News reports - February 2017

21st February 2017: Michael Henderson interviewed by Liverpool Echo
18th February 2017: Prizes for SWAC runners at Bleasdale Fell Race

It was a good start to the Fell Running Grand Prix for SWAC runners with Rob Johnson taking the second V60 and Carole James the second LV50 prizes at the Bleasdale Circle Fell race.

Despite the cloudy conditions on the top of the fell, it was good day for running with very little wind. This led to a new course record being set with an outstanding run by Chris Arthur of Bowland FR.  He took over 30 seconds off the existing record and won the race by a margin of more than 4 minutes.

There was a good contest between John Sprackland and Rob Johnson in the SWAC grand prix race, John led over the long run out to the first climb up to Paddy’s Pole, by the time they reached the summit Rob Johnson had passed John Sprackland. However, on the run across the ridge to the summit at Parlick, John had managed to pass and build a lead before starting the descent back to the village of Bleasdale.  Despite reducing the gap between them on the descent off Parlick, which was quite steep in parts, John managed to maintain his lead and once back on the flat run in back to the village he managed to extend the gap between himself and Rob Johnson to be the first SWAC runner home in 46.11 with RobJohnson 2nd home, 3 places behind, in 46.57.

Brian Davey was 3rd home in 51.25 and Clive James was 4th in 59.33.

For the Ladies, Michelle Spencer was first Lady home in 64.21 with Carole James second SWAC lady in 65.28.

Please note the second leg of the Grand Prix series has been changed to Pendle on 1st April.  This is due to the Merseyside Fell running Championships being switched to this race.

GP Table

12th February 2017: Ben Johnson wins Mid Lancs

The penultimate round of this season's Mid Lancs Cross Country League was held at Rossall School in Thornton Cleveleys, Fleetwood, on Saturday. This is a varied course for the runners on playing fields, rough grassland and sand-dunes but is one of the least spectator-friendly courses I can think of. The biting easterly wind may well have encouraged more spectators to walk to catch sight of the runners and keep warm.

Numbers were down in some of the races, perhaps because of the travelling involved or the start of schools' half term week or perhaps because some of the individual and team places are already decided; and many runners will have run cross country virtually every weekend since the start of the year.

Southport Waterloo had 34 runners, including 15 juniors and 14 senior men. We had 6 top ten finishes; Under 11 Amber Hughes, Under 13s Olivia Logan and Sam Coupland, Under 15s Jessica Dean and Freya Walsh, and Ben Johnson, impressively winning the Senior Men's race.

Five of our girls took part in the Under 11 Girls' race where multi-talented Amber Hughes was the first home, 8th of 70 runners in 7:31 for the 2 kms. Libby Simpson and Emily Dean were only seconds behind, Libby finishing 13th in 7:45 and Emily 16th in 7:50. These three were our scoring team; 2nd today which I think leaves them 4th overall! Grace Malone was our 4th finisher, 24th in 8:04 after a very strong finishing run, and Katelyn Swift, 58th in 9:12.

We had no Under 11 Boys.

We had a team finish in the Under 13 Girls' race where Olivia Logan was again outstanding, finishing 2nd to the Leven Valley runner, in 9:29 for her 2.5 kms. Grace Tobin also ran well, 17th of the 57 finishers in 10:21, with Millie Ireland finishing in 11:50. The girls took 4th team place today. I think that leaves the team in a very precarious 3rd place overall with one fixture left. Olivia looks safe for a 3rd place League individual medal.

We also had a team finish with a runner to spare in the Under 13 Boys' race. Sam Coupland was first to finish, 8th overall in 11:08 for the 3 km course, just three seconds ahead of Michael Henderson, 11th of the 41 finishers in 11:12. These two have been quite close this season, Michael beating Sam in both the county and Northern Champs. But Sam was in fine form today, possibly the best and most confident I've seen him run! Joseph Sutton crossed the line 18th in 12:04 and James Pike 20th in 12:19. With Kendal boys finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd, there was no doubt about the team winners but our boys were 3rd today, which lifts them above Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton but outside of the medal prospects.

Next, the Under 15 Girls where we had our 4th team finish of the day! Jessica Dean had a good run and finished 3rd in 11:50 for 3 kms. Freya Walsh was 8th in 12:08 with Hannah Doyle our final team counter, 18th in 13:21. The girls finished 2nd team today behind Blackpool and ahead of Clayton who headed the League going in to this fixture. With a 2nd place today, I think the girls are assured of League medals, probably silver but it depends on the final fixture.

We had no Under 15 Boys, Under 17s or Under 20s at Rossall.

