Sunday, 13th April 2014
The Bolton 10K record books were smashed on Sunday after 637 of the 750 registered participants crossed the start-line. All were led by Patrick Gardiner of ECH&TAC and the host club’s Catherine O’Dwyer, both of whom stormed round the course in quickest ever times.
For some, the day began before the crack of dawn – “daft o’clock” as referred to on the briefing outline can now be translated as 4.35am! Thankfully, dry and cool conditions prevailed for the set-up and, as the birds chirped to announce arrival of a bevy of BUH&AC helpers, the on-track start/finish zone and decoration well and truly got underway. To see the planning that has gone into it come off so effectively was inspiring – slick as you like. Registration opened on time and the trickle of arrivals soon became a flood; the first wave was for the Fun Run, swiftly followed by a larger second collecting their 10K timing chips!
The One Mile Fun Run blasted off bang on time (bad pun!) at 9am, with 92 joggers aged from 3 years old to 63 years young! BUH&AC junior Jordan Kirkwood led them home in a cool 5:39, whilst Blackburn’s Amy Davies wasn’t far behind for the girls in 6:14. The surprise kitbag mementos were well received, though the medals appear to have won the day.
Bizarrely, as in the last three years, a freak 3-minutes shower took place in the countdown to the race, but this soon cleared up for excellent running conditions. Enough signage, temp floor painting and marshals, not to mention lead biker Andy Fordham (from MK Cycles), ensured that the leaders would get off in the right direction, and on the stroke of 10am, the starter’s gun fired. As is customary for local observers, ex-BUH&AC runner Tom Carson immediately charged to the front. In hot pursuit from the Blue Vests were Tony Valentine (going for his fourth victory) and Jonny Kay, accompanied by Nathan Kilcourse from Salford and Patrick Gardiner of East Cheshire Harriers & Tameside Athletic Club (is this the longest Club name in UK Athletics – how does it all fit on a vest?!).
After 5km, Carson was put under pressure down Cinder Hill, with Gardiner overtaking on the lower level in the park. Responding with a burst brought the Horwich runner shoulder-to-shoulder up the climb of Spooky Hill; cue a “red-car, blue-car” (or is that green car?) jostle for the lead. Lengthening his stride at 8km gave Gardiner a 30m lead, but again Carson responded along the centre path of Leverhulme Park. The pressure almost told as Gardiner charged into the athletics arena, almost going the wrong way as his lead was shrunk to 10m. However, enough was obviously left in the tank and a final kick for line opened up a gap of 40m, bringing victory by 10 seconds. The course record was obliterated by 59 seconds and now stands at 32.20.
Another epic was unfolding between teammates Jonny K (Kay geddit?!) and Tony V; after working together for the opening three quarters, it was open season, and this time, the junior man got his prey, eventually by 20 seconds. Andrew Edwards of Deestriders had shown steady pacing, coming from nowhere to snatch fourth (34:36) from Kilcourse (+5s), before a squadron of Leigh Harriers attacked the Team prize which Bolton had owned for the last decade. Phil Williams, Tommy Henders, Neil Pendlebury and Tony Battersby eased a win with 37 points, despite being evenly separated by the 9th-placed excellent local John Knowles of Burnden RR, who won his own battle with Rochdale’s Chris Merchent for the M40 prize. BUH&AC took the second spot with the recovering Karl Darcy (22nd) and returning Marc Zeller (38th) supporting the aforementioned greyhounds.
The women’s race saw Bolton’s Catherine O’Dwyer in a mood focussed to assault the record of 39:40, and she did not disappoint. Although initially pushed by the Bury twosome of Sophie Whittaker and Katie Geelan, and Chorlton’s Kerrie Harris, her determination showed in the second lap. Leading from start to finish (38:08), her 2+ minutes margin of victory was underlined by the 92 second erosion of the course record, finely executed with a spirited sprint to the line.
Whittaker and Harris were the eventual podium occupants, with the latter mounting a last ditch challenge to the line. After dropping back to fourth by 50m during the first lap, Harris plainly stepped up a gear in the second half and overtook Geelan. The Bury junior was reeled in as both clocked 40:16, but Whittaker survived by a nose for silver! Katie Oakley (12th and deferred FJ winner [for under-20s]) and Cherry Collision (14th) narrowly took the spoils for the women’s Team prize by 5 points (27 total). It was even closer for second place, as Burnden Roadrunners edged Bury AC on countback, both having scored 32 points.
For Bolton, that 25 runners completed was incredible given the commitment to put on the race – over 40 otherwise regular runners assisted. Some achieved PBs whilst others beat their own course records – all went under an hour. Notable mentions go to Eric Ranicar, whose 42:54 took the M60+ victory despite his M65 cat ranking, and coach Ben Troughton; he encouraged the field by pacing those whose target was to complete in under an hour. Resplendent with his rucksack and home-made flag, the sub-60 group trooped home in 55:27!
University of Bolton SSIC students raised nearly £150 for Cancer Research UK, as some of the racing lecturers got firsthand experience of their students’ progress following their own 10K jogs. They weren’t the only ones – many runners enjoyed (if that is the right term?!) a post-race sports massage. Local residents were appreciative too, as they watched the spectacle and even donated some refreshments to a couple of lucky marshals.
Race Organiser Steve Houghton said “Feedback has been incredibly positive. I’m very happy both records went today, even if it has added to the bottom line! The only ‘dark cloud’ was literally a dark cloud on the horizon that popped over for a 3 minute visit!” It is a cliché, but the smoothness of the event would not have been possible without so many volunteers assisting on the day. Planning can mean nothing without the help to put it all into action, and the best side of the Club was truly on show today. All should be proud of what was achieved.
Jonothan Kay 33:52; Anthony Valentine 34:12; Catherine O’Dwyer 38:08; Karl Darcy 38:31; Marc Zeller 41:06; James Rideout 41:33; Stewart Brierley 41:58; Eric Ranicar 42:52; Liz McLellan 43:18; Oliver Radford 43:36; Andy Barrow 45:02; Katie Oakley 46:23; Cherry Collison 47:04; Ian Garmory 49:29; Donna Cooper 49:21; John Grimshaw 50:38; Chris Worthington 50:41; Julie Lomax 50:44; Sara Green 52:48; Fern Jardine 52:56; Hazel Hall 52:58; Ben Troughton 55:08; Hannah Edwards 55:52; Kat Healey 56:59; Heather McEwen 59:08