Monday, April 13, 2015

Keswick Take On Nation's Finest at National Championships

Keswick AC rose to the occasion of their first National 12 Stage Road Relays on Saturday, finishing 45th. The team were also the 14th highest placed Northern club - a superb result for a club with less than 200 first claim members.

The National 12 Stage Road Relay at Sutton Park is a classic event of the athletics calendar, and over the years has seen many of the greats of British distance running take part -Dave Moorcroft, Seb Coe, Brendan Foster, and Mo Farah to name just a few- and every year is of a high standard giving an opportunity  young runners to race against international athletes.

The event was again held at Road Running's equivalent of Wembley Stadium, Sutton Park in Birmingham. Despite the bright sunny day making for great spectating conditions the route was quite exposed and a brisk wind coupled with an undulating route made the challenge for the athletes all the more compelling. The spectators, many of whom consisted of runners waiting their turn, based themselves either side of the finishing straight. The Keswick boys made sure each of their compatriots were given an encouraging cheer as they slogged their way up the uphill finish.

The format of the 12-stage saw six runners having to tackle a long leg of 5.5 miles and the remaining sixmembers had to do a shorter 3.5 mile leg. 

Club captain Steve Hebblethwaite had selected a strong quartet of runners to tackle the longer legs.  Sam Stead kicked off the Keswick challenge on the first leg against an elite field headed by National XC Champion Charlie Hulson. Thriving off the electric atmosphere, he set Keswick's fastest long leg of the day in 29:13 to return the team in 34th place.  Pete George then ran a superb 3rd leg in 32.46 despite struggling with an achilles problem, but perhaps the gutsiest performance of the day went to Chris Brewer whose effort clear to see as he headed down the finishing straight of his leg of 32.56. Pat Malkinson followed with 33.20, and Keswick's strategy of placing stronger runners towards the end of the field paid off as Marc Brown (29:23) and captain Steve Hebblethwaite (29:41) clawed back 3 and 4 places respectively.

Interspersed with these runs were shorter legs run by Rob Wynne, Ian Davies, Rob Jones, Steve Jones, John Curran and Adam Campion, who demonstrated the strength in depth possessed by the club. Every runner is on their own personal journey and it is no different in this team - Rob W, Ian and John are all returning after injury, Steve Jones is training for an Ultra Marathon, Adam Campion for the Edinburgh Marathon and Rob Jones, competing in his first relay for the club, is chasing a long term target of a sub--40 10k. These individual journeys were set aside for a day and each athlete put their body on the line for their teammates, displaying some impressive times in the process. Of particular note was Ian Davies. who showed he is getting back to his best by setting the fastest short leg of the day for Keswick in 18:37. Adam Campion put the icing of the cake by finsihing the club in 44th place.

44 Keswick Aac 5:03:15

Sam Stead (34) 29:13 Rob Wynne (47) 19:07 Peter George (48) 32:43 Ian Davies (51) 18:37 Chris Brewer (51) 32:56 Steve Jones (53) 20:17 Patrick Malkinso (54) 33:20 Robert Jones (54) 20:15 Marc Brown (51) 29:23 John Curran (50) 19:02 S Hebblethwaite (46) 29:41 Adam Campion (45) 18:41

At the head of the field, Morpeth Harriers took their first ever Men's 12 Stage title and Aldershot, Farnham & District continued their dominance of Women's running by winning the 6 Stage title. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Northern 12-stage Road Relay


For the second successive year Keswick AC has entered the Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships.  Prior to 2014, the Club had never before entered the prestigious 12-stage relay but with an increasing interest in road running, and the emergence of some real road-running talent within the Club, 2014 was a landmark as Keswick sent a team to Heaton Park in Manchester.  It was to prove an enjoyable experience and the Club put in a sound performance, finishing 28th and mixing it with some of the strongest running clubs from the North of England.  But with the top-25 clubs automatically qualifying for the National equivalent, there was a little disappointment that Keswick had narrowly missed out on making it to the illustrious English Championships.

So it was a resolute group of 12 Keswick AC runners who travelled down to Sefton Park in Liverpool determined to finish within the top-25 and guarantee a place at the National 12-stage in Birmingham.

