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