No let up in the winter weather this month with gales, snow, ice and then a proper cold snap heading toward the UK at the end of month. Of course none of that deterred the Clayton runners from hitting muddy fields, wintry fells, snowy mountains and the roads in between.
3 February – Lancashire Schools Cross Country
Clayton Juniors were to the fore at the recent Lancashire Schools Cross-Country Championships. There were fine age group wins for Helana White and Briony Holt, top 10 places for Harry Cole, Ella Dorrington and Jackson McKay and a host of fine supporting performances as our Juniors ran for their individual District teams.
Year 7 Girls – Helana White 1st, Rachel Stevenson 59th
Year 7 Boys – Harry Cole 8th, Jenson Bentham 24th, Finley Stubbs 31st
Junior Girls (Yr 8 and 9) – Ella Dorrington 10th, Sophie Ashworth 26th, Imogen Ferguson 59th, Keira Stevenson 64th
Junior Boys – Jackson McKay 9th, William Nicholls 20th, Lennon Jackson 39th
Inter Boys – Nick Henessey 20th, Michael Stevens 22nd, Peter Stevens 26th,
Inter Girls – Briony Holt 1st, Millie Stubbs 8th, Caitlin Welsh 31st.
Apologies to anyone I have missed – as our Juniors were running for their District teams it is harder to spot them in the results.
4 February – Blackburn Winter Warmer
Jon Cleaver reports from this popular event:
A very strong field lined up for the 2018 Winter Warmer at Witton Park on a chilly Sunday morning with the sun on our backs which made for very good racing. The course itself is a toughie and from past performances one which normally sees you at least 2 minutes short of your PB. It starts with a climb of around 450ft climbing out of the park and then most of the work is out of the way. I managed to hold on to a pack holding the top 5 until the descent which found me lacking a bit for speed to keep with them. There is a little kicker of a hill at mile 4 before you start on your way back through the park which again is flat or descending until you see the track. I’d managed to gain a couple of places back but was starting to get a bit concerned when I looked behind and saw a lad from Salford starting to make some distance on me. Not to be deterred I held on and pushed for the last lap around the track for a top 10 finish.
There were some outstanding runs from the younger Clayton lads picking out a couple of exceptional results from Nick Hennessy 38:11, Ryan Bradshaw 37:22 & Josh Hall 42:30.
Great start to the road championship for 2018 and well done all whom turned out to run and cheer us on.
Editors update: Clayton took the 2nd team prize behind the winners, Blackburn Harriers
4 February – Kong Mini Mountain Marathon Series Rd 1
Alan Dorrington headed over to North Wales for the 1st round of this 4 hr score event series, held out of Bethesda on sunny day with low temperatures and with significant snowfall higher up to spice things up..
“With 4 hours to find as many controls of varying point value and heavy penalties if late back to the finish, this type of event requires a systematic plan that can be varied according to the conditions underfoot, and according to any mistakes that may or may not be made in finding well hidden controls over a wide area. My initial plan to pick off higher scoring controls with some ridge running over Carnedd Gwenllian was abandoned due to tough running in wind-slabbed snow, so I opted to target controls at lower elevations for the next 2 1/2 hours. A bit of a wobble with some poor map interpretation meant a panic to get back over some fairly big climbs and back to the finish in time to avoid penalties, as well as losing out on some controls on the homeward sweep. All in all, the Kong events are a great way to see some areas that you wouldn’t normally visit, as well as sharpen up on navigation for some of the longer, harder fell races.”
10 February – Windy Hill fell race 9 miles and 1280ft
A new-ish fixture on the fell calendar, this 9 mile B category race visits the hills around Hollingworth Lake. No that the runners would have seen much of the great scenery around there this year…
Report from Jon Cleaver:
Well this race certainly lived up to its name! On a very wet & cold day I layered up well with 2 hats, 2 pairs of gloves and 4 tops to ensure I kept warm and braved the moors around Littleborough & Blackstone Edge.
