Brian Holland plays up to the camera, not realising the treat that lay ahead for him at the 21st mile.
Several times a year a large group of Stockport Harriers endurance runners choose an event and invade on mass, the Snowdonia Marathon, noted to be one of Europe’s toughest, was to be the latest of these invasions.
Twenty men and women in the black and yellow of Stockport lined up at the side of Llyn Padarn, just outside Llanberis, on a cold but sunny Autumn morning – ideal race conditions.
The team contained the full spectrum of marathon runners; marathon virgins, seasoned endurance athletes, elites who had the potential to figure amongst the prizes and fools running their second marathon in a week.
The course is set amongst some of Britain’s finest scenery, circumnavigating the mighty peak of Snowdon .
The start immediately goes into a steady 4 mile climb and soon strings the athletes out in that first 1,200ft ascent. There then follows a 10 mile fast descent requiring concentration and some nifty footwork as the road is frequently crossed by running water.
Miles 14 through to 21, whilst ‘undulating’, were more about maintaining a steady pace than eating into the reserves that would be desperately required in the last quarter of the race.
The hill that greeted the athletes at mile 21 would not be out of place in one of our local fell races. The only difference being is that this hill went on and on and on… and on. IT was to be the turning point for many of Stockport’s runners. With a combination of cramps, sore feet, tired legs and ‘why am I here?’ syndrome. Many places were gained and lost over this 2,000ft, 3.5 mile climb.
Female athletes of the day were Sally Keigher who was first Stockport lady home and 14th female overall. Michela Stepto, finishing an excellent second position in the FV40 category. Excellent performance also from Jenny Day completing her first marathon with a big smile on her face.
Male accolades must surely go to Ray Hampton finishing second M60 in just under 3hrs 40mins, Tony Lee, finishing first Harrier (less than 40 minutes behind the race winner). Big mentions also to Simon Heys and John Harvey, crossing the line within seconds of each other and surely targeting themselves with a 3 hour marathon time in 2007.
Not only was there a large field of Stockport runners, there seemed to be an even larger field of Stockport supporters managing to appear at various parts of the course armed with jelly babies and flap jacks.
The post race celebrations were held in the world famous ‘Pete’s Eats’, where plates containing thousands of calories were devoured within minutes.
Would we all do it again? Without a doubt roll on 2007 !
Preston 10 mile
Report: Phil McCann
On Sunday we had 3 ladies, Jenny Knass, Toni McIntosh and Michela Stepto running this event on a fast 2-lap course.
Jenny was hoping to put in a fine performance after several niggling injuries. She wasn't to be disappointed running just 4 seconds behind her best in 1-01-44 to finish 3rd lady. She was only 20 seconds off 2nd place and 50 seconds behind the winner, which showed how close it was.
Toni battled round even with her tight hamstring from the day before to clock 1-08-45.
Finally Michela recovering after her Snowdonia marathon 3 weeks ago finished in 1-11-22 to help us take the team prize as well.
It will be interesting to see if they can match there performance at the harder Stockport 10 in 3 weeks time.
Tyldesley 5k Trail Race
Also on the Sunday at the Tyldesley trail race we had Alison Coulson and Jayne Lawton. Both ran close to there bests with Alison finishing 5th lady and 1st V45. Jayne not to be out done finished 10th lady and 2nd V35 out of a field of 38 ladies
Boggart Hole Clough Cross-Country
On a cold and windy Saturday afternoon Stockport ladies were competing in the 2nd of the Manchester Area Cross-Country at Bogart Hole Clough. As usual it is a testing course and can expel most of your energy levels.
As some ladies were running at other events the following day we were a little down on numbers.
Helen Hudson was our first counter home in 9th place and a continual progression for her. Toni McIntosh pulled out with a tight hamstring after the first lap which left Karen McCrackle as our 2nd counter. Karen performance was a huge improvement from last year on this course.
Next were Jennifer Hopes and Jane Nyland battling together they too were making good improvements.
Finally Maureen Wilkins worked hard through the course on her comeback trail followed finally home by Janet Booker working really hard.
Harriers in Switzerland
Report: Swiss Pony
Jack Nixon won the 2km junior race with ease
Twenty five members and friends of the Harriers spent an enjoyable week in and around the historic Swiss town of Bern on another of Pete Powell's excellent overseas trips.
