Blackburn Harriers entered into the first Match of this years West Premier Division in the Northern T & F League as current champions, having won the title in 2021. Our ambition for this year is to defend that title and in so doing, move to the Grand Final which is scheduled for Saturday August 27th at either Doncaster or Cleckheaton – the Grand Final featuring the top two Clubs from the Premier West, Premier East and Premier North East Divisions. It is always important to get away to a good start and that means having a full team out on the day. A combination of clashes with BUCS, Road Races, injuries, ill health and other engagements meant the team manager was looking at a severely depleted squad and the possibility of not getting off to a good start. Losing three more athletes on the morning of the Match added to the frustration. Other Clubs maybe similarly affected by other competitons at least, but the team manager and the athletes couldn’t know that in advance. So we just had to make the best of it. The team had just seven senior athletes, with the rest comprising U17 and U20’s. The sun was out as the Match started. Would the day shine on the Harriers though?
What a great start. Matthew Heywood won the Hammer with a new PB of 48.20m backed up superbly by Anthony Kent who won the B with 45.57m. At the same time Poppy Preece was setting a new PB in the Pole Vault as she placed 2nd with a height of 2.50m and alongside the Pole Vault runway, Amy Wiggans and Kara Dacosta picked up valuable points in the Long Jump finishing 5th (4.03m) and 3rd (3.92m) respectively and noting that Kara had never competed in Long Jump previously having had just one training session behind her. The spirit and commitment of these young athletes was and is inspiring, none more so than seeing Grace Bontoft despite being ill on the day making sure she did all of her three Throws competitions in the A Hammer – 3rd with 37.85m, 3rd in the B Shot with 7.54m and 4th in the B Discus 14.45m. Similarly for Sarah Henton who had driven from Doncaster to compete in the Shot and Discus having done little or no training for a while as she came 2nd in the A Discus with 36.09m and 6th in the Shot Putt (7.97m). In the other Throws events – Anthony Kent took two second places in the Shot (11.27m) and Discus (39.93m) adding a 3rd place in the B Javelin with 32.11m – his first throw in the event since 2020. Tony Balko backed that up with a 3rd in the Shot B (8.70m) and 4th in the B Discus with 26.26m. George Whittaker had paired with Anthony in the Javelin placing 6th in the A with a distance of 35.50m.
These early performances set the tone for the day – a day which saw the lead changing hands in a very tight contest – just 28 points separating the top four clubs as the Harriers won the Match by a mere 4 points (397) from West Cheshire in 2nd (392), Sale in 3rd (383), I.O.Man 4th (369), Preston 5th (195) and Wigan 6th (136). A massive thank you also to the Club’s Officials Alison Heywood, Michelle Teare, Claudine Smith, Alison Hulme, Jolene Bontoft, Lindsay Davies and John Chaplin.
In the Sprints there was a debut for Lewis Slack and good to see a return to racing by Kyle Mashiter, both of who paired up for the 100 and 200m. Lewis took 3rd in the A 100 (11.80) and 5th in the A 200m (24.20). Kyle took a win double with 12.00 in the B 100 and 24.20 in the B 200. Amy Wiggans took on the A 100 coming 4th in 13.50 alongside U17 Isabelle Hartley in her first ever senior 100m after asking the team manager if she could run it as we had last one of our sprinters to illness and she was keen to see us not lose the points – what a great attitude and she went on to set a new PB of 14.80 in 4th place. Amy paired with Kara Dacosta in the 200m with Kara taking 4th spot in the A (26.90) and Amy clocking 27.30 in 2nd place in the B.
On to the middle distance races, the first of which is the 800m – Ben Makin (A) and Matt Ramsden (B) in this. Ben allowed a gap to develop between himself and the I.O.M athlete which was thought to be too much, but a storming finish resulted in a win for Ben in 1.59.10 – three tenths in front of 2nd place. Matt, who was due to run a 5000m later in the day waited until the home straight and then kicked to take the win in the B with 2.01.90. Abigail Stratton and Eleesha Charnley made it four wins on the bounce as Abigail took the win in the A with a new PB of 2.16.60 after a battle with Preston’s Martha Rayner. Eleesha then comfortably won the B Race in 2.25.60.
