Striders Take on Tour of Merseyside
As the long anticipated balmy summer evenings finally arrived, a hardened band of Striders took on the gruelling Tour of Merseyside. Comprising a series of six races over seven days across the county, the fabled tour is enough to test the limits of any athlete across it’s 52 miles of road, sand, hill and dale.
The inspirational Rachael Fairclough shone for Striders once again, performing outstandingly in every event. With one stage win and a host of 2nd places, Fairclough finished 2nd lady overall in a barely believable time of 6 hours and 7 minutes for the 52 miles. A remarkable achievement in itself, but even more impressive in juggling her training with her career and looking after young baby, Sam.
There was also success for Claire ‘Scary’ Scott. Despite carrying injury niggles, she finished as the winner in the V45 category in a tremendous total time of 6:53, while the ever-consistent veteran John Barr also tasted success finishing 2nd in his age category in 7:33. Colin Wilson, competing in the tour for the second successive year, sliced a staggering 36 minutes from last year’s total time.
Rewriting the Striders record books throughout the week was Sharon O’Connell. In sensational form of late, O’Connell broke the V50 club records for the 5 mile, 10 mile and half marathon distances in an inspirational display of racing. For Katie Taggart, the tour provided the last few days of running to complete her streak of running at least a mile for a phenomenal 500 consecutive days.
Other great performances in the energy sapping series came from Tony Padmore (6:49), Peter Teeling (7:14) and Anita Hall (8:14). Jo Jackson, Mike Brunt and Rebecca McKenna also displayed the remarkable strength and staying power required to complete the tour and emerged rightfully proud of their efforts. Pete Medlicott also performed admirably throughout the week, and was rewarded for his effort with a 10 mile PB of 1:16 at the Walton Park leg of the tour on Tuesday.
Away from the tour, at the enigmatically monikered Mystery Park in Wavertree, Kane Green was the first Strider home in the Mystery 5K on Tuesday evening. Green continued his return to form after injury with a splendid 8th place in 16:50. Vera Langley also ran superbly to claim a new club V55 club record in 24:14. Her exertions didn’t prevent her from performing impressively the very next evening as she tasted more age category success, finishing 3rd at the Astley Trail Race in 33:35.
On Wednesday evening, a foursome of Striders took on the ladies only Birchwood Forest Park 5K. First past the post was the ever-sprightly Pauline Horsfall, skipping across the line in 22:57. Kerry Riley and Claire Pickavance were engaged in a good-natured battle throughout, with Riley emerging victorious in 25:32, with Pickavance hot on her heels in 25:39. The irrepressible Jo Keogh completed the quartet in 28:44.
There was no let up at the weekend as Sunday saw a big event in the St. Helens calendar – The Griffin Grind 5 Mile Race. Organised by the Isabella Rose Foundation, the event is close to the hearts of many in the town, and Striders were out in force to support the charity. Matthew Crehan of St. Helens Sutton AC was the runaway winner but a procession of Striders followed him home to dominate the top ten. Kane Green repeated last year’s 2nd place in an excellent new 5 mile PB of 28:14. Joining him on the podium was the fast-finishing Daniel Cheetham in 28:49, who was closing the gap with every stride but the line came just in time for Green. Future star Dylan Thomas (not that one!) showed his extraordinary potential with a blistering 29:38 to finish just out of the podium positions in 4th. The bionic man, Ian Chisnall, put in his best performance to date since returning from hip replacement surgery, finishing 7th in an outstanding PB of 31:47. Just outside the top ten was the ever-dependable Eric Ranson in 33:15. There was also a new PB for Darren Eckersley in 34:41, reaping the benefits of choosing a day in work on a Saturday before a race over the lure of a day in the local hostelries and curry houses! Paul Carr (42:41) and Peter ‘Boom’ Bennett also performed well on the undulating course, made more difficult by the warm, humid conditions on the day.
There was yet more success for the outstanding Hannah Whittaker. Racing to a brilliant new PB of 32:46, Whittaker crossed the line in 2nd place to add more silverware to her growing collection. Next came Lisa Glover in an impressive 42:21. In her first outing in the Striders vest, Jo Herriot delighted her friends and family with an excellent 46:02. Christine Humphrey also gave a trong showing with a determined 46:04, while Shelley Townley returned to race for the first time after 9 months out and ran strongly to finish in 49:55. Zoe Fillingham, with husband Peter encouraging her at the finish line after completing the race himself, finished strongly to record a time 42 seconds faster than last year’s attempt.
Anthony Ellis and Martin Ballard travelled to the refined environs of Alderley Edge to take part in the 10K race. After a fiercely contested battle, Ellis emerged victorious over his teammate in 41:59, with Ballard just unable to chase him down as he completed the course in 42:35.
A duo of Striders travelled to Saturday’s Lostock Hall 5K. John Williams, conserving energy for an epic challenge the next day, ran an accomplished 19:56, with travelling companion Cherryl Orrick running powerfully to cross the line in 24:04.
Not content with his 5K exploits on Saturday, John Williams ventured north with Kieran Allen and Andy Shaw to take on the formidable challenge of the Scafell Pike Marathon. The iconic 26.2 mile distance offers a punishing challenge over any course, but scaling the highest peak in England at the mid-way point renders this a challenge way beyond the average marathon.
Williams was the first of the trio home in a dogged 6:34, with Kieran Allen (6:51) and Andy Shaw (8:11) also producing Herculean efforts to traverse the course, featuring a gargantuan 5,000ft of climbing.
David Brisco took time out from running to take part in the Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride in aid of Manchester cancer hospital Christie’s. Brisco pedalled tirelessly in the warm sunshine to complete the ride in around 4 hours, rewarding himself with a stick of Blackpool Rock before heading home.
More about St Helens Striders Running Club
The St Helens Striders Train on a Monday and Wednesday Evening from the Windlehurst Sports Club on Windleshaw Road. The warm up starts at 6:50pm and the prearranged training plans start from 7pm. All Abilities Welcome!