2022 New Year Resolutions for Bolton Harriers Endurance members seem to involve living up to the group name and to push themselves harder and further. Ryan Kirkman will be doing his second Ironman, Aidie Costello is training for his debut Ironman and Beka Millington is throwing herself into the Ultra Marathon scene. Lots and lots of the groups weekend Strava runs are showing training runs of anything between 15 and 25 miles.
The Manchester Marathon on Sunday 3rd April had nine Blue Vests entered, with eight of those from the Endurance Group. Five members were running their first ever marathon.
Gary Porteous is the latest member to get the Marathon itch and has been a regular attendee at club sessions and also been busy with his own training. He can often be seen setting off from his Heaton base on a weekend for the hills round Rivington or long road runs to the Chorley area and back. It has all been worthwhile and Gary ran a super race to come back with a time of 3 hrs 31 mins. After a short recovery and some sustenance he said “my training plan didn’t get off to the best of starts as I caught COVID just before Christmas, so I had just over 12 weeks to train, but I stuck to my plan and gradually upped the mileage each week until I was averaging about 40 miles per week. My longest run and the hardest was about 22 miles which was incredibly brutal on the hills of Bolton. But it put me in good stead, and on race day I felt relaxed and and focused. During the race I felt comfortable and maintained my planned pace until about 20 miles , after that I had a bit of a dip, but I dug in and gritted my teeth and counted the miles down. I was so close to a sub 3hr30m. I never thought I would achieve running a marathon when I joined the Harriers, and I have to thank all the coaches and the rest of the group for giving me the encouragement and belief”.
Another Heaton resident and marathon debutant was Dominic Sohor who has made a remarkable recovery from a stroke in 2017. He was unable to speak for some time and left needing urgent hospital treatment. He wanted to show his appreciation for the Royal Bolton Hospital Speech and Language Therapy Department by running and raising money for them in the process. He succeeded and got round in a time of 4 hours 22 minutes. On a better day he would be capable of a much better time and said “I enjoyed the first half but second half was pretty horrific with mega sore glutes, hips and my hands went all tingly. Taking part in the marathon and raising funds is my way of being able to say thank you for my care and hopefully helping others who suffer from Aphasia”.
Chris Toole is another newcomer to the group and the 3rd marathon debutant . This guy works so hard in training and the proof in the pudding was a wonderful time of 3 hours 29 mins.
Andy Gallagher, more of a fell race specialist was the fourth group member attempting 26 miles for the first time. He said “I was slow and steady from the start to finish. I have only had ten weeks to train having stopped running for three months because of knee problems. I decided to run just for the experience and atmosphere which was fantastic.Think I sneaked under 4 hours 45 mins. Well done to everyone else who ran today”.
Scott Sunderland is a much welcome and relative newcomer to Bolton Harriers. Again since joining has been a dedicated attendee to training and has trimmed down his figure to the point if he enters any more road races he had better be careful he doesn’t fall down a grid ! The Land Rover Design Engineer proved he can clock up the miles also and came back with a time of 3 hours 51 mins for his first ever marathon.
One man who won’t be falling down grids is Mark Garner. Mark is out of the Barney Rubble mould, strong as an Ox and represents the Blue Vests in all sorts of events and distances including Fell races. Mark kept up a really steady pace and completed in a respectable 4 hours 4 mins. He has already entered for next years marathon.
Chris Byrne is also a member of Bolton Triathlon Club and has proven stamina in these events. He went round in his usual strong and steady style and finished with a time of 4 hours and 4 mins matching Mark Garner.
Thomas Gore always runs with a smile on his face and arrived at the finishing line with a big cheesy grin acknowledging yet another super run in 3 hours 21 mins. Another who is a really versatile runner and just loves to run and represent the club in lots of events.
Phil Hardman was the solo representative from Dave Shaw’s group and is a battle hardened warrior in these events. He never seems to get out of bed for anything less than a half marathon. He stormed round in a time of 2 hours 48 minutes and was in the top 500 of over 14000 runners.
Sunday 3rd April saw a glorious Spring Morning for the annual Trotters 5 hosted by Burnden Runners.