Sefton Park was to prove an excellent venue for the 12-stage road relay.  The course designed was exclusively on paths which weaved their way around the leafy confines of the park and it was a picturesque venue for runners, marshals and spectators alike. The nature of the route made it perfect for spectators to watch the race unfold and also allowed runners to cheer on their club colleagues as they tackled their respective legs.

The format of the 12-stage saw four runners having to tackle a long leg of 4.9 miles and the remaining eight members had to do a shorter 2.4 mile leg.  Some strategy has to be employed in deciding the running order of the team; some clubs preferred to stack their stronger runners at the head of the field to establish a strong start whilst others looked to put their speed merchants towards the end with a view to making up valuable places towards the finale of the relay.

Club captain Steve Hebblethwaite had selected a strong quartet of runners to tackle the longer legs.  Marc Brown led the way on the fierce opening leg clocking an excellent time of 25:05.  Sam Stead, on the third leg, was to achieve the fastest long-leg time of the day for the Keswick runners, running a superb 24:36.  Peter George, despite feeling under the weather for most of the week, put in an excellent 27:12 for the fifth leg and Steve Hebblethwaite concluded the longer-legs with a strong 25:12 on the seventh leg.

Interspersed with these runs were shorter legs run by Patrick Malkinson (making his debut for Keswick AC), Christopher Edis, Adam Campion and Andrew Slattery.  For some of these runners, tarmac is an alien concept, as their focus is very much on fell-running.  But the performances on the day clearly demonstrated that these fell-runners possess some decent road speed as Patrick ran 13:40, Chris 13:39, Adam 14:03 and Andrew 14:05.

Keeping track of overall positions throughout the relay is a tricky business as clubs are perpetually lapping other teams and positions are continuously changing.  But with two-thirds of the race done the impression was that Keswick AC was hovering just within the top-25. 

So it was down to the final four runners to put in solid runs to cement that position and guarantee a place at the Nationals.  And they duly delivered with Ian Davies clocking 14:16, Steve Jones 14:52, Rob Wynne 14:08 and Chris Brewer 13:35 (the fastest short-leg from a Keswick AC runner).

The feeling was that this team performance was enough to secure Keswick AC a tremendous 20th position.  But there was to be a dramatic turn of events on the final leg at the head of the field as both Liverpool Harriers teams went astray on their own stamping ground.  This led to disqualification and Keswick AC was promoted to 18th place.  This was a fantastic result for such a small running club and they can now look forward to battling with the country’s elite when they travel down to Birmingham for the National 12-stage road relay.

The navigational error from Liverpool Harriers was to open the door for Leeds City Athletic Club.  The Yorkshire based club took advantage of Liverpool’s mistake and took the Northern title in a time of 3:11:10.  Taking the other podium positions were Morpeth Harriers (3:12:07) and Salford Harriers (3:12:42).

Leeds City were to make it a double victory as their ladies took victory in the equivalent women’s 6-stage.  It was to be a dominant performance as they went onto clock 1:47:20, over four minutes ahead of Stockport Harriers who finished second in 1:51:41 who were closely followed in by Rotherham Harriers (1:51:54).

Friday, March 27, 2015

Race Review

I put together the below report as a result of some top performances from the Club's runners last weekend.  I haven't been able to get full results from Middle Fell as yet so apologies if I've missed you out.

It was to prove a successful weekend for Keswick AC with some impressive results at the Lorton 10k, the Middle Fell fell race and the Wilmslow Half Marathon.

This year was the fourth running of the Lorton 10k and the weather was near perfect for racing with sunshine, cool temperatures, little wind and no rain.  The race starts in the idyllic village of Lorton, situated just outside Cockermouth and the vale is surrounded by the picturesque Buttermere, Whinlatter and Loweswater fells.  The race route is a testing one with some stiff climbs as the course loops from Lorton down to Loweswater with a return on the east side of the River Cocker.  

The race was the first fixture in the 2015 Keswick AC Road Championship and there was close competition and excellent performances as 16 Club members looked to set down an early-season marker in the Club Championship.

