Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Rob Danson at the Green Drive Five.

In the last fortnight the challenge for Wesham members was a virtual 10k race with each member choosing a 6.2-mile course of their own and declaring their result. Rob Danson ran the fastest time with a time of 33:31. Trying to achieve an optimum race pace in a solo run is a real challenge. Chris Hastwell was second fastest with 36:18, and Stuart Topping third in 43:06. Tanya Shaw was the quickest woman as she refines her training and put in the effort for 51:38. Second woman was Maureen Danson with 57:18, and third on the clock was Dawn Biggs with 59:40, with Sharlan Butcher five seconds behind in 59:45. Jason Parkinson was fourth overall in 44:27; Carl Groome returning to running after his ankle operation and also 900 miles cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats with 45:43 for the 10k. Tony Leach was sixth in 46:25; 70-year old Alan Hudson next in with 47:32; and sexagenarian John Burns eight in 48:24. Ryan Azzopardi ran 49:24 for ninth; Martin Allison 50:49 in 10th rank; Dave Young the second Over-70 12th with 55:41; Peter Rooney 13th in 55:52; Robert Danson 14th with 56:17; Stephen Twist 15th in 57:10 with Claire Marie coming in fifth woman in 59:49. James Birchall was 20th in 1:01:10; Phil Leaver Over-65 21st with 1:03:00; Pauline Eccleston sixth woman in1:03:30; Troy Watson and Karen Cook 23rd overall with 1:04:52 in a social bubble; Peter Cooke 25th with 1:05:31; Steve Myerscough taking it very easy with 1:08:46; and Tanya Barlow, Kerry Eccles and Julie Rooney in a socially distanced group run for 1:14:24 apiece.

Last weekend saw all scheduled races mainly cancelled, with the Lakeland Trails Series already re-arranged events at Kentmere put back further into 2021. Similarly, all events to the end of the month and to Christmas and the New Year are cancelled or held over to later next year. UK Athletics however have started planning the fixtures list for 2021 and it shows the County Cross Country Championships and Regional (North, South, Midlands) cross country meetings in place if there is any possibility of some form of event. There are proposals to limit number of entrants per club to allow team captains to pick their best squads but this is not a popular or desirable tactic to allow what would become elite competitions, rather against the spirit of amateur athletics. This proposed fixture list will expand over the coming weeks but will not be publicised until there is any form of certainty in it. There will be a fine line in the publication to allow event organisers time to get arrangements in place.

With domestic athletics largely on hold it is almost surprising that there are top class performances happening internationally, after recent world records for 5,000 and 10,000 metres. Last weekend the world half marathon championships in Gdynia saw a first win for Uganda win Jacob Kiplimo who beat favorite Joshua Cheptegai in 58:49 for a new championship best while Peres Jepchirchir broke the women-only world record and her previous world record in 65:16. Jake Smith ran the UK’s third fastest time and a new Welsh record with 60:31.

