What a year 2020 turned out to be for all of us and of course it decimated the sporting year after the first 12 weeks of relative normality. For athletics this meant that the domestic winter cross country and indoor seasons could be completed but presentations and awards evening could not take place and the follow-on global championships could not take place. Club training sessions came to an abrupt end and athletes had to train on their own although with the national lockdown there was at least plenty of free space and fresh air with no traffic, and more time to exercise with working from home or the less attractive furlough schemes.
Athletics had to adapt to keep participants and competitors interested and involved, and so activity at home schemes were devised, virtual gym and aerobic sessions, and Zoom conferencing became de-facto practice. Then virtual events were invented, starting with relays, and then developing to distance endurance events. Wesham members were given weekly virtual challenges at set distances such as 5 kilometres or miles or running a measured or “negative” split with a fast finish. Then the easing of restrictions began in June and by July Wesham were able to restart training nights, based outdoors at various venues and restricted to groups of six remaining socially distanced. With the prolonged hot summer weather the outdoor meets were refreshing and welcome, and some indoor socialising was available for a while. Wesham also re-introduced its structured training sessions, again all outdoors and in groups of six only. All members sessions were on a pre-booking basis only to maintain a contact trace.
Looking at the 2019/20 cross country season, Wesham had a good year. The Senior Women placed 10th in Division 3 showing more work is required but at least they had a presence at all six fixtures. The ladies were 12th W35 team but the W45s were 5th and included in the same distance the M70 men won another year together with the M60 men. The M50 men were 8th; while the M40 men finished 2nd in Division 2 and earned promotion to Division 1, a great start to the next season. The Senior Men won Division 2 giving them promotion back to the top seven clubs after some years absent. A “B” team finished at five of the events placing then second in Division 4 and promotion. Individually Dave Young was 3rd M70; Steve Swarbrick was 2nd M40; Gary Pendlebury was 4th M60 just missing out on a trophy.
The final months of the year have seen a resurgence of the virus and put paid to organised club activities. Wesham had kept its monthly handicap events and managed a socially distanced physical finale in August, starting the new season in September, but were brought to an abrupt halt in November when severe storms flooded the course, causing cancellation of further events to the New Year. However, monthly virtual challenges continued and there was a seasonally themed 12 Days of Christmas for December that has attracted over 50 members to take part to complete 12 runs with the distances 1 to 12 km or miles, one run a day. A few members completed the 12 distances in both kilometres and miles, totalling 126.7 miles, 31.6 miles a week.
The 12 Days of Christmas Challenge boosted members training mileage for the week again, especially those following a strict incremental distance with the longer runs last. Daniel Shaw returned to the head of the Wesham Strava leader-board with 77 miles completed in 9:09:03. Ugis Datavs was second with 74.3 miles in 9:02:49 and Steven Gore 66 miles with the double challenge in 9:07:28. Rob Danson came in fourth at 57.8 miles in 6:26:18, and Kerry Eccles had the week of her life to rank fifth and first woman over 50 miles in a time of 8:34:10. Steve Myerscough was the fifth man in 47.2 miles at 6:37:16. Second woman was Vron Walker in 5:10:45 over 33 miles with Helen Lawrenson third with 32.1 miles in 5:30:38. Lynn Brown came in fourth with 30.9 miles in 8:15:26 and Emma Davies rising up to fifth with 29.2 miles in 6:25:26. Tony Leach was Monarch of the Mountains last week with 2878ft elevation gain over 34.3 miles completed in 4:39:33. Neil Whipp was second with 2723ft climbed in 35.2 miles in a time of 5:16:48. Helen Lawrenson was third and first woman climbing 2690 partly due to leading a club group run up Grizedale and over Nicky Nook. Daniel Shaw was third man with 2041 ft uphill, and Nigel Shepherd was fourth with 1866ft over 40.5 miles in 8:55:57. Ugis Datavs notched up 1862 feet for fifth, with Emma Davies a 1213 elevation gain on her 29.2 miles probably mainly with dad Richard. Julie Kinsey went 1201ft uphill over 12.4 miles in 2:15:10, and Kay Twist had 1168ft elevation over 17.5 miles in 3:09:18. On the speed dial Rob Danson had the fastest pace per mile at 6:41 pace with Steve Swarbrick second at 6:51 with 36.5 miles for the week in 4:10:02. James Green was third at 6:53 per mile over 35.1 miles in 4:01:36, and Garry Barnett came in at fourth with 6:57 pace over 41.4 miles (4:47:44). Suzanne Leonard came back as the fastest woman at 8:15 pace over 4.3 miles in 35:29. Tanya Shaw was second at 8:38 on 22 miles in 3:09:56. Michele Tickle was third with 9:04 pace for 26.3 miles in 3:58:27, and Karen Cook 9:06 per mile for 3.1 miles in 28:13. Sue Coulthurst was on 9:10 pace in 12 miles with a time of 1:50:00.
