Reasonable conditions greeted the athletes, windy and pretty good for cross country underfoot, but slightly down in numbers this year. In 2019 the Championships had 673 athletes competing whereas this year the total figure was 618, with drops in numbers for U11 Boys, U11 Girls, U13 Girls, U17 Men and the biggest drop of all in the Senior Men.
Blackburn Harriers had a pretty good day at the Championships, fielding 77 athletes and winning Team Titles at U11 Boys, U17 Men and Senior Men, took Silver in the U15 Boys, Silver in the Senior Women and Bronze in the U17 Women. The Club had two Individual Title Winners in the U11 Boys and Senior Men, Bronze in the U11 Girls, Silver and Bronze in the U17 Men, Bronze in the Senior Men along with Gold Medals for Wins in the Women’s V35, V45 age categories and Men’s V40 and V50.
Tim Raynes (470) leading the field out on the first lap
L-R Tim Raynes (3rd) – Ben Fish 1st – Gary Priestley (2nd)
Ben Fish had a great run to take the Senior Men’s title with a time of 32.18 infront of Gary Priestley in 2nd place (32.57) and Tim Raynes in 3rd (33.01). The race kicked off with a group of athletes, all pushing the pace and none more so than Tim Raynes. Coming on to Lap 2 and Ben Fish started to put a bit of distance between himself and the rest of the field and from then on consolidated his lead, finishing really strongly to secure the title. Gary Priestley held on for 2nd spot and the fast finishing Tim Raynes who was lying in 4th place behind Preston’s Kian Davis as they approached the last lap came past him to take 3rd place and the Bronze Medal.
L-R – Ben Fish (689) – Gary Priestley (537) – Tim Raynes (470) – Chris Livesey (664) – Kian Davis (706)
Great packing by the senior men made sure the Team Title was secure with very good runs from Karl Billington chasing athletes down as he crossed the line in 11th place (34.48), followed by Chris Davies in 13th (34.58) and a run which earned him the V40 Title, Ben Costello who hung on for the team despite being in pain for 14th place in a time of 35.13 and Josh Holgate in 17th spot having a real battle with Salford’s David Rigby in the finishing straight to edge him out with a time of 35.37. All six team counters were home in the first seventeen places which was a very good performance.
Karl Billington (463)
Chris Davies (464)
Ben Costello (668)
Josh Holgate (467)
U20 Joe Gebbie who had run a 10k personal best at the Ribble Valley 10k the week before, was the next Harrier across the line (23rd) clocking 36.09, with Tom Marchant in 27th position in a time of 36.41, Calum Holmes in 41st place in 38.08, Team Captain Paul Guinan crossing the line in a time of 38.44 (46th) which also won him the V50 Gold Medal, Jonny Murphy also having a strong run in 49th place with a time of 38.54.
Joe Gebbie (371)
Tom Marchant (469)
Calum Holmes (468)
Paul Guinan (686)
Jonny Murphy (642)
U20 Nick Smith who had, like Joe Gebbie, run a new 10k personal best at the Ribble Valley 10k came home in 68th place (40.30), Matt Nuttall in only his third race in the last year right behind Nick in 69th spot (40.36), U20 Ben Makin in 77th position running a time of 41.22, V55 Chris Balderson (102nd) running 43.56, Jonathan Bridge in 106th spot (44.17) and Allan Hartley in 141st (54.12).
Nicholas Smith (373)
Matt Nurttall (666)
Ben Makin (372)
Chris Balderson (682)
Jonathan Bridge (696)
Allan Hartley (466)
Our Senior Women won the Team Silver Medal and just missed out on the Gold Medal to Manx Harriers led by Rachael Franklin who was 2nd woman to Jess Judd the work before in the Ribble Valley 10k. Manx Harriers accumulated 49 points to Blackburn Harriers 51 points with the Harriers getting all four counters home in the first 19 places which was a great effort. Annabel Ralph had a cracking race and finished really fast to edge out Salford’s Ruth Jones, placing 5th overall in a time of 26.09. Next home for the Harriers came Victoria Mousley in 10th place clocking 27.47, a run which also earned her the V35 Gold Medal, followed by Ellen Sagar-Hesketh with a good run to place 17th in a time of 28.41 and the 4th counter for the team – Maddie Elliott coming across the line in 19th spot with a time of 29.08. Lindsay Davies clocked 30.46 in 31st spot, a run which earned her the V45 Gold medal and she was followed in by U20 Hannah Cookson in 44th spot with a time of 32.11.
