The last week saw the fourth and final week of the Wesham February Virtual Challenge to run the 84.5 miles of Hadrian’s Wall from Wallsend in Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway west of Carlisle. In the final tally 54 members had embarked on the journey, 38 had started on the return journey with 10 members making the full 169 miles back through Newcastle, with three going on for a third point-to-point to make it back to the Solway! Michelle Tickle, Nigel Shepherd and Steve Myerscough completed the 253.4 miles of the triple with the latter carrying on for a mile warm-down. All told the 54 members had clocked up 5612.99 miles over the 28 days. Helen Lawrenson, Peter Rooney, Carl Groome and Pauline Eccleston all finished their double distance on Saturday, joined by Mark Renshall, Tom Crabtree and Neil Tate on the Sunday for a well earned socially distanced virtual celebration in Wallsend before conceptually heading for home. James Green was at Low Brunton after 139.89 miles; Peter Cooke taking in some summer sun at Walwick Hall (137.28 miles); Robert Danson had reached Milecastle 32 at Carraw for the second time (133.40); Kerry Eccles at Milecastle 36 at King’s Wicket on the crags with 129.83 miles completed; Tanya Shaw at Turret 43a at Cockmount Hill (122.91); Steven Gore had reached 212.51 miles at Milecastle 45 on Walltown Crags; Karen Cook on 112.53 miles at Gillard Croft Primary school; Phil Leaver on 110.95 miles at Milecastle 49 at Harrow’s Scar; Stephen Twist with 110.30 miles at the Dovecote Bridge along the King Water riverside; Tony Leach at Cambeckhill with 108.58; John Burns at Wall Head White Moss at 104.87 miles; Maureen Danson at the Croft in Linstock at 101.26 miles; Paul Eccles on 100.93 miles at East Capels Plantation; Dave Young crossing the Memorial Bridge at Stony Holme on 99.6 miles; Troy Watson parked up at Burgh by Sands Village Hall at 91.92 miles and Emma Wright coming along past Dykesfield on the coast road on 90.57 miles. Content to just go the one way Emma Davies was nearly there at Walker House in Drumburgh, with Martin Allison, Jason Parkinson, Anne Berry, Julies Paton and Rooney, Liz Beth, Chris Moss, Neil Whipp, Emma Louise, Kay Twist Neil Whipp, Sue Hopcroft and Chris Haines joined by Michelle, Nigel and Steve all enjoying a well-deserved conceptual socially distanced ice cream in the main village street in Bowness as there is no shop nor any facilities and the Kings Arms was closed.
With the Wesham members breathless from their exploits in Northumberland they were straight off to north-east Glasgow to Milngavie to line up for the West Highland Way Virtual Challenge for March, starting off on the 96 miles on the first 12 mile stretch to Drymen. Over eight stages members will endeavour to arrive in Fort William before the 31st and several will doubtless return the same way and maybe also attempt a triple to return to the shores of Loch Linnhe.
There was definite light for local athletics clubs this week with the strong possibility that they will be able to meet outdoors from 29th March to commence training sessions, with restrictions on numbers and assembling and dispersing. There is possibility of some competition through April, with hope that later in the summer larger events will be able to go ahead. Many athletics events have already been cancelled or postponed, and many will have to wait until 2022 for their next staging as the autumn calendar will quickly become too congested with everyone looking for a new slot. When things do get going there is unlikely to be a lack of choice! But similarly, athletes must be cautious to ease themselves back into competition and not become over-ambitious after already 12 months of only being able to log training in isolation. Much planning has been going on at a high level with regard to the athletics calendar and although it has appeared quiet these officials have been extremely busy with constantly re-drafting a future calendar and ensuring that no opening for competition would be lost.
There is also light for the popular Saturday morning parkruns with plans for the Fylde events in Blackpool, Lytham Hall and Fleetwood Promenade to possibly re-start on 5th June. Junior parkrun on Sunday mornings at present are planned to re-commence on 11th April and there are events at Lytham Park View and Avenham Park in Preston. Lytham Hall has had to remain closed during its lucrative Snowdrop Walk period, but it has allowed a bumper crop to flourish with no disturbance and this can be viewed via an online video stream.
