The world of athletics continues to awake steadily, with several events across the country taking part last week, very much along the guidelines of England Athletics with small club-based events. There was an inter-club meeting at Lee Valley stadium in North London with a full timetable of selected events for all age groups. The focus is on track and field, where track events have to use alternate lanes or staggered starts, and field events either require officials to clean implements after each use or athletes to use their own and retrieve after each use. Non-stadia events (termed “off-track”) such as road and trail running are still limited to avoid mass starts and are run on a time-trial basis with separate starts for groups of 6 athletes. These events are mainly the preserve of the commercial organisations, as smaller events run at grass roots by clubs and individuals would not want to take on all the extra officials and equipment necessary to meet the health guidance. Participants seem to be willing to turn out, but these are not racing as such so are non-competitive. The risks are still great, and it will be some time before full head-to-head competition will resume.
The Mid Lancs League plan to meet next week to discuss the possibilities for the next cross country season from end September through to March, but it will be difficult to foresee how upwards of 2000 participants and supporters could be accommodated at any of the parkland venues for an afternoon, nor the arrangements for the mass starts required. The British Masters are hopeful that a plan can be found for their Relay Championships at the start of November, but the British and Irish Masters International on November 16th due to be hosted in Dublin has been postponed to 2021, with Scotland the next hosts moving forward to 2022. All preliminary selection races by the five nations will also be cancelled.
Locally an attempt was made to stage the Run the Lights 10k and 5k along a two-lap route along the Blackpool Middle Walk on Saturday evening as preparations for the Illuminations in September progress. Andrew Harling took part, and he clocked a good 36:51. Rob Wallace finished in 45:11. This was a distanced-start event and scored as a time trial.
Mick Edge returned to the Capenwray Triathlon for the August event on Saturday which had been cancelled the previous week due to flooding and he swam 8:18 on the first stage, pedalled 36:09 for the bike stage and ran 19:08 to finish 12th and first M60 in a total time of 1:06:10. He went on to swim the Coniston Mile on Sunday in 26:47, giving him 67th place out of 250 and 2nd M60.
In the Wesham Strava leader-board last week Steve Myerscough tops the list at 55.1 miles completed in 7:31:34 at an average 8:11 pace per mile. Daniel Shaw was second with 47.2 miles run in 6:52:33. Mark Belfield came in third with 42.3 miles and a cumulative time of 5:07:23 giving a pace per mile of 7:16. Dave Young ranked fourth with 38.4 miles in 6:18:15, the third fastest time; and Simon Denye was fifth with 38.2 miles in 4:52:52 at 7:40 pace. On the women’s leader-board Tanya Shaw headed the list at 27.8 miles with 3:55:22, with Debbie Myerscough second with 25.6 miles in 4:35:38. Kerry Eccles was third in 4:07:00 at 22.8 miles; Helen Lawrenson on 18.3 miles in 3:32:35; and Jo McCaffery 15.2 miles run in a time of 2:28:42. Daniel Shaw had the highest elevation gain with 6381ft to claim last week’s male Monarch of the Mountains. Helen Lawrenson was second and leading female Monarch with 2192ft of uphill. Steve Myerscough was second male pacing out 1844ft of climbing, and Thomas Farquhar was third with 1552ft over just 10.1 miles of running in 1:12:53. Simon Denye was next on the slope with 1450ft, and Richard Davies, mountain specialist, came in with 1287ft with 5.9 miles in 1:20:56. Tanya Shaw was second female on the mountains with 528ft climbed, and Jo McCaffery third with 485ft. Michelle Tickle was fourth with 479ft over 10.2 miles in 1:35:43, and Liz Sharrocks fifth on 383ft on 9.5 miles and a time of 1:35:29.
Wesham are staging the trophy race final of the 2019-20 monthly handicap on this Sunday morning for the 19 members who have qualified, over the summer handicap course. The morning time will allow for a staggered socially distanced start, and there are plans to kick off the 2020-21 handicap series in September retaining the Sunday morning slot and still using the 4.9-mile summer route, which affords greater flexibility with the arrangements rather than using a Monday evening club session.
Parkrun has been called off again in New Zealand after an occurrence of the coronavirus in Auckland, but (no)parkrun continues on locally over here, with Phil Leaver now a regular recording his virtual 5k times against his home event at Lytham Hall, where last week he ran 28:10 for an M65 age graded performance of 60.65%. There is no prospect of parkrun restarting in this country yet, although the situation continues to be monitored weekly.
