It’s been (mostly) about cross-country during this otherwise quiet month, with the Lancashire Championships, and Mid Lancs League as well as some other mud-based action further afield. Worthy of special mention, is the club’s Junior section who continued training hard right through the Christmas break, with both the younger and older Juniors putting in the time despite the weather. This led to both individual and team awards for their efforts, with ALL the Juniors being part of the success that is Team Clayton.
We also learnt this month that Danny Collinge, one of the Junior section’s big inspirations and role models as well as ambassador for Clayton overall is soon moving on to pasture’s new. Danny’s fantastic exploits have graced this report many, many times over the years and behind the scenes his help, support and encouragement for Juniors (and Seniors too) has been hugely valued and much appreciated by so many in the Clayton family. In common with all of us at the Club, I would like to thank Danny and wish him the all the very best for his running in the future – thank you.
7 January – Lancashire Cross-Country Championships, Witton Park
We’ll start with our Clayton Juniors as they came away from the Championships with a fantastic medal haul and a good collection of Lancashire vests earned for the Inter Counties race in March.
Amelia Halstead (in blue headband above) pulled off a stunning victory in the U11 Girls with a finely judged run from behind to overhaul all but one of the hard-charging front runners on the second lap, and all finished off with a gutsy sprint to the line to take the win. Amelia had been moving up the placings in Red Rose and Mid Lancs league races so her Championship win was not unexpected but richly deserved nonetheless. Ellisia Smedley, Emily Nicholls and Joni Higgins all battled hard and made up the Clayton team finishers.
In the U11 Boys race, Charlie Barnes (in 31st) led home Brayden Clarkson, Joshua McKay and Fraser Anforth for a team finish.
All eyes were on Robbie Smedley, Matthew Jackson, William Nicholls, Finley Stubbs, and Jenson Bentham in the U13 Boys race for both individual results and the team prize. Robbie Smedley had a fine run to take the Bronze and with it Lancashire selection whilst Matthew Jackson also placed in top ten (and reserve for the County team) and with the others, secured 2nd place in the team competition.
Helana White and Ella Dorrington were both aiming for Lancashire vests in the U13 Girls race and after one of their customary big battles with each other, as well as the rest of the field, both secured their vests with Helana 6th (in her first year in the age cat)and Ella 5th. Behind them, Imogen Ferguson and Rachel Stevenson brought their lovely smiles and cheery demeanour to our U13G team.
In the U15 Boys race, Jackson McKay finished 12th, Michael Stevens 17th, twin brother Peter 24th and Adam Stevenson 29th. The normally fast Lennon Jackson also ran but appeared to not particularly enjoy the experience and finished a little behind the others…
Millie Stubbs, Kaliska Clarke, Beth Wheatcroft and Keira Stevenson all ran in the U15 Girls with Millie 13th after chasing hard for a top ten place.
Briony Holt secured Lancashire selection with a strong 4th place in her first year in the U17 Girls age group, whilst Josh Hall and Nick Hennessey were 10th and 16th respectively in the U17 Boys race.
Danny Collinge came home 11th in the Senior race and earned a reserve place on the Lancashire team.
Finally, in the Vets race, our team of David Edmondson, Richard Stevenson, Andrew Holt and Michael Toms were 3rd, with Tara Robb leading the Clayton Ladies in (26th), and Donna Airey the Vet Ladies (16th).
12- 14 January – The Montane Spine Challenger
Nicholas Olszewski, Andrew Armstrong and Andrew Morley lined themselves up for this epic challenge, 108 miles along the Pennine Way to Hardraw in the Yorkshire Dales. Freezing temperatures, torrential rain and biting winds did nothing to deter their resolve and they all finished close together in 39 hours. Yes, 39 hours of non-stop running, walking and general forward movement. There are photos circulating of discolated fingers, trench foot and the like but it’s probably safer to show some of the photos I took whilst encouraging them near Malham Cove. Special mention too to Adrienne Olszweska who was probably as sleep deprived as them travelling around supporting on the road stops.
