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

 

Cross Country – The first half!

I was always determined to write the end of season Cross Country report before the end of March. Why? Well if it was anything like my recent attempts to blog it wouldn’t happen otherwise. I also associate March with being the last month of the season so it was rather surprising we were all done by the end of February. One month on it was just as well we had finished as March turned into the most bizarre month (with more of course to come!)

Added note – it of course took me ages to complete this blog!

A very wet and muddy and muddy Cross Country season, that is probably the biggest understatement ever! It was just as well we started the season with a couple of brand new tents. Thankfully they survived the season and were reasonably clean when we put them away but more of the last fixture later!

Ulverston – Fixture 1

We started the season with a September away day to Ulverston. We ended the previous season there so it seemed strange to be back there so soon. Now my memory is getting poor with old age but I do recall the savage weather forecast being incorrect and we were treated to some decent sun. A course shoehorned into the space available at Glaxo sports ground, it was the 3rd time we had competed there and it was a decent benign opener to the season. With it being further afield it’s always a good place to earn good team points if you can get a team out. The ladies got their season off to a great start with a brilliant 3rd place overall and 3rd within Division one. Blackburn Harriers taking the win.

Ladies team – Laura Dootson, Kelly Anne Towns, Jacqui Jones, Lisa Heyes, Rachel Lawton and Katrina Hamilton.

The men were able to watch as the course got slowly churned up. There are a few sections of hard ground so it’s one of those courses where the jury is out on which shoes are best.

The men were starting to sweat on whether for the second year running we would only have 5 and not the 6 required for a team score but thankfully 6 rolled up! Steve Nicholls running with a cough, any thoughts of suggesting he sat it out being put on the back burner!

Jonathan Kearsley got his season off to a flyer with a great run although he was aided by some pacemaking for the first 200 metres from Steve “Go out real hard” Nicholls.

Bringing the men home then was the Harriers blond bomber Jon Kearsley (big Jon) in 35th place. His love of the mud only rivalled by his love of his dry robe. Of subtly different dimensions but not lacking any speed was the other John – of the Heyes variety. Apart from a small scare at the end of the first lap John had 2nd place covered off for the team. After briefly surprising John I held onto 3rd place. Although I was reasonably fit from Autumn marathon I have no recollection of actually feeling it as I made my way around multiple laps. A good reminder of how good Cross Country running is for your fitness! 4th for the team was Steve, then Stuart Towns and Steve Pendergrast. I may have remembered this incorrectly but I think it was Stephen and Katrina’s first XC race and it was great to have them there as without them we wouldn’t have managed complete teams. Well done, a great effort as it’s a decent drive for your first outing.

Men’s team – Jonathan Kearsley, John Heyes, Mike Harris, Steve Nicholls, Stuart Towns & Stephen Pendergrast.

It’s at this point I cheat slightly as I wrote a report for the second race, although John Heyes and Stuart Towns said I only wrote one to illustrate they weren’t there! (They were off trying to win the Warrington Way pairs relay)

Hyndburn – Fixture 2

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!

Ladies team – Danielle Brearton, Marie Jarvis, KellyAnne Towns, Jacqui Jones and Pauline Foster.

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 Derbyshire and Mark Morgan-Hillam were the male line up.

It’s fair to say that the going was heavy and after a series of races to churn it up downright horrible in parts. There were a few runners who examined the mud in closer detail, Simmo not wanting to be outdone by Pauline doing a bit of a face plant too! Apparently the mud is good for your complexion!

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.

Men’s team – Jonathan Kearsley, Steve Nicholls, Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Mike Harris, Mark Morgan-Hillam, Chris Simpson, Stuart Fairclough, Paul Fitzsimmons, Tony Foster and Jeff Derbyshire.

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

Sefton Park – 3rd fixture

Sefton Park, one of the bigger fixtures on the calendar. A combination of leagues, a National series of events and a European Championships qualifier draws the athletes and spectators in decent numbers.

A fairly flat parkland course that drains well resulting in only a few patches of mud after poor weather. NOT THIS YEAR! After the wet weather we had in the autumn it was muddy on all of the course and very very heavy in parts. It certainly changed it from a course where it’s possible to run at your “road race pace”. It was only looking at the photos that reminded me how bloody awful the mud was!

Danielle had another great run coming home first place for the team and 10th in the ML race. Recovered from her cold was Marie Jarvis in 2nd place (21st) and final place on the ladies A team was Jacqui Jones who was having an excellent season. Overall we had 12 female athletes competing which was a fantastic turnout with a great 6th place.

Ladies team – Danielle Brearton, Marie Jarvis, Jacqui Jones, KellyAnne Towns, Jayne Salloum, Lisa Heyes, Davina Hughes, Carla Taylor, Pauline Foster, Rachel Lawton, Michelle Jones and Sarah Coates.

Now the men got to enjoy the course after everyone else had given it a right good chewing over. One time we should get to go first!

Check out the orange shoes and white socks sported by Jeff “Keen as mustard” Derbyshire. New on for Sefton, it’s fair to say they lost their glow after a battle in the trenches!

It was a tough day at the office but leading the men home was Tim Hartley with a fantastic 33rd place. Next home and 1st Vet Harrier was John Heyes with a super 52nd, this helped the Men’s Vet team to a great 3rd place, We had a strong team out but there was some serious switching around of finish positions from previous races!

