‘The Christie’ tent, who Emma is raising funds for and then headed back to the car to get ready.

We had a nice easy warm up and headed to the start, after chatting to a ladybird who was waiting for a bumble bee and bumping into an old nemesis it was time for the off.

I’d been slacking with training since finishing Snowdon in October and Emma dragging me out on her London training is the only reason I’d done any at all, so with this in mind I headed off at a brisk but steady 7min/mile pace.
As I got into it I slowly stopped the slow flow of people heading past me and began reeling in a few places, then I started targeting a few people, then Macc Harrier vests became the target of choice… I’d upped my pace to to 6:40 ish so backed off a little (I’d been slacking remember).
It’s a strange course, there are lots of downs so I spent the race waiting for the big up hill slog that had to be coming at some point. The only really noticeable up hill that I found is the one you go down about the mile point, you come back up heading back in… I do tend to run in a world of my own though so some may disagree.

Still running steady at under 7 min, people were starting to struggle, you could hear the breathing and more and more dropped off the pace. I was feeling good, I even sprang forward a few places to someone wearing a Snowdon t-shirt and had a chat about doing it again (you’d have to be stupid apparently). I passed more and more people and less than a mile from the finish I was shocked to be shouting encouragement to my old Macc Harriers nemesis as I went past (he’d been slacking as well and was 14 min off his usual time) and crossed the finish (with a few blisters after forgetting my socks) in 1:29:54 to place 297/3764.

Quick water stop and it’s off to find Emma…
It’s quite hard going back against the flow whilst trying not to get in the way so it was just over a mile from the finish where I found Emma with a pained look on her face. “My legs hate me and my feet hurt” was her greeting and after doing 20 miles (her longest ever run) the Sunday before I wasn’t surprised she was aching. I fell in next to her and after some encouragement up the last hill, round a few corners we passed the 13 mile point. Just after this I spotted the finish and pointed it out to Emma… I started to explain I couldn’t cross the line with her so I’d fight the crowd and see her after the finish area but she just waved me off, picked up the pace and ran off taking a few runners as she sped over the line in 2:16:28 for a new PB. Despite the ‘hills’ I’d definitely do this one again, it’s a really nice course on closed roads.

Next stop London with the Wigan Army of runners and supporters

As I mentioned at the start, the race was unfortunately tinged with sadness as a fellow runner who, although appearing fit and well, lost his life out on the course. As I went back to find Emma, the ambulance and paramedics were already on the scene working on resuscitation. With nothing that I could have done to help, I carried on past the scene and left it to the professionals to do what they could. Thankfully as i came back around the ambulance was moving off so Emma didn’t have to witness it and we carried on to the finish.

One of the thoughts, as well as how, who, why and thoughts of family, is what if it had been me?…
I never give it much thought but on this race, with no one that we knew running, Emma would have known nothing about it until after finishing and not being able to find me at the finish area… My phone (with emergency contact programmed) was in my car and I hadn’t filled in the details on the back of my race number so who would they have told? My race number didn’t even have my name on it.

I’ve pulled the following statement from the Wilmslow Half website…

Alan Lumley
We are deeply saddened to announce the loss of Alan Lumley following this year’s Waters Wilmslow Half Marathon. The family has asked for the tribute below to be made public. Our thoughts are with them at this very sad time.

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Alan was born in Warrington, grew up in Darlington and thereafter moved to Manchester. He went to Barnard Castle School and later studied Law at the University of Manchester and BPP Law School.
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Alan was a talented solicitor working for DLA Piper and was recently shortlisted for two Young Lawyer of the Year awards.
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Alan was an excellent sportsman; playing rugby league and union throughout school, both at county school-boy level. In recent years, Alan was a keen runner and had previously completed ten half marathon and 10K races. Running was a passion that he shared with his girlfriend of eight years Nicky Harris. Alan enjoyed playing golf was also an avid Liverpool FC and Warrington Wolves supporter.
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Alan’s Mum, Dad, Sister and Girlfriend commented: “Alan was the kindest and most loving son, brother and boyfriend that anyone could ever wish for. He was loyal, thoughtful and was liked and admired by everyone he met. Due to his sharp intellect and captivating personality he had established a successful career which showed great promise. He had been renovating his first home in Cheadle Hulme with Nicky and was looking forward to being an usher at sister Julia’s wedding in eight weeks time.

“Our lives have been shattered by the tragic loss of Alan on his 31st birthday during the Wilmslow Half Marathon on 3 April 2016. His memory will live on through us as we will celebrate his life the way he lived his – doing the things he loved with the people he loved.”