Our Senior Women were once again led home by Nicola Simpson who was 25th of 140 finishers in 27:46 for the 6 km course. Sue Cooper, 5th L55, was 60th overall in 30:52 and newcomer Mari Dyson was impressive with a fine finish in 31:51 taking 69th place overall. Our other runners were Helen Lodge (87th in 33:35) and Sue Stewart (89th in 33:47). A 15th team finish overall will drop us in the league table but Lancaster & Morecambe and Astley & Tyldesley are the relegation candidates. Southport Waterloo are out of contention in the vet team categories.

In the Senior Men's race, we had another excellent turn-out of senior runners, thanks to the efforts of team manager Steve James. Ben Johnson was in excellent form. He stayed with the lead group until towards the end of the first lap and then tested them with an injection of pace. That was enough to break up the group and Ben held position to win the race in 34:21 for approx 10 kms. The last Southport Waterloo winner of a Mid Lancs cross country was James Tartt back in 2013, at the Beacon Park course in Skelmersdale. Ben's previous best in this league was a 4th place finish on this Rossall School course last February.

Next in was Rob McGrath, 1st MV50 and 35th of 203 finishers in 39:26, closely followed by Francois Rafferty, 8th MV40 and 39th overall in 39:49. The other team counters were Matt Thompson, 47th in 40:09, John Sprackland, 58th in 41:15 and Peter Roome, 72nd in 42:06.This group finished 3rd team on the day, Rob, Francois, Matt and John were the winning MV40 team and Rob, John and Peter the winning MV50 team. An excellent result that leaves us 3rd team in the Men's Division 1, 2nd I think in the MV40 Division 1 and, if my maths is correct, lifts us into gold medal position in the MV50 Division.

Finally, Steve James had his first cross country run of the season. As an MV70 he would run with the Senior Women over the 6 km course but seems to be missing from the results.

Full results | individual standings | Team standings


5th February 2017: Team finish - just - at L&D Champs

The Liverpool and District championship was first run in 1891, which makes it one of the oldest of all cross country events.  However sadly Southport Waterloo's future participation looks in doubt, due to fixture clashes - mainly with the highly successful Mad Dog race.

Unfortunately all 6 of our counters from our Merseyside Championship-winning team were unavailable on Sunday, and after other withdrawals we only just had enough runners for a team.  On a very nice day for running much of  the course was in excellent condition, but with the usual muddy stretch.

Dave Hamilton was 1st SWAC runner home in 9th place, followed by John Sprackland (44), the improving Richard Talbot (54), Dave Wright (87), Neil Silcock (100) and Matt Nelson (102). There were 138 runners.   The SWAC team was 10th with 396 points.

The best run on the day by a SWAC runner was in Chichester (!)  where Ben Johnson ran his fastest 10k so far in 31.16.

Full results

Ed: As Steve points out, the L&D has a lot of history. Liverpool Harriers recorded their 16th consecutive win on Sunday. Southport Waterloo has never won it but we have had a 2nd and three 3rd team finishes since 2010. Rob Berry was individual champion in 2003 and 2005 and James Tartt in 2012 and 2013.

5th February 2017: Two medals won at Northern U13/U15 Indoor Champs

The Northern Athletics Indoor Champs for Under 13s and Under 15s were held at the EIS in Sheffield on Sunday, a venue that many of our young athletes are familiar with from a series of open indoor meetings over the winter. The athletes may be young but the competition was fierce and we were entertained to some great races on the indoor track and some close contests in the field events. There wasn't a full range of events - 60m, 60m hurdles, 200m, 800m, high jump, long jump, pole vault and shot putt - but the events available proved very popular indeed. For example, there were 12 heats of Under 15 Girls' 200m (65 runners), 10 heats of Under 15 Girls 60m and 61 girl long jumpers! Numbers meant that there had to be heats, semis and finals in a number of track events.

UKA Rules meant that, outside of combined events and leaving relays to one side, young athletes can only compete in 3 events in a day. For one of our young female athletes, three events became 5 track races and 1 field event!

It was great to see that five Southport Waterloo athletes took part in these championships. I think it could have been more but those who competed here would have benefited their athletics career enormously. Northern Athletics takes the running of these championships very seriously and there was a full Call Room operating at Sheffield. These young athletes go through the same procedures as international athletes so its a great experience for them. And, of course, winning a Northern medal can be the start of a great athletics career!

Two of our youngsters did exactly that; Jamie Hopkins and Katie Piercy. Well done to them!

Our five young competitors were Amber Hughes, Katie Piercy, Stephanie Robertson, Jamie Hopkins and Luke Suarez.

Under 13 Amber Hughes was busiest. She was 2nd in her heat of the 1-lap 200m in 28.91, just 1/100th off her PB set at the EIS a week earlier. In Round 2 she ran 28.95 to qualify for the final where she ran 29.41. That's pretty consistent running with minimal recovery between races. In the 60m, she ran 9.04 in the heat to qualify for the semis where she ran 9.23. Then in the shot she had a best putt of 7m 38. That's a 23 cms increase over the 7m 15 she achieved at the end of January. So it was a new PB.

