Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Great picture from 2009 of the Wesham group at Caldervale, a bit earlier in the year.

Wesham remain very much an active athletics club despite the current pandemic and cancellation of all competitive events, with the club having a weekly live session on Facebook, video training sessions and staging weekly virtual running challenges and the monthly club handicap running in a virtual context. The club were very saddened to learn of the passing of Blackpool’s David Wood last week, a very popular local with many running achievements to his name and a portfolio of the best photographs of Fylde and Preston area athletics. A lovely man taken before his time, he will be sorely missed.

Last week’s Wesham Virtual Challenge was another 10k, in place of the Wesham Summer 10k that would have taken place last Wednesday. Top of the results was Alek Walker who ran a new personal best in isolation of 37:40 with a 4-lapper round the Preston Dock starting and finishing in the dockside car park. Steven Gore was second with 40:49 round the same course, and Garry Barnett third in 41:20 on a route from the Ribby roundabout down Preston Road to Newton and back through Treales to Kirkham Church. Helen Lawrenson was first woman and 5th overall in 45:58 with a figure-of-eight course form Poulton to Skippool and Windy Harbour. Suzanne Leonard was second in 47:30 on a similar route through Poulton and Skippool. Tanya Shaw placed third in 51:21 on the Catforth 5k course with 2 laps just after the first of the 3-race series of 3-milers would have taken place. Fourth placed overall Tom Crabtree ran 41:22 from Watson Road Park in Blackpool up to Waterloo Road and down to Squires Gate Lane and back. Mark Renshall was 7th in 47:58; Peter Rooney 8th with 49:39 on a straight out-and back from Freckleton to Lytham East End; John Burns 9th with 50:09; Stuart Topping 11th with 51:29; Andy Moore 12th in 52:26; Dave Young 13th in 55:41; Dawn Biggs 4th woman and 14th with 55:48; Emma Wright 5th and 15th in 56:29 with a new 10k personal best performance; Kay Twist 6th and 16th in 59:12; Stephen Twist 17th with 59:34, just behind; James Birchall 18th in 60:29; Ian Nichols Hogg 19th with 60:40; Emma Louise 7th woman and 20th in 1:01:49; Liz Sharrocks 8th and 21st in 1:03:00; Sally Deacon 9th and 22nd in 1:07:07; Kerry Eccles 10th and 23rd with 1:07:14; Julie Rooney 11th and 24th in 1:07:52 on the Freck to Lytham route with Peter; and Nicola Carter 12th and 25th in 1:09:27.

On last week’s Wesham Strava leader-board showing training for the week Simon Denye returned to the top spot with 67.4 miles completed in 8:31:34 at an average pace of 7:35 per mile. Rob Danson was 2nd with an easier week logging 65.3 miles at a pace of 6:29 giving a total running time of 7:03:22. Third was David Taylor with 62.9 miles in 7:25:39 at an average pace of 7:05. Second on running time was Neil Harrison, with 60.4 miles at 7:33 pace giving him 7:37:03. Sue Coulthurst had the biggest weekly mileage for a Wesham woman again with 32 miles in 4:13:52 t 7:56 pace with Helen Lawrenson second with 26.7 miles in 4:15:26 (9:34 average), and Kerry Eccles 3rd clocking 24.2 miles in 4:13:18 (10:28 pace). Tanya Shaw, Suzanne Leonard and Sally Deacon were all next with 23.2, 22.7 and 22.5 miles apiece in 3:22:37, 3:03:30 and 3:39:38. King of the mountains was Daniel Shaw with 6132ft over 48.1 miles in a time of 7:16:06. Steve Swarbrick was second with 3762ft, 34.9 miles in 4:52:00, and Neil Whipp 3rd over 2531ft and 10 miles in 2:13:50. Queen of the Mountains was Helen Lawrenson with 1640ft after a couple of runs from Scorton in Bowland. 2nd was Jayne Tomlinson with 862ft over 20.1 miles in 3:30:43; 3rd Sue Coulthurst with 695 ft; and fourth Kerry Eccles with 600ft. Andrew harling had the 5th highest mileage with 53 miles in 6:22:29; Mark Holton was 7th with 42.9 miles with a recovery week in 6:10:22; Neil Gregson 8th with 41.4 miles in 5:29:49; Alan Hudson 38 miles in 5:33:46; and Dave Young 10th recording 37.6 miles in 5:47:48.