Daniel Shaw kept the heat on in last week’s Wesham training leader-board on Strava to run the furthest and longest, with a big 62.2 miles completed in 7:52:13 with six long runs. Rob Danson was second with 51.9 miles in 5:47:44 with nine outings. Steve Myerscough kept up his mileage for 43.2 miles with an overall time of 7:36:09. Andrew Harling came up to fourth with 42.9 miles in 5:08:10 in 10 runs with Peter Rooney in the top five with 40.9 miles and a time of 6:25:15. Helen Lawrenson returned to the top of the women’s leader-board having undertaken 36.5 miles in 6:02:34 over 7 runs with Lynn Brown keeping up her high mileage in second position with 35.3 miles in 10:09:31. Kerry Eccles ran 26.7 miles for third place with a time of 4:36:47 in five sessions, with Michelle Tickle fourth with 25.9 miles in 3:56:33 and Tanya Shaw fifth with 24.1 miles in 10 short runs in 3:24:27. Over the hills Daniel Shaw was king with 3947ft climbed, with Helen Lawrenson second and first woman with 3527ft uphill. Steve Myerscough was third and second man with 2726ft; Tom Crabtree next with 2056ft over 31.7 miles in 4:21:32, and James Green fourth with 1995ft over 31.5 miles in 3:35:15. Lynn Brown was second woman with 1815ft ascent, with Angela Colby third with 1614ft over 19.1 miles with Chaz in 3:51:07. Michelle Tickle was fourth up 1215ft and Kerry Eccles fifth with 625ft. Garry Barnett kept the fastest average pace with 6:31 per mile over 10.7 miles completed in 1:09:44 in 4 runs. Rob Danson was second with 6:42 pace and Alek Walker third with 6:46 per mile over 8.6 miles in 58:12. James Green averaged 6:50 per mile over his 31.5 miles, and Ugis Datavs was fifth with 6:51 on 32.7 miles over a duration of 3:44:00 in 8 sessions. Suzanne Leonard had the fastest woman’s pace in 8:01 over 5.4 miles in 43:17 with Sue Coulthurst second with 8:08 pace on 19.1 miles run in 2:35:21. Tanya Shaw was third with 8:29 pace over her 24.1 miles, and Kirsty Holland 8:55 pace for 2.9 miles in 25:52. Michelle Tickle was fifth with 9:08 over 25.9 miles. The longest individual runs were by Mark Belfield with 16 miles; Chaz and Angela Colby 15 miles together; Rob Danson and Daniel Shaw both with 14.2 miles; Neil Gregson 14.1 miles and Simon Denye 13.1 (Half Marathon), also run by Mark Holton, Andrew Harling, Ugis Datavs, and Tanya Shaw. Helen Lawrenson ran 11.5 miles; Antionette Holton 10 miles, and Lynn Brown 8 miles. At the other end of the scale John Bertenshaw ran one mile round his garden in quarantine.

Back in 2006 this week Russell Mabbett and Finlay McCalman completed the Amsterdam Marathon two weeks ago and both were happy with their results. Mabbett, a 2:42 marathon runner, has returned to the distance in recent years and consistently run inside 3 hours. In Amsterdam on a near-perfect course around the city centre on a flat course with only a minor interruption in the 20th kilometre, he ran the first half at a steady 15k per hour pace, slowing down for the second half with a surge of the closing 2km coming back in to the stadium for a track finish in 2:59:28 for 384th place, 80th M40. McCalman was more conservative, slowing less in the second half and averaging above 10km per hour for the whole course, finishing 3252nd in 3:56:59. It was a quiet week for athletics in the North West with only two road races locally to attract competitors. The Waddington 10k just north of Clitheroe saw a good local contingent, with Wesham turning out 16 runners of the 174 who completed the course. Paul Freary was the race winner with a swift 31:51, but Peter Cruse was the first Wesham finisher, in 16th place overall, 4th M40 in 38:16. The course featured a stiff climb away from the start but then flattened out as it headed for a country course along undulating lanes. Dave Waywell was next in for Wesham, finishing 21st in 38:44, and getting accustomed to being relegated to 2nd Over-60 behind Irish international Frank Reilly, who was just over half a minute ahead. Peter Gleaves made a welcome appearance to cross the line 43rd in 41:37, a great run, with Andrew Owen 56th in 43:46. Nigel Shepherd was 72nd with 45:33, and M50 Stephen Wilkinson came in 89th with 47:38. Dougie Brown finished 2nd Over-65 in 48:30 in 100th place, with Chris Moss 106th in 48:57 and George Flanagan 122nd in 51:04. Kath Hoyer was 9th woman and 1st W45 running 46:19, and Julie Cruse was 11th (97th overall) in 48:01, 2nd W40. Michaela Dempsey tracked her all the way as she continues her return to fitness, coming home 3rd W40 and 12th woman with a fine 48:07 (98th overall). Jenny Salt was 21st in 53:52 (135th overall); Jennie Thompson finished 2nd W55 and 23rd lady with 54:59; and Pauline Mills was 39th (4th W55) in 60:13. Karl Lee took on the challenge of the Natterjack Seaside 10km race in Southport in the company of 617 other runners. In a good quality race, he finished 15th in a time of 36:25 over a three lap course in Victoria Park. He is well on his way to breaking 35 minutes for the distance, but he was someway short of this mark as he was hampered by lapped runners. Graham Vickers (M45) was 95th in 43:09; Mark Wilson (M50) 314th in 51:15; and Norman Bateman was 2nd M65 and 344th overall in 52:27. Yvonne Russell was 22nd woman in 48:02 for 211th overall, and Anne Docherty finished 50th (345th overall) and 5th W45 in 52:27.

