It was a glorious day for this years 12 & 6 Stage Road Relays at Blackpool, a day which also included the introduction of a 5k Road Championships for U15 and U17 athletes. Looking back over the last ten years or so of results for the Harriers, this years 8th place was the best since 2007 when we took 6th place. Since 2005 the Club has been pretty consistent with three 11th places, a 10th place, two 9th places, an 8th place, and a 7th place – (2013 was cancelled because of the weather).
Great battle between the ‘A’ Teams of the Harriers and Barlick on the day with athletes from both Teams cheering on their Leg runners at every stage. To do battle over 12 Legs covering something like 80k and to end up with just 14 seconds separating the two Teams shows how competitive the day was.
Rob Warner led off on the first leg bringing us home in 14th spot (30.18) handing over to Jack Hindle on the 2nd Leg who covered it in a rapid 16.49 and gaining four places. Joe Monk then took on the second Long Leg (31.23) to keep us in 10th followed by Tom Blaney (17.06) handing over to Tim Raynes for the third Long Leg who had a great run (30.28) to pull us back to 10th. Matt Nuttall kept that place (17.38) handing over the Ben Fish who had a storming Long Leg (29.31) and 13th fastest Long leg of the day, bringing the Club up to 7th spot. Real consistency from the last five Short Legs meant that we lost just one place – to Morpeth – to come home in 8th. Shaun Livesey (17.34), Brian Fogarty (17.39), Paul Guinan (17.47), Ben Costello (17.35) and Chris Davies (17.04). That 12th Leg battle between Chris Davies and Stephen Chew was great to watch and the sight of the two of them being roared home in the sunshine was a delight.
At the end of the day there were some great comments from the lads with Ben Fish “What a performance by the team! Everyone put a shift in today and we thoroughly deserved one of our best results in the past decade. We’re creeping up the positions, top 5 soon!”…….Jack Hindle “Fantastic running by everyone. Everyone looked on top form and running happy. It’s great to see the senior men holding their own in a top quality field. It shows that we have depth in numbers and we can only get better”.…………..Rob Warner “Well done to everyone yesterday! Showed just how much our senior team has come on recently. One to forget for me on a personal note but a fantastic team result! Well done guys”.………….Tim Raynes “I really enjoyed the day, it was great to see everyone pull together and produce a great team effort. Our battle with Barlick made for great viewing too, well done to Chris for bringing us home in 8th! Found my leg quite hard going, but just tried to grind it out to get as much as a lead over Barlick as possible”.………..Ben Costello “Fantastic day out and a great event,going into 11th leg i knew what I had do throughout the race to keep us ahead of Barlick. When I was 2 miles round I knew I couldn’t let it slip with the support coming from all over the park it really set me up to extend the gap once i was on that track I knew I had to give Chris enough to see us home. Everyone should be proud of themselves. I am proud to be part of a fantastic club with great runners and coaches”……….Chris Davies “Always look forward to the Road Relays, it’s great when all the Senior guys get together, always a fun day. The result was an excellent one. To finish eighth overall was fantastic and shows how strong we’ve become as a group. On an individual note, not easy to run when being up for work at 5am but felt good none the less. Didn’t expect to be involved in a last leg like that. Both Blackburn and Barlick competed hard against each other all day, in a great way as well. The support from my team mates around the course was incredible, especially near the end when I needed it. Ben Costello and Shaun Livesey were great for that. Stephen Chew pushed me all the way and I knew he would but i was just glad to hold on. Well done again guys, a great team effort. Well done also to all other Blackburn Harrier runners who competed on the day as well”……….Shaun Livesey “Really got a buzz watching Ben, then Chris finishing off the job in a close battle with local rivals Barlick. Great day, great weather. Well done everyone involved”…….Brian Fogarty “Fantastic effort by everyone, all giving everything they had for the cause. Not just the athletes but the people who contribute to the organisation of the teams. It’s pleasure to be involved. With Ben pushing the limits at the top it’s filtering down to everyone and creating some great depth in the squad. Let’s all keep pushing on!”……..Bryan Searby summed up the spirit of the day telling us “I was proud to be part of the ‘B’ team – felt I had a good run pushed hard over took a few people who I have always been behind. Went into it feeling nervous as i did not want to be the slowest but pleased with the results. Fantastic running from the ‘A’ team proud of you guys. My goal one day is to be in the A team”.
The Men’s ‘B’ Team finished in 48th place on the day with Paul Brindle leading the Team off in the Long Leg (34.18) followed by Joe Howe who ran a great time of 17.18 matching the times of a number of the ‘A’ Team runners and pulling back seven places, handing over to Derek Reilly who also had a good Long Leg (34.24) and Karl Billington (19.37) taking us up to 39th. Craig Greenough (39.17), Danny Maynard (20.03) and John Chaplin (38.01) kept us in 46th spot. John Cookson (21.07), Gary Pearse who has been out for a long time and great to see him back competing (22.07), Bryan Searby (21.07) meant that the Team held the first leg position.
In the Senior Women’s 6 Stage we had two Teams entered but as a result of injuries and illness the Harriers finished up with just one Team which did really well to finish 13th out of the fifty one Teams competing.
