Striders Chase Grand Prix Glory
For the 6th race in the Merseyside Grand Prix Series, St. Helens Striders headed to South Liverpool for the Penny Lane 10K on Sunday. With the ladies’ team in 1st position at the half way point in the competition, it was an opportunity to cement their place at the top of the standings. Warm sunshine and a stiff headwind in the latter half of the race along the banks of the River Mersey made for difficult racing conditions.
The in-form Hannah Whittaker, facing her least favourite distance, was the first to cross the line for Striders in 6th place, in a time of 44:37. Not far behind was Claire Scott, defying niggling injuries to record an excellent 46:35 for 13th place. Next was reigning V40 champion in the Grand Prix competition, Wendy Davies, in 48:58, and 22nd Place overall. The remarkable Brenda Cahill followed in 52:51, and earned a cash prize as race winner in the V60 category. Cahill is well on course to win the overall individual competition in her category. Rachel Tickle, Cherryl Orrick, Zoe Fillingham and Joanne Mercer also performed strongly to earn vital points in the ladies’ quest to lift the Grand Prix trophy come autumn.
For the men, who went into the race in 4th position overall, Team GB Aquathlete Peter Fairclough was the star performer. After a conservative start, Fairclough moved powerfully through a field of tiring runners to finish in 36:04 and 7th place overall. Next was Kane Green, passing a group of rivals in the final straight to earn valuable extra team points, crossing the line in 38:11. Joseph Weaver was 3rd Strider in 41:08, and 48th place, followed by John Williams who showed no ill-effects from the inexplicable decision to jump from a plane from 15,000ft less than 24 hours earlier, finishing in 41:42. On his Striders debut, new recruit Carlos Wilson performed admirably with a strong 42:41. Eric Ranson, Darren Eckersley, Brian Middleton, Chris Reid, Graeme Jones, John Lingard and Mark Fillingham ran impressively to contribute to the team effort.
A quartet of Striders travelled to the refined surroundings of Colshaw Hall to take part in the 10K event. First of the four was the relentlessly positive Kevin Cairns in his last ever 10K race in 44:48. The evergreen Pauline Horsfall was next in a superb 46:55 to finish 2nd place in the V60 category, followed by husband Tony Horsfall in 47:41. Anita Hall showed her grit and determination with a battling 55:27.
The superhuman Collette Flaherty proved herself once again Striders’ Queen of the Ultramarathon as she took on yet another epic challenge at the Pennine Barrier 50 Mile Race. Facing an astonishing 8700ft of hill ascents, Flaherty conquered the challenge in a little over 14 hours to once again astound her clubmates with her dogged determination.
At the Crazy Cow 10K, lovebirds David Brisco and Sharon O’Connell ran in tandem, finishing together in 53:10 with Sharon Swift following them home in 53:54. Jackie Dobson, inspired by a recent string of 5k PBs, once again impressed in 57:55, with Ian Floyd and Christine Humphrey also putting in strong performances to dip just under the hour mark, with Jackie Ellis close at their heels.