Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Suzanne Leonard tackles the Rossell Promenade with a cracking view of Black Coombe

Last week Wesham contested a 5-mile negative split challenge, that is, the latter mile splits had to be faster than the first. Rob Danson topped the table with a time of 29:21. Simon Denye was 2nd with 29:54; Alek Walker 3rd clocking 32:47 going from 6:55 pace up to 6:05. Lee Barlow was 3rd in 34:10 with his 5 miles around Stanley Park, speeding up from 7:03 pace to 6:15. Neil Gregson was 5th in 36:17 picking a hilly route from Kirkham through Treales starting at 7:24 and rising to 6:51. Nigel Shepherd 36:52; Mark Renshall 37:15; Sue Coulthurst ran 38:14 for first woman; Maureen Danson was 2nd in 44:41; Kirsty Holland came 3rd with 46:53; Kerry Eccles was 4th in 47:20; and Emma Wright 5th with 47:35. Rob Wallace ran 39:08 for the 5 miles; Stuart Topping 39:30; Peter Rooney 40:11; Lee Lawrenson 43:57; Robert Danson 44:17; Martin Allison 44:51; Dave Young 45:00; Andrew Moore 45:36; Ryan Azzopardi 46:29; Dawn Biggs 47:36; Liz Sharrocks 48:44; Sharlan Butcher 50:14; Emma Louise 52:07; and Sally Deacon 56:06. This week it has been Wesham’s May handicap over a 4.9 mile course; results next week.

On last week’s Wesham Strava leader-board just inside 10-minute mile pace Alice Deacon completed 25.3 miles in an overall time of 4:10:03 with 3 runs, her longest being a half marathon. Kerry Eccles topped 29.5 miles over 5 runs in 4:51:04, including a 10-miler. Liz Sharrocks ran 21.6 miles in 3:31:19 over 6 outings, with Jo McCaffery two short runs totalling 7.2 miles in 1:10:12. Chad Colby notched up 23.7 miles in 3:28:57; Andrew Moore 13.0 miles in 1:53:32; Alan Hudson 26.6 miles over 3:50:59; Paul Eccles 19.5 miles in 2:49:00 with a whopping 712ft of uphill; and Lizzie Nield 7.1 miles in 1:01:25. Fastest women’s average pace was achieved Sue Coulthurst with 7:54, running 27 miles in 3:33:18. Tara Fisher was just a little slower with 7:57 totalling 21.4 miles in 2:50:08; Suzanne Leonard at 8:03 pace with 19.7 miles run in 2:38:35; Helen Lawrenson 20.5 miles in 2:45:43, averaging 8:05; and Vron Walker 4.9 miles just missing the 5-mile challenge in 40:45, 8:19 pace. In the men’s ranks Garry Barnett completed 34.5 miles in 3:58:38 at 6:55 pace; Rich Burnett 9.2 miles at 6:50 totalling 1:02:52; Steve Swarbrick 38 miles in 4:19:40, also 6:50 average; Tom Farquhar 20.2 miles at 6:47 giving 2:10:01, and top of the table Rob Danson at 6:15 for 6:46:15 over 65 miles. Overall mileage was topped by Simon Denye, 70.9 miles in 8:32:51, followed by Lee Barlow with 70.1 miles in 8:20:03; and Danson 3rd. Mark Holton was 4th (50 miles in 10:07:06) and David Taylor (50 miles in 5:56:40). Tanya Shaw’s 31.1 miles was the top distance by a Wesham woman, time 5:13:04, with Kerry Eccles 2nd with her 29.5 miles, and Antionette Holton 28.3 miles in 4:35:56. Sally Deacon was 4th with 27.4 miles in 4:35:22 with Sue Coulthurst ranking 5th. Helen Lawrenson was Queen of the Mountains with 781 ft uphill; Liz Sharrocks 2nd with 721ft; Kerry Eccles 3rd with 701 ft; Sue Coulthurst 4th with 692ft; and Sally deacon 5th with 673ft. Robert Danson (James) climbed 1156ft over 30.1 miles for 5th men’s place; Lee Barlow ascended 1175ft; David Taylor 1240ft; Simon Denye breasted 1729ft but Rob Danson was most elevated with 2449ft.