Wesham had come home victorious in 2004 sixteen years ago for the fifth time that season in the Inter Club Grand Prix on Wednesday evening in Chorley. Accompanied by a tempestuous thunderstorm, a slightly weakened side nevertheless saw off the competition in the toughest race in the series, the 4.8-mile 3-loop circuit in and out of Astley Park. Jono Prowse shot off at the start on the trail of a course record and was not seen again until the finish, but behind him an awesome North Fylde squad assembled over the opening lap, with only Wesham’s Charlie Pass to break them up. Les Cornwall and Alex Rowe led the chase back in 8th, but on subsequent laps the position altered, and a group of 8 runners were bunched up at the top of the final hill. Alex decided to break this up and led the charge for the finish, just being outsprinted by North Fylde’s Malc Eadie for 2nd spot. Alex was 3rd in 26:23, Charlie 5th in 26:31, and Les 8th in 26.44. Barry Norman and top M50 Gary Pendlebury led the chasing group and finished 11th and 12th with 27:28 and 27:31, great runs in the oppressive conditions. Closing in the winning Wesham team were Chas Linkison (15th in 28:02), Ian Garrod (M40, 19th in 28:59, and excellent performance), Peter Cruse (M40, 20th in 29:15), John Collier (2nd M50, 22nd with 29:18), and Dave Waywell (1st M60, 24th in 29:28). Alex, Gary, Ian, Peter and John were the leading runners who secured Wesham as the winning veterans’ team. The Wesham vets have now won 4 out of the 5 races in the series. Michaela Dempsey headed the Wesham ladies, with an excellent run to finish 3rd in 32:57. Kath Hoyer was next in, 15th in 36:02; followed by Jenny Salt, 20th in 37:12, Louise Williams, 21st with 37:49, and Julie Murphy, 26th in 40:23. Alex Rowe represented Lancashire in the Inter-Counties 10k, incorporated in the Auckland Castle 10k in County Durham. Over a challenging 2-lap course in hot conditions where he won M45 glory in the Masters race two years ago, Alex placed 4th for the county in 33:31. Alex had hoped for a faster time having run better in Ulverston last week. Closer to home, Wesham runners tackled the gruelling Blackburn 10k up the notorious Bunser Lane. Kath Hoyer and Louise Williams were the only Wesham ladies to attempt the course, 10th and 14th respectively in 46:49 and 47:51. Kath was 2nd Over-40 woman and Louise was 5th Over-35. In the men’s race, Mike Owen (M55) placed 9th in his age group (161st overall) in 51:19, and Graham Vickers (M45) ran 46:58 for 107th. Just in front, Alan Taylor kept pace with Kath to finish with a flair of chivalry 2 seconds behind her in 46:51 (105th). George Kennedy (M45), struggling back to fitness with a leg injury, ran in the company of Paul Gardner, the pair finishing 65th and 66th with 43:44 and 43:50. Conditions were too warm for running, but Alan Hudson finished 41st in 41:33, to win the M55 race. Ahead of him, M40 Peter Cruse ran 39:17 to place 26th and 6th in his age group, while Lee Barlow was just in front with 38:59 for 24th place. Leading the way for Wesham in more ways than one was club chairman Dave Waywell, victorious M60 in 14th place overall with a fine run in 38:12. In August 1999 21 years ago, there had been plenty going on for Wesham members. In the Horwich 4 miler through Rivington on Wednesday evening John Bertenshaw had finished 75th in 26:38 as an M40 and Howard Henshaw (M55) 139th in 30:06. In the Northern Veterans Monthly Run in Irlam Alex Rowe won in 32:11 and Gary Pendlebury ran a personal best for the 10k distance of 34:36 on a cool and windy day on a flat out-and-back course across reclaimed marshland. There was an evening town centre 5k in Southport with an “A” and a “B” race. Phil Leybourne running for Salford was 4th in the “A” race in 15:32; Alex Rowe 6th in 15:41 and Brian Hall, then running for Blackpool, 19th in 16:57. Terry Hellings (M45) was in the “B” race, finishing 21st in 18:26 for North Fylde, and Bill Lock 47th in 21:38. The course was 6 and a half laps around the Town Hall area. The previous week had seen the Lowther Run, always a popular Friday lunchtime run for Wesham members and a good say out to the Lowther Show on the estate just south of Penrith. Alex Rowe continued his stretch of wins at this event with a 1:15:37 clocking this year for the run largely over the moors west towards Ullswater. Derek Buckley M40 was 11th in 1:26:20; Trevor Rayner 15th in 1:29:42; Peter Aldersley M45 who ran an extra two miles off course 21st in 1:32:45; Phil Metcalfe M40 30th in 1:36:22; Ian Rawcliffe M50 47th with 1:44:53; Keith Gresty M60 55th in 1:47:54; John Keohane M40 70th in 1:52:50; Finlay McCalman 71st in 1:53:08; John Whiteman M55 79th in 1:57:20; Janice Copeland 96th (W45) in 2:09; Les Ward 99th with 2:10; Peter Earnshaw and Brian Wilkinson M60 101st and 102nd in 2:12; and Marie Wyld 107th with 2:22. In the Chorley Night series 4 miler Phil Leaver finished 90th in 25:17 to win the M45 over the series; John Bertenshaw 92nd in 25:24; Peter Cooke 123rd with 27:03; Dave Young 144th I 28:51; Howard Henshaw 147th in 29:05; and Derek Goodenough 153rd in 29:53 who was 2nd M55 for the series.