ATHLETES had a great day out in Horwich on New Year’s Eve with the nearby Trails and Ales fell race organised by Mad Bull Events.

The seven-mile race took in Two Lads and the Pike on a tough undulating course.

Runners were given the send-off by Andy from the Bolton Caledonia Pipe Band and the swirl of the pipes welcomed them home too.

It seemed to have the right effect on the 20-strong Horwich RMI Harriers team as they dominated the race, with Luke Foley a clear winner and then with George Martindale and James Titmuss in close order at third and fourth, the men’s team prize was in the bag too.

The Harriers’ women’s team of Sophie Seddon, Sandra Kelly and Stephanie McKee were also the top team and there was a string of age-category wins for Horwich with Mary White first F70, Tony Hesketh first M70, Linda Webb first F60, Sandra Kelly first F50, Gary Chadderton first M60, Marcus Taylor first M50 and Titmuss first M40.

There was a great return to the Horwich colours for Dave Massey who was third M60 and the track sessions at the arena are bearing fruit for track regulars in 2021 – Sam Fairhurst and Matt Fawthrop had strong top-10 finishes and Johanna Dodsworth was third F40.

Elsewhere over the festive period it was relatively quiet, but the Christmas celebrations did not prevent fine performances from several Harriers the day after Boxing Day in Clitheroe for the Ribble Valley 10k road race, with a big field of more than 1,100 runners.

James Scott-Farrington, who is also an international tri-athlete, had a great 20th place, once again demonstrating his versatility across several athletics disciplines.

In the Ribble Valley, too, Foley, Marcus Taylor and Tony Hesketh showed they are no slouches on both road and fell and the Horwich contingent was completed with Richard Pollitt and Colin Rigby in the first 25 per cent of finishers.

Horwich now go into 2022 looking forward to team efforts coming up soon, notably in the Manchester Area Cross Country League where the club will be looking to its men to defend their current second place in the first division, chasing Sale for the title before going on to the Northern Cross-Country Championships at Pontefract racecourse later this month.

The Northern Road relays in March will also be a target for the club’s men and women.