Vale Royal AC - Senior Section

Running and Athletics in the Heart of Cheshire.


MOTIVATION: If you need motivation for XC this is compulsory reading. Here is an account from a lady at NRC. What a lady. Have tissues to hand!

CHAMPIONSHIP XC ENTRIES: the club pays for entries to the following events so if you want to be included on the entry list YOU MUST advise Andy Carter, Stu Doyle, Helen Whitby or Colin Rathbone:

6 Jan: Cheshire Champs, Delamere
27 Jan: Northern XC Champs, Leeds
24 Feb: National XC Champs, London

LONDON MARATHON 2018 CLUB PLACES: If you are inerested in applying for a club place please read the process and eligibility criteria here. If you are eligible email [email protected] or speak to Colin Rathbone.

Anyone can train hard. But do you have the discipline to recover?
Lauren Fleshman


October had many worthy AOM candidates. Collectively VRAC men and women clinched team victories in the Cheshire Road Race Grand Prix. Rob Olliver made an impressive return to XC racing; Brian Dooley and Robert Roe with PB's at Manchester half marathon; David Shepherd in great form at Sandstone and Haloween Hellraiser; David 'Spud' Murphy with yet another excellent Snowdon marathon; ex junior Hollie Carrington returning as a senior, with husband Lee, both with impressive XC performances. Then of course there was Colin Rathbone's Chester marathon with a cool 3 hour 36 mins in the M70 category! After much debate we have recognised two prolific lady racers. One received an international call up for the Chester marathon. The other was first lady at Winsford 10k, a category winner at Farndon 10k and 1st lady at Haloween Hellraiser. Joint October AOM's are MARY TAVENER and GEMMA BARNETT.
In 3 Words 
Other Useful Website links - Click here.

Thanks to Bryan Dale for allowing us to use his photos. Visit his racephotos website for more pictures!

Injured?  See Colin Rathbone for a massage, Paul Hudson for physiotherapy.   There are a number of other good physios - several of us have had very successful treatment at Athlete Matters in Worsley:

please email us at [email protected] with news and results.


19 Nov: Outstanding performance from in form David Shepherd ably supported by Nick Haywood. A multi terrain event in Radcliffe (North Manchester). 13 miles along the Irwell Valley with a few 'sneaky' climbs thrown in. Both say they really enjoyed the route and would recommend it for next year!
PosNameCatCat PosGunChip
12David ShepherdM5021.
39Nick HaywoodSM


18 Nov: Great representation from VRAC. Here's Stu Doyles report:

The usual excellent organisation was accompanied by good weather and a very runnable course - flat with a bit of mud but nothing too treacherous as evidenced by my time of 27.45 for a course which most people confirmed via their Garmins was the advertised distance of 8k (5 miles). Sarah Murphy and Stu Doyle had identical performances in our respective races - both 4th overall and 3rd English counter in winning teams. They therefore picked up team golds but narrowly missed out on individual prizes! Liz Redondeu had a superb International debut in the W35 category - 8th overall and 3rd English counter in the bronze medal winning ream. Andrea Hildrup also ran really well, finishing an excellent 2nd in the Open race.


19 Nov: Two from VRAC took on this scenic but tough half marathon challenge which takes in the Great Orme. Here's how they got on:

Matt Woolley: " I achieved a half marathon PB by 6 mins of 1 hr 42 min 11 sec. My second Conwy half after 2016. Great event, over 2,500 runners, challenging Orme climb and great weather!"
Craig Sephton: "
After a few tough months producing little in the way of consistency or quality training sessions then today wasn’t about attempting a Pb but more about being on the right track to better things. The weather was cold but dry and for that I was thankful especially knowing the route took you over the Great Orme.I held an average of 6:50 pace over an undulating course until mile 5 knowing at this point there was a further 2 miles of climbing which proved the right decision as other runners whom were ahead earlier on began to fall off the pace as the gradient kicked up, I even had time to enjoy the views before dropping back down to the west shore and heading back towards the Castle, often seen in the distance, my last mile probably my quickest over the course. Overall an enjoyable mornings trip to the coast."
PosNameCatCat PosGunChip 
104Craig SephtonM45141.30.421.30.13 
425Matt WoolleyM45691.


Congratulations are also extended to Liz Renondeau (W35), Sarah Murphy (W40), Stu Doyle (M45) and Andrea Hildrup (W35 Reserve) who have been selected to represent England at the British Masters XC International to be held in Derry, Northern Ireland on Saturday 18th November. The five home nations enter a team of 6 runners in each 5-year age category race. It's an excellent achievement for VRAC. Good luck with the races.


