Alex’s Newspaper Report.

Ribble Valley 10k and Rob Danson heading the chasing pack

It was a good Christmas for Wesham members notwithstanding the impending doom of Omicron, with a long weekend due to the offset bank holidays. Tom Crabtree and Emma Davies who tied the knot two days before Christmas set a joyous tone for the end of a very difficult year with more yet to come. It was understandably quiet for athletics but there was Christmas Day action with a few local parkruns, and 10k runs on Boxing Day and the Monday bank holiday.

On the latter day the Ribble Valley 10k returned after its two-year absence with yet another high-quality and sold-out entry. This event was very popular with Fylde runners and Wesham members but does not attract so many now, even though it has not lost any of its charm and is now bigger and traffic free with the Northern Athletics championships incorporated. Wesham had a good men’s team entered headed by Rob Danson, donning the pseudonym of Ross on the day, not currently training hard with twins on the way but finished with a fine 49th place with a good time of 31:57. Chris Hastwell placed 217th in 38:10 and Steve Abbott was 315th in 41:33. Paul Lancashire was next in with 43:18 for 385th position, and John Collier finished 4th M65 and 504th overall in 46:43. Peter Rooney finished 656th with 50:40. The men’s team of Rob Danson, Chris Hastwell and Steve Abbott placed 26th with 579 points.

The Boxing Day 10k in Worden Park in Leyland was also in the past extremely popular and was excellent for a Christmas escape and a sharpener to run off the previous day’s dinner. This year Louise Lord was the only Wesham member to run, and she finished 48th woman and 141st overall in a time of 57:37 to place 10th W45.

Martin Bates ran in the Wansfell Race from Ambleside on Monday, a short 2.1-mile run but with 1329ft of ascent, a true AS class event! Running up Stock Ghyll at the start and across the fell to the summit it then has a descent treacherous in the current conditions. With a good-quality field at the front Martin finished 136th in 44:44, having reached the summit in 30:27 (132nd), and descended in 14:17!

While Christmas Day parkruns were canceled in Lytham Hall, Blackpool Stanley Park, Fleetwood Promenade and Preston Avenham Park Wesham members managed to sneak out for some tourism. In the Southport parkrun Ian Nichols Hogg was the fastest Wesham member of the day with a time of 24:17 and an age graded performance of 53.26%. Carl Groome ran 35:13 for an M50 age grade of 42.92% with Elliot Costello close behind in 35:25 with 36.47%. Sue Rigby clocked 35:26 for a W45 grade of 46.19%, and Vicky and Steven Gore ran 35:45 and 35:53 for W45 44.43% and M40 38.04%. In the Bolton parkrun in Leverhulme Park Martin Bates recorded 23:52 for an M65 grade of 70.25%, and Tracey Hulme ran 26:11 in the South Manchester parkrun for a W55 age graded 72.06% and the highest for a Wesham member this day.

Wesham are now laying plans to revive their trail and fell running championships for members starting in the New Year, with a choice of at least 5 races (to include 2 fell and 2 trail courses) from a list of 20 races (10 of each) over a variety of distances and severity. The Monthly Handicaps resume on 10th January, which is also the first club evening of 2022. Wednesday training sessions resume on 12th January.

In 2010 Wesham Road Runners wished everyone a very Happy New Year. The wintery weather had continued through the post-Christmas period into the New Year and played havoc with athletics fixtures during the period and was still presenting athletes and race organisers alike with a real challenge for training and competition. Several races were again cancelled or postponed, and the forthcoming Garstang 10k had already been cancelled by Tuesday, with a new date for this popular event set for 31st January. There was some action for Wesham members, though, and the Auld Lang Syne fell race on New Year’s Eve attracted 380 runners and is truly an event to experience, with a Scots piper to set the runners on their way and welcome them back. The course along bridleways and tracks more recently used had to be abandoned due to dangerous conditions with sheets of ice, so the race was run along the older course across moorland, 6 miles with 800’ climb. This course was still with its challenges, however, with an initial ascent up a narrow path with little opportunity to pass slower runners, and this was then followed by a 3-mile out-and back section to the summit where drifting snow was knee deep and while the surface of the snow was even the ground beneath was not, and even boggy in places. Dave Waywell found himself blocked on the ascent and unable to make progress, and finished 158th with 54:51, just 2 seconds behind M60 rival Graham Breeze. Kath Hoyer had to back off the pace as she is carrying an injury, but she still ran a commendable 69:52 to finish 339th and 11th W50, such was the quality of the race. She finished 71st woman. The race attracted some top-class runners, with the winner being world Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee, followed up by fell champion Ian Holmes and European Junior Triathlete Jonathan Brownlee. The women’s race was won by Olivia Walwyn from junior champion Emma Clayton, with course record holder and British and English fell champion Sarah Rowell providing the checkpoint marshal at the summit. Chris Whitlock rose early the following day on New Year’s Day and travelled out to Whitlock north of Rochdale for the Joe Salt New Year’s Awakener, a 4.2-mile multi terrain race around the Cown Reservoir. He ran 31:05 to finish in 29th place and 4th M40. Dave Waywell and Kath Hoyer turned out to marshal the course. On Sunday the Northern Veterans staged their cross country Monthly Run in a snow-bound Smithills Country Park in Bolton. The full course used in 2009 through the park was not available to due impassable snow and ice on some of the trails so a revised route of 6 laps on playing fields and through woods up to the hall was used, although the snow was frozen hard, and the going was quite tough. It was a small affair with 16 members running the 10k and 4 in the 5k races, but it was a god quality, with local man Paul Freary (M40) taking the lead into the second lap and winning unopposed in 33:32. Paul Muller had travelled down after the Central Lancashire Half Marathon at Catforth had been cancelled, and he laid chase finishing 2nd with 33:44. Alex Rowe had lead the first lap but quickly drooped back, coming in 3rd and 2nd M50 in 35:04. Dave Waywell ran well and finished 8th and 1st M60 in 41:36. Kath Hoyer was the only lady in the race, taking first position with 49:46 in 14th place overall.

