Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Jenn Thompson happy with the women’s result in the Mid Lancs XC this week in 2014

Wesham members got stuck into the club 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Challenge last week, individual runs taking in the distances 1 to 12 kilometres or miles, one a day between the 1st and 24th of December in the run-up to the festivities. Participation has yet to be evaluated but the club’s Strava and Facebook pages are inundated with members results. Lee Barlow is doubling up and running both kilometre and mile distances at the rate of two a day. On Friday 18th December, the club will host an online gathering for members to toast the festive season and catch up on news and socialise. There may be some freedom over Christmas itself and there is the chance to run the Virtual Race series 2020 which includes the Longridge 7, Boxing Day 10k and the Garstang 10k, between the dates of 13th December to 13th January, to replace the extremely popular physical events. Just run a 7-miler and two 10ks and submit your results to the link given on the UK Road races Facebook page.

Great sadness this week to learn of the loss of Pete Bland, fell running great and founder and owner of Pete Bland Sports in Kendal succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 79, a great loss to the athletics world of the North West and Cumbria.

There is understandably no athletics competition yet in the UK as the country emerged from the second lockdown in a predominately Tier-3 or Tier-2 restriction, with certainly all of Lancashire still sitting tight with the most severe guidance. However, an open meeting for junior age groups took place on the Stretford track in Manchester last week with healthy numbers of participants and full restrictions in place, with a handful of seniors taking part in a couple of endurance events. Worldwide the most exciting event and billed as the deepest marathon ever in Valencia hosted the full and half distance and had allegedly assembled one of the best endurance fields ever. It did not disappoint as the race records were slashed all over, but by far the most impressive was the Men’s new World Record achieved by Kibiwott Kandie as he ripped 39 seconds off Geoffrey Kamworer’s year-old record with a remarkable 57:32 finishing just 4 seconds ahead of second placed Jacob Kiplimo (57:37), with Rhonex Kipruto (57:49) and Alexander Mutiso (57:59) also running inside the old record mark of 58:01. The women’s winning time was a debut at the distance by Genzebe Dibaba in 65:18. Similarly in the marathon the course record was slashed by Evans Chebet in 2:03:00 taking 51 seconds off the previous record and rank 8th in the world with a thrilling sprint finish with Lawrence Cherono (2:03:04). In the women’s race Peres Jepchirchir took 6 minutes off her personal best in 2:17:16 to take the fifth fastest all-time performance in the world. Second was Joyciline Jepkosgei (2:18:40) and Helaria Johannes (2:19:59) with a new World W40 record.

Knowledge about the coronavirus is growing all the time, and the latest guidance from England Athletics gives a new definition of contact, which is 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person, which is considered unlikely during a competition or training activity but would likely occur when sharing transport or queuing for services anywhere. This provides a detailed guidance for potential COVID Officers if and when any outdoor events may be staged. England Athletics have issued detailed guidance for each of the three tiers as to what can and cannot be done for athletes and potential athletics organisers.

Lee Barlow raised the bar last week in the Wesham Strava training leader-board with a new high of 77 miles, which he completed in a time of 9:58:51, having completed 16 runs in the seven days. Last week’s leader mark Holton came in second with another high mileage week of 64.6 miles in 8:53:34. Steve Myerscough came in third after 83.1 miles completed in 8:46:53. Ugis Datavs was back on some distance with 57.8 miles in 7:08:41, and Daniel Shaw, previous leader of some weeks dropping down to 52.8 miles in 6:27:12. Rob Danson came in 6th with 52.3 miles in 5:53:54, and Simon Denye at 47.7 miles in a time of 5:48:13. Tom Crabtree was on 45 miles in 5:21:45; Peter Rooney 43.2 in 6:29:31; and Neil Gregson 42.8 in 5:08:52. The women’s leader-board was well grouped with Debbie Myerscough heading the list with 33.9 miles completed in 5 stages in 5:54:49. Helen Lawrenson was second with 33.6 miles in 5:11:22 over 9 runs. Lynn Brown clocked 33 miles in 8:50:45; Kerry Eccles 32 miles in 5:20:32; and Pauline Eccleston 26.5 miles in 4:12:38. Steve Swarbrick was Monarch of the Mountains last week with 3793ft of elevation gain over 39.1 miles in 6:28:24. Helen Lawrenson was both second overall and the leading woman with 3648ft uphill over her 33.6 miles. Third was Lee Barlow with 3020ft climbed, and Daniel Shaw fourth ascending 1916ft. Steve Myercough accumulated 1760ft uphill and Rob Danson 1486ft. Nigel Shepherd had 1676ft over 31.5 miles in 4:27:45, and Simon Denye 1568ft. Second woman was Kay Twist with 1026ft over 16.8 miles in 2;40:10, followed by Lynn Brown with 1024ft over her 33 miles. Debbie Myerscough was fourth woman with 885ft, and Pauline Eccleston 879ft over 26.5 miles. Kerry Eccles with her 33 miles climbed 810ft. In the average pace stakes Garry Barnett was again the leader with 6:45 per mile for 23.3 miles achieved in 2:37:16. Rob Danson was a close second with 6:46 per mile, and James Green was third with 6:54 pace over 36.3 miles in 4:10:28. Alek Walker came in fourth at 7 minutes per mile over 15 miles in 1:45:00. Tom Crabtree was fifth with 7:09 over 45 miles and Chris Haines sixth in 7:11 over 30.2 miles in 3:36:56. Tara Fisher was the speediest woman last week with 8:39 pace over 5 miles in 43:15. Sue Coulthurst was second with 8:52 for 17.2 miles in 2:32:30 and Michelle Tickle was third in 9:06 for 14.8 miles in 2:14:41. Julie Kinsey paced 9:08 over 6.2 miles in 56:38, and Tanya Shaw 9:09 pace for 16.8 miles in 2:33:43. Longest individual runs; Mark Holton clocked up a 20-miler within his total distance of 64.6 miles, with Ugis Datavs second with a run of 18.3 miles. Steve Swarbrick clocked up 13.7 miles in one go, with Tom Crabtree, Simon Denye, Chris Hastwell, Andrew Harling, Niall Rowan and James Green all notching up a half marathon with Rob Danson 0.1 of a mile short with a 13-miler. Kirsty Holland had the longest women’s distance with 12 miles out of her total 14.6 of the week in 2:29:10, with Debbie Myerscough also completing her 12-miler of the Wesham 12 Days of Christmas Challenge. Kerry Eccles was ecstatic to complete her 11-miler of the Christmas Challenge, the longest distance she has run in 10 years with Pauline Eccleston, a great achievement together. Helen Lawrenson had a 10.1-miler, and Sue Coulthurst an 8.1-miler.

