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35 years of running

Founded in 1984 we've been at the heart of running in St. Helens for over 3 decades

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Home of the Strider Trail 5

Fast becoming one of the go to trail races for the local running scene. Read more

Striders Overcome Epic Trail Challenges

A number of St. Helens Striders faced epic challenges over the weekend, made even more difficult by the soaring temperatures of a British July heatwave.

Kevin Brennan, Striders’ Ultra King, headed to the Lake District to tackle the Lakeland 50 Mile race – the fourth time he has competed in the gruelling event. The vertiginous hills and oppressive heat proved no match for Brennan’s dogged determination as he sailed around the course in a superb 11:16:22.

Anthony Ellis and John Williams travelled to Derbyshire to take part in the annual Thunder Run – an event which requires relay teams to run continuous 10K trail loops for 24 hours. Ellis and Williams were forced to recruit a team member after a late drop out. Mike Gittins, who is not a regular runner, answered the SOS call and helped them to cover a mammoth 150km over the course of the day and night.

Closer to home, some of Striders’ veterans once again brought home the spoils from the Aintree 5K, held at the world famous home of the Grand National. John Barr (22:24) and Brenda Cahill (23:55) both set new Personal Bests as they passed the winning post ahead of all their rivals to claim victory in their age categories. Sharon Swift also cantered to a new PB of 23:14, to claim 2nd place in her age category. The going was good for a number of other Striders. Katie Taggart’s run of PBs continued as she stormed the final furlong to finish in 24:33, with Martin Farrar only a short head behind in 24:41. Dean Thackeray was the final Strider to earn a PB with an excellent 23:36, while Lesley McGrail continued her rapid improvement with a strong finishing 28:26.

Performance of the day came from the lone Strider in the Half Marathon at the same Aintree event. Shaun Phoenix covered the 13.1 miles in a blistering time of 1:19 to finish in 9th place overall in a strong field.

On the day that St. Helens’ beloved Parkrun returned to Victoria Park after an 18 month hiatus, the popular Peter Teeling reached an astonishing personal milestone as he completed his 250th Parkrun.

Kevin Brennan still looking fresh after 50 miles of hills.

Thunder Runners Anthony Ellis, John Williams and Mike Gittins.

Smiling Striders celebrate their successful day at the races.

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Striders Soak Up the Sun in Southport

Striders Soak Up the Sun in Southport
A large contingent of Striders enjoyed a trip to the coast on Sunday to take part in the ever popular Southport Half Marathon. With suncream applied in advance of the forecast warm conditions, they stepped into the fresh and glittering seaside air ready to take on the 13.1 mile course.

On a rare outing on the roads, resident mountain goat Kevin Brennan was first Strider to cross the line in an outstanding 1:26, claiming the club V50 age group record in the process.

First female to finish for Striders was Hannah Whittaker in 1:35. Despite a long absence from racing, Whittaker acquitted herself superbly and will no doubt soon be back to her best, challenging for podium places.

Age category success was secured for Tony Dagnall, beating every one his V65 rivals on his way to an excellent 1:43, while John Barr’s 1:46 was enough to secure 2nd place in the V70 category.

There was a new milestone at the half marathon distance for Katie Taggart. Her 1:54 was her fastest 13.1 miles since 2015, and she was supported in her tremendous performance by good friend and training partner, Pete Medlicott, who ran alongside her every step of the way.

Darren Eckersley produced one of the performances of the day, obliterating his previous PB by five minutes, as he raced to an impressive 1:31.

A day of firsts saw Jackie Ellis complete her maiden half marathon, and clocking a 2:25 finish, while Ian Burt was overjoyed to achieve his first sub-two hour time in 1:58. The Ellis family was also represented by Anthony Ellis, who stormed to a 1:35 finish.

There were excellent performances also from Brenda Cahill in 2:00 and Jo Herriott in 2:11.

Husband and wife duo Gareth and Michele Davies also made the trip, with Gareth blazing to a 1:34 in the half marathon, while Michele completed the 10K event in 1:01.

For many of the Striders athletes, the Southport Half Marathon was the first race of the legendary Tour of Merseyside: a gruelling series of 6 races over 7 days totalling 52 miles. So after the race it was time to shake the sand from the running shoes and begin to prepare for the next day’s 6 mile race on the Wirral.

Anthony and Jackie Ellis await the start of the half marathon.

Anthony and Jackie Ellis await the start of the half marathon.

Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott show off their medals

Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott show off their medals.

Darren Eckersley showboats on his way to a five minute PB.

Darren Eckersley showboats on his way to a five minute PB.

Jo Herriott enjoying every step of the race.

Jo Herriott enjoying every step of the race.

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Brennan and Flaherty Conquer The Fells

Kevin Brennan was delighted to be able to make his return to racing on his favourite stamping ground, the Lake District, for the Fairfield Horseshoe Fell Race. Brennan certainly didn’t choose to ease himself gently back into the racing groove, as the race takes in over 3000 feet of ascent over its 10 mile course. Nevertheless, he put in an excellent performance to complete the demanding course in 2:06.

Colette Flaherty also headed for the hills to face an epic ultramarathon in Otley, Yorkshire. Collette covered the gruelling 35 mile course in just over 8 hours, climbing over 4000 ft in the process – an even more impressive feat given Flaherty’s disrupted training schedule over the last couple of months.

Striders headed en masse to the outskirts of Manchester to compete in the Heaton Park 5K event. It was a successful day for Jo Herriot who finished in 1st place in the V40 category in a superb time of 27:36. Gareth Davies was competing in his first race at the distance, and his training paid off as he crossed the line in 22:05 to place 3rd in his age category. There were further excellent performances in the race from John Barr (23:45), Brenda Cahill (24:59), Jason Mather (27:12) and Jo Moss (31:07)

Kevin Brennan enjoyed the stunning views of the Lake District fells.
Striders show off their medals at Heaton Park
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Chadwick Claims Club Marathon Record

St. Helens Striders athletes made a long awaited return to competitive action at the weekend after another Covid-enforced hiatus.

And there was no gentle easing into the racing scene for three Striders. They travelled to the Cheshire Elite Marathon and Half Marathon event, lining up against both national and international talent, many of whom were aiming to achieve Olympic qualifying times.

There was an outstanding performance from Tom Chadwick in the marathon, as he broke yet another St. Helens Striders club record in a superb time of 2:38:17 in only his second attempt at the 26.2 mile distance.

Not to be outdone, the ladies also excelled in distinguished company in the half marathon. Rachael Fairclough set a new V35 club record as she crossed the line in 1:29:16 – surely the first in a clean sweep of the club records in her new age category. Kelly Hamilton also had a successful trip as she posted a new PB in 1:30:11.

An army of Striders converged on Tatton Park for their annual half marathon race. For a number of athletes, it was a first attempt at the 13.1 mile distance. Gareth Davies and Jo Herriott did themselves proud finishing in 1:42 and 2:03 respectively. Both have set marks that they will undoubtedly be striving to surpass in the very near future.

There was success for Striders’ more experienced half marathon competitors. Sharon Swift and Brenda Cahill both set new personal bests, with Cahill once again taking her customary place as victor in her age category. There were also excellent performances from Kieran Allen (1:28) and James Owens (1:33) to cap an excellent day for the club. Greg Hale was the Striders’ sole representative in the day’s 10K race, and was rewarded with a PB in a blistering time of 34:40.

At the Mid Cheshire 5K, Mark Riley stormed to a new PB in 17:57, while Rebecca McKenna’s dedicated training paid off with an outstanding 25:27.

Tom Chadwick on his way to the marathon club record.

Rachael Fairclough and Kelly Hamilton at the Cheshire Elite Half Marathon

Greg Hale powers to a new PB at Tatton Park 10K

Jo Herriott all smiles in her first half marathon at Tatton Park

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Striders Ladies Tri New Challenges

Recent weeks saw two of Striders’ most successful ladies take on the challenge of triathlon. Kelly Hamilton travelled to Ellesmere to take on the Shropshire Sprint Triathlon. Despite entering the event on a whim only two weeks before, having never swam in open water and having to beg, steal and borrow some equipment from friends, she delighted her supporters with an excellent 16th place finish overall.

Hannah Whittaker also tried her hand at triathlon for the first time at the North West Super Sprint Triathlon in Whitchurch. It was another successful outing as Whittaker produced a fantastic display to finish in 13th place overall, and 3rd in her age category.

After tasting success in the Virtual Tour of Skiddaw recently, Kevin Brennan was finally able to travel to the Lake District to compete in the Ambleside 60km Trail Ultramarathon. Brennan negotiated the typical Lakeland terrain of epic climbs, muddy fells and kamikaze descents to complete the course in just over eight hours (8:12:30). Brennan’s efforts were enough to see him secure 25th place and 2nd in the V50 age category.

