Veteran Striders Prove They Aren’t Over The Hill in Wigan

St. Helens Striders made the short trip over Billinge Hill to compete in the ever popular Wigan 10K event. The race always attracts a huge field and on it’s post-Covid return, after cancellation in 2020, this year was no different.

On a mellow late summer morning Kane Green, slowly but surely returning to form after a string of injuries, was the first Strider home in 36:44 in 15th place overall. Carlos Wilson followed closely behind in an exceptional 38:06, with the ultra-consistent Ant Ellis next in 42:35.

For the ladies, the irrepressible Brenda Cahill added yet another victory in her age category, finishing strongly to clock 49:11. Next lady to storm up the long finishing straight on Market Street was Jo Herriott in 57:25, with Jo Moss (1:03) and Jackie Ellis (1:04) completing the Striders’ ladies quartet.

There was further age group success for John Barr, who set a new PB of 47:17 to once again show his septuagenarian rivals a clean pair of heels. The victory was made sweeter as Barr emerged victorious against his great rival, Wigan Harriers’ own veteran champion, James McGlynn.

Other notable performances came from John Cahill (46:29), Martin Farrar (49:41), Graham Jones (52:34), Jason Mather (53:33) and Dean Thackray (55:22), while David Ellis completed a hat-trick of medals for the Ellis clan as he finished in 58:27.

Striders all smiles at the Wigan 10K finish line.

Kane Green enjoys a well deserved post-race pint with former team-mate Kevin Cairns.

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Hamilton’s Hawkshead Heroics

A team of St. Helens Striders ventured into the Lake District hills for the latest in the Lakeland Trail Race Series at Hawkshead. The 16K event featured gruelling hills, including the forbidding ‘Coffin Trail’, and precarious descents where any loss of concentration could result in calamity. To add a further layer of jeopardy, the day was marked by an incessant torrent of rain that cascaded down the hillsides.


These obstacles were no match for Striders’ Kelly Hamilton as she stormed around the course in an outstanding 1:25 to claim a famous victory. Her performance was all the more remarkable as Hamilton had to recover from a crashing fall on the slippery rocks of the Coffin Trail in the closing stages of the race. Cherryl Orrick also showed her grit and resilience as she fought back from a heavy tumble to finish strongly in 1:54.


First Male home in the race was Kane Green on his return to racing in 1:15 to cross the line in a creditable 8th place overall. There were also excellent performances from Pete Medlicott (1:44) and and Darren Eccles (2:07). Mark Hamilton, husband of race champion Kelly, rounded off a great day for the family with an impressive 1:44 finish, topped off by winning the spot prize raffle at the conclusion of the event.


In the 10K event on the same day, Karen Mason and Libby Eccles tackled the hills together to complete the race in 1:51, followed closely by Janet Holmes in 1:53.


There was another podium finish for Striders at the Chase the Sun 10K at Tatton Park. Competitors at the event fight to reach the finish line before sunset, and Shaun Phoenix had plenty of daylight in hand as he finished 3rd in an outstanding time of 35:58.
At the Oulton Park 10K, Striders stalwart Peter Teeling motored around the track to take the chequered flag in 48:33.


A week earlier, the red rose county of Lancashire was the destination for the ever popular Preston 5 Mile Race, Anthony Ellis was first Strider home in a fantastic 34:18. Hot on his heels, Gareth Davies chased Ellis all the way to clock a time of 34:57. Veterans Tony Dagnall and John Barr once again defied their years with incredible times of 35:37 and 37:44 respectively,V70 category. Sharon Swift was first home for the ladies in 38:17 to continue her seeming never ending list of recent PBs, and Brenda Cahill also lowered her previous best in a time of 39:47 to finish in third place in the FV60 category. There were also great performances from Martin Farrar (39:07), Dean Thackeray (40:06), Jason Mather (43:33), Jo Herriot (44:09), Jo Moss (50:05) and Lesley McGrail (49:37). After Anthony Ellis’ superb performance at the front of the Striders pack, he was able to greet his parents David and Jackie Ellis at the finish line as they finished in 48:09 and 50:58.


Hamilton battles the elements on the way to victory in Hawkshead.
Pete Medlicott enjoying the Hawkshead trails.
Mark Hamilton all smiles at Hawkshead.
Striders assemble to show off their medals in Preston.


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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