Fourteen years ago in 2006 this week had been exceptionally quiet for the local athletics scene, with no races nearby and no cross country fixtures at all this month forcing Wesham members to look further afield for competition. Many took the opportunity for a rest or to concentrate on training or Christmas shopping. Four Wesham members took part in the Stockport 10-mile road race on a challenging hilly course from the Woodbank Park stadium. It was a popular race despite a chill wind and damp misty conditions, with 610 runners and a fast winning time of 50:59 by Dave Norman of Altrincham who also took the men’s team top spot. With a start and finish on the Woodbank Park athletic track, the first across the line for Wesham was Peter Cruse, with 65:25 for 67th place and 19th M40. The twisting road course was plagued by road works, and George Kennedy found the final ascent of New Zealand Road at the 8-mile mark alongside Vernon Park tough going but nevertheless finished 107th with a time of 68:31 for 11th M45. Nigel Shepherd completed the Wesham men’s team, with a strong run for 234th place with 74:50, placing the team 15th. Julie Cruse was the only Wesham lady running, finishing the race 40th woman in 78:20, 8th W40 and 296th overall. In the Calderdale Way Relay organised by Halifax Harriers Derek Buckley competed in the Bowland Fell Runners Veterans team with Rob Wynne on the final leg Stage 6 from Shelf back to the start at Copley. It is a 50-mile circuit on the fells and hills west of Halifax passing through Todmorden with a total of 12,000 feet of ascent. Conditions were cold and windy and the 6-stage relay was run in pairs. With 1900 feet of climbing over 10.75 miles Derek and Rob clocked 1:22:00 to bring the team home 29th with a total time of 7:19:09, having completed the stage 18th fastest. This popular race had 98 teams competing. The Northern Veterans staged their annual handicap race at Irlam over the usual 10km course, a flat out and back course along the floodplains of the Mersey. Julie Murphy was first across the line in the handicap with a personal best actual time of 46:35. Kath Hoyer was next in the handicap with 44:01 actual time, with Dave Waywell having a lonely run with less than 20 total competitors in the race to record 37:53.

In 2014 six years ago the Wesham M60 team had finished 2nd at the Mid Lancs Cross Country last week held within the Cross Challenge race in Sefton Park. The Men Vet-50 team were 3rd behind Southport ‘A’ and ‘B’ which will give them 2nd place, and the Vet-40 team were 9th. The Men’s Senior team though were 26th against some strong opposition. The Wesham ladies were 5th W35 team and 15th in the Open category. Wesham had a healthy turnout in the Guys 10-mile road race from Bilsborrow out along the lanes around through Inskip despite another group having a social run nearby from Scorton over Nicky Nook. Garry Barnett was the first Wesham finisher in 1:02:57 in 26th place, finishing 4th M45 and improving on his Preston time three week ago by over half a minute. Paul Hetherington finished 32nd and 7th M40 in a time of 1:04:23, recording a good debut at the distance. Graham Cunliffe came in 4th M55 with 1:06:02 in 45th place. Carmel Sullivan ran 1:07:14 to place 7th woman and 1st W45 in 62nd place overall. Nicola Unsworth was 18th woman and 4th W40 in 1:15:56. Angie Kirkham voted Wesham’s most improved lady runner in the annual awards last week ran a new personal best time of 1:32:15 to finish 72nd woman and 16th W45 in 281st place overall. Sally Deacon also ran a personal best time finishing 76th woman and 18th W45 with 1:33:38 for 285th place. David Taylor was 63rd in 1:07:17; Alan Hudson finished 1st M60 nearly a minute clear of Preston’s Alan Appleby running 1:07:33 in 65th place overall. Mick Edge was 80th in 1:09:40, 5th M50; George Kennedy was 6th M55 and 137th in 1:15:56; Chris Moss was 153rd with 1:16:52; Ben Wrigley placed 168th in 1:18:59; and John Howorth was 238th in 1:26:43, 7th M60. Kath Hoyer ran in the Northern Veterans Christmas Predictor 10k Race at Leigh Harriers headquarters in the Leigh Sports Village, out into the Pennington Flash along the canal bank, finishing first lady and 4th in the predictor with just 25 seconds difference, running 47:40. Dave Waywell ran the 5km race, finishing 8th in the Predictor with 2:51 difference but 3rd in the race on actual time with 27:51. Nigel Shepherd was out and about the day after the Wesham annual dinner dance and presentation at the Best 5k in Moor Park in Preston; he finished 1st M55 in 20:57, a tremendous performance placing him 27th overall. John Howorth was also 1st in his age group M60 clocking a time of 26:53 in 75th place overall. Kath Hoyer finished 99th in the Arnside Knott fell Race on November 17th, finishing the 5.5-mile course over 919ft ascent in 52:40, 5th W50 and 25th woman.