On Yours Marks – Set

Chris Wood is a Life member of Blackburn Harriers, first joining the Club in March 1965 making it over half a century that he has been committed to the Harriers. Chris ran Track, Cross Country and Road and was the first Blackburn Harrier to win a Marathon – the Jersey Marathon in 2hrs 28. During that time Chris has also served on the Club Committee and has been it’s Secretary for a period. He is also an integral part of the Committee that organises the Ribble Valley 10k Road Race which has grown in prestige over the years.

Just recently he was advised that he had been appointed to the IMO (International Match Officials) list for 2017, which is a great personal achievement for Chris and the Club too, as the IMO is the subset from which officials are appointed for the televised and major meetings. This is no mean achievement and is just reward for the effort and commitment he has put in over the years to reach this level within the Sport. Chris is quick to pay tribute for his success in attaining this Level to “the strong and effective mentoring from the senior starters here in the NW”.


(L-R    Roy Peters – Chris Wood – Tony Wood – Gordhen Entwistle)

Chris told us that “George Kirby – the Club president – banged on for years that I would make a good starter and I always fobbed him off. About 10 years ago I said OK and within 24 hours had a ‘phone call from John Procter telling me that GK had been in touch and would I like to turn up at the next Mid Lancs and make a start (oh what a pun!)”

Chris said he was “very lucky here in the NW to have a number of very experienced and supportive starters only too happy to provide guidance and support” and gained lots of experience for example in the Mid Lancs, Open Meetings, Northern League, the old YAL, YDL and NJL. He then progressed to the Lancs Champs and then Northern Athletic events as well as being invited to higher level events such as BUCS as a technician.

The officials pathway is well documented and Chris outlined that it entails “a series of Levels from 1 through 5, mostly peer based assessment and a few exams. The big step is from L3 to L4 which requires at least two years of detailed records of all events officiated with self-analysis and comment from peers. This is augmented by a number of reports from senior colleagues over that person. It is necessary to get at least six “YES” reports across varying roles – as a team member, as a chief, using technology, at a championship etc. Some of these reports must be “out of area” – so you work away from your home base and are assessed by officials who do not know you very well, or at all”.

Chris went on to explain that “All that paperwork is then handed to the National Peer Group who assess once a year who is ready for L4. During this time you do get appointed to “non-technical” roles at major events – for example as an athletes steward or a call room steward. I did this a number of times at National Champs level. I was awarded L4 3 years ago, one of only 2 starters that year, the other being in Northern Ireland”

“The first years as a L4 you get a ‘P’ on your licence for “Provisional”, so subject to ratification after 12 months – well I made that step. At major national meetings there is an assessment system where the Chief of any section must grade the team members, chiefs are graded by the National Technical Delegate appointed to assess the whole meeting by UKA/British Athletics. Another annual review group then looks at L4 officials who have been achieving high grade assessments and positive peer feedback. This review is to determine who would be suitable for the International Match Officials (IMO) group from which officials are appointed for the major events and televised events. You can be appointed to such events if not IMO if they think you are on the pathway to IMO – it has happened to me”.


(Chris Wood with John Proctor)

The IMO appointment for Chris is as a Starters Assistant, there are 10 across the UK and he has had Key appointments over the past 2 years including:-

  • Home International at Sportcity 2016 – Start Co-Ordinator (ie Chief) – (Should have been IMO but he was given the experience to chief at this level)
  • National Champs U23’s 2016 – Chief Starters Assistant
  • School Games Loughborough 2016 – Starter
  • BUCS Champs 2016 – Starter
  • British GP/Diamond League Birmingham 2015 – Birmingham – Starter (IMO level but I was given the experience)
  • National Champs U17’s Indoors 2015 – Start Co-Ordinator
  • NA Regional Champs 2015 – Start Co-Ordinator

Congratulations from everyone here at Blackburn Harriers to Chris on his achievements which have come, as all things do, by hard work and the drive to succeed.


( Chris Wood with Paul Yates)


Fairclough 5 – October 23rd

It was yet another new PB for Chris Davies as he came home in 2nd place with a time of 27.45 and also took the 2nd V40 spot with the winner also a V40. Given that he had done a tough hill session the day before this was a very good performance and he commented after the Race “27:45 today at the Fairclough 5. A new PB but only got me second place. Couldn’t beat Jeff Prest, he beat me by a minute. To fast for me today. Won £10 for Marks & Spencer, off to spend it now”.



V40 John Cookson came home in 30th spot and just outside his personal best in a time of 33.54 with Carly Edwards in 39th place (34.51) who was also just seconds away from her personal best. Hannah Cookson had a previous best of 37.59 and blew that away finishing 45th in 35.26 chopping nearly two and half minutes off her time for a new PB. Lindsay Davies……came home in 100th place (46.44) which meant she had cut over two minutes off her previous best and saying after the Race that she “Felt tired and full of a cold before the race, set off at a reasonable pace but soon found my feet, started to feel a lot stronger after 3 miles and knew I was on for a PB so started to push myself, the last mile I was hurting, my legs felt like jelly and my breathing was getting erratic but still kept going and I managed to knock 2 mins 24 seconds off my 5 mile PB”.




In the Fun Run One Mile Amy Davies, Hannah Davies and Kate Cookson all had good runs with Amy knocking 6 seconds off her mile PB and Hannah cutting 16 seconds off her mile PB.






Standish Hall Trail Race – October 22nd

One hundred and thirty nine runners contested the popular local Trail Race on Saturday which saw Andy Buttery come home in 4th place overall and 2nd V45 with a time of 38.17, the Race being won by Anthony Valentine in 35.38 – RESULTS


Blackburn Harrier – Gary Pearse – recently wrote into the Club about his daughters performance at Exeter where she competed for Lancashire in September. Unfortunately the Club website moderator missed this and it didn’t appear at the time. However, it is important that the tribute contained within the message to the ever popular and much loved Sheila Markendale should be included, even if a little late.

Polly Pearse competed in the multi events schools finals last weekend for Lancashire schools in Exeter, the senior girls had a full team and Polly competed extremely well in her final schools heptathlon. However, the sadness was that Sheila died in recent weeks and I know she dearly wanted to be there. Our three children – (Esme, Polly & Joe) – and in particular Joe and Polly benefited enormously from Sheila being their team manager throughout their time within the schools multi arena. For those who had competed in the Lancashire Schools multi events arena it is with great sadness that they were informed that Sheila Markendale, who was the Lancashire team manager for many years, died recently. Sheila was an inspiration to those from the club who either competed in multi events as their main discipline or as a ‘let’s experience it as a one-off’. She approached all interaction with the athletes in a positive and caring way. The multi events involve long weekends, often all over the country. The swings between individual events in competition creates an emotional and psychological side of the event and athletes needed and appreciated those times of motivation and/or quiet word that only Sheila could provide. She will be sorely missed”