LONG-DISTANCE learning and hard work has paid off for two young, promising Horwich RMI Harriers runners.

Sophie Walton and Toby Middleton have earned a much sought after place on the England Athletics Youth Talent Programme.

Selection is all the more sweeter as the pair had to rely on valuable instruction from their coaches at a distance during lockdown.

Walton, who was first called up by England for the home internationals two years ago, has now been invited to compete at 100m and 200m in the British Athletics championships in June.

She has also been given a much sought after place on the England Athletics Youth Talent Programme where she is joined also by the Harriers’ Toby Middleton, both looking forward to national training camps this summer.

Middleton has had a great early spring with quick times on the road and track and demonstrated his versatility too by taking third place and first under-18 man at Loughrigg fell race in the Lake District.

Walton and Middleton have benefited from the coaching of Trevor Williams and Steve Pearson respectively and the club has taken a step up in coaching with Martyn Bell taking over the lead co-ordinating role.

Also in the Lakes but on the trails, Tony Hesketh clocked up yet another MV70 first prize in the Kentmere 10k part of the

Lakeland Trails series. In the same race, Gail Maxfield in the MV60 category had a fine time in one hour 37 minutes.

Bell’s weekly track sessions have clearly helped several Harriers to some nice results including James Scott-Farrington winning the Run Tatton half marathon.

He continued to build on his recent 5k form and it proved useful training in preparation for his first key race of the year in the Outlaw triathlon in June.

James applauded the race organization for safety and support on a scenic course.

He is only one of several Harriers pursuing triathlon honours. Erica Booth recently was first woman at the Ulverston duathlon in Horwich Tri colours.

Returning from injury is always a testing time and this weekend at the iconic Aintree racecourse, two Harriers used the 10k as a stage on recovery.

Geoff Leech took on the Ulverston duathlon in Deane Tri colours and then this week achieved a third place for his age category at Aintree. Ahead of Leech in the M55 category was Rob Jackson who has had a four-week recovery from a hamstring injury.

In the half marathon at Aintree, Michael Chadderton, often seen pounding the local roads and another regular in the track coaching sessions, ran a quick time for 13th place.

Julie Williamson, preparing as ever for the ultra distance races often in far flung places will for the moment have to look closer to home and was using the Aintree half marathon in preparation for the forthcoming Horwich Triathlon.

On the track at the Trafford Open event, GB athlete Ola Abidogun showed good early season form with a 11.74 secs 100m against a brisk headwind.

Trevor Williams also took five young athletes to the very competitive meet. Dezarai Morris, Elliot Whittle, Sophie Walton, Izzy Merritt and Nathan Hargreaves all had strong outings in the blustery conditions.

Dezarai at under-20 achieved a personal best of 13.81 for the


Results: Run Tatton half marathon – 1st James Scott-Farrington 01:07:20; Loughrigg fell race – 3rd Toby Middleton 27:32; Aintree 10k – 50th Rob Jackson 40:01; 129th Geoff Leech 48:07; Aintree half marathon – 13th Michael Chadderton 01:17:33; 410th Julie Williamson 02:12:01; Kentmere Trail 10k (Staveley) – Tony Hesketh 01:15:48; Gail Maxfield 01:37:52.