Bolton United Harriers sent a strong contingent down to Smithills and dominated the race with 6 Blue Vests in the first 11. Tommy Harrison was outright winner for an impressive third time and Harriers also won the Men’s Team Event. In addition they also had first Female Home in Heather Brown.
Ever modest Turbo Tommy Harrison said after his 28 mins 44 secs victory “I was happy just to get a run out again and it was a nice confidence booster. I thought I ran a well-controlled race and paced it as I had planned. I got pushed along by young Callum Brooks for the first 2 miles before edging away up the hills. The highlight for me was receiving the team prize with young Callum and Rhys. As we had other runners not far behind those two It shows the club has plenty of depth, and hopefully sets us up to command the Central Lancashire Grand Prix series this year. I now have plans for a solid Bolton 5k and will then see if I can pinch a 5k PB at the Mid Cheshire at the end of April”.
Newcomer to the club Callum Brooks was second Harrier home and 4th overall in a time of 29 mins 39 secs. Callum has only just migrated up to Dave Shaw’s impressive stable of runners. His improvement this year has been astonishing and it looks set to continue. Dave has high hopes of this young man. Callum was delighted with his first race in his new group “I am really enjoying the new more intense sessions at the club and have had a lot of support from Dave. As regards the race I just tried to enjoy it and stay with Tommy as long as I could. Tommy is a class act though and obviously he did pull away from me. I aimed to get under 30 minutes and was comfortably under so am well pleased. I have got the Bolton 5k coming up soon and will be aiming for a PB in that”.
Rhys Francis was 5th overall in a time of 30 mins 58 secs and can only improve. He is looking to get back to his form of 2020 when he had the Bolton 5k pinched from him by 1 second by his team mate and winner of this event Tommy Harrison.
Joe Grisdale ran his usual strong and steady race to gain a top 10 finish. Newly qualified coach Jordan Brophy just behind him in 11th after a blistering start.
‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ most certainly does not apply to Heather Brown. She continues to take up where Laura Lombard has left off with yet another first lady finish. This young lady who is soon to be married to team mate Will Tomlinson put her wedding plans on hold for a day and ran a super race of 32 mins 54 secs. She was more than a minute quicker than the second lady home and said “really chuffed with first lady in first CGLP race and first time I have ran that course. Safe to say my quads will be feeling it for some time! Great to have the sideline support from coach Dave Shaw and my soon to be husband Will”.
The ever dependable James Rideout was first back from Harrier’s Endurance group in 36 mins 30 secs, with 4th overall lady Rachel Bailey just behind. The final three ‘elder statesmen’ Blue Vests were Nigel Brodrick in 37 mins 48 secs, Gary Jones 38 mins 42 secs and Ken Fowler who ran his usual consistently good race as second Veteran 65 in a time of 39 mins 21 secs.
We had an Easter egg cross country event Sunday 27th March on the field at the back of the track organised by Ian Wallis for the Under 9s to Under 15s.
The Under 9 girls was won by Anastasia Velicka 2nd Darcie Collins 3rd Aime Brogan
Under 9 boys 1st Edward Jones 2nd Daniel Toole 3rd James Lombard
Under 11 girls 1st Lucy Valentine 2nd Freya Lombard 3rd Charley Marsden and Cara Collins
Under 11 boys 1st Matthew Wood 2nd Elliott Molineux 3rd Leo Cooke
Under 13 girls 1st Emily Wood 2nd Cerys Jones 3rd Caitlen Collins
No under 13 boys
Under 15 girls 1st Scarlett Thompson 2nd Jessica Swales
No under 15 boys
All the athletes had a great fun morning and all received two easter egg each. There was a Mothers Day prize draw also.
A big Harriers Thank You to Ian Wallis for organising the event and for Ian Jakeway setting up the course.
The club would also like to thank all our junior members who participated and their parents/families for supporting the event.
Saturday 26th March saw the Sports Hall Regional Finals at the Etihad Indoor Arena was and Bolton Harriers had a baker’s dozen representing the Great Manchester team.
