Alf Walsh Testimonial Old Monks Race, Sunday 17th July 2011

Alf Walsh was present and correct and actually officiating as number one timekeeper for the race testimonial dedicated to him by our club for his 50 years plus of sterling service to the club.


On a very wet day in Hart village the runners set off on this well known race with the twist of running it in reverse.  Burn Road had enlisted the help of Gary Mcbean a former member and one of the North’s top cycle time trialists to lead the race out over Hart Moor on his mountain bike up to Nesbitt Hall.  On this occasion he did not have to don one of those aerodynamic helmets.


As expected Hartlepool’s top man Andy Minister led the field out of the village and over Hart Moor with Mike Jeffries from Billingham hot on his heels.  Following behind were 26 other club members dispersed among the throng of runners heading up the country lane to the moor track.  Tracy Waller the clubs top lady was following the second leading pack consisting of the in-form Paul Wilson along with former superstar, mercurial Michael Lamb.  Tony Oliver, runner, cyclist and swimmer the latter discipline could have come in handy on this course considering the downpour and the club’s mean machine (future coach) Bryan Astill.


Close behind were the three amigos, young Andy Kelly whose fitness is as up and down as his falls from a bike, the wrong side of 50 former seven times XC champion and prolific 10mile road racer (50mins in his day) Ian Cook, and closing in on 50 faster than his running (at the moment) the irrepressible Barry Garrington.


Next up were newly formed rival partnership of John Mansfield and Richard Hambly.  John managed to turn the tables from the last outing.  This was a good effort as Richard had been warming up well before the race trying to get some miles in for his next marathon,  I do believe he kept running after the finish line, must have been reading Forest Gump.


Burn Road’s future was running strongly in the shape of the youthful Kyle Addison he put in a great performance and kept well ahead of his Dad on this outing.


Richard Robson found out at Kilburn that celebrating a reunion with a few shandys the day before a race did not work the same as it did for Andy Minister, so Richard had not touched a drop this week.  He was rewarded with a strong run and no ill effects. Hanging onto the back of Richard was former member Shaun Bruce who now after seeing his old rivals still ambling about has thoughts of rejoining the club.

Following up was Mark Addison enjoying his running and realising that it is going to be a difficult task to catch up to his son ever again.  John Newman looked thoroughly at home on this terrain and came in very relaxed, he may not agree with that!


The brawn of the Dawkins duo, Matty, seems to have got over his injury and paced himself well to keep ahead of his better half who has the beauty and the brains of this outfit.  ‘Miss Burn Road 1990’ putting in a good effort came in next, the multi-tasking Lesley Strickland enjoyed every step of this run beaming from start to finish.  Contenders for this much sought after title were just behind.  Debbie Corbett and Lisa Marie Dawkins were never far apart from each other throughout the race, keeping up a solid pace and finishing together for the same time.


It has to be said that the next two would never win a beauty competition.  Stephen Armstrong and Dave Clouston were not far apart having determined runs.  Joking aside, Dave has fought back over the last two years to walk again never mind run.  A nasty motorcycle accident left his lower legs in a mangled condition.  His recovery and determination (stubbornness) to get back fit is amazing.


Amy Dixon ran this route having to focus hard due to having team-mates well ahead offering no target to catch and others quite a way behind posing no threat to her position.  Amy ran well on this course and it must bode well for her ducking of the 2hr mark on her next half marathon.


The family unit of Bruce Caswell and Gabrielle Stevenson were next on the scene accompanied by their son Robin.  He opted to run the race without a number as being too young wasn’t eligible to race (a lot of us would like to have that problem).  They enjoyed the race but did not take the family rivalry too seriously this time out although at one point it looked like Gabrielle was going to make a break for it.  All crossed the finish line together and smiling.


Joanna Norman kept up a steady pace and was happy to complete the course comfortably, just showing that the training on club nights is paying dividends for all relatively new members.  Stuart Whitaker did two jobs at once, pacing his wife Linda around the course and making sure no one was left behind.


Just heading back to the sharp end for a moment, as the race progressed through the top muddy dene just before Monk Heselden Mike Jeffries took the lead, with Minister staying close on the fast stretch down the disused railway line.  When entering the lower dene Jeffries managed to create a gap and hold onto it along the mile of undulating road to the finish and victory in a time of 32.22.


Andy had fought hard to keep in contact with the leader and finished an excellent 2nd in 32.56.( he did not mention to me whether or not he had carbo loaded in the usual way, ask him about his pre-race drinks).


Tracy who is still gaining fitness after a long lay off ran very well for 9th place (37.52) winning the ladies race in fine style.  She had been in good company during the race with Paul Wilson 4th (35.28), Michael Lamb 5th (36.32), and Tony Oliver 6th (36.42).  She did attach herself like a limpet to Bryan Astill but he just managed to stay ahead finishing 8th (37.44).


The rest of the squad’s positions and times are as follows, Andy Kelly 12th (38.44), Ian Cook 13th winning O/50 (39.13), Barry Garrington 15th (40.08), John Mansfield 20th (41.22), Richard Hambly 21st (42.03), Kyle Addison 23rd (43.37), Richard Robson 25th (44.09), Shaun Bruce 26th (44.32), Mark Addison 28th (45.32), John Newman 29th (45.52), Matty Dawkins 32nd (47.02), Lesley Strickland 37th (48.22), Debbie Corbett 39th (49.06), Lisa Marie Dawkins 40th  (49.06), Stephen Armstrong 41st (49.27), Dave Clouston 42nd (49.58), Amy Dixon 46th (51.44), Bruce Caswell 51st (59.22), Gabrielle Stevenson 52nd (59.22), Joanna Norman 54th ( 61.39), Linda Whitaker 56th (72.35). Not forgetting Robin (59.22)


The presentation for Alf went really well with an excellent speech from Ken Lupton a former Burn Road luminary in NE athletics.  Alf was chuffed to bits with his trophy and cheque, the buffet was splendid as was tea and coffee.  The whole event ran smoothly with grand efforts from Jane, Gail, Lesley, David , Suzie, Alison, Stuart, all the marshals/ helpers and the results team of  Christine, Peter and David Johnson.

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