Striders Take on Iconic London Marathon

It has been a busy few weeks for St. Helens Striders as marathon season finally got under way. After a delay of almost eighteen months due to Covid-19 restrictions, the iconic London Marathon saw legions of runners descend on the capital and Striders were well represented amongst the hordes.

First Strider to stride past Buckingham Palace and cross the line at the end of the epic 26.2 mile distance was Greg Hale with an astonishing time of 2:44. Ironman Richard Seville temporarily discarded the wetsuit and bike to focus solely on running and was rewarded by breaking the elusive sub-3 hour barrier with an outstanding 2:57.

Veterans Tony Dagnall and Brenda Cahill produced their customary excellent performances to finish in 3:45 and 3:57, securing their places in next year’s race through Good For Age qualifying times. It was also a well-deserved PB for Dagnall and a V65 club record.

A week later, it was Manchester’s turn to host their mass participation marathon. The flat course attracts PB hunters from far and wide. In his first attempt at the distance, Dylan Redican was the first Strider to complete the course in 3:03, a superb debut which will no doubt lay the foundations for a sub-3 hour marathon in the near future.

Gareth Davies produced a gutsy performance after battling injury throughout the build up to clock 3:41. Garry Humphreys ran strongly to dip under the four hour mark in 3:58 with Sharon Swift close behind in 4:00. Newly-elected club chairman Mark Hamilton, also taking part in his first marathon, finished in an impressive 4:13.

Lesley McGrail, Alex Abbott and Angela Cropper put in impressive performances, while John Barr showed tremendous courage to complete the 26.2 miles despite suffering injury and having to hobble through the final stages.

The world’s biggest half marathon, The Great North Run, took place in Newcastle a couple of weeks earlier. Brenda Cahill once again excelled, finishing third in her age category in 1:47. Karen Harrison also took to the north east streets with a creditable 2:34.

Busiest of all the Striders this month was the irrepressible Kevin Brennan, tasting age category victories in back to back races. Brennan decimated his age group contemporaries in the Liverpool Skyline 10 Mile Race and the Mersey Tunnel 10K in consecutive weeks, securing top ten overall finishes in both events. To top it off, Brennan produced another superb effort to complete the Chester Marathon in 3:10.
Brennan was not the only Strider in Chester. John Barr and Brenda Cahill both ran in the half marathon event on the same day. Barr finished 2nd in his age category in a new PB of 1:45, while Brenda Cahill was not to be outdone as she also beat all but one of her age group rivals as she crossed the line in 1:47. Martin Farrar ran well to finish in 1:51.

Anthony Ellis took to the hills for the Rivington Trail Half Marathon. With course marking errors causing the race to be a mile and a half longer than advertised on an extremely hilly route, Ellis did superbly to finish in 47th place overall in an impressive time of 2:13.

Elsewhere, Jo Herriot completed the Warrington 10K in a determined 55:01.

Striders celebrate after completing the Manchester Marathon.
Striders celebrate after completing the Manchester Marathon.
Kevin Brennan ends a busy month at the Chester Marathon
Kevin Brennan ends a busy month at the Chester Marathon
John Barr, Brenda Cahill and Martin Farrar in Chester.
John Barr, Brenda Cahill and Martin Farrar in Chester.
Anthony Ellis conquers the Rivington hills.
Anthony Ellis conquers the Rivington hills.
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Hamilton Blazes a Trail to Victory in Wigan

St. Helens Striders made the short trip over Billinge Hill to compete in the Wigan Trail 10k on Sunday. This excellent event, organised by local rivals Wigan Harriers, is always a favourite on the Striders calendar.
On what was a glorious spring morning, Kelly Hamilton produced a sensational performance to emerge victorious in the ladies’ race, in a blistering 40:58. Next to cross the line for the women were sister act, Wendy Davies and Ann Johnson. After battling throughout the race in a great display of sibling rivalry, Davies finished in 48:07 with Johnson hot on her heels just one second behind.

First home for the men was John ‘The Electrician’ Williams. He finished in 31st place overall in a time of 43:00. He was delighted to earn a cash prize as the first finisher for Striders who had most athletes of any club competing in the race. Next was the ever consistent Darren Eckersley in 43:28 (33rd), followed by Andy Shaw in 45:22 (49th). There was another outstanding performance from Frank Cahill who overpowered his age group rivals to secure 1st place in the V60 category.