In the Under 11 girls we had Emily Wood and Mabel lwelu who took first place.
In the Under 11 boys we had Benjamin Davies, Josh Grundy and Matthew Wood and they took runners up spot.
The Under 13 girls had Matilda Hall, Allyssia May, Ellie Deavall and Molly Wood involved and also taking runners up spot.
Under 13 boys Alfie Dodds, Jamie Greenhalgh, Chris Franks and Jacob Kelly took first place and qualify for the National Finals.
Proud coach Gwylim Jones was delighted with them all.
Hop Farm Paddock was the venue on Saturday 19th March for the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships. Big crowds flocked to the venue on a beautiful sunny day for the 61st running of the event and 6 age and gender related races. In her first National competition and a field of 400 plus athletes Bolton Harrier Scarlett Thompson ran a distance of 3000 metres across Kent farmland, She finished in a very commendable 211th place. The top athletes from this race will go on to represent England at the next international event.
She had competed at the Greater Manchester Championships at Heaton Park in February in horrendous wet and muddy conditions and had finished 10th to gain selection for her county and the English Schools’ event.
The Canon Slade pupil said “I love it at Bolton Harriers and have been there since I was 6. I like my coaches Ian and Rick and just love the training sessions at the track on a Tuesday. I also like the social side of training and the new friends I have made. Apart from school and Bolton Harriers I train with Bolton Triathlon Cub as well as swimming for Bolton Metro at county/regional level. I have also represented my county at Trampolining”.
On Sunday 3 members of the throwing group William Lacey, Jamie Greenhalgh and Alfie Dodds competed in the Bury AC Spring Throwing Festival.
It was first year U17 for Will and his results were as follows:
Hammer 28.53 (PB)
Shot 9.6 (PB)
Jamie and Alfie tried to improve on Saturdays performances.
Jamie improved in Discus setting a new pb of 20.86m and another pb in shot of 8.20m .He also got just over 14m in hammer.
Alfie managed to improve his pb in shot with a throw of 7.84m and got a new pb in hammer with a throw of 16.94m
Saturday 19th March saw the first open track meeting at Trafford with four members taking their place.
Both Alfie Dodds and Jamie Greenhalgh have just moved into their first year of the U15s and both came away with medals and pbs doing superbly well.
Alfie ran his first ever 100m and got a respectable time of 13.4s. He started off very nervously with a false start, but regained composure and was thrilled with his performance having not trained for running or worn a pair of spike for 2 years due to injury. He’s keen to compete in more running this season.
Both Alfie and Jamie are members of the throwing group at Bolton Harriers and competed in the 4kg shot put. Jamie came out top with a new pb of 8.02m finishing 3rd place overall.
Alfie also got a new pb of 7.43m finished 2nd in his pool and finished 6th overall.
Alfie and Jamie also competed in the 1.25kg discus. Again it was Jamie who came out top. He got a new pb of 20.63 which secured him 2nd place. Alfie also got a new pb of 18.09m giving him 3rd place.
In the u13 boys Joshua Grundy competed in the 75 metres and came home in a big pb of 11.2 secs. He then moved up to 150 metres and got a silver medal with another pb of 21.05 secs.
Benjamin Davies ran the 75 metres in a pb of 11.08 and the 150 metres in 22.39 secs.
Both Ben and Josh have made excellent progress since moving up to Les Hall’s sprinting group.
Bolton Harriers Endurance Group member Mark Garner pulled out the club vest again on Sunday 30th March for the Wilmslow Half Marathon. A course of country lanes closed to traffic and out towards Mobberley before winding back to Wilmslow. With more than one eye on the Manchester Marathon on the 3rd April Mark viewed this event as ideal preparation. He said “Wilmslow Half is a great race, really love the setting in the Cheshire country side. It was a sunny day, no wind and not too hot. Perfect race conditions. I started at a steady pace knowing the 2nd half being undulating with a cheeky incline before the finish line. Happy I managed to take 6 mins off last years time in 1 hour 46 mins”.
