Saturday, 21st November 2015
Subzero temperatures for race setup at daft o’clock did not get much higher in the bright and sunny skies over Leverhulme at midday, but the racing was certainly pretty hot stuff! For the seniors, after the three laps and having led from the start, Bolton’s Tom Carson had to strain every sinew over the final 200m to hold off Robert Warner. The Blackburn man managed to draw level and cue a drag race to the finish line; Carson had saved enough energy for one last final response with 20m to go, eventually crossing the line ahead by 2m, though both clocked 34:49. Amazing stuff! The result gives Carson leeway to retain his RRXC senior men’s title, requiring only a top 8 finish at Rossendale’s Marl Pits in a fortnight.
Tommy Harrison’s excellent 7th place saw him leap into the series’ bronze medal position, leaving a four-way fight for the series runner-up with Dave Smith (Leigh), Tim Raynes (Blackburn) and Danny Collinge (Burnley) and the tantalising prospect of a Bolton 1-2. Behind Karl Darcy (12th), there was more certainty about the results for Declan Toomey (15th) and John Knowles (17th) – both took unassailable leads in their respective U20 and M40 categories, to clinch the Junior and overall Veterans’ titles. Phil Marsden (18th) completed the six-counter team line-up to net 65 points, comfortably seeing off Blackburn’s 120, and bag the series team trophy with one race to spare.
Mark Swannell, Chris Povey and Chris Pickford joined Knowles to form the Vets’ team, whose 69 points was bettered by Todmorden’s 44; only 5 points separate the two in the RRXC standings, so Rossendale will witness another heads-up battle for the title. Dean Johnson’s 48:09 followed a 6 hour stint of helping to set up the course (and probably having covered the 10.2km distance already!), whilst Stuart Parsonson was ‘enthusiastic’ about the deeper-than-usual water crossing that claimed Tony Warham. For the women, U20 Fiona Gande (44th) was again the club’s leading light, showing a clean (muddy?) pair of heels to mum Karen, who was just over a minute behind. Further back, Laura Crawley upped her pace as Sara Green was challenging in the home straight, to give a 4s gap and show good awareness.
Men: Tom Carson 34:49; Tommy Harrison 36:42; Karl Darcy 37:13; Declan Toomey 37:29 (U20); John Knowles 37:54; Phil Marsden 37:59; Mark Swannell 39:58; Scott Crompton 40:48; Chris Povey 41:45; Frazer Jardine 42:05; Craig Renshaw 42:57; Chris Pickford 43:27; Peter Walker 44:06; Howard Taylor 46:58; Dean Johnson 48:09; Eric Rannicar 50:25; Stuart Parsonson 51:39; Andrew Hood 53:38 (1/16 Team 65 pts)
Women: Fiona Gande 26:18 (U20); Karen Hood 27:29; Julie Lomax 28:23; Laura Crawley 28:59; Sara Green 29:03; Adrienne Fisher 29:34 (15/16 Team 176 pts)
Bolton’s juniors experienced a few ups and downs, literally, as slips and slides in the mud took their toll across the age-groups. It began with the U11 boys, where Harvey Kenny’s stumble down the ‘golf’ slope allowed Oisin Behan to overtake and the intra-club seesaw for RRXC supremacy between the two tipped back towards Oisin; Harvey’s determination was evident though as he battled back to keep the gap to just 9 seconds. Home territory saw 13 Blue Vests – Bolton’s largest representation yet, with Liam Allison and Finn Coop embodying the team ethic. For the girls, Izzy Merritt set the early pace which yielded a fabulous second place; she is in pole position for the age-group title, though with Clayton-le-Moors’ Ella Dorrington only 1 point behind, it promises to be close. Idowu Taiwo bookended the team with excellent spirit and resulted in a second-place behind Wigan by the narrowest of margins.
Ruairi Behan (12th) and Ella Richardson (29th) were Bolton’s leading counters for the U13s, whilst Madeline Erzan-Essien (9th) led the U15 girls. In the U17 age-group, there was more drama as Rachel Bailey caught and battled it out with Katie Oakley. Similar to the situation Carson would find himself in an hour later, the last 150m saw both Bolton girls sprinting shoulder-to-shoulder. Come the final 25m, a combination of exhaustion, off-balance posture and arms tangling in the jostle for the line resulted in Oakley falling to the ground and Bailey taking third. Part-and-parcel of the x-country game, both saw the funny side in the end and will learn from the experience. Mercedes Mercer and Georgia Greenhalgh completed the team.
U11s boys: Oisin Behan 7:44; Harvey Kenny 7:53; Laurence Britton 7:55; Adam Vickers 8:10; Sam Hazelwood 8:33; Kevin Longthorne 8:38; Joshua Bentley-Hughes 8:45; Jack Vickers 8:54; Lucas Pilling 8:54; Matthew Wilkinson 9:03; Christopher Fordham 9:18; Liam Allison 10:30; Finn Coop 10:36 (5/8 Team 37 pts)
U11 girls: Isabella Merritt 7:29; Ruby Erzan-Essien 7:47; Lily Philbin 8:06; Amy Rossington 8:48; Hannah Swales 8:49; Erin Barlow 8:51; Abigail Steele-Lesh 9:13; Sofia Aftab 9:53; Idowu Taiwo 9:58 (2/12 Team 24 pts)
U13 boys: Ruairi Behan 12:45; Ben Pickford 12:53; Louis Greenhalgh 14:44; Tobias Coop 15:00 (8/10 Team 71 pts)
U13 girls: Ella Richardson 15:08; Clemencia Longthorne 15:56
U15 girls: Madeline Erzan-Essien 18:07; Molly Philbin 18:34; Francesca Fordham 19:25; Leah Rushworth 20:34; Ellie Forrest 23:40 (4/6 Team 35 points)
U17 girls: Rachel Bailey 23:40; Katie Oakley 23:50; Mercedes Mercer 25:00; Georgia Greenhalgh 26:58 (2/2 Team 15 points)
Elsewhere, two stunning performances came at the Chorley Fire Fighters 10K. Tony Valentine, road-racing for the first time as an M40 veteran, turned in his quickest time for nearly 3 years, winning in 33:10. Also on the podium as third of the 409 field, M45 Simon Dally smashed his PB by over a minute to clock 34:27. Stupendous!