With the St Helens Triathlon falling victim to an overgrow of algae at Eccleston Mere the BeurBest Rainford 10k was the club’s only home event of the year. Established in 2013, it is an undulating course using many of the roads found on the Monday night social run from the Golden Lion, except that the 10k start and finish is at the ever-supportive Rainford High School. It attracts a field of 400 runners and always sells out in advance of race day. Given that it avoided the clash that befell the recent Southport/Ormskirk 10k double-header a strong field was to be expected and so it proved, but Ian Orford was more than equal to the challenge as he stepped up to the plate and led the club’s entrants home, finishing in 13th place in a time of 40:20 leaving him 5th in the open category. Next up was a close battle with Mike Gregory and Alan McKeegan, two of the club’s long distance triathlon specialists, crossing the line just 33 seconds apart, Mike recording a 43:10 thus putting both under the 44 minute mark, with the next pair of Neil Hunter and Kevin Dudley coming in as close as could possibly be, just a single second apart, 43:57 to 43:58. The club’s ladies were well represented, and while the results page is a little confusing as some raced for St Helens Tri and others for the Isabella Rose Foundation, Jillian Littler was the first St Helens Tri-entered lady to cross the line, her time of 50:04 placing her third in the open female division. Melanie Sayed and Christine Forber were the club’s next two ladies over the line, both recording a gun time of 43:34 but Christine setting a slightly quicker mark based on the timing chip. Other highlights included Azzam Taktak beating the 50 minute mark at the end of a long Ironman season, Derek Ireland, fresh from his heroics last week at Oulton Park, following up all those climbs of Knickerbrook Corner with a fine run to a time of 58:18 and the inspirational Liz Spensley completing the route in under 65 minutes. Full results are available to view at https://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/21O/ featuring all the participants; note also how large the winner’s margin of victory was and the photo finish for second and third!
It wasn’t a purely Rainford 10k day either as Diane Taktak was racing just down the road at Knowsley Safari Park for the increasingly popular Kirkby Milers 10 mile road race. Diane has been getting her form back in recent weeks and a time of 1:35:40, a season’s best, was a fitting reward on such a tough route. In addition the Chester Marathon took place around a surprisingly hilly course where the club was represented by David Isaac, Andy Devaynes and Robert Saile, with all three having a story to tell. David Isaac has been a regular at the Monday night runs turning up in all weather conditions, even leading a route on occasion, and here, an outstanding chip time of 3:10:11 was a thoroughly deserved reward for months of hard training. Andy Devaynes took to the start line unsure if he would even finish the race having battled injury problems for much of the past few months but still managed to tough it out “on one leg” as he put it, finishing the race in under 4:40. Meanwhile Robert Saile, who has spent much of the 2018 season supporting his son and daughter in their racing endeavours, rediscovered his form from iron man 70.3 in June as he pulled out arguably the biggest effort of the weekend to cross the line in a time of 6:02:58 while raising money for the Encaphalitis Society. In keeping with the 26.2 theme, it was just as well that the Chicago Bears NFL team were on their bye week as the Windy City was taken over by thousands of runners from all over the world, including a few from the Liverpool and St Helens areas, one being Kevin Dunbar. Kevin (pictured below) has already completed numerous marathons and is working towards Ironman 2019. Here, he almost didn’t make it to the race following a 30-hour delay triggered by a cancelled flight but once at the home of deep dish pizza he grabbed, well, more than a few slices of the action, even hand-slapping with the spectators on the course at one point (the video has already been uploaded) and after all the pre- and in-race hi-jinks he still put in negative splits, as per David Isaac in Chester, to finish in a terrific time of 3:29:54.
Three more club members tried something a little different. First off, Lynette Houghton completed the trifecta of sprint, middle and long distance Spartan obstacle course races as she negotiated 25km in a downpour at Windsor. Despite having to complete 210 burpees during the course of the event she finished the toughest race of her season in under four and a half hours. In addition Stephen Gavin and John Bowes travelled to the Catalan capital to take on Ironman Barcelona. Stephen performed brilliantly to finish in under 12 hours thanks in no small part to a blistering sub-5:45 bike leg, while John Bowes finished handily in the top 2,000 overall in a time of 13:05:13 rounding off yet another busy weekend where the club’s biggest race of the entire year was a roaring success and David and Kevin stole the headlines on the road for two landmark performances in Chester and Illnois. Next weekend’s big event is the first round of the Manchester Cross Country League at Wythenshawe Park, which is traditionally the final round of the championship but this year serves as the curtain-raiser. As well as being the club’s main focus for training and racing over the winter, it offers all members the opportunity to compete for the club’s own senior mens and ladies titles, won last year by Michael Forber and Myka Heard, with the awards presented at the annual prize giving.