Cross Country part two…eyes on the prize!

The excitement of the Cross Country season continues….

We learn about the debutants, the speedy drivers, the prize winners and see the smiley happy faces of those representing the club. 😊

At the halfway point of season 14 ladies and 16 men had represented the club with 2 ladies and 2 men with 100% participation records. There had been some excellent performances before Christmas that had laid sound foundations for the rest of the season. 👏🏼

Burnley – Fixture 4

After a extended break around the festive season it was time for the 4th Mid Lancs fixture held again at Towneley Park. A flat parkland course within earshot of Burnley’s Tuft Moor ground, on occasion we have run during a game and been cheered on by the crowds! Now I’ll be honest, the Burnley course is not anything too exciting and the last few years has often been a low point in terms of turnout but it’s important that points are scored at every fixture so kudos to everyone who competed.

A dull overcast day but thankfully no rain although the new tent was getting a little battered by the wind!

For the ladies we had the Three Amigos..Jayne, Marie and Lisa.

Leading the Ladies home was Marie in 22nd place and 24.02. Then we had Jayne in 68th (26.46) and Lisa 90th (27.51). Thankfully only 3 ladies are required for the Senior Women’s team so they were able to score vital team points. Well done ladies!

For the men it was the “Magnificent Seven” (Nothing like using a few film titles!), sounds better than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White couldn’t make it!

The men ran to form and leading them home in 42nd was big Jon in 38.12, another great run, In 2nd place for the men only a few places and seconds further back was John in 52nd 38.36 which also made him 3rd V50. After 10 days of illness Cross Country was always going to be an interesting challenge but I was pleased with my 42.42 coming in 4th behind Stuart who took 3rd place for the men in 41.54. Mike Casey came next in 48.41, then Tony in 49.44 and then Jeff made up the 7 with 55.50. A decent turnout and performance by the men.

The best part of the day is always coffee and cake and after using the car park of the Garden Centre it seemed rude not too!

 

Northern Athletics Cross Country Champs – Camp Hill Estate Bedale, Yorkshire

Five Senior men were in action, John Heyes, Jeff Darbyshire, Stuart Towns, Mike “Debutant” Vose and my good self Mike Harris.

The course was an interesting mix of decent solid ground and some awful muddy sections that sapped your strength. I have to say though compared to the Northern Races in folklore this was relatively easy! (Memory jogger….Knowsley x 2, Witton Park were all stinkers!)

We were all under orders to run fast as the Harriers Do was on in the evening plus Driver Jeff needed to go out early, more of that later.

We first managed to watch Harriers speedster Tim Hartley run in the Junior Men’s race. Tim had a great race managing to come home in 34th place in 29:04. Well done Tim. 👏🏼

The quick getaway planned meant no tent or flag just some alfresco changing into race gear outside the car. Numbers collected, warm up done and we were on!

A decent field meant there was the usual Zulu charge as 100’s of runners bounded off enthusiastically to the first bend.

The course had been really well thought through and was a decent mix. It was however one of the courses that you didn’t quite work out the laps from the map. Add in the fact it was long, very long and you get a tough race!

First back was John in 256th place in 54:37. Next was me in 57:46 350th place, then Stuart in 407th in 1:00:32, 4th was Mike Vose in 565th place in 1:15:58 with then Jeff in 574th place in 1:19:11.

Jeff very quickly realised he had about an hour to do a 2 hour journey so the Harriers were then plunged into the 2nd race of the day – Jeff going for it. Pleased to say we managed to get back in one piece and John and myself made it to the Harriers do in good time!

 

Vegas (Blackpool) – Fixture 5

Time to go exotic and take a trip to the Vegas of the North – Blackpool! Wind that was a common theme of post Christmas races and not the type caused by the Sprouts. Another tough outing for our tents resisting the blustery conditions. The wind had helped dry the course out and apart from a few sections conditions were decent underfoot. It was starting to hot up in the Ladies league with the Harriers in contention for the top spot. 😀

It had been a few years since we raced here (Dave Collins ran last time – that’s how long ago it was!) It’s a short course but the distance made up by doing more laps! It’s a pancake flat mixture of rough grass and playing fields, the wind turned up the difficulty up a notch but otherwise it was fairly benign.

Leading the ladies home in a fantastic 16th place (the track sessions obviously paying off!) was Marie Jarvis in 27:42. Next home and continuing what was turning into a fantastic season was Jacqui Jones in 29:23. 3rd lady was Jayne Salloum 29:58. Lisa Heyes 32:00, Carla Taylor 34:03, Dee Hughes 34:24, Rachel Lawton 36:08, Pauline Foster 36:55 and Michelle Jones 39:22. An absolutely brilliant nine turned out – well done all.

Nine was the magic number for the men. Leading the men over the finish line was Jonathan Kearsley in 39:11, well done Jon on another excellent showing of 46th place. Winning his battle with a Preston Harrier and taking 2nd place in the team was Mr Speedy aka John Heyes in 40:02. Not too far behind the younger Jon.

There was then quite a battle between myself and Steve Nicholls with Steve putting in a decent sprint finish to take 3rd place in 41:21 with myself Mike Harris in 41:24. The vets kept coming with Stuart Towns next in 41:56, Mark Morgan-Hillam 42:07, Mike Casey 49:23, Tony Foster 50:39 and Jeff Darbyshire in 55:00. It was a decent scoring performance for all the teams.

Here’s 5 of the men looking suitably pleased with their efforts.

 

Nottingham – The English National Cross Country Championships 22nd February

The Nationals returned to the fantastic Wollaton Park venue in Nottingham in February. The rolling grounds make a great course, made super challenging with the addition of loads of thick gloppy mud! Horrendous rain in the build up threatened the cancellation (seems a lifetime ago now!) and much of the normal grass field parking was closed. The surrounding streets were very popular but we managed to get the team bus 🚌 close to the action!

The course hadn’t handled the rain too well!!

Steve Nicholls, Mark Morgan-Hillam and myself had raced here a few years earlier so were excited to be returning and had vowed to bring additional numbers. A keen fan of Cross Country over the last few years has been Jeff Darbyshire and he was straight on it when the club email went out. Stuart Towns joined the party along with the speed twins Kearsley & Heyes.

