Danger mouse!

My first Cross-Country season with Wigan Harriers by Kevin Rex.

I have been a member of Wigan Harriers for almost 18 months now. I love running and the sense of achievement and satisfaction you get from racing and competing. Being a member of this club, whilst wearing the black and red colours and representing Wigan Harriers, is a great feeling.

So imagine my surprise on one Thursday night after training in late October 2016, when I was informed by Mike Harris, Gary Wane and Mark Morgan-Hillam that, if I wanted, I could come along to and take part in the Mid Lancs Cross Country League and represent Wigan Harriers.

I, like a lot of members of Wigan Harriers, assumed that the cross country league was for, shall I say, the more elite members of the club. However, I was advised that this was not the case, and that all paid members of Wigan Harriers are welcome to come along and compete for the club. As Mike Harris said, “No-one is invited, all club members are entered and can take part. Why pay X amount for a race when you can do it for FREE once a month throughout the cross-country season”.

Needless to say, I was sold and so I decided that Cuerden Valley in Bamber Bridge, Preston, would be my first attempt at doing an XC, as I now call them. The day of the race started early as I had already previously agreed to go along to Haigh Hall Park Run with some of my running buddies to celebrate their 1st birthday. I took the run very slowly as I wanted to save my legs for the XC race that afternoon.

When I got home, I fuelled up on some banana porridge and changed into my Wigan Harriers running kit. Before I set off I was a little unsure on a few details. So I messaged Mark Morgan Hillam who was more than helpful and advised me on what I needed to do and where I needed to go when I got there. I was even involved in a bit of team banter when I, being the newbie, stupidly asked the question that shouldn’t be asked to experienced XC runners. I asked, “Can I were a T-shirt under my vest?” The response was hilarious and this little bit of banter made me feel like I was part of the team and helped to settle some of my pre-race nerves.

When I arrived at the event there was already a race going on. I watched a bit of this whilst trying to find the Wigan Harriers flag and tent in the crowd. When I got there, members from the men’s and ladies teams helped me find my race number. They informed me that I needed to keep this number and use it again for future Mid Lancs XC events. I put my number on and I was ready to race.

Before the race started Mark and the guys took me to one side and showed me the route and explained what conditions and terrain to expect during the race. From where I was stood it looked like a tough and very hilly course. I was informed that I had in fact picked one of the toughest courses in the mid lancs fixtures for my first go at cross country.

With that said the pre-race nerves came back. However they were settled again by the encouraging words and comments from everyone. We then had a little warm up and went to cheer on the ladies team in their race. Then it was time for the team photograph and, yes, I still had my t-shirt on under my vest. What can I say? It was cold out there…

Race time arrived in no time and, before I knew it, I was on the start line waiting to go. There were some last words of motivation from Gary Wane – and then something terrible happened that could only happen to me. Whilst limbering up, I stepped backwards only to hear some guys behind me shout, “Watch out!” I wondered what was going on – I had only gone and trodden on a field mouse… it had the whole of Cuerdon Valley to roam around, but it had to go and choose to stand behind my shoe. I was mortified, and a little embarrassed, but at least it took my mind off the nerves and amused my teammates…

Moments later, the starting gun went and we were off. Immediately I was slipping everywhere as, being the inexperienced and less equipped member of the team, I had no spikes to wear. I got around the first corner and was headed straight towards and through a ditch of thick mud. As I stomped through the muddy ditch I almost lost one of my trainers. I just about managed to keep it on and I was off and running.

After the first lap I felt like I was starting to finding my stride and I began to relax and enjoy it. My favourite part of the course was running through the stream. The ice cold water cooled my feet and made it feel like a proper cross country race for me.

After four hilly laps (one short, one medium and two long,) of what is probably one of the toughest runs I have taken part in, I approached the finish line. I could see and hear the rest of the XC team cheering me on. This made me feel good and I pushed myself all the way across the finish line.

Even though on the day I finished last out of the men’s team they thanked me and congratulated me for my performance. I left the race feeling included and proud of myself for getting through what was a very muddy and tough race.

The positive experience of the day, and the fun I had, made me want to try more XC fixtures. However, before I did, the more experienced members of the team advised me that I really needed to get some spikes. So with that I was off to the sweatshop to buy myself a pair.

My second, and the next race of the season, was a British Athletics Cross Country event at Sefton Park in Liverpool. This was an event where professional athletes took part and competed alongside amateurs. I learnt from some of my fellow Harriers that apparently, in the past, Olympic champion Mo Farah competed in this event. So of course I was going to go along and compete, if only to say I ran on the same field as Mo Farah.