Kevin Brennan masters the trails at Ambleside 60K Ultramarathon
Kevin Brennan masters the trails at Ambleside 60K Ultramarathon

Capesthorne Hall was the idyllic location for the Cheshire Half Marathon and a trio of Striders made the trip. Andy Noden displayed no signs of race rustiness as he powered to a new PB of 1:29. Not to be outdone, Anita Hall also posted a new best over the 13.1 mile distance as she broke the elusive two hour mark with inches to spare, crossing the line in 1:59:56. The evergreen John Barr and Sharon Swift also enjoyed their morning in the late summer sunshine, stopping the clock together in 2:03.

John Barr and Sharon Swift all smiles at the Cheshire Half Marathon
John Barr and Sharon Swift all smiles at the Cheshire Half Marathon

At the Chase the Sun 10K at Tatton Park, competitors ‘race, race against the dying of the light’, aiming to complete the course before sundown. As shadows lengthened, Pete Medlicott was first Strider home in an excellent time of 43:40. Dean Thackray was next to cross the line in 47:33, while Gareth Davies completed a good night for Striders finishing in 54:30.

Pete Medlicott Chases the Sun at Tatton Park
Pete Medlicott Chases the Sun at Tatton Park
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Chadwick Smashes Strider Record

After a summer of separation, St. Helens Striders were finally able to come back together both in training and in competition as the first tentative steps to normality were taken with a small smattering of races taking place.
The new normal means that many races are not exactly as before, with socially distanced, staggered starts. For many Striders, any form of racing is welcome after an interminable hiatus to put their lockdown training to the test.

At the Mid-Cheshire 5K on Friday evening, an outstanding field assembled aiming for fast times on the notoriously speedy course. And Tom Chadwick produced an extraordinary performance to obliterate the all time Striders 5k record in a blistering 15:47 and set the standard for all to follow. His time knocked thirteen seconds off the previous record which had stood untroubled for over two years.

Mark Riley also had a night to remember, clocking a time of 17:58 to equal his own personal best at the distance. With this race under his belt, he stands in good stead to improve on that time during the rest of the season.

There was further success for Striders in a virtual event of the type that has become part of the COVID-19 zeitgeist. Resident mountain goat and king of the trails, Kevin Brennan, took part in the Virtual Grand Tour of Skiddaw. As the event could not take place as planned, entrants were invited to cover the 44 mountainous miles over five stages. Brennan, using his local lump in Billinge as a substitute for the peaks of The Lake District, was crowned the winner with a superb time of 5:42:55 across the five stages. Brennan now turns his attention to the Ambleside 60km Ultramarathon in a couple of weeks’ time where he will compete under more traditional race conditions.

Words: Kane Green

Pictures Courtesy of Mick Hall Photos

Tom Chadwick on his way to a Strider record
Mark Riley equals his PB
Tom Chadwick’s grimace at the finish line soon turned into a smile.
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Striders Ladies Earn Merseyside Bronze

Striders Ladies Earn Merseyside Bronze

Last Saturday saw the annual Merseyside Cross Country Championships held at Stadt Moers Park and Striders took strong teams to the event to compete against the county’s finest off-road racers.

Once again it was the ladies who flew the flag for the club finishing in 3rd place in the team event. A superb performance from Rachael Fairclough saw her conquer the 8km of mud and hills to finish first Strider in 8th place overall, closely followed by great friend and training partner Kelly Hamilton in 11th place. Next home for Striders was the ever consistent Hannah Whittaker in 13th and final counter for the team standings was the in-form Kylie Maguire in 20th place. The fearsome foursome finishing in the top 20 earned them the well deserved bronze medal. It was a great showing from the ladies who go from strength to strength both on and off road. Striders were also well represented with excellent performances from Rachael Wilcock, Kerry Riley, Jo Herriot and Gemma Aden.

For the men, Peter Fairclough once again confirmed his position as Striders’ cross country talisman, as he powered around the 12km course to finish in an impressive 14th overall in an extremely talented field. Next Strider home was Kane Green, finishing strongly to take 26th place. Mark Riley ran strongly to finish just inside the top 50 with Kieran Allen hot on his heels in 52nd. James Owens and Phil Lawrenson were the final scorers for the men’s team, who finished in a highly creditable 6th place in the team competition. Andrew Lawrenson and Tony Dagnall once again performed well to complete a great day for the club.

