Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Anne Berry, Steven Gore and Pauline Eccleston Mad Bull Torchlight run

This week the pandemic restrictions in the Fylde area have just been reviewed but Wesham had already made the decision that they were not going to attempt to restart any club activity until the New Year and to concentrate on virtual activities. The 12 Days of Christmas Challenge has proved extremely popular with around 50 members taking part. The challenge has a real Christmas flavour with members running each of the distances 1 to 12 kilometres or miles one effort a day within the 24 days before Christmas Day. There has been a buddy approach with volunteers to provide a pairing for members seeking assistance and motivation within the pandemic guidelines. This week the Wesham club coaches have hosted a Festive Fun Structured Session via video conference, and the week rounds off with a Christmas Live Update and Social on Facebook on Friday evening.

This weekend there is expected to be several pilot events staged by England Athletics as a tentative return to competition opportunities, although all events will have been subject to the government announcements regarding the various levels of local restrictions. This is mainly centred on stadium athletics and in the North West there is one for Pendle juniors in Colne and a meeting at the Streford track in Manchester. England Athletics are making more grants available to clubs in 2021 in four rounds to fund specific areas of support and development.

With no sign of the coronavirus pandemic easing and warnings from the medical profession that it could take years for the new vaccinations to take effect UK athletics plans into March 2021 are being postponed with the cancellation this week of the English Cross Country Championships due to take place at London’s Parliament Hill and the UK Inter-Counties event in the Midlands. The European and World Championships scheduled for Ireland and Australia respectively have also already been cancelled. There is a possibility that the English Cross Country Relays could take place in Mansfield in March, and some English Schools events including the Championships due to take place in Kent next year. There may also be a possibility for some league fixtures to take place in March, and the British Masters Championships are planned for Tonbridge in Kent in mid-March.

Mansfield Harriers have finally had an 8-year dispute over the use of their headquarters at Berry Hill Park after they were evicted by the former trustees of the park after Mansfield Council have taken over operations. This will mean the Harriers can now apply for grants to improve the facilities, and the future of the English Cross Country Relays will be assured of facilities and assistance from the club. The Harriers were in their 100th year this year but unable to celebrate due to the pandemic.

Mark Holton returned to the top of the Wesham Strava training leader-board last week upping his total mileage to 69.4 miles, completed in 9:13:17 over ten runs. Ultra-distance specialist Ugis Datavs stepped up to 58.9 miles with a time of 7:08:00 with club chair Peter Rooney picking up his feet with 55.1 miles in 8:19:34. Daniel Shaw was fourth placed in the list with 52 miles in 6:03:08, and Steve Myerscough maintained a round 50 miles in 12 efforts with a cumulative time of 7:00:50. Rob Danson completed 46.2 miles in 5:17:14; Lee Barlow 45.8 miles in 5:40:27; and Simon Denye 44.3 miles in 5:28:34. Carl Groome was ninth with 43.8 miles in 5:32:53; and Robert Danson Senior 41.6 miles in 6:27:34. Pauline Eccleston provided a new name at the top of the women’s leader-board, having run 35.6 miles in 5:52:26 ahead of Lynn Brown who completed 33.3 miles in 8:58:40. Kerry Eccles was third woman with 30 miles elevating her mileage with the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge with a cumulative time of 5:09:30, with Sue Coulthurst fourth with 29.3 miles in 4:22:14. Michelle Tickle was fifth with 28.4 miles in 4:22:14 with Debbie Myerscough running 24 miles in 4:22:24. Neil Gregson topped the Monarch of the Mountains with 2077ft elevation gain over 38.1 miles in a time of 4:37:30. James Green was second with 2007ft climbed over 37.2 miles in a time of 4:24;44. Ugis Datavs with the second highest mileage was third in elevation gain with 1552ft. Simon Denye was fourth with 1463ft and Carl Groome 1358ft, both in the top 10 of the week’s mileage. Kerry Eccles topped the women’s list for hills climbed with 1323ft with Michelle Tickle second with 1216ft. Pauline Eccleston used her chart-topping mileage to climb 1151ft in third place and Lynn Brown ran 999ft uphill. Fastest average pace of the week was run by Alek Walker with 6:36 pace per mile over 6.2 miles, completed in 40:55. Garry Barnett previous leader maintained his fast pace at 6:40 per mile over last week’s mileage of 21.4 miles in 2:22:40. Steve Swarbrick fell runner training on the flat averaged 6:51 per mile over 30.9 miles in a time of 3:31:40, and Rob Danson cruised along at 6:52 per mile. Daniel Shaw maintained 6:59 pace and James Green 7:07 pace. Helen Lawrenson had the women’s fastest pace at 8:39 over her week’s mileage of 18.6 completed in 2:40:53, with Tanya Shaw second with 8:42 pace over 13 miles in in 1:53:06. Sue Coulthurst was third with 8:57 pace and Michelle Tickle fourth with 9:13 per mile. Julie Kinsey kept her pace at 9:24 over 9.5 miles in 1:29:19 with Antoinette Holton at 9:23 pace over 15.5 miles in 2:27:46. The longest individual runs of the week was another marathon by Mark Holton, and a 19.6-mile effort from Ugis Datavs. Daniel Shaw ran a long half marathon at 13.5 miles, followed by James Green and Simon Denye who both put in a half marathon each. Pauline Eccleston and Kerry Eccles both ran their 12-mile Day 12 in the Wesham 12 Days of Christmas, and Antoinette Holton her 11-miler. The 12 Days challenge saw Debbie Myerscough complete her 10-miler and Sue Coulthurst her 9-miler. The Christmas Challenge in kilometres appears to have been more popular than running it in miles, which is fully understandable.