The weather on the day was absolutely freezing. So needless to say it was t-shirt under the vest again for me. However, the more experienced members of the team still went out there in the freezing cold in just their vests.
I was more at home this time around and felt a lot more relaxed. I knew what to do and how things worked. The nerves I felt at Cuerden Valley Park were gone. So I focused on trying to put in a good performance for the team.
Before the race we did a warm up run and watched the some of the ladies race. I was pleased to see that the course was flat and not as muddy as Cuerden Valley. It was boggy in some parts, but overall it was a lot better.

After the warm up we made our way back to the tent for the team photograph. There were a lot more people representing Harriers for the men’s team at this one – 14 to be exact. This made it possible to have an A and B team, meaning more points for the team.

After the photographs we all went to the start line as a team. There were lots of pats on back and encouraging word from fellow team members. This made me more confident and pumped up for this one. I was determined to run as hard and as fast as I could for the team.

The gun fired and off everyone went. A mile or so into the race I felt good and I was even managing to keeping up with one of the more experienced members of the team, Kevin Edwards.

As the race went on it was lovely to see flat surface after flat surface in front of me, not a hill in sight. You could even see some of the faster athletes in the distance. I continued to push on and felt like I was keeping my composure well. That along with support from some of the ladies team spurred me on for the final couple of miles.

Approaching the final stretch I pushed hard and move my little legs as fast as I could over the finish line. I stopped my watch and got my breath back. I felt as though I had run well and gave everything I had for the team. Little did I know that I had actually smashed my PB for this distance on all surfaces by just over three minutes, clocking an official time of 46 minutes and 6 seconds.

To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. I still to this day do not know where I got that performance from. It still stands to this day as my personal best running performance ever and probably will for some time. If I can put my performance down to anything, I think a mixture of the atmosphere of the day, the flat course, wearing spikes for the first time and the amazing support and encouragement from my fellow Wigan Harriers XC team was the main reasons for my mind blowing results.

After Sefton Park I’m sad to say that I missed the next two races in Towneley Park, Burnley, and Cleveleys School, Rossall, due to family commitments and a race clash with the Parbold Hill race which I had entered before I started taking part in Mid Lancs XC events.

The next race I would compete in would be the final XC fixture of the season at Leigh Sports Village. Rather worryingly, a few weeks prior to this race taking place, I was suffering with tendonitis of the Achilles. However I was determined I was going to make it to the last race of the season and I am happy to say I did.

Although my performance was not as strong as I would have liked, I still enjoyed being back with the XC gang and competing in the black and red once again. The appreciation I received from fellow Harriers for coming and taking part again reminded me of why I now love these events so much.

Lastly, because of the positive experiences and feeling of inclusion I received in my first two XC races, I took it upon myself to return the favour and try and encourage some of my running buddies at Downhill Runners to come along and give an XC a try. I am glad to say one of them did. So Jayne Salloum became the newest member of Wigan Harriers ladies XC team.
She was a great addition, and she really enjoyed it. I know Jayne, and hopefully some other new members, will be there competing next season. Needless to say, so will I…..

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2017 important dates

As 2016 is drawing to a close it’s an ideal time to remind everyone of some important dates in 2017. All these events are open to all club members, no selection required! 🏃🏻

Don’t forget we also have the last three Mid Lancs Cross Country events to come.
https://wiganharriersendurance.wordpress.com/fixtures/cross-country-fixtures/

Saturday 28th January
Northern Cross Country Championships
Knowsley Safari Park.
£7 to enter.

Saturday 25th February
National Cross Country Championships
Nottingham Wollaton park
£7 to enter.

Contact Steve Nicholls to enter both of the above events.

Sunday 19th March
Wigan Half Marathon and 5k
If the buzz around town is half as good as the 10k then it will be another two cracking events. Sign up to be part of the Harriers massive!
http://www.wiganhalfmarathon.co.uk

Sunday 26th March
Northern Athletics 6 and 12 Stage Road Relays
Right on our doorstep…Haigh Hall.
http://www.northernathletics.org.uk/events/northern-athletics-12-6-stage-road-relays-championships/

Sunday 7th May
Wigan Trail 10k
Our very own race is back again, spread the word!
Marshal or race make sure you are there. 😊
https://wiganharriersendurance.wordpress.com/amberswood-trail-race-series/

 

Cuerden Valley Cross Country

This Saturday sees the 2nd fixture of the Mid Lancs Cross Country League take place at Cuerden Valley Park in nearby Bamber Bridge.

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Although the area for club tents is sloping (lol!) we aim to take the tent and flag to claim a small portion of Lancashire for the day.

Cuerden Valley course description

You will notice there is a choice of car parks, all around the perimeter of the park.  The nearest is the one off Berkeley Drive (this is the main car park for the park). If this is full you will be directed to one of the others.  If you are arriving late it may be better for them to head for one of the other car parks.  Clayton Green Asda on the east has a large car park and it’s now possible to use the car park of a closed down hotel; Pines Hotel 570 Preston Road PR6 7EB.

