Vale Royal AC - Senior Section

Running and Athletics in the Heart of Cheshire.


18 and 25 Mar: David Shepherd has been enjoying some good performances on the fells with 2 fell races in 2 weeks. Here's his update: 

"18th March was Rad Yr Arran fell race near Gala. 5 mile up. Turn around 5 mile back down all in thick cloud and plenty of thick gloopy mud. 58th overall out of 81 in 2:13.53. Yes over 2 hours for 10 miles it was that tough! Then on 25th March it was Llantysilio fell race near Llangollen. Only 10k this time but it doesn't get tougher than this. Even the fell runners were walking the hills on this one. 4 miles of vertical climbs and 2 mile of descent tells you how hard the descents were. I was told the views are spectacular but I was concentrating so much and too knackered to look up and see. 27th overall out of 62 in a time of 1:14.56. Yes 36 minutes off a p.b."


26 Mar: Dave Humphreys followed up on his half marathon PB at Anglesey with a 50 second 10k PB at Arley. The conditions were considerably better than Anglesey on a sunny if breezy day. Good to see Mr aand Mrs Griffiths making good use of Mother's Day and great to see Anne Budenberg in the VRAC line up.
PosNameGunChipCatCat PosGenGen Pos 
118DAVID HUMPHREYS00:41:4300:41:33V4015Male104PB
399CHRIS GRIFFITHS00:50:1600:49:42V5522Male324 
442ANNE BUDENBERG00:51:0300:47:46V504Female87 
1231EILEEN GRIFFITHS01:14:4701:11:03V5526Female596


26 Mar: Debbie Morreton  was the lone VRACer at the Poynton 10K on a beautiful morning. She was pleased to knock just over a minute off last year's time and enjoyed it "despite the first half's long steady incline!"
PosChip PosNameGunChipCatCat Pos
122127Debbie Moreton49.2249.15F456


Postscript: It has come to light that Jenny Watt was knocked the ground and trampled by two loose horses around the 5 mile mark.She had hoped to run sub 1:25 but was left shocked and bruised and lost several minutes at that juncture. She continued though and made up many  places to finish 12th lady and sub 1.30. The photo was taken after she finished. They breed them tough at VRAC. Well done Jenny.
19 Mar: Gusty winds for runners to cope with. Stu Doyle's first road race since October with training interrupted with injury niggles. So he was pleased with a solid run and a strong finish to claim 2nd M45. The standout performance of the day came from James Ainsworth who has also battled injury. He smashed through the 80 minute barrier for the first time taking over 2 minutes off his PB. He paced the race well (with reminders scrawled on his arm!) and overhauled many rivals in the latter stages who had started too quickly. Great to see Darren Cottier racing with a typically creditable time. Another excellent race for the recently joined VRAC member, Jenny Watt, finishing high up in the ladies placings. It was a tough day for both Jayne Lomax and Sarah Gibbs. Jayne had tweaked a hamstring a few days earlier and within yards of the start she felt it again. Jayne said "it was the hardest race I have ever done" which includes 9 marathons! Despite a chest infection and missed training Sarah Gibbs was determined to run for personal reasons and she suffered accordingly, needing medical attention at the end (she is OK). Sarah Walker brought the VRAC contingent home with a good confidence booster ahead of her forthcoming London Marathon.
Name GenGen PosCatCat Pos10k10MGunGun PosChipChip Pos 
StuartDoyleM 22MV45200:34:2500:56:3801:14:192201:14:1722 
JamesAinsworthM 53MV40800:36:4201:00:0401:18:435401:18:4056PB
DarrenCottierM 159MV452100:39:0801:04:3501:25:0016501:24:54169 
JennyWattF 12FOPEN800:42:1801:08:1501:29:2727101:29:14281 


18 Mar: A fantastic result in the 'finale' to the cross country season held at Wavertree Playing Fields, Liverpool over 6.2 K. Star performances from 3 VRAC ladies to clinch overall ladies team Gold. Brilliant.

