Here we are, some four months or so since anyone competed in anger in our Sport. For the overwhelmening period of time, athletes have had to continue to train in any way they can, most of which wasn’t carried out in the type of conditions, structure and coaching oversight that they have been accustomed to. Many have found innovative ways of continuing to keep themselves in shape. In the middle distance and endurance world, finding parks, fields, hills, trails and roads to keep ticking over has made it easier for those athletes to maintain, at a minimum, aerobic fitness, with at the same time, some quality work on the different surfaces. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for those athletes in field events who are reliant on access to throws cages, jump pits and beds and equipment of all kinds. The main thing however, has always been to maintain a safe way of training at a time of the Pandemic, which has always needed to be treated very seriously and still needs to be.

Blackburn Harriers have tried to involve as many athletes in the Club as possible in safely organised events, which have been based on individuals taking on a run, based on distance, time trials, height of elevation – bringing all of the individual results together and acclaiming them as a team outcome. This has helped maintain individual focus and ensured that we maintained that basic ethos of the Club, the Team, the Squad mentality, which is central to the development of any athletics club looking to continually progress.

Our most recent Lockdown Challenge on Saturday August 1st, was the 6th since we were locked down on March 23rd this year. This event was a Time Trial covering distances of choice – One Mile — 3k — 5k. The idea was to go out and run your preferred distance as fast as you could and upload your verified time to the Club’s Event Page. By the end of the Saturday (August 1st) sixty six athletes had completed their runs and posted them.

The events can’t ever be seen as presenting opportunities for new personal bests as they are not taking place in the the context of an organised race, neither are they a true reflection of an athletes ability, because they cannot be run on the best of surfaces for the distances – the Track – but what they can do, apart from being involved in a Club day with some fun, is to give an indication of what level of fitness, each one of them is at. It provides an opportunity also to reflect on what each individual athlete needs to concentrate on, along with their Coaches, in the period ahead.

With all of these caveats in place, thirteen athletes took on the One Mile Time Trial which produced some excellent runs. U17 Matt Ramsden was the fastest on the day clocking an excellent 4.27 whilst U20 Joe Gebbie (Wishing my legs felt as sharp as their tan lines”) came in with 4.48, followed by U17 Sam Hodkinson in 4.50 and Senior Dominic Walton in 4.53. There were two very good runs from U13’s Sam Aspey and Matthew Smith had clocked excellent times of 5.37 and 5.45 respectively followed by Hannah Davies, also U13 and running a good time of 6.48. Brother and sister Izzy (U13) and Charlie Hartley (U11) ran 8.44 and 8.02 respectively. Senior Helen Dawson-Smith who ran with her daughter Charlotte (U11) ran a time of 7.20 alongside Charlotte who clocked 7.29. Big shout out to two of our 8yr old members of the Harriers Sporthall Group, none of whom have had an opportunity to be together in their weekly Sportshall groups – Harrison Fallon and Isaac Houston both clocked 13.43 and well done to them for a big effort on the day in Witton Park.


Matt Ramsden                                     Joe Gebbie                            Sam Hodkinson


Dom Walton                                                                                     Matthew Smith


Izzy Hartley                                                                                   Charlie Hartley


Helen Dawson-Smith                                                                       Charlotte Smith

Twenty one athletes took on the 3k and the run of the day came from Senior Ben Costello with an 8.42 clocking which means his 5k personal best of 15.29 is now, very much under threat. Senior Mark Magee clocked a very good 9.05, some 28 seconds faster than his current PB, with the third one under 10min being Senior Karl Billington (9.51). Some excellent runs recorded from the U13’s on the day, the best of which came from Stanley Stephenson in his first event for the Harriers in running a fine time of 10.03. Daniel Smith was the next home if a time of 10.43 with Harry Smith 10.45 and like Stanley, his first time in a Harriers Vest with Matthew Haxton coming in with a time of 12.04. U17 Abby Stratton clocked an impressive 10.52 for her 3k with U15 Hayden Mercer running the same time of 10.52. A 3k shout out to V60 Tony Greenwood who ran a very good time of 11.15 with U17 Amy Davies clocking 11.45. V65 George Woodburn and V50 Nikki Hartley – both being endurance Coaches at the Harriers – were also on the trails around Witton Park, recording respective times of 15.20 and 16.04 and smiling all the way round!!


