In this period of lock down whilst we all try to keep safe, athletes are keeping their training going so that they can come back in decent shape when the renewal of formal training and competition comes back into play. Focus on objectives is a difficult thing to achieve when competition is not the end product of the training an athlete is doing, whatever their event. Clearly, it is important during this time, that Clubs, Coaches and athletes come up with innovative ways of keeping training momentum and some type of competitive intention and focus.

At the end of April the Harriers Sprinters engaged on a Lock Down Endurance Challenge in which the Sprinters split up in to five teams of 3 athletes, each of whom ran either a Leg of 2k, 3k or 4k. The winning Team was the one that posted the best cumulative time over the three Legs. Into the first week in May and the Senior Women came up with the idea of an Individual Relay where each athlete ran either for 30 minutes or 60 minutes and recorded the distance they achieved collectively. On the day, the 22 Women athletes including some Juniors, posted a combined total milage of 134.14 miles which was a great performance by them.

Following on from the Sprinters and the Women’s Endurance athletes came the Senior Men. Karl Billington set up an Individual 5k Relay to be run throughout the day – Saturday May 16th – inviting Junior Men as well to participate with each athlete recording their 5k time. In total 26 Senior and 10 Junior athletes took part in the Relay with some pretty good performances being recorded during a highly successful and enjoyable day. When it was all over Karl worked out the stats for the day which took into account that one of the athletes was out for 1hr 21 on his 5k run as it was done on the amount of climbing that could be done over a 5k distance:

The total distance covered was 180k or 111.8miles.

Total time taken without the Fell 5k run was 11hr 01.03 and with 12hr 22.38.

The average 5k time came out at 18.53.2 and with the Fell 5k run 20.37.

Average mile pace was 6.05 min miling and 6.38 minute miling with the Fell 5k added in.

Speaking about the day Karl told the Club “Having seen the great effort from the senior ladies and the sprint group I decided to try and get the senior men’s side involved. We decided to try a 5k relay of sorts. The response we got was great and we had club stars of the past, present and future on show. In these testing times with us not being able to train and race together is good to see the that team spirit and ethos is still going strong”.

The Senior Men included Callum Davidson; Matt Poole; Karl Billington; Marc Hartley; Jacob Watson; Mark Magee; Jonny Murphy; Paul Bradshaw; John Chaplin; Paul Guinan; Ryan Bradshaw; Danny Maynard; Ben Costello; George Woodburn; John Cookson; Evan Cook; Richard Taylor; Tim Raynes; Tom Blaney; Dominic Walton; Ben Fish; Rob Warner; Paul Brindle; Daniel Balshaw; Luke Betts; Matt Nuttall.

The Junior Men who ran the event have their Road and XC Age Group categories included for the day Joe Gebbie (U20); Nick Smith (U20); Ben Makin (U20); Sam Hodkinson (U17); Matt Ramsden (U17); Jamie Teare (U17); Harvey Ashworth (U17); Harry Wilkin (U17); Hayden Mercer (U15); David Holman (U15).

Innovation was certainly the operative phrase when it came to Callum Davidson’s 5k Leg. His 5k PB stands at 14.58 but on the day he decided to ‘tweek’ his 5k Leg and decided to see how far he could climb – over the 5k distance.  The answer – a very impressive 3800ft! – so not surprising that his time was 1hr 21.35. Best left to Callum to describe how his run went A broken man after 3800 foot of climb in just 5km. Ended up doing 7 reps on Pendle’s ‘Big End’, only a 400m stretch but with a massive 165metres of climb per rep it averaged a brutal 42% gradient and tops out at 50%. It was great to put my own little spin on the @blackburnharriers virtual 5km challenge. Would be great to see what elevation other people can squeeze into a 5km“.