Chris Jones Chief Officer of England Athletics has released a blog on the 1st June and comments on the current restructuring of athletics in the UK. “A collaborative relationship between UKA and the Home Country Athletics Federations is important in order to run a golden thread from podium to playground – gluing together the performance end of the sport with the participation end of the sport and ensuring all organisations are making the best use of resources and shared services wherever we can. I believe that helping to inform the work of UKA and in turn working together to develop a UK-wide strategic plan for our sport will support the home countries and of course benefit England Athletics and our members. We hope that you, our members, will join us and help both UKA and ourselves to understand your views on the future priorities for the sport UK wide.” There will be a consultation with the UK athletics fraternity over the coming weeks and a series of webinars from 22nd June.

Rummaging through the annals of Wesham club history, 24 years ago this week in 1996 club elder Gordon Durber laid on the 5th Ricky Schultz Memorial Duathlon from the Hand and Dagger in Salwick, over a 3.3-mile run, 9.6-mile cycle and a repeat of the run. Ricky Schultz was Gordon’s son-in-law who sadly died of cancer and the duathlon was run as a predictor event to add a depth to it. There were 13 competitors in 1996 who set out in beautiful summer conditions on the first run leg along the towpath of the Lancaster Canal from the pub. Peter Aldersley and Arthur Swarbrick soon took the lead and ran together until Peter edged ahead in the last half mile back along the parallel lane. Arthur, an elite triathlete, paused to change his shoes for the bike, giving Peter a minute start. Unfortunately, three miles into the cycle stage, Peter came off his bike and careered into the verge. Sportingly, Arthur topped to help, and the two completed the stage with marginally in the lead. However, peter waited for Argthur to change his shoes again, so they repeated the action of the first run stage, with Peter arriving at the finish first in a total time of 1:13:13 with Arthur 2 seconds behind. Club treasurer peter Cooke was nearest in his finish time prediction, being just 10 seconds out on his finishing time of 1:27:40. Les Ward was second, with 1:32:14 in 10th place, while Peter Wyld was third both in actual finishing position and in relation to his prediction, in 1:18:28. In the ladies result, Jennie Thompson was closest to her prediction, finishing in 1:26:58 (8th overall); Marian Rhead second with 1:48:13 (12th); Marie Wyld third in 1:45:05 (11th). Ian Squire finished 4th in 1:22:38; Ian Rawcliffe was 5th in 1:22:41; Derek Emmens 6th with 1:23:05; Dave Thompson 7th in 1:26:29. One un-named competitor dropped out with an injury. The club also ran the annual John Herns and Joyce Smith Handicap Race over a 4.4-mile course. The results are missing unfortunately but it does report that the men’s winners were Dave Waywell (M50); Peter Wyld (M50) and Tony Howard, and the first three ladies were Jennie Thompson (W50); Cath Wood (W40) and Janice Copeland (W45).

