Running through a (2020) storm with heads up high

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With the cross country season wiped out amid the pandemic and the race bikes nestled away in the garages, the sole focus for St Helens Tri members has been the time trial style RunThrough series of events at Tatton Park and Aintree. Designed to give everyone a clear road on which to run they are staggered starts with pairs setting off two seconds apart according to estimated finish times. Tatton was actually the first venue the club appeared at earlier in the year for the Manchester Cross Country League race, but Brian Diggle returned to the famous park to take on the 10k. On a cold but otherwise decent day of racing he enjoyed his run around scenic Cheshire and recorded a 48:02 which gave him a top 200 place overall and 13th in his age group.

If conditions were decent on December 5th they were positively awful the following Sunday for the final Grand Aintree run of the year. Held at the course more famous for hosting the Grand National, the options on offer were multi lap routes of 5k, 10k and half marathon. St Helens Tri had three running the half marathon and six entries in the 10k, and in the half Michael Forber made up for not being able to enjoy his happy hunting ground of Manchester XC by placing sixth in his age group with a time of 1:27:06 while Christine Forber clocked a time of just over two hours, before giving her compliments to the Baker who came uo with the post race flapjacks! Who says you can’t get value for money in mass participation runs nowadays? Chris Murphy also ran the four laps of Aintree and his 1:39:58 was his first half marathon in under 100 minutes.

The dirty (half) dozen in the 10k were home by one of the club’s most improved runners Chris Hayes, who was simply hoping for a sub 42 but ended up with a 41:29, a good time on any day but a brilliant one in such awful weather. Rob Preston was just 21 seconds in arrears, and placed second in his category less than 90 seconds behind the group winner while Kevin Dunbar joined Chris and Rob in the sub 42 club, the trio putting on a fine show of strength which in a normal year would have been a force to be reckoned with in the cross country league. Meanwhile Helen Broderick split Azzam and Diane Taktak as her return to racing saw her home in exactly 55 minutes. For his part Azzam was very close to a season’s best as he recorded a time of 51:43, while Diane’s 1:03:02 was good enough for a top six in her age group to round off the RunThrough season in style. Their first planned event up north for 2021 is back at Tatton Park on Saturday January 9th, with another Aintree edition pencilled in for the following week.

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