At 6.30am Chris Wood on Monday morning – December 27th 2021 – set off in his car to examine the Race Course, checking that all the kilometre signs were up and the roads were clear of any impediments to the runners ready to set off at 10.00am. Matt Wood and Katie Buckingham were on site at the same time with Water and Race Medals being unloaded, Portable Toilets were being delivered and the Mobile Cafe was setting up on the Car Park. Emma, Irene, Esme, Polly and Katie were in place in the main Sportshall to start to deal with any race queries and to give numbers to runners who were collecting on the day. Andy was getting the Race Timing system up and running. Paul and Reece were setting up the PA system on the Course and a team of volunteers built the finishing straight on Roefield road. After a one year delay due to the Race being cancelled because of necessary Covid lockdown conditions in 2020, we were back and on a day which produced the best weather conditions and racing to match.
A big thank you to our Race Sponsors – forbes solicitors – and to Adam Bromley of forbes who presented all of the Cash Prizes to the athletes who won in their respective categories. Thanks also to all of the volunteers from Blackburn Harriers – some fifty of them – involved in the organisation of the race on the day with the Club still having twenty three athletes running in the race. Thanks also to Rossendale & Pendle Mountain Rescue for providing expert medical cover on the day, to those putting together the entries and results programmes together and to Race Referee John Temperton, Chief Timekeeper Stan Taylor, Gerry Bunn the Race Adjudicator, Steve Bateson the Race Photographer and to Northern Athletics for once again agreeing to the Race hosting the North of England 10k Road Chamapionships.
Josh Griffiths (1562) – Kieran Clements (1522) – Jake Wightman (5) – Jonny Mellor (1622) – Sam Hancox (51) – Lewis Gamble-Thompson (10)
Jonny Mellor really demonstrated his quality. Having won the race in 2011 setting a then Race Record of 29.10 he followed that up with another win in 2013 (29.12) and in 2018 ran 29.19 in 2nd place to Marc Scott (28.58). This year ten years after his first win, Jonny took the win again in a time of 28.59 – his fastest time since 2017 and a really fine performance at the head of a field that saw the first twenty seven athletes all came home in sub 31 clockings including place 2,3,4,and 5 places all ducking uner 30 minutes. Swansea’s Josh Griffiths had a fine run too on 2nd (29.25) followed by Salford’s Chris Richards in 3rd (29.45), Woodford Green’s Ed Shepherd 4th (29.47) and Liverpool’s David Devine in 5th (29.58).
The Women’s race proved to be another cracker which saw Stockport’s Jess Piasecki and Morpeth’s Laura Weightman both break the Race Record hled by Beth Potter (32.07). Jess took the win in 31.37 which won her an added £500 Bonus to the Race Win prize of £300.00. Laura in just her third race of the year and not having raced since summer after having battled with injuries ran 31.45 to also break the old race record. Eleanor Bolton after racing for GB in Dublin at the European Cross Country Championships recently, took 3rd spot in 33.11 over a minute faster than her previous best with Jemima Elgood just one second and one place further back (4th) clocking 33.12 followed by Lauren McNeil in 5th (33.43) and Mollie Williams in 6th (33.45).
Blackburn Harriers had twenty three athletes out on the day with the run of the day for the Club going definitely to U20 Matt Ramsden. Having set his personal best of 31.24 in winning the Runthough Blackburn 10k on December 12th, Matt carved another minute off that time to set up a new PB of 30.24 (14th overall) which also won him the Junior Men’s Race on the day as well taking 11th place in the U20 National Rankings. Tim Raynes was next home for the Club in a time of 30.32 and his fastest on this course followed by Ben Fish in 40th place clocking 31.32 – the three of them combining to win the Northern Bronze Medal behind Liverpool (1st) and Salford (2nd).
Jacob Watson was just two seconds outside his previous best as he came home in a time of 32.35 in 62nd place. Great to see Jack Hindle racing for the Club again as he ran 33.15 in 87th place followed by another run of the day by V50 Matt Nuttall (99th) who clocked 33.48 making him the 2nd V50 on the day behind Darlington’s John Clifford (33.37). Matt now stands at 7th in the National Rankings which is outstanding. U20 Ben Makin was making his debut at 10k running well as he came home in a time of 34.02 (104th). Next across the finish line was Ryan Bradshaw in 35.10 followed by Joe Gebbie in 155th with 35.39 having finished a course of anti-biotics the day before for tonsillitis!
Chris Davies was running his first race for a long time after battling with injuries and had a solid run of 37.09 (187th) followed by David Almond (V55) and 3rd vet on the day running 37.25 (199th) whilst another U20 – Harry Wood (231st) – ran his second race over the distance, setting a new PB of 38.36 – 45 seconds faster than his previous best. U20 Jamie Teare (245th) was next home in 245th spot running 39.07 and he was followed home by Chris Walton (251st) in 39.16, U20 Harry Wilkin 266th (39.52), Matthew Poole (267th) with a time of 39.52, U17 Hollie Cubbon clocking 46.50 (522nd) following her recent run at the Blackburn 10k. V45 Lindsay Davies ran 47.11 in 531st spot with Mark Wilkin (V55) running 47.45 (556th), V55 Andrew Knowles (595th) with a time of 48.47, V45 Michelle Teare in 710th with her time of 51.37, and U17’s Kiera Booth and Eva Knowles in 55.27 and 55.29 respectively.