December’s Festive Roundup

Into December and on toward Christmas and the New Year, the cross-country season rolls on with guest appearances from the fell and road runners around the festive break.

To round off the year, there have been Junior wins, Senior wins, some dodgy fancy dress and a mass takeover of Pendle Hill. Grab a brew and the last of those mince pies and review the final month of the year, hopefully emerging inspired to take on 2018 in similar style.

Right, see if you can stand still without being blown off your feet!  Photo: Deborah Stevenson

Right, see if you can stand still without being blown off your feet! Photo: Deborah Stevenson

26 November – Lee Mill Relays

The running around the quarries and moors above Bacup is surprisingly tough and this year’s Lee Mill Relays, a recent and popular fixture on the calendar were made even tougher by proper wintry weather conditions. Clayton fielded 3 teams and Sarah Helliwell reports:

It was a cold and overcast morning as 3 Clayton teams made their way to Stubbylee Park near Bacup. As we parked up, it was obvious it was going to be snowy, frosty and boggy if you ‘stepped or fell’ into the wrong place!

We had 2 ladies teams who braved the conditions and 1 men’s team. The leg 1 runners had a tough start as they had to forge their route through thick snow, hidden tussocks and freezing cold bogs that many of the runners got stuck in! With the odd rain, sleet or snow shower depending what altitude you were running at, creating wintery conditions for the majority of the runners over the 6 mile course. Very tough and definitely character building.

The men can 5th overall with a time of 4.00.58, the team consisting of Carl Helliwell, Luke Turner, Russell Clarke and Chris Snell. Well done lads on some tough conditions.

Both ladies teams put in sterling efforts, with some of the ladies doing the event for the first time. The A team included Tara Robb, Rhiannon Wickham, Alison Dugdale and Jean Brown, with all of them having good runs and coming home as 3rd ladies team with a time of 4:50:37. The B team was a vet 40 team consisting of Angela Shian, Julia Rushton, Teresa De Curtis and Katy Thompson with a time of  6:00:11. A massive well done to all who ran and represented Team Clayton on a very demanding day.

Carl Helliwell blazes a trail on Leg 1. Photo: mick Fryer

Carl Helliwell blazes a trail on Leg 1. Photo: mick Fryer

Full Results

2 December – Red Rose Cross Country League Round 4

Marl Pits. Like Marmite. Some love it, some hate it. Either way there will be always be weapons grade mud at the final Red Rose League fixture and this year didn’t disappoint.

Jenson Bentham supplements his diet with Marl Pits mud. Photo: David Belshaw

Jenson Bentham supplements his diet with Marl Pits mud. Photo: David Belshaw

Junior Races

Highlight of the day was Ella Dorrington’s win in the U13G. Using her fell running strength on the hilly and muddy course, she tracked the 3 early leaders, put in the quickest final muddy descent of all of them and outsprinted the final two on the line. Helana White was close behind in 10th.

Robbie Smedley had his usual battle royal with former teammate Dexta Thompson and secured 2nd on the day with teammates Will Nicholls and Finley Stubbs securing 2nd team prize also.

In the U11s Charlie Barnes led the boys home in 27th and Amelia Halstead was 11th in the girls race.

Harrison Codd was first Clayton U15B in 12th and Millie Stubbs led our U15G girls home in 6th. Special mention to Sophie Ashworth who fell and tore ligaments in her ankle – we wish her a speedy recovery.

The U17B were led home by Josh Hall in 7th with Briony Holt our only U17G in 3rd place.

Our Juniors won several awards in the overall 4 race series:

2nd= U13B Robbie Smedley

3rd= U13G Ella Dorrington

3rd U17G Briony Holt

2nd U13B Team



Ella Dorrington on her way to her first League XC win. Photo: David Belshaw


Another race goes down to the wire. Season long rivals Robbie Smedley, Dexta Thompson and Joe Ormerod. Photo: David Belshaw

Briony Holt revelling in the conditions. Photo: David Belshaw

Briony Holt looking very relaxed on the slick descents. Photo: David Belshaw


Danny Collinge beat the Bog of Doom in the woods to secure a classy win in the Senior race, and backed up by Dave Motley, Tom Brewster, Peter Coates, Matthew Duckworth and Carl Helliwell took 2nd place in the Team race. Our Vet Men performed well too, also taking 2nd Team with Peter Coates, Carl Helliwell, Andrew Holt and Andrew Orr.

In the Ladies, Cassie Darling was 26th (15th Vet too) and with Michelle Abbott and Irene Roche the Vet Women took 6th place in the Team race.

Here’s a report from Vet Andrew Holt:

“Having watched my kids run there, and listening to the more experienced runners at CLEM I knew that the annual Marl Pits mud fest would be to my liking, it was just a case of waiting for my shifts to line up at work.

Following a reasonable night shift on Friday, and with four XC events in my legs already this year I felt I’d be able to do myself justice running it. It felt warmer than before, but was still boggy and the course was cutting up nicely following the earlier kids runs.

I’d half an hour when I arrived, so the choice was either a recce of the course, or a 50p coffee as mine was cooling nicely on the kitchen table where I’d left it. The coffee won!

