Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Troy Watson in full flow in the Garstang 10k seven years ago in 2014

Wesham have continued to storm ahead with their January “Move Every Day” Challenge and over 60 members are still actively following this with great enthusiasm. Despite the varied weather with a mix of sleet and ice, clear still conditions, or steady rain or drizzle and mist members have ventured out each day and relished the challenge. It is all about building physical and mental health during the darkest period of the winter when everyone is low after the joys of the festive period.

There are fewer athletic events so far cancelled in February but there is little chance that any competition will be able to happen over the next two or three months and probably even further ahead than that. While it is claimed that the pandemic is beginning to abate there are still high numbers of infections and further threats from the various mutations that are becoming apparent. There could still be many unexpected twists and turns yet, and caution also needs to be taken with expectation from the vaccinations, this is not the exit criteria yet!  There are parallels between athletics and theatrical events, many rescheduled events are already close on the horizon and there is no certainty that sold-out events and mass participation will be possible for some long while yet.

There is much controversy around a survey being circulated by UK Athletics about cross country inclusivity. UKA has a brief from the government to conduct a full review and rethink around equality, diversity and inclusion and has a report titled “UKA Diversity Action Plan”. The controversy centres around the view that the survey is seeking an answer to a specific question rather than an open query seeking a personal opinion. The central question is whether cross country race distances should be equalised for men and women i.e., increasing the distances women run to equal those currently run by men, or reducing the men’s distances to those of the women, or introducing a standard distance somewhere between the two. There is growing opposition to the survey with more than half a dozen past international women such as Paula Radcliffe and Maria Yamauchi all expressing their concerns. Cross country running as we now know it originated in the UK in Victorian times and forms the bedrock of much of the home-nation strength in off-road endurance competition.

Daniel Shaw returned to the top of last week’s Wesham Strava training leader-board with 65.8 miles completed in 8:51:34. Rob Danson was second with 58.4 miles run in 6:25:26, with Neil Tate coming in third with 53.9 miles in a cumulative time of 7:06:41. Steven Gore had a good week with 51.3 miles to come in fourth in 6:40:08, and Mark Renshall was fifth in 6:43:12 after 44.8 miles. Kerry Eccles was the leading woman with 32 miles completed in 5:31:44, a great week, and Sue Coulthurst was second with 29.2 miles clocked up in 4:44:13. Tanya Shaw was training hard with 26 miles completed in 3:47:04, and Michelle Tickle in fourth after 25.7 miles in 3:57:44. Helen Lawrenson ran 16.5 miles in 2:32:54 and Debbie Myerscough 16.3 miles in 3:10:26. Steve Myerscough ran 44.7 miles in 6:04:18; Stuart Clayton 43.8 miles in 6:04:16, both very similar pace (6:04 per mile), Mark Belfield 41.2 miles in 5:11:04 and Tom Crabtree 40.7 miles in 5:14:04, level with Simon Denye who ran 40.7 miles in 4:58:28. Daniel Shaw also recorded the highest elevation gain with 4767ft over his 65.8 miles with Simon Denye second with 1421ft. Steve Swarbrick was third with 1340ft over 17 miles completed in 2:10:37. Mark Renshall was fourth with 1319ft over his 44.8 miles and Mark Belfield fifth on 1286ft. Michelle Tickle had the women’s biggest uphill height with 1108ft on her 25.7 miles with Sue Coulthurst second on 1048ft over 29.2 miles. Tanya Shaw was third with 728ft climbed over 26 miles, with Julie Parton fourth with 712ft elevation gain over 12 miles completed in 2:29:36. Kerry Eccles was fifth climbing 570ft over 32 miles. Rob Danson had the fastest pace over the week with 6:25 per mile with Garry Barnett second yet again consistently running 6:54 pace over 30.3 miles completed in 3:29:04. James Green was third fastest on 7:03 per mile for 35.3 miles in a time of 4:12:24. Neil Gregson came in fourth on 7:13 pace on 36.6 miles in 4:24:08 and Simon Denye fifth with 7:20 over his 40.7 miles.