Sunday 20th March saw coach Gwylim Jones take his young charges to a fun event ‘Over The Bales’ – put on to give the younger athletes a taste of the thrills and spills of cross country. Held at the Crossford Bridge facility in Sale the course was on grass and over straw bales as the name suggests.
Gwylim reported “we went to Sale Harriers Over the Bales with a small quad of eight athletes: Under 9 girls Jasmine Greenhalgh 40th 9 min 06 sec Under 9 boys Matthew Wood 6th 5 min 22 sec Edward Jones 15th 5 min 48 sec Daniel Toole 27th 6 min 11 sec Under 11 girls Emily Wood 7th 7 min 12 sec Under 11 boys Ted Ratcliffe 27th 7 min 41 sec Tyler Kizikay 39th 10 min 05 sec Under 13 girls Cerys Jones 14th 13 min 54 sec. Notably Emily Wood was excellent and also her brother Matthew put in another good performance. Special mention also to Daniel Toole as it was his debut competition for Bolton Harriers”.
As always the club would like to thank Gwylim and all the participating athletes.
CHIPS OFF THE OLD BLOCKS
Tony Valentine and John Knowles have both ran with distinction over the years for Bolton Harriers. Their sons Marcus Valentine and Nathaniel Knowles now look set to follow in their footsteps.
A fine dry morning greeted youngsters from North West schools to the Abbey Village Daffodil Doddle on Sunday 13th March. From Abbey Village School an out and back scenic trails course taking in Roddlesworth Reservoir beckoned the young athletes.
Marcus led from start to finish and came home in a brilliant time of 6 mins 58 secs and said “I really enjoyed the flattish out and back course. It was a fast start and I managed to set off in front and held my position throughout. The training at Bolton is helping greatly and I feel I am improving a lot compared to my school mates because of my Harriers membership. I am now on a par with some members I was well behind when I first joined. I have been doing Parkrun with my dad and he has helped me a lot. I think I can go even faster than my dad though in a couple of years or so ! I have entered the Bolton 5k this coming weekend and then will be testing myself against some good runners in the Northern Championships”.
Nathaniel Knowles was 5th in this race in 2020 and came home runner up this time a full minute quicker in a time of 7 mins 30 secs. Delighted with his showing he said “it was a really good race and I could see Marcus leading and had two more runners in front of me in the first half of the course. I managed to pick those two off on my way back to the line. Training is great at Bolton Harriers and my dad also helps me a lot. We even did a recce of the course together before the event. My dad was a good runner with the club and I want to follow in his footsteps. I particularly like cross country races and will be entering as many of those as I can this season”.
Alex Preston was third harrier back in overall 8th position and is another making great improvement. He recorded a time of 8 mins 7 secs and was a minute and 20 secs quicker than 2020.
Coach Gwylim Jones was proud of the way all the Blue Vest youngsters ran but also pointed out the club had Emily Wood as 2nd girl in the race and 13th overall. He also wanted to mention Rosie Prendergast as the club’s youngest entrant at the age of 7.
Bolton United Harriers would like to congratulate and thank the following 23 athletes for their efforts: 1st Marcus Valentine 2nd Nathaniel Knowles 8th Alex Preston 13th Emily Wood 14th James Lombard 16th Mathew Wood 23rd Max Preston 24th Edward Jones 25th Elliott Molineux 27th Mike Ndlovu 30th Charley Marsden 31st Freya Lombard 39th Abigail Mcshane 42nd Frankie Wood 44th Daniel Mcshane 46th Isabella Whittle 47th Rose Blaney 54th Cerys Jones 60th Aoife Waldron 61st Olivia Coker 62nd Tyler Kizilkaya 71st Rosie Prendergast 92nd Jasmine Greenhalgh.
The club would also like to thank Coach Gwylim Jones and his daughter Lindsay for their attendance and all the other parents and family members for getting the kids to the race and their support.
Sunday 27th February saw Rachel Bailey make her comeback to fell racing . After a few years out Rachel made the journey over the Pennines to Dewsbury for the Hoppits Hill Fell race and 689 feet of ascent. She completed the race in 27mins 10 secs over the challenging 5k course and was comfortably in the top third of runners.
