Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Dark and stormy conditions at the Inter Club race in Chorley’s Astley Park

Wesham were due to hold their annual handicap Trophy Race on Sunday morning over the 4.9-mile Summer Handicap route but the spell of good August weather broke and the course at its lowest point and also further on became flooded under the railway bridge and thus was called off. The Trophy Race is the culmination of the 12 monthly runs over the year, seven events on the Winter Handicap 4-mile town course and four over the summer 4.9-mile country route leading up to the trophy race. With storm weather this week a new date is being sought and the event will go ahead sometime in September.

With local surges in the pandemic virus further major athletics events are now being cancelled or postponed well into the Autumn although as per the timetable planned by England Athletics back in June there are club level track and field events taking place with limited numbers at suitable stadiums, and road events are going ahead as time trials with staggered starts in groups of 6 or as a steady seeded trickle. Traditional results sheets ranked by finish time are not necessarily relevant under these conditions and performances may be ameliorated by the reduced competition of genuine head-to-head racing. The prospects for full-on competitive participation is still some way off yet, perhaps well into the New Year and on. Whether an indoor season will be possible this winter remains to be seen, with just a few invitation events able to meet the criteria. And whether that will be able to start this autumn or whether the winter/spring events will be more viable remains to be seen, with an expected surge in infections expected as the inclement weather closes in.

Race licencing for “non-stadia” endurance events (road running and trail) has now re-commenced but there is a lengthy guidance document covering the requirements and this will put off the smaller local race organisers who unfortunately will not be able to ensure the planning and resources required, leaving the way open to commercial organisations and with the requirements for social distancing participation rather than competition will be among the ruling factors. The regional and national road relays in September have been cancelled, and guidance for cross country is still awaited and it appears unlikely that any fixtures will be possible this year and leading on into 2021. Some leagues are already cancelling their winter seasons and it is reported that County Championships may not go ahead in January. The Mid Lancs League have agreed that they are dependent on the guidance from the governing bodies and when this indicates that events can start then they will look at staging fixtures in collaboration with venue providers and the local organising clubs, so options are open but realistic expectations are that certainly the first half of the season is seriously in jeopardy.

The Wesham training leader-board last week was headed by Daniel Shaw with 54.5 miles, spread over 5 session and giving the cumulative time of 6:59:37. Simon Denye returned to the top of the list also with 54.5 miles, seven sessions over 6:50:34. Steve Myerscough feels the challenge is on and he was third with 51.2 miles over 12 runs completed in 6:53:52. Stuart Clayton was fourth on the list with 40.3 miles in just 4 sessions in 6:30:55, and Tom Crabtree came in fifth with 40 miles and a time of 4:56:00. Angela Colby was the leading woman and with Chaz topped the endurance list with the greatest time spent running with 8:04:11 and 8:02:52 with a slight variance in recording, completing 30.6 miles. Helen Lawrenson was second woman with 29.3 miles in 4:47:08; Tanya Shaw third with 28.1 miles in a time of 4:02:08; Kerry Eccles fourth over the marathon distance 26.2 miles in 4:30:18 with 6 runs; and Michelle Tickle fifth with 20.9 miles in 3:09:30, 4 runs over the week. Stuart Clayton topped the male Monarch of the Mountains with 4538ft of climb. Chaz Colby was second with 4160ft over the 30.6 miles with Angela a slightly lower figure of 4088ft showing the difference between different devices to head the female Monarch of the Mountains. Daniel Shaw was third male with 3967ft having also come top of the overall leader-board, and Paul Lancashire was fourth with 2987ft over 25.1 miles in 3:54:16. James Green was fifth with 2986ft over 34.5 miles in 4:02:05 with a half marathon distance included. Helen Lawrenson was second woman with 4134ft although in fairness roughly equal with Angele Colby with the differing devices giving varied readings. Michelle Tickle was third with 961ft with Kerry Eccles next with 713ft, Liz Sharrocks 688ft over 19.1 miles in 3:13:33; and Tanya Shaw 620ft. The week’s fastest training came from Alek Walker who maintained an average speed of 6:14 per mile over a 3.8-mile total to record 23:41. Garry Barnett was next fastest with 6:37 over 16.2 miles in 1:47:11. Chris Haines had a 6:48 pace with 6.2 miles in 42:10, a good 10k performance. James Green was on 7:01 over his 34.5 miles and Steve Swarbrick 7:02 pace over 21.9 miles; and Andrew harling clocked 7:03 over 29.2 miles in 3:25:52. Suzanne Leonard was the speediest woman with 7:34 pace over 2.1 miles, a sprint in 15:53. Tara Fisher was second with 7:37 pace over 9.2 miles in 1:10:04, and Tanya Shaw at 8:37 pace.

