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LANCASHIRE CROSS COUNTRY FULL RESULTS

Keith Gerrard - under 17 Lancashire Cross Country Champion

 Bronze for Manx Harriers men (after winning for three years)

Left to right; Brian Osbourne, Mark Preston, Gianni Epifani, Nick Percival, Chris Quine and Paul Clarke.

Proud to be Manx? Northern AC's Ryan Fairclaough takes the three leg thing a bit far! His shoe came off in the mud and he carried it the rest o f the way.

The under 15 Manx Harriers squad who took the silver medals with a great performance at Blackburn together with under 13 runner Ryan Fairclough.

Back Row:  Alex Guy, Josh Masterton, Ben Brand
Front Row: Ryan Fairclough, Darryl Haslett, Andrew Newton.

Manx Harriers Dawn Georgeson was the Isle of Man's sole runner in the under 17 girls.

But in the under 17 boys, Chris Shimmin backed Keith Gerrard up with a fine 7th place.

Blackheath's Tim Dickinson won the senior championship again.

Paul Clarke was the top Manxman early on and approaching the half way stage he is still a few yards ahead of Gianni Epifani.

But by the third (of four laps) Gianni is past and going well.

With less than a mile to go Gianni has extended his lead. But guess what? It was Paul who won the local battle and was 5 seconds ahead at the end. That battle would have been worthy of any Manx Championship.

ANDY FOX PROVIDES A FULL REPORT ON THE LANCS CHAMPIONSHIPS

10-01-03

 

Manx Harriers competed in the Lancashire Cross Country Championships on Saturday 4/1/03 at Blackburn in cold but bright conditions. The run of the day was undoubtedly that of Keith Gerrard who easily won the under 17 boys race by 26 seconds easing up over the last half mile or so of the race. The day saw the club struggle a little compared to recent years, however, three medals were won against top quality opposition and 4 athletes have been selected to represent Lancashire in the Inter Counties Championships in early February.

The first race off was the Under 13 boys with Ryan Fairclough running, representing Northern AC. Ryan did very well in his off Island Cross Country debut finishing 8th. even though he lost his shoe late on in the race. This probably cost him one or two places but even so it was a good run. As a result he was selected to represent Lancashire.

In the Under 15 section Manx Harriers had 5 lads competing. Josh Masterson did not complete the course on the day however the other 4 did. Alex Guy ran very strongly. He was 10th. after the first 1000m of the race but steadily worked his way through the field to eventually finish in 7th. place. This ensured Lancashire selection for the talented Castle Rushen student. He was ably supported by Andrew Newton 13th, Darryl Haslett 14th and Ben Brand 19th. It was very close but when the results were announced the lads had won the team silver medal 4 points behind Preston but 2 points ahead of Blackpool. This was a fine result for a fairly inexperienced team. These lads will no doubt have benefited greatly from the experience.

In the under 17 girls Dawn Georgeson ran well to finish in 10th. place. Dawn has been a regular at these championships and hopefully will inspire other female athletes to take part in future as the Island could surely prove quite successful.

The Senior and Veteran men were weakened by a number of withdrawals and athletes under par due to illness on the day. This meant no Vet team defended the club¹s title this year. The seniors and vets left set about defending the senior men¹s title which has been won for the last three years. On this occasion it was not to be, however, all of the lads did themselves, their club and the Island proud. Paul Clarke and Gianni Epifani had a tremendous tussle to become the top local scorer on the day. Paul came out on top in the last half mile or so to finish 5 seconds ahead of Gianni. The next 4 scoring places for the team were taken up by 3 men making their debuts in this event and one stalwart competing when feeling under the weather. Nick Percival ran well to be third home in 34th. place with Mark Preston finishing strongly in 37th. Chris Quine started cautiously but finished very strongly to come home 41st. and Brian Osborne closed the team in 46th. 22 seconds behind Chris.

It was obvious the team had not retained the title but no one could fault the effort on the day. Clayton le Moors won clearly on 111 points with Preston in second on 175 and the local squad very close in third with 181 points. Four other Manx Harriers ran namely Paul Curphey in 51st, Steve Partington 62nd, Darren Gray 65th and Glenn Butterworth 68th. On this occasion Bronze medals had to suffice but the Harriers will no doubt be back bidding for glory next year.

