A great club turn out at Witton Park for the latest Mid Lancs Cross Country event showed great team spirit when it would have been a lot easier to stay indoors. Alice Lodge ploughed her way through the mud to be the only Junior finisher in the U11 category. Joe Donoghue and Ethan Hodgkinson continued their consistent efforts for the season in the U17 race with Joe in 16th place in 20.23 and Ethan 19th in 22.25.

The cold damp conditions made it difficult for runners to stay warm prior to the start of races but the 11 strong ladies team were ready for the challenge. Margaret Lupton once again led the team home in a time of 25.17 well supported by Anne Wallworth (25.46) and Paula Plowman (25.57). The soft ground and long inclines followed by large patches of sticky mud stretched the runners out over the two lap course. Debbie Porter (26.22), Pita Oates (30.40) and Adela Nuttall(31.10) completed a club ’B’ team followed by a impressive ‘C’ team of Helen Orson (31.18), Carole Williams (32.07) and Wendy Ward (32.17). Lisa Hyde (33.52) and Janet Saynor (35.48) rounded off an excellent team effort.

An equally determined team performance came from the 19 Red Rose men. Duncan Anderson managed a great time of 38.07 in spite of losing a shoe with Ken Addison following in 41.05 and 8th in a strong V50 class. Ben Donoghue found it hard to maintain momentum throughout the 5 lap race but still finished in a good time of 42.03. There followed a competitive group of four finishing within a minute of each other. Joe Swarbrick found a little speed on the flat finish to come in, in 42.47 followed by strong finishes by Stuart Cann (42.55), Phil Butler in 43.05 and Fred Lynch (43.41).

As in the other races the field strung out with the leading runners lapping most of the field. In spite of this, the individual members of the team stuck to the task of finishing the course in determined fashion. Dave Maudsley was next, in a time of 45.55 and Frank Nightingale followed closely for 46.21. Many of the club’s runners are still in the first season of Cross Country and this was a testing and valuable experience for them all.  Jonathan Evans 47.33, Phil Dean 48.42, Andy Binstead 52.22, John Plowman 53.58, Andy Speer 54.52, Richard Lodge 55.06, Rob Mather 55.29, Warren Hoyle 57.19, Damian Clapham 58.17, Gavin Beetham 59.17.

The popular Mad Dog 10k in Southport attracted over 1500 runners. The outward 5k was against a very strong wind which put paid to most peoples’ PB attempts. Mark Billington was equal to the challenge and was able to run a great second half to finish in a time of 42.23. Steve Gore was philosophical about his time of 44.53 whilst Debbie Kirkman conquered the course with a time of 45.26 to be 12th lady home and impressively, 4th in the F35 category. Matt Ashton finished well inside 50 minutes (49.20) followed by Jamie Jardine in 52.54. In spite of running the XC the previous day Wendy Ward and Lisa Hyde were up and ready for this challenge finishing in 58.48 and 61.25. Allan Howard, running on home ground came in, in a time of 60.31 followed by Charlotte Coles who distinguished herself with a PB of 60.58. New to Red Rose, Jane Pasche ran well for 63.10 and Aimee Midgley ran a creditable 66.21.

Meanwhile, back in Blackburn, the taxing Winter Warmer 10k was the challenge for four more runners. Simon Houghton was our only man in the race finishing in 46.57 followed very closely by Janine Needham in 47.12. This is a course which has a relentless beginning before being exposed to strong winds as it passes through Pleassington. The down hills are not much comfort although time can be clawed back by the sure footed. Damian Clapham must like Blackburn as he turned out for this race finishing in 54.31, as well as the previous day’s XC. Debbie Bevitt battled all the way to break 80 minutes. (79.35).