In 2010 ten years ago last weekend saw races cancelled despite the heavy winter weather conditions improving from Thursday onwards. The Great Langdale 10k, so popular now that it must have two races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, was cancelled early in the week due to depth of snow and difficulty in travelling up the valley. The Calder Way Relay held on the fells around Bradford, probably the major fell relay competition in the country, was also called off early due to severe difficulties at the time at the changeover points with ice on the roads. However nearer to home the Longridge 7 race was able to go ahead and was rewarded with a large field of 245 runners. The winning time was quick at 38:37 for the hilly course up to Jeffrey Hill but the next three runners were fairly well stretched out and times thereafter were slower than usual. The first half of the course on the uphill stretch was very icy, especially in the couple of sharp undulations, which slowed the runners. The final three miles back down the hill was clear and gave the usual fast descent. Karl Lee was Wesham’s first runner to reach the finish, posting 43:11 for 9th place. Lee Barlow was second in with 44:01 in 11th place. Brian Yates was ahead of Barlow at the top of the hill but lost out on the 3-mile descent, one of the fastest second halves to any race on the local circuit, and he came in 13th in 44:18 after a good battle on the downhill. Troy Watson had another great run and came in 23rd in 45:32, 6th M40. The Wesham finished 2nd team behind Preston. Joanna Goorney had a particularly good run again, finishing 3rd woman and 1st W40 in 47:59 in 37th place overall. Sarah Sherratt was 4th and 2nd W35 with 50:13, 60th overall after a strong ascent and no trouble with the downhill. Michaela Dempsey completed the Wesham ladies’ team with a good run to place 5th woman and 77th overall in 51:49, 1st W45. With such close packing it was no surprise that together the Wesham women won the team race with some ground to spare. To make quite sure Helen Lawrenson came in 6th in 53:11, 2nd W40 and 90th overall. Kath Hoyer was 11th woman as she now starts to run injury free, placing 2nd W50 in 55:14 in 113th place overall. Nicola Unsworth was 13th and 126th with a very respectable time of 57:18, 4th W40. John Collier was 24th and 2nd M55 in 45:35; Alan Hudson 1st M60 and 30th with 46:37; Mick Edge 35th and 3rd M50 in 47:29; Gary Moore 41st and 4th M50 with 48:29; Graham Vickers 80th and 6th M50 in 52:09; Dave Waywell 2nd M65 and 85th in 52:58 having lost out to unattached John Murray by 1:31; Chris Moss came in 87th with 53:04; Phil Leaver was 96th in 54:07; Peter Bartlett 4th M60 and 99th with 54:21; George Flanagan 157th in 60:42; John Howorth 175th in 63:06; Doug Brown 5th M70 and 179th in 63:43; Norman Bateman 202nd 6th M70 in 66:47; Paul Carter 214th 68:11. Dave Preston finished 310th and 13th M55 in the Stockport 10 mile road race in difficult conditions with icy surfaces, clocking 1:18:45. The race was won in a fast 50:34 by Mathew Clowes of Staffs Moorlands. Dave declared that the race should have been cancelled it was that treacherous. Shaun and Ruth Turner went down to Cheshire for the popular Tatton Yule Yomp, the second running of this 10km organised by Cheshire Hash House Harriers though the beautiful Tatton Park on an off-road course and offering Warburton Winter Fruit Loaf to all finishers. Shaun ran 55:56 to finish 304th and Ruth was 154th woman and 504th overall in 64:40. The race boasted 652 runners, but the event was sold out at 1000 entrants.

