burnden Road Runners’ Marcus Chester was impressive in his first race of the year when putting his marathon training to the test at the Four Villages half marathon.

The event, which takes in the villages of Helsby, Mouldsworth, Manley and Alvanley, held no fears for Chester who finished in a great time of 1hr 29mins 56secs.

Joining him was Steven Bate, who also impressed and finished in a time of 1:44:33.

Also in half-marathon action was Mel Walker, continuing his busy start to the year.

This time it was at the Inskip half marathon.

Walker finished second in the masters 75 category in a strong time of 1:58:09.

Saturday saw plenty of impressive performances throughout in the South East Lancs Cross Country League meeting, held at an alternative venue of Heaton Park, a replacement for Tandle Hill, where the course was deemed unusable due to recent weather conditions.

Leading the way – and not for the first time – were the ladies, who had a trio of category winners and finished third overall.

Gwen Kinloch was the first F55 competitor in a time of 34:22, Anne Ferguson’s time of 35:11 was enough for her to finish first in the F60 and Lyndsay Darbyshire was the first F50 runner to finish, clocking 35:44.

The men also showed well as they finished as the first over-50 team, with the first three counters – Steve Nolan, Ed Ashton and Andy Duffy – all starting in the M55 category.

Nolan was the first M55 runner in 42:53, Ashton ran a 44:33 with Duffy finishing exactly one minute behind him.

Keith Thomas was second M60 in 46:02, Mark Cannon completed the course in 47:47 and Ged Turner ran a 53:23.

Closer to home, the Mast 10k was held from the club’s home venue at Smithills Sports Centre.

The course takes runners up Smithills Dean Road and across to Coal Pit Lane before carrying on up to the halfway point, the landmark that is the Winter Hill Mast, before turning round and repeating the downhill leg.

The run proved tricky in frosty conditions, but four Burnden members proved more than matches for the course.

Anne Fergurson was first to cross the finish line in 53:29, followed by Robert Bell in 1:02:37, Sue Blackman in 1:24:35 and Tracy Berry, who finished in 1:29:22.