There were victories in the men’s and ladies races for Keswick AC as Sam Stead took the win in 33:42, some 10 seconds ahead of Tom Durcan of Derwent AC (33:53).  Sam has made tremendous strides over the last 12 months and this was emphasised by the fact that he ran 36:31 over the same course in 2014.

In the female face, Hannah Horsburgh and Catherine Spurden scored a one-two for Keswick and there was little separating the two runners.  Hannah finished in 39:07 and Catherine, running her first race over the 10km distance, put in an impressive debut performance of 39:33.

There were a number of other category victories for Keswick AC as Rob Wynne finished first MV50 (40:20), Annabel Holmes was first FV45 (43:10), Steve Harwood was first MV65 (51:19) and Pat Richards was first FV60 (53:37).

Keswick runners were in abundance and a number were to go onto record personal best times which is some feat on the undulating Lorton route.  Club runners included Peter George (36:58), Jonny Hume (37:38), Richard Clarke (42:49), Ross Butler (43:02), Peter Richards (48:48), Emma McKinney (50:34), Kim Clark (50:56), Patric Gilchrist (52:34) and Juliet Grieves (53:30).      

The sun shone on a glorious March afternoon for the Middle Fell fell race in Wasdale.  The race starts from the small village of Nether Wasdale and is 6.6 miles long and includes the 1700’ ascent of Middle Fell.  The route leaves the village and follows the road for a short distance, after which the runners leave the tarmac and can enjoy two miles of relatively flat countryside as they cross the green fields of Nether Wasdale.  As they approach the small cluster of buildings at Greendale, Middle Fell becomes clearly apparent and, with little route choice available, the runners have to make their way to the summit and return via the same way.

There are no official results as yet but Keswick were again well represented.  Tom Addison of Helm Hill was to take the race victory but both Carl Bell (4th) and Phil Winskill (8th) were sporting the green and yellow in the top-ten of the field.  But the stand-out performance from the Club came from Jo Gillyon who took victory in the ladies race.

The Wilmslow Half Marathon is a popular and well subscribed half-marathon.  It provides excellent preparation for those looking towards the London Marathon, and with a quick course and stacked field, plenty of opportunity for runners to clock personal best times.

There was a large contingent of Cumbrian runners at the head of the field.  There were two runners from Carlisle-based club Border Harriers; James Douglas (6th, 1:07:20) and Robert Hodgson (25th, 1:11:38).  And West Cumbria was represented by Ellenborough AC’s Chris Steele (14th, 1:10:04).

With each having Marathon aspirations, Keswick’s AC’s Steve Hebblethwaite and Russell Maddams will be well pleased with strong runs at Wilmslow.  Steve managed to score a personal best time, finishing 29th overall in 1:12:14.  This was over two minutes faster than his 2014 effort over the same course, evidence that his diligent marathon training is paying off.  Russell also had an excellent race and was a mere 14 seconds behind Steve, finishing in 1:12:28 (34th overall and 8th MV40).  But the Keswick performance of the day went to Marc Brown.  After a breakthrough season in 2014, Marc is showing further improvement in 2015 and took a massive three minutes off of his half-marathon personal best time.  Marc finished 22nd overall in a time of 1:11:13.

The race was won by Ben Siwa of Run Fast in a time of 1:04:57 and the female victor was Perendis Lekapana, also of Run Fast, who finished in 1:11:24.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Northern Road Relays

The Northern 12 Stage Road Relay Championships are being held this weekend at Sefton Park, Liverpool. Keswick are sending a strong men's team with the aim of finishing in the top 25 and thereby securing a place at the National Championships. Competition will be fierce with all the top clubs from across the region participating.
Here's the team. Wish them luck!
1. Marc Brown
2. Patrick Malkinson
3. Sam Stead
4. Chris Edis
5. Peter George
6. Adam Campion
7. Steve Hebblethwaite
8. Andrew Slattery
9. Ian Davies
10. Steve Jones
11. Lee Newton
12. Chris Brewer
Reserve: Rob Wynne
Legs 1, 3, 5, and 7 are approx 4.9 miles, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 are approx 2.8 miles.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Grand Day Out for Keswick Fellrunners

