News reports - October 2021

30th October 2021: Mid Lancs XC returns to popular Hyndburn course

Cross Country running is continuing a steady return to normal competition albeit that numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. The Mid Lancs' second fixture of the season was at Wilson's Playing Fields, over the fields and through the woods around the Hyndburn track. Recent weather patterns have meant a lot of rain falling in the North West and so it was no surprise that Hyndburn would be wet and muddy. I suspect that, and a course that, with ankle-deep mud, narrow woodland paths and tree roots is always going to be riskier than, for example, a parkland course, kept a number of runners away. Those who came on Saturday experienced several seasons in one day with rain in the morning, showers in the afternoon and (occasionally) some brilliant sunshine. Some would say "proper cross country weather" on a "proper cross country course".

An impressive number of Southport Waterloo made the trip along the M65 - 40, in total, including 17 of our senior men. There were a number of good age group team finishes and 10 top ten finishes, including 6 top 3 placings!

Lucy Delamere impressed in the Under 11 Girls' race with a 4th place finish. She ran 7:20 for the 1.85k course. Grace Veevers was 12th in 7:52 and Harriet Logan, 21st in 8:30 to give the girls a a 4th place team finish.

We had one more Under 11 Boy than we had running at Burnley with Sebastian Wood joining Ryan McCormick. Ryan finished 6th in 6:57 for the 1.85k and Seb, 25th of 42 runners in 7:58.

We finished a team again in the Under 13 Girls. Layla Graham was 2nd in 8:50 for the difficult 2.3k course, largely through the woods. A first place finish at Burnley means Layla still tops the individual standings. Joni Dunne was 18th in 9:53 and new runner Maya Crosby finished 37th in 11:44. The team finished 6th.

We also had three runners in the Under 13 Boys' race where another Delamere, William, finished 3rd in 10:47, with only 6 secs separating the top three runners. Harvey Thompson was 17th of 44 runners in 12:12 for the 2.9k full lap course and Richard Berry was 21st in 12:40, all our runners finishing in the top half of the field. The team had their 2nd 3rd-place finish of the season.

Emily Dean was our only Under 15 Girl at Hyndburn but impressed with a 3rd place finish, four places higher than at Burnley. She ran 12:06 for her 2.9k full lap course.

The Under 15 Boys is currently our strongest junior age group with 6 finishers at Hyndburn. First home for the club was Monty Barr running 13:44 for the 3.8k course. Reuben Donnelly was 9th in 14:36, Luke Ward 22nd in 16:06, Dan Jones, 30th in 16:46, Stephen Morgan, 34th in 17:53 and Julius Zajitschek 38th in 18:31. The team finished 3rd.

We had no Under 17 runners.

Under 20 Woman Lucy Milling, in only her 2nd cross country run over the longer 6k distance, was 2nd in 23:31. Running with the Senior Women and qualifying for both age categories, she was also 3rd overall in the Senior Women's race. An excellent result and keeps her well placed in the individual standings.

Our Senior Women's team behind Lucy were Clare Constable, 3rd LV45 in 26:27, Michelle Spencer, 15th LV45 in 29:59, Carole James, 18th LV45 in 30:27 and Katy Coupland finishing in 34:25. Lucy, Clare and Michelle finished 4th team overall and importantly 1st team in Division . And Clare, Michelle and Carole were 5th LV35 team and 3rd LV45 team. Very good team results from just 5 runners.

Under 20 Man Sam Coupland ran the Senior men's race in company with his dad - at least until the final 5 metres! He ran the three large laps for 9.1k in 56:05.

Our 17 Senior Men were led home by Andrew Kershaw who finished 16th overall of 224 runners in 32:53 for the 9.1k course. Francois Rafferty was 21st overall and 2nd MV50 in 33:48 and then John Delamere crossed the finish line in 37th place and 9th MV40 in 35:27. John was 67th at Burnley so this was a really good run over a more difficult course. Peter Roome was 51st, 6th MV50 and 17th MV40 in 36:43, Marc Singer was 70th and 25th MV40 in 37:50 and John Sprackland, our final team counter, 89th overall and 10th MV50 in 38:49. That team finished 5th overall and 1st team in Division 2.

Other finishers were Andy Veevers, 40:10, Steven Howard, 40:12, Mitchell Wells, 40:21, Ian Fitzpatrick, 40:58, Richard Talbot, 41:19, Graham Cuddy, 42:49, Sam Moran, 43:20, John Sanders, 44:54, Stephen Ward, 49:01, Sam Coupland, 56:05, and Lee Coupland, 56:05. Francois, John, Peter and Marc finished 1st MV40 team; Francois, Peter and John were 2nd MV50 team - but by only a point from LPS.