Back on Merseyside, a team of Striders took part in a charity race hosted by Liverpool Running Bugs. The ‘No More Knives’ 5 Mile Race at Stadt Moers Park in Knowsley. The event raised a huge amount of money for the charity set up in the wake of the tragic murder of Adam Ellison in 2017. Hannah Whittaker finished in 2nd place in the ladies’ race with close friend and training partner Lisa Cheers close behind in 3rd. Kevin Outten performed admirably to finish in 8th place overall.

Anita Hall headed to Cheshire to take on the formidable Sandstone Trail Challenge. She competed the epic 33 mile course in an impressive 8 hours.

In Preston, the tireless Brian Davies was the lone Strider at the Blacksticks 10k and produced yet another solid performance, finishing in 58:37.  

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Sisters Wendy Davies and Ann Johnson cross the line seconds apart
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Kelly Hamilton on her way to victory at Wigan Trail 10K
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Kevin Cairns powers towards the finish line in Wigan.
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Sharon O’Connell all smiles in the Wigan sunshine.
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Striders line up ahead of the Wigan Trail 10K
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Jenny Martin running strong at Wigan Trail 10K
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Kelly Hamilton with her winner’s trophy.
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Striders take on the London Marathon

All eyes were on the capital on Sunday for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon. At one of the world’s iconic sporting events, St. Helens Striders had a strong team of runners primed for the challenge.

In front of tens of thousands lining the streets and a worldwide audience of millions, Daniel Cheetham was the first Strider to finish in a fantastic 2:58, breaking the magical three hour barrier once again.

David Wilson was next home, finishing in 3:16. It was a disappointment for Wilson, who was well on course for a new club record but was stricken with injury around the halfway point. His still impressive finishing time was testament to his boundless grit and determination.Scott Barlow, in his debut marathon, performed tremendously to finish in 3:39 while trail enthusiast David Brisco completed his first and last road marathon in 4:03; a solid effort after having his preparation hampered by illness and injury. Another first-timer, Dave Lynch, crossed the line in 4:56.The ever-popular Mike Brunt also delighted his friends and followers as he conquered the course in 5:47.

It’s been said the course of true love never did run smooth, but Colin Wilson and Jane Marshall proved the Bard of Avon wrong as the lovebirds trained together for the Shakespeare Marathon and Half Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon. Their training was a great success as Wilson secured a huge PB finishing in 3:53 – an astounding 23 minutes faster than his previous best. Marshall was not to be outdone, and she also achieved a PB of 1:58 in the half marathon, a 6 minute improvement on her previous best mark.

Mark and Brenda Carrier travelled to the sunny island of Mallorca. Mark completed the Magaluf Half Marathon in 1:56 in the oppressive heat, while his beloved wife Brenda was equally impressive, finishing the 10k in 1:05. Over on the Spanish mainland, Lynda Butchard put the disappointment of missing the Greater Manchester Marathon behind her. She blazed a trail through the Spanish capital of Madrid, completing the city’s half marathon in 2:34.

Earlier in the week, a trio of Striders took part in the Mid-Cheshire 5k. The fast, flat course attracts a quality field of athletes from across the country. Kelly Hamilton finished in a blistering 19:26, with devoted husband Mark following closely in 22:03. Kerry Riley also completed the course in 25:10.

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Lynda Butchard at the finish line in Madrid.
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Mark and Brenda Carrier show off their medals in Magaluf
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Jane Marshall celebrates PB at the Shakespeare Half Marathon
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Colin Wilson recovers after his marathon PB
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David Brisco and Mike Brunt ahead of the London Marathon
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Kerry Riley, Kelly and Mark Hamilton at the Mid-Cheshire 5k

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A blazing hot Easter Sunday morning saw one of the most eagerly awaited races in the calendar as a host of disciples from Striders travelled to the Hale Village 5 Mile Race.

First Strider home was Kane Green, who overcame the sweltering heat to finish 8th overall in an impressive 28:54.

In a delightful moment, the formidable Rachel Fairclough was next, finishing 4th lady in 32:57 with her devoted husband Peter Fairclough seconds behind while pushing their adorable son Sam across the line in his buggy. The next generation of Striders are already experiencing the racing bug.

Next home was Kelly Hamilton who finished in 33:15, producing a sensational sprint finish to outrun a close rival and snatch 5th lady metres from the finish line.

3rd Male across the line was Eric Ranson, in 33:03 and 43rd overall. Hannah Whittaker was 3rd female Strider and 11th lady overall in 34:41 despite being hindered by an early stumble.