Andrea Hildrup.   9th overall (4th V35).  25.27
Helen Smith.       15th o'all.   (6th  V45). 26.16
Claire Thompson 32nd o'all.(5th. V35). 27.44
65 in race

1st.  Vale Royal.  56 points
2nd. Tonbridge. 74 points
3rd.  Bingley.      75 points

Also competing over the same distance VRAC stalwarts Carole Williams and Colin Rathbone.

Carole Williams.  64th (7th O60). 40.27
Colin Rathbone.  33rd male (9th O70). 31.55.

'JT' John Thompson tackled the the longer 8k course,

John Thompson. 79th (21st V50). 32.52
116 in race


11 Mar: Congratulations to Jenny Watt. Jenny is a fairly recent addition to Vale Royal . She won the Leeds-Liverpool Canal Canter half marathon on Saturday in Leeds in a time of 1:25:32.  Jenny is 23 and originally from Seghill, Northumberland and until recently worked for My Protein before moving to Leeds to take up a new role. This performance will rank her 94th in the country in 2017 so quite an achievement. Great run Jenny.


12 Mar: Sophie Rees and Nick Haywood headed for warmer climes to tackle the Barcelona marathon. Sophie wasn't feeling great from the outset "hot, clammy and achey" so planned a run half walk half strategy. Of course we know how determined she is so it didn't out like this and she still crossed the line (26.5 miles she reports) in less than 4 hours (3 hours 58 min).  Nick had a scare when the organisers couldn't find his number... and then gave him a sub 3 hour one! "Barcelona Marathon done in 3.24.51 a solid performance if a little slow just had a bad 10k from 25km and never recovered. A great marathon well organised and I highly recommend it."  Well done both.


11 Mar: A number of VRACers represented Cheshire at the Intercounties XC. It was the first time it has been held at Prestwold, Loughborough following long stints at Nottingham and then Birmingham.  The course was an undulating, fast course with only a few muddy sections, favouring the road racers but still a great venue The 8 strong senior ladies team included 4 from VRAC with Sarah Murphy, Kate Spilsbury, Kate titlow and Helen Smith as a worthy last minute replacement for the injured Jodie spencer/Thompson. Sarah Murphy had a fantastic race finishing just outside the top 40 and Kate Spilsbury in the top 100 of the best xc runners in the country. The ladies team were 7th out of 27 counties

42 Sarah Murphy 32.28
76 Kate Spilsbury 33:21
124 Kate Titlow 35:04
185 Helen Smith 36:47
262 finishers.

The men's team fielding 3 Vale athletes from 9 finishing 12th out of 32 teams. Cheshire definitely punched well above our weight as the counties above us were all significantly larger.

Stu Doyle was 143rd (2nd v45) and Jacob Brown was 162nd. Ollie Williams unfortunately had to drop out.


12 Mar: Sun shining yet again for the Sweatshop 10 miler on the prom at Blackpool. The race over 2 laps incorporates the Northern Vets 10 mile Champs and the 3 Vale Royalers who turned out all featured on the rostrum. Katie Brough had a superb run to finish 13th overall and 1st lady home, Colin Rathbone 100th overall and 1st O 70 in the Open race and Northern Vets,  Carole Williams 3rd O 60 Northern Vet.  Good support from Katie's folks, Rob Olliver and John ( our resident photographer) and Pauline Davies.
13Katie Brough1.02.381st Lady
100Colin Rathbone1.18.121st M70
211Carole Williams1.38.523rd L60 N Vets


5 Mar: Dave Humphreys joined the 'appalling weather party' at the Anglesey Half Marathon in torrential rain. The route takes runners across the world famous Menai Suspension Bridge and follows the coast road to Beaumaris Castle, and back. The route is 'undulating' but 'incredibly stunning'. David was rewarded with a 4 minute PB. Sub 1.30 must be on the cards in better conditions.
123David HumphreysV4095.4295.33PB


4 Mar: Seven VRACers made the trip to Rossington Racing College, Doncaster for the Northern Vets XC Champs (combined this year with the Yorkshire Vets Champs).  Fantastic weather, fantastic course and fantastic performances by all as a reward for the journey to South Yorkshire. More great pics courtesy John Davies in Gallery.