The first day included a race in nearby Burgdoff where Jack Nixon yet again produced the goods, winning the round-the-houses 2km junior race with ease.
Next the 5km race saw Dale Gartley 5th, Phil Nixon 6th and Liam Turnbull 10th.
The main 15km trail race had Mike Shaw finishing 8th and claiming 2nd over-40, winning a pair of salad spoons and a wooden footstool for his efforts. Also in the race were Mike Nixon, Andy Smith, Jim Heron and John Crabtree.
Dave Turnbull picked up a spot prize of a large selection box of pasta, so his squad won't go hungry for a while.
But the real highlight of the trip was the hospitality offered by the race organisers from the local Burgdorf Running Club, providing us with an post race evening meal, drinks and music featuring a two metre long alpine horn and accordian.
Tuesday's skittles game saw Liam take an early lead, but his good form deserted him in the final, beaten in the end by seasoned bowler Ian Hinks.
Later in the evening for the lads there was a visit to the Bern ice hockey stadium for an intense, top-of-the-table clash between Bern and Davos, watched by a capacity 16,000 noisy crowd. The tickets generously supplied by our Swiss friends.
A bonus on the final day was that there was enough time between connections for a trip on an old 1914 paddle steamer around Lake Geneva with a stunning view of the French Alps.
The 'Man/Woman of the Tour' award went to Dale Gartley mostly thanks to his contribution to Wednesday's musical evening in the hotel, even managing to keep a party of Austrian caravan conference delegates entertained.
So a big thanks should go to Sammy, Ernst, Thomas and friends from Burgdoff for making it one of the most memorable trips.
National Cross Country Relays
Report: Dave Turnbull
Steve Vernon ran the fastest leg of the day at the National Cross Country Relays at Mansfield
Steve Vernon led the senior men's race at the National Cross Country Relays on Saturday at Mansfield where the team recorded its highest ever position of 25th.
Steve had a nine second lead and also took the fastest leg of the day in 14-42 which was the fifth fastest ever on the course.
He handed over to our top veteran international Bashir Hussain who ran effortlessley to retain 4th position which gave a tough challenge to Jamie Loxam, who has given up semi-pro football after 7 years to concentrate fully on running again.
Jamie ran well to come in around 12th spot leaving last leg runner Mike Thiele, who is also on the comeback trail after a 5-year sabbatical playing hockey, finished with his trademark kick to finish 25th.
The under-20 men's team were 12th while Ross Millington was the second fastest in the under-17 men's race with 9-02 for the 3km course, he hauled the team back eleven places to finish 4th team
In the under-17/20 women's Jess Coulson went from 28th to 4th place over the winding 2.5km course and also took the fastest leg of the day with a sparkling 8-20 which was also the third fastest in the under-20 women's race.
Ladies Cross Country Relays
Report: Phil McCann
Stockport's A-team at the National Cross Country Relays; Helen Hudson, Samantha Thomas and Toni MacIntosh
The Ladies' relay teams were in fine form at the National Cross Country Relays at Mansfield. With Many of our top ladies either away or injured and then having our top runner Jenny Murray injuring her leg on the Wednesday prior to the event.
It was left to a handful to fill the roles, however they performed exceptionally well with the A-team recording the fastest time for the Club at this event.
Toni McIntosh was on 1st leg and as with her 1st leg in the road relays worked tirelessly to record the teams fastest leg of 11-28. This was the club's joint 2nd fastest time on this course, the other being Jenny Murray.
Samantha Thomas on 2nd leg having moved up from the B-team helped us keep the momentum going not losing any places recorded 12-37.
Finally on 3rd leg was Helen Hudson in her 1st senior cross country relay made up much ground and recorded another terrific time of 11-31 to record the club's 4th fastest leg at this event.
Overall they finished 41st, the 2nd highest position we have recorded at the event but a much faster time overall than our one in 2004.
In the B-team we managed on the last minute to draft in Marie Kay who was there supporting her children to keep the B-team complete.
On the B-teams 1st leg was Jane Mellor who had been out of racing for some time due to work commitments stormed through to record 12-46 to hand over Karen McCrackle.
She then in turn kept the pace going to record 13-18 and hand over to Marie Kay. Marie did us proud to run as hard as she could to bring the B-team into there 2nd fastest B-team for the club.
Everyone enjoyed the experience and with commitment like that we will continue to strive forward even under testing circumstances.