Egged on by the bumper Easter crowd, a number of Striders’ ladies achieved new personal bests. Sharon Swift, living up to her name, delighted her followers as she crossed the line in 41:47, with Jackie Ellis also producing a great performance to lower he previous best in 46:50. It was an extraordinary effort from Ellis who obliterated her previous record by almost ten minutes. The inspirational Pauline Horsfall continued her outstanding year as she once again claimed first prize in the FV60 category with a magnificent 36:59.

Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the men also collected an Easter basketful of lifetime bests. Grizzled veteran Tony Dagnall sprang around the course like a new born lamb to finish in a superb 35:38, while Mark Fillingham’s dedicated training schedule paid off as he secured a new best mark of 40:25. Smiling assassin Nigel Herbert also continued his rapid recent improvement with an excellent PB of 46:38.

Other notable performances came from Cherryl Orrick, Chris Reid (35:03), Peter Teeling (38:08), Peter ‘Boomer’ Bennett (40:59) and the evergreen Frank Cahill who finished 2nd in the V60 category in a superb PB of 34:34.

Good Friday saw three Striders take on the Calder Vale Country 10 Mile Race. The intrepid trio faced daunting climbs reminiscent of another infamous Good Friday climb up Golgotha. This proved no problem for Brian Middleton as he performed doggedly to claim 1st Place in the V60 category. Eric Ranson and Rebecca Mckenna also conquered the challenge to more than earn their Easter Eggs.

On Saturday, Striders’ very own superwoman, Collette Flaherty, conquered the gruelling Liverpool to Manchester Ultramarathon. She defied the heat and the seemingly endless 50 mile course to finish in impressive style.

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Nigel Herbert all smiles on his way to a 5 mile PB at Hale
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Colette Flaherty after running the 50 Mile L2M Ultramarathon
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Huge team of Striders ready to take on the Hale Village 5 Mile on Easter Sunday

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First Strider Kane Green does battle with eventual female winner Elizabeth Renondeau
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Brian Middleton, Rebecca McKenna and Eric Ranson at the Calverdale 10 Mile
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Team Fairclough and Kelly Hamilton battle the heat at Hale
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Striders take on Hawkshead challenge

A team of St. Helens Striders athletes travelled north to the shores of Lake Windermere to take on the Hawkshead Lakeland Trail Challenge. And a challenge it truly was, with one notorious climb known as The Coffin Trail testing even the most hardened hill runners amongst them.

Kevin Cairns, in his last trail race until the next one , completed the tough 16km circuit in an impressive 1.34. Not far behind was the tireless Pete Medlicott, crossing the line in 1:42. Other hardy souls to conquer the course were devoted spouses Gerry and Andy Shaw; the dynamic duo of Claire Blennerhassett and Rebecca Mckenna; lovebirds Daniel Tetlow and Susan Kerfoot; as well as Paul Carr, Simon Poole and Gary Ward.

Paul Booth was also on his travels as he competed in the Colwyn Bay to Prestatyn Coastal Half Marathon. Despite battling illness, Booth finished in a highly respectable 1:50, securing a top 100 finish in the large field.

Top traveller of the weekend, however, was Ian Spencer. In sunny Mallorca, he completed the Puerto Pollensa 10k in an excellent 58:32.

Closer to home, the Tunnel 10k saw athletes race under the water from Liverpool City centre to New Brighton. First Strider home was the ever dependable Eric Ranson in a time of 41:03. Next came Danny Fegan with a strong finishing 43:14. First lady was Cherryl Orrick, who battled the windy conditions to finish in 50:14. Rachel Tickle was next, followed closely by Debs Hill.

For Sharon O’Connell, there was a trip to the iconic Olympic Park in London for the Chase the Sun 10k. Inspired by the heroics of 2012, she broke the club V45 record in a magnificent 47:07.

A duo of multi-skilled Striders displayed their swimming and cycling pedigree alongside their more established running talents at the Edge Hill Triathlon. The rapidly improving Elaine Porter completed the event in 1:32, with Mike Cox not far behind in 1:40.  

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Gerry Shaw about to climb the Coffin Trail at Hawkshead
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Striders all smiles before the Hawkshead 16k Trail Challenge
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Kevin Cairns on a high at Hawkshead
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Cherryl Orrick and Rachel Tickle complete the Tunnel 10k
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