The 400m follows the 800m in the timetable which meant Thomas Monks and Ben Makin lining up for the Club in the 400m where Ben was switched to the B race following his 800. The switch worked, resulting in a new PB for Thomas in the A – his first time running a sub 53 – as he clocked a time of 52.90 in 5th place with Ben running 54.50 in the B race. Abigail Stratton & Beatrice Toman took on the 400m and it was another win for Abigail in the A clocking 58.60 in her first ever race over the distance and one in which she had a tremendous battle with West Cheshire’s Imogen Pughe down the home straight – just a tenth separating the pair on the line. Beatrice gave really good backing to that result as she came 3rd in the B (62.00). Half an hour later and it was on to the 1500m which delivered another double win for the Harriers as Amy Davies won the A race in 5.08.70 after a real toe to toe battle in the home straight with Sale’s Olivia Russell. Keira Haxton then won the B to make it a very good result for the Club as she ran 5.19.20. The Men’s 1500m had U17 David Holman up against it in the A race as he was lined up with Sale’s Nigel Martin who is a sub 4 minute 1500m runner. That didn’t deter David as he was in 3rd place during the race, overtook West Cheshire’s Jamie Richardson to move into 2nd spot and then went after Nigel Martin, trying to close the gap, which he did, rewarding himself with a new PB by over four seconds of 4.04.30. In the B – V45 Chris Davies said he didn’t want to see the team lose points so he jumped in and ran well to come in 3rd (4.40.50) to add more welcome points to the team’s total.
The longest track races of the day – 3000m for the Women and 5000m for the Men resulted in four wins for the Harriers. Isabel Holt and Eleesha Charnley took on the 3000m which saw Isabel take off right from the start, making her inetentions clear that it was her race, and that is how it turned out as she won the A in a good time of 10.24.50 – her first time ever running the distance and taking her to number 17 in the National Rankings. Eleesha went on to win the B race – setting a new PB by 20 seconds – clocking 11.26.70 as she gradually pulled back the lead that I.O.M’s Caroline Mayers had on her during the race, winning the B race ventually by six seconds. In the Men’s 5000m it was debut at the distance on the track for Matt Ramsden and Joe Bridge. Nigel Martin from Sale took the lead with Matt right behind him as they ran successive laps of 70 and 71 seconds with a couple of 69’s thrown in. Joe’s task was to secure his place as first B athlete. With some 600m to go Matt went to the front but didn’t shake Nigel Martin off as the two of them hit the top bend on the last lap with a metre between them – Matt’s kick was decisive resulting in a win with a very fine time of 14.36.60 in his debut with Nigel in 2nd 14.39.30. Joe made it a cracking double as he won the B in 16.27.10.
Poppy Preece and Beatrice Toman volunteered to run the 400m Hurdles having never run the event previously, which again was testimony to the spirit of the athletes – Beatrice 4th in the A (77.00) and Poppy 2nd in the B (75.70). Poppy and Isabelle Hartley them teamed up for the 100m Hurdles which saw them take more points – Poppy coming 3rd in the A (18.80) and Isabelle, running the 100mH for the first time, taking all the points in the B as the only runner in a time of 23.40. Time doesn’t matter, points do and Isabelle’s win mattered a great deal when you think of the narrowness of the win, as did Eleesha Charnley’s jump of 7.84m in the Triple Jump (5th). Poppy was having a good day, as was Kara Dacosta who teamed up in the High Jump – Kara clearing 1.56m (2nd) in the A, the same height as the winner, losing out on countback as Poppy won the B with a clerance of 1.50m. Final event of the day for Poppy Preece came in the Javelin as she paired up with Isabelle Hartley – Isabelle placing 5th in the A with 20.42m and Poppy 2nd in the B191.19m.
George Whittaker had a pretty good day in the Pole Vault as he added 20 cms to his previous best in coming 3rd in the A with a vault of 3.20m. Samuel Mutombo contested the A in both Long Jump and Triple Jump coming 3rd in the Long Jump with a leap of 5.46m and 3rd again in the Triple Jump with 11.85m. Thomas Monks showed that he is not only a good 400m runner but can long Jump too as on his first ever competition in the event he placed 3rd in the B with 5.26m. Daniel Smith continues to impress and cleared 1.70m in the High Jump for the second week running to finish 3rd in the A.
The Relays provide a great end to the day with everyone screaming for their team mates to ‘catch them’, ‘go for it’, ‘push’ and much more besides. It’s serious but also a lot of fun to see. The Harriers Men’s 4 x 100m team of Lewis Slack Samuel Mutomobo, Daniel Smith and Kyle Mashiter who did everything he could to close the gap on the last Leg, finished 2nd (46.70) to Sale (45.50). The 4 x 400m team of Thomas Monks, David Holman, Daniel Smith and Ben Makin won the relay in 3.35.80 from I.O.M in 2nd (3.36.50) but only after a cracking first leg from Thomas, followed by superb fighting finishes by David, Daniel and finally Ben who all refused to concede.
