Witnessing the procession of runners crossing the fields down towards Kelsall was a welcome sight. As a competitor you might not have enjoyed the hill that followed, but for me it was confirmation that all the last minute behind-the-scenes activity had paid off. Once we received confirmation at the end of August that Police support for the event was to change, we had to adapt to make sure the race survived. Unless I receive any significant objections, this diversion across the A54 will become the standard route. For the record, the A race was 700m longer than last year, with the B race being 800m longer. (The B race didn't benefit from the 100m short-cut just before Beeston.)
It was pleasing to see such a good turn-out in my first year as organiser. No retirals, no serious injuries, and everyone staying patient at the A51 crossing. An organiser's dream! The only negative to report is a runner who registered, collected his number, but then changed his mind and decided not run, without informing an official. This caused us a major headache at the finish, as we thought he could be lying injured out on the course somewhere. Fortunately this sort of inconsiderate behaviour is rare, as the majority of off-road runners understand the safety implications of an event of this nature. You must report to an official, preferably at the finish, even if you retire.
On a more positive note, the race has always attracted a diverse field, which is part of its magic - fell runners lining up alongside trail runners, orienteers and triathletes - with lubs as far afield as Wooler, Bath and Preston being represented.
In the A race, Manchester-based orienteer Martin Crosby continued his steady improvement from joint 3rd in 2002, 2nd last year, to claim a win by nearly a minute. Congratulations to Martin who has also previously won the B race in 1998. Glen Groves recovered well to finish second, having been in 8th place at Beeston following an early navigational error. Glen may be one to watch next year. GB age-group triathlete Ruth Isaacs won the Ladies race, setting a new LV40 record in the process. A fantastic achievement considering the increased course length and less than ideal conditions underfoot. Ruth gained 15 places after Beeston. Andy Jackson also had a good "second half" gaining 7 places to finish 15th overall to take the Orienteer trophy. Veteran men featured strongly with MV40 winner Sean Butler placing 3rd overall, one position ahead of MV50 winner and consistent campaigner Peter Pickwell. Peter and Sean, along with Dave Ainsworth picked up the team prize for Altrincham.
While Altrincham's men dominated the A race, West Cheshire took the first three places in the B race, with former A Race winner Paul Frodsham sharing the spoils with Ken Begley. The pair also shared the MV40 prize. Ann-Marie Jones of Altrincham announced her return to the race in style after an absence of several years, comfortably winning the Ladies prize, showing the stamina as an LV50 to see off her younger challengers. Flying the flag for local club Tattenhall was Sandra Owen who won the Lady Veteran prize. (Apologies again, Sandra, for the mix-up over the trophy.) Andy Garnett (Spectrum Striders) took the MV50 prize.
The race could not place without the assistance of the following, who I would like to take the opportunity to thank:
* Cheshire Police - road safety advice and assistance with signing
* Rob Evans (Castlegate Farm, Beeston) - B Race Start
* Robin Latham (Organsdale Farm, Kelsall) - Route from Primrose Hill to Yeld Lane
* Nick Lowe (St. John Ambulance)
* Sarah Wilson (Forestry Commission) - Delamere Forest Permit
* John Street (Cheshire County Council) - Trail Ranger
* Dave Morris (National Trust, Bickerton) - Temporary removal of kissing gates
* Steven Woodman (English Heritage, Beeston Castle) - Car parking and toilets
* Andy Worthington (Chair of North West Sports Board, Sport England) - presenting prizes after competing in the B race.
Also, on your behalf, a big THANK YOU to all the volunteer helpers from Deeside Orienteering Club, Pensby Runners and Tattenhall Runners who marshalled, timed and watered you, drove your kit around and stopped you getting hit by cars. (59 in total- too many to thank all by name here, but I will single out the following):
* Jane, for general assistance with the organisation in addition to processing a record number of entries and ordering T-shirts
* Gwyn Thomas, for giving up his weekend to drive the equipment van
* Former organisers Jill and Barry Barnes, for advice, assistance, occasional meals and fulfilling key roles on the day
* Andrew Williams, for computer support and website maintenance
* Steve Ingleby, for setting up and co-ordinating the race finish and results operation
* Race founder John Hammond, for brokering the improved diversion route across the fields at Kelsall
Please contact me by phone or e-mail if you have any observations, comments or suggestions to improve the race. I am already planning to include a LV50 prize and MV60 prize next year to reflect the shifting age profile of our entrants. Only 26% of this year's runners were aged under 40. Have you got sons and daughters who might like to take up
Provisional date for next year's race - Sunday 2nd October 2005
Memo to self: Wellington boots required next year for conducting the B Race start!
0151 336 4482
Lost property: Chirk 10k T shirt - contact organiser to reclaim.
Unclaimed pre-ordered Race T-shirts: Send an A4 SAE with postage sufficient for 200grammes weight, or contact the organiser to arrange collection.