Fab 14 face Force 14 – Arrowe Park XC 2019

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It has been an interesting cross country season so far, to say the least. A paucity of junior involvement has been counterbalanced by some excellent performances by Claire Murphy and an increasing senior men’s participation at every round so far. Those trends would continue at Arrowe Park for round three of the 2019/20 season as Oliver Murphy was the club’s sole junior representative in the U17 Boys race where he ran to a solid time of 36:24. After the lunch break it was the turn of Claire Murphy and Chris Forber to fly the flag in the ladies race with Claire once again leading the way for an 88th place finish overall, less than half a minute away from the top 10 in her age group, and a time of 48:18, particularly impressive on such a nasty day (force 14 winds as per the title?) and a course considerably longer than listed on the venue notes. Chris, meanwhile, used her experience of the Myerscough 10 the previous week to push on where others around her faded in the latter stages to back Claire up in fine style, narrowly missing out on a sub 60 minute time but glad to finish after a hairy moment on the start/finish straight earlier on. Claire and Chris retired to the gazebo while ten senior men faced the starting gun at 2:30pm.

Robert Chesters went for it on the first climb, his prior knowledge of the course from his races with Penny Lane Striders proving invaluable as he made up ground on more technically proficient runners on the familiar parts of the course. A couple of late overtakes where he dispatched two Sale Harriers proved pivotal as his free sprint to the line bagged him 47 minutes on the nose and first club counter home in 64th overall. Michael Forber would have been right up there with him had it not been for his fall on the Cumbrian Cracker sportive a couple of weeks ago as he was driving forwards with only one strong arm but his overall strength is never in doubt as he was next home, doing just enough to beat the 51 minute mark. However, the story of the day was unfolding just behind him. Kevin Dunbar had been to Tatton Park for the Yule Yomp 10k. Not content with merely going sub-45 minutes there, he drove straight to the Wirral for the XC and despite taking some time to get into the groove, he outlasted track session specialist Patrick Neill to take third club member over the line and keep the lead in the club championship standings, with the pair separated by 49 seconds at the end.

Indeed, they may soon be under increasing pressure from an improving Ian Wright who transferred from the Isabella Rose club earlier in the year. Here, he marked his MACCL debut with an excellent run to a 54:52 and a place comfortably inside the top 200. Lee Stinch secured the club’s points in the league standings as he placed 224th under the hour to be sixth counter. After Lee came the current top newcomer John Wilson in 1:00:52. Behind John a cracking battle was on between Mike Gregory and a yellow beanie hat AKA Andrew Bridge. Unfortunately the league doesn’t give bonus points for style but Andrew gave Mike a close run to the line, eventually falling short by just 11 seconds, while Gary Birch’s first XC of the season netted him 265th overall inside the 65 minute mark, a good effort on a course closer to 11km than the 9.9 advertised. With the exception of the various festive races/Santa dashes there are relatively few events between now and the end of the year but there are some club socials to look forward to, including the club Christmas ride on December 22nd, for which details will be published in the next few days.

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