Looking back 2007 was a highly successful year for Wesham Road Runners. The club membership grew again, especially in the ladies ranks, where they had many team successes, including the Preston 10, Wesham 10k and Longridge 7, and returning to cross country action like ducks to water, earning promotion in the Mid-Lancs League and fielding two teams in the English Relays. The club fielded two teams in the Pennine Bridleway Relay, completed their sixth Welsh Castles Relay from Caernarfon to Cardiff, and tackled the Round Rotherham relay. Members have represented the club at most local races with many scoring personal best performances and cutting their teeth in new disciplines such as the inaugural Wesham Fell Championship and the Lakeland Trails series. Many members ventured further afield, running at venues all over the country and abroad. Individually, Gary Pendlebury has come back from his second knee operation to find the form of his life and rise rapidly to the top of the UK M50 masters’ rankings at 10k, 10 miles and half marathon. Alex Rowe claimed M50 silver in the London Marathon just after entering the age category and went on to win British Masters gold for 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, 5km road and half marathon and silver in 10k and 10 miles. He collected individual and team medals in European and World Masters championships and represented England in the International Masters cross country and the British Masters in the Interland against France and Belgium. Steve Littler was again the Club Champion, finishing 47th in the London Marathon in 2:33. Joanna Goorney turned her focus to running and has come on leaps and bounds, and Carmel Sullivan and Michaela Dempsey have emerged as key members of the ladies’ team. This week in 2007 the Wesham ladies outshone the men at Rudolph’s Red Nose Race on Saturday over a five mile distance around Marton Mere and the De Vere in Blackpool as most of the runners dressed up in Santa costumes to build up their pre-Christmas preparations. The 18 ladies went up a notch against the 27 men present by adding another team victory to their 2007 tally. However, it was Steve Myerscough who was the first Wesham runner to finish as he crossed the line in 14th place in a time of 31:12 for the multi-terrain five miles. Peter Cruse was next in with 32:25 for 18th place and 3rd M45, towing Gary de Banke to 19th position with in 32:28. Peter Waywell came in 27th in 33:21 to claim 3rd M40. Next across the finish line was Joanna Goorney the first of the Wesham ladies continuing her meteoric rise placing 4th woman, 1st W35 and 31st overall in 33:58. Kath Hoyer was 7th woman and 2nd W45 with 36:05 (45th overall), and Michaela Dempsey completed the winning team just behind with 36:09 in 8th place, securing 1st W40 and 48th position overall. Sarah Sherratt was 2nd W35 and 9th woman showing her good form with 36:15 in 50th place overall. Julie Cruse ran well for 10th place and 3rd W45 in 36:38, with Bernadette Dickinson 4th W45 and 16th lady in 38:56. The race winners were Sam Witter of Trafford AC in 27:23, and local lady Emma Calderbank in 31:55. Other Wesham men to finish were Peter Gleaves (36th 34:26); Simon Eaton (46th, 36:05); Phil Leaver (47th 3605); Graham Vickers (63rd 37:41); Brian Porter (67th 38:23); Chris Moss (69th 38:36); Jonathan Lawson (73rd 38:46); Nigel Shepherd (74th 38:50); Reg Chapman (85th 39:35); George