With the final week of the February Challenge along Hadrian’s Wall and the improving spring weather the Wesham Strava training leader-board showed a healthy 85 members clocking up mileage and a new leader in Shaun Worden as he clocked up an eye goggling 90.6 miles with a cumulative time of 14:58:27 and also topping the Monarch of the Mountains with a lung busting 2959ft of climb. Daniel Shaw continued his recent mileage with another regular 66.6 miles completed in 8:10:37 to place second on the leader-board. Steve Myerscough was third as he rushed back along Hadrian’s Wall for the third time to clock up 66.5 miles in 9:27:28. Rob Danson placed 4th with 65.6 miles in 7:07:30 and Ugis Datavs was fifth with 64.3 miles in 7:57:58. Tess Robinson returned to training and she headed up the women’s leader-board with 37.8 miles run in 4:30:54. Sue Coulthurst was second with 37.3 miles in 5:48:08 with Helen Lawrenson third with 36.5 miles in 5:25:28. Michelle Tickle came in fourth with 32.4 miles in 4:55:23, and Kerry Eccles was again in the Top 5 with 30.4 miles in 5:04:30. Members were coming in fast and furious with Mark Belfield on 50.2 miles; Neil Gregson 46.3 miles; Carl Groome 44.2; Mark Holton 43.6; Simon Denye and Tom Crabtree on 40.9 miles; Neil Tate 40.4; Matty Holton 39.2; Phil Leaver and Mark Renshall 38.3 miles; Jason Parkinson and Alan Hudson 38.2; and Garry Barnett 37.8. On the mountain leader-board Shaun Worden had topped regular premier Daniel Shaw who still climbed 2005ft for third slot, but James Mulvany came in second with 2290ft over 27.9 miles. Neil Gregson was fourth on 1988ft and Rob Danson fifth with 1767ft climbed. On the women’s mountain list Michelle Tickle was top with 1383ft over her 32.4 Northumberland miles. Sue Coulthurst was second with 1235ft ascent and Helen Lawrenson third with 830ft elevation gain. Julie Parton came up fourth with 768ft over 24.5 miles in a total time of 4:48:17 and Kerry Eccles was fifth on 706ft with her 30.4 miles. On average pace over the week Rob Danson came up speediest with 6:31 averaged per mile with Steve Swarbrick second at 6:42 over 32.6 miles in 3:38:25. Garry Barnett, regularly among the fastest, was third at 6:45 for 37.8 miles in 4:15:09, and David Taylor fourth on 6:48 over 18.9 miles in 2:08:31. James Green was fifth at 7-minute pace for 36.4 miles in 4:14:48. On the women’s leader-board Tess Robinson had the fastest average at 7:10 and Emma Lund second at 8:02 pace over 7.9 miles in 1:03:28. Suzanne Leonard was third, absent from the rankings for some while, with 8:31 pace over 9.6 miles in 1:21:46. Tanya Shaw was fourth at 8:33 pace over 26.3 miles in 3:44:52 and Helen Lawrenson fifth with 8:55 per mile.
Back in 2011 this week there was a touch of spring in the air but the North West region was battered by strong winds over the weekend which affected performances in local races. Wesham runners were out and about as usual but it looks as though the blustery conditions may have swept off some of the published results. Top quality racing was available at the Wrexham Village Bakery Half Marathon, and Karl lee was on fire as he scorched to a superb finish with 77:50 for the 13.1 miles in high winds. It is good to see the 25-year-old reaching a new peak as several months of hard training are beginning to pay off. John Bertenshaw was a little disappointed with 86:24 for the distance as his preparations had been encouraging. Lee Barlow was close behind with 1:27, and Helen Lawrenson ran 1:36. Tracey Hulme ran a big personal best with 1:42:09 to achieve her W45 Gold Standard in the Wesham rankings. Alex Rowe finished 7th in the M50 1500m at the British Masters Indoor Athletics Championships held at the lee Valley stadium in London, running 4:43.63 for the 7 ½ laps. Preston’s Steve Smith made a canny move by working through the field to win with 4:23.64, a great performance. On Sunday Rowe took on the 3000m with better odds and after 13 laps in 4th place in a race combined with the M55 age group he moved up a gear to win the M50 silver medal with 10:00.01. Alan Hudson finished 18th and 1st M60 in the Lostock 6 race on Sunday, coming five and half minutes behind the winner Marc Tillotson a senior male from Bolton. Graham Vickers placed 6th M50 and 58th overall in 42:35. There were 243 runners in this popular event. The Wesham Fell Championship for 2011 kicked off on Saturday with the Bleasdale Circle Fell Race, a 5-mile circuit around Paddy’s Pole and Parlick with 1250ft of ascent. Mark Midgley, Sarah Sherratt, John Sharples, Jenny Salt and Chris Whitlock ran among others but unfortunately the results have not yet been posted for this race. On the local scene the North West Half Marathon in Blackpool attracted 1144 runners to the windswept Middle and Lower Walk along the Promenade from North Shore to Bispham and back. Troy Watson was Wesham’s leading athlete, clocking a respectable 1:22:19 for 23rd place. George Kennedy volunteered his services as a Runners World pacer, and he was pleased to deliver the goods with 1:30:34 in 85th place. John Oliver was 95th close behind with 1:30:58, and Simon Eaton sporting the race number 1 was 164th in 1:34:54, 29th M40. Emma Lund had an excellent run, finishing 15th woman and 185th overall in 1:36:03. Peter Cutler was 211th in 1:37:42, and Nicola Unsworth finished 32nd woman and 5th W40 in 1:42:40, in 327th place overall. Ian France was 368th in 1:44:20, and Kath Hoyer was 2nd W50 and 48th woman in 424th overall with 1:46:03. Peter Bartlett finished 4th M60 in 1:47:00, 443rd overall. Jenny Salt came in 79th woman with 1:52:12, 20th W35 and 563rd overall, with Sharon Cooper 156th and 793rd overall in 2:01:03. Helen Jolly was 254th woman and 979th with 2:12:36, 15th W50, and David Wells finished 1071st with 2:33:33.