Annabel Ralph (615)
Victoria Mousley (627)
Ellen Sagar-Hesketh (395)
Maddie Elliott (361)
Lindsay Davies (393)
In the first Race of the day – U11 Boys – Sam Aspey ran almost the perfect race to take the Gold Medal as individual winner and lead the lads home for the Team Title. Sitting in a leading group of six or seven, Sam bided his time to go past the young Preston athlete in the home straight and finish with a time of 6.25 and the Gold Medal. The four counters for the Team Title came home in the first 13 places which they needed to do to accumulate 29 points to Trawden’s 30 points, demonstrating the competitiveness that existed in the race overall. Second counter for the Harriers was Matthew Haxton who is improving all the time, coming home in 5th spot in a time of 6.36, followed by Theo Robinson with a good run in 10th spot (6.48) and Liam Bennison also with a good run in 13th (6.52). Next home came Charlie Haworth in 26th position (7.25) and just behind, three more Harriers in 29th, 30, and 31st places – Alex McKinlay (7.49), Lucas Lancashire (7.50) and George Holman (7.52) respectively. Then came Alexander Brien in 33rd spot running 7.53, Pearce Wilson in 48th (8.39), Tom Hunt in 52nd (9.04), Charlie Hartley (53rd) in a time of 9.12, Sebastian Willacy in 9.51 (56th) and our 14th runner in the race in total – Isaac Houston in 57th place (10.56).
Our U11 Girls finished in 5th place in the Team race which saw Hannah Davies have a fine race to place 3rd overall in a time of 7.14 and winning the Bronze Medal after a decisive sprint in the home straight. Next home was Charlotte Smith in 27th spot clocking 8.09 and followed by Lulu Sharp in 33rd with a time of 8.42. Some of the Club’s Sportshall Group were also having a go and they were Alexa Hunt in 40th (9.46), Isabelle Pawson (41st) running 9.57, Lily Croasdale (42nd) with a time of 10.09, Grace iLunga with 10.42 in 45th and Mimi iLunga in 46th (12.51).
The Harriers U13 Boys also placed 5th in the Team competition which had Oliver Gill the leading Harrier on the day in 16th place clocking 11.31 and backed up by Ben Ham In 24th spot running 11.51, Daniel Smith clocking 11.57 in 26th, Matthew Smith in 28th (12.05), George Ramsden in a time of 13.30 in 45th spot, Findlay Carroll (48th) in 13.49 and Isaac Smith (19.47) in 57th position. Only two girls featured for the Club in the U13 Race which had Imogen Robinson running a good race to take a top ten spot (9th) in a time of 12.51) and Amelia Burton clocking 13.20 in 17th position not far behind.
A very good run by David Holman in the U15 Boys Race saw him lead the ten strong Harriers to Team Silver as he came home in 5th place with a time of 13.08 after a battle with Trawden’s William Walker coming into the finish. Isaac Butler took one for the team after running the first lap with a knee problem, hung on to take 11th place in 13.35 with Zachary Walmsley in 12th (13.37) and Dexta Thompson in 17th place with a time of 14.00 being the four counters that earned the Team Silver Medal. Next across the line for the Club came Hayden Mercer with a time of 14.22 in 24th spot, followed by Kyle Taylor-Pomfret in 28th (14.36), Jack Paget-Fowler in 30th position (14.46), Sebastian Burton came home in 32nd place in 15.03), Umair Rafiq in 34th with a time of 15.16, Saul Sharp clocking 15.42 in 36th and Codie Dewhurst in 37th in a time of 15.45.
David Holman (204) Photo courtesy of David Belshaw
Isaac Butler (202) – Zachary Walmsley (209) – Dexta Thompson (208) Photo courtesy of David Belshaw
Hayden Mercer (205) – Jack Paget-Fowler (206) – Kyle Taylor-Pomfret (207) Photo courtesy of David Belshaw
Sebastian Burton (201)
Umair Rafiq (210) Photo courtesy of David Belshaw
Saul Sharp (200)
Codie Dewhurst (203) Photo courtesy of David Belshaw
Five athletes represented the Harriers in the U15 Girls coming 4th in the Team Race with Eva Knowles the first home for the Club in 24th position in a time of 16.06 with Keira Haxton just three seconds further back in 26th clocking 16.09. Kiera Booth with a determined run came home in 29th spot (16.32), followed in by Molly Nicholls in 36th (17.03 and Leah Hoole in 42nd spot running a time of 17.46.
