Road racing in the sun, with just the slighest of breezes, made for a great day out at Birkenhead Park, scene of this years Northern 12 & 6 Stage Road Relays coupled with the 5k Championships races for U15 and U17 athletes on Sunday March 27th. Blackburn Harriers had athletes entered in the U15 Boys, U17 Men’s and U17 Women’s races which were run before the Senior Men’s 12 Stage and Women’s 6 Stage Relays.
The Harriers had four athletes entered in the U17 Men’s race — David Holman, Dexta Thompson, Hayden Mercer, Codie Dewhurst – who just missed out on a Bronze medal by three points (44) as they placed 4th behind Vale Royal (41) in 3rd position. David & Dexta set off with intent at the front of the race, but the pace set by the eventual winner – Gateshead’s Joshua Blevins – was pretty rapid taking the Gold Medal in 15.11. David came home in 11th spot in a time of 16.18 with Dexta 2 places further back in 13th (16.29) and a new PB by half a minute, with team mates Hayden in 20th (17.15) and Codie (24th) running 18.06. Three of the lads had never run 5k on the road previously so this experience will stand them in good stead for future events.
Four Harriers again out in the U17 Womens 5k race – Isabel Holt, Abigail Stratton, Evie Taylor and Keira Haxton – and what a day they had. Isabel Holt got on to the Podium with an Individual Bronze Medal as she ran 17.30 behind Emilia Platt (East Cheshire) in 2nd (17.16) and the winner, Vale Royal’s Holly Weedall (16.52). The girls then combined to win the Team Gold with 30 points ahead of East Cheshire (33) and Warrington (37). Abigail finished in 7th spot with a time of 18.38 alongside team mates Evie Taylor in 20th (20.42) and Keira Haxton in 21st (20.48).
There was a bigger field in the U15 Boys race which saw Wirral take the Team Gold with 30 points,ahead of Liverpool in 2nd (35) and Trafford in 3rd (50). Blackburn Harriers placed 5th team with 69 points out of the 12 teams competing. Oliver Gill led the Harriers home finishing in 15th spot and running 17.07, just being held off by Wirral’s 3rd counter Ben Cronshaw in a hard fought finish – this was also a massive new PB for Oliver, as he chopped a minute and 16 seconds off his previous best time. Next home was Daniel Smith in 23rd place running 17.33 alongside Ben Stratton who in crossing the line in 31st in a new PB time of 18.07 must have took around four other athletes in the last few metres as he unleashed a really fast sprint finish to smash his previous best time to pieces by nearly two minutes. George Ramsden had never done this distance on the roads before so a new experience for him in this outing as he placed in 50th (20.52).
The Senior Men had hopes of getting their highest ever finish in the Northern 12 Stage which was a 4th place back in 1981, although there have many top ten finishes since then. On the eve of the Relays the ‘A’ Team lost a couple of athletes, which had knock on effects on the ‘B’ Team. Rob Warner, Ben Fish, Callum Davidson and Nick McCormick had Legs 1, 3, 5 and 7 which were the long legs with Dominic Walton, Jack Hindle, Ben Makin, Nick Gaskell, Stephen Walter, Josh Holgate, Luke Betts and Tim Raynes taking on the eight short Legs for the ‘A’ Team.
Rob Warner got the team off to a flier bringing us home in 5th spot with a time of 23.22, handing over to Dominic Walton on the short Leg 2. Dominic clocked the second fastest short leg of the day (11.38) for the team and 7th fastest of the Leg, pullng back two more places to see Ben Fish take over from him on the long Leg 3. Ben had the run of the day as he posted the fastest time of all the long legs for the team with his 23.19 which was also the equal 9th fastest Leg of the day overall. Great to see Jack Hindle back racing for the Harriers as he took over from Ben in 4th position. Running the 8th fastest time of the Leg in 12.00min, Jack pulled another place back which saw the team move into 3rd spot after four Legs. Leg 5 was another long leg and it was Callum Davidson who took this on – running the 2nd fastest time of 23.41 – to keep the Club in 3rd spot. On to Leg 6 and U20 Ben Makin had a good run to keep the team in 3rd place as he ran 11.59 and the 7th fastest time of Leg 6.
Leg 7 saw Salford’s latest recruit Joe Steward and Leeds Phil Sesemann in 1st and 2nd places as Nick McCormick took over for the Harriers on the final long leg. Nick ran the 3rd fastest time of the Leg (23.45) behind Steward (23.12) and Sesemann (22.26) to keep the Harriers in 3rd spot overall. V50 Nick Gaskell who has recently joined the Club found himself in the ‘A’ Team after being originally down to run Leg 1 for the ‘B’ Team and did well to maintain our 3rd place with his run of 12.52 to hand over to Stephen Walter on Leg 9 who with Harriers shouting encouragement all the way up the run in, clocked 12.27 and 7th fastest in the Leg to finish with the Club in 4th spot. Josh Holgate took on Leg 10 and ran 12.18 – 8th fastest in this Leg – to maintain 4th spot with Luke Betts and Tim Raynes to follow on Legs 11 and 12. Luke ran really well to clock the third fastest short leg time of the day for the Harriers of 11.48 but with Morpeth and Hallamshire closing fast, Luke handed over to Tim in 5th position. Tim had a great run, especially after coming back from injury recently, running the fastest short leg time of the day for the Harriers of 11.32. With other Harriers screaming and shouting at Tim he clawed back another place, moving past Morpeth and a 4th place finish overall on the day – just 18 seconds outside the Bronze Medal.
