Alex’s newspaper Report.

Alek Walter skims across the moortops in the Pendle Round fell race

It was a busier week for athletics in the North West last week as spring really takes a hold, although wintry weather was still very much to the fore.

Venturing into Cheshire, Natalie Middlemas and Stuart Topping ran in the Oulton Park 10k with Stuart as mentor and guidance, drawing Natalie to 42nd place in 49:29 for 3rd woman and 2nd W40. Stuart was 7th M50 and 43rd overall in 49:30, the pair wearing numbers 1 and 2!  The winning times were 32:41 (male) and 45:23 (female), with 171 finishers.

In the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round from Barley in the Wesham Trail and Fell running championship Alek Walker finished 70th in 1:23:40, over 16.7km (10.37 miles) with 1936ft of climbing. Paul Lancashire placed 119th in 1:31:04; and Jen Salt was 43rd woman, 17th W40 and 226th in 2:08:47. This event was formerly known as “The Half Tour of Pendle” and is classed as a “B” graded Medium distance course with some experience of fell running for all competitors.

In the final occurrence of Wesham’s monthly Winter Handicap race held over its two-lap course from Kirkham Market Square over 4 miles around the bypass and back up Dowbridge there were 15 members taking part. Fastest over the course was David Taylor, clocking 23:14 with Dan Hounsley next home in 23:48, and Lee Nixon third placed in 25:24. Helen Schofield was the speediest lady in 34:09 with Antoinette Holton second in 35:30. Catherine Nichols clocked 35:30 and Clare Belfield 36:50. Lee Barlow ran 25:33; Steve Myerscough 26:36; Carl Groome 27:05; Damian Ings 27:45; Rob Wallace 31:46; Robert Danson (M55) 34:03; Martin Allison 34:04; Paul Carter 34:51; and Andy Moore in 35:46.

There were many Wesham members out at parkrun events on Saturday morning for the 9am 5km timed trial runs. In Preston’s Avenham park Steve Myerscough ran 20:42 for an M45 age graded performance of 70.13%. Vicky Gore clocked 26:39 for a W45 graded 60.16%. In the

Riverside parkrun in Chester-Le-Street Emma Brook ran her local run in 28:24 for W35 53.52%. On home ground in Lytham Hall Carl Groome recorded 20:37 for an M50 grade of 73.32%, while regular participant Jonathan Lawson clocked 22:35 for M50 67.45%. Michelle Tickle was Wesham’s quickest woman in 23:44 and a W45 grade 68.96%. Peter Rooney recorded 24:55 for M60 66.09%, and Antoinette and Mark Holton ran together for 26:52 and 26:53 to record W35 56.02% and M40 51.95%. Kay Twist had a time of 27:04 with W50 63.49%; James Danson 27:05 for M55 57.72% with Stephen Twist just behind in 27:11 for M55 56.53%. Martin Allison returned 27:12 for M35 49.45%; Jo McCaffery 30:07 with W40 52.24%; and Peter Bartlett a storming M70 56.32% with a time of 32:35. In the Blackpool parkrun in Stanley Park over its two-lap course Chris Haines came in second fastest of the day with 21:13 for M35 62.92%, with Lee Barlow on 22:44 and an M50 graded 64.88%. Rob Wallace clocked 23:49 for 54.16%; Stephen Browne 24:57 with M55 62.12%; Ian Nichols Hogg 25:08 and 51.46%; David Young another M70 performance of 67.03% with a time of 27:48; and Andrew Moore 28:35 with M60 56.09%; and Graham Brook 45:18 for M55 33.92%. In the Newborough Forest run in the South West corner of Anglesey near Niwbwrch over coastal heathland Alice Deacon ran 31:39 for an age graded 46.76%, and also in North Wales in the 14th Greenfield Valley parkrun from Holywell down the old steeply inclined railway branch to the former junction with the North Wales Coast line at Greenfield, David Taylor ran the fastest time of the day in 18:26 M35 71.52%, with Steven Gore clocking 27:14 for M40 50.12%. Both members were First Timers in this event. Bowling along Fleetwood Promenade Damian Ings recorded 21:29 for an M45 grade 67.57%, with Suzanne Leonard 23:28 for W50 72.30%; and George Kennedy a time of 25:40 for M60 64.74%. In the Peel parkrun in Salford Steve Abbott ran 18:43 for M45 75.78%.