Katie Piercy is also an Under 13 and remarkably has only been involved in athletics since last summer. She ran an 800 to start her day and was rewarded with a new PB: 2:47.79. In the shot competition she finished 3rd with a best of 7m 67 for the 2.72 kg weight so took her first Northern podium finish with a bronze medal. In the 60m, she ran 9.40 in her heat. Both the shot and 800m performances were PBs and so, with a bronze medal, that was a great day for Katie!

It is worth noting that there were 12 girls in the Under 13 Girls' shot and Southport Waterloo athletes Katie and Amber took 3rd and 4th place. That's a great achievement.

Under 15 Stephanie Robertson was our third girl and she concentrated on the hurdles event where she is showing a lot of potential in a specialised event. She was 2nd in heat 1, flowing effortlessly over the 60m hurdles, in 9.48. She progressed to the final where she ran 9.57. Her heat time of 9.48 was a new PB and improved on her own club record.

Jamie Hopkins competed in both the long jump and the 60m hurdles. In the long jump, he had a best of 4m 55. The 60m hurdles race had only two competitors and only one medal to aim for. In only his second indoors hurdles race, he pushed through to win the race and collect his first Northern medal, a gold! His time too was a new PB: 10.66, nearly two tenths faster than he ran at Manchester at the beginning of the year.

Finally, Under 15 Luke Suarez - a 3-time Northern Indoor medallist as an Under 13 - ran both sprint events. In the 200m races he ran 26.40 in his heat. In the 60m, he ran 8.01 in his heat and 8.19 in the semi-final. 8.01 was a massive new PB and you can't ask more of an athlete than that!.

Full results

4th February 2017: Individual and team medals taken at Schools XC Champs

Since the start of the year, there has only been one weekend without a cross country race. Two of these weekends held championship races and the championships theme continues this weekend. Today, it was the Merseyside Schools Cross Country Championships and, for senior runners, the Liverpool & District Cross Country Union has its championships on Sunday.

The Schools event was held in Arrowe Park, Wirral, with football matches going on at the same time. Arrowe Park can be extremely muddy and, with overnight rain, I feared very heavy conditions, particularly outside the pavilion. However, it wasn't too bad at all - muddy in places, yes - and with bright sunny conditions it was good for running.

The added motivation at these championships is, of course, that runners were being watched for selection to the Merseyside teams for the English Schools National Championships in Norfolk in March. I believe selectors were meeting later the same day.

Apologies for any of our runners I have missed in the results. Readers should also know that club age groups and schools xc age groups are not the same so, for example, Jessica Dean is an Under 15 in the Mid Lancs League but an Inter Girl (Under 17 age group) for schools XC.

In the Year 7 Girls race, over 2 loops of the top fields - about 2k - , Grace Tobin had another good run, 2nd after one lap and finishing in bronze medal position in 10:29. Alex Murphy Worral was 6th - another good run - in 10:41, with Annabel Locke 10th in 10:53 and Elisa Dean, 12th in 11:10. Sefton took the silver team finish with all of our girls taking a team medal.

35 Yr 8/9 Junior Girls ran in their 3k race, the biggest field of the day!. Freya Walsh came in 11th in 10:24 and Alice Bird was 26th in 11:35. . That may have been the only Southport Waterloo interest but Freya was 2nd counter for the Sefton team and so she won a bronze team medal.

In the combined Yr 10/11 Inter Girls and Yr 12/13 Senior Girls 4K race there were only 16 runners. Now an Inter Girl, Jessica Dean was 13th in 20:44. Sefton didn't finish a team in a race dominated by Liverpool runners.

On, then, to the boys and the Yr 7 Boys' race saw 34 complete the course. Michael Henderson won the race by a clear 10 secs. James Pike was 9th in 8:31 and Finn Cain 15th in 8:42. Michael took the individual gold medal, as winner. Michael and James were also counters in the winning Sefton team and so collected gold team medals.

We also had a top 10 finisher in the Yr 8/9 Junior Boys' race were James Cain completed the 4K in 14:46 to take 6th place. Sam Coupland was 19th in 16:07, both boys picking up silver team medals as counters for Sefton.

Harry Pike was the only Southport Waterloo runner in the Yr 10/11 Inter Boys' competition. Over 5K, he was 11th in 18:27 - the only Sefton schools' boy to compete in this age category! There was no club interest in the Senior Boys' race.

Although they were short of officials, this was a well organised and enjoyable event. It was just disappointing that it attracted so few runners. That said, there were 11 more junior runners for the schools championships than there were for the county cross country championships at Sherdley Park!

Good luck to those hoping for English Schools selection.

Full results


See link here for the County teams for Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough, on Saturday 11th March. Well done to all club runners selected to run or as reserves.