Flanagan (91st 40:16); John Rudd (98th 40:48); Des Cleary (106th 41:46); Mike Walsh (1st M75 in 42:21, 112th overall); John Howorth (117th 42:55); Norman Bateman (123rd 43:50); Tony Robbins (127th 44:53); Finlay McCalman (134th 45:21); Lee Barlow (136th 45:36); John Sharples (149th 47:36); John Whiteman (151st 47:42); Peter Earnshaw (152nd 47:56); George Kennedy (161st 49:11); Scott Munday (167th 50:08). Other Wesham ladies included Yvonne Russell (20th 40:12); Kerry Eccles (23rd 40:27); Julie Murphy (30th in 42:21); Pauline Weller (2nd W50 in 43:20, 32nd); Anne Docherty (33rd, 3rd W50 in 43:50); Zoe Barlow (39th 45:31); Helen Jolly (43rd 47:16); Sue Fearon (50th 48:21); Celia Gregory (51st 48:28); Bev Brooks (52nd 48:28); Berni Ashworth (55th 50:08); and Julie Moxon (56th 50:42). Charlie Pass, Lee Barlow and Dave Waywell were Wesham’s leading men in the Boxing Day 10k in Leyland, finishing 11th, 21st and 40th in 33:41, 34:58 and 38:01. Sarah Sherratt was 16th woman (43:13), Michaela Dempsey 17th (43:24) and Kath Hoyer 21st (45:16). There will be a full report next week once timing problems have been rectified.
In 2015 it was a quiet week with the run-up to Christmas and the weather was intermittently wet and stormy, but the skies cleared on Sunday morning for the Rudolph Red Nose race round the de Vere country park and Marton Mere in Blackpool with 250 runners turning out in various favours of festive ware. At the front Blackburn’s Joe Monk scorched round the f mile course in 27:52, a tremendous run considering a section of eh course was flooded and it was generally wet underfoot with a couple of section on grass as well. Wesham had a good number of members taking part, with in form David ‘reindeer’ Taylor completing an amazing year of improvement finishing 10th in 32:19. Next to finish was Paul Hetherington in 11th place with a time of 32:55 placing 4th M40. Peter Cruse was 1st M50 and 14th in 33:30, Wesham’s first Santa. Mark Billington was 19th in 34:13, 5th M50 in a keenly contested age category. Graham Cunliffe was 3rd M55 and 27th in 35:52. Sarah Sherratt was Wesham’s first lady and she finished 3rd woman and 1st W40 in 36:22, 30th overall. Steven Gore finished in the same time 36:22 in 31st place; Daniel Moss was 3rd Under-20 and 33rd in 36:25 out-running his dad Chris by a minute 23 seconds who finished 47th in 37:48. Jonathan Lawson was 51st in 38:14; Jason Blagden 53rd in 38:22; Martin Bates 58th in 38:51; Ben Wrigley 61st with 39:08 and Steven Brown 62nd in 39:11. Nicola Unsworth was 9th woman and 68th overall 3rd W45 in 39:40; Roger Leadbeater 72nd in 40:05; Brian Jones 74th with 40:12; Kath Hoyer was 12th and 76th in 40:23 2nd W55; Helen Lawrenson 14th and 78th overall 4th W45 with 40:40; Tracey Hulme 15th woman and 81st overall in 41:02; Dave Young 93rd in 42:42; Phil Leaver 95th with 42:50; Bernadette Dickinson 107th with 43:30; Kerry Eccles 107th in 43:50; Sara Ward 108th in 44:00; Peter Cooke 127th with 46:11; Debbie Myerscough 132nd in 46:30; Doug Brown 136th with 46:41; Mark Dobson was 153rd in 48:40 and Sally Deacon 161st with 52:10. John Howorth came in 165th with 52:17; and then a group with Gemma Owen 187th in 56:56; Julie Rooney 188th in 56:57; Diane Blagden 189th with 56:58; Jayne Hurst 190th in 56:58 and Graham Vickers 191st in 57:03. There were 209 runners and there was a good festive gathering for the presentation afterwards in the fire station.