Mark Magee                               Karl Billington & Jonny Murphy                     Stanley Stephenson


Daniel Smith                                                    Harry Smith                                    Abigail Stratton


Tony Greenwood                                                                               George Woodburn & Nikki Hartley

A bunch of U15 athletes ran the 3k which saw Keira Haxton run the fastest time of 12.10, followed closely by Kate Cookson in 12.29, Eva Knowles in 12.44 and Leah Hoole running on holiday along the streets of Lanzarote in a time of 13.21. Kiera Booth was next in with a time of 13.50 and just behind was Codie Dewhurst posting his time of 13.37, Eleanor Allsop (13.50) and Umair Rafiq clocking 15.12.

L-R Kate Cookson – Keira Haxton – Matthew Haxton – Kiera Booth – Chris Davies – Hayden Mercer – Eleanor Allsop – Eva Knowles – Hannah Davies – Eleesha Charnley – Amy Davies

The longest distance for Time Trialing on the day was 5k which attracted thirty one in total. No doubt about the best run of day which came from Senior Ben Fish (“went better than i expected”) who ran a very good time of 15.06. Second fastest of the day came from Senior Jacob Watson who had reduced his official best by seven seconds, clocking 15.33. U20 Ben Makin (just good to get that racing feeling back , enjoying athletics so much at the minute just good to see the miles during the week paying off) had a cracking run with a 16.31 time, close to two minutes faster than his previous run at the North West Road Relays in 2019.  A number of Senior Men ran consistently on the day which saw them produce a host of sub 17 minute times – Marc Hartley and V40 Chris Davies couldn’t be separated as both ran good times of 16.35 with Ryan Bradshaw improving on his previous best with a 16.33 clocking. V45 Andy Payne had a best of 17.36 going into this Time Trial and made mincemeant out of it with his time of 16.46 and followed by Jonny Murphy with 16.52 and Calum Holmes in 16.57.


Ben Fish & Allan Hartley                                                             Ben Makin

Marc Hartley & Ryan Bradshaw

Andy Payne

Senior Annabel Ralph (Not done a 5km in 4 weeks think my body forgot how to race it”) has been training well and it showed as she entered the day with a 17.44 official best and yesterday clocked 17.15. Senior Paul Bradshaw (Fourth run back after stress response so pretty pleased. The blue and white of the Blackburn vest fits in here in Finland!!) was over in Finland supporting Holly in the Pole Vault and kept the Harriers flag flying abroad as he ran 17.22 on what looked to be a very attractive route. U20 Nick Smith clocked 17.45 which was 22 seconds faster than his official best followed by Senior Matt Poole who recorded an 18.29 time. V40 John Cookson has been ‘secret training’ again as he ran 19.37 – some 29 seconds quicker than his official best with U17 Harry Wilkin just 4 seconds shy of his official best in a time of 19.26 and Senior Paul Jeffries running a time of 19.52.


Matt Poole                                      John Chaplin                            Harry Wilkin

V50 Ian Clarkson was the earliest runner out on the day posting his 5k time of 21.02 at 7.57am in the morning!! U17 Eleesha Charnley clocked 21.04 in her time trial as Senior Ellen Sagar-Hesketh, recovering from knee issues ran her 5k in 21.23. Senior – Rachael Gavin – posted her time of 20.01 which was just 13 seconds out side her official best followed by U20 Hannah Cookson, similar to her dad and involved in “secret training’ clocking 20.50 which was 26 seconds better than her official best. Senior Allan Hartley ran 21.32 with Senior Katie Buckingham who has taken to the bike for a while now after struggling with a knee injury, tried it out and said “definitely not a time trial effort” running 22.06. V45 Janine Fallon recorded a time of 22.20 with V45 Lindsay Davies running 22.47 and Senior Charlotte Atkinson just one second behind with 22.28. Next to post their times was V65 Evan Cook with a 23.01 clocking followed by Jenny McAndrew with a time of 23.53 and V55 Jan Buckingham who couldn’t quite make up her mind what distance to run so recorded all three times on her way through to 5k completion – 8.48 (1 mile), 15.48 (3k), 25.45 (5k). The biggest shout out on the day must go to the slowest run, from our very own Senior Sam McCreadie who is a runner who has been plagued for over three years with injuries, broken bones and everything else that would deter most people from coming back into it – but it has only made her more determined. She wanted to be involved in the Harriers Event. She could have just jogged One Mile, but she chose to do the 5k, running 27 minutes – it is a time that is light years away from her 39.00 10k PB, but since 2015, she has only been able to run 9 races – watch this space, Sam is on her way back.


Ian Clarkson                                        Ellen Sagar-Hesketh                                 Rachael Gavin


Janine Fallon                                          Evan Cook                                         Jan Buckingham

“JUST DO IT – Sam McCreadie”