Ladies + M70+ Men 5k    
PosTimeNameCatCat Pos
221.40Andrea HildrupW351
522.52Helen SmithW451
724.08Claire ThompsonW352
1527.34Colin RathboneM703
2331.35Pauline DaviesW652
2536.07Carole WilliamsW605
Men 50 - 69 10k     
1535.52Stephen ThompsonM506
Team 1stW35-49 Hildrup, Thompson, Smith  


5 Mar: Not the best day to admire the views from the top of The Cloud. Heavy rain, slippery and muddy! No deterrent for two hardy lads and two hardy lasses. Well done folks.
PosTimeNameCatCat Pos
5575.16Gary RichardsonM4016
7878.23Ian BroughM4515
19495.27Jayne LomaxF506
22099.30Debbie MoretonF4511


5 Mar: A busy if rain soaked day for racing with Trafford, High Legh and Cloud 9 on the race schedule. James Ainsworth has had his struggles with injury but has managed to put together a period of solid training and also lost a few KG and is in lean and mean form. A great result for James 4th overall and 1st M40 with a 6 second PB. A solid run from Craig Sephton although he was hoping for about a minute quicker to PB. Likewise Rick Murray a very decent sub 40 race but felt he should have gone quicker. Hard guys to please!  Well done.
PosNameCatCat PosChipGun 
4James AinsworthM40 - 49100:35:4800:35:51PB
19Craig SephtonM40 -49700:38:4800:38:51 
26Richard MurrayM50 - 59400:39:4300:39:46


5 Mar: Miserable wet conditions. As usual a super quick field with several runners going sub 30 minutes. VRAC had 4 of its own speedsters in the mix. Another excellent run from Matt Sheen delivering a PB performance. Solid run from Oliver Williams, a PB for Andrew Miles and 2nd F35 for Sarah Walker. Not bad!
77Matthew SheenM20-3900:31:3900:31:37777377PB
166Oliver WilliamsM20-3900:33:5800:33:58164144168 
200Andrew MilesM20-3900:35:0100:34:56194164203PB
263Sarah MurphyF35-3900:37:0000:36:57202264


5 Mar: While his clubmates were racing in grim conditions in the UK Paul Hudson opted for something a little warmer! Here's his report:
"Started at the Pathos castle with a narrow start gate then straight into a 50 metre hump worthy of any skate board park. Thankfully well organised (very British affair) with water and wet sponges every 3k. Despite the promise of a flat course the first 5k was a bit of a ramp according to my spirit level and was glad to get it over before the promised flat bits. Another tough run in the heat starting around 20 degrees at 8.25am (start time) and finishing bloody hot. Again another slow romp round trying to keep a balance between over-hydration and cramp. Unsure of the final time as missed the start due to timing error on a new watch and had to negotiate through the later 10k start - hopefully the timing chip will sort that out. Great aftermath of free draught beer (queue was almost as long as the pre-race portaloos)."


Just a footnote to recognise the acheivement of our senior ladies in the series results for the highly competitive Manchester Area XC league. They finished second in Div 3 (equal points as winners but losing out on countback). They were overall winners in the Seniors Ladies Div 3 vets category with 4 runners counting in each race and 4 out of 5 races counting for the cumulative result. Well done ladies.


25 Feb: Stephen 'JT' Thompson and Claire Thompson took on this scenic challenge which takes place around the undulating, traffic-free trails surrounding Carsington Water Reservoir offering stunning views of the Lake and surrounding Peak District countryside. They were well rewarded. 'JT' enjoyed being in the mix again and ran strongly coping well with the head wind in the last mile to claim a high finishing place and 1st M50. Not far back Claire also had an excellent race finishing second lady and 1st L35. 
PosTimeNameCatCat Pos 
1143.41Stephen ThompsonM501 
1445.16Claire ThompsonM3512nd Lady


26 Feb: For men and women 35 years and over run over a single lap course undulating country roads through the villages of Dearham, Bulgill and Crosby on the West Cumbrian coast. Carolyn Dooley has been in fine form and used this outing as part of her London Marathon build up. Report from Brian Dooley.