“Had forgotten how tough Fell racing is and how different it is. Was very happy to get back onto different terrain and enjoyed it immensely.”
Some may say Beka Millington is barking mad and bitten off more than she can chew but more likely is that she is one gutsy lady up for a challenge !
She has been training her young Sheepdog Gary the sport of Canicross since she got him as a pup and boy would he have enjoyed running with her over Saddleworth Moors. This was a race just for humans though and poor Gary had to stay at home but she advised he was there with her in spirit. Nominee for Bolton Harriers Female Distance Track Athlete of the Year Beka has proved she is a much more versatile athlete and at home on all surfaces and terrain.
Beka talked about her new goals “After a rocky road to the London Marathon I decided to switch my focus from times and try a new challenge for 2022. My first ultra marathon! I’m running Race to the Castle (100km nonstop) at the end of May, and Saddleworth 10 Reservoirs was the first of 2 training races I have in the build-up”.
The Saddleworth Ten Reservoir’s is described as a high level moorland challenge visiting 10 local reservoirs along the way. Due to the time of year full winter kit was required including full waterproof cover, hat and gloves, map and compass, spare clothing and food. Not for the faint hearted it’s 26 miles with 4400 ft of ascent. Starting from the Dysart Arms and past Dovestones and Yeoman Hey Reservoirs heading 2 miles up to the crags of Ravenstones. More ascent then over White Moss to Blackmoss Reservoir and eastwards along the Pennine Way before descending into Wessenden Valley. More ascent then to the ‘Isle of Skye’ road. A journey then across more of the Pennine Way to Chew Reservoir. Through the woods and back to the Dysart Arms.
After a slog of more than 5 hours and enough to break the will of many runners Beka made it back to the welcome of her proud partner Josh and beaming parents Mike and Karen, who had travelled all the way up from Southampton.
After a short recovery and some sustenance a delighted Beka said “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at marathon distance, it was amazing ! Very very tough in parts, with going into a bog over my knees being one of the hardest parts, but absolutely beautiful. I’m bloody chuffed with myself !
Saturday 26th February saw Katie Percival make her marathon debut at Bingley.
Calm conditions greeted Katie and her partner Rob as they travelled over the Pennines. Starting and finishing from The Fishermans Pub next to Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club the race ventured out on the canal towpath towards Skipton. By and large flat with the small challenges of the 3 and five rise locks.
Looking relaxed at the start she said “I have had a block of 18 weeks training and a good few 3 hour runs in the Lake District hills. I am looking forward to seeing the 20 mile mark and then going for it. It’s a lovely environment and I will just keep taking it in to forget about the pain.”
Katie absolutely thundered round in an amazing time of 3 hours 18 minutes which was way under her target of 3 hours 30 minutes.
After she got her breath back and some sustenance she couldn’t hide her delight. “ I wanted to rinse myself and I think I succeeded in that. At half way I knew I was going a little too fast but I couldn’t slow down ! It was just a case after the turn that I entered pain cave and I just had to treat it as 1 mile reps. I eventually saw the bridges which I knew were close to the finish and I put the burners on. What’s next ? I don’t know but maybe some fell racing – I will have to take some time out to think about that one.
It was the Sports Hall Championships at The Etihad Manchester last Sunday and delighted team manager Gwylim Jones has reported there was a lot of medals won.
Athletes taking part were Under 11girls Jasmine Greenhalgh Amelie Hodgkiss Mabel lwelu Isabella Whittle Charley Marsden Emily Wood Aoife Waldron first time Rose Blaney first time Freya Lombard Kittie Beca Under 13 girls Cerys Jones Matilda Hall Alyssia May Ellie Deavall Molly Wood Eve Blaney first time Iris Beca Under 15 girls Alice Yoxall Under 11 boys Joshua Grundy Benjamin Davies Matthew Wood Ted Ratcliffe first time Jack Hughes Emmanuel Hassan first time Noah Tulin Elliott Molineux Under 13 boys Jamie Greenhalgh Alfie Dodds Curtis Hornsby Chris Franks Jacob Kelly.