Jenny takes Holmfirth 15 title
Report: Phil McCann
Jenny Murray after her fine performance at the National 4-stage Relays followed up with another success at the Holmfirth 15.
On a sunny Sunday morning Jenny led the ladies' race from start to finish leaving the rest of the ladies well behind. This being the Yorkshire 15 mile championships in which she is now able to compete for she clocked 1-31-31 to take the title.
Jenny also finished 8th overall in amongst the men. Another bonus for her was clocked personal bests at 5 and 10 miles which on a 2 lap hilly course was fantastic.
Afterwards Jenny said "I thought there was another lady on my shoulder so pushed on after 10 miles but at the finish it was a male runner and the 2nd and 3rd ladies were some 7 minutes behind!"
Jenny will be cutting down on her mileage this week but will be competing at the 3-stage Cross Country relays at Mansfield on Saturday. Then she will be taking some of her school children on a field trip to Spain, whilst there she will be able to take time out to compete in the Palma Half Marathon. This event attracts a quality international field and the organisers are willing to put her in there with them which is well earned honour.
Meanwhile another lady Harrier Deborah Cox was running her first 15 miler and did exceptionally well clocking 2-16-53 over this tough course. Deborah has been working well in her training and it is paying dividends with more personal bests.
New 400 metre record
We had yet another under-13 girls' record broken on the track over the last few weeks.
'Athlete of the Month' Olivia Yates took the 400 metre record with a time of 64.9 seconds.
The record was previously held by her mother Debbie since 1976, so it stays in the Yates family.
Sean and Tony cross the finish line after an impromptu dance display
Four of New Mills finest decided to take on a very International field covering all three events in the Luberon Marathon/Half Marathon and 10km races.
Tony Lee and Sean Whewell foolishly deciding to run two marathons in a week, Ruth Lee taking part in her favourite event the Half Marathon and Amber Whewell sneaking into the 10km race
Planned months in advance with military precision (3:30am start to get to East Midlands Airport in time) this on paper had the potential to be a marathon personal best course - beautiful scenery running through the vineyards and idyllic countryside of Luberon. with one missing element - it wasn't flat (see course profile).
In fact more than that, not only was it not flat it was very hilly with over 2,000 ft of climbing and a finish positioned 200 ft higher than the start.
Tony and Sean performed well in the bright 25°C sunshine crossing the line together in 3-54-08 (only ten athletes managed to go sub three hours which gives an indication as to the severity of the course) - Tony spent the last quarter of the race sampling wine and local delicacies from what the French call drinks stations but what we would class as wine bar cum bistro with several types of wine, local farm produce and French casseroles available to the marathon runners - the Stockport Harriers duo then entertained the masses putting on an impromptu 'Peter Crouch' style dance duet to the crowds in the stands at the finish.
Earlier in the day Ruth Lee had finished her Half Marathon in 1-54-31 on an equally 'undulating' course giving her an overall position of 26th senior female out of a starting field of over 1,200 athletes.
Amber jubilant after receiving her prizes and not yet having noticed her case of wine has been confiscated
Stealing the limelight in the 10km event in a field of 700 with a time of 45-34 was Amber finishing first female Junior and 9th lady overall, she was less impressed having to kiss a somewhat hairy Lord Mayor of Luberon on each cheek as she received her prizes of giant pumpkin, sports bag and a case of rosé wine - the wine was soon confiscated by the rest of the Harriers' party!
The rest of the week was spent singing songs round midnight outdoor bonfires and seeing who could drink most alcohol/eat most food, this is where Ruth proved to be an International elite leaving everyone else in her wake.
National 4-stage Road Relays
Report: Philip McCann
Another huge success for Stockport's ladies who traveled to Sutton Park, Birmingham for the National 4-stage Road Relays.
Having only twice had teams entered in this event before in 2001 and 2004 we finally made up for lost time.
We recorded our fastest time and finishing positions for both the A and B-teams.
The A-team consisting of Toni McIntosh, Jenny Knass, Helen Hudson and Jenny Murray. The B-team consisting of Carley Davies, Carla Stansfield, Claire McMurdock and Vicky Barrett.
With a quality field of runners including internationals Helen Clitheroe and Cathy Mutwa to name a few, it was always going to be tough, however they all took up the challenge.
With a record field of 98 teams running the start was heavily congested as this is the most important leg trying to get your team in contention.