" I made the long trek up to North Lakeland with Mrs D, the weather forecast was not great and for once they had it spot on – gusting 45-50mph winds and driving rain, perfect racing conditions! An extremely tough course described by the race director as ‘undulating’, well we all know what that means don’t we!. Anyway, after battling the hills, the wind, and the rain Carolyn had a superb run finishing 4th Lady overall in a very competitive field and picking up a BMAF Championship Silver Medal in the V40 class. For once I can honestly say I was happier supporting rather than racing, highlight of the day definitely had to be the splendid post-race buffet laid on by Cumberland AC for all competitors. Massive confidence boost going into the serious bit of London marathon preparation".


25 Feb: Typically massive fields at the culmination of the 2016/17 cross country season.  A specacular event to witness and a spectacular event to participate in.  A really good performance from the senior ladies finishing 9th team out of 93.  Most runners enjoyed the challenge of a muddy water crossing. Not everyone made it unscathed though!

Ladies  Men  
5832.23Sarah Murphy20845.04Oliver Williams
8433.04Kate Spilsbury69351.25James Griffiths
10633.50Jodie Spencer72951.50Gareth Williams
10833.52Kate Titlow14401.02.11Geoff Fawkes
14534.58Sarah Griffiths15021.03.54John Clarke
76957.35Carole Williams16531.09.42Colin Rathbone
   16901.11.40Richard Pettitt
9th/93Team 4 Count    
   103rd/131Team 6 Count


19 Feb: Always a popular race with many using it as part of their build up for a spring marathon. Craig Sephton has used all his experience and knowledge to manage his rehab following a really nasty injury last year. He was rewarded with a superb performance leading VRAC home with a PB. After a layoff from compeititve racing Katie Brough has decided to have a crack at a spring marathon and is clearly making solid progress with a very respecable time. Chris Swift has made great progress since joing VRAC last year. He improved on his HM PB set at Helsby in Jan. 12 finishers from VRAC. Well done all.
PosGun timeNameNameChip TimeChip PosGenPosCatPos 
11601:24:00CraigSephton01:23:52116M 112Vet 4513PB
15001:26:13KatieBrough01:26:10158F 10SF7 
23701:30:38GemmaBarnett01:30:32242F15Vet 354 
24201:30:49DavidHaines01:30:23237M226Vet 4535 
32501:34:55JosephCavanagh01:31:29267M292Vet 4064 
39201:37:48JohnTodd01:37:15391M345Vet 5514 
43301:39:47NatashaSmith01:39:05437F52Vet 457 
58701:46:43MaryTavener01:45:55598F93Vet 554 
63101:48:07ChrisBeard01:47:05631M524Vet 4586 
83501:56:59ValerieKinvig01:55:36829F195Vet 5510 
93202:00:52JanetSnow01:59:30935F244Vet 5512 


LadiesNameCatCat PosTime
21Helen SmithL45137.33
41Claire ThompsonL35739.41
178Pauline DaviesL65355.19
193Carole WilliamsL6051.01.12
24th/38Team 4 Count   
14th/37Vets Team 3 Count   
SeriesHelen SmithL451 
 Carole WilliamsL606
11 Feb: A cold and breezy conclusion to the MACCL series for the 5th and final race. Full teams for Ladies and Men, Helen Smith rounded off her brilliant XC season with a category win L45. With 4 of the 5 races to count for the final series placings Helen took the L45 series win with a clean sweep of 4 victories. Solid run from Claire Thompson and likewise a resurgent Pauline Davies and Carole Williams. Another strong performance from Gareth Williams and good to see Stephen 'JT' Thompson on the country again. Dave Haines, John Clarke and Colin Rathbone completed the series with Colin taking 2nd M70 for the series. Great to see stalwarts Richard Pettitt and Paul Hudson completing the VRAC line up. That's it for the regional XC comps. Just Nationals to come! Pics in Gallery thanks to John Davies.
MenNameCatCat PosTime
103Gareth WilliamsM451043.00
157Stephen ThompsonM501445.58
208Dave HainesM453048.17
274John ClarkeM60953.41
303Colin RathboneM70357.56
316Richard PettittM55191.01.18
323Paul HudsonM60151.03.30
33rd/38Team 6 Count   
22nd36Vets Team 4 Count   
SeriesDave HainesM4517 
 John ClarkeM607 
 Colin RathboneM702