U 11 girls Emily Wood speed bounce silver , Mabel Iwelu bronze 1 lap, gold 3 lap
U 13 girls Matilda Hall Standing long jump bronze Alyssia May Standing triple jump silver Ellie Deavall speed bounce silver Molly Wood 4lap silver
u13 girls Princess lwelu 4 lap bronze
U15 girls Alice Yoxall Standing long jump silver
U11 boys Joshua Grundy 1 lap silver 3 lap gold Benjamin Davies1 lap bronze Speed bounce gold, Jack Hughes bronze speed bounce
U13 boys Chris Franks 4 lap bronze Speed bounce silver Jamie Greenhalgh Shot put gold Alfie Dodds 2 lap bronze Shot put bronze Vertical jump bronze Relays
U11 girls 4th
U13 girls gold
U11 boys silver
U13 boys gold
Gwylim commented “all the kids put their heart and soul into it but I thought an outstanding performance was in the u13 girls by Molly Wood in 4lap – I was not expecting her to get a medal with such tough competition. Joshua Grundy and Benjamin Davies also put in great performances”.
Bolton Harriers would like to thank all the competitors and Team Manager Gwylim Jones and his daughter Lindsay for their efforts as always.
Sunday 27th March saw one of the oldest UK road races in the form of the Lostock 6. A fine day greeted a decent contingent of Bolton Harriers for the undulating course starting and finishing in Lostock Industrial Estate.
Turbo Tommy Harrison was first Blue vest back in a time of 32 mins 42 secs. A previous podium finisher when Harriers occupied the first 3 spots Tommy was not in his best shape but still put in a typical gutsy effort for overall 7th place justifying his nomination for Senior Male Athlete of the year. He said after the race “it was a struggle in parts due to a lack of fitness and a couple of recent illnesses. I was happy with the time I ran though for the start of the season. It was a decent enough run to start off a new training block. In the immediate future I have a target of a PB in the Mid Cheshire 5k and I want to put in a really good performance for the club in the Northern Road relays”.
Second Harrier back was rising star Callum Brooks. A young man, and new member, who has exploded into the Harriers Endurance Group and has been setting PB’s galore in various races and park runs in the last few months. Callum grabbed a top 20 finish in 34 mis 41 secs justifying his recent selection by the club in the forthcoming Northern Road Relays. He even received a message of congratulations from Team Manager Dave Shaw after the event – a very rare thing !
Veteran and epitome of consistency Mark Wolstencroft was third Harrier home in a time of 36 mins 14 secs. Showing why he is a nominee for Harriers Veteran Male Athlete of the Year he said after “I was put under severe pressure all the way round from one of the team”. He was referring to another rising star in first Harriers Lady home Heather Brown. Heather was a new addition to Dave Shaw’s group last year and has won several races at various distances and is a nominee for Harriers Senior Female Athlete of the year. Heather finished in 36 mins 32 secs.
Next in was the quietly spoken but a very strong and determined Matt Atkinson. Last years club London Marathon entrant and this years nominee for Most Improved Senior Male Athlete of the Year ran a great 37 mins 21 secs.
Three very consistent and regular faces at Endurance Group training sessions all came in together. Gary Porteous and Dominic Sohor both came in with massive pb’s for the race along with a Blue Vest regular in Thomas Gore. Gary and Tom 40 mins 21 secs and Dom 40 mins 25 secs.
Scott Sunderland is another new member and now a regular to training. He is improving as rapidly as his waistline is shrinking and came back with a commendable 41 mins 20 secs.
Club veteran stalwarts James Rideout and Gary Jones ran with smiles on their faces in their usual strong and steady manner in times of 42 mins 8 secs and 43 mins 54 sec.
Mark Garner wears the Blue Vest in all manner of Fell Races, Cross Country and Road races and didn’t disappoint again with a good showing at 46 mins and 9 secs.
Saturday 26th February saw a Bolton entourage of coach Dave Shaw, family and friends heading down the M6 to the Utilita Arena at Birmingham. They were travelling to support our very own Jonny Kay taking his place in the UK Athletics Indoor Championships. The UK’s top track and field athletes had gathered with national titles and places in the GB team up for grabs ahead of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade.