The Central Lancashire Half Marathon provided a fantastic start to the year for a number of Striders who achieved new personal bests at the race. Sharon O’Connell knocked an extraordinary six minutes of her previous best to finish in 1:49, while the ageless John Barr continued to defy the years with a superb 1:47 PB. Retirement is certainly having a positive affect on Barr’s athletic prowess.

A pair of Striders jetted to Disneyworld in Florida to take on a unique marathon experience. The 26.2 mile course took in many of Florida’s world famous tourist attractions. John Williams produced an outstanding display in the extremely warm conditions to finish in a superb 3:24, while Darren Eckersley battled a painful foot throughout the second half of the race to cross the line in 3:46.

At the Ribble Valley 10K a week earlier, Kerry Riley ended the year by slicing over a minute off her previous best, with husband Mark Riley and Peter Fairclough also running strongly to finish just outside their own personal bests.

Striders Senorita Carol Foster completed an age category victory double, beating all her rivals at the both the San Javier 5k and Balsicas 5k in Murcia, Spain.

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Striders’ Ladies Victorious at Arrowe Park

Sunday saw the third fixture in the North West Cross Country League at Arrowe Park in Birkenhead. It was the usual cocktail of blood, mud and thunder but it was a great day for Striders as the all-conquering ladies’ team once again emerged with the spoils in the team competition.
Cross Country star Rachael Fairclough led the way for the team with another powerful performance to finish 3rd overall. Kelly Hamilton finished strongly to take 5th place – the line coming just too soon to overhaul the 4th placed runner. Final counter for the team was Hannah Whittaker in 7th place to secure the team victory for the ladies.

In the men’s race, Striders performed creditably for 6th place in the team standings. A masterclass in pacing from Peter Fairclough saw him reel in and overtake a number of tiring rivals in the second half of the race to finish in 8th place overall. Next home was Kane Green, sprinting past four athletes in the final straight to claim a 21st place finish. Mark Riley was the third Strider home in 63rd place overall. Other counters for the team were Kieran Allen (78th), Eric Ranson (84th) and Anthony Ellis (88th).

Recent New Strider of the Year, John Barr, reached a personal landmark on Saturday in completing his 250th Parkrun at Victoria Park. Well known to many in the town’s running community, Barr is a part of the furniture at the weekly event. He is often found in the pacing team to selflessly help other runners hit their own personal targets and encourage them to Personal Bests.

Earlier in the week Eric Ranson took on the Longridge 7 Mile Christmas Pudding Run. The race saw athletes tackle a gruelling ascent for 4.5 miles, before carreering downhill for the 2.5 miles to the finish. Ranson finished 47th overall in 51:56 and was rewarded for his efforts with a Christmas pudding which will no doubt stay indefinitely in the back of his kitchen cupboard.
Photos courtesy of Paul Hanley Photos:

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Hamilton Sweeps the Board at Striders’ Presentation Day

Hamilton Sweeps the Board at Striders’ Presentation Day

The last turn of the calendar traditionally brings great excitement for St. Helens Striders with the Christmas Party followed by the chance to celebrate members’ athletic achievements at the annual presentation afternoon.

Big winner of the day was Kelly Hamilton who was voted Strider of the Year by her fellow members for a second consecutive year. The award was testament to Hamilton’s unwavering support of her clubmates alongside her own outstanding achievements. Hamilton’s success didn’t end there – she scooped the Striders Grand Prix title for the fastest combined time over the Half Marathon, 10 Miles, 10K and 5 Mile distances.

The Grand Prix competition for the men saw Chris Hazeldine claim the title as the runaway winner. With consistently outstanding performances across the year, the result was never in doubt. In the age graded awards, to celebrate the best performances adjusted for age, Brian Middleton and Brenda Cahill were crowned champions.

The Mini Grand Prix was a hard fought competition, with Striders battling it out to record the fastest combined time over the 5k, 5 Mile, and 10k distances. For the women, pocket dynamo Wendy Davies claimed the prize, while Kane Green was victorious for the men.

The ‘New Strider of the Year’ award gives members a one-off chance to bag the trophy, before joining the grizzled ranks of Strider stalwarts. 2019’s well deserved winner was the veteran John Barr, who has thrown himself with gusto into the club’s activities, and claimed the prize to rapturous applause.