Representing the Ladies was Jacqui Jones who was having a great season in the Mid Lancs League. Jacqui is one of the founding members of the Endurance Group and it was fantastic to see her running so well and so strong. Well done on 460th place in 48:00.

Sandwiched between Jacqui’s race and the Senior Men’s race was the Junior Men’s race that featured Tim Hartley. On a 10k course it was tremendous opportunity for Tim to test himself against some of the nation’s finest XC runners. It was also his last chance to race the Nationals without having to swerve all us slow old men as he lapped us. Tim had a great run managing 84th place in 41:41.

Our warm up consisted of scouting out the course whilst trying to see Tim and Jacqui in action. What we didn’t do on the warm up was experience the full horrors of the mud, just viewing the drier sections of the course, by accident! (Later that evening I saw a Facebook video which made it look like a clip from Zombie Apocalypse!)

A carefully arranged tree provided an additional challenge. Hurdle it or step on it – that was the choice.

John goes for the “Camo” look in attempt to sneak up on big Jon. 😊

Pink arm sleeves aren’t compulsory club kit but they get you noticed!

Attempting to hover over the water…no chance, it was deep!

Mark’s game face, I think he was enjoying it! Sharp eyed will spot Stu Towns attempting to find a drier line….there wasn’t one!

The finishing straight will be a little drier, err no I don’t think so!

The Nationals for the Senior Men are run over the 12k distance and are a tremendous test of fitness. Bringing the Harriers men home was Big Jon in 602nd place with 56:12. Next was John Heyes, 785th in 59:10.  I had my regular battle with Steve Nicholls, after Steve made his usual explosive start to the race acting as a target to keep me working hard on the 2nd lap. I finished 892nd in 1:00:36. Judging by the photos Mark and Stuart spent part of the race stalking each other. Stuart triumphed in 1:01:45 (967th) with Steve (1029th, 1:02:54) tucking in between them in. Mark finished in 1:03:03 in 1036th place. Meanwhile a little further back Jeff was getting into a real battle which even including runners being tripped up. Jeff stayed on his feet so I’ll leave the story at that! Jeff finished in 1673th place in 1:24:19.

I’m having you, Jeff on the charge!

Regrouping in the tent a quick squint on Strava told Mark and I that the course was longer and slower for us than three years earlier. On reflection no surprise bearing in mind the difficult conditions. There were 1716 finishers with plenty not able to hack the horrendous conditions. When the results came out it revealed the Men’s team were 81st.

If you ever get the chance, do the Nationals, there aren’t many sports where everyone has the chance to compete at a National level. Well done everyone!

 

Lancaster – Fixture 6

The last fixture in February – unheard of but with what was coming a few weeks later it was perhaps just as well the season was all wrapped up before March. By now most runners were deep into their marathon training and Cross Country was a tough distraction.

Seven ladies made the trip north with a very serious chance of claiming a league medal or even the title if results went their way.

A dry day but the wind! Both tents were flattened by the wind. In the end we persevered and pitched one behind a huge oak tree for protection. A few tweaks to the course to when I last ran there but enough in it to keep it reasonably interesting.

It was the return of the Magnificent Seven for the ladies. Vera Schleiffer joined the stalwarts with her Harriers XC debut!

Apart from the wind the conditions weren’t too bad for decent running with just a few patches of mud to dampen any over enthusiastic running! 😊

Vera made an impressive start to her Harriers XC running coming in just under a minute behind super Jacqui Jones. Jacqui was 39th in 29:18, a great result to cap off a fantastic season, clinching the Silver medal with a 2nd 🥈place in the L55 category. Well done! 👏🏼⚫️🔴⚫️👏🏼

Vera was 51st in 30:12, hope you enjoyed it! Next was Lisa Heyes in her 5th outing of the season coming in 68th place with 31:55. Dee Hughes was 90th in 33:38, Rachel Lawton was 10th in 35:29 and Pauline Foster was 109th in 36:08. Great running from our ladies team.

Leading lady for the season was Marie Jarvis who ended up overall in 17th place, well done! 👏🏼

The performances from the ladies were very consistent over the entire season and they were well in contention for the prestigious Gold medal. In the end they were only denied that on countback of race times as their points tally matched eventual winners Blackburn Harriers. A big congratulations to the Ladies on winning the Silver medal.🥈

Representing the men in the final outing of the season were Paul Carter, John Heyes, Tony Foster, Mike Harris (scribe), Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Jonathan Kearsley, Steve Nicholls and Mike Vose.

The Ladies did a fantastic job of capturing the men in action.

There was some swapping of positions in the middle of team.

Mike Vose wasn’t put off by his Northern XC outing and was ready for more action.

As ever John kept his happy face on, he loves his XC that lad! Going into the last race John was well in the hunt for a medal in the V50 age category.

Amongst the men there was some trading of positions a few times between Sanjay, Steve and myself. Always good racing against team mates as well as other clubs, as it forces you to push on with some extra effort. XC is more about places than times so each athlete you pass boosts the team position.

Inevitably Jon Kearsley led the men home again in 29th place with 37:49. This gave Jon a great 22nd place in the season’s standings, a brilliant set of performances.

Next in was John Heyes, clinching a bronze medal 🥉with 50th place in 39:17. Next was myself in 40:40 in 70th place (Really enjoyed that season!), closely followed by Sanjay in 74th in 40:53 and Steve in 76th in 41:02. Nothing much between the three of us. In 186th place was Paul Carter with 49:07, Tony Foster in 192nd with 49:58 and finally new regular Mike Vose in 212nd place with 54:50.

For the season the men did enough to retain their position in Division two but with a strong showing from their old codgers managed an excellent bronze medal 🥉in the V40 league. Well done Gents! 👏🏼

I would like to take this opportunity to do a shout out to Juniors and parents who turned out for the Harriers this season. I’ve not mentioned them in the reports but it was always great to see them amongst the results. Well done all.