12 Nov: We think Dave Hunphreys was the lone VRAC in the 10k but was rewarded with an excellent PB of 40.51.  Well done Dave. Sub 40 not far away. Likewise it looks like Gary Richardson was the only VRACer in the half marathon. He too posted an excellent PB.
PosNameTimeNet TimeCategoryCat PosGenderGen PosTOD
15GARY RICHARDSON01:23:3501:23:27V402Male1410:24:36


11 Nov: For those who like mud Boggart Hole once again didn't disappoint! Very heavy and testing conditions for the runners. Suited some, not others. Great to see Katie Brough racing again in VRAC colours. She led the 9 strong ladies contingent home. Helen Smith was one who loved the mud with a strong run to win her category in this very competitive league. Another impressive run cross country for Hollie Carrington. On the men's side Rob Olliver was first VRAC back with an excellent run to prevail over Gareth Williams who as usual put in a strong race. Tony Archer was another mud lover and well pleased with his race to take 2nd in his category as did the evergreen Colin Rathbone. Good to see full teams for overall and vets events.  Well done all. Excellent pics from John Davies in the gallery here. Full results here.
PosNameCatTimeCat Pos
18Katie BroughL3534.436
26Helen SmithL4535.081
59Hollie CarringtonSL37.43 
63Claire ThompsonL4037.5511
126Jeanette PopeL4041.3020
170Mary TavenerL5543.165
219Sarah GibbsL4046.2440
241Jill HainesL4548.4839
299Carole WilliamsL6556.114
Team A8/686 Count  
Team B44/686 Count  
Vets Team A5/623 Count  
Vets Team B29/623 Count 
PosNameCatTimeCat Pos
109Rob OlliverM4038.5522
128Gareth WilliamsM4539.557
248Stephen ThompsonM5043.2721
254Tony ArcherM6043.442
308Mark PillinerM4545.3532
333Dave HainesM4547.0336
379Chris BeardM4549.3448
399John ClarkeM56050.189
449Colin RathboneM7053.382
Team38/626 Count  
Vets Team A16/564 Count  
Vets Team B43/564 Count 


4 Nov: Report from Debbie Moreton. Great race if you like the challenge of staying upright. Never seen so many people fall in one race. Under 5 miles but what a 5 miles. You start by charging downhill like a scene from Braveheart with everyone hollering which turns into a few screams and hysterical laughter as trainers are lost in the mud and a few lose their footings. Soon at the river crossing. There are stepping stones but decided to follow the lead of those ahead of me. Rather deeper than expected (was worried about car keys in back pocket!) and the cold water soon froze the old legs requiring the kind assistance from a chap behind otherwise may still be there scrambling to get out! Bit of a bottleneck running along the river bank next so not really able to speed up. Then a few muddy fields, a little bit of road then back along the river which was the worse mud I have ever seen. So relieved to get onto the next field with grass to get a grip! Next was running either through the ankle deep river overflow or attempting the wet, slippy rocks - went for the water. Finally the race ends climbing up a steep, muddy hill to the finish. I enjoyed the experience, honestly but maybe not for everyone!


4 Nov: Simply described by the organisers "Run up the hill, run down again, drink tea, eat cake".Just two Vale Royal runners tackled this one The very cold, wet and windy conditions at the start were ominous but after 3 miles uphill the sky cleared  offering stunning views for anyone pausing to take a breath before throwing themselves back down the other side of the hill. Dynamic David Haines was pleased to get up the hill without walking and Jovial Jill was seen punching the air after out sprinting four to the finish line.
Pos.NameCategoryL Pos.MV Pos.LV Pos.Cat posTime
58David HainesMV45 31 1150:42:00
238Jill HainesLV4590 762001:08:47


5 Nov: Three from VRAC representing Cheshire versus North Wales. Chris WIlliams, James Ainsworth and Helen Smith. All with great performances helping Cheshire Men and Ladies to victory.  Difficult conditions with a 20 mph headwind for the first 2 miles and a section of ankle deep water where the sea had spilled over onto the course! This didn't stop Chris Williams running within 3 seconds of his PB, James Ainsworth posting a 40 second PB and Helen Smith within 20 seconds of hers. Category wins as well for James and Helen.