Not sure whether you are ready for this then take a look at this article for some encouragement.

What’s it all about?

We need at least 12 men and 6 ladies so everyone registered with the club is welcome to join us. Coffee and cake to follow!

If you want any further advice then ask the coaches at training.

Grab yourself 10 free races!

The website has now been updated and has the fixtures for both the Mid Lancs and Red Rose Cross Country Leagues 2016-17 season.

All registered Wigan Harriers have already been entered into these leagues. Please make sure you keep your Mid Lancs number as this is used at every race apart from Sefton Park.

Six ML and four Red Rose fixtures await you!

Cross Country fixture list link

You might have the company of some these fine people!

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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.

 

WE ARE CHAMPIONS!!

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Congratulations everyone we are WINNERS! The Mid Lancs XC season is concluded with just the five fixtures due to Cuerden Valley cancellation.

Roll of honour

Ladies Division One status retained
Ladies V35 League winners
Ladies V45 League winners

Men Division Two runners up and promotion
Men V40 Division One status retained
Men B Team Division Three status retained

A fantastic haul, well done to everyone who raced or supported. A brilliant Harriers performance.

2015-16 Final team standings

2015-16 Final individual standings

Important – Presentation evening, Friday 8th April at Bamber Bridge

Here’s a few memories of the season.😀

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Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to fit one in….Red Rose League will start in September, not long to wait!!

 

Cleveleys Mid Lancs Cross Country

Marathon training is simply not helpful when trying to find the time to write these reports so apologies for the delayed publication….

Fifth fixture in the Mid Lancs Cross Country series was the “Harry Potteresque” Rossall School at coastal town Cleveleys. A new venue so an unknown for all the Harriers.

It was Dave Waddington who said to me once, “with Cross Country you never know who is going to be there, sometimes people just turn up out of the blue”. With busy lives people often make a last minute decision to turn up….and turn up they did in droves! 😀

Such was the steady flow of Harriers arriving on Saturday, that the “Club Statman” was frantically borrowing fingers to help count up the numbers, hoping the magical two team barrier would be broken through for only the second time this season. It was all too much, ten fingers were not cutting it.

Well done to the Club juniors who competed in the early races and their families and coaches for supporting them.

The ladies were missing a few regular faces so an ideal opportunity for a few others to make their mark and continue the Harriers success steamroller. At V35 and V45 level they have flattened the opposition all year. First or second in their league in every fixture, tremendous performances. What would today bring?

Well it appeared the ladies steamroller had been out on the course when we arrived as apart from a couple of grassy banks it was pancake flat. Being a new course warm ups were an ideal opportunity to suss out the course.

Weather conditions were a little chilly but a great change from all the recent rains. ⛅️

Turning out with remnants of a cough was number one lady Jayne Taylor, keen to help the ladies to league victory. The presentation buffet an overwhelming thought. 🍰 Jayne was aided and abetted by 5 superstar ladies.

This meant the ladies had enough runners out for A and B teams plus V35 & V45 teams – another fantastic effort. These teams scooped 5th, 25th, 2nd & 5th respectively consolidating their already impressive league positions.

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Next up were the men. After starting the season slowly the men were gradually warming to the task. Promotion from Division 2 and keeping B team status in Division 3 were still looking possible, which would be a great result to accompany the probable female success.

After warm ups the men were sheltering from the fresh breeze in the comfort of team HQ. Gary Fitzpatrick shook up this status quo with a few bursts of deep heat spray. This was enough to force most of the men out gasping for air.

The men managed to field a staggering 17 (yes seventeen!!) runners. With so much Harriers interest there was some fascinating personal battles and some excellent debuts. Well done to the men who all ran very committed races producing a stunning result.

A team were a brilliant 4th and more importantly a very strong B team waded in with a great 11th place, vital for the hopes of maintaining Division 3 status. For the old boys…3rd V40 & 9th V50 were also marvelous results.

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And off they went, a legion of Harriers into battle.

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A selection of race photos, the order got mixed up a little in uploading. Thanks to our on course photography team.

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Here’s a link to the full results, well done everyone involved.

Cleveley XC results

The trip back was broken up with the obligatory coffee stop – such are the club numbers we will have to start booking our cafe stops!

It’s easy to see this was one of the best fixtures of the season for the club but it was only made possible by a healthy turnout of Harriers. The last fixture is this coming Saturday at a very local Cuerden Valley Park. Please do all you can to either run or come along and support. With a strong Harriers contingent we have the possibility of completing one of the best Cross Country seasons yet.

Thank you.

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.