A quick warm up, pep talk from Briony (grind the hill, walk the bog and ur gonna love it!!) and we were under starters orders. For the first time this season I felt the field pull away from me on the opening lap. I wasn’t concerned as I hadn’t ran this week and didn’t want to blow up later, but was the lack of sleep/training gonna take its toll? The first lap was manic, lots of slipping and sliding, up until the bog where the gaps started appearing and we settled into our running.

I was able to hold the runners around me on the ascents, and gain ground on the downhills and through the numerous hazards. The cheering at the bottom of the hill was excellent, demanding commitment,  and I had the misfortune of a couple of pals from the mountain rescue giving me loads next to the wooden bridge, and any thought of resting was scuppered by coach Phil loitering in the field above the hill. The hills/bridges/bogs took care of themselves, and before I knew it I was on the last lap descending into the finish. I nearly got mugged on the line by one of the BOFRA runners I know (thanks Sarah for the warning) and ran in for my highest position so far this season.

I’m gonna plug my lad Curtis too for finishing this hard hard course despite barely no training and no doubt a hangover. I’m in front of him at the moment but I doubt that’s gonna last very long!

Superb running from everyone, baptism of fire for many. Now onto the flatter courses, starting at Leigh.”

The overall series results for Seniors/Vets included:

4th Vet Women 35-39 Cassie Darling

2nd Vet Women 65-69 Christine Egerton

3rd Vet Women 65-69 Christine Leathley


Michelle Abbott loves mud. No really. Photo: David Belshaw


Sarah Helliwell. Photo: David Belshaw


Kirstie Higgins getting stuck in. Photo: David Belshaw

Marl Pits Results

Final Series Results

9 December  – Mid Lancs Cross Country League Round 3

The cross-country season returned to Leigh Village for the 2nd time this season, this time for the 3rd Mid Lancs counter.

Junior action saw Amelia Halstead have a great run in U11G for 6th, Robbie Smedley 6th in U13B, Helana White 13th in U13G, Michael Stevens 14th in U15B and Briony Holt 2nd in U17G. The U13B team were 2nd with Matthew Jackson and Will Nicholls scoring points.

Tara Robb led the Women home in 20th with Tom Brewster 37th in the Senior Men. Calum Holmes had a good run for 4th in the U20 Men and Richard Lawson was 3rd in V70 Men.

Our Vets teams were 3rd in V40 and 2nd in V50.

Full Results

16 December – Hurst Green Turkey Trot

A fancy dress competition masquerading as a race, the Turkey Trot is always a firm favourite at this time of year. Whilst the fancy dress makes identifying individuals difficult, the results show that Andrew Payne was first Clayton home in 6th and Tara Robb was 7th Lady. It’s hard to do justice to all the fabulous fancy dress efforts that day but Michelle Abbott and Cassie Darling made it ‘Mario-Time!’ with their outfit, backed up by Lennon in his own inimitable style…

It's-a-Me!! Guess who? Photo: David Belshaw

It’s-a-Me!! Guess who? Photo: David Belshaw

Jenson Bentham kept it rubber side down this time, to chase Helana White. Photo: David Belshaw

Jenson Bentham kept it rubber side down this time, to chase Helana White. Photo: David Belshaw

Full Results

24 December – Christmas Eve social up Pendle Hill

Strong winds and clag on the tops didn’t deter a large group of Juniors and Seniors from trekking up Pendle Hill to temporarily claim the trig platform as their own. Our own super-photographer David Belshaw also displayed his amazing time-travelling ability to almost be in two places at once with photos from the fell gate and then photos back in the car park as many of the runners returned. Personally, I think we should get him a vest and get him out racing..

Everybody look at me! Photo: David Belshaw

Everybody look at me! Photo: David Belshaw


I’d hold onto those Santa hats if I were you. Photo: David Belshaw

26 December – Whinberry Naze Fell Race

More fancy dress on show here for the fellrunner’s traditional hangover cure on Boxing Day. With a race distance of less than 4 miles but with over 750ft of climb, it’s always a bit of a rude awakening for the slightly befuddled, climbing steeply from the start before a correspondingly fast descent back down. Not before passing the trig and collecting a packet of Smarties from Santa though. Bonus points for those that can eat them on the way down without choking.

Fancy dress winner Shrek aka Julia Hartley and her movice co-stars. Photo: Kath Brady

Fancy dress winner Shrek aka Julia Hartley and her movie co-stars. Photo: Kath Brady

Full Results

31 December Ribble Valley 10k

Incorporating the North of England Championships this race always attracts a quality field with Olympians Jonny Brownlee and Laura Weightman amongst the star runners this year.

Jacob Watson claimed the honour of fastest Clayton runner in 71st and 35:10, whilst Richard Stevenson was quickest Vet with 37:39.

Claire Vincent was quickest Clayton woman in 43:17 and Lisa Johnson our fastest Vet woman in 52:56. Super Coach Marion Wilkinson won the V75 category overall with a predictive time for the following New Years Day of 01:01:01.


The amazing Marion Wilkinson. Photo: David Belshaw


Richard Stevenson chases Dave Motley. Photo: David Belshaw


Calum Holmes digs in. Photo: David Belshaw

Full Results


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