Half Marathon Heroics for the Flowers of Wrexham

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Plenty of Parkruns and two long standing signature events characterised the post-cross country fortnight. Before reporting on the individual efforts of the past two weeks, however, the final team standings from the cross country season are now in and the ladies placed well with seventh overall and fourth in the veterans league. Meanwhile the men’s veterans team won division 3 and, coupled with third place in the overall standings, secured promotion to division 2 for the 2018/19 campaign. The MACCL AGM is scheduled for 6:30 this coming Friday at Wilmslow Rugby Club, tickets can still be purchased at the time of writing but orders for food must be received by Tuesday evening.

Ormskirk and St Helens were the two stages for Parkruns on February 17th with Anthony Bearon recording a new PB and a top-20 finish at Edge Hill as he came within two minutes of the top 10 while Rachel Bearon did likewise in placing 85th. Dave Gaskell provided the biggest cheer of the day with a new PB of 19:47, a podium finish and a resounding age group victory at the St Helens event while Paul Austin edged away from his closest rival to place second in his division and 25th overall. In the afternoon three club members who were unable to make the cross country races made up for lost time (and miles) by participating in the 48th Parbold Hill Race to open their accounts for 2018. A local classic, this 6.5 mile course involves long climbs and descents, stile jumps and a bit of tarmac, and Craig Abbott led the trio home in a race he described as a great day out all for less than the cost of a pint. Any such refreshment was well earned as he cracked the top 200 around seven minutes clear of Andy Fisher, who in turn was a similar distance ahead of Mark Derbyshire. That was it for the first “half-term” weekend but some who were unable to race on the 17th would get their chance in freezing conditions as the latest icy blast of Arctic air hit the country just in time for the rendition of Flower of Scotland on Calcutta Cup day. Kicking things off were the usual Parkruns and it was a pair of top four finishers who stole the headlines with Robert Chesters taking part in one of the most competitive Southport Parkruns in a long time to record third place and a new course PB of 17:38 while Callum Bishop had a club debut to remember, as he finished fourth at St Helens in an excellent 19:50 and Kevin Dudley made it two in the top 10, his 21:18 being good enough for 9th place, with Tony Waine making it home in under 27 minutes. At the club’s favourite haunt Edge Hill Oliver and Chris Murphy finished just ten seconds apart in 35th and 38th respectively while Liz Spensley finished 181st in under 33 minutes. The cold frosty conditions may have been a blessing in disguise given the muddy conditions that have plagued the Standish Hall trail race over the years and Craig Abbott made good use of the favourable conditions to place in the top 60 finishing in just over 49 minutes, which served as a prelude to the 24th Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon the following morning.

This event has always proven popular and regularly sells out well in advance of race day; indeed it is highly recommended for anyone thinking about the 2019 Manchester or London Marathons or Ironman UK as a gauge of strength and fitness. Michael Forber proved why he was the deserving winner of the club cross country league as his time of 1:22:30 was enough to place in the top 100, as he just keeps getting stronger and stronger en route to 2018 Ironman UK. There was a wait of around five minutes for Kevin Dunbar who must surely figure to beat the 1:25 mark soon with uninterrupted training, and Tracy Hampson, who has long been one of the club’s top swimmers put in an inspired performance to finish in well under 1:40 just over 45 seconds ahead of Jamie Tomkinson. Will Bardin and Craig Abbott also made the top 800, the latter doing particularly well after tackling the Standish 10k less than 24 hours earlier, but the biggest stories of the day were developing behind him. Charlie Taktak has already got grand plans to take on Ironman UK herself in the next couple of years but here in Wrexham she ran a storming race to go under two hours in a time of 1:58:13 and, incredibly, place third in the U21 division while her mum Diane who also has numerous long distance races on her schedule came in around five minutes further back. A similar double act came from Bethany and Christine Forber, with Bethany finishing fourth at U21 level just nine seconds behind Charlie while Christine edged clear of Diane to the tune of 11 seconds at the line to round off a memorable day when Michael Forber reminded us why he is the club’s strongest runner on current form and Charlie and Bethany pulled off a double for the ages. Next week’s main event is the St Helens 10k; for those whose legs come back with them from North Wales, this signature race features the fabled climb of North Road and passes many famous landmarks including the start and finish at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

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