Six years ago, in 2014, there were two large groups of Wesham runners out racing last weekend but they were separated by about 1,000 miles. On home shores six women and 19 men ran in the Green Drive Five in its 12th year of operation, while on foreign shores 15 members were away running in the Palma Marathon. The Green Drive Five incorporated the Lancashire Athletic Association 5 Mile Road Championships and this year Wesham were highly successful despite the absence of several key members of the team. Conditions were favourable with bright skies and dry weather although there was a stiff wind as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo started to hit the region. The six Wesham women made short work of the opposition; Catherine Carrdus finished second and 1st W40 in 32:06, an excellent performance behind race winner and ex-member Joanna Goorney. Emma Pass was 6th in 33:49, and with Sue Coulthurst 8th and 2nd W45 clocking 35:00 the Wesham ladies won the Open and Lancashire teams ahead of Blackpool by just 3 points. With Nicola Unsworth 9th and 3rd W40 the Wesham women won the Lancashire Veteran’s team as well. Diane Blagden was 33rd in 42:16 and Sally Deacon 53rd in 45:07. In the main race Rob Danson ran the whole race head to head with Preston’s Dave Rigby but the pair were outclassed over the final mile by Rossendale’s Rob Webb, who had trailed round the first half but came good over the windiest section clawing back his deficit and nipping in front for the win. Danson lost out to Rigby and finished 3rd in 26:34. With just 17 seconds between the three of then they were 50 seconds ahead of the fourth placed athlete. Alex Rowe finished 17th and 2nd M55 in 29:36, and Garry Barnett was 24th and 2nd M45 with 31:07. The team were eclipsed by 9 points by Blackpool, but with Paul Hetherington 27th with 31:24 the team were Lancashire Veteran champions. John Collier was 1st M60 and 30th in 31:29 and Alan Hudson 1st M65 in 33:46, 54th overall. Chas Linkison was 36th in 32:02; David Taylor 48th in 33:08; Stuart Topping 63rd in 34:51; Phil Leaver 77th with 36:18; Jason Blagden 78th in 36:30; Ben Wrigley 81st in 36:47; Edward McCarthy 103rd with 38:34; Russell Mabbett 126th in 40:22; Peter Cooke 133rd with 41:01; Finlay McCalman 166th in 43:01; Dave Young 173rd in 43:28; John Howorth 177th with 32:40 and Clive Berry 217th in 48:40. In far warmer climate in the TUI Marathon Palma de Mallorca performances were not so impressive in 30 degree heat. In the 10k race Helen Lawrenson was 19th woman and 1st W45 in 45:48, while Tracey Hulme fared well with 51:10 for 49th place and 3rd W50. Kerry Eccles finished 188th in 58:07 and Anne Flanagan was 1132nd with 1:20:33. Mick Edge was the fastest Wesham man with 45:24 for 149th place and 12th M50. Darren Morris was 377th in 50:45; John Bertenshaw 387th in 51:25; George Flanagan 1412th in 1:20:33 and John “Boss Wrinkley” Whiteman 1441st in 1:27:20. Carmel Sullivan was 16th and 5th W45 in the Half Marathon with a time of 1:31:09; Lee Barlow outran his brother Jason to finish 40th in 1:23:33 with the elder man 77th in 1:26:40. Simon Eaton was 255th in 1:35:51 and George Kennedy was 1449th in 1:58:49. Nigel Shepherd was alone in tackling the Marathon and he came in a respectable 817th with 4:47:20. Angie Kirkham ran in the Farmers’ Arms 10k from Bispham near Skelmersdale on Sunday. She finished 18th woman and 3rd W45 in 55:25 for 87th position overall.