5 Feb: This race is billed as a fun event taking place along the Southport shoreline with over 2000 runners taking part... including Mr and Mrs Griffiths! Here's Chris' take on the day.

"Mad Dog 10k with Eileen Griffiths who blitzed last year's time by 4 minutes. Mine started well until my back went at 3k so constant stops for stretching blew any chance of a pb. I did get to meet Liz Yelling and a telegraph pole grew out of my head."


5 Feb: Perfect conditions for racing. Despite injury niggles last week friends/rivals Chris Jones and James Ainsworth decided to go ahead and race both going for the sub 29 barrier. They exchanged places several time with Chris finally taking the lead at around 5km and going on to go sub 29 for the first time. Whilst narrowly missing sub 29 James held on for a 1 second PB! Jayne Lomax enjoyed a change from the XC mud and good to see Pauline Davies racing again for an excellent 2nd F65.
PosNameCatGunChipCat Pos 
59Chris JonesMSEN00:28:5700:28:55 PB
70James AinsworthM4000:29:2300:29:226PB
470Jayne LomaxF4500:40:3300:40:0514 
675Pauline DaviesF6500:46:2200:46:142 


28Jan:Knowsley didn't disappoint in providing a proper test on a real cross country course I.e lots of thick gloopy mud and a few hills thrown in for good measure. The senior ladies produced some superb performances with Sarah Murphy having a great run to finish 12th overall and 1st v35. She led home the scoring  team of Kate Titlow, Jodie Spencer/Thompson and Kate Spilsbury who all finished within 17 secs and 5 places of each other. Also producing a performance of note was Helen Smith who came home in 57th overall and 1st v45. Carole Williams finished 6th v60.The team finished in 8th place but only missed a medal by 20 points.

The men were next on with Stu Doyle pretty much repeating Helen's performance with 55th overall and 1st v45. Next home were James Griffiths, Gareth Williams and Bryan Dooley also in a close race and separated by only 20 places and 40 seconds. We think Colin Rathbone was 1st V70 and John Clarke 8th V60.

Ladies   Men  
PosTimeName PosTimeName
1232.45Sarah Murphy 5546.04Stu Doyle
4235.00Kate Titlow 28554.59James Griffiths
4335.03Jodie Spencer 30055.36Gareth Williams
4735.17Kate Spilsbury 30555.41Brian Dooley
5736.2Helen Smith 4561.01.52Mark Pilliner
25246.59Jayne Lomax 6031.10.27John Clarke
3511.01.53Carole Williams 6331.14.23Richard Pettitt
360Finishers  6381.14.54 Colin Rathbone
8th/44Team 4 Count     
    35th/70Team 6 count


15 Jan: At least the ice and snow stayed away this year although wet and windy weather was not ideal for fast times.  Chris Standidge brought the VRAC contingent home with an excellent 15th place overall. Some good VRAC tussles with Nick Haywood, Rick Murray and Natasha Smith in close order. Well done all.
PosNameChipCatCat Pos
15Chris Standidge01:17:15MSEN10
135Nick Haywood01:27:52MSEN70
152Richard Murray01:28:31MV5010
158Natasha Smith01:28:33FV452
183Chris Swift01:30:33MSEN87
238Malcolm Hughes01:32:46MV4539
589Sophie Rees01:44:38FV4020
667Mary Tavener01:46:33FV555
673Claire Chapman01:46:15FV4024


Solid but minimal teams out for the penultimate event in the Manchester XC league. This was a new venue for the Manchester league, good mix of grass, paths, woods with a few undulations in the wooded area.

