EIGHT members of Bolton United Harriers’ Endurance Group were among the nine club representatives at the Manchester Marathon - and each performed well.

Five of those were running in their first ever marathon including Gary Porteous who has been a regular attendee at club sessions and also been busy with his own training.

He can often be seen setting off from his Heaton base on a weekend for the hills round Rivington or long road runs to the Chorley area and back.

It has all been worthwhile after he ran a super race to come back with a time of 3hrs 31mins.

After a short recovery and some sustenance he said: “My training plan didn’t get off to the best of starts as I caught Covid just before Christmas, so I had just over 12 weeks to train.

“But I stuck to my plan and gradually upped the mileage each week until I was averaging about 40 miles per week.

“My longest run and the hardest was about 22 miles which was incredibly brutal on the hills of Bolton.

“But it put me in good stead, and on race day I felt relaxed and and focused.

“During the race I felt comfortable and maintained my planned pace until about 20 miles, after that I had a bit of a dip, but I dug in and gritted my teeth and counted the miles down.

“I was so close to a sub three-and-a-half hours and I never thought I would achieve running a marathon when I joined the Harriers.

“I have to thank all the coaches and the rest of the group for giving me the encouragement and belief.”

Another Heaton resident and marathon debutant was Dominic Sohor, who has made a remarkable recovery from a stroke in 2017.

He was unable to speak for some time and left needing urgent hospital treatment. He wanted to show his appreciation for the Royal Bolton Hospital Speech and Language Therapy Department by running and raising money for them in the process.

He succeeded and got round in a time of 4:22:00. On a better day he would be capable of a much better time and said: “I enjoyed the first half but second half was pretty horrific with mega sore glutes, hips and my hands went all tingly.

“Taking part in the marathon and raising funds is my way of being able to say thank you for my care and hopefully helping others who suffer from Aphasia.”

Chris Toole is another newcomer to the group and the third marathon debutant who works so hard in training and the proof was in the pudding with a wonderful time of 3:29:00.

Andy Gallagher, more of a fell race specialist was the fourth group member attempting 26 miles for the first time.

He said “I was slow and steady from the start to finish. I have only had 10 weeks to train having stopped running for three months because of knee problems

“I decided to run just for the experience and atmosphere which was fantastic.

“I think I sneaked under 4:45:00 and well done to everyone else who ran today.”

Scott Sunderland is a much welcome and relative newcomer to Bolton Harriers and since joining, he has been a dedicated attendee to training.

The Land Rover Design Engineer proved he can clock up the miles also and came back with a time of 3:51:00 in his first ever marathon.

Mark Garner represents the Blue Vests in all sorts of events and distances including fell races and he kept up a steady pace and completed the marathon in a respectable 4:04:00. He has already entered for next year’s marathon.

Chris Byrne is also a member of Bolton Triathlon Club and has proven stamina in these events. He went round in his usual strong and steady style and also finished with a time of 4:04:00.

Thomas Gore always runs with a smile on his face and arrived at the finishing line acknowledging yet another super run in 3:21:00. He is another Harrier who is a versatile runner and just loves to run and represent the club in lots of events.

Phil Hardman was the solo representative from Dave Shaw’s group and is a battle-hardened warrior in these events.

He never seems to get out of bed for anything less than a half marathon and stormed round in a time of 2:48:00 minutes and was in the top 500 of more than 14,000 runners.