Life Leisure Offerton 5

Report: Steve Shaughnessy -

For years, one of the summer highlight’s in the Greater Manchester area was Stockport Harriers & AC mid-week, evening Offerton 10k road race. Falling participation in the past few years led to a rethink and this year, the road 10k was transformed into a new event, the Life Leisure Offerton 5 (“LLO5”), a 5-mile multi- terrain race. Starting in Woodbank Stadium, the route traversed the tarmac paths of Woodbank and Vernon Parks, before dropping down onto the trails along the scenic Goyt Rover valley before climbing back to the Fred Perry Trail and returning to a track finish.

The relatively firm trail surfaces of early June softened considerably in several sections due to constant rainfall in the 10 days before the event, adding an extra level of challenge for the 217 starters. Stockport Harriers Adam Thompson had just won the Marple Trail 10k three days before and was considered by many to be the pre-race favourite. Harrier Steve Crook who has had some great road performances this season was another contender for the first LLO5 title. It was Thompson who led the crowd out of the stadium and maintained his lead before being overtaken at about mile 3 by Andrew Lamont. Lamont is an unaffiliated former Macc Harrier and a very competitive V40 who recently returned to racing after a two-year break. He was in excellent form and increased his lead by over half a minute over the remaining two miles, with a winning time of 30.35. Thompson was 2nd in 31.16, followed by his clubmate Steve Crook, who finished in 31.38.

Bash the Splash

Women’s winner Alice Davies of Stockport Harriers © Anthony Naulty

The top three women’s places were all captured by the Stockport Harriers women led by Alice Davies. Davies was the women’s winner of the Marple Trail 10k just three days before but didn’t let that effort put her off her stride. The up and coming U17 crossed the line in 35.49, well ahead of Emilia Gajda, who finished second in 37.09. 3rd woman was Jennie Pickard, just 6 seconds behind in 37.15. The first team prizes were also collected by Stockport Harriers men and women teams.

One of the most dramatic incidents of the evening, however, did not involve any of the competitors. Race organisers had arranged for a first-aid cycle responder to be provided by the St John’s Ambulance first-aid team. Just over 24 hours before the race, Club Secretary Alan Dilkes was told that the scheduled cycle responder was unavailable, and they planned to substitute him with a quad-bike responder. Alan was understandably concerned that a quad bike would be unable to access most of the route between miles 3.25 and 4.25 because of trail conditions. The quad-bike responder was instructed to wait by the marshal point just before mile 3 and not proceed further along the route from that point. For reasons best known to himself, the responder decided to advance along the route, even though there was no emergency. About 1/3 a mile along the trail, while crossing a narrow wooden bridge, the bike and rider slid sideways off the end of the bridge. Hanging precariously over the edge of a small ravine, they were unable to move forward onto firm ground. Marshal Edward Corden called for help, and shortly after about a dozen Harriers, including a handful of competitors, assembled at the incident scene to attempt the recovery of the bike. After a half-hour of ingenuity and herculean effort, the rescue team were able to extricate the bike from the edge of the ravine and get it back across the bridge enabling it and the responder to return safely to the Stadium. The Harriers’ teamwork was just as impressive as that shown by the winning SHAC teams in the race! Feedback from many of the competitors to the new race format was very positive in spite of the tricky surface conditions. Club organisers plan to continue with the new route and format next June and with a few minor improvements, ensure that it becomes a worthy successor to the old Offerton 10k.

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