Central Lancashire 5K

Sunday, 19th February 2017

The seventh CL5K, now the traditional CLGP season curtain-raiser, saw the Blue Vests’ 32-strong squad put in a collective performance that demonstrates suitable intent on unifying the four team titles.

Jonathan Kay set the tone, storming to victory in the men’s race and matching the 15:52 mark set by Horwich’s Chris Farrell – last year’s winner. Tommy Harrison’s bronze, behind Warrington’s Nick Jones, and John Knowles’ fifth (and first vet position – M45) saw BUH&AC collect the race first team prize.

Equally impressive, the women’s race saw Bolton’s Laura Lombard lead from start to finish, though clubmate Catherine O’Dwyer, returning to the CLGP after 20 months, exerted pressure with a barnstorming final 600m, narrowing the gap to just 2 seconds by the finish line. Junior Katie Oakley was the third team counter and allowed the women to make it a double team victory. With last year’s silver medallist Nicky Cartridge volunteering for marshalling duties, following yesterday’s 26:53 (fourth overall) at the Astley Park edition of the South East Lancs XC series, allied to the number of juniors coming through in the endurance discipline, it is certainly exciting times at Leverhulme Park. With 20 points, hopes of winning the elusive CLGP female team title come October are credible, though Leigh (25) and Burnden will undoubtedly have a say.

Bolton’s A Team (first 10 counters) featured first junior Declan Toomey, the improving Rhys Francis outsprinting Paul Wolstencroft, and Craig Kenny bookending to take an early season lead of 111 points to Leigh’s 227. The B Team, comprising the next six counters for 2017 (i.e. positions 11 – 16), included exciting prospect Lewis Aldred, and Paul Mills holding off Stephen Bonney as the last sub-20-minutes crew. The eventual standings saw the friendly rivalry with Burnden Roadrunners reignited (298 to BRR’s 619), which was replicated in the Veterans’ series (40 to BRR’s 92) courtesy of Chris Pickford’s final counter.

There was an assured debut from Molly Philbin, who stepped up from the junior ranks with aplomb, whilst significant age category positions were collected by Chris Povey (M40), Paul Wolstencroft (M50), Ken Fowler (M60) and Stephen Zlotty (M70).

Richard Clegg, race organising for the first time, thanked all the volunteers for another safe and slick event. “Patchy drizzle endured for most of the set-up, turning persistent by the time the runners set off, so I’m glad the racing was anything but damp with the marshals all positively beaming!”

BUH&AC times: Jonathan Kay 15:52; Tommy Harrison 16:40; John Knowles 17:02; Frazer Jardine 17:16; Declan Toomey 17:41; Dominic Gavin 18:09; Chris Povey 18:24; Rhys Francis 18:58; Mark Wolstencroft 19:00; Craig Kenny 19:05; Laura Lombard 19:06; Catherine O’Dwyer 19:08; Lewis Aldred 19:11; Christian Pickford 19:27; Paul Mills 19:29; Stephen Bonney 19:30; Katie Oakley 20:11; Dean Johnson 20:28; Cameron Donnelly 21:01; Ken Fowler 21:01; Andrew Gallagher 21:12; Olivia Kearney 21:22; Molly Philbin 22:04; Rachel Bailey 22:14; Matthew Pemrick 22:16; Andrew Barrow 22:19; Mercedes Mercer 23:10; Simon Thorne 24:12; Cecilia Woods 24:25; Stephen Zlotty 26:50; Gerard Tucker 29:15; Jane Lim 33:35

Photos (RunningPix) – Many thanks to Steve Bateson of RunningPix for the images here.

Elsewhere, Gary Jones clocked 1:12:25 in the Rugeley 10M for 33rd overall (M55 silver).