The Heaton Hotshot was in good spirits and in a confident frame of mind. He had been working well in training sessions at Sports City Manchester and had ran 1200 metres in 2mins 56 secs and had two 600 metre runs at 1min 27 secs pace under his belt. He felt in his best ever shape going into the weekend.
“For the semi-final I knew it was going to be a tough ask to get a final spot. It had four guys in it who had achieved world standard of 3 mins 37 secs. George Mills took it on after a conservative start at the 700 metre mark and stretched the field further ever lap thereafter. I was able to stay with him but the final lap turned into a real scrap and although I had been nudged back to fourth spot I had achieved a pb of 3:45:51. This was more than 3 seconds chipped off my previous best. I was really pleased with that and It proved to be more than good enough for a place in the final the day after”.
“On the Saturday evening I had dinner with friends and managed to get a good nights sleep. I woke up though still feeling really tired as I had put so much into the semi-final. I found I just didn’t have the legs in the final to cover all the moves and finished seventh in a time of 3:53:01. I have to be really pleased with the weekend though and basically being 7th in the UK at the moment is a major positive. The first three guys were all professional athletes and it feels really good to be mixing in with that level now. The time I ran in the semis gets me into the British Championships. If I can do 3:45 indoors potentially with the 4 second rule I can get down to 3:41 outdoors on the bigger tracks. Hopefully then as training progresses I can aim for sub 3:40. I am going to rest up this week and then myself and Dave are really excited to get back on with the training plans. Can I thank my Coach Dave for everything he does, my dad David for all the travelling he has done up and down the country with me, and my mum Joanne and the rest of the family for their support and encouragement.”
Three of Bolton United Harriers university athletes travelled across the Pennines to compete in their first British University and College Sports Indoor Athletics Championships. Instead of pulling on the blue vest of Bolton United harriers they wore their university colours.
First year student Ben To, competing for UCLAN, lined up in the 60m against some of the best U23 athletes in the country. Despite running 7.15 which is just outside his PB of 7.13 he could only manage 3rd in his heat and just missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
Edge Hill student Rebecca Weekes and University of Birmingham student Olivia Kimbowa were drawn against each other in the heats of the women’s 400m. Both got away to good starts but Olivia was really strong over the last 100m and won the heat in 58.61 seconds, a new indoor PB. Hurdles specialist Rebecca in one of her first races of the season also ran a big indoor PB of 60.72 seconds finishing third.
In the semi- final Olivia was drawn in lane 4 against the eventual winner of the 400m. She knew she had to work hard to be in contention at the half way stage and she valiantly tried to stay in touch with the leaders. Although she finished third in the race she smashed her lifetime best with a time of 57.60 seconds.
A delighted Olivia explained “57 seconds has been my target 400m time for the last couple years, so I’m over the moon to have finally reached that new lifetime best this weekend. To have won my first national medal with the amazing relay girls It really shows that all the hard work Les and I have put into training is going well. Training is now aimed at the outdoor season, which starts in April. I’m really excited to run even quicker times and compete at more national championships this year”.
Coach Les Hall was also really pleased with the performance. “Olivia can definitely run much quicker outdoors and I hope she will run mid 56’s. If she manages to improve further it will book her a place in the EA senior England Championships and should see her ranked in the national top 70, hot on the heels of training partner Hannah Kelly”.
Both girls also competed for their respective university 4x200m relay teams, both teams winning a place in the final. The Birmingham team proved too strong for Edge Hill and finished a fantastic 2nd, winning Olivia her first national medal. Both will go back to a period of hard training in readiness for this year’s outdoor season.