Saturday 28th February saw the first fell race of KAC's fell running championship at High Cup Nick with an excellent turn out from the club. The promised rain held off and the prevailing wind blew us up the valley but made for a very chilly and tough return on the shoulder above the nick. As ever, the running up the valley was very muddy, tussocky and energy sapping but the stream of golden Keswick vests inspired us all to some of our best running. Nearly everyone improved their previous time, most notably Rachel Findlay-Robinson who, in spite of a heavy fall, came in third place amongst the Keswick Ladies helping them to the team prize alongside Angela Wakefield, an impressive fourth lady and Lyn Thompson. The men also took the team prize with Sam Stead proving he is as good on the fell as he is on the road and on cross country. He came an impressive second to the incredible Ricky Lightfoot who broke the course record. It was a great day out for our runners of all abilities and particularly good to see Steve Harwood back out on a fell race for the first time in some years and finishing very strongly.



The previous Saturday, a group of intrepid runners went to the Loughrigg Silver Howe race. Most were lost in the blizzard at some point as the navigation there is challenging there even on a clear day. Particularly good results were by Cat Spurden, second lady and Phil Winskill, fourth man.
Recently our long distance expert, Dave Troman, had a podium finish at the Osmotherly trail marathon and Keswick runners were to be seen doing well as far afield as Bodmin (Sam Stead) and Portsmouth (Adam and Peggy Campion).

The road runners have also had a busy few weeks with several good results recorded with Sam Ayers first lady at both the Lancaster 10 and Netherhall 10 with many other runners getting well placed and achieving personal best times.

KAC is not just about racing though. It offers social runs as well as planned training sessions (both daytime and evening) to improve speed and stamina. Anyone who would like to join us is very welcome. Just check out the training page on the Keswick AC website or email new@keswickac.org.uk.

Haweswater Half Marathon

10 hardy Keswick AC runners battled the elements at this Sunday’s Haweswater Half Marathon.  The hilly route set by organising club Eden Valley Runners was made all the more challenging due to 25mph winds and sleet showers.

At the sharp end, the race was won by James Buis (1.12.51) of Border Harriers who was given a good battle by Derwent AC’s Tom Durcan (1.13.06).  In 3rd and 1st V40 was John Clifford of New Marske Harriers (1.14.24).

The women’s race was more spread out with Heidi Dent of Howgill Harriers building a strong lead from the outset to finish 38th overall in a time of 1.26.51.  Jessica Wilson-Young travelling from Edinburgh AC was 2nd and 1st V40 (1.29.16) followed by Paula Irons of Black Coombe Runners in 1.30.28.  Keswick’s Sam Ayers finished a strong 5th and 2nd V40 in 1.32.04.  However, the best race goes to Annabelle Holmes who raced brilliantly to gain a massive personal best of seven minutes over the half marathon distance.

James Christmas
M
01:28:59
Samantha Ayers
F40
01:32:04
Annabel Holmes
F45
01:35:08
Suzanne Smith
F40
01:37:21
Keith Hill
M45
01:40:16
Rachel Mellor
F
01:40:21
Mike Beechey
M45
01:45:15
Daniel Barton
M
01:48:43
Libbie Graham
F
01:48:44
Juliet Grieves
F45
01:57:58


The next road outing for Keswick AC will be the Lorton 10K on Saturday 21st March, from Lorton School.  Details can be found on the RunBritain website.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lancaster Valentines 10K – 14th February 2015

A number of Keswick runners decided to celebrate St Valentine’s Day in the usual manner – a 10K dash around Lancaster!

Well done to Siobhan Brewer (44:25) and Sam Stead (32:49) who both clocked personal best times.  Sam was at the head of the field and was narrowly beaten by Border’s Jonathan Fletcher who took the win by 15 seconds.

Congratulations also to Sam Ayers who took victory in the ladies race in a time of 40:44, some 30 seconds ahead of her nearest rival, Louise Goddard, of local club Lancaster & Morecambe.

Full results at: http://www.runbritainrankings.com/results/results.aspx?meetingid=130570