Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Rob Danson in familiar style with an oft-fought battle with Dave Rigby, 2015

The Strava leader-board for Wesham was again buzzing this week as members continue to get out and about for safe training to keep up their fitness, especially to make the most of the more favourable weather conditions. Top of the leader-board for distance was Wesham’s top man, Rob Danson, with 102.7km completed, in 6:51:52. Simon Denye was 2nd on the list with 99.3km in a time of 7:24:31. Neil Harrison took the third spot with 74.9km. in terms of elevation, Nigel Shepherd took the hilly road and topped out with 758m of climb, with Rob Danson on the lower road with 603m. Neil Harrison had 176m uphill, while Simon Denye taking third with 518m. Paul had the most severe week of climbing, with 420m of climb for just 37.3km distance. For the ladies, Helen Lawrenson logged 59.7km for 4:50:32 and 349m uphill, and Liz Sharrocks came in second with 49.2km in 5:09:08 and 351m elevation. Sue Coulthurst was 3rd covering 43.7km in 3:31:57, with 243m of climb. Fastest average pace saw Rob Danson with the most speedwork, with an average of 4:01 per kilometre, David Taylor second fastest with 4:15 and Alek Walker third with 4:16. It was a close battle with Lee Barlow, who averaged 4:17 for his 64.9km, and Mark Belfield and Steve Swarbrick were even paced at 4:20 with 46 and 73.1km, 292 and 272m of climb individually. Fastest women were Suzanne Leonard with 4:45 pace (38.8km and 205m ascent); Sue Coulthurst with 4:51 per km; and Helen Lawrenson 4:52.

This week’s challenge to Wesham members was a virtual 5 miler. Measured and recorded individually the time and distance are validated electronically and submitted to the adjudicator to produce the results. This week’s virtual run was ranked as an age-graded result, which levels the outcome regardless of age. Rob Danson won on both outright time and age adjusted with 28:45; Lee Barlow was 2nd and leading master (M45) with 28:58. Mark Holton was 3rd and leading M40 in 29:14, with Chris Hastwell 4th in 29:46. The leading women were Helen Lawrenson (35:07) and leading lady master (W50); Maureen Danson 2nd W50 (35:50); and Sharon Cooper W45 (37:03). Dawn Biggs was 4th in 38:45 and Tanya Shaw 5th with 39:55. In-between Dave Young was 5th and top Over-70 in 30:40; Tom Crabtree 6th with 31:27; Steven Gore 7th in 32:00; Neil Gregson 8th in 32:02; Peter Rooney 9th and top M60 with 33:05; and Alek Walker 10th in 33:15. Stuart Topping was 11th (34;17); Robert (James) Danson 12th in 35:05; Andy Moore was 16th in 37:47; Rob Wallace came in 18th in 39:09; Kerry Eccles was 20th and top W55 in 39:56; Paul Lancashire 21st in 40:06; Nigel Shepherd 22nd (41:44); Liz Sharrocks 41:53; Ryan Azzopardi 42:33; Emma Wright 42:46; Colin Smy 43:10; Pauline Eccleston 43:32; Antoinette Holton 44:02; Sharlan Butcher 44:42; Sally Deacon 44:45; Jo McCaffery 45:37; Kirsty Holland 46:09; Julie Rooney 48:42; James Birchall 50:17; Clare Belfield 51:20: and Alice Deacon 51:54.  On the overall flat times, Rob Danson won, with Chris Hastwell 2nd in 30:17; Mark Holton 3rd in 30:44; Tom Crabtree 4th (31:27), and Lee Barlow 5th with 32:10.  The women were Helen Lawrenson 1st with 39:33, Sharon Cooper 2nd in 39:57. Maureen Danson was 3rd in 41:49 and Tanya Shaw 4th with 41:55, with Antionette Holton 5th in 44:20. The challenge for next week is over a 10km distance.

Wednesday evening should have seen the opening of the 2020 Inter-Club Grand Prix with the opening fixture in Blackpool’s Stanley Park, followed by refreshments at the Blackpool cricket Club with the presentation of the awards from the 2019 season, won overall for the 6th year by Wesham’s Rob Danson. Initially it was proposed to stage the event without the reception afterwards, but quite obviously the whole event had to be called off once the government’s advice for lockdown was announced. It is probably unlikely that there will be an Inter-Club series this year that could match any of the previous seasons. There were some that ran the course as an individual social distanced exercise, with Lee Barlow clocking 24:22 for the 4-mile double circuit; Alek Walker 24:33; Helen Lawrenson 29:01 for the leading lady and Shaun Murray 33:28.