Toni and Carley on the 1st legs set off with a lot of pushing and shoving going on.
Helen Clitheroe on this leg recorded the fastest time of the day to record 14-11.
Toni battled well to bring the A-team in 16-11 / 46th, with Carley taking on the 1st leg mantle and on her first time at the Nationals clocking 18-10 / 79th for the B-team.
Jenny Knass took over from Toni to keep up the momentum making up 8 places to record 16-37/ 38th. Carla for the B-team stormed off to record 17-31 / 64th to hand over to Claire.
Helen Hudson on the A-team 3rd leg was a little disappointed with her run but still kept us in the frame to come home 17-07/ 39th. Claire on the 3rd leg for the B- team ran hard to continue to move them up places for 17-26 / 59th.
Finally Jenny Murray returning to racing ran the 8th fastest leg on stage 4 to bring us home to our highest finishing position 15-15 / 25th. Meanwhile Vicky brought the B-team home to their highest as well clocking 17-54 / 54th.
Overall a terrific day in the history of Stockport Ladies, long may it continue.
|A-team - 25th||B-team - 54th|
|Toni McIntosh (46th) 16-11||Carley Davies (79th) 18-10|
|Jenny Knass (38th) 16-37||Claire McMurdock (64th) 17-31|
|Helen Hudson (40th) 17-07||Carla Stansfield (59th) 17-26|
|Jenny Murray (25th) 15-15||Vicky Barrett (54th) 17-54|
National Young Athlete Road Relays
Report: Dave Turnbull
Stockport Harriers under-17 men's and women's teams were in fine form at the National Young Athlete Road Relays at Sutton Park, Birmingham on Sunday. They took 2nd and 3rd teams at the National event.
Two outstanding runs were from the club's UK number one 1,500 metre runner Ross Millington who claimed the fastest overall leg of the day in 11-45.
Also reigning Under-17 AAA's 1,500 metre Champion Jess Coulson who recorded the 2nd fastest leg of the day in the women's under-17 race which was also faster than the previous course record in 13-09.
The under-17 men were 35th on the first leg after Steve Barber in 13-08 fresh from his holidays kept the team in contention.
Leg two Steve Pearson clawed back an amazing 24 places to hand over to Ross who stormed home in the fastest time of the day in 11-45.
In the Women's under-17 race Leah Kay came back in 6th position in 14-12 handing over to sister Sarah who kept the team just outside the top ten in 12th in a time of 15-43. Jess Coulson fought back ten positions to claim the bronze medals for the team with 13-09.
|Under-13 Boys - 12th||Under-13 Girls|
|J Corbishley (33) 15-56||H Coulson (33) 16-39|
|J Nixon (22) 14-22||A Hughes (19) 16-26|
|R Hindley (12) 14-18|
|Under-15 Boys - 30th||Under-15 Girls|
|D Thompson (44) 14-21||M Wiblin (9) 14-49|
|M Logue (36) 13-48||C Pendlebury (41) 17-40|
|N Ludlaim (30) 14-22|
|Under-17 Men A - 2nd||Under-17 Women A - 3rd|
|S Barber (35) 13-09||L Kay (6) 14-12|
|S Pearson (11) 12-19||S Kay (12) 15-48|
|R Millington (2) 11-45||J Coulson (3) 13-09|
|Under-17 Men B - 38th||Under-17 Women B - 24th|
|M Cook (45) 13-44||R Jenyon (34) 15-33|
|P Nixon (44) 14-44||A Osooki (25) 15-51|
|S Cameron (38) 13-52||J Bauer (24) 17-24|
Manchester Area Cross Country League
Saturday's first match saw some great performances with team wins for both the under-13 and under-17 boys, while the under-15 boys finished second.
Leah Kay had an individual win the under-17 girls' race and Michelle Wilbin second in the under-15 girls.
The senior ladies' team were beaten into second place by Macclesfield by just 1 point.
Next match is on Saturday 18th November at Boggart Hole Clough.
|Male under-13 - 1st team|
|Male under-15 - 2nd team|
|Female under-17 - 2nd team|
|Male under-17 - 1st team|
|Senior male - 4th team|
|9||Andrew Nixon||U20 (3rd)||35.03|
|19||Steve Haylock||V45 (1st)||36.20|
|59||Frank Reilly||V60 (1st)||39.53|
|156||Chris Bryans||V65 (2nd)||54.47|
|Senior female - 2nd team|
|57||Alexis Dinsmoor||V55 (1st)||43.17|
|Full results available from: www.bbresults.com|
New 1,600 metre relay record
A 31-year-old record was broken on the track last week in the under-13 girls' 1,600 metre medley relay.