In 2018 three years ago there was more athletics action as Wesham members took to the road as the cold weather started to bite. Lee Barlow ran the Lostock 6 Mile race on the outskirts of Horwich on Sunday morning and he clocked 35:50 for 13th place and 2nd Over-40. Simon Denye made a strong return to racing with 36:24 for 16th place overall, 5th Over-40. Helen Lawrenson was 6th woman and 1st W45 in 41:22, 67th overall. Martin Bates was 129th and 9th M60 in 45:57; Maureen Danson was 223rd and 12th Over-45 in 51:17; Tanya Barlow finished 234th and 13th Over-45 in 51:45 and W45 James Robert Danson 246th with 52:30. Phil Leaver took part in the British Masters’ 10-Mile Road Championships on a bright but bitter Saturday morning in the Rhyl 10 race. Running almost entirely on the scenic north Wales Promenade the course headed due east into the brunt of the icy wind and then turned round to head back, still with a strong wind chill factor. Phil finished 184th overall and 13th M65 in a time of 1:21:58, placing him 75th in the BMAF Championship and 10th M65. Andrew Harling ran the Stanley Park 10k on Saturday, finishing 15th in 40:09. Gemma Owen was 37th in 44:03. Rob Wallace placed 85th in 47:56. Neil Gregson ran the Sunday Stanley Park 10k in 42:33 placing 30th. Dave Marsland finished 64th in 47:02 with Alan Hudson 65th in 47:03. Graham Brook was the 55-minute pace runner clocking 54:36 and coming in with 159th position. Kath Hoyer finished 8th woman and 2nd W55 in the spring running of the Standish Hall Trail Race near Wigan over x miles, recording a time of 53:59 for 118th place overall. Dave Waywell placed 2nd M70 and 185th overall in 1:05:33. Elliott Costello ran the Oulton Half Marathon, six 3km laps around the Oulton Park Motor Racing Circuit in Cheshire with a start and finish straight and he finished 116th in 1:39:53. There was a good turnout of Wesham members at the Lytham Hall parkrun on a chilly Saturday morning at 9am with Aaron Galvin running 19:03 for an age graded performance of M35 70.08%. Jonathan Lawson ran 22:18 for M50 66.14% and John Burns 22:33 for M60 72.36%. Kay Twist clocked 25:00 with W45 65.47% and Graham Cunliffe recorded M60 63.01% with a tremendous time of 25:41. Stephen Twist ran 26:30 for M50 56.10% and Andrew Moore 26:40 for M55 58.13%. Finlay McCalman ran 27:04 for M50 55.85% with Debbie Bell W40 52.53% with a time of 29:57. Abi Stones ran 32:30 for 45.64%; Julie Topping 32:38 for W45 49.64%; Kerry Eccles 32:39 for W55 55.44%; Julie Rooney 32:40 for W40 47.81%. In the Preston parkrun Rob Danson recorded the fastest time of the day with 16:21 for 78.90%; Steve Myerscough ran 21:26 for M40 65.63%; and Robert Brown 25:44 with M60 62.31%. Chris Pike was in St Helens Victoria Park with 26:05 for M40 53.55%. Martin Bates ran in Bolton’s Leverhulme Park in 24:39 for M60 65.65%. The Gores travelled to Temple Newsham parkrun in Leeds with Vicky Gore running 26:58 for W40 57.48% and Steven Gore 37:02 with Megan Gore JW11 44.89% and a time of 37:03. Mark Belfield ran 18:30 in the Blackpool Stanley Park run with M35 71.71%; Lee Barlow 18:36 and M45 76.79%; Dave Marsland 22:38 and M60 72.09%; George Kennedy 25:56 for M60 61.83%; Tanya Barlow 25:57 for W45 61.79%; and Dave Young 26:37 with M70 66.25%.