4 Nov: Just 3 from VRAC at Arley. Another PB for the fast improving Robert Roe and likewise a nice PB for Curtis Rodway. Not a PB for Jayne Lomax but as always a very respectable run especially as she did it with a 'limpy leg'.
PosNameGunChipCatCat PosGenderGen Pos 
67ROBERT ROE00:38:4800:38:37V3511Male63PB
71CURTIS RODWAY00:39:0300:38:57Male30Male67PB
418JAYNE LOMAX00:51:0600:50:19V506Female75


28 Oct: Another good turnout from senior ladies and men. The second in the 4 race North Staffs series. Weather-wise, there have been some (bad) memorable races Park Hall which can be bleak and exposed. However, the weather and underfoot conditions were good this year. The race distance was shorter than previous years with the ladies at approx 5k and the men 7k. Some good performances with Sophie Smith and Chris Williams leading VRAC home. Full results and photos on NSCC website here.

PosNameCatTimeCat Pos
14Sophie SmithJW23.355
28Helen SmithW4524.515
32Holly CarringtonSW25.00 
52Lucy KnightSW26.20 
73Jeanette PopeW4027.0917
94Julie AnnableW5528.157
146Sarah GibbsW3530.5024
149Jill HainesW4531.0027
205Carole WilliamsW6535.532
Team2nd Div 2 (4 count)  
PosNameCatTimeCat Pos
9Chris WilliamsSM24.21 
59Gareth WilliamsM4527.033
84Rob OlliverM4028.0812
104Lee CarringtonSM28.59 
128Rick MurrayM5029.558
150Dave HainesM4530.3821
166Tony ArcherM6031.034
168Joe CavanaghM4031.0930
189Mark PillinerM4531.5333
211John ClarkeM6033.005
287Colin RathboneM7038.274
Team8th Div 1 (6 Counters)  


29 Oct: Good turnout for this creepy seaonal multi-terrain event over about 10 miles including the infamous tombstone section. Pacey performance from young Oliver WIlliams saw him first VRAC back in 4th place. We don't see much of David Shepherd at training these days but he's clearly in great shape just outside the top 10, although his choice of route through a hawthorne hedge left it's mark! Customary ladies victory for Gemma Barnett and nice category win for Claire Thompson. Looks like the two Debbie's just had a fun time out there all smiles and crossing the line together. Full results and lot's of great pics on Bryan Dale's site here.
PosNameCatTimeCat Pos
4Oliver Williams 1.07.53 
11David ShepherdM501.15.042
13Gary RichardsonM401.16.122
18Gemma BarnettL351.18.401st Lady
21Stephen ThompsonM501.19.304
27Nick Haywood 1.22.21 
34Dave HainesM451.23.43 
36John ToddM551.24.203
41Claire ThompsonL401.24.511
59Chris BeardM451.29.55 
71Richard PettittM551.36.55 
86Debbie MoretonL451.41.35 
87Debbie BroadL501.41.35 


28 Oct: There's marathons and there's marathons. The Snowdonia Marathon is especially tough with some brutal climbs (and descents!) including a beast in the latter stages. It's also special for the atmosphere and camaraderie amongst the runners and supporters. Three VRACers returned to tackle this challenge once again. David 'Spud' Murphy has proved to be something of a Snowdonia specialist. This was his 7th consecutive race and he delivered yet another impressive performance to lead the VRAC trio home. This was Dave Gough's 423rd consecutive day of running (minimum of 5 miles per day). He ran a very controlled race with impressive mile splits. Oh, and of course Dave ran 5.7 miles the following day as a recovery run! Having suffered with man flu the previous week (allegedly contracted from Dave Gough) it was great to see Paul 'Clutty' Clutterbuck back in the VRAC fold. Clutty's 10th Snowdonia in a row!  


21 Oct: VRAC had 3 ladies and 4 men's teams out at a windy Graves Park in Sheffield for the Northern XC Relay Champs. Legs are over a hilly 2 mile circuit with the men's race consisting of 4 stages and the ladies 3. The men's A team finished a very creditable 10th with the B team in 29th, the C team in 50th and the D team in 58th. There were 65 complete teams. There were a number of intra-club battles in the Ladies race with the A team  managing a strong 27th, closely followed by the B team in 34th and C team in 48th out of the 56 complete teams. There were a number of notable  performances including husband and wife duo Lee and Hollie  Carrington who both produced superb runs on their VRAC relay debuts together with Chris Weedall who also ran extremely well, particularly as he ran the Chester Marathon 2 weeks ago. Full results here.  Loads of pics here. Thanks Rob Brown.


Interesting weekend for Mr and Mrs Haywood. Oh and James Ainsworth and Gary Richardson! Here's Nick's report:

Would you like a dirty weekend in the lakes she said! I’m sure that was how it was sold to me. I have to confess being a little concerned when Sophie also said should we invite Gary! After retrieving my mind from the gutter it was clear Sophie was on about the Dirty Double at Helvellyn and Ullswater. Both these 15k race’s run on consecutive days making for a challenging weekend.

