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.

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

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

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

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

Wilmslow 10K photos courtesy of Mick Hall Photos:

https://www.mickhall-photos.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mickhallphotos/

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


It was a proud weekend for St. Helens Striders as the supremely talented Rachael Fairclough donned the England vest after being selected to represent her country in the British Masters Home Nations Cross Country fixture at Aintree. Competing against the best Masters athletes across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire, Fairclough produced a sensational performance to finish first English woman in the V35 category and 30th overall in the event at Aintree Racecourse.

There were PBs galore at the Preston Harriers 10 Mile Race – an event that draws runners from far and wide as the race incorporates the Northern 10 Mile Championship. Kelly Hamilton, despite only entering at the last minute, continued her outstanding year as she sliced a huge four minutes from her previous best, clocking an excellent 1:06:17 to finish 11th lady overall.
The determined Kylie Barlow was another to set a new PB of 1:12:56 with an excellent run, with sister Siân Walsh following suit to make it a great day for the family, knocking two minutes off her PB in 1:24:22.
In their seemingly endless streak of new bests, Gary Eccleston (1:19:53) and Nicola Donovan (1:27:55) once again set new marks at the 10 mile distance.

At the 13 Arches Trail Half Marathon in Radcliffe, Striders battled wintry conditions and a tough 13.1 mile course. First Strider home was Karl Bowles, who made light of the conditions to finish in 1:32 and 36th place overall. Trail specialist Kevin Brennan was next to cross the line in 1:34 for 46th place. Eric Ranson ran well in 1:40, while the sole female Strider, Ann Johnson, battled in powerful fashion up the final hill to clock an impressive 1:54.

Two Striders headed to Blackburn to compete in the inaugural Blackburn 10K. Katie Taggart continued her great year with a strong finishing 54 mins on the undsulating course, while veteran Brian Middleton’s 43:17 was enough to secure him victory in the V65 category. His excellent time would also have been enough to win the V60 category. As ever, Middleton continues to show the younger athletes a clean pair of heels.

Hills were the order of the day too in Conwy, as Danny Fegan competed in the picturesque Welsh town’s half marathon and finished in a superb 1:37, while Pete Medlicott chased him home in 1:43.   

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Fairclough powers across the course at Aintree

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Fairclough ready for her England debut.

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Striders assemble for 13 Arches Half Marathon in Radcliffe

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Striders ready for the Preston 10 Mile Race.

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Katie Taggart shows off her medal in Blackburn.

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Crehan and Gawthorne Victorious at Strider Trail 5

Sunday saw the St. Helens Striders 5 Mile Trail Race return for it’s 4th instalment on a bright autumn morning down at Sankey Valley. Despite the perfect weather on the day, heavy rain in the days leading up to the event made for tricky underfoot conditions.

St. Helens Sutton A.C.’s Matthew Crehan once again showed his class to claim a 3rd victory in the race. Establishing a big lead from the off, his rivals were unable to come close as he stormed home in 28:43. It was a 1-2 for Sutton as Charlie Roberts was next to cross the line in 30:33. It was only Thomas Dempsey of Kirkby Milers who prevented a total Sutton domination of the podium with a fast finishing 31:41 to claim 3rd in front of David Twigg.

In the ladies’ race, last year’s champion returned to defend her title. Lisa Gawthorne of Liverpool Pembroke and Sefton Harriers made light work of the mud to dominate the race and once again claim victory in an impressive 36:44. Liz Whitfield of Warrington’s Spectrum Striders earned a hard fought 2nd place in 38:52, with Jennifer Brady of Liverpool Running Bugs claiming 3rd.

There was further success in the age group categories for Sutton as Chris Birkett claimed the V40 prize sfter finishing in 6th place overall and Chris Reid bagging the V55 win to cap a great day for the club. Other winners included Robert Hough (V45) and Alan Brady (V65)of Spectrum Striders , Christopher Lee of Liverpool Running Bugs (V50) and Anthony Beyga of Kirkby Milers (V60).

For the ladies, Pat Helsby of Kirkby Milers produced a sensational performance to finish first in the V60 race, ahead of the winners of other younger age categories. Kate Johnson of Spectrum Striders earned the V45 prize, with clubmate Eleanor Roberts claiming the V50 win. Other winners were Tracey Carr of Liverpool Running Bugs (V55) and Cath Boland of time2run (V65).

With members of St.Helens Striders employed in organising and marshalling the race, there was the chance for one lucky Strider to win a golden ticket entry to the race through a club raffle which raised £174 for the St. Helens Young Carers Charity. Mark Hamilton was the winner, and was cheered on enthusiastically by his teammates out on the course to finish in 51st place overall.

Fast start at the Strider Trail 5 Mile Race
Matthew Crehan out of sight of his rivals.
Ladies champion Lisa Gawthorne on her way to victory.
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