Finally with a word count approaching 2,500 I would like to thank all the senior athletes who turned out this season. We wouldn’t be a team without you. ⚫️🔴⚫️

Ladies roll of honour in no particular order (numbers are XC appearances)

Vera Schleiffer 1
Rachel Lawton 4
Katrina Hamilton 1
Jacqui Jones 6
Kelly Anne Towns 3
Lisa Heyes 5
Laura Dootson 1
Marie Jarvis 4
Pauline Foster 4
Danielle Brearton 2
Sarah Coates 1
Jayne Salloum 3
Davina Hughes 3
Carla Taylor 2
Michelle Jones 3

Men’s roll of honour in no particular order (numbers are XC appearances)

Steve Pendergrast 1
John Heyes 7
Mike Harris 8
Steve Nicholls 6
Jon Kearsley 6
Stuart Towns 6
Paul Fitzsimmons 1
Tony Foster 4
Mike Vose 2
Sanjay Bisnauthsing 2
Stuart Fairclough 2
Jeff Darbyshire 6
Mark Morgan-Hillam 4
Chris Simpson 1
Mike Casey 3
Darren Jackson 1
Paul Carter 2

 

Mid Lancs Cross Country Report

Saturday 9th November saw Harriers take part in the second Mid Lancs Cross Country fixture of the 2019/20 season. Just in time for the big day the temperatures took a tumble and one point sleet was on the weather forecast! Our teams were not worried however as they had their new tent making it’s second outing as ever complete with with tea and coffee facilities. We have certainly moved with the times!

First up were the Ladies team. Represented by Marie Jarvis, Danielle Brearton KellyAnne Towns, Jacqui Jones and Pauline Foster.

Hyndburn is one of people’s favourite courses. It has most natural obstacles you can imagine, not out and out hilly but plenty of undulations. The only thing missing is a stream or river but it trades water for mud and plenty of it. Not the severity of Knowsley or Witton Park (runners of the Northern XC Champs at those venues will be having palpitations at those mentions!!) but enough to make it very very tough.

The ladies had a brilliant day, they might have been light in numbers (come on we need more of you!) but they made up for it in an excellent performance. Leading the ladies home in a brilliant 7th place was Danielle in 27:19. A fantastic result that really got the team off to a great start. Next was Marie (battling a cold as well as the mud) in 32nd and 30:13. Making it home as 3rd counter was KellyAnne 41st place in 30:43. Jacqui was 56th in 31:45 and Pauline was 107th in 37:28, coming home completely covered in mud following a serious case of face planting.

This meant the Ladies were 5th team and 3rd V35 team. A great return on their efforts!

Next were the men with a turnout of 10 and a serious loading of handsome V40 runners! Hell! Who says the editor can’t show some artistic licence! By now the course was at it’s churned up finest. Please don’t be fooled by the excessive clothing in the photo, come race time it was strictly vest and shorts only for these tough guys!

Mike Harris, Steve Nicholls, Paul Fitzsimmons, Tony Foster, Chris Simpson (unusually camera shy?), Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Stuart Fairclough, Jeff Darbyshire and Mark Morgan-Hillam were the male line up.

Absolutely blasting round the course for the men was Jonathan, finishing 33rd in an impressive 40:41. Then the pop sensation Stevie Nicks bounced back to form in 72nd place in 43:37. An excellent debut from Sanjay in 81st and 44:13. Next was a steady procession of V40 Harriers. Mike in 85th with 44:30, Mark 91st with 44:41, Chris Simpson (who had adopted camo face paint by this stage) in 100th in 45:12 chased in by Stuart in 101st in 45:14. Then we had Paul Fitzsimmons in 108th in 45:36. Tony was 206th in 53:03 and Jeff was 259th in 1:04:06.10th place team and 6th V40 team.

A tough but very enjoyable day. An honourable mention to the younger athletes who also made the journey to represent Harriers, well done!

All our teams are in Divisions, based on season performance there is promotion and relegation. The ladies are in Division One and the men Division Two. In addition there are leagues for the age categories with the men’s V40 team in Division One.

Well I’m pleased to say that the Ladies are TOP of Division One! This means it’s really important we get as many of you running as possible for the rest of the season to maintain this position. The Ladies V35 are in 2nd place which again is fantastic, well done Ladies!

The Men are going steady in Division Two, currently in 4th place – the top two are promoted and bottom two relegated. For the V40 men it was their first points as they didn’t have a full complete of old boys at Ulverston. It was 2nd place team at Hyndburn so a great points return. Again it’s now vital we continue to turn out in big numbers!

Remaining fixtures

Sefton Park, Liverpool 23rd November

Towneley Park, Burnley 11th January

Lawson’s Ground, Blackpool 8th February

Ryelands Park, Lancaster 29th February

In addition there are the Northern XC Championships 25th January and National XC Championships 22nd February.

Epicman Windermere

Epicman Windermere by Darren Horrocks.

The day started by parking up in a field of sheep and sheep shit, and I noticed a lot of “run route” signs in the field, which I dismissed as “these are spare signs they are using to direct spectators to the actual run route”, I was wrong, but more on that later.

I unloaded my bike and my bag, and walked up to transition and got everything ready, and then had a lot of time to think about how badly the swim was going to go, because I really hate swimming, it sucks, for me, there is nothing worse than having to swim to start a bike/run race. What makes swimming to the start of a bike ride even worse, is swimming to the start of a swim, those words “deep water start”, are some of the worst words I know.

Despite that, the swim start to EpicMan Windermere was by far the easiest and least problematic part of the day. I swam out to the start and slowly swam in circles (I cannot tread water) for a few minutes to wait for my wave to start, and then off we went. The swim was a simple out, turn and back, very little sighting to do, so I just got on with it. I don’t know why I was so worried about the swim, I kept up with the back of my wave, and ended up getting out not-last.

Then came what I thought was going to be the easy bit, how wrong I was. I knew that 56 miles on the bike wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t know that it was going to be so hard. Just short of 6000ft of elevation according to my watch. 56 miles, and 6000ft in the wind, and, the biggest climb was the start of the loop, a loop I had to do twice. After completing the first loop, that seemingly went on forever, I knew I had it all to do again. Half way up the first climb of the second loop is the first time my head went, and I had decided I was going to go until I couldn’t turn my pedals, then get off and give up, today wasn’t my day. But I just managed to get to the top of 1.8km 10% average climb, and roll down the other side, and that was just how the next hour went, climb after climb, convincing myself I was done, and then thinking “it wasn’t that bad”.

