This weekend saw the daddy of them all – the scorching hot London Marathon, with 15 Lions among the 40,000 runners massed on the start line alongside Mo Farah.
After spending the winter months training in freezing conditions, the fifteen Lions were faced with sizzling temperatures of 24 degrees on Sunday, making it the hottest day in the history of the event. Good news for the crowds lining the route who were able to enjoy a carnival atmosphere in blazing sunshine, but a huge challenge for the runners, with everyone from Mo Farah to the back markers struggling to stay hydrated. The battle to keep cool proved too much for Lion Matthew Pierson, who sadly had to pull out after 25K run at his signature furious pace. With Matthew out, Stephen Hall was first Lion to cross the finish line, in a scorching time of 2:56:10. The club is enormously proud of each and every one of its marathon runners and very grateful to coaches Mark Pigford and Tanya Blake for all their help in preparing the runners for their big day.
Results: Stephen Hall 2:56:10, Jamie Westwood 2:58:17, Darren Young 3:12:54, Simon Rawnsley 3:25:46, Tim Neville 4:06:36, Paula Statham-Drake 4:14:46, Richard Crombie 4:34:47, Jenny Walker 5:05:41, Caroline Palmer 5:26:57, Allison Hesketh 5:31:20, Ginny Rushworth 6:22:16, Sandra Robertshaw 6:52:25, Judith MacDonald 6:57:48, Jeanette Campbell 7:06:39
Yorkshire Vets Grand Prix Series – Race One, Honley
While the Marathon was in full swing in the capital, up in Honley the Yorkshire Veterans Grand Prix series was getting underway. Over 40 Lions took part in the first race of the series, which this year comprises 10 cross country races held in various locations across Yorkshire. Points are awarded for individual and team performances, and tallied up over the course of the series. Not only did Stainland’s new Vets Captain Gavin Mulholland do a top job marshalling his troops, he also led from the front, winning the men’s race in a time of 37:28 and picking up the M45 category win in the process. Other category honours went to Angela Lee (1st F55), Julie Field (2nd F45), Sean Thompson (3rd M50), Amanda Zito (3rd F50) and John Bassinder (3rd M60). But it’s not all about fast times - every single runner contributes to the team’s points score, and the Lions managed first place finishes in all but one of the various team categories – a flying start to the season!
Anniversary Waltz and Teenager with Altitude Fell Races
These two epic Lake District fell races were held for the very last time this weekend, following the recent death of the event organiser. Both races start and finish at the village hall in the small Lakeland hamlet of Stair, and both are extremely challenging. Whilst the Anniversary Waltz is hard enough for most people at 11.5 miles long with 3,600 feet of ascent, its big brother race the Teenager with Altitude is more James Penson’s cup of tea, at over 15 miles long with 7,600 feet of ascent. The always excellent Aileen Baldwin finished 3rd F60 in the Anniversary Waltz, from a very strong field and in roasting hot conditions. Club coach Mark Pigford (who helped many of the club’s marathon runners prepare for London, putting together their marathon training plans and leading their weekly track sessions) also put in a strong performance in the Anniversary Waltz. Everyone who took part was very enthusiastic about these races, and fingers crossed a new organiser might be found for them for next year. Results are not available at the time of going to press, but Lions taking part included Mark Pigford, Leon Severn, Aileen Baldwin, Jim Harris, Andrew Earnshaw, David Culpan, Moira Alderson, Rikki Hammond and Steve Boyer (Anniversary Waltz) and James Penson (Teenager with Altitude).
The Dirty Reiver 200K Mountain Bike Challenge
Kielder Forest on the border of England and Scotland is a favourite playground for Lions attempting big challenges this year. After Roy and Sarah Lunt did their night time marathon there last month, this weekend saw Tony Mott in action, swapping his running shoes for his mountain bike to take on the 200K Dirty Reiver ride. Named after the reivers who were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border in the Middle Ages, the route traverses gravel forest access roads near Kielder Forest, taking riders through remote areas in the Borders, and affording outstanding views to the riders. Tony finished his long day in the saddle in a time of 9:38:55.
Lions Manchester to Sowerby Bridge 50K Ultra Marathon
Like the London marathon runners, Lion Rebecca O’Neill also trained hard all winter in readiness for a planned 50K ultra marathon from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge. Then – disaster! The company organising the race went out of business and the event was cancelled. But Rebecca and running partner Andrew Falkingbridge didn’t let this detail stop them, and come race day, they were there on the start line at first light in Manchester, helped by a swiftly mobilised Lions support crew. The Lions manned impromptu water stations along the route, cheered the runners on and ran sections of the route alongside them. Rebecca and Andrew finished in just under 5½ hours, and medals were even conjured up for the pair!