In 2009 thirteen years ago it was another quiet weekend in the North West for athletics with attention focused on Turin and the European Indoor Championships, but there were a few races around to temp local athletes. The most popular event was the Roddlesworth Roller from Abbey Village, a glorious 6-mile run with around 800’ of climb up through the woods and out onto the hills towards Belmont. Peter Cruse was the leading Wesham man, finishing 31st in 41:21, with Simon Eaton hot on his heels with 40:04 in 47th place. George Kennedy put in the effort and came in 64th in 41:27, 8th M50, and Nigel Shepherd was 100th with 43:38. John Sharples was next in, coming 136th in 46:25, and Dougie Brown took on the age categories finishing 1st M70 in 49:23, 171st overall. Stephen Wilkinson ran 50:09 for 183rd place, 10th M55. John Howorth put in an appearance after some absence from running, finishing 184th with 50:11, and Kerry Eccles was Wesham’s only lady runner, finishing 47th woman, 10th W45 and 207th overall in 52:25. Conditions had been damp and windy, but still a very scenic run through the woods. Alex Rowe was in London for the weekend at the British Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships. On Saturday he ran the 1500m, finishing 4th in a high-quality race in a time of 4:34.87, very pleased with the time. Sunday was a more punishing schedule, with 800m immediately succeeded by 3000m. A late programme change gave Rowe a 25-minute recovery in the end, although he chose to sit out the 800m as a warm-up. Despite this, he finished 7th in the race in a time of 2:20.67, a disappointing performance. Consequently, he felt fatigued in the 3000m and could not push on in the second half, finishing a distant 5th with 9:50.56. The Strickland 10 Mile road race near Penrith on Sunday was subjected to an hour or more blizzard of snow hail and sleet. Run from the village hall over a course of quiet scenic undulating country roads, the first five runners were led off course by the lead car. Finally realising the mistake, the runners were taken back by the car to the spot where they had been taken wrong and allowed to continue on the course, although by now some way behind. Dave Waywell was safe in the body of the race, and successfully completed the 10 miles in a time of 71:05, position unknown. Kath Hoyer finished 10 minutes behind in 81:15, again position as yet not published. Nearer to home Lee Barlow was well to the fore in the Blackpool Stanley Park 10k, around a two-lap course. He finished 6th in 36:02, a promising result. Peter Waywell marked him all the way, finishing 7th in 36:12. Paul Carter had an excellent run, knocking spots off his previous best time with 48:33 in 10th place. Tracey Hulme ran well, finishing 120th with 49:27. Ken Munro came in 169th in a tine of 52:56, and Sharon Cooper was 170th in 53:00. A trio of Wesham runners travelled south for the Stafford 20 road race, in their respective marathon preparations. Russell Mabbett was the first of the trio to finish, with a very encouraging 2:25:55 for 94th place over the three-lap course. Finlay McCalman and Peter Cooke ran the race together in their preparations for the Edinburgh Marathon in May, clocking a very respectable 3:03:48 in their longest run so far in training. Peter was particularly pleased to run the whole course at this stage in his build up, having never raced the distance before.

The year 2014 was eight years ago and as the spring weather arrived and conditions gradually improved it was a good week for getting out and about for local athletes and complete their preparations perhaps for a spring marathon. The Dentdale 14 race is a very local event and runs up and down the valley on parallel roads on either side, the outward run being on poor quality tarmac that has been allowed to decay for several years giving the run a truly rural aspect and emphasising the relative remoteness of this region. There was an interesting match for Wesham going on in this race, with previous multi winner Steve Littler recovering from long term injury battling Wesham’s new boy Rob Danson, now making huge improvements to his performances by adopting instruction and a dedicated training programme of the quality and intensity followed by Littler. However, on this occasion experience and years of practice favoured the elder man and Steve Littler came in 3rd in 1:18:58 just 57 seconds behind the winner Ian McBride of Royton and 18 seconds behind second placed Chris Steele of Borrowdale. With these two men in their early 30s Littler was first veteran finisher and M40. Rob Danson meanwhile stuck to his guns and perhaps found the undulations of the course a challenge, finishing 6th in 1:23:33, the youngest competitor in the Top 10. Paul Gregory got ready for a new year of competing in the hills with 45th position and a time of 1:35:08, with regular entrant in this race Steve Myerscough and on the marathon road again finishing 51st with 1:35:31, 19th M40. John Collier took his first outing in this race, and he came in 56th with 1:36:13. John was well clear in the M60 age group, finishing 8:47 ahead of the second placed athlete.  There were 446 runners in this popular race. Lee Barlow took in the high-quality Trafford 10k in Partington, a single lap course with a steady but gentle rise on the outward leg but with a good steady aspect. He finished 144th in 35:54, perhaps slightly blocked in the busy field, placing 17th M40. He was the only Wesham entrant in the 824 runners. In the Spen 20 in Yorkshire near Wakefield over a brutal hilly figure of eight two lap course in beautiful weather Carmel Sullivan assured herself of a good marathon tester finishing 101st in 2:39:21, 3rd W45 and 9th woman out of 68. Jenn Thompson was 4th W35 and 14th woman in 2:49:22, 131st overall. There were 257 runners. There were a few off-roaders in the Roddlesworth Roller from Abbey Village up through the woods around the reservoirs on Sunday morning in initially dull conditions brightening up later. Nigel shepherd was head of the bunch, running 44:06 for the 6 miles finishing 58th and 2nd M55. Kath Hoyer was 6th woman and 1st W50 in 45:56, 67th overall. Dave Waywell was 2nd M65 and 76th in 47:25, with Michaela Dempsey 9th woman and 77th with 47:44, 2nd W45. John Howorth finished 3rd M60 in 53:28, in 128th place overall. Alex Rowe ran 19:03 in the Pennington Flash parkrun on Saturday morning in fresh conditions, scoring an M55 81.36% age graded performance. Jason Blagden clocked 22:30 for M40 61:56% at the Preston parkrun; Jenn Thompson warmed up for the Spen 20 with W35 66.62%; Phil Leaver 23:00 for M60 69.71%; and Diane Blagden 27:43 for W45 58.54%.