The Women’s 4 x 1200m team was Amy Wiggans, Isabelle Hartley, Kara Dacosta and Beatrice Toman and placed 3rd in 53.40 with West Cheshire and Sale three seconds in front. Our 4 x 400m team of Isabel Holt, Abigail Stratton, Kiera Haxton and Eleesha Charnley ran 4.15.00 in 2nd place behind a very dominant Sale Harriers team.
Mid Cheshire 5k – Friday April 29th
It turned out to be a pretty good race for Blackburn Harriers – a race which they had targeted some time ago. On the start line for the Club were Nick McCormick, Callum Davidson, Luke Betts, Tim Raynes, Josh Birmingham and Nick Gaskell.
Noted for its fast time – the evening race with 567 finishers – didn’t disappoint as Liverpool Harriers – David Devine took the win in 14.19 from Hallamshire’s Cameron Bell in 2nd (14.20) and Trafford’s James Knockton 3rd (14.21). The first of the Harriers across the line was former Olympian and Club Coach – Nick McCormick – who ran a rapid 14.26 in 7th place following up his 14.28 at the Podium 5k at the start of April. Next home was Callum Davidson placing 9th in a time of 14.33 with Luke Betts running himself a new PB by one second as he came across the finishing line in 11th position with 14.38 commenting after “First PB in 3 years! To say it’s been a difficult road is an understatement but I’m proud of myself for keeping going, as it’s been very easy to, especially through periods of injury. Felt like I ran the race really well, and feel there is plenty to come this summer.” Tim Raynes finished in 16th place running 14.44 in his first 5k race since August 2021. Tim spoke to the Club after his race telling us “Things have started to come together again in training over the last couple of weeks, so I was looking forward to putting an early marker down over 5k. Didn’t feel amazing on the night, but gives me a starting point to build on over the track season. Great to have so many Harriers at the sharp end of the race. Well done particularly to Luke with the well-earned PB.” Josh Birmingham was running just his third race for the Harriers and made it five blue & white vests across the line in the first 21 places as he clocked 14.55 in 21st place. V50 Nick Gaskell is running really well and clocked 16.12 in 117th place a time which takes him into 2nd place in the National Rankings.
Three Peaks – Saturday April 30th
Bennan Townshend won this years 3 Peaks race in a time of 2 hrs 55.34 followed by Billy Cartwright in 2nd (2hr 58.45) and Ricky Lightfoot in 3rd (3hr 00.51). Blackburn Harriers John Horrocks ran the race at the weekend and had a good run finishing in 44th position with a time of 3hr 46.10.
Also out on the Fells was Helen Leigh, this time at Coniston – described by the organisers thus: ‘ The Senior Fell Race, of approx 6 miles & 2400 feet of elevation starts from the main ring at 2.00pm. The runners will then make their way across the main Coniston/Torver road and up towards the fell wall CP1 (& CP3 on return leg) (south of parking area at Coniston Fell Gate) then crossing the wet bog and Walna Scar road at the foot of the Old Man below the quarry. Runners choose their own route from CP1 & ascend some 2400 ft to the top of the mountain (CP2) & return the same way via CP3 to finish in the main arena. Runners have to visit the three marshalled check points (CP’s) on the way. The course is marked up to the fell wall (CP1) – from here they choose their own route.’
Helen came acroos the finish line in 52nd position overall out of a field just short of 200 runners with a time of 1hr 35.04 & 3rd in the Women’s race after which she told the Harriers “On a beautiful day I worked hard at the tough Coniston fell race, and with a kamikaze style final descent through the quarries off the old man of Coniston, I managed to pick up a place and take 3rd. I almost caught 2nd but I ran out of descent.”
Josh Holgate and Nick Gaskell were out in the Gt Hambledon Hill Race on Sunday April 30th (RESULTS) which saw Josh come home in 2nd spot running 38.13 behind the winner – Horwich athlete Phil Marsden (37.39). Nick who had raced the Mid Cheshire 5k on Friday night, didn’t have much time to recover, made it two Blackburn Harriers in the first five as he ran a time of 40.38 in 5th place. Juniors Harry Lowde and Charlotte Rothwell took part in the U11/U13 Race with Harry finishing 18th out of 46 in the male and female combined race (12.32) with Charlotte in 36th overall and 16th Girl (14.32). Karolina Barscczewska ran in the U15/U17 race with a time of 24.24. (Junior Race Results)
On the Road, Dexta Thompson got an entry into the RunThrough 5k at MediaCity Thursday April 28th and made the most of it as he ran a new PB time of 16.23 in winning the race.
U17 Kiera Booth also ran the 10k on the same night, a distance she has only run once previously when she ran 55.27 at the Ribble Valley 10k in 2021. At this race she set a massive new PB by 8 minutes as she ran a time of 47.15.