Great to see Grace Handley back racing again and taking on Long first Leg (39.49) to hand over to Victoria Mousley who had a great run (19.38) picking up 14 places to bring us up to 14th overall. Joanne Nelson picked up a further three places running a time of 20.22 which was all the more remarkable given that she was carrying an hamstring injury. A really great Long Leg run from Liz Greenwood on Leg 4 with the 12th fastest Long Leg of the day (36.02) which moved the Harriers up to 8th spot. Jan Buckingham (26.24) and Carol Reilly (23.02) who got thrown into the ‘A’ Team at the last minute did really well to hold into 13th position at the end. Lindsay Davies wasn’t going to be denied the opportunity to run and ran the first Leg (51.13) as the ‘B’ Team so well done to her as she told the Club “I was flying solo on the day and had to run the first leg which was just under 6 miles. In my head all the way round I knew I was going to have to do it a second time around. I felt really good until the second lap, I started to tire due to it being so warm, I carried on pushing and was on for a really good time, had it been a 10k I would have no doubt got a PB. My time was 51.18 and I am really happy with that”.
In the 5k Championships the Harriers won Team and Individual Medals at this inaugural event with some good performances.
Highlight of the day was the Team Gold for the U15 Boys – Matt Ramsden who finished 25 in the English Schools recently had a great run to take individual Silver Medal in a time of 16.44, just two seconds behind the winner – Finley Proffitt (Macclesfield). Top of the rankings for 5k on the Road in the U15’s in 2017 is a time of 16.45 which shows how good a run Matt had. Great running from the other lads too meant that we had our first four counters in the top 18. Following Matt came Harvey Griffin in 4th place with a good time of 16.51, Sam Hodkinson in 13th in a time of 17.31- “well done to everyone today, great team mates and a great afternoon in the sun” – and Leon Thomas (18th) posting a time of 17.49. Just behind came Jamie Teare (23rd) in 18.01 and Bradley Meikleham in 26th place (18.20). Harry Wilkin in his first ever Championship Road Race came 48th (20.37) with Luke Ingleson in 49th (20.48) and Tom Betty 52nd place (23.52).
Amy Davies had a battle with two Salford girls when she finished a few seconds behind them in 7th place with a time of 19.41 in the U15 Girls Race.
Maddie Elliott led the U17 Women through to a Bronze medal when she took 5th place in 19.16 followed by Hannah Cookson in 18th (21.16), Charlie Coy (20th) in 22.20, Freya Black 21st (22.34) and Natalya Irvine 22nd (23.12). In the U17 men’s Nick Smith – “Really enjoyed the race and the course, pleased with my running although was a little disappointed with the time” – ran 18.07 in 35th place and Joe Gebbie 18.26 in 39th who commented “Just wanted to say what a good event it was today and how great it is to be part of a Harriers team. The team spirit and work put in by coaches/team managers is brilliant and is what allows us to enjoy races like today’s”.
Fire Fighters Duathlon
One hundred and sixty two members Teams completed this Duathlon comprising a 5k run, a 22 mile bike ride, followed by a second 5k run and it was Brian Fogarty in really good form, showing a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field along with his team mate Tony Cullen, winning the competition by four minutes in a time of 1hr 53.19.
Duathlon Results⇒ HERE
Mark Bleasdale along with his team mate Ian Cox came home in 22nd spot and 4th overall in their V40 age category with a time of 2hr 14.43 whilst Andrew Knowles and team mate Stephen Cox finished 44th overall and 3rd in their V50 age category in a time of 2hr 25. 28. Following the event, Andrew descriibed the action on the day telling us that “After a couple of years of relative inactivity, I have steadily picked the training up during the Winter and at least become ‘part of the group’ on Tuesday night track sessions rather than be 100m behind! So I settled on the Fire Fighters Duathlon at Rivington – 5k run – 22mile bike – 5k run – it’s a team event, you race as a pair and should not at any stage of the race be more than 50m from your partner. Last week I literally dusted the Time Trail Bike off pumped the tyres up and was ready to go! Sunday morning dawns and its tipping down, I am trying to remain relaxed when my race partner rings me and says he is running very late, stress builds. So I register both of us, and pushing my bike into the racked transition area, my number puts my between Brian Fogarty and Mark Bleasdale, you couldn’t of written it, 400 athletes and were next to each other , more stress. I’m thinking I don’t want to make a complete … of myself, but the chilled out come back was gone. Run leg 1 went well running back into transition with Mark and his Partner Ian Cox, they then quickly disappeared on the bike, we rode a steady bike leg and ran the 2nd run sub the first so a well-judged and well matched pair, pleased with 3rd Vet 50 and 44th Overall, Mark and Ian 22nd Overall, and no prizes for guessing, the flying bike leg of Brian and partner gave them the Win by a 5 minute margin, well done guys”.
Heptonstall Fell Race – March 19th
Not for the faint hearted and described on the Race Website as ‘The Heptonstall Fell Race is a category BL race across the best of the local landscape around Heptonstall in the upper Calder Valley. The 25 kilometres of route takes in a mixture of steep-sided wooded valleys, upland pasture and pathless moorland. You’ll be hurtling down grassy slopes, struggling across stretches of bog, scrambling up through thick heather, dodging through dense woodland and – most of all – racing over some wild open countryside. If you get the chance to look around, you’ll see for miles across some of the most beautiful and remote scenery in the South Pennines’. Two hundred and forty seven runners in the most appalling conditions, put everything on the line in this years Heptonstall Race won by Jack Wood in 1hr 57.41.
Heptonstall Feel Race Results⇒ HERE
A couple of Blackburn Harriers ran on the day – Shaun Livesey coming home in 34th place and posting a time of 2hrs 21.57 and Andy Heys placing 82nd in a final time of 2hr 37.49.