Manchester Marathon by Mel Wane

I never thought I would run a marathon, especially not after having my little girl just over 2 years ago. Then a disappointing summer of running, coupled with the fact that even though I still had almost a stone of baby weight to lose, the baby that caused it was fast becoming a little girl led to me entering the Manchester Marathon.

After four months of hard training, usually accompanied by Becki and Mandy, I arrived in Manchester on Sunday a bag of nerves in a Harriers vest, with Mr W having agreed at the last minute to run with me. We found some of our fellow Harriers in the event village and marvelled at the queues for the bag drop before heading off to the starting pens quarter to 9. Safely in position for the start, there was time for a few quick pre-race selfies before the crowd started to move forward. 10 minutes later,with the start line in sight, our group started to split up. At this point I felt a bit panicked that I wasn’t going fast enough, but my conscience (Gary) told me to hold back and take my time. The first few miles around Trafford were great, the winding course meant that it was easy to spot other Harriers and everyone was still alert enough to cheer each other on. As we made our way past Old Trafford, passing the start again, the music and the crowds gave us a great lift but again my conscience told me not to get carried away.

From there, the road straightened out and we were into the serious miles and the very serious business of running them. Those early miles from Stretford to Sale ticked quietly and easily by. Mr W and I rarely get to run together these days and it was nice to run and chat and enjoy the sunshine. On 8 miles we entered Sale where we saw Julie and Darren cheering us on. The crowds were out in force and we barely went more than 50 metres or so without someone offering us jelly babies or haribos or wine gums…It was amazing – although it does go against the mantra of not trying anything new on race day!

As we headed through mile 9 our paths crossed once more with the runners at the front of the pack and, for the next few miles, Gaz and I played a game of Spot the Harrier that carried us all the way through Timperly.

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After what seemed like a lifetime (it had actually only been just over 2 hours) we were in sight of Altrincham and the halfway point (and some cheering Harriers who had decided that a hill was the best place to get photos of us all – You know who you are!) In all honesty, I started to feel a bit emotional about it all and overcome by how far we still had to go. I was really thankful to have Gaz at my side helping me to re-focus and keep my pace going.

Soon we had passed the halfway point and were making our way back through Timperly, with the sun high in the sky I was glad of the shade provided by the trees and even gladder of the flapjacks in my running belt. Mr W, having stepped in at the last minute, was less well prepared so I sent him of to forage for his lunch amongst well wishers and he returned moments later with some jaffa cakes for himself.

Before too much longer we had hit the 16 mile marker – the mental halfway point according to Gaz. I still didn’t feel too bad and by this point my legs were doing their own thing so I just left them to it. As mile 16 turned into mile 17 we saw Jacqui and Dave – or rather they saw us and shouted and cheered and shouted some more and then it registered that we knew them and I gave them a wave and, before I had really acknowledged them, they were gone.

At mile 18 I was hurting so I decided that painkillers where the order of the day. Over the next two miles they got to work and I arrived at mile 20 feeling relatively fresh and able to enjoy the country air as we made our way out to Carrington. A lot of people have said to me that a marathon is a 20 mile warm up with a 10k race at the end and, somewhere along the way, I must have taken it to heart because something in me started to push on, for the first time I felt like the finish was in sight. For the last 6 miles Gaz steered me round runner after runner and kept me on the racing line.

By the time we had covered 24 miles every step was hurting and every inch of me wanted to stop, but I kept telling myself that the only way I could do that was to get to the finish line so I pushed on. As we passed the 25 mile marker I was really struggling; Mr W, having done well so far, encouraged me to keep going – You’ll see Imogen soon. – of course he underestimated the high levels of emotion that I was experiencing and earned himself a few choice curses while I wiped my face and tried not to cry all the way to the finish.

Before, After and later! 😊

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As we powered through Stretford (no really, it just didn’t look like it from the sidelines) Rachel and Paul were there again cheering us onwards and taking yet more flattering pictures. Then it was round the corner and the finish line was in sight. As my watch beeped to say that I had covered 26 miles I suddenly felt like I was running through sand and burning sand at that. It seemed like rather than getting closer, the finish line was moving further away. Luckily at this point the crowd’s cheering carried me on, I put in a last burst and crossed the line. Staggering down the finish chute and back into the village Gaz – who had very gallantly crossed the line a second after me – caught up and together we looked at my watch…I had hoped to go under 5 hours and possibly even – if I was very lucky – 4:50…With a watch time of 4:45:18 and an almost matching chip time of 4:45:17, I am over the moon with my marathon result. I am officially a better runner now than before having Imogen – something that 2 years ago – as I struggled to finish a 5k in 37 minutes – I never would have thought possible. So I’d like to thank all the Harriers that have cheered me on, and encouraged me and run with me over the last 2 years – especially those times when I didn’t feel good enough or fit enough – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Gary smiling so worth showing again. 😄

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2UP Firefighter Duathlon

Coniston 14 & 2UP Firefighter Duathlon Weekend

Day 2 Duathlon

Up even earlier, we arrived at Rivington School to be met with organised chaos. Things were not going exactly to plan for the organisers as the timing chips and packs had not all arrived causing a half hour delay. It was cold at that early time and standing around was taking its toll. But as with all Epic Events, the show must go on and eventually we were all under way.