Full Men’s team was Tim Hartley, John Heyes, Stuart Fairclough, Mark Morgan-Hillam, Steve Nicholls, Mike Harris, Chris Simpson, Darren Jackson, Paul Carter, Mike Casey and Jeff Derbyshire.

Next was a long break until the January races and a chance for Mother Nature to rustle up some extra mud!

To be continued……

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.

Cross Country news!

Important – registering to run Cross Country at Sefton Park Liverpool

Cross Country – Saturday 23rd November Liverpool

This isn’t the next race but it’s different in that you need to let us know before this weekend if you want to do it! The club will pay for the entries but we need to know so we can sort numbers and timing chips. There will be no on the day entries. It’s a fantastic event that attracts additional runners from across the country. Please only advise if you can definitely run. Thank you.

Cross Country – Saturday 9th November Wilson Playing Fields, Hynburn

The next Cross Country race takes place Saturday 9th November at Hynburn. If you are a registered club member do please come along, join in and represent the club. There is no selection criteria, just a club vest is required. The course is either spikes or trail shoes and is sure to have a little mud so likely to be good fun! For details of location, course maps and timings please look at http://www.midlancs.org.uk/

Other Mid Lancs League dates

11th January Burnley Mid Lancs XC
8th February Blackpool Mid Lancs XC
29th February Lancaster Mid Lancs XC

Other Cross Country events

25th January Northern Athletics XC Champs,
Camp Hill Estate, Kirklington, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 2LS – look up Camp Hill – looks a good venue.

Saturday 22nd February English National XC Champs
Wollaton Park, Nottingham – a fantastic venue for a great event

Ironman Mallorca 70.3

Apologies the publisher is running very late!!

Ironman Mallorca 70.3 race report….

I love cycling in the sun, I don’t mind hills and I’d long since decided that the half Ironman distance is the event for me….doable at my current level of training, no killing myself on the day, just enjoying a good solid half-day’s training with a medal and food at the end! What more could you want?
So a few years ago when I found myself spectating at Mallorca Ironman 70.3 during a cycling holiday, I decided I’d like to come back and do it one day.
And I’m so glad I did!

A friend (also competing) and I flew over and arrived in Alcúdia late Wednesday evening. We had a few glasses of wine, deciding sensibly to refrain for the next couple of nights, and got a relatively early night. Thursday was a busy day: first registering for the event and collecting the necessary transition baggage, stickers and touring the expo, then picking up our bikes, returning briefly to the hotel to change into cycling gear and then squeezing in a quick 25 mile loop up the coast to check out bikes were ok. Following lunch in Puerta Pollença and a lovely photo opportunity in Cala San Vicente, we returned to Alcúdia for a quick dip in the sea to acclimatise. It was much warmer than 3 sisters!

The following day, we had to rack bikes at 3pm and collect our timing chips from transition. This also involved packing the aforementioned transition bags with everything we’d need for the race. Stressful! Made a couple of rookie errors like walking 2 miles in flip flops and forgetting factor 50, but once everything was securely in transition it was feet-up time around the pool.
Race day morning was a 5:30am start for the special early breakfast the hotel put on for athletes. Apart from thinking porridge was a bowl of jumbo oats covered in boiling water, the rest of the offerings were substantial enough to fuel us for the next few hours, and off we went to the start, stopping briefly at transition to put nutrition on bikes.

There was a warm up opportunity prior to the start, so I had a little swim in the sea, and got my usual pre-race nerves and worries that my wetsuit was restricting me (memories of previous experiences rearing their heads). A quick rearrangement around the shoulders and I was ready to go.
The rolling start at Ironman events makes for a more civilised swim entrance, unlike the scary ‘washing machine’ fist fight in a mass start. I managed to get some great drafting, and coupled with millpond-like sea conditions produced my best swim ever. Sub-32 minutes, I thought I’d read the number wrong on my watch!

Into T1, quick drink of water, carried bike shoes with me as my bike was racked at the opposite end of the longest transition in the world (fact!) and onto the bike to start the course with a fast flat 15 miles to the foot of the climb. This consists of a 7 mile uphill, with I think an average gradient of about 5.5%. Not steep, but blimmin long! Following a technical descent with several switchbacks to contend with, the rest of the course is relatively flat, and if you haven’t burned your legs out on the climb (I did), should be pretty fast (I wasn’t!).

I was absolutely desperate to get off the bike, I always am, but having done very little on the bike this year I felt this event really found me out. After what seemed like an eternity, I was back in Alcúdia and quite happy to chuck said bike in the nearest skip. Instead I racked it back where it belonged and quickly headed out onto the run.

By this time the temperature had risen considerably, but conditions were helped by a slight breeze and lots of water stations. The run is a 3-lap route along the coast road, past the raucous beach party of support, then ending on the beach along the famous Ironman red carpet, where you hear your name on the loud speaker announcing ‘you are an Ironman’ (whether it’s a full or not haha!). Pretty uneventful run, managed to keep moving forward and eventually cross the line in just over 6 hours.

Swim 31:55
T1 6:02
Bike 3:33:13
T2 3:47
Run 1:54:46
Total 6:09:43

All in all, a superb event and a great location. Definitely recommend as a warm-weather option, and can also be done as a relay!

 

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!

 

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!