L-R Keira Haxton – Kiera Booth – Leah Hoole – Poppy Preece (U17) – Eva Knowles – Molly Nicholls
Eva Knowles (265) – Molly Nicholls (255)
Kiera Booth (251)
Leah Hoole (619) – Keira Haxton (254)
The U17 Men’s Race saw the Harriers win Team Gold, the race unfolding into a battle between Lancaster’s Matt Knowles and the Harriers Matt Ramsden. At Lancashire Schools in February Matt Ramsden came out the winner, but here the tables were reversed as Matt Knowles took a lead on the seocnd lap and held onto it to win in a time of 17.43 with Matt Ramsden in 2nd place and taking the Silver Medal in a time of 17.57. One of the runs of the day was put in by Sam Hodkinson who took the Bronze Medal in 3rd spot with a time of 18.10 with both lads being backed up by Jamie Teare in 19th (20.55) as the three counters for the Gold Medal and Harry Wilkin in 26th with a time of 23.18.
Matt Ramsden (326)
Sam Hodkinson (325)
Jamie Teare (327)
Harry Wilkin (328)
Four Harriers in the U17 Women’s race and led home to Team Bronze by Amy Davies in a very good 4th place clocking 22.44 with Eleesha Charnley in 10th position running a time of 25.20, Rebecca Ramsden in 12th in a time of 26.09 and Poppy Preece in her first ever cross country race just one second behind in 13th with a time of 26.10.
Amy Davies (302)
Eleesha Charnley (301)
Poppy Preece (625) – Rebecca Ramsden (304)
Daleside Auld Lang Syne
364 finishers in this Race won by Holmfirth’s Mark Buckingham in 40.31. Calvin Ferguson who is coming back from injuries finished in 320th with a time of 78.21 and told the Club after the Race that he “Had a terrible run but returning from injury (again!) so expected it, looking forward to hopefully a pain free Witton parkrun in the morning then planning on Lance XC and the start of the Kendal Winter League fell series on Sunday, all being well”.
Festive 4k, Lancaster
335 runners lined up for this Race over the christmas period which was won by Andrew Dorrian of Glaxo Hoad Hill Harriers in 12.46.
Two of the Harriers U15’s ran, the first home being Dexta Thompson in14th place and clockin 14.33 with Kyle Taylor-Pomfret in 19th spot in a time of 14.57 and Charlotte Clapham in 28th (28.01).
John Orrell has been back out on the Fells, tackling a few races of late the first of which Kong Winter Series R2 took place on Saturday December 14th featuring 181 runners and won by Ambleside AC athlete Matthew Elkington in 38.28. John came home in 138th spot running a time of 65.47 and described the race afterwards to us, saying “Snow was forecast and a windchill of -22 was promised for the tops of The Lake District fells, so what a great opportunity to come out of race retirement. I’d made that decision after running in the British Fell Relays in October, but had strategically placed my fell shoes pointing towards the front door just in case I changed my mind. I lasted 56 days! A new start this year from Braithwaite Lodge, taking the path through bracken on the underside of Barrow. Crossing the stream, to regain the main track it was up to CP 1 on Stile End, and sharp up again to CP 2 on Outerside. Once off the summit, I put my iRocks to good use and picked up a couple of places down the miners track, before the final ascent to CP 3 on Barrow. Off the top, taking a line through more bracken and finish”.
With the bit between his teeth, John was out again on Boxing Day in the Whinberry Naze, a four mile (750ft) traditional and annual Fell Race run by Steve Duxbury and Rossendale Harriers. John told us that it was a “bit of festive fun on Boxing Day” as he lined up with Santa Hat commenting “I opted for my best ever fancy dress at this one! The tinsel was ditched in favour of a Santa hat and white beard, but I soon realised the beard was playing havoc with my aerodynamics and as I was chocking on the fluff, it was shaved off! A good run for me, that set me up for Wansell the next day”.
Photo courtesy of Steve Bateson Photography
The day after! John was at it again, this time at Wansfell on December 27th won by Ambleside’s Jack Wright running a time of 20.47 and featuring 178 finishers. John came home in 129th position clocking 33.24 which was a new PB for him in the Race in what he described as a “Straight up and down. Short and steep, through the damp misty drizzle”.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Reina Photography
And finally….on New Years Day John raced the Nine Standards with 177 runners and won by Sam Stead of Keswick AC in a time 52.50 – a minute and half ahead of Ben Riddell of Black Coombe Runners in 2nd place (54.20). John clocked 81.06 in this one crossing the finish line in 121st spot and told the Club “This was going to be a real test. Just 3 runs since October and 109 days since I have run this far. 8 miles, 4 up, same 4 down. Delighted to run my third fastest time since first doing this event back in 2013. I can recommend full fat milk as the beverage of choice for New Years Eve. Ditch the beer, run faster!“
Photo courtesy of Grand Day Out Photography