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:
https://www.facebook.com/paulhanleyphotos/
https://paulhanleyphotos.com/

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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.https://www.facebook.com/deano2019/ )  (https://richiedeanephotography.com/?fbclid=IwAR2M40IcUspF3IWhjMDGBILPhvX9SV8XpKzz9cgOr1xJCPgTKANV0gzZRvg)

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Striders line up for Cross Country opener at Beacon Park

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Katie Taggart and Pete Medlicott in Brooklyn

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David Wilson leads the way for the men


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


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Ian Chisnall fends off a Penny Lane rival


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Kevin Cairns enjoying his Cross Country debut


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Strider Trio enjoying the mud


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Janet Holmes traversing the mudbath


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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.  

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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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