Callum Davidson

Top run of the day went to Rob Warner with a sub 15 minute clocking of 14.55, followed by a great run from Ben Costello who set a new PB of 15.20, his previous best being 15.53.38 which represented a huge improvement with Ben Fish posting a  time of 15.42 around the very windy Shadsworth Industrial area. Jacob Watson headed up five other Senior Men in the sub 17 minute bracket with his clocking of 16.02 and speaking to the Harriers at the end of his run, told us Although racing as we know it is temporarily on hold, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy at least some of the social aspect or indeed push ourselves to achieve impressive times. We just need to be creative with how we do it. While our runs today were solo, the buzz in the Harriers group chat has felt just like a race day, what a great idea! Personally I was pleased with my effort of 16:02 around Shadsworth industrial estate (a hilly route I may add!) and I’m looking forward to the next Virtual Harriers event”. Tim Raynes just one second behind Jacob with his 16.03 run and like Jacob, summed up the day in many ways as he told us “I ran my 5k on the path at Witton, which (in hindsight) wasn’t a great idea as it was very busy when I ran at just after 2pm. My time was fairly reflective of current fitness levels, but it was a great feeling to put the Harriers vest on again. I’m looking forward to whenever it is we are able to train and race together again!” 

Rob Warner

Jonny Murphy – Ben Costello

Ben Fish

Jacob Watson

Matt Ramsden was just 10 seconds outside of his personal best as he ran a time of 16.22 as an U17 for road and cross country. Another road and cross country U17 – Jamie Teare – had one of the runs of the day, clocking 16.24.4 and that after doing a full days shift at work. Relay organiser Karl Billington ran a time of 16.34 followed in by Jonny Murphy with 16.39 and 800m athlete Dominic Walton with a 16.52 clocking. Sam Hodkinson was the third of our road and cross country U17’s out on the day and put in a good run to clock 17.01, commenting after his run that “I enjoyed doing my 5k relay today and it was great to get back into the competitive spirit. Thanks to Karl for organising and combining the results”. U20 Joe Gebbie ran 17.09 for his Leg saying afterwards that “I think this was what we all needed 7 weeks into lockdown – big thanks to Karl for for organising! Let my legs dictate the pace instead of going hunting a time and felt pretty good for it. Happy to put down a solid time and set a target to be broken next time. Cracking to see everyone’s efforts coming in throughout the day. BBH doing it right”; Another of our U20’s – Ben Makin – describing his run as “hot, hilly and hard” posted a new PB by a full minute of 17.22 which was pretty exceptional and was followed in by Senior Marc Hartley with 17.30 and Tom Blaney with a 17.38 clocking.

Matt Ramsden

Jamie Teare

Karl Billington

Dominic Walton

Sam Hodkinson

Joe Gebbie

Ben Makin

Marc Hartley

Tom Blaney

David Holman who runs in the U15 age category for road and cross country pushed through an ankle problem to run 17.54 on his Leg around Witton Park whilst Paul Brindle was the fastest Vet of the day (V45) clocking a time of 18.11 with U20 Nick Smith who had missed quite a bit of training through illness, just a couple of seconds behind in 18.13 and another Senior – Matt Poole – recording 18.59 for his 5k Leg. Paul Guinan was the fastest V50 in a time of 19.05 with Danny Maynard just one second behind (19.06) and our second V50 – Matt Nuttall  – recording his Leg time of 19.29.

David Holman

Paul Brindle

Nick Smith

Matt Poole

Paul Guinan

Danny Maynard and David Holman

Ryan Bradshaw ran his first ever event for the Harriers posting a time of 19.38 with V40 John Cookson chopping 21 seconds off his previous best to set a new PB of 19.45,  with U17 Harry Wilkin just behind that time on his Leg with 19.49. U17 Harvey Ashworth ran 20.25 on his, his first time over this distance other than on cross country. Vet 60 John Chaplin and one of the Club’s Endurance Coaches ran his Leg in 20.36. Hayden Mercer (U15) for road and cross country ran 20.40 and told us after that Although I don’t enjoy the longer distance runs, I know it’ll help with my overall fitness & running in my club vest made me feel like part of the team again”, as Luke Betts ran 21.18 on his, followed by Paul Bradshaw with his clocking of 21.22 and Mark Magee in 21.38 after putting in a tough session the day before. Vet 65 Evan Cook ran a time of 22.25 with V50 Richard Taylor posting a time of 24.54 and another of the Clubs Endurance Coaches – V65 George Woodburn – running 25.53.

Ryan Bradshaw

John Cookson

Harry Wilkin

Harvey Ashworth

John Chaplin

Hayden Mercer

Luke Betts

Paul Bradshaw

Mark Magee

Evan Cook

Richard Taylor

George Woodburn