Unfortunately the Harriers ‘B’ Team was frustratingly, one athlete short on the day which meant that the team didn’t count in the team standings. Tom Blaney posted the fastest long leg time for the Club with 26.33 on Leg 1 and handing over in 33rd spot to John Horrocks running 13.05 on Leg 2 (33rd). Chris Davies took the next long stage, clocking 26.55 holding 33rd place after which, Karl Billington ran 13.34 on Leg 4 and picked up two places to move the team to 31st. Jonny Murphy took over on the next long stage – Leg 5 – and ran 26.51 which helped the team move up to 28th spot. Marc Hartley ran the fastest short leg time of 12.56 on Leg 6, picking up another place to come home in 27th. Final long leg of the day was run by Chris Walton who filled in at the last minute, picking jup another two places to take the team to 25th as he ran a time of 27.20. Paul Guinan maintained 25th on Leg 8 (14.41) and he was followed by John Chaplin running 15.16 on Leg 9, handing over to Matt Poole in 27th on Leg 10. Matt ran 13.34 to move us to 26th with Danny Maynard on Leg 11 (14.18) pulling the team back to 25th.
The Senior Women’s team saw Joanne Nelson taking on the first Long Leg with Jess Judd on the other. Amy Davies, Ellen Sagar-Hesketh, Eleesha Charnley and Lindsay Davies ran all the short legs. Joanne who had been ill all week ran 31.14 in 20th place on Leg 1 before handing over to U20 Amy on the short Leg 2. Amy had a good run in setting the fastest short leg time for the team of 14.55 as Ellen lined up to take over on Leg 3 in 22nd spot. Running 15.02 Ellen pulled back four places as she handed over to Jess on Leg 4 – the second of the longest legs. Jess ran the fastest time of the Leg and of the day overall with her time of 25.25 and in the process moved the Harriers up to 9th place. On Leg 5, Eleesha who had also had recent health issues, posted a solid run of 15.06 – the 10th fastest time of the Leg to improve another two places, moving us into 7th place as she handed over to Lindsay on the final leg. LIndsay ran a time of 17.38 – the team placing 9th overall out of the 34 teams competing on the day.
Helen Leigh is giving the Fells a run for their money for sure. Her latest outing took place at the Coledale Horsehoe Race run over 13.7 miles on Saturday 26th March in what can only be described as unusual waether of late for Fell running. Helen finished as seventh woman overall and 87th overall out of a field of two hundred and seventy one finishers, with a time of 1hr 39.36 – the race being won by Matthew Elkington (!hr 12.09) with the Women’s winner – Kate Maltby – running 1 hr 29.34.
Speaking to the Harriers after her race Helen told us that she had “Had a heavy week of training and mountaineering and a grumpy hip so I wasn’t sure how I would feel. Saturday turned into a stunning but blisteringly hot day with no wind.. I felt strong climbing Grizedale Pike and stuck behind Kelli Roberts for about 2/3 of the race. The heat started to make me feel a bit dizzy and my hip was seizing up so she got away from me and I just tried to keep the wheels turning to get to the end. I felt slow off the final climb and had nothing in my legs but I must have done some right to finish with a 6 minute pb of 1.39. Quality field so I was pleased with 7th.”
Photos courtesy of Stephen Wilson
Also out over the weekend a number of Blackburn harriers were out at new venue and race – The Tempest Trail Race – nr Skipton which featured one hundred and six finishers in a race won by Thomas Corrigan in 28.51. Victoria Mousley, Jonathan Bridge, Gary Pearse and Callum Osborne were all taking part for the Club.
Victoria was the first Harrier across the finishing line in 20th overall running a time of 36.09 which also won her the 2nd Prize in the Women’s race and afterwards she told the Club that it was “A lovely new route over in Broughton Hall near Skipton was ideal on this lovely sunny day. It was a tad hot for my liking but the route was undulating and varied. I struggled with a stitch for most of the run so was happy to finish 2nd and win a great prize from North Face too.“
Next home for Blackburn Harriers came V50 Jonathan Bridge in 22nd spot (36.38) followed by V55 Gary Pearse (26th) running 38.50 with junior Callum Osborne in 49th with his time of 43.44. Posting the same time was Jamie Osborne – Callum’s dad in 50th place and making it his second race in the last few weeks.
Photo courtesey of www.woodentops.org.uk