13 January – Mid Lancs Cross-Country League Towneley Park
With barely enough time to clean off dirty spikes from the weekend before, our Clayton athletes were back in action on home turf at the 4th Mid Lancs League round in Towneley Park. Conditions were surprisingly fast and firm leading to some quicker racing than in the heavy going at Witton Park the week before, though a cold wind in the finish straight made fast finishes tough going..
Amelia Halstead built on her win at the Lancashire Championships the week before with a great 2nd place in the U11 Girls, whilst in the U13 Girls Ella Dorrington produced her best Mid Lancs performance this season in 3rd, backed up by Helana White in 6th. With Imogen Ferguson they took 3rd place in the team competition.
Robbie Smedley, William Nicholls and Matthew Jackson worked well to take 3rd team in the U11 Boys race, and Briony Holt placed 2nd in the U17 Girls race.
The leading Clayton runners in Senior Ladies and Mens were Tara Robb (30th) and Tom Brewster (27th) whilst the Senior Men (Tom Brewster, David Bagot, Calum Holmes, David Edmondson, Richard Stevenson and Thomas Walker) took 3rd team and the Vet 40s also secured 3rd team (David Edmondson, Richard Stevenson, Andrew Holt and Michael Toms).
14 January – East Lancs Hospice 10k and 2k
Road racing is a bit thin on the ground this time of year but this traditional New Year fundraiser for the Hospice always attracts a good field including those wanting to test their legs a bit before the season starts properly in the Spring.
In one of his final appearances for the club before moving on to pastures new, Danny Collinge took a very convincing victory by well over a minute from Matt Nuttall of Blackburn Harriers with a very impressive time of 33:50. Callum James was next in for Clayton in a great 9th overall and 1st Junior with Nick Hennessey 2nd Junior and 16th overall.
The inseperable duo of Cassandra Smedley and Michelle Abott were 4th and 5th women, and Joanne Motley 8th. Angela Shian and Vickey Heys were 6th and 7th in the women’s V40 and V45 cats respectively with Charlie Clutterbuck 4th in Mens V70+.
There were plenty of Clayton Juniors in the 2k race held alongside the main race, with Matthew Jackson back on his preferred tarmac surface placing 2nd overall and 1st U13B, chased in by Helana White in 3rd overall and 1st U13G.
28 January – Kendal Winter League Whitestones
Andrew and Briony Holt risked forever changing the interior of their car (for the worse) at this renowned uber-mudfest, part of the super tough Kendal Winter League where fell races masquerade as cross-country races, the sheep wear Inov8s on the fell and, well you get the drift… they’re quite hard.
After promising myself I’d do as many of these races as I can this year life and work have conspired against me making this one-the fourth in the series-my first.Todays race wasn’t particularly promising either- a heavy cold since Thursday and awful conditions when we awoke.
Briony was excited to be back on the fells however, and once we passed Settle on the way up the rain eased off.I’ve watched this race but not ran it yet and it’s steep at the start, technical, and with this years extra dose of mud more than challenging along the top of the course.The distance is just over four miles with 250m of ascent, a challenging run.
We started and it’s a mad rush to get the 300 or so yards to the single track ascent to the top of the first hill. I misjudged it and found myself scrambling through the gorse next to the path trying to keep momentum up the hill. On top the course flattens for a mile or so, and is cross crossed with bogs and tussocks sapping our legs.
Unlike the recent cross country races I was faster than the people around me on the flat-hard ground and anything technical or boggy I would fall back a couple of places. We ran around the top of the valley into the strong wind to the summit of the next peak adjacent to where we start.
I counted twenty or so people in front of me, and I was neither gaining nor being overtaken so in kind of a run-come-bog trot traversed around the head of the valley to the descent. I managed to drag maybe three people in on the final hill prior to dropping onto the finish, but was reminded again these are fell runners as they came past me downhill like I was stood still!
I finished 20th overall, v happy and looking forward to the Fell season starting proper.
Briony came 2nd in her first fell race this year, and despite dragging herself up the first hill with a combination of eyeballs and willpower finished with her usual smile enjoyed it immensely.
Stephen Fish and Chris Brown were the other orange hoops on show and looked strong in their respective races