Wesham are building their social interactions with a Facebook Live session on a Friday on the members page, a club night social videoconference, a virtual training session on a Wednesday evening, and other meetings to discuss club business and new initiatives. So it is really as busy at the clubs as it usually is, except that all activity is taking place from members’ living rooms!

The world of athletics is very much alive and kicking despite the current lockdown, with much useful information on the England Athletics website. If you are involved in coaching or officiating or are interested in either there is a wealth of activity and online training available and this is being built up daily. Affiliated members can access their Athlete Portal for individualised detail, and for parents there is much information you can access to find ways to interest and involve your children and provide fitness routines, designed for the current circumstances.

The athletics calendar has understandably been decimated for the next four months, with some expectation that the sport will get back into some sort of action in September. There is a UK fixtures planning meeting scheduled in the next couple of weeks, but it is looking likely that that will just apply a broad brush to the main fixtures for 2021 and will not address the question about the remainder of 2020. The autumn is likely to become overcrowded with events, as it already had a full calendar and now many events are being re-scheduled throughout the autumn period, with the London marathon on 4th October; Manchester 11th October; and Brighton 20th September. One interesting change for next year is a swap in the dates of the English Cross Country and the Inter-Counties, with the latter in Loughborough on February 20th and the National in Parliament Hill on March 6th, to accommodate the World Championships in Australia on March 20th.

10 years ago Easter was early in march, and the Caldervale Country 10-Mile race, ever popular with Wesham, saw Alex Rowe finish 15th in 1:02:13, placing 2nd M50 behind the evergreen Paul Muller over the hilly course in strong fresh winds. Lee Barlow was in speedy condition to place 23rd in 1:04:20, with Troy Watson on his tail in 1:04:24. Steve Myerscough was also in there and he came steaming down the hill to the finish in 25th with 1:04:38. Peter Waywell donning bib number 1 was 33rd in 1:06:04. Carmel Sullivan was 3rd woman and 2nd W40 in 1:10:15 with hill specialist Sarah Sherratt 6th woman and 1st W35 in 1:13:20. Michaela Dempsey was 8th and 3rd W45 in 1:13:52. Kath Hoyer finished 2nd W50 and 20th in 1:21:15 and Kerry Eccles 6th W45, 33rd woman in 1:29:17. Steve Littler was 6th in the Salford 10k in 31:43 in a strong field of 600, with Gary Moore 77th in the famous Rivington Pike Race the next day in 24:44 for the 3.25 miles with 800ft ascent. Sarah Sherratt was 8th woman in 26:14 and Michaela Dempsey 19th in 30:42.

5 years ago this week saw the start of the Inter-Club Grand Prix with the Blackpool Stanley Park fixture, and Rob Danson was already well into his winning streak as he drove away from a head-to-head with Preston’s Dave Rigby, a battle undertaken again and again for several years. One second separated their finish times of 19:50 and 19:51. Danson put to bed a disappointment the previous Friday when heavy road traffic had scuppered his arrival on time for the Salford 10k. the Wesham men’s team could only manage 3rd on the night, despite sterling performances from Steve Waterhouse (14th in 21:49); James Mulvany (16th in 21:55); Lee Barlow (22nd in 22:28); Steve Myerscough (27th 22:56); Alex Rowe (28th; 22:57); David Taylor (33rd; 23:22). The Wesham women were 2nd team, with Emma Pass 9th (26:39); Sue Coulthurst 11th (27:30); Sarah Sherratt 13th (27:52); Helen Lawrenson 15th (27:54); Nicola Unsworth 18th (28:17). David Taylor ran the Lancaster Three Bridges 10k at the weekend, coming in 14th in 38:55. Kath Hoyer was 118th in 49:13; Alan Taylor 123rd in 49:42; and Dave Waywell 134th with 51:34.

This week 2 years past and a couple of weeks back Britain was suffering from the “mini beast from the East”, and several races were called off due to the severe weather, with Wilmslow Half Marathon, Thirsk 10 and Wigan Half Marathons cancelled. The Sweatshop 10 mile at Bispham went ahead with a depleted field, but Wesham were in force with David Taylor finishing 6th in 61:38 and Andrew Harling 20th in 69:35. Mark Renshall finished 28th in 1:13:21 and Lee Nixon 33rd with 1:14:08. Gemma Owen was 5th woman in 1:14:39; Kath Hoyer 16th in 1:21:49; Alan Hudson was 1st M65 in 1:19:20; and Martin Bates 3rd M60 with 1:19:22. Simon Denye ran the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster finishing 171st in 2:50:15, with ben Wrigley 224th in 2:58:53, possibly not a day to remember in the tough conditions. Dave young though was 1st M70 in 3:12:55 with a fine effort and David Millar 369th in 3:30:57.