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’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 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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Striders Out in Force for Cross Country Opener

For many, autumn conjures images of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. But for St. Helens Striders, it is the season of mud, blood and thunder as the North West Cross Country League makes its return to the weekends.

The first fixture of the season took place under fresh and glittering skies at Beacon Park, Upholland, which were in stark contrast to the quagmire underfoot after a long period of rainy weather. As ever, its places and team points that matter in cross country rather than times, so the strong Striders team set out to face the hills and the mire of the Beacon full of positivity.

First Strider home was the peerless David Wilson, who made light of the brutal course to power the vertiginous final hill to the finish in 12th position overall. Returning from injury, Kane Green ran a careful race in the ankle deep mud to cross the line in 33rd place. Next was the ever consistent Mark Riley to claim 42nd place with Ian Chisnall breathing down his neck the whole way to finish in 45th. Phil Lawrenson and Anthony Ellis both finished inside the top 100 to complete the scoring for the team competition.

For the ladies, Rachael Fairclough was once again the star perfomer as she finished in 3rd place – a great first race as she prepares to represent her country in November. Kylie Barlow produced another excellent display to cross the line in 19th, while Rach Wilcock proved a superb addition to the club in her debut race as a Strider, delighting her new teammates with a 24th place finish. Cutting a dash with her new pink hair, Susan Kerfoot was 4th Strider home, while the unflinching Wendy Davies soldiered on despite a badly cut heel to follow Kerfoot across the line.

A band of Striders diced with death as they took on the unique challenge of the ‘Beat the Reaper’ 10K in Croxteth. First to avoid an untimely end was Eric Ranson, racing around the course to earn a 9th place finish in an impressive 41:30. Graham Jones, in his trademark fluent style, was close behind in 42:19 with Danny Fegan also running strongly in 44:00. Tony Padmore was another to dodge the Reaper’s scythe, completing the course in 46:06.

Performance on the day, however, came from Gerry Shaw who finished 5th in the ladies race with an excellent time of 48:08.

Gary Eccleston and Nicky Donovan travelled to Lytham for the Green Drive 5 Mile Race. The pair continued their recent streak of PBs with Eccleston clocking a fantastic new best of 37:29 and Donovan also securing a new best mark of 42:29

Globetrotters Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott travelled to the east coast of the US for the Brooklyn Marathon. It was an outstanding performance from Taggart, who earned a huge new PB at the iconic 26.2 mile distance as she came home in 4:16. Her remarkable display also gave her 5th place in her age category in a huge field of athletes. Taggart’s great friend Medlicott was with her every step of the way to finish just one second behind.

Cross Country images courtesy of Richie Deane Photography. )  (

Striders line up for Cross Country opener at Beacon Park

Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott in Brooklyn

David Wilson leads the way for the men

Rachael Fairclough skips across the mud on her way to 3rd

Ian Chisnall fends off a Penny Lane rival

Kevin Cairns enjoying his Cross Country debut

Strider Trio enjoying the mud

Janet Holmes traversing the mudbath

Kylie Barlow powers to the finish

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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.  

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

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

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