The first leg was a steep climb up towards the pike, but thankfully not all the way, and then a steep descent back to the school for transition. The climb was hard on my calves from the previous days racing but as usual we were able to pick other teams off on the descent.

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The bike was a different story, having been out only once since September last year, due to the weather and marathon training, it was always going to be a challenge. Almost immediately the course went up Sheephouse Lane with the steep descent down to Belmont. We climbed Sheephouse without any problems, with only 2 teams passing us. Then came the undulating and straighter sections of the course which although it sounds crazy is my weakest part. I am fine climbing, I can hold my own but my speed on the flat is not up to par and clearly this needs more work, which I intend to address once the marathon is completed. There were quite a few teams that we had passed on the run that had now passed us on the bike section. Heading back towards Rivington the last sting in the tail was not the climb of Anglezark but the sharp hairpin bend at the bottom of the fast and technical descent. Warren has seen his fair share of accidents in other races here and for this reason he gallantly and kindly took the lead to guide me down so that I could simply follow his line.

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It was then into the final transition and back on the same 3 and 1/2 mile run up towards the pike and back down. This time not just my calves were sore, every muscle in my legs were aching, the sun was also now out and I was absolutely exhausted. I could so easily have given up at any point on the ascent but there was no way Warren was going to let me. In the back of mind mind I kept telling myself that once we got to the descent I would be fine and again we kept picking a few teams off and improving our overall standings.

We finished in a time of 2:58 and sat down on the kerb. Warren said well done and words of encouragement but my thoughts and gaze were fixed elsewhere and I responded with “I want one of them!” and so the only way to properly finish two days of back to back racing….. A double Mr Whippy with double sherbet, raspberry sauce and a flake HEAVEN!

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Four on 14 take two!

Coniston 14 & 2UP Firefighter Duathlon Weekend

Day 1 Coniston 14

First I knew about it was Warren telling Andy Ratcliffe, “Karen doesn’t know about it yet but we’re doing a duathlon the day after Coniston 14.” To be honest yes I could have killed him and I thought maybe he was actually trying to kill me, but entry fees had been paid and therefore nothing I could do but suck it up. Warren was adamant that this was just what I needed, all part of my training,”just think of it as a long run over two days” he kept saying.

Up bright and early for Coniston on the Saturday to glorious sunshine if not a little on the cold side. But who cares about the cold, we are runners and its much better than sweltering heat. Met Andy and Gary and had a pre race coffee to settle the nerves before a mile warm up. Elizabeth was there to take the position of chief supporter and photographer for the day.

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The start was very congested and it took time once the gun went to weave through people and try to get into a pace. Trying to get into a pace was also hindered by the fact that it is an up hill start. The course is undulating (Cumbrian for hilly) and in comparison to our other favourite Derwent 10 whilst the climbs aren’t as steep, there are more continual ups and downs with this course so less time to recover between climbs.

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I started probably faster than I needed to, I went up the road from the start and turned left before Warren even passed me (so no change there then Dave). But I felt good and managed to keep a steady pace until the evil climb between mile 11 and 12 at which point I dropped a minute off my pace. It didn’t feel like a minute slower at the time it felt more like 2 or 3 but after the climb there’s a big descent into Coniston and I was back on pace.

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imageWarren was further up the road, I never even glimpsed him for 13.6 miles. He had a time of 7 minute miles in mind which he thought was realistic on a hilly course. Once again the Harriers Sessions had paid dividends as he kept an average pace of 6:46 and only hitting 7:05 for that evil climb.

The worse part was the water stations with the massive cups, my first attempt at a drink what with the sun now coming out was disastrous. I don’t even think any of the half cup of water that I tipped towards my face went into my mouth, but i did look like I had just stepped from under the shower, I was drenched. I would have had more luck pouring the cup over my head and letting it trickle down into my mouth. I did improve my technique by the 2nd and 3rd stations as I eventually got some water on board.

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Closing in on Coniston I knew I was on for a good time, I just needed to keep on pace for the last mile and keep Gary Wane within my sight. My right calf was tightening on the last mile and I was praying all the way to the finish line that cramp would not set in but I finished in a time of 1:43, just a minute slower than my half marathon PB. Warren finished in a time of 1:34 leaving us both feeling confident for Manchester……now all that remained was the duathlon.

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