This week in 2008 12 years go Steve Littler was a clear winner in the revived Fleetwood Half Marathon, over a new course following roughly the same route as previously around Rossall and towards Cleveleys. He clocked 1:11:19 in blustery conditions to win by 3mins 23secs. John Collier was 3rd M50 and 12 overall in 1:23:47 with a good run. Peter Cruse burned up the miles and came in 17th with 1:25:04, finishing 4th M40. Simon Eaton had a great run after his exploits in the week-long race series in the Isle of Man, finishing 29th in 1:27:18, and scoring an unusual victory over Peter Waywell, who came in 38th with 1:29:04. George Kennedy was 45th and 7th M50 in 1:29:59, an excellent result; and Stephen Nelson was 47th in 1:30:31. Carmel Sullivan was Wesham’s first lady finisher, clocking 1:30:51 for 51st place. Stephen Wilkinson was 133rd in 1:44:49; Nicola Unsworth ran well for 155th place in 1:49:56; Norman Bateman was 188th in 1:56:51; and Paul Carter produced 1:58:34 for 196th place. Charlie Pass won the Horwich Jubilee 5-mile race series for 2008, with an 8th place in the final run with 27:22 for the hilly course. The Wesham men finished 3rd team overall in the series. Peter Cruse was 28th and 6th M45 in 30:43; George Kennedy 59th with 33:10 to secure himself 10th in the series (9th veteran and 2nd M50). John Sharples was 10th M45 and 60th overall in 33:22, while Carmel Sullivan was 1st W40 and 65th in 33:49. Michaela Dempsey finished 2nd W40 with a great run to come in 70th with 34:06. Chris Dodd came in 93rd in 36:59. In the undulating Burnsall Festival 10-mile road race on Saturday Alex Rowe just missed out on the hour with 1:00:05, finishing 7th and 1st M50 as Ian Fisher (Otley) won for a 7th year in 53:26. John Bertenshaw had a good run in 32nd place with 1:07:40 for 4th M50 position. John Sharples came in 48th in 1:10:46 with a great run. Kath Hoyer was Wesham’s only lady runner, finishing 16th and 7th W40 in 1:20:03. Peter Cooke ran very well for 94th place with a run of 1:21:58. The Wesham men scored 4th team. There was a real washout in the Whittle Pike Fell race, a mid-week event from Waterfoot in Rawtenstall over 4.5 miles and 1400’ climb. Despite it being a Wesham Fell Championship race only the die-hards turned out, with Richard Davies leading the way and finishing 30th in 50:24 and completing all 4 fixtures in the Rossendale series. Lee Barlow was 51st with 53:53; Sarah Sherratt came in 11th woman with 60:53 (110th overall); Shaun Turner 138th in 66:58; and Kath Hoyer was 26th woman and 5th W45 in 71:46 (152nd overall). Conditions were very wet for the Chipping Show Fell race on Saturday, 8 miles and 2000’ climb from the Show Field up onto Parlick and Paddy’s Pole. The fields between Chipping and Fell Foot were sodden after the recent incessant rains, but Richard Davies managed a creditable performance with 1:23:12 to finish 20th overall and 4th M40. Nigel Shepherd had an excellent run, finishing 45th and 8th M50 in 1:34:44. Sarah Sherratt was 3rd woman and 2nd W35 with a good performance, clocking 1:36:43 for 46th place. Shaun Turner also ran well in a time of 1:41:40 to finish 51st. In the final Cuerden 10k Trail Race Peter Cruse was the first Wesham runner in 21st place and 4th M45 with a time of 42:44 for the off-road course. Graham Vickers had a flier, coming in 33rd with 44:15, and Dave Young was 70th and 4th M60 in 51:10. Mike Walsh was 1st M70 and 96th overall with 58:26; and Pauline Weller 110th in 60:58.

