Harriers get a flyer in defence of GP title
9:33am Thursday 21st February 2013 in Sport
BOLTON United Harriers began the defence of their Central Lancashire Grand Prix title in almost identical fashion and conditions to how they launched last season’s successful campaign.
The defending champions fielded an impressive 37 competitors in Sunday’s 5K opener at Leverhulme Park and, just as a year ago, the 295 runners enjoyed perfect racing conditions – bright but chilly.
Former Bolton Harrier and ex-England international Paul Freary was first across the line in 16mins 25secs.
Now competing for Belgrave Harriers, veteran Freary showed he is still a force to be reckoned with when he made his decisive break at the 4k stage, managing to hold off the chasing junior duo of Astley and Tyldesley’s Lewis Eccleston (16:28) and Bolton’s Jonny Kay (16:29). After three months of injury woe, it was a great return to action for u20 Kay, with similar emotions for M45-winning Ian Selby (18th) and Mark Swannell (19th), who were on each other’s shoulders throughout.
A brilliant debut by Simon Dally (21st) was quickly followed up by junior Simon Walker (28th) winning the game of cat-and-mouse with training partner Andrew Cafferky (29th). Ian Gregory (41st), Chris Povey (42nd) and Ben Troughton (45th) produced a trio of sub-19-minute personal best times before a tiring Jacob Kearney narrowly edged father Pete as the final counter for the A team.
Bolton finished on 295 points ahead of Horwich (337), Astley and Tyldesley (432) and Leigh (452).
Daryl Bentley pipped Andrew Doyle in the final 200m after producing a strong run up a steep hill towards the end of the race, as James Rideout hung on to their coat-tails, separated only by a second.
Ken Fowler won the M60 category and was joined by Ben Scott, Graham Shaw and Nick Howarth in also claiming top spot in the CLGP B rankings with 560 points. Eric Ranicar won the M65 category, with other notable performances coming from Aidy Costello, who beat his PB by a minute, and debutants Dave Hanson, Richard Clegg and Ged Tucker.
Horwich RMI’s victorious women’s team was led by Rachel Jones’ (18:26) impressive race win over Keighley and Craven’s Amy Green (19:13), with Accrington’s Sarah Ridehalgh (19:21) third.
Although not fully fit, Jayne Dickinson was Bolton’s first female, finishing 17th in 21:58, as she rallied support for what could be a breakthrough year for the club’s women. Newly-crowned 2012 parkrun female points champion, 14-year-old Olivia Kearney claimed the u20 category.
Horwich (133pts) also took the vets team spoils, but Burnden Road Runners’ formidable squad (247pts) look threatening.
Race organiser Howarth was pleased with the day’s events: “It was a competitive field of local club runners – if Bolton can put on a good showing in their home race which needs some runners to marshal, it bodes well for the rest of the season.”
Elsewhere, Marc Tillotson (43:51) was third in a field of 481 runners at the Parbold Hill Race.
l The Harriers are hosting the annual Bolton 10K on Sunday, April 21. Visit www.bolton10k.org for information.