Hannah Kelly won her first senior England vest on Saturday 5th Feb. She was selected to compete in the new format Dynamic New Athletics ‘DNA’. She was running her favoured distance of 400m and was part of the 4x400m mixed relay squad. Lining up against teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain and Portugal Hannah ran the third leg of the relay. She ran a perfect race and recorded 53.4 seconds for her leg which was 1.5 seconds quicker than the time she ran when winning the Northern senior championships in January. She next races at the British Championships at the end of February where she will compete against the best female 400m runners in the country
Ten young Bolton Harriers competed at this years Northern U13 and U15 championships. Most of them had never competed at a championship of this level before so there were lots of nerves. The first competitor of the day was Matilda Hall in the U13 girls long jump. Despite a nervy start, in the third round she leapt 4m 37 to set a new PB to reach the final 8. She couldn’t improve on this distance in her final three attempts but it was enough to win the bronze medal.
Multi talented Tilly then took on the high Jump. A relative newcomer to the event Tilly only jumps off a short run up but despite this soared over 1m 35 to equal her PB. She then attempted 1m 40 and at the second attempt sailed over to record another PB. 1m 43 proved a height too far but this should be within her reach in the summer and that would earn her a new club record. 1m 40 was enough to win her second medal of the day – one better a shiny silver medal.
In the U13 boys events newcomers Josh Grundy and Benji Davies lined up first in the 200m. The junior school boys were up against athletes a year older but despite this both came a creditable 4th position in their heats. Both felt more confident in the 60m. Josh raced first and came a fantastic third place in the semi final earning him a place in the final. Benji also ran a fantastic race but unfortunately missed out on the final by one place. In the final Josh finished 7th in a time of 8.95 seconds only 0.04 seconds outside the U13 boys club record.
U13 girls debutants Princess Iwelu and Chloe Medard doubled up in the 60m and the 200m – potentially 6 races in the afternoon if they reached their finals. Both ran fantastic 200m heats and duly qualified for the semi finals. Chloe ran hard but just ran out of steam to finish an excellent 4th in her race. In the next semi final Princess battled hard and qualified for the final as a fastest loser with a time of 28.84 seconds. In the final Princess took advantage of an inside lane and came third to claim the bronze medal.
Coach Les Hall has high hopes of his U13 girl sprinters and believes that this years crop could emulate the relay team from 2021 which finished the year ranked 7th in the UK. Allyssia May, Matilda Hall, Princess Iwelu and Chloe Medard all entered the 60m. In the heats Allyssia and Matilda easily won their heats and Princess and Chloe also progressed to the semi finals. In the first semi final Allyssia blew the rest of the field away winning easily and put a marker down to the other competitors.
In the second semi final Matilda Hall and Chloe Medard both lined up against the fastest girl in the North of England. Tilly got a blistering start and opened up a gap of 2 metres and never looked likely to be beaten. She recorded a new PB of 8.50 seconds. The semi final was Chloes 4th race of the day but she still came a fantastic 6th place. In the last semi final Princess ran a quick 8.84 seconds to finish third and qualify for her second final of the day.
Three Bolton U13 girls had made the final of the 60m – the club had never had so many competitors make a regional final.
All girls ran superb races but Allyssia wasn’t to be denied. She stormed through the line in 8.28 seconds which smashed her PB and broke her own club record. Matilda was a close second and came away with her third medal of the day. It was Princess’ 6th race of the day but she still finished an amazing 6th to cap off an incredible day.
U15 girls Cherie Ufuoma and Summer Eden were not to be outdone. Both breezed through heats and lined up against each other in the third semi final of the 60m. The girls dominated their competitors and finished first and second to book their places in the final. Both ran fantastic races and Cherie came away with the bronze medal and Summer finished 5th against girls all 12 months older than her. Next year Summer will be hoping to go even better and has a medal in her sites. Both girls smashed their PB’s with Summer running 8.16 seconds and Cherie ran 8.08 seconds which broke yet another club record.
In the U15 boys Jamie Greenhalgh and Alfie Dodds competed in the the shot putt. Both had performed really well during the 2021 season and hoped to improve further. Jamie threw a new PB of 7m 71 to finish 5th and Alfie was close to his PB with a throw of 7m 03.
It was a great day for Bolton Harriers and their young stars came away with one gold medal, two silver medals and three bronze medals. It’s great to see some of the stars if the future compete so well.