That was until I had 5km left on the bike, and I noticed a mountain in front of me, and not a flat landscape that took me to a lake, I looked left, I looked right, the mountain stretched off beyond 5km in both directions, and then it dawned “im going over this aren’t I”. I followed the road, and a group of cyclists on a club ride ended up behind me. I turned a corner, and saw a 1km long 15% climb in front of me, and “ohh for f**ks sake” just fell out of my mouth, which was met by a lot of laughter and agreement from the club riders.

When I eventually got back to T2, my back, as well as my head had gone, I couldn’t really stand up straight or put weight on my left leg, because my back wasn’t there to support it under me. I used T2 to slowly change my shoes over and stretch off and felt slightly less terrible, so went off onto the run.

The run was 4 laps of a 5.3km course, an undulating trail course through fields, forest paths, up and down rocky climbs, and about half way round, through the sheep-shit field. At the end of the first lap, I was done, I had nothing left, I only continued onto the 2nd lap because I knew that not far into the lap, that is where the toilets where. I thought I would just carry on to the toilet and then walk back and tap out. But, from nowhere after going to the toilet, everything sort of came back to me, I had enough energy, and got rid of enough pain to be able to run the flats and down hill, and walk up hill. So I decided to carry on, and immediately caught my foot on a rock, which immediately went numb, and I thought I had broke it. It didn’t hurt to walk or run on it (that came later), so I continued. The only thing to get me round the next few laps was knowing that every time I ran past the start/finish line, my kids were waiting and shouting and wanting me to finish. I hobbled through and got to the end, in what was the toughest 7 hours and 59 minutes I have endured.

I was told during the run from another athlete, “I have done a few of these, this is the toughest one I have ever done, not only that, this is one of the toughest half marathons I have ever done, and would be on its own”. Which was later backed up by a few other people making similar comments. So while I was annoyed at not hitting the 6 hours I was initially aiming for, the day was a very tough day, and people who do this every week said it was tough too and I made it.

The lesson I have learned is, research the course next time, don’t pick one of the hardest races there are as your first one just because it’s the nearest and my head is stronger than I thought it was.

 

Granfondo Stelvio Santini

Granfondo Stelvio Santini Report by Paul Platt

The week before the Granfondo the pros went through the same part of Italy and a stage of the Giro that finished on the Gavia Pass was changed due to the risk of avalanches. This got me concerned and monitoring the Stelvio Pass. This was the reason I signed up. The long route I was entered in also had the Mortirolo pass which has a fearsome reputation with Lance Armstrong calling it the hardest climb he has faced. I watched the giro go up this and wondered if I had bit off more than I could handle and thought about changing to the medium then on the Wednesday before we travelled they confirmed the Stelvio was still full of snow and the road still closed.

The week before I went Ian Stewart serviced my bike (Thanks Ian) and suggested I swapped my 28 cassette to a 30 for the climbs. Having done Fred Whitton two weeks earlier on a 28 and etape du tour two years earlier with similar 10k and 18k climbs over mountains thought I would still with what I had…mainly due to the fact my other wheels had a 28 on also. More on this later..

Myself, my brother in law set off to Italy Friday morning in high spirits and excited for the challenge. We arrived just South of Strasbourg on Friday and went out for Pizza and drinks. Saturday morning early start and through Switzerland, this is when we started to realise why snow had kept Stelvio pass closed. Two passes in Switzerland where closed and we had to detour via a tunnel and car transporter. This got us in to Bormio around 15:00. Straight off to the expo to register. One of the rules of entry is you are given a Santini cycle top which has to be worn in the event. Me being a short arse ordered small….panic I couldn’t even zip it up 😂😂😂. I had to change it to a LARGE!! The Italians like their kits skin tight! From the expo we decided to climb some of Stelvio while we was there. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea. I got about 11km up the climb, took some photos and decided to not continue the further 11km and be fresh for the event.

Morning of the race…
Up at 5:30am for hotel breakfast, ready and roll to the start. The race started at 7 and I crossed the line about 7:15. The cut off in Bormio was 14:15 before the last 14km and the 11km climb of Cancano to the finish. 7hrs to do the 88ish miles. Sounds easy or so I thought.

First 25ish miles where mainly downhill and was averaging 28mph without any effort. The temperature started at 8c and by 9am was about 18c. I had a skin on and had to remove this on the first small climb. The first real climb came “Teligo”. It’s just under 6km at average 8.3%. I went up this with very little difficulty although it was getting hotter. The descent was lovely. Then there was a long section which brought you to a food station just before Mortirolo at 49miles. I was speaking to people on the ride and it seemed not many where doing the Mortirolo due to not wanting to miss the cut off. I arrived at the food station at 10am. I thought 2hrs up Mortirolo and still 2 hours to get to Bormio which was roughly 20miles away. What I hadn’t realised was how much Mortirolo would take out of me and from the bottom the final 40km was ALL up hill.

The Mortirolo is 11.4km, average of 10.5% and max 23%. First 5km was hard work but progressing. I then started to get cramp. I kept battling through. The cramp went. Brilliant. Around 7km it was getting harder and I was having to go into the red due to the 28 cassette to get to the hairpin and get any few seconds of rest bite I could. 9.4km in and it ramped up to 23%, I decided to hit it hard and then the guy in front unclipped right in front of me, I couldn’t get round him, I will be honest if I would have got up the 22% so far in to the climb I very much doubt it. That was it I was off, too steep to get back on until the next hairpin and then jumped on and got through the next 1.5k and I was at the top. I was broken!! I needed a 10min rest before decending the mountain, I didn’t fancy trying 6mile of mountain decending without a clear mind. At the bottom I went into the food station and then 5 mins later was off on the final 40k uphill to the end. I got to Bormio at 14:10 wow that was close. Mortirolo and the around 30km climb to Bormio with the now 28c weather had put me in a dark place. I started the Cancano climb and at a drinks station looked up….all I could see was switch back after switch back up the mountain to some towers about 4 mile away which I knew was near the finish. For the first time in any event including marathons, ultras, Ironman’s and other events I was VERY close to quitting. I knew it was only 4 mile away but I could get my head around how I could climb that last section of the mountain. I sat having a drink next to a Columbian. With my broken Spanish I said “muy difícil” and “estoy no bien”…translating this is very difficult and I am not good. He laughed and then he said in English “I think I am finished”. We agreed we where finished and then I said “shall we try a few switch backs together”. He surprisingly said “yes”. So we set off and then on the switch backs I felt better. I came in the finish and I had completed. What an event. It tested me to my limits!! I road back down the mountain and on to the hotel to have a few drinks.

