Rhys roars out of the blocks, Diane defeats the deep freeze

As 2017 closed and 2018 began Parkruns dominated the club racing schedule with a notable exception at the Liverpool two day event held over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. On the eve of New Year’s Eve St. Helens Tri managed two in the top 6 at Stadt Moers Park in Knowsley, Adam O’Shea leading his brother Robert to the tune of just under 90 seconds, Adam finishing around a minute behind the winner. At Edge Hill we had our usual good turnout with Dominic Byrne’s 13th place and time of 22:15 putting him just over two minutes ahead of a furious battle between Chris Murphy and Joseph Duffy. Chris got the decision by just two seconds around half a minute clear of Oliver Murphy while Charlie Murphy was only around another minute in arrears highlighting the stretch in depth the club now has. Kevin Dudley was our sole representative in St Helens as he took a top 15 placing in a competitive field while Eddie Hirst decided to take in a new course on his travels to the capital as he tackled the Southwark Parkrun. In a very fast event where the winner clocked a sub-17 time Eddie was right at home in illustrious company and finished just outside the top 10 with a time of 19:05, a great time at any point in the year but particularly impressive during the festive season.

The double marathon runners weren’t the only ones out in force as the strains of Auld Lang Syne were fading into the back rooms of pubs and clubs because a few Parkruns teamed up to offer a double option where you did one event at 9am then drove or rode your bike to a second event at 10am. While it appeared as though nobody from the club would take on a double, Tony Waine was part of a surprisingly large entry at Edge Hill and was rewarded with a mid-25 time and a top 100 finish while Emma Austin started 2018 in much the same way as she finished 2017 by starring at Victoria Park in St Helens. She won her age group and was fourth female while her dad Paul turned out as well and creditably finished with two minutes despite his lack of experience with the hilly course. The next club member home, to everyone’s surprise, was Tony Waine who must have had the drive of his life to make it down the A570 in time but he was remarkably close to his Ormskirk time while Wesley Brown completed the course in just over 28 minutes.

Onwards to the first Saturday of 2018 it was then, and no sooner had the clock struck 9:18am then we had a new winner to celebrate, as first time entrant Rhys Thomas took on the Ormskir Parkrun and scored a brilliant victory in 17:49, on a day when only other runner beat 19 minutes! He deservedly stole the headlines on a day when we also had good results elsewhere including a top 10 for Kevin Dudley and a top 20 for Mike Gregory at St Helens (the pair finishing just 45 seconds apart) and a first outing for Matt and Emma Shillabeer in Warrington, Matt crossing the line in a time of 21:38 around ten minutes ahead of Emma. Diane Taktak rounded off the first weekend of 2018 with a trip to the Fylde coast for the ever popular Central Lancashire New Year Half Marathon. Held every year on the first Sunday in January it has been played out in some pretty inhospitable conditions over the years and as such the 2018 edition featuring “only” icy roads was one of the less daunting curtain raisers of recent times. Speaking of chip times Diane enjoyed both the course and the huge medal awarded at the finish as she completed the 13.1 miles in just over 2 hours 10 minutes which should set her up nicely for next weekend when the club takes on the fourth, and arguably the toughest, round of the Manchester Cross Country League at Woodbank Park in Stockport.

A Frozen Fortnight and a Pre Xmas Party

The past three weeks have been largely dictated by the weather with Parkrun cancellations aplenty meaning that we were only represented at one event on consecutive Saturdays (two longer Sunday races notwithstanding) before something of a rebound two days before Christmas. On 9 December the mixed terrain course in Ormskirk was the only local event suitable to race on and Wesley Brown made the most of it, finishing 13th and fourth junior in under 22 minutes. He was joined at Edge Hill by Tony Waine who was just edged out of the top 40 but still beat the 25 minute mark, while Laura Banks and Paul Brown both finished inside 28 minutes just over 30 seconds apart. Tony was our only runner the following week in Corby, Northamptonshire and he was rewarded for the long trip south with a top-35 result on a day when over 100 braved the slippery conditions. It was a similarly icy morning that had greeted Diane Taktak and Kevin Dunbar at their respective races the previous Sunday as the Longridge Lions 7 miler and Tatton Yule Yomp 10k took place. Diane was rewarded for her tough slog round a hilly course in deepest Lancashire with a fine time of 1:07:58 just a week after running the Stockport 10 while Kevin was on fine form in Cheshire as he placed a terrific 14th less than a minute away from the top ten in a time of 42:28.

The park runners finally enjoyed a decent Saturday morning two days before the resents were unwrapped as 23 December brought rather more hospitable, even mild, conditions. On home turf Dominic Byrne got round Edge Hill in 21 minutes just three seconds away from a top 20 placing while Joseph Duffy finished less than 90 seconds in arrears, and at Knowsley Adam O’Shea put in a brilliant performance on his Parkrun debut to reach the podium in 20 minutes Robert O’Shea was rewarded for his strength work during the cross country season with a fine run to eighth place. It was also a good turnout in St Helens where Kevin Dudley placed seventh in 20:37, Mike Gregory was 73rd in just over 26 minutes and Paul Brown finished 107th around half a minute shy of his PB. Others chose to mark the beginning of their holidays by venturing further afield, Tony Waine continuing his travels finishing four places higher than the previous week with a good run to 31st at Brierly Forest on his 125th Parkrun while Oliver and Chris Murphy were out in force at the Omagh event, the pair finishing inside 24 minutes just under 45 seconds apart. Two more Parkrun dates are on offer with many venues holding a race on Christmas morning while Saturday 30th is the final opportunity for a 2017 PB and a marker to take into the 2018 racing season, while New Year’s Eve sees the Ribble Valley 10k incorporating the Northern Road Racing Championships take place in Clitheroe.

Super Steve the Hat-Trick Hero

The holiday season normally makes for a quiet time on the racing front at St Helens Tri but  a few weekly staples plus some new ventures far and wide did their job in keeping the scoreboard ticking over as the calendar turned to August. Indeed it was on the first day of the month that Chris Green scored one of the club’s best results all year at the Tuesday night time trial. Read More