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Andy Shaw, John Williams, Kieran Allen and Darren Eckersley enjoy a hard earned drink.

Striders Rock Liverpool

It was one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the
year as St. Helens Striders flocked to Liverpool to compete in the city’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. The customary sweltering temperatures were not in evidence at this year’s renewal, replaced by swirling winds and driving rain. Undeterred, the red and black vests toed the line in high-spirits, possibly due to having one eye on the club’s traditional post-race ‘rehydration’.

Kevin Outten led the Striders charge in the marathon, completing the tough 26.2 miles in an outstanding time of 3:14, despite struggling with injury in the latter half of the race. Kieran Allen also mastered the course in a tremendous time of 3:33. Next came Philip Lawrenson, powering down the final stretch along the waterfront to finish in 3.36, with Matthew Parmenter following him home in a tenacious 3:41. There was an incredible performance from club stalwart Alex Abbott, who knocked over two hours off his previous best in 4.14, while Andrew Lawrenson (3.47) and Kevin Winstanley (4.38 PB) also performed admirably.

In the half marathon, first Strider home was the tireless John Williams, who goes from strength to strength following a recent calf injury, in 1.33, followed closely by Karl Bowles in 1.34. There was a titanic battle between Darren Eckersley, Andy Shaw and Craig Whittaker, who all clocked 1.36. For Whittaker, it was a new PB, and he was grateful to his devoted wife Hannah for pacing him to his new best mark. Kevin cairns, in his final half marathon, bowed out with an impressive 1:42, while there was a new PB for recent recruit Aaron Scott in a superb 1:48. Wily veteran John Barr also excelled in 1.55. Chasing times was not the order of the day for the terrible trio of Peter Bennett, Colin Wilson and David Brisco, who gambolled around the course like new born lambs.

For the women, Claire Scott put her recent injury troubles behind her with a blistering 1.42, breaking the club’s V45 record in the process. Ann Johnson raced to a fantastic new PB of 1.47, paced by her sister Wendy Davies. Next came the relentless Brenda Cahill in a superb time of 1.52, with Jo Jackson skipping to a nice round 2.00 clocking. Sarah Charlton made light work of her first attempt at the 13.1 mile distance, crossing the line in 2.12. Other strong performances came from Lynda Butchard in 2.28, and Angela Cropper in 2.50. Cropper’s finish was all the more impressive given that she completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k the previous day in another great time of 32:45. Jane Marshall also showed a dogged spirit to complete the course while carrying a knee injury.

Lynda Butchard with her haul of medals

Of all the outstanding achievements out on the streets of Liverpool, none could compare to the bravery of the fearless Ian Floyd. Having raised eyebrows amongst his fellow athletes for defying injury to compete in the race, his motive became apparent as he crossed the line in 2.18. As his beloved partner, Karen Mason, crossed the line moments later, Floyd went down on one knee in a sensational proposal of marriage. Mason delighted the onlooking athletes and spectators by accepting the proposition.

Newly engaged Ian Floyd and Karen Mason after the race

Special mention must go to a hardy band of Striders volunteers, who manned the water station at the 22 mile point of the marathon, providing vital support and refreshment for the runners towards the end of their epic challenge.

Striders brave the wind and rain to help runners at the water station

Up in the Lake District, a small troupe of Striders took on the Grasmere Gallop challenges. In the 17km race, Anita Hall was first home in 1.56, closely followed by the indefatigable Janet Holmes. In the 10km race, there was further success for Striders’ talisman Kelly Hamilton, who secured the bronze medal after an outstanding 3rd place finish, with husband Mark also completing the race.

Kelly Hamilton all smiles with husband Mark in Grasmere

The sole Strider at the monthly Halewood 5km race was the supremely talented Rachael Fairclough. She led the strong field a merry dance to win the race by an impressive margin in a fleet-footed 19.15.

At the Seaside 5km race in Birkenhead on Wenesday evening, Chris Hazeldine led the large Strider team home in a mesmerising 16:48, to finish in 11th place in a strong field. Daniel Cheetham was next in 17:57 with fellow Yicker, Eric Ranson, chasing him home in 19.10. For the ladies, it was Kelly Hamilton leading the way again in 3rd place in 19.29 – her second podium finish of the week after her exploits at Grasmere. The ever-improving sharron Burt was next with a rapid 22.46, and the evergreen Sue Heaps close behind in 24:17.

Traveller of the week was Debs Hill, finishing the Abersoch 10k in Wales in 1.19.

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!

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