You don’t always get the medal!

Manchester Marathon by Lisa Heyes

Rain, wind, constant dark nights, the training companions of a spring marathon. I racked up over 600 miles during my training plan. My mantra was ‘follow the plan’, I lived and breathed running for over 4 months, as did everyone else in the Heyes household. This isn’t a personal pity party, I actually enjoyed the training, yes sometimes I was knackered and yes the disastrous dark run in Haigh Hall frightened the life out of me and who wants to be called a ‘F***ing Running W***er’ whilst minding their own business running through Hindley, but, the rest was actually great and very enjoyable. Training had been going really well. I’d come through the ‘tired all the time’ stage and was starting to grow in confidence. That was until 2 weeks before Manchester when we went down to London for the London Landmarks half. To be honest a great, well organised race, but for me this race started with a slight niggle and ended at 13.1 miles with excruciating pains shooting down my leg and a broken medal! The next 2 weeks were spent in constant fear, trying to protect my injury, whilst stupidly trying to run the taper miles (well it’s on the plan) what a novice I am!

Sunday I woke up early, kit was out but I was still not sure whether to run, I’d had lots of lovely good luck messages and John brought me my race day breakfast of porridge and a cup of tea, he’s a keeper! I made the decision to go and give it my best shot. Then came the most hilarious car journey curtesy of Paul Fitzsimmons with entertainment provided by ‘Simmo’ so I arrived very chilled out and not my usual nervous wreck. There was time for a quick toilet stop, club photo and the runners ‘magic banana breakfast’ top up. I then made my way, with some fellow Harriers, to my start pen and waited for 10 agonising minutes until we could begin.

Gun went off, wished good luck to my fellow team mates and I set of running only to pass ‘Dubai Jayne’ in the toilet queue! The first 5 miles felt fine, I found myself running with Dave and Lee, we were chatting and keeping a good pace, though as usual at the start we felt we’d gone off too fast! We went through a water station and seemed to come out the other end without Lee.


Mile 6 to 7 my hip started to give me some jip, but nothing major, so on I went, still with Dave.

Mile 8, pain is getting worse and now it’s in my hip and knee, it’s sore and really uncomfortable, but not unbearable, so being the novice I am, onwards I go!

Mile 9, Dave has pulled away slightly, he keeps checking behind for me, I tell him I’m ok (I’m not really) and to keep going, he’s running really well and had a cracking first marathon with a brilliant finish time. Around here is where I see Dave and Jacqui, cheering me on, I should have stopped here as it is really hurting now, which I shout to them, Jacqui makes signals for me to stop and I do think I’m going to but the stupid devil on my back urges me to try a bit further, you never know it might stop hurting, as if?

Mile 10, yes I’m still going! I see Julie’s Joggers shouting and jumping around enthusiastically. I tell Julie I think I’m going to have to stop but they’re so enthusiastic and seem to think I’m just having a wobble and they are so encouraging, so I just carry on past.

Miles 10 – 12, I’m now having to run, walk. The pain is excruciating and shooting all the way down my leg every time my foot strikes the floor. I need to stop and I start looking around for anyone I know or a marshal. Runners are a great bunch and I’m constantly being asked am I ok, do I need help. At this point I see Paul Carter then Alex Roberts on the switch back, they are both looking really strong and in front of the 3:29 pacer, I shout encouragement and hobble on.

Mile 12, I round on to the main street in Altringham. There on the corner is the best sight ever, the Harriers flag! I burst in to tears. Jonathan scoops me in to his coat as I sob my disappointment out. Mike, Katherine, Serena, Rayford and Jonathan were brilliant with me, offering comfort and invaluable advice as even at this point I was still questioning myself and wrestling with carrying on and walking the last 14 or so miles, luckily Mr Harris put his foot down and told me this was not happening! Now this will tell all you runners the state I was in, I still hadn’t stopped my Garmin!


It was decided the best course of action would be for me to go back to the start with Serena, Jonathan and Rayford. Jonathan then carries me to the tram stop, one of them commented it was like the scene from ‘Officer and a Gentleman’, it really wasn’t, it’s him carrying a crying, snotty, middle aged women, poor Jonathan, he’s a good ‘un, my hero for the day. My 3 RACE ANGELS then got me to mile 25, luckily we got there just in time for me to see John well on the way to his sub 3 hour marathon and cheer him and others on. John you did amazingly well and I’m really proud of you.

So, there you go, my experience of this years Manchester marathon, very different to last years euphoric experience. It’s hard to put in hours and months of winter training, then not finish a race you put your heart and soul in to. I really struggled for the first few days after the race with the disappointment I felt in myself and the ‘what ifs’. All the messages I had off you lovely bunch meant I was never far from tears. Family Heyes spent 24 walking on eggshells and poor John had to try and keep the sub 3 smile hidden!

So no ‘meggal’ or t-shirt for me, gutted! But I won’t be the first or last person this happens to.

Moving forward the 4 week ‘lay off’ I’ve had to endure so far has been far worse than the DNF. I have missed being out in the fresh air just putting one foot in front of the other, pain free, with likeminded people, who support each other and who I’m lucky enough to call friends.

GO TEAM HARRIERS

 

A first Marathon

My First Marathon – Manchester

Someone once told me you can’t do a Marathon and for a long time, I started to believe them, which made my confidence go so low. This was not long before and after my injury and I then was told by a Chiropractor you should never attempt one either. From the injury, I had been seeing him over in which I picked up from the 401 (My own fault completely and not Ian Yates as much as I wind him up over it). Well two and bit years after that and working so hard to build back up the miles again, I felt great and even though my times where never the way they were prior to injury. At this point I settled for that and still do. I now don’t chase PB’s and I enjoy every race I entre, take it all in and get to the end. At the end of the day I still get the same medal as everyone and I see it as a plus I haven’t broken myself again on the race.