Just a year ago in 2019 Wesham made a strong attempt to turn out a top team at the sixth round of the Inter Club race series on Wednesday evening in a sodden Astley Park in Chorley but were narrowly beaten by 15 points by Preston. Rob Danson was once again the overall winner though as he strode away from the start and made his winning advantage on the first small loop along the slippery path down through the trees. Rob completed the hilly 4.6 miles in 24:46 with a winning advantage of 1 min 18 secs. Steve Littler set off steadily and worked his way into 4th place over the first large lap, holding on to this to finish in 27:03 and first in the Masters. David Taylor was 9th with an excellent run to clock 28:24, with Tom Crabtree 18th in 29:13. Neil Harrison finished 28th in 30:03 and Andrew Harling was 30th in 30:04. Chris Hastwell was tucked in behind in 32nd with a time of 30:09. Paul Gregory was 33rd in 30:24 and Steve Abbott 38th in 31:21, Lee Barlow 39th in 31:22 to clinch the 2nd place team. Carmel Sullivan led the Wesham women with 35:22 for 8th place and 91st overall. Leanne Nield was 17th and 132nd overall in 37:25 with Kay Twist 27th and 170th in 40:17. Maureen Danson was 44th and 196th in 42:32 and Anne Berry 81st and 259th in 48:22. The Wesham women were 6th team with several team members missing. The Women W40 were 4th team with Sullivan 4th; Twist 14th; Danson 25th; Berry 49th and Dawn Biggs 50th (82nd woman and 260th in 48:25). The Wesham Masters team won by 12 points over Preston with Littler 1st; Gregory 11th; Abbott 12th; Barlow 13th; Steve Waterhouse 16th (44th in 31:45); and Jason Barlow 18th (46th in 32:13). The Wesham M50 team were 3rd, with Waterhouse 4th; Jason Barlow 7th; Carmel Sullivan 20th and Tony Leach 22nd (96th overall in 35:50). The M60 team won from Preston with 11 points with John Collier 2nd (99th in 35:56); Richard Davies 5th (125th in 37:05); and Alan Hudson 7th (135th in 37:33). Jo McCaffery finished 83rd woman and 261st overall in 48:41; Nicola Ball 89th and 270th in 50:33; Kerry Eccles 94th and 275th in 51:56 and Debbie Myerscough 97th and 279th in 56:41. Jason Parkinson was 57th in 33:00; Lee Nixon 59th in 33:06; Stuart Clayton 117th with 36:47; Mick Edge 121st in 36:55; Martin Allison 124th with 37:02; Ian Nichols Hogg 129th (37:15); Martin Bates 143rd (38:16); Ryan Azzopardi 151st (38:52); Jonathon Sanderson 152nd (38:54); Stuart Topping 153rd (38:59); James Danson 178th (40:57); Lee Austin 197th (42:36); Dave Young 213th (43:43); Peter Bartlett 226th (45:35); and James Birchall 266th (49:22). Wesham and Preston are now equal at the top of the table for the year so there is all to play for at the final fixture in Leyland’s Worden Park on September 4th. Neil Whipp has won the M40 trophy in the Inter Club Fell series after finishing 7th at Pendle; 8th in the Leo Pollard; 4th at Clough Pike; and 3rd at Lee Mill. Dave Young ran the Riverside Half Marathon in Lancaster on Sunday on the same course as the 10 Mile two weeks previously except extending further up the old railway line to the Crook O’ Lune. He finished 118th in 2:07:59, 2nd M70.