Olivia Wild (200m), Jessica Shaw (200m), Olivia Yates (400m) and Hannah Coulson (800m) ran a time of 4 minutes 48.6 seconds, bettering the 1975 record by almost 12 seconds.
Success in Amsterdam
Report: Philip McCann
Jenny, Sarah and Sharon all came back from Amsterdam with personal bests
Eight members of the Harriers traveled out for the Amsterdam 1/2 Marathon which proved to be very successful for us all. There were the three races, the Marathon which has proved very good for quick times, the 1/2 Marathon and the 10k.
The 6,000 marathon runners got under way at 10.30am with International Liz Yelling from England out amongst the Kenyans and Ethiopians.
Once we had watched them all exit the stadium we made our way to the 10k start. Sharon Glendon was still suffering from her virus which she had at the Great North Run two weeks earlier. She had decided to opt out of the 1/2m the day before at registration and run the 10k. This would not be to much of a strain for her and she would be able to recover with the cross country season coming up. At 10.55am Sharon lined up amongst the 4,000 10k runners and along with Jenny Knass, Sarah Lomas and myself we roared her off from the start.
We then made our way into the stadium to see the Marathon runners come through after their first 7km loop before heading back out for the rest of the marathon. Within no time at all the leaders of the 10k were coming in and too our surprise Sharon was into the stadium to clock a personal best by 1 minute recording a time of 42-59. She finished 190th overall out of the field of 4,000 and was 15th lady. Afterwards Sharon was on a real high and said the course and conditions were perfect. Once changed we found a nice coffee bar to sit in and watch the Marathon runners come home.
We managed to see the leading men come in and the first 8 women as well. Liz Yelling was 6th lady in a time of 2-31-27. Time was ticking bye and with 1/2 an hour to go we started our preparations for the 1/2m. Jenny, Sarah and myself managed to get into the front pen for the start. Joanna Bleakley (Robertson - just back from her Honeymoon!) was a little further back.
Also in there were Brian and Sue Holland, with Ron Wilkinson hoping to break 2 hrs. Jenny Knass was wondering how it would go as she had been out since August with a back problem this was to prove a real comeback for her.
The field set off at 2.00pm with Jenny speeding off into the distance - no fear there, followed closely by Sarah Lomas. Sarah will be coming along to the club to train and hopefully will be another addition to the ladies' squad. With a personal best of 1-40 prior to this she was hoping to be around 1-35. I myself was just hoping to be around the 2 hour mark having run 2-05 at the Great North Run. After 1km Brian Holland managed to overtake me and shouted a greeting I shall not repeat!
Like Sharon I had a slight virus and took it steady up to the first 8km after that I was feeling much stronger and upped the tempo. The course wound its way around Amsterdam and along the canals pass the big windmill and Museums. A predicted time of 1-50 was on the cards for me however I eventually paid the price and my pace dropped dramatically at 15k. With 6k to go i was starting to think I would walk but people in the crowd were shouting for Stockport and that a Stockport lady was in 3rd place. Not to let everyone down I pushed on through the pain barrier to see the Stadium come into sight. Crowds were making plenty of noise and I came into the Olympic Stadium and the welcome finish line to record 1-57-20.
Just beyond the finish in the stands were Sharon, Jenny, Sarah and Brian who gave me a big cheer. After collecting my medal and goodies we meet up to share our experience. Jenny Knass finished 1-22-57 a personal best by nearly a minute. She also finished 3rd lady and 87th out of the field of 7,000. Sarah Lomas knocked 10min off her personal best in 1-30-15 finished 5th lady and 331st. Joanna even after no training for 3 weeks what with her wedding and Honeymoon ran a personal best knocking off 2 minutes to record 1-39-15 and 65th lady. Meanwhile Brian had run an excellent race for a personal best in his age category 1-29-32. Sue Holland helped pace Ron Wilkinson round for a personal best and like me he knocked 8 minutes off his time.
I would recommend this event if you want to experience a well organised race. For me it was a terrific weekend and the success we had was the icing on the cake. We all met up later for that well earned drink a little weary but well worth it for the effort we put into the race.