In 2006 conditions were bright and fresh on Saturday as Lancashire put on a fine show as hosts to the North of England for the Cross Country Championships in Blackburn’s Witton Park. Many of the region’s current finest runners were present in excellent form over the testing course featuring the notorious ‘saucer’ uphill section, climbed three times for the women and four for the men. The Wesham women provided their largest turnout at a cross country meeting this season, with five runners led by Kath Hoyer. Battling out with Horwich runner Denise Wakefield Kath placed 140th in 39:58 for the 8km course. Yvonne Russell arrived at the course fresh from a party the previous night from which she had not yet returned home and ran an excellent 41:42 for 168th position in her second race over the country. Bernadette Dickinson ran a fine 42:42 with reduced training in her legs to place 184th, and Julie Murphy anchored the team in 24th position with 45:29 for 217th place. Marie Wyld completed the quintet in 236th place with 50:32. The Wesham men ran 14 runners over the 4-lap 12km course and finished 22nd team out of 48. Charlie Pass, now recovered from winter illnesses had a superb run, finishing 57th in the field of 579 in 40:31. Alex Rowe was next in, 158th in 44:14, and Lee Barlow had a strong run to finish 265th in 46:55. Close behind Derek Buckley ran well, finishing 273rd in 47:06; and within sight John Collier steamed in 287th in 47:27. Peter Cruse and Karl Lee completed the men’s team with a close battle, returning 48:09 and 48:18 for 311th and 316th respectively. Alan Glasgow had a great run, crossing the line 336th in 48:58; John Bertenshaw was 346th in 49:14; Dave Waywell was below-par after a hip injury finishing in 391st with 50:25; Andy Yelland ran 51:51 for 420th; Graham Vickers, who went on to run in the Chernobyl 10k the next day, was 529th in 57:32; Brian Porter was 544th in 59:05; and cross country captain Dave Young completed the squad with 66:14 for 572nd. Steve Littler headed up a large Wesham contingent on a crisp and frosty Sunday morning at the Chernobyl 10k road race from the Welcome Tavern in Walton-le-Dale. This popular race attracted 469 runners over the multi-terrain course, which was icy in places, but this did not slow times and conditions were excellent. Steve had a chase on his hands as winner Rick Hayman got away, but the gap was less than 20 seconds at the finish as Steve came in 2nd in 33:04. New recruit Craig Sharp ran well for the Wesham squad, returning 37:57 in 23rd place. Martin Bates was 3rd M45 in 31st place overall in 38:51, and Simon Eaton completed the men’s team in 3rd place behind Chorley Harriers and Astley & Tyldesley with a fine 40:46 for 59th place. Peter Waywell marked a return to the roads with 43:26 for 117th position, just holding off Alan Taylor, 118th in 43:29.  The Wesham women had five runners and finished 2nd team behind Red Rose. Yvonne Russell followed up on her cross country run the previous day with another good 10k result, clocking 46:12 for 20th place, 167th overall. Cheryl Hinde ran 52:07 for 42nd place, 278th overall and 9th W35. Julie Murphy, another cross-country runner from the previous day, completed the ladies’ team in 46th place with 52:42 (290th overall, 8th W40). Pauline Weller ran 55:29 for 61st (10th W45 and 328th overall), and Jenny Gomery was 124th in 65:45 (433rd overall). Other Wesham results: 123rd – Nigel Shepherd MV45 43:46; 138th – Andrew Divall 44:54; 152nd – Peter Newton MV55 45:16; 155th – Graham Vickers MV45 45:30; 156th – Paul Gardner MV40 45:30; 170 – John Howorth MV50 46:19; 177th – Bernie Krawczyk 46:35; 187th – Stephen Wilkinson MV50 47:13; 267th – David Young MV55 51:14.

Seven years ago in 2014 the main event of the week locally was the Inskip Half Marathon on Sunday which over 4 years has grown into a local alternative to the Four Villages or York races that are held on the same day. With good organisation and a scenic country course this race has all the attraction of a quality event with a local atmosphere. The weather was dry and bright if cool but with no wind, perfect for running at this time of year. Wesham runners were out in good numbers and the ladies won the women’s team and the men were second behind Preston Harriers. Emma Lund was in great form and she ran well to finish 12th in 1:32:42 for 115th place. Carmel Sullivan was close behind Emma in 14th position claiming 2nd W45 in 1:32:56, 118th overall. Helen Lawrenson was in next place, 15th woman and 4th W40 in 1:32:59, 119th overall. Nicola Unsworth came in 21st and 6th W40 in 1:36:13 placing 146th. Jenn Thompson was 28th woman and 9th W35 in 195th position with 1:42:38, and Tracey Hulme 29th and 3rd W50 in 1:42:45, 197th overall. Sara Ward was 32nd and 4th W45 in 1:43:27, placed 205th. Claire Bateman-Stephenson was 74th with 1:58:51 in 326th with Vicky Barlow 75th and 328th in 1:59:04. Laura Wilsdon was 96th woman and 375th in 2:08:39. In the men’s positions Rob Danson ran an excellent new personal best of 1:15:10 to place 3rd in the race with the two runners in front clocking 1:11:15 and 1:11:38. Rob surged ahead of 4th placed Rob Affleck by just one second. Troy Watson was in fine form as he trains for the Malta Marathon next month and he also ran a new personal best of 1:18:56 for 11th place and 2nd M45. He held off speedster Lee Barlow in the second half in a great battle of rivalry as Lee came in 16th and 5th M40 in 1:19:51. Brother Jason Barlow who initially went off a little fast despite his current dedicated training regime and dropped back at the halfway recovered well to resist the challenge from Steve Myerscough to finish 32nd with 1:22:14, with Steve recently clocked off his night shift running well through the field to position 36th with 1:22:44. Alex Rowe recovering from illness was 56th and 2nd M55 in 1:25:17, with Simon Eaton running strongly for 68th place in 1:26:43, 23rd M40. Graham Cunliffe was right on target with 1:28:41 for 4th M55 and 80th place, with Russell Mabbett running well for 109th place and 1:31:51. George Kennedy was 7th M55 and 145th in 1:36:12 with John Bertenshaw 8th M55 and 149th in 1:36:26. Nigel Shepherd was 233rd and 13th M55 in 1:47:08; Jeremy Horton 238th with 1:47:26; Finlay McCalman 275th in 1:51:37; Peter Bartlett 4th M65 and 286th with 1:52:27; and Paul Carter 335th in 2:00:11. The Ashurst Beacon fell race on Saturday attracted a good class of runner and 154 competitors with it start and finish on top of the hill next to the beacon itself and with an ascent up Parbold Hill halfway round for good measure. Dave Waywell was 2nd M65 and 106th in 56:43 for the 5.6 mile and 900ft ascent. Kath Hoyer running for the FRA was 2nd W50 and 11th woman in 53:54, 85th overall. John Howorth ran the East Lancashire Hospice 10k in Burnley on Sunday, finishing 164th in 53:38, 4th M60.