After gaining a little bit of confidence, getting over some personal issues, I thought “sod this let’s do it”. So, April 2018 I clicked the enter button on Manchester Marathon page and I was in!! Looking back, I was excited and knew I have a whole year ahead of me to process what I had done. Well a few months went by and it didn’t sink in or anything. Well that soon changed come November and the training was just around the corner. I went to the long runs with the DHR, not only are they the most amazing people, I know and ran with before, but I knew that the Sunday long runs would be slightly easier knowing I was with people in the same boat as me. I knew if I did my long runs with them, I would get it done, as no way I would do it on my own. I really can’t thank them enough.

My training was bob on and enjoying it in a weird way, but I managed to pick up an injury. This wasn’t great especially as it wasn’t running related. I had managed to pull a nerve in the lower of my back and for two weeks I could barely sit, move, walk, never mind run. Doctor advised me to not do the marathon and defer it and rest the back. Sadly, I had missed the deferral point. So, I had to bare the pain, take a lot of pain relief and get on with it. So, at points when some of you might have seen I was going a lot slower than planned, I was battling this back pain. Pain killer was my best friend for a month or so that’s for sure.

So, the big day came, I was running this not only for me but for my Dad. Manchester was his home town and was only fitting to do my only marathon there. Also, I decided to run for Sepsis Trust, as sadly, Sepsis took my Dad’s life at the age of 56. I raised over my target, currently at the £400 mark and still getting donations in, so I’m happy. The day started great all packed into the car and parked at Old Trafford. Enough time to get to the finish line to see some of the other fellow harriers, wish them well and move into our allocated pens. I went with James and Emma, it was Emma’s first marathon too. Won’t lie I was nervous and think it’s only right, no matter how many races you do. I was freezing and I realised I should have brought an old jumper to keep me warm. The race started and we watched them on the big screen then we moved to the start ourselves. Then next thing was we were off. We placed ourselves with 5:30 pacer and I was comfy. I know at one point I must have picked up some speed without knowing and didn’t see James or Emma. But at mile 6 I needed a loo stop and then they caught me up and we ran a fair whack after together.

My problem was about mile 15 and that’s when I felt the knee. Not my bad knee with my old injury the good one of all things. I was annoyed and worried about all the other injuries, like my back, this came out the blue. I told them to go don’t wait for me, go and make yourself proud. I walked/ran for two miles. But I ended up walking in too much pain, cold and on the verge of crying. Then this lady came to me, her name was Sam and asked if I was ok, well then that was it the floods opened and she gave me a hug and said she’s hurt to and will run walk with me. I felt happy to have company. We got to mile 22, power walking and chatting away, the time flew. We then bumped into another runner, Karen, who was struggling, and she joined us. At this point Sam said she’ll go a little fast if that was ok which we were happy to let her go and see her husband who had already finished. She said she’ll wait at the end for us.

Me and Karen did the last few miles together chatting and getting though it together. We got to the mile 25 mark and we knew we were at the end and a marshal told us to keep going there’s crowds waiting for us still and cheering. We were happy to hear this as we kind of thought we were last! I spotted my bro just a bit away from the finish line who shouted: “Run Sarah Run, go it’s nearly done, goooooo!!”. This was 400 yards to the end, I said to Karen “come on let’s run this last bit, we are in pain but we can do it”. Then I heard this voice from the crowds shouting “Go Sazzle, go!” and knew it was my boyfriend seeing me in. I won’t lie that 400 yards was so hard with the pain, but I was so happy to see that finish line.

Both of us got our picture taken together, collected our medals and walked through the village to collect our t-shirts. Low and behold we saw Sam, she was there with her husband and she did wait for us. She gave us both a massive hug, well done and left us to meet our supporters. Since the day, me and Karen have become friends and follow each other’s progress on our running.

I found my two supporters and they gave me a massive hug; little cry as was happy I did it and we walked back to the car. Well I say walk, it was more of a ‘John Wayne walk!’ Managed to get home, shower, food and a well-earned early night was needed. I took the day off work the next day which I think was wise. I had no issues with stairs like everyone seemed to have, it was more the general walking flats which I found odd. I took three weeks off running and just focused on swimming, cycling which has helped but I still have knee issues, which I think it mainly due to a tight ITB. Doing stretches and exercises to loosen it will get me back on track in no time. I have learnt to listen to my body.

The whole experience was a mix of emotions from before, the day and after. My head wants to hit another one but sadly my body is so broken it can’t take any more and I will have to stick to half’s from now on. If anyone thinks they can’t do it my words are “YES YOU CAN!”. If I can overcome being told no you can’t, an injury and manage to complete one, then you certainly can. I am happy to tick this off my bucket list and say “I AM A MARATHON RUNNER”.

Sarah-Elizabeth Coates

Manchester Marathon

Well done to all today’s Marathoners. Here are a few of the many photos taken today. PB or a good story to tell? Then please drop us a report so we can share. A glorious turn out of so many black and red vests is worth shouting about!

 

Sandbaggers on tour (Certificate 18)

SANDBAGGERS ON TOUR/MY RUNNING STAG DO

If your reading this be prepared to have a box of tissues at the ready, because if this race report does not have you in tears of laughter I don’t know what will.

It all started when I went shopping with Emma the week before when Katie Green served us as she usually does. The next words that came out of her mouth was ‘I’m really worried about what’s going to happen with you idiots when you go away next week. Her intuition was right, everything she thought would happen basically did.

4.45am on Saturday Morning on the 8th of December, the alarm went off and it was time to go to the Airport wondering what the next three days would have in store for me, an hour later I met up with the other Sandbaggers of Chris Green, Jonathan Kearsley, Kyle Hazelaar and we were dropped off at the Airport whilst taking bets on the way that either myself or Kyle would get stopped at Airport security due to our ethnicity. We took a picture at the Arabic and Chinese board for a laugh and also I couldn’t read the English one very well so it was a good thing it was there. The bags went through and the three Sandbaggers luggage went through without a problem apart from you guessed it mine. My heart sank and the laughter rose from Kyle, Jonny and Chris as they cottoned on what had happened. ‘why me, why now! I thought, as I managed a nervous giggle. The security guy opened my bag and did a search with a swab stick to where Chris said that the security guy had detected various sexual infections on the swab, much to the sandbaggers and the security guys amusement, after the I got the all clear, a bit of breakfast and Kyle spending at least 30 minutes on the toilet for some reason we finally got on the flight to Malaga, where the banter continued.