The popular Striders Handicaps, organised by club legend Frank McAllister, sees Striders take part in races with members setting off at intervals based on their fastest times. Peter Teeling and Sharron Burt were rewarded for their victories in the Summer Handicap, while Tony Dagnall and Brenda Cahill received their trophies for their recent Christmas handicap wins.

The awards for ‘Most Improved’ also saw popular winners. Gary Eccleston, seemingly beating his PBs on a weekly basis of late, and Lisa Glover, for her meteoric improvement at Parkrun over the year where the worthy winners.

there were three awards for ‘Photo of the Year’ and winners Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott, Jo Herriot, and Eric Ranson received a mug with their winning photos emblazoned on it.

Last, and certainly not least, the Jim Crehan Award for Outstanding Contribution was handed to Brian Middleton for his exceptional work behind the scenes to improve and promote the club, alongside his decades of athletic success with Striders.

A day earlier, a trio of Striders headed into Lancashire to take on the Wesham 10K. In dazzling winter sunshine, David Wilson hurtled through the fresh and glittering air to race to a fantastic new PB of 34:30 and a 7th place finish. Not to be outdone, the rapidly imoroving Dylan Redican secured an outstanding new PB of 36:32 to finish in 12th place overall. Emma Callery, in the form of her life, completed a hat-trick of new bests as she powered home in 43:36 to complete a successful morning for the club.

At the Myerscroft 10 mile, Brian Middleton once again performed superbly to cross the line in 1:09 – a time that a man half his age would be proud of. It was yet another V65 category victory for Middleton, who continues to show the younger athletes a clean pair of heels.

Katie Taggart ended the year in style at the Oulton Park Half Marathon. Motoring around the course more renowned for high powered cars than neon clad runners, Taggart ran her fastes time in more than 3 years at the distance, taking the chequered flag in 1:57.  

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A high class field of athletes from across the country assembled at the Wilmslow 10K on Sunday aiming for strong performances on the notoriously fast course and a small group of Striders travelled down to compete. Perfect conditions made for an ideal tilt at a good time. First Strider home was Kane Green, getting closer to his best after a summer plagued by injury, in 35:25. Kelly Hamilton ran superbly to finish agonisingly close to her PB in 39:46, finishing in the top 10 ladies in the process. Producing a season’s best at the distance, Anthony Ellis finished strongly to cross the line in 41:58. Despite entering at the last minute, the determined Wendy Davies showed her talent with an excellent 47:05.

Conditions were somewhat different closer to home at the Festive Flash Five Mile Race at Pennington Flash. The recent inclement weather made for muddy trails and uneven surfaces at the popular local event. Hannah Whittaker returned to the scene of her victory in the summer renewal of this event after a recent return to action following an autumn beset by injury. She put in an excellent display to finish 3rd lady in 35:32. Kylie Barlow chased her all the way and delighted her friends and family with a highly creditable 4th place finish in 36:33. Third Strider back for the women was Ann Johnson, who splashed through the slutch to post 41:06 for an impressive top 10 finish. there were other notable performances from the female Striders. Amanda Coogan laid some demons to rest as she tackled the challenging terrain and coming through unscathed after a recent broken ankle in 51:32. Sharon O’Connell made light of the mire with a fleet footed 41:40 while mudlark Karen Harrison was as happy as the proverbial pig as she crossed the line in 54:45.

For the men, king of the trails Kevin Brennan was first Strider to finish in 5th place, clocking a rapid 33:10 with Eric Ranson close behind in 34:30 for 7th place overall. Third to finish for Striders was Aaron ‘Guardiola’ Scott, upping his game as his long-suffering wife Claire and their tribe of angelic children cheered him on from their marshalling positions.

On Saturday, the British Athletics Cross Country Challenge took place at Sefton Park in Liverpool. The event forms the qualifying trial for the European Cross Country Championships, so some of Britain’s top athletes converged on the city to earn their places in the prestigious event. Rachael Fairclough continued her excellent cross country season to finish in 90th place overall – a superb achievement competing against the best the UK has to offer. Peter Fairclough and Mark Riley also travelled to the event and put in their customary excellent performances.

Wilmslow 10K photos courtesy of Mick Hall Photos:

Striders ready to tackle the mud at the Festive Flash Five at Pennington.
Kelly Hamilton storms to tenth place in Wilmslow.
Kane Green battles a rival at Wilmslow.
Wendy Davies glides towards the finish at Wilmslow.
Rachael Fairclough battles Britain’s best at the Cross Challenge.
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