One of the features of cross country running and the Mid Lancs League in particular is that it can become a family affair, not just brothers and sisters but with different generations competing in the junior and senior age groups. Congratulations to the Veevers, Delamere, Ward and Coupland families and apologies if I missed any.

Thanks to team managers Lee Coupland, Michelle Spencer and Steve James The next Mid Lancs & L&D fixture is the Liverpool Cross Challenge in Sefton Park on 27th November. Entry requirements for this fixture are different and separate lists need to be submitted. If you plan to run please let your team manager know asap. And do not wear your Mid Lancs number at Liverpool.

Full results.

29th October 2021: Freaky wind damages Litherland Track

Around lunch time on Friday, freak winds struck at Litherland Sport Park, causing damage to athletics equipment and the football pitch. Some of the damage was recorded by Remyca fc on their Twitter account. See

It looks as though the high jump cover was lifted and tossed around by what some are calling a mini tornado. Barrie Hughes visited the site on Saturday and reports that the track is currently closed for safety reasons and training next week may need to be cancelled. Certainly, there will be no high jump training for a while. Barrie also reports that the force of the phenomenon was such that, incredibly, the high jump mats ended up in the netball courts. Remyca's match on Saturday was cancelled due to damage to the playing surface and it seems there was also damage to parts of the track synthetic surface.

We know more on Monday about how training at the facility might be affected..

9th October 2021: Cross Country is back!

We didn't have a cross country season in 2020/21 so Saturday's first fixture in the Mid Lancs Cross Country League was a welcome return to a much loved sport. In fact, the last club cross country was the Mid Lancs fixture at Rylands Park in Lancaster on 29th February 2020. A few runners represented Merseyside at the Loughborough Inter Counties on 7th March '20, just three of our juniors - Olivia Logan, Lucy Milling and Emily Dean - represented Merseyside at the English Schools Championships in Sefton Park, Liverpool, on 14th March and just three days later all competition, training etc was suspended as we entered lockdown.

So its been a while and Towneley Park, Burnley, provided the ideal setting for a return to cross country running. The ground was much drier than it often is here so firm ground made for good and indeed fast running conditions. Warm, dry weather helped and the only thing missing was mud-spattered legs crossing the finish line.

We had a good entry for cross country this season and, although less than expected ran at Burnley, we had 45 runners across the age races. There were some good established runners and some new to the sport showing what they can do. Layla Graham won the Under13 Girls' race and 10 top 10 finishes and some very good team placings were a reflection of a successful day for the club.

In the Under 11 Girls' race we had 5 girls running. I can't remember when - if ever - we have had more! Lucy Delamere was first home, 10th in 7:41 for the 2-lap, 2 Km course. Grace Veevers was 13th in 7:51, Sophie Burns 39th in 9:08, Harriet Logan, 40th in 9:11 and Mollie Allen, 43rd in 9:42. The team finished 4th.

In contrast, we had just one boy in the Under 11 Boys' race over the same course and distance. Ryan McCormack had a good run, however, 7th of 48 boys in 7:13.

We know from her runs on the track over 1500m and 1200m that Layla Graham has huge potential as an endurance runner and she certainly made her presence felt in the Under 13 Girls' race. Always within touch of the leaders she won the race, holding off a strong challenge in the final run-in. She clocked 9:31 for just short of 3 Km, just 3 secs ahead of the 2nd girl. Joni Dunne was 15th in 10:16, Jessica Burns was 18th in 10:28, Olivia Johnson was 22nd in 10:57 and Grace Allen was 31st in 11:34. Layla, Joni and Jessica made up our 2nd placed team.

We had two Under 13 Boys at Burnley. William Delamere ran a superb race to finish 3rd of 44 boys in 10:19 for the 3.2K course. Harvey Thompson was 16th in 10:59, Richard Berry 26th in 11:26 and Steven Friar 33rd in 12:38. William, Harvey and Richard were our 2nd placed team.

Emily Dean was our sole Under 15 Girl. A good run brought her home in 7th place in 11:17 for the 3.2K.

With three to count, we won the Under 15 Boys' team competition, the boys being led home by the 2019/20 Under 13 champion, Monty Barr, 4th in 12:50 for the 4 Km course. Reuben Donnelly was 9th in 13:30, Luke Ward 13th in 13:54 and Owen Akins 37th in 15:09.

We had no Under 17 Women or Under 17 Men running.

Under 20 Women Olivia Logan and Lucy Milling moved up to the 5.8 Km Senior Women's race today, both having good runs, Olivia finishing in 20:00 for 2nd Under 20 and 3rd Senior Women. Lucy ran 20:51 for 5th Under 20 and 8th Senior Woman.