Ladies - Phenomenal top 20 performance by Helen Smith, good support by Nikki Cavanagh and Liz Gale and welcome return by the perennial Pauline Davies gave us a team placing.

Helen Smith.  19th. 29.25.  1st V45
Nikki Cavanagh. 67th. 32.32. 16th V40
Liz Gale.   131st. 36.19. 29th V40
Pauline Davies. 214th. 43.58. 3rd V65

238 finishers
Team. Senior 23rd out of 45
Vets Team 11th out of 44

Men - Ably lead home by Joe Cavanagh, nursing an Achilles niggle with 6 more Vale Royalers in tow.

Joe Cavanagh. 203rd. 39th V40. 43.51
Mark Pilliner. 233rd. 31st V45. 45.01
Dave Haines. 263rd. 34th V45.  46.34
John Clarke. 298th. 7th V60. 48.28
Ray Tran.  345th. 48th V45. 52.44
Colin Rathbone. 357th  4th V70  53.51
Paul Hudson. 378th. 15th V60. 62.12

379 finishers
Team Seniors 41 out of 45
Team Vets 27 out of 37.

Let's get a good turnout for the last match at Woodbank Park on the 11 Feb. If you have not yet run in this winter's Manchester series let Colin Rathbone know if you want to be included.


8 Jan: Huge congratulations and respect to Sophie Rees. Her mother suffers from Parkinsons and this race was the culmination of her challenge to run 13 half marathons in 13 weeks to raise funds for Parkinsons research and support. Read her story here. Considering all the miles in her legs Sophie finished with a cracking time of 1.42.38 and 6th W40.  Well done Sophie. Be very proud of your achievement.


7 Jan: Thick mud and fine drizzle combined with a challenging course made this a true XC test.  Many medals for VRAC throughout all age categories. A good turnout on the seniors front with Sarah Murphy first back for the ladies earning a Silver medal for 2nd overall and a W35 win. Strong run from Kate Titlow with in form Helen Smith completing VRAC's top 3 with a W45 category win. Indicative of the treacherous conditions Carolyn Dooley suffered a heavy fall costing her dearly in terms of position and tempo. Matt Sheen first back for the men earning a bronze. Another solid run from Oliver Williams. A rare XC outing fro Chris Standidge due to his focus on Triathlon but a great contribution! Team placings shown below. Great Silvers for Senior and Vets ladies with Gold for Senior men. Another good day for VRAC. Well done all. Thanks to Robert Brown (left) for photos. Many more here.!Ai8IZD-2NqV6nWi6tdi2Dqn519dP.
Pos.NameCategoryLV Pos.Cat posTime
2Sarah MurphyV351134:29
6Kate TitlowL 236:18
12Helen SmithV459138:31
18Gemma BarnettL 640:21
21Claire ThompsonV3515840:49
30Carolyn DooleyV4023942:11
39Nikki CavanaghV40301244:33
48Julie AnnableV5538445:58
58Liz GayleV40481747:32
59Jayne Lomax V45491047:53
2nd. 5th. 14thSenior Ladies Team3 Counters   
2nd, 8thVets Ladies Team3 Counters  
Pos.NameCategoryMV Pos.Cat posTime
3Matt SheenM 338:48
7Oliver WilliamsM 740:14
14Chris StandidgeM 1143:13
22Zack BamberM 1545:10
30Chris JonesM 2145:57
38James GriffithsM 2346:46
46Brian DooleyV4020948:04
50Craig SephtonV4522948:19
57James AinsworthV40251048:48
62Stephen ThompsonV5029448:59
81Rick MurrayV5042651:08
92Mark PillinerV45531651:58
101Joe CavanaghV40592153:13
110David HainesV45682055:30
111Chris BeardV45692156:17
114John ClarkeV6071356:50
138Steve CollierV5593111:03:35
139Richard PettittV5594121:03:55
141Ray TranV4596251:04:13
143Chris GriffithsV5598141:06:56
1st, 10th,15thSenior Mens Team6 Counters   
4th and 13thVets Mens Team4 Counters