2016/17 Mid Lancs Cross Country league first event at Astley Park Chorley – Pita Oates

2016/17 Mid Lancs Cross Country league first event at Astley Park Chorley – Pita Oates

The Power of positive thinking

Saturday the 1st of October saw the long awaited first Mid Lancs event of the cross country season.
There had been lots of excitement and giddiness leading up to the big day, the ‘list’ and
organisation of numbers once again was a huge task to complete in readiness for our first event.

Given the growth of the club, currently 401 members (no reference to Ben) the collation and
transferring of data for all our interested runners is a huge task. This year was a particularly
challenging year as the requirement to list every runners England Athletics registration number
meant we had to do a lot of searching for athletes online remotely in Ambleside whilst on holiday!
Anyway, that aside we got a list drafted and this was speedily pinged off to Mid Lancs who would
do some serious checking of each athlete’s first and second claim club status. Non counters,
second claim and unaffiliated athletes were to be highlighted and withdrawn, which would mean
we were to have some gaps in our list come the 1st of October. Eeek!

With the power of positive thinking and a cracking support team (Steevo, Debbie, Matt Cowan)
and men’s captain on board we were able to ensure most of our teams either got their number
or were registered on the day. Smashing!!

Our course was set and the sun shone, Steve Taylor helped Debs and I put up the tent, adding his
usual wit and humour to the occasion. Again we set the season off with a sparkly new tent and
with ‘perfect poles’ we had a great spot ready for those muddy shoes and changing bags,
Wait…no flapjack! Again first event chaos meant whilst discussing issues with Dawn Lock at 10
o’clock at night and melting chocolate at the same time, the flapjack got forgotten first thing in the
morning! Ooops, a few prayers that Helen Orson would bring some of her baking treats .

The Junior turn out – particularly the U11 group were very well represented in the fields. So much
so Gethin Butler from Preston Harriers commented that we had more than them! Whoop! Check
us out! Lots of nervous first time runners started to gather, in true Red Rose style, RIGHT AT THE
BACK!! . Some amazing performances all round but noticeably Lucie Clipston had a storming run
and came in 3rd position in her very first cross country event! What a run! The Ritchens girls looked
incredibly nervous but resplendent in their Red Rose vests and a proud Mum Ginny watching close
by. Not to be gender biased, Jacob Fisher – who incidentally was sooo excited, ran his first under
11 race and absolutely loved being covered in mud. Result!! Mark and myself had a few words of
encouragement with them all and the ‘rule’ of the race was to smile as much as possible and have
lots of fun! We think it worked! Well done Junior team!

Next up, in the U13 category Daisy Royle, who certainly did smile all the way round, Daisy didn’t
really want to race when she arrived although that quickly changed with some gentle persuasion
and the sight of some friends from Chorley Athletic. Well done Daisy, sometimes the hardest thing
to do is pull your shoes on! Speaking of shoes…Sophie Hill had a bit of a dramatic race losing her
shoe in the mud. Good for Sophie who carried on and is now a fully-fledged cross country runner
given the #shoegate scenario. Next but not last to shine for the mighty Red Rose was Finty Royle.
Again, in true Red Rose style Finty started from the back of the group and seemed to effortlessly
pick off her competitors one by one to finish in third position overall. We certainly had a real Royle
treat in the fields! What a day for Red Rose, you would usually hear the chants of eat my dust in
American cartoons, I think it fitting that the mighty Red Rose could chant eat my dirt given the
fantastic performances of our under 15 runners. Bravo!

Onto the older mud lovers…having lots of new members for this season again there seemed to be
lots of nervousness in the build up to the senior races. Facebook comments about shoes, terrain
and performances were in full flow leading up to the first event and this continued in the fields.
Astley Park is a very challenging race on mixed terrain, woodland trail, river crossing, mud pit, hills
and undulating trail paths as well as grass and is certainly not for the feint hearted. It was amazing
to see so many ‘first timers’ willing to wear the vest and have a go!

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James Simon leading the way for the senior men, finished first for the mighty Red Rose even
though he missed the finish straight and started his way onto a fourth lap of the field! Luckily he
only lost a few places – a great debut race! So many senior men ran good strong races and the Red
Rose support crew didn’t disappoint the teams. Strategically placed at one of the most challenging
spots on the course, some of our Red Rose men couldn’t resist a smile, a skid and a grimace whilst
traversing through the bog of doom! Spike started a new trend in men’s make over treatments
and smeared lots of mud around his face in a Braveheart style…you really had to be there! The
Clipston support crew alongside the Fisher family very firmly placed at the top of the climb out of
the bog and saw their Dad Carl run his first ever event. Pete Battersby stayed upright although
slipped about for a few paces. Wayne Sharples made a great first appearance also and Jon Royle
completed a ‘Royle’ flush with his strong run in the park.

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Red Rose Rosettes turned out in style and ready to take on the challenge. We again saw lots of
nervous first time runners, and with the quickest warm up ever, a gentle jog to the start, they took
off around the field. A very quick start can catch you out if you’re not careful, and Alicia, Paula,
Claire, and Natalie took off and the pack started to thin out. Once round the field and the real fun
begins through the woods and the undulating section picking your way through tree roots and
through the stream and yet more undulations, then the bog of doom. A path section and ‘that hill’
to finish a lap. Around you go again! So many ladies were grateful to not be doing the men’s race!
Well done to all of you, new to cross country and seasoned professionals!

A day to remember in particular and a special run for myself, Debs and Sal. Sal has been out of
running injured for several months, slowly gaining some confidence and strength back decided to
run the first event of the season.What? Crazy! Running a Cross Country race coming back from an
injury having only done a few training runs? Yep, that’s Sal. What made it extra special was Debs
and I were able to run with her, to support and have a natter and a catch up on the way round.
Why is this so special you may ask? To us it was, Sal would do exactly the same thing for anyone
and indeed has run to support me in particular in some challenging races and as the previous Ladies Captain ensured every runner was ready to go and would support where needed.
Time to pay back and continue the legacy of the power of positive thinking! Thanks Sal and welcome
back to the fields, it’s where you belong!!

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One thought on “2016/17 Mid Lancs Cross Country league first event at Astley Park Chorley – Pita Oates

  1. Andy Speer

    Great write up Pita and many thanks to you for all the behind the scenes preparations, and to all the supporters and the Rosettes for name-checking us all the way round. At the muddy pit. runners who wanted to delicately find a dry line round the pit got a boo like panto villains, and those who aimed straight for the deepest wettest bits got a mighty cheer., what a laugh!

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