In 2014 there had been a good number of races over the festive period with mid-week events on Boxing Day (Thursday) and the Friday as well as over the weekend, and some Wesham members took advantage of this to work off some Christmas pudding and brandy sauce. In the Red Rose Boxing Day 10k based in Worden Park in Leyland Graham Cunliffe was the first Wesham finisher in this popular Christmas run, crossing the line 55th and 3rd M55 behind Red Rose pair Joe Swarbrick and Ken Addison in 41:42 over the two-lap course. Stephen Whitehead was 134th in 47:55 placing 16th M40; Chris Moss 162nd with 50:14; Alistair Morris 207th in 53:51; and Paul Carter 263rd in 61:59. On Friday Chris Whitlock finished 23rd in very stormy conditions at Salt Ayre in Lancaster at the Festive 4k with a time of 16:31. Alan Taylor was 45th in 18:27, the pair finishing 3rd and 6th in the M45 category. There were 143 in the race and the winning man was Danny Parkinson in 12:45 and woman Mary Hodgson in 15:21. The Wesham women were in form at the Ribble Valley 10k on Sunday, placing 5th team in this quality event on closed roads round the traditional fast triangular course from the Roefield Leisure Centre at Edisford Bridge in Clitheroe, featuring the Northern Athletics 10k Championships once again. Carmel Sullivan threw in a good run with 41:57 to finish 3rd W45 and 39th in perfect conditions with only a slight wind given the recurring gales recently and fine sunny weather. Emma Lund was 53rd with 43:39, and Nicola Unsworth 72nd and 4th W40 in 46:09. Jenn Thompson was 74th and 17th W35 in 46:15; and Sharon Cooper was 108th and 15th W40 with 49:09. In the men’s field Rob Danson scored another fine performance as his structured training pays off with a new best performance of 33:39 to finish 137th in a top-quality field with the first five runners under 30 minutes and the winning time 29:12 (women 33:39). There were 52 runners inside 33 minutes. Lee Barlow had a battle royale with Troy Watson, just getting the better of him in the closing stages to finish 137th in 36:51, 13th M40. Troy was 143rd with 37:07 for 11th M45. John Collier had a great run to finish 2nd M60 in 208th place overall with a time of 38:57 behind Stan Owen of Salford (36:53). Garry Barnett was 220th and 24th M45 in 39:11 and Alan Hudson was 6th M60 and 314th with 41:32. Nigel Shepherd was 330th and 9th M55 in 41:49; Russell Mabbett 370th in 42:41 (45th M45); George Kennedy 376th with 42:54 (12th M55); Alan Taylor 519th in 46:20; and Chris Moss 710th in 50:39. Kath Hoyer ran the Hot Toddy 8.9 km (6 mile) road race on Sunday from Todmorden town centre up the hill to Lumbutts and back on glorious sunny weather, clocking 42:28 to finish 3rd W50, 26th woman and 146th overall. Dave Waywell was 2nd M65 and 160th overall in 43:51 behind Graham Walsh of Spenborough who ran 41:19 for 1st M65. Karl Lee and Alex Rowe ran the Cuerden Valley parkrun on Saturday morning and were very lucky with the weather, just squeezing the run in between heavy sleet downpours with the course largely sheltered from the stiff wind. Karl recorded the day’s fastest time of 19:07 for 67.48% age graded performance for a new personal best. Rowe ran 20:05 for M55 77.18% somewhat off the pace. Steve Myerscough ran 19:31 in the Preston parkrun for M40 69.94% graded; Chris Whitlock 20:46 for M45 69.90%; Jeremy Horton 24:05 for M55 64.36%; Jayne Hurst 31:27 for W40 48.91% and Jackie Hirst 32:08 for W45 49.43%. Pamela Wensley ran 32:31 for W45 50.95%.