UK Athletics, governing body of British Athletics is undergoing a review with UK Sport to make them “fit for the future”. This follows a rocky couple of years with the departure of the former CEO Nils van Vos, subsequent in-fighting and then the controversial appointment and speedy resignation of Zara Peters-Hyde.  While much of the business of UKA concerns international team management and looking after podium athletes UKA does govern grass-roots amateur athletics through the Home Country associations, and has a directive from government to make their sport accessible to all and address the health challenges posed by the general population. It is hoped that this review will devolve down to allow input from the grass roots upward but watch this space. A brief questionnaire has gone out to registered athletics officials this week to poll their immediate hopes and plans regarding future involvement in athletics and this is one particular crisis in the sport, with an ageing skill base not currently being refreshed by younger recruits. Many athletics competitions face a dilemma of not being able to recruit enough officials of the required grade, leading to whole competitions or individual events having to be cancelled, so this is a situation that urgently needs attention and a development plan.

England Athletics meanwhile has strode ahead with its Athletics @Home programme and virtual coaching and training schemes, and this week CEO Chris Jones has written to all English registered clubs and association with an update on their activities and plans for the immediate future. They face a big loss of income from training courses that have had to be cancelled and championship events and must ensure they can continue functioning as a small business and provide service to the English clubs. Most importantly they will be reviewing affiliation subscriptions for the coming years sooner than usual with a likely halt on increases for 2021 as some compensation for the loss of the 2020 competition year.

22 years ago in 1998 the second round of the Inter Club Grand Prix had taken part in Leyland’s Worden Park. There were very muggy conditions on this late spring evening and a strong battles at the front of the race, ending up in a burn-up on the hill in the fourth mile leading up to the ark gates, where North Fylde’s Carl King opened up a decisive lead with Alex Rowe leaving Preston’s Steve Smith behind to finish 2nd for the 4.1 miles in 20:08. Keith Wilding was 18th for Wesham in 21:24; Gary Pendlebury 20th in 21:31; Tony Howard 24th in 21:50; and Russell Mabbett 45th in 23:30. The Wesham women were low in numbers with only Janice Copeland 144th and Pat Swarbrick 158th in 33:23. The Wesham men and the Men Veterans finished 3rd team with John Burns 46th (23:32); Des Cleary 52nd (23:38); Phil Metcalfe 53rd (23:47); Trevor Rayner 56th (23:51); Ian Squire 589th (23:56); Martin Bates 59th (23:56); Ian Cosh 66th (24:14); Peter Waterman 67th (24:17); Peter Aldersley 73rd (24:31); John Bertenshaw 74th (24:32); and Alan Glasgow 80th (24:55). Wesham had 28 members running, including Dave Young (M50; 26:25); Howard Henshaw (M55; 28:34); Peter Earnshaw (M50; 29:44); John Whiteman (M50; 149th); and Les Ward (M60; 32:49). Also this week was the Manchester to Blackpool Relay, organised by Horwich RMI Harriers in 10 stages from Manchester’s Heaton Park gates to Blackpool’s Squires Gate. Wesham showed their increasing strength and commitment as they turned out four full teams this year despite a few last-minute substitutions. This was the club’s most successful year, with an “A” and “B” team and a veterans and Mixed team fielding the best runners in the Veterans category and a totally veteran-free “A” team, put together by club captain Alex Rowe. The “A” team were away first, with 22-year old Tony Howard running a brilliantly paced first run from Heaton to Newtown to finish 11th, ahead of veteran Arthur Swarbrick, also having a good solid run. John Bertenshaw took up the baton to Bolton UFC for the fastest in Stage 2. Both he and “A” team runner Brian Porter were collected at the end of Stage 2 and whisked off to the Blackpool 10k which was happening the same morning at 11am. The following members ran well in the Veterans team with Keith Wilding 15th on Stage 6 (Leyland to Much Hoole) taking the team 20th place. Alex Rowe ran Stage 7 to Preston Docks as the day hotted up to finish 18th taking 57 seconds off the veteran stage record. John Burns took the team one place higher to 17th on Stage 8 to Warton with the team ending up 21st at Squires Gate. The “A” team maintained a steady position in the 30s with Gary Moore on Stage 5; des Cleary Stage 8; and Andy Robinson (stage 9) finishing 39th. The “B” team saw good runs from Ian Rawcliffe; Tony Robbins; Peter Aldersley and Geoff Everall (Over-60) who beat all the other Wesham team members on Stage 10. Wesham had 12 runners in the Blackpool 10k; Peter Waywell (36:45); David Mills (40:15); John Bertenshaw; Reg Chapman; Terry Unsworth; John Howorth; Brian Porter; Jeff Newton; Finlay McCalman; Trevor Rawcliffe; Steve Alderson; and Brenda Emmens.