Helvellyn (Saturday)

16 James Ainsworth 64.57

30 Gary Richardson 67.41

42 Nick Haywood 69.09

163 Sophia Haywood 83.52

Starting and finishing at Jenkins Field, on the shores of Ullswater in Glenridding. The Trail Race was 15km following footpaths and bridleways that take you into the foothills of Helvellyn, with elevated panoramic views of Ullswater, and dramatic vistas of Helvellyn and the surrounding peaks. The underfoot conditions were lethal in places, Bambi on ice comes to mind. Sophie pulled off a small miracle and DIDN’T fall over on what was a very technical course. James had managed to organise the event to coincide with a boy’s weekend and was off to do some heavy (re-hydration) that evening.

Ullswater (Sunday)

No results at time of writing

Due to poor weather the ferries were cancelled so the planned route was changed to a gentler 12.2 KM over a small mountain! The late start (1pm) provided Nick with a chance to organise his race safety pins and for Gary to hit up the INOV8 stand for some demo shoes. Pulling off a proper Del Boy moment Gary managed to do a lovely deal involving a new pair of trainers. On the start line overlooking Ullswater and a large mountain we all convinced ourselves we would be running up that! How wrong we were. After just 4 miles the route took on a distinct vertical feel as 10ish minutes of walking took you to 260 meters, the hill was noticeable. Once again Sophie stayed upright and it was Mr Haywood who took a tumble while trying a dodgy overtake. A massive shout-out to Debbie Richardson who provided fantastic support all weekend and took some great photos. The whole weekend is highly recommended in fact Gary was heard to say “they do a season ticket, you know.”


15 Oct: The final race in the Cheshire Road Race Grand Prix series with the Ladies team event on the line with VRAC needing a strong performance to overhaul leaders Wilmslow. In short, they did it!!  See separate report below for more details. Some superb individual performances with Chris Perry and Chris Williams taking first and second with Gemma Barnett fourth lady and F35 winner. Category wins also for Graham Miles (M50 debut!), Curtis Rodway, Helen Smith, Emma-Louise Pyatt, Colin Rathbone and Carole Williams.Meanwhile, Gareth Williams enjoyed a run to support wife Amanda (NRC) to a fantastic PB!

PosGunNameNameChipmin/m Gen PosCatPos


VRAC has done a historic double in the Cheshire Road Race Grand Prix series winning both men and ladies team events. To recap, the Team Championship is based on 5 races from 7 and individual Championship 4 races from 7. The men had already secured their team title after Sutton 6 (Race 5) but the ladies were in a close second place to Wilmslow before the final race at Farndon. They did an excellent job to field a strong team given other races such as the Manchester Half marathon had taken some potential participants,  To put this double into perspective the race history shows the VRAC ladies won the team event in the inaugural year 2003 but the men have never won the team event. The last time a double was achieved was Wilmslow in 2014. On the individual side Chris Williams secured the men's title with Stu Doyle as runner up. Helen Smith was runner up in the ladies individual event. Great result for VRAC. Well done to all those who took part, Remember even if you weren't a counter you may well have helped the team by pushing back a rival counter!



15 Oct: Nice conditions if a little warm for this race. Some great performances with Brian Dooley setting a new PB and so close to going sub 85 minutes. Next, Robert Roe setting a huge PB going well under 90 minutes for the first time. Not far back Carolyn Dooley and in her words: "Super happy to run sub 90 today and finish 1st V40! Championship place at London reconfirmed". Looks like a solid races for Malcolm Hughes and Eleanor Riches and a predictable big PB for Tony Dutton who is improving with every race. Chris Griffiths' race was a brave one: "First twinge at 5k, probably should have stopped at 17k but it just became about finishing in the end. Dedicated to Trevor Cording who would have smashed my 2:03:13 time". Respect Chris.
PosNameTimeCategoryCat PosGen Pos 
193Brian DOOLEY01:25:02V4513186PB
259Robert ROE01:27:16V3549247PB
343Carolyn DOOLEY01:29:03V40114 
616Malcolm HUGHES01:34:06V5027569 
776Anthony DUTTON01:36:34V40104707PB
1721Eleanor RICHES01:46:20V4516235 
3943Chris GRIFFITHS02:03:13V55932963


