All you need is Love, Liverpool and a Lionheart – Runners Relief special

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It is somewhat rare that St Helens Tri venture to Croxteth Hall for a Saturday morning Parkrun but Tony Waine and Neil Wallace took on the technical, twisty confines of this iconic Merseyside landmark on St Patrick’s Day as they finished just seven places apart both cracking the top 40, Tony leading his teammate home by just over 50 seconds. At the more familiar venues of Ormskirk and St Helens Garry Banks enjoyed one of his most productive runs for a while as 23:20 was good enough for a top 30 placing while at Victoria Park Paul Austin repeated Garry’s result, minus one second and also one position, how’s that for a bit of symmetry. The mini Beast from the East put paid to the rest of the weekend schedule so it was on to the following weekend where the main focus was on Craig Abbott tackling the double Gin Pit marathon to raise money for the Isabella Rose Foundation. Held over two days, it is a long standing favourite among marathon specialists and ultra runners alike. Craig put in a remarkable performance as he soaked up the support of his club mates who even supplied him with true athletes nutrition 15 miles into the day. A pie, in case you were wondering. Results for the two day event are not yet in at the time of writing but his fundraising page is open for donations and has garnered much deserved support.

Craig wasn’t the only one running on the Saturday as Callum Bishop was just 10 seconds off his PB in placing seventh at a hotly contested Ormskirk Parkrun, Charlie Stirrup came within a few lengths off joining him in the top 10 and Liz Spensley made a welcome return to her favourite course. Meanwhile Kevin Dudley was 16th, but just 25 seconds away from the top 10 in St Helens where he was joined by a sub-26 performance from Mike Gregory and Tony Waine’s Tour de Parkrun continued as he recorded a sub-22 and top 20 finish at the Southport event in Hesketh Park.

Those who weren’t running the relays for their various second claim clubs at Birkenhead Park had the choice of the Liverpool Half Marathon or the Harlech Triathlon as the multisport season which awoke a couple of weeks ago finally kicked into top gear. Over on the Lleyn Peninsula Mal Balmer and newcomer Philip Hughes were taking on the first triathlon on the Saints 2018 calendar, a testing early season race with a run along the beach and some steps to finish. Both enjoyed their day out and have recommended it as a season curtain raiser for 2019, with Mal completing the course in 1:22 just over 15 minutes ahead of his new teammate. On the Liverpool waterfront six club members took on the first local 13.1 miler that actually went ahead since the Central Lancashire New Year race, the Wilmslow half marathon having been rescheduled for 24 June. Dave O’Connell, who has specialised in 10k races for many years, led the club home with an excellent run to a time of 1:33:29, but there were plenty of feel good stories further back, including the next member home, Emily Ashton, one of the club’s strongest young runners, who recorded a 1:42:35 which put her in the top 1000. She was just over 90 seconds clear of newbie Neil Wallace who led Parkrun regular Jill O’Connor over the line to the tune of around four and a half minutes, both placing inside the top 1500. Robert Saile was kicking off his 2018 fundraising campaign as someone who has overcome a brain infection and in arguably the performance of the day he blew away his previous PB with a determined run to a time of 2:08:43 around four minutes ahead of the returning Nick Hall, to round off the first variety show of 2018. The Easter weekend promises to be just as diverse with the club duathlon, the Salford 10k and the Ulverston Triathlon on the schedule.

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