On the flight, I was sat in the middle of Chris and Jonny and I know now that if I was to go away with them again, I’ll book to sit somewhere else or make sure I have the strongest coffee to stay awake because the banter was relentless. Kyle who sat next to us across the aisle fell asleep 20 minutes into the flight, and Jonny with a bottle of water wet his crotch. I knew both Jonny and Chris were up to something with me as well and I tried my hardest to stay awake, I managed to get a bit of sleep before waking back up because I needed the toilet that’s when Jonny struck with the water bottle with me and I had to do the walk of shame down the plane with Jonny shouting ‘are you a nervous flyer Rayford.’ In the middle of the flight the lads had agreed to reveal what I’d be wearing for the marathon and Chris pulled out the worst thing I could wear possible, a Manchester City and have Liverpool top with Steven Gerrard on the back, I wanted to projectile vomit and have the ground swallow me up, I’d never seen something so filthy in my life and I had no other option but to wear it now. Jonny decided to wet me again before we were due to land and I walked onto Spanish soil with a wet crotch and disgusted locals glaring at me. A few hours in, I knew this Stag do was going ruthless.

After arriving at the apartment, collecting our numbers from the Marathon expo and doing a bit of sight seeing it turned into early evening and we all decided after Chris suggested on having a meal and a FEW drinks and getting back for a reasonable time. We all decided on pizza but Kyle decided on a tuna Pizza and how he was made to pay for the consequences later on. One alcoholic drink turned into another then into stronger alcoholic, the crazy suggestions of going out all night and then running the marathon straight after was flying about. I ended up breaking a chair due to my excessive winter weight. Jonny and Kyle couldn’t wait to pass on the opportunity to get out their phones and take photos of me and post it on Facebook instantly even the Spanish in the square where we were eating were in tears of laughter. A little afterwards Chris broke Jonny’s dreams after he suggested he reckoned he could run sub 3 in the marathon the next day and he replied bluntly and a with a laugh of ‘no you can’t’, and to end it all I had to get pulled out of the bar by Kyle and Chris because we were absolutely ring bolted and it was descending into chaos. We staggered back to the apartment where reality hit Kyle and said ‘F#%* me Rayf’, we’re running a marathon tomorrow. What are we doing?’ I just laughed in a drunken state and fell asleep. What happened next I’ll never forget.

The morning of the Marathon I woke up to a noise, it wasn’t my alarm and I noticed it was still pitch black outside. It was a noise I can best describe as a whale dying, it was Kyle and he was being violently sick. The tuna pizza had caught up with him and he woke up the whole apartment with his vomiting. He knew at the moment he f&@ked up! as he crawled back to bed I noticed myself that the room was spinning and I had only a few hours before I had to run a Marathon. The next time I woke up it was to the sound of Chris Green shouting ONNNNNN! Oh dear, the room was still spinning and I had a massive headache, Kyle just get going I’m still spinning and ohhhhhh, whilst both Jonny and Chris slowly made there way to have breakfast and I had to put that wretched shirt on, I never felt so dirty in my life. We only had 45 minutes to get the start and we were a state.

On the way to the Start line, Chris, Jonny and Kyle were singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone. These were the songs I heard repeatedly for the four hours. On the Start line all four of us were stood there just staring into the abyss, Kyle repeating saying ‘What the F&@k are we doing’. It all seemed a dream but it wasn’t we were still leathered and we faced a nightmare scenario. The gun went and we all agreed previously that Jonny should go for it with the shape he’s currently in. He weaved through the ground and off he went which left myself, Chris and Kyle to slog it out, across the start line with all three of us shouting ONNNN! The Marathon started.

Mile 1 had passed and Kyle asked when the first Water Station was, Chris said there’s one a 5k, Kyle groaned followed by his 202nd ‘Feck’, of that morning, Chris followed UP with but Kylie in 2.4km we’ll have 8 parkraces left. Kyle groaned again. Mile 3 and Chris’s shoelace decided to come undone, the amount of runners that told him his shoelace was undone from mile 3 to mile 23 must of been in the hundreds but his responses changed from ‘yes thank you, yes I know to feck off I know’. I find amusing. We came up to 10 km along the pier and we saw Jonny going the other way coming up to 12 km shouting ‘Golly gosh boys it’s on!’, and off he flew. At 11Km the first spectator shouted Go on City at me, Chris and Kyle burst in laughter and started singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone again much to my joy.
As we ran up to Marbella and back down again, Kyle was struggling but Chris positivity kept us both going and coming up to halfway we saw Kelly Withers looking rather weary going the other way and we gave the best encourage we could as she was on her own. We passed Kelly’s parents before we ran back into the City centre to a rapturous ovation. They loved Chris’s pink hair the shouts of Vamos, Allez and something that sounded like Animal pushed us on into the second part of the race. We got passed 14 miles and Chris’s persistent singing of You’ll never walk alone and ‘Kylie you’ve only got 5 more parkraces kept us going, the song choices changed from You’ll never walk alone to Rhythm is a Dancer as Kyle was continue to struggle and he wanted to hear some 90’s dance songs. The 25 km marker came and Chris decides to run backwards through it. Myself and Kyle are looking at each other thinking how has he got this much energy.

At 16 miles is something that will I never forget, Chris started singing You’ll walk alone again as we passed them and they started singing it, my pace increased dramatically then. At 17 miles still running 8 minute miling, Kyle say’s ‘He’s suffering’, Chris then says to Kyle not mentioning names but along these lines ‘think of a certain female at home in high heels and something else’. Kyle’s pace increased at that moment that quickly even Eliud Kipchoge wouldn’t of got near him. We got to mile 19 and stadium section where Chris decides to sprint on the track and then run back for us and then decides to run backwards again. The next four miles after that I can describe the worst I’ve ever ran, the heat was getting up, the banter and chit chat had become brief apart from Chris saying ‘are you ok Rayford’, I’d reply with ‘I’m good’, he’d reply again with ‘you’re talking b#llocks, why are you lying to me,’ I wanted to laugh but I was too tired to and at Mile 23 and half, all three of us decided to stop and walk for half a mile to compose ourselves again. We got to mile 24, near Malaga’s football ground and decided right it’s the last two mile lets finish it off. We pulled our pace back down again and through the City centre at Mile 25 Chris and I started to belt out I’m feeling good by MUSE.