With Olivia and Lucy counting as both Under 20 and Senior Women, we made a very good start to our Senior Women's season. They were relegated to Division 2 in the 2019/20 season and promotion is very much within their grasp this season. After Olivia and Lucy finished 3rd and 8th, in the senior race, Clare Constable was 64th in 23:33, new runner Andrea Scarborough was 93rd in 24:56, Carol James 98th and 2nd L55 in 25:10, Michelle Spencer finished 120th in 26:20, Helen Lodge finished in 29:07 and Sue Cooper, 3rd L65, in 29:37.

Olivia, Lucy and Clare made up our 3rd placed Senior team behind Lancaster University and Blackburn Harriers. And Clare, Carole and Michelle made up our 2nd placed L45 team

We also had a good turn-out of Senior Men with 16 toeing the start line for their 9.8 Km course. Ben Johnson was strong and always challenging at the front of the large field of over 200 runners. He finished 4th in 32:03. Francois Rafferty was next, 13th and 2nd V50 in 33:21, followed by David Hamiilton, 16th and 3rd V50, in 33:30, Mark Dunham, 18th and 2nd V40 in 33:42, Peter Roome, 56th in 36:81, and 6th team counter Andy Veevers, 61st in 37:21. Like the Women, our Senior Men were relegated to Division 2 in the previous season and so this was an excellent team effort towards a promotion run with a team win in the first fixture. John Delamere was 67th in 37:48, Marc Singer was 69th in 37:58, John Sprackland, 74th in 38:36, Martin Smythe 79th in 38:58, Ian Fitzpatrick, 117th in 41:36, John Sanders, 133rd in 42:34, Graham Cuddy,138th in 42:50, Stephen Ward, 7171st in 45:59, Michael Cunningham, 175th in 46:23, and Clive James, 181st in 47:23.

Southport Waterloo not only won the Senior Men team event but also the Vet 40 team competition - with Francois, David, Mark and Peter - and Vet 50 team competition - with Francois, David, and Peter. Well done to all!

The next fixture is at Hyndhurn on 30th October, over quite a different course with most races including woodland. The weather is unlikely to be as benign as Burnley so expect mud! Then in November, the league takes part in the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Sefton Park .

Finally, league member clubs will be grateful to both Trawden AC for hosting a great set of courses at Towneley Park and to the league officers who stood in to cover for the absence of a Cross Country Secretary following Dawn Lock's retirement after 20+ years in post.

Full results.

Items left in club tent: a green Threadborne long sleeved T-shirt; SWAC jacket, size XLB


4th October 2021: No Sportshall Athletics this year

The first Sportshall Athletics fixture for Under 11s. U13s and U15s would, in a normal year, be held this coming weekend but it has been cancelled. For reasons I think of venue availability, the NW Sportshall Athletics League has switched from the usual Sunday dates to Saturdays and that means for us a clash with the Mid Lancs Cross Country League. Clearly, other clubs have concerns as well and that is why the first fixture has been cancelled. In addition, two major clubs have pulled out for this season, being concerned about closed sportshall venues not being safe with Covid still around.

In view of all the uncertainty and concerns about safety, team manager Chris Henders has decided not to enter teams this year. Hopefully we can return to normal indoor sportshall competition next year but, for this year, maybe we have the opportunity to see more Under 11s and Under 13s having a go at cross country running. The first Mid Lancs fixture is at Towneley Park Burnley this coming Saturday.

3rd October 2021: London Marathon returns

The greatest sign yet of a return to sporting normality was today's full scale running of the London Marathon, albeit with runners setting off in waves. A search of the provisional results reveals only two Southport Waterloo runners this year, finishing within 12 seconds of one another. Sarah Grant finished in PB time of 3:31:35 in her 3rd marathon and 2nd London Marathon. V70 Mike Walker, a marathon veteran in both senses, romped home in 3:33:47. A closer inspection of results revealed Marrk Ashby, of Southport Waterloo and Glasgow Victoria, finishing in 3:49:16. This would, I think, have been Mark's 26th London Marathon - and his slowest. He ran 2:54 in London in 2010.

Organisers have announced that the London Marathon in 2022 will again he held in October, not returning to the normal April date until 2023.

Let me know if others ran London this year.


Addition: Also hear that Kelly Barton, guided by Mike Leatherbarrow, completed London in 5:26:35. Meanwhile, Rob McGrath and James Brooker were at the MBNA Chester Marathon, Rob - a regular sub-3 hour marathoner - running 2:45:41 and James 4:03:51. And, the week before, Ryan Todd ran 3:29:47 in Berlin.