Mike Goulbourne has long been a man to lead by example and he marked the final weekend of October by putting in yet another epic performance at one of his favourite haunts, the Snowdonia Marathon. Often regarded as one of the most picturesque 26.2 milers in the country it combines road, trail and, you might say, a bit of fell terrain. In the event Mike placed in the top 25 overall in a time of 3:05:17, over 10 minutes quicker than in 2017 and good enough for a top six finish in his age category. Lee Stinch managed to get a last minute number for the race and despite not having ideal preparation he managed to complete the testing course in under 3 hours 50 minutes. Clearly one marathon in October was not enough for Kevin Dunbar as he followed up his Chicago trip (and Manchester detour) with a fine run to a time of 4:11:49 while Craig Abbott marked his first race in a long while with a dogged run to finish in just over five hours.
Kevin and Lee would play a starring role the following weekend but it was actually Melanie Sayed who got the ball rolling with a real off-the-radar special at the Epic Events Fireworks 500 swim at Capernwray Diving Centre. This is a popular end of season party race with hot drinks, bonfire and, obviously, fireworks at the finish. Melanie has mainly become known for her excellent marathon performances earlier this year but here she scored her best result since joining the club as her time of 10:22 put her eighth overall and even won her age group! Such a terrific feel good story was the ideal springboard for another grand day out for the club at two races, the Striders Trail 5 and the Lancaster Half Marathon. In St Helens Kevin Dunbar was once again the star of the show, as he ran in tandem with Michael Forber (competing for the Isabella Rose Foundation) and completed the mixed terrain course in a time of 36:32. He was just over a minute ahead of Neil Hunter enjoying his first outing in quite a while, and Helen Broderick showed the strength of character that took her to so much success during the summer as she rolled home in just over 47 minutes. Meanwhile in Lancaster the dust had only just settled from Melanie’s standout performance the previous day as Lee Stinch was joined by Emma and Matt Shillabeer plus Diane Taktak for the 3-1-5 races Half Marathon. Set in one of England’s most historic cities, the course features diverse scenery and a very tough hill at the end. Lee Stinch somehow managed to complete the seemingly impossible of Snowdonia Marathon, Friday track session and this testing 13.1 miler all in eight days, not only finishing but recording an excellent 1:37:12. He was able to sit back and enjoy the remaining trio roll in just 20 seconds apart, with Diane finishing in 2:11:22, edging clear of longtime members Emma and Matt Shillabeer who ran the course together, to fittingly round off another fortnight of road running and open water swimming where the star turns came from Mike in Snowdonia and Melanie at the Fireworks 500. Next weekend’s main race is the second round of the Manchester Cross Country League at the University Playing Fields in Bagley, a medium speed course with some flat straight for speed merchants, but also a testing infield section with some particularly tricky descents.