The under 17 boys race was the highlight for the Manx athletes. Keith won clearly and dominated the race from start to finish. He was very strong on the hills and made the whole race look very easy. Rarely has a local athlete looked so good in a major off Island event and he has joined a very select band of Manx Lancashire Cross country Champions. He was very ably supported by Chris Shimmin who ran very well to finish 7th. and both lads will be vital members of Lancashire¹s Inter County team. Chris has another year in this age group and it will be very interesting to see how well he does next year!

So the Championships of 2003 are over. The medals tally was not as high as in 2002 but the sportsmanship, effort and competitive spirit of the Manx athletes was as excellent as ever. Hopefully next year, with a little more luck on their side, Manx Harriers will return with a few more medals to add to their impressive tally over the years.

 

 MANX HARRIERS SILVER MEDAL WINNING UNDER 15 TEAM IN THE LANCASHIRE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Alexander Guy - 6th

Andrew Newton - 14th

Darryl Halslett - 16th

Ben Brand - 21st

Its not often that 10 of our best male athletes all compete in the same race so here are

10 OF THE BEST

from the Lancs Cross Country

Paul Clarke -11th

Gianni Epfani - 12th

Nick Percival -34th

Mark Preston - 37th

Chris Quine - 41st

Brian Osbourne - 46th

Paul Curphey - 51st

Steve Partington - 62nd

Darren Gray - 65th

Glenn Butterworth - 68th

All pictures by Murray Lambden.

 

LANCS CROSS COUNTRY SPECIAL (FROM NEWS PAGE)

 

GREAT WIN BY KEITH GERRARD     05-01-03

 

Keith Gerrard was a convincing winner of the under 17s race at the Lancashire Championships yesterday.

His coach, Andy Fox, had advised caution. He was to sit with the other runners until the big hill (the saucer) on the second of the two laps. In fact he broke away virtually from the start and dominated the race.

He looked superb and in the style of all great sports people, he made it look easy. He won selection for the Inter Counties Cross Country next month and it will be interesting to see how he goes in that.

We must bear in mind that the quality in the various counties varies considerably. There is no doubt that Keith's performance was good enough to win most counties around the country but beware that there will be some tough competition when all the county champions line up together.

Keith is full of praise for the role Andy Fox has played in his exciting career to date. He enjoys the sensible "non-pushy" support of his parents who in addition to emphasising Andy's role also gave credit to others in the sport including Graham Davies for his tremendous enthusiasm.

I learnt yesterday that Keith visits this site every morning and evening so I had better watch what I say about him! Seriously I cannot speak highly enough about his performance and the way he has conducted himself in a year of big improvements.

 

CAPTAIN'S PERFORMANCE FROM CHRIS QUINE   05-01-03

 

When you are used to finishing in the fop 10% of the field, it is quite brave to start the race knowing that you are going to be considerably below that level but to still work as hard as if you were at the front of the field.

That was the position with Chris Quine at Blackburn. Injured for several months throughout the Summer, he made a comeback in the short distance event at Ramsey and ran a steady leg in the Mann & Partners Millennium Way Relay. But then he caught a heavy cold and was doubtful to run at all during the week.

I know that there was no official captain yesterday but I thought Chris ran a captain's performance under the circumstances.  He made a very steady start at the back of the Manx contingent and if the others runners had run to expectation he would probably not have made the scoring six. But they didn't (more reasons for this later) and so he gradually picked up the places, opposition and team mates and worked his way right up the field....to 41st. Much lower than normal but a credit under the circumstances and a good example to the youngsters watching.

 

STOOD UP BY THE TEAM    05-01-03

 

I made my own arrangements to travel to Blackburn yesterday, hiring a car so that I could take my son Robbie with me. When I damaged my leg and couldn't drive Steve Partington very kindly agreed to drive us which was just as well as space in the bus on the way was limited.

One of the benefits of not running for me to be able to eat a full English breakfast at the service station we traditionally stop at, Burtonwood. Normally I am very careful what I eat on the day of the race.

Robbie, Steve and I took up position at the normal place but waited and waited for the team bus with the rest of the runners to arrive as planned.  I didn't get the pleasure of stuffing my face in front of the team as their driver took them on the scenic route to Blackburn.

On our return trip we took Nick Percival to Liverpool Lime Street station as he was travelling to visit his Mother in Scunthorpe.

