The Ribble Valley 10k normally produces plenty of last gasp attempts to rise up the 2012 10k rankings and despite the wind and rain the 2012 edition proved no exception.
With late dropouts in the Men’s race from last years winner Jonny Mellor, Andy Vernon and Tom Lancashire the elite race was blown wide open. With GB Internationals and a whole host of sub-30 minute 10k runners the race was bound to be competitive.
The race started at a steady pace with a very large group including Antony Ford, Matt Clowes, Andi Jones, Ben Fish in the forefront. After the first mile it was Joe Bailey, Andrew Wiles and James Tartt pushing the pace. The athletes were running into the wind and rain which meant there was plenty of tucking in and a little bit of bumping and barging. After about 2k Matthew Bowser who decided enough was enough and he pushed the pace on, there was no takers and Bowser ran alone for a while before Bailey and Clowes reeled him back in. Bowser didn’t look to affected by the increase in pace and settled back in the bunch. It was then Joe MacDonald who then decided to push forward with Bailey and Clowes keeping him in track.
Going through 5k in around 15.12-15.18 the group were still tightly bunched. At the turn around point there was a gradual drop off of a number of the athletes and the group had whittled down to around 10. With Clowes pushing the pace. It was here that David Bishop started to make a move toward the front of the smaller group and covered the breaks of Bailey, Clowes and MacDonald.
Approaching the 3k to go mark it was Wiles in the lead with Bishop, Bowser, Clowes and Bailey. With Fish, Ford, Tartt, Rob Samuel, Aaron Scott, Dan Garbutt, Jack Martin not far behind. Coming to the 2k to go mark, Clowes who had a grimace on his face sharply pulled up and moved to the side. Which then left 3 athletes in the forefront Wiles leading from Bowser and Bishop.
Bowser then moved to the front in a attempt to stretch out the field. All 3 athletes are quick over 1500m, Bishop with the better PB at 3.37, Wiles and Bowser at 3.43. Coming into the final 600m it looked like Wiles was going to really push on and run away with it but the hill seemed to have taken it out of him and with around 300m left it was Bowser in the lead but the with about 200m left Bishop unleashed his phenomenal kick finish to run away with it. The time of 30.03 was a PB for Bishop in his first 10k, with the tactical nature of the race and the weather the way it was his time was rather impressive. Bowser taking the North of England title.
The strength in depth of the race was there for all to see with 41 athletes breaking 32 minutes.
In the Women’s race it was Alyson Dixon who found herself alone and unsheltered for large chunks of the race but came away with the women’s race and the Northern title. The Women’s race at the Ribble Valley always attracted a good quality field with Helen Clitheroe and Katrina Wootten not in the field today, GB International Dixon who ran a 32 minute 10k only a few months ago was favourite on paper.
The race allowed most of the female athletes to spread themselves out without having to run on their own, it was only through Dixon’s attempt to push for a fast time which left herself unsheltered. Coming in toward the finish Katie Hewison (Ingram) was closing down on Dixon but she managed to hold off her charge as well as that of Felicity Abram and Kate Avery. Hewison, a former winner at the Ribble Valley 10k and World Duathlon Champion looked in great shape and with Australian Triathlete and former ITU World Junior Champion as well as GB Junior International Kate Avery finishing behind her, it makes her performance that little bit more impressive.
There were 10 female athletes below the 37 minute mark, PB’s were hard to come by but the strength in depth was there in the women’s as it was the mens.
With around 1100 finishers and almost 1500 entries on a wet and windy day in Clitheroe the Ribble Valley 10k was a tremendous success and the team at Blackburn Harriers once again put on a well organised event to end the year 2012 in style.