We swung around the City Centre under the Christmas lights and there was the finish not before I was heckled by a Manchester United fan saying ‘feck off City,’ as we ran down the road to see Jonny beaming after he ran a 3.05, we finished arm in arm, we completely winged a Marathon, a true test of what teamwork was.

On the Beach after the Marathon, we had to ‘GET IN THE SEA’, to help our legs recover and we decided to bury Kyle alive, the poor man was practically dead, as we left the beach literally we found that Kelly had finished and we were all made for her. She ran a marathon by herself in some severe heat, she showed she has some serious bottle.

After a Nap we heading out on the town, we were sat relaxing in the Irish bar and Kyle introduced us to Creepy Crawford, a randomer and then Kelly eventually joined us. I don’t remember much of that night after that apart from drinking a awful cocktail, sitting on Picasso’s statue, Kyle making Crawford cry after he said we’re moving on from you and shouting ONNNN, so we could sprint away from him through the streets of Malaga and then myself getting lost only to be found by the lads hearing my vomiting noises from down the Street. We at 3am decided to call it a night, it really had be some day.

All I can say is Malaga was of the best weekends I’ve ever had and said this before but thank you to the Lads and Kelly for making my stag do what it was.

RAYFORD


 

Hyndburn by Lorraine Cunliffe

“Let’s go shopping tomorrow,” declared Mr C, much to my surprise as this is definitely not his number one choice of pastimes. Then he mentioned Real Buzz and it became apparent … he meant running related shopping!! Bang went the 3 inch high heeled patent shoes that I was dreaming of – Shaun had spikes of a completely different nature in mind – cross country spikes!

Having never run cross country at school, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for and it certainly wasn’t something that I had ever considered taking up at my age but… Having secured a ballot place for London (thanks again Mr C!) I thought it was time to get a little more serious about my running and start strengthening those legs of mine to ensure that they have a chance of carrying me round a meagre 26.2 miles. So, much to my own surprise, I agreed and two hours later found myself with the afore mentioned spikes in hand.

I really didn’t know what to expect at all. I hadn’t initially signed up for the cross country races as I was reserving judgement until I’d heard my running buddy (Denise’s) thoughts about Sefton Park. Needless to say, last Saturday, I found myself sitting (rather quietly and nervously) in the car, which incidentally looked like we were going on a fortnight’s skiing holiday, heading towards the sunnier climates of Hyndburn. “It looks like its brightening up,” I was told as I looked up at some rather dubious dark clouds – I wasn’t too convinced and I was right not to be. As we parked up, the heavens opened literally – timed to perfection!

We spotted Team Heyes and Simmo masquerading as market stallholder sheltering from the sudden downpour, so we set off across a rather muddy (and slippery) field to battle the elements and erect the women’s tent. Once it was up, we huddled together like penguins to keep warm and at this point I honestly thought to myself – What on earth am I doing? Then I remembered, Pauline Taylor had manged to complete this very course with a broken ankle. Time for me to shut up, man up and derobe (brrrrr). By the way, anyone who knows me realises that being cold and wet are not really options for me. Miss Cunliffe (AKA photographer and support crew for the day) was sent to tell me to warm up. Great I thought, time to get my layers back on. Absolutely not. What it really meant was that her dad had sent her to tell me to start jogging up and down the field – in the rain!!! But hey – I did it – if only to stop myself from dying of hypothermia.

After a delayed start and overcoming the most dangerous obstacle of the day – avoiding getting your spikes stuck in the orange netting as we jumped over it (slight exaggeration with the word jump), the gun sounded. Heeding Jackie’s advice to stay high or face the choice of running back up the slope again – and believe me that was not going to happen – we were off. The first lap took us half way round the football field and through a dark undulating wooded area that was, at times, ankle deep with mud. Then, we literally had to get over the next hurdle – a stream (think gazelles Ms Jones!!) to re-join the course.

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British Athletics Liverpool Cross Challenge

After October’s rain sodden race at Ulverston it was time for one of the biggest fixtures of the season at Sefton Park. It was the 18th year that the Mid Lancs XC league had taken part in the Liverpool Cross Challenge. Originally the league was recruited to fill out the junior fields and the event has become a popular fixture in the Mid Lancs calendar.

Across the different events there are 37 clubs with entry of 1265 runners. It’s a fantastic way of taking part in a race involving elites. The challenge is usually to avoid being lapped!

The first event at Ulverston saw a Harriers entry limited to just 5 men, this meant that only the M40 team scored points. This meant it was vital we had a big entry and scored heavily. Wigan Harriers certainly didn’t disappoint! 15 ladies and 14 men – an awesome turnout. ⚫️❤️⚫️

Conditions were excellent, Sefton Park has never been so dry, probably too dry as parts of the were rutted. First up for the seniors were the ladies running 8.1 km.

Leading the ladies home was Danielle Brearton who has carried her excellent summer form into the autumn. The strength in depth and numbers meant the Ladies achieved these fantastic results.

The first 3 ladies counted as the A team and came in 6th, the next 3 were the  B team and were 12th. Both are L35 and L45 teams were 2nd behind a very strong Lytham St Annes.

Next up were the Men with 9.8 km of fast racing!

 

Making a brilliant debut to bring the men home was Jonathan Kearsley. Again with strong teams we were able to score heavily.

The first six men counted as the A team and came 15th and with plenty of male runners we were able to score as a B team too in 30th place. M40 were 4th and the V50 were 8th.

A quick scan through the updated results and then a lengthy calculation on how we fared against just the teams in our divisions yields the following provisional results for Sefton. (Polite way of saying I might have slipped an error in). Note 4 best results count (most of our teams didn’t score at Ulverston) so we we need to repeat!

Ladies 2nd place Div 1
L35 2nd place (only 1 Div)
L45 2nd place (only 1 Div)

Men 3rd place Div 2
V40 2nd place Div 1
V50 8th place (only 1 Div)

Well done all, especially our debutants who ran brilliantly. 👣

Next up is Hyndburn on 8th December and yes we have a number for every member!