Starting out at the Rugby Club near Hollingsworth Lake you climb up over the M62 and onto the moors about 3 miles in there is a climb which goes on for a mile and climbs around 900ft. Once you got to the top you got hit with a wall of wind and rain. The path followed the old Roman road for quite a bit which was treacherous due to ice. This lost me a bit of ground on the top 10 due to lack of grip in my mudclaws. On the way in you have about 2 miles of really good trail and finally some good old fashioned 2 foot deep mud making it quite a quick run in!
Even though the elements were against us I really enjoyed it and could have been caught with the occasional smile on my face (hard to believe I know!). Overall I came 11th in 01:08:53 (8.8miles 1565ft).
11 February – Barbondale fell race
Hail hill and hurt – Andrew Holt reports:
2nd of five races of Kendal Winter League for myself and Briony and one we’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years as it’s well known as the steepest of the series. The location is nestled in the hills behind whernside linking the dales to the howgills, not that we could see much due to the snow and cloud
After a struggle parking we arrived with time to shred our calf’s walking the route – for Briony 300m of ascent then a 200m run to the top and for myself the same 300m ascent in 800m followed another 800m runnable but uphill at the top. Then straight down for the both of us
The ground was slippy, wet, sprinkled with ice at the top but nothing of value on the way up or down. The weather cleared at the top for a while and I decided to wear a top and gloves as it was completely different to the conditions in the valley below. And the views,when the weather cleared were more than worth the effort.
And we’re off – 13 minutes eyeball popping power walking followed by 5 minutes running to the trig. I did my usual grind it out start and pulled myself into 40th or so at the top (it was nice to be on the flat near the top before the front runners passed us on the way down) and gained another 4-5 places overtaking just before the hill steepens and thankfully staying upright into the finish
The awesome Wendy Dodds and Katy Thompson took a 1/2 in their respective categories with Briony a brilliant 2nd overall and I squeezed in a top ten finish for my age. A brilliant series that’s well worth a look
17 February – Mid Lancs XC League Round 5
A new venue up the M6 for the penultimate round of the Mid Lancs XC series saw the Clayton tent pitched in the middle of Ryelands Park, Lancaster.
The U11 Girls team of Amelia Halstead, Ellisia Smedley and Joni Higgins were straight into warm up and off round the grassy course which had a few twists and turns rather than lots of straights. Amelia continued her good form and took 7th, with Ellisia and Joni in 57th and 61st. In the U11 Boys, Charlie Barnes was 45th and Joshua McKay 62nd.
Helana White scored her best performance of the Mid Lancs series so far, with a really gutsy run to 3rd place in the U13 Girls, with Ella Dorrington in 8th and the ever-improving Imogen Ferguson in 40th. The girls also took 3rd in the team competition, setting them up nicely for a possible series team placing.
William Nicholls also had a great run for 16th in the U13 Boys, with Robbie Smedley, Finley Stubbs and Matthew Jackson supporting.
Millie Stubbs was the sole U15 Girl in 12th, whilst Jackson McKay also came in 12th in the Boys race, closely followed by Harrison Codd in 13th and Lennon Jackson in 23rd.
Briony Holt took 3rd in the U17 Girls race, despite suffering the after effects of a tough England Mountain Running Team training camp earlier in the week.
Donna Airey led the Ladies home in 25th, as well as the Ladies Over 35 team to a fine 2nd place backed up by Michelle Abbott and Cassie Smedley.
Another consistent improver, U20 Calum Holmes was the first Clayton man back to the finish in 18th, leading the Men’s team of Tom Brewster, Thomas Walker, Andrew Holt, Mark Aspinal and Chris Funnel to 2nd in the team competition. With the addition of John Wilcock, the Vet men took 3rd Over 40 and 2nd Over 50 team also.
25 February – Hoppits’ Hill fell races
Organised by fell running royalty in the form of Nicky Spinks, this low key local race around the hills near Dewsbury incorporates relaxed Junior races and is a lovely warm up for Juniors looking ahead to the fell season starting in the Spring months. Not that it was that warm with the Best from the East on the way, though the snow was yet to arrive.
Ella Dorrington was the sole Clayton runner there amongst the Juniors but made up for that by coming 2nd overall in the U15 race, as well as 1st girl in the combined U15 and U17 race. Chocolate prizes presented by Nicky capped off a lovely day out.