Eleven years ago, in 2009 the Wesham men once again formed a vital role in the Great Britain team at the European Veterans Non-Stadia Championships, held in Arhus, Denmark. The numbers taking part were down on previous years due to the current economic crisis and the upcoming World Masters Track & Field Championships to be held in Finland at the end of July. Travelling out in advance in inclement weather, the team warmed up in rain and high winds but by Friday it was warmer for the 4-lap 10km Road races. Alex Rowe finished 22nd in the M35 to M50 race in 34:45, 4th M50 for silver medals for the GB team. Trevor Rayner was 6th Britain in the race, 14th M45 and 48th overall with a fine run of 36:52. On Saturday in the 3-Stage 4km cross country relays Alex Rowe took the GB team into the lead on the second stage having started out 4th and handing over in 3rd place, recording the fastest M50 lap of 14:01. Lytham’s Colin Laidlaw anchored the team into silver medals with 16:14. On Sunday, temperatures soared to 24 degrees for the Half Marathon on a figure-of-eight course. Alex Rowe came in 20th overall and 4th M50 in 1:17:38, the 1st GB runner over the line. Trevor Rayner finished 50th overall and 12th M45 in 1:23:36, 2nd GB. John Collier ran 1:26:27 for 72nd place and 12th M55. However, he was 3rd GB and with Alan Newman and Michael Mann (3rd M60) the M55/60 team won bronze medals. Michaela Dempsey defended her European 20k crown in the Customs Association Championships in Brussels. She bettered her 2008 winning time by 4 minutes to record 1:35:31. Richard Davies put the finishing touches to his preparations for his Bob Graham Round attempt with a steady 37:25 for the opening Harrock Hill Race of the year in 14th place, 3rd M50. Joanna Goorney won the women’s race with a fine 40:08, 25th overall, and Carmel Sullivan 5th and 4th W40 (44th overall) in 41:41. Chris Whitlock was just in front with 41:21 in 40th position, and Michaela Dempsey was 9th woman, 60th overall with 44:08. John Sharples was 80th in 47:58 and Julie Cruse 93rd with 52:07.The Lancaster 5k was popular on Saturday evening on the riverbank at Salt Ayre, where Lee Barlow finished 10th with 17:37, Mick Edge 25th with 18:54, George Kennedy 26th in 18:56, Dave Waywell 37th with 20:00 and Chris Whitlock 40th in 20:10. Carmel Sullivan finished 5th woman with 20:06, with Sarah Sherratt was 10th and 49th overall in 21:03. Tracey Hulme was 20th and 71st overall in 23:28, with John Bertenshaw just behind with 23:32. Alan Taylor ran 25:10 for 81st place; Dave Jones 27:48 in 86th, and Sue Jones 96th with 34:34.

Five years ago in 2015, it was a very busy week for athletics locally as the late spring weather took a further turn for the worst but fortunately conditions were ideal for the first race in the Catforth 5k series. With a record turnout of runners Rob Danson was in no mood for hanging around and he soon strung out the field, whipping round the gently undulating single loop on quiet country roads in 15:34, winning the race just 4 seconds short of the course record. Lee Barlow was back to good form finishing 7th and 1st M40 in 17:35. Alex Rowe improved on his recent 5,000m time to 17:49 coming in 10th and 1st M55. Peter Cruse was 17th in 18:27, second M50 and Garry Barnett 18th with 18:31 but the Wesham men were beaten for the team win by Blackburn Harriers who turned out a crack squad. Helen Lawrenson was 4th and 1st W45 in the women’s race, 43rd overall with a time of 21:19. Tracey Hulme was 9th and 1st W50 in 22:19; Kath Hoyer 12th and 1st W55 in 22:45. The women’s team were pipped by 50 seconds by Blackpool into second place. Gemma Owen was 14th with 22:53 (62nd); Anne Mayers-Smith 16th and 2nd W35 in 23:09 (65th); Sarah Heaps 19th with 24:06 (71st); and Kerry Eccles 22nd in 24:50 (76th). For the men Steven Gore finished 21st in 19:27, a great run; Alan Hudson was 1st M65 and 29th overall in 20:24; Graham Cunliffe 2nd M55 and 31st with 20:35; Sean Murray 42nd in 21:18; Jonathan Lawson 56th with 21:18; Roger Leadbeater 68th in 23:52, 4th M55; Dave Waywell was 1st M70 and 73rd with 24:18; Dave Young 97th and 3rd M65 in 27:40; and Robert Danson senior 98th in 27:42. In the Edinburgh Marathon Stuart Topping had a great run in difficult conditions to finish 764th in 3:27:01. Sally Deacon and Diane Blagden ran together and finished 4960th and 4961st in 4:37:15. The full race results are not yet available. At the second race of the Kendal 10k series at Levens the men’s team were narrowly beaten by home club Kendal AC; Alex Rowe was 1st M50, Emma Pass 3rd woman, and John Collier was 1st M60. The Vernons 5k on Tuesday saw David Taylor record 18:14, a tremendous time on a fast course with some ups and downs and sharp corners. George Kennedy was 33rd in 22:06 taking the M55 honours with Nicola Unsworth 4th woman and 34th in 22:07. Sarah Heaps was 9th woman and 46th with 24:11.