Two long standing classics and two recent additions to the racing calendar brought plenty of joy for St Helens Tri on St Patrick’s Day. At the Trimpell 20 Ben Livingston’s meteoric rise continued apace. Having only recently rejoined the club after a few years away, he was taking part in by far his longest ever race, a tough 20 miler as part of the Lancaster Race Series. In a high quality field he not only recorded an outstanding time of 2:24:46 but he also cracked the top 60 overall, outpacing many more experienced runners and looking comfortable in illustrious company. The slopes of Wigan town centre often make for tough going particularly at this time of year (having been one of very few mid-March races to survive last year’s Beast from the East) but three club members enjoyed a grand day out. Diane Taktak’s 10 mile time of time of 1:40:54 was good enough for ninth in her age category, but while Mark Derbyshire’s 22:35 was enough for 57th in the 5k race, Helen Broderick ran one of her best short distance races to date as she clocked 25:14 and, in a furious battle for age group places, took third in her category. Needless to say, the pies on offer at the finish were well received and well deserved.
Paul Booth has long been an athlete to relish tough off road courses and as such he was always going to be a perfect fit for the Lancaster Duathlon hosted for the first time by T2 Events. Paul has years of running experience with St Helens Striders but here he caught the eye on both run and bike as he raced soundly to a 17th place finish, a good result any day of the week but a great one given that it was his first outing in more than two months. Meanwhile six hardy souls joined the masses at the ever popular Epic Events Parbold Duathlon. In a very competitive race, which saw local runner Ian Lawton take a runaway victory, Ged Roberts led the way for the Saints with a consummate performance drawing on the strength and confidence gained from recently topping the time sheets at the 3000m club time trial (used by the coaches to set training paces) and despite his relative lack of familiarity with the race format he came up with a brilliant performance, especially on his recently acquired Giant Propel with disc brakes (which were a godsend on the descent of Hunter’s Hill) to place in the top 15 overall in a time of 1:38:27 less than five minutes away from the top ten. Next to finish, both inside the top 60, were club coaches Mark Eccleston and Lee Stinch. Lee was over half a minute ahead as they entered the pitlane at the end of the first run, but Mark’s greater experience and familiarity with the bike paid dividends and he eventually pulled clear of Lee in finishing 46th overall. Indeed, Peter Rawlinson got within sight of Lee towards the end of the bike course, however Lee showed why he regularly features towards the front of the club Friday night track sessions and eventually held off his teammate to the tune of just over two and a half minutes. Will Bardin and Carole James exited the pitlane pretty much in tandem as the inevitable Parbold Duathlon traffic jams built up, but Will would pull away on the bike course and managed to cross the line just under the two hour mark. Carole enjoyed an eventful race as she continues to grow in confidence, even surviving a scary moment at the end of the second lap on the bike when the person she was attempting to overtake forgot that it was three laps not two (just as well he couldn’t turn his bike quickly because it was clearly too big for him) but she overcame her trepidation of descending Hunter’s Hill to place third in her age group and join the stars of the weekend, namely Ben for his 20 mile time, Helen for her age group podium in Wigan and Ged for his top-15 overall in Parbold. Next week’s main event is the second club duathlon of the winter season, Entries will remain open until Wednesday at midnight, including post race breakfast at the Skelmersdale truck stop.