Just two years ago in 2018 Kath Hoyer was the only Wesham runner at the final Hurst Green Turkey Trot trail race mid-way up the Ribble Valley on Saturday in horrendous conditions completing the course 159th woman and 12th W55 in 1:18:44, placing 298th overall. The start had to be moved due to sheet ice over the course. The second Mad Bull Torchlight run from Rivington saw atrocious icy conditions heading up to the pigeon tower and times were greatly slowed over the 5 miles. Steve Gore finished 2nd in a time of 45:47 having been overtaken by Andy Staveley of Burnden Runners on the treacherous descent. Pauline Eccleston finished 4th woman in 1:13:52 in 24th place overall, 2nd W45, and Anne Berry was next placed in 5th and 25th overall with the same time, 1st W55.The third Mid-Lancs cross country fixture at Hyndburn Wilsons Fields turned out to be a real challenge with horrendous weather conditions and problems on the course with the markings and Marshall, resulting in various course problems up to the Senior Men’s race which went ahead to plan. Wesham’s first action was in the combined Senior Women and Men Over-70 race supposedly held over a medium and a large lap. Setting off 20 minutes late, Anne Mayers-Smith finished 49th in 29:10 over an approximate 8km course placing 16th W35. Carmel Sullivan made a return to cross country after a 3-year layoff with injury, coming in 31st in 27:38 and 7th W45. In the M70+ race Dave Young finished 2nd in 35:37 and Peter Bartlett was 5th with 1:04:15 having been sent wrong near the finish getting mixed up with lapping Senior Men. Peter’s finish ensured the M70+ team victory for Wesham. The Senior Men were more successful with Alex Rowe filling a marshalling slot. David Taylor was first Wesham runner to complete the course coming home in 42nd place in 41:06 with a great run. Andrew Harling provided great backup finishing 46th in 41:36. Phil Quibell was 3rd M60 and 78th overall in 43:52. Nigel Shepherd finished 5th and 158th in 49:37 and John Collier was close behind to clinch the M60 team win in 7th place, 165th overall with 50:34 in a hard-fought finish with fellow M60s Graham Webster and Terry Hellings of Lytham St Annes. Steve Myerscough finished 176th and 54th M40 in 51:21, a brave effort as he steadily returns from injury. Ben Wrigley was 216th in 57:45. The Men’s team is listed as 14th; the M35s 13th; and the M50s 5th, but this may be wrong as Wesham’s Garry Barnett who did not run is listed in 198th place with 54:37. On Sunday the big race for Wesham was the Longridge Christmas Pudding 7-miler up Longridge Fell and over the infamous Jeffrey Hill, a much better day with favourable weather conditions. Simon Denye had a superb run representing many weeks of preparation and return to racing fitness, coming across the finish line in 42:22 holding the chasing third placed runner by 5 seconds. Paul Gregory placed 9th in 43:30 and Stuart Clayton finished 73rd in 53:53. Helen Lawrenson was 81st with 54:36 and Stephen Brownie was 97th in 56:38. Next in Alan Hudson finished 115th in 58:04, and Sara Ward 152nd with 60%19. David Millar finished 180th in 61:58 and Robert Danson was 185th with a good run in 62:26. Vicky Gore was 210th in 64:59; Maureen Danson 218th in 65:29; Paul Carter 223rd with 65:54; Peter Rooney was 225th in 65:48 (the results are in chip time order); Louis’s Denye 269th in 68:47; John Howorth 313rd with 1:13:23; Sally Deacon 331st in 1:14:21; Debbie Myerscough 367th in 1:17:36; Antoinette Holton 371st in 1:20:42; Julie Rooney Diane Blagden 376th and 377th in 1:21:36; there were 411 runners in all.  The weekend saw the annual double headed Langdale Xmas 10k, split over two days to accommodate the popularity of this race from the New Dungeon Ghyll down the valley to Elterwater and return. On the Saturday Peter Cruse was the leading Wesham runner finishing 75th in 45:54. Chas Colby crossed the line 227th with 52:40, and Angela Colby 305th with 55:56.