Incidentally this was the second time that I had hired from easyCar and provided you do not travel excessive miles (there is a 20p per mile charge above 75 miles per day) and remember to put the car through the car wash (to avoid a £10 cleaning charge) they offer a very good deal.

 

SENIOR MEN  TAKE BRONZE IN LANCS CHAMPS    05-01-03

 

Paul Clarke and Gianni Epifani led Manx Harriers to the bronze medals in the team championships in the Lancashire Cross Country at Blackburn yesterday when they took 11th and 12th positions in the individual standings.

The honour to be the first Manxman to finish was disputed throughout the race. Paul is known as a fast starter and as the runners set off around the flat part of the course in the first three quarters of a mile he was well to the fore. Gianni was the second Manxman not far behind. Paul continued to power away from his  teammate throughout the first lap but on the second lap the gap was much smaller. I suspected that Paul had started too fast and was going to drop down but Andy Fox thought differently and said that Paul sometimes fades before coming back.

It appeared that I was right as on the third lap Gianni passed Paul just before the saucer, the big climb, and during the early stages of the final lap he was still well ahead. But Andy was correct and Paul surged past Gianni on that final circuit to finish 5 seconds ahead.

Recent recruit Nick Percival and Mark Preston were the third and fourth scorers for the club. Nick, who first came to the Island for TT 2000 but only raced once before this year's Peel To Douglas, was surprised to be the third scorer. He thought he was 5th or 6th at best.  Former Castletown and Rushen footballer Mark Preston was never far behind and made a good solid off island cross country debut without seriously challenging Nick. They finished 34th and 37th.

Brian Osbourne another former footballer (St Georges) also making his off island cross country debut, was always among the scoring six but was passed by nine times Lancs Cross Country runner Chris Quine in the middle stages. Chris had made a steady start at the rear of the Manx Harriers contingent but, as others began to slow, he eased his way up the field. Chris finished 41st and Brian 46th.

Paul Curphey, an ever present in the ten years of Manx Harriers involvement was 18 seconds behind Brian but was too tired on the final lap to mount a serious threat to the scoring six.

Britain's World Cup walking star, Steve Partington, is a great sportsman to help the club out in this event and has been a member of the winning team before. But he was one of several runners to suffer from viruses and described his race as "crap". He finished in 62nd place, three positions and 25 seconds ahead of Darren Grey who has also suffered from illness and, after such a promising start to the winter, was struggling once again on the hills of Blackburn. Full marks to Darren for gritting it out but he was receiving plenty of advice from his teammates not to run again until he is a lot better.

Glenn Butterworth was another person off form in 68th position. The course is unforgiving when you are not fully fit and Glenn has only just returned from a lengthy injury break. He looked good going up the hills but couldn't maintain his form and the last time I saw him he also had to avoid a dog that crossed the course in front of him.

Team manager Andy Fox was looking for a score of "about 118" and so the final score of 188 was very disappointing. I hadn't predicted with such detail but I was looking for positions similar to those that Paul and Gianni achieved with four others in the top 30 so certainly I was expecting less than 150.

Full marks to Clayton-Le-Moors who won with 118 from Preston with 183 but why did we fall so far below expectation?

Certainly we missed Tony Okell and Andy Fox who have scored so highly in the past two years and even I have been in the top 30 for the past two years. But these factors were already discounted.

Perhaps the standard was a lot higher this year but I would dispute this. In all the years we have competed the standard has remained fairly similar and most of the guys I have raced against over the years were in roughly the same positions as normal.

Certainly some of our runners were below par due to illness although surely these things must average out across all clubs and we must not sound like bad losers.

Whilst we will never know for sure why we performed to a lower standard than expected, perhaps we just under estimated how well our teams have done in the past and assumed that winning was going to be easier this time than it was.

One thing was for sure, all ten of the Manx Harriers runners ran their hearts out on the day and I was proud to see their efforts but just a bit disappointed to see the results sheets.

Roll on next year.

 

  

Manx Harriers Nick Percival, Steve Partington, Brian Osbourne and Chris Quine look extremely worried.

I asked for a caption. How did I know that it would be Paul Jackson who would reply!

His suggestion was: "As Brian shares his expert knowledge of 'how to keep your hair on' with Nick, team mates Chris and Steve lurk subtly close by in the hope of wangling some advice."

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