12 years ago in 2008 Steve Littler finished a close second in the Blackpool 10k on Sunday as he raced to the runner-up position behind Jonathan Prowse in an impressive 31:39 in warm but favourable conditions. Jono had some pre-race nerves about Littler’s performance after the latter has been in great form all year, with several wins and course records and a 34th place in the London Marathon. However, Steve’s deficit today was 34 seconds despite some strong running. Karl Lee had the better of Les Cornwall as the pair ran neck-and –neck along the Blackpool Promenade. Lee won out with 35:25 for 8th place, ahead of his run in this weekend’s Manchester 10k, with Cornwall just 6 seconds adrift in 9th place with 35:31. Barry Norman was also in the mix as all three young men ran together, finishing 12th in 35:42. Gary Pendlebury finished 8th on Sunday in the Golden Ball 5km race near Morecambe in a fine 16:52, wining the M50 age category comfortably as he warmed up for the British Masters Road Relays this weekend. Relay team-mate Alan Hudson was 1st M55 by 34 seconds as he ran 17:56 for 16th, and M40 team captain Trevor Rayner was 22nd with a good 19:02, earning him 2nd M45 position. Steve Littler was also 2nd in the Chorley 4 on Wednesday evening, running a fine 20:11 for the four mile 2-lap course being just 2 seconds off the lead. The Wesham fell running team was out again on Saturday in the Belmont Winter Hill race in the opening fixture of the club’s fell championship for 2008. Richard Davies was the first Wesham runner again, finishing 105th over the 4.5 mile course with 1000’ of ascent with 42:21 with the ranks swelled by the Inter Counties Fell Championships. Dave Waywell was 2nd M60 and 149th with 45:56, a very creditable performance, while Kath Hoyer was 6th W40 with an enviable run of 52:23 for 203rd overall. Shaun Turner finished 210th in 53:28 and Bernie Krawczyk was 229th in 57:45.

Four years ago in 2016 Rob Danson clocked up an impressive win in the Blackpool 10k along a new course taking in more of North Promenade and finishing uphill north of Ginn Square. He came in with a three-minute lead in 33:20 on the warmest day of the year at that time with a gusty easterly wind. Lee Barlow finished 15th in his lead up to the European Masters Non-Stadia Championships to be held in Portugal with 37:55 placing 3rd Over-36-year old. Elder brother Jason also in the European Championships had the edge over his sibling and finished 1st Over-46 in 14th place with 37:28, also holding off Wesham team mate Troy Watson by 47 seconds who came in 2nd Over-46 and 17th in 38:15. Jonathan Lawson was 159th in 47:51. Simon Eaton and Russell Mabbett both took part in the Three Peaks Race two weeks ago, 24 miles and 5276 ft of climb around the circuit from Horton in Ribblesdale taking in Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Simon finished 396th in a time of 4:34:32, and Russell was 628th with 5:11:32. In the Blacksticks Blue 10k from Inglewhite on Sunday David Taylor was 8th in 39:46 on the hilly course up around the flanks of Beacon Fell with a significant climb to the top of the ring road at the visitor centre. And he had also finished 7th in the opening round of the Kendal 10 Lakeland 10k series, clocking 37:42 on the out-and-back course featuring a hilly middle section on the turnaround triangle. Gary Barnett was close behind in 9th place on the Blacksticks race with 39:59, just scraping under the 40-minute barrier. Alan Taylor was 110th in 53:32 and Paul Carter 147th with 57:48. Paul Gregory finished 3rd in the Staveley Kentmere Trail Challenge 17k, completing the course in 1:30:01. Steven Gore was 9th in 1:32:42. Helen Lawrenson was 14th woman and 6th W40 running 1:50:55.