14 Oct: Unseasonably warm conditions for the opener to the MACCL series. Great ground conditions too. As usual, large high quality fields and some great racing. Chloe Broad saw the ladies home with an impressive run followed by Claire Thompson. Debbie Broad and Julie Annable were both under the weather but determined to race for the team. They had a close, but of course, friendly battle. Stalwart Carole WIlliams brought the team home. Matt Sheen revelled in the high class sharp end of the field. Great to see Rob Olliver back racing in VRAC colours and putting together an impressive performance. Likewise, good to see 'JT' Thompson on the country again. Joe Cavanagh ran a well paced race nearly catching JT on the final lap. Dave Haines overhauled Tony Archer in the final yards but Tony was delighted to be back and racing well after missing last season with knee surgery. Colin Rathbone saw the VRAC contingent home just one week after his Chester Marathon effort. He secured 2nd M70 just a few seconds behind the winner. All in all a fun day out.
PosNameCatCat posTime
22Chloe BroadL20438.44
43Claire ThompsonL40540.48
113Debbie BroadL50746.11
116Julie AnnableL55546.19
227Carole WilliamsL65357.45
17th/48Team (4 count)   
15th/51Vets Team (3 count)  
PosNameCatCat posTime
4Matt SheenSM 34.04
15Stu DoyleM45235.47
118Rob OlliverM402641.23
190Stephen ThompsonM501644.34
191Joe CavanaghM403744.36
216Dave HainesM453246.01
218Tony ArcherM60346.04
293John ClarkeM60749.24
362Richard PettittM552254.02
369Colin RathboneM70254.34
15th/53Team (6 Count)   
14th and 34th/48Vets Team (4 Count)  


It was with shock and great sadness that we learned of the tragic death of Trevor Cording during the Chester Metric Marathon on 8th October. Many of us in VRAC knew Trevor who was an experienced runner, a former member of Fylde Coast Running Club and a mainstay at Northwich Running Club since it's inception. Trevor was aged 50, married with 3 children.  VRAC sends our heartfelt condolences to Trevor's family and our friends at Northwich Running Club. Trevor will be sadly missed by many, many people.



8 Oct:The club managed 2 complete senior women's teams of 4 and a senior men's 6 stage team at Saturday's National Road Relays. Both races featured the UK's strongest clubs who in turn fielded a number of the nations best distance runners. The ladies A string of Amelia Pettitt, Chloe Broad, Sarah Murphy and Sarah Griffiths managed a strong 24th whilst the ladies B team of Esme Bridge, Lisa Meadows, Debbie Broad and Carole Williams were 77th out of 86 complete teams.Meanwhile the senior men's team of Cam Weaver, Andy Miles, Matt Sheen, Ryan Moore , Stu Doyle and Chris Perry just missed out on a top 50 place put of 82 complete teams.

FOOTNOTE: U13 girls and U17 girls picked up Gold and Silver respectively.


Congratuations to Chris Williams, James Ainsworth and Mike Harrington selected for the 6 man team to compete in the Intercounties match at Abergele 5 on 5th November. You can be sure these guys will leave nothing out there but sweat and guts. Good luck fellas.


8 Oct: Unfortunately the results fail to show 'Club' so it's tricky to sort out VRAC runners. Two are very clear. An outstanding victory for Chris WIlliams winning the overall race by a margin of nearly 2 minutes. We can't see another half marathon result for Chris so this could be his debut! Secondly, Liz Renondeau, who joined VRAC from Ellesmer Port on 1st October, took first place in the ladies race so a double for VRAC!! (Liz is in black in the pic below). Mark Pilliner was another we noticed in the results with a solid run. If any other VRAC members ran please let us know!
PosNameTimeCatCat Pos 
1Chris Williams1.13.14SM  
16Liz Renondeau1.25.36F3511st Lady
89Mark Pilliner1.41.10M4512


8 Oct: Good conditions for this local marathon saw 5 VRAC athletes all with good performances with Mary Tavener running for England in her age category. First home Bob Corinaldi who has been eating up the miles in early preparation for the Comrades Marathon in 2018. Bob improved 3 minutes on his London time this year running a PB and was well inside his Comrades qualification time though very annoyed just missed breaking 3.30. Next our 'super vet' marathon specialist Colin Rathbone who was too poorly to run Sandstone last week. Colin also improved on this years London time by 5 minutes. Likewise our latest International Mary Tavener ran over 8 minutes faster than at London to take 9th place in the F55 category. Marathon debutant Chris Weedall was well satisfied with his race and though his immediate reaction was 'never again' we all know that will change once he recovers! An excellent day was rounded off by Matt Wooley whose target was sub 4 hours having just missed out at London. Matt ran with the 3.45 pace group to 21 miles then held on with grim determination up the cruel climb at 24 miles. Job done in spades Matt. Recover well folks.


With one race to go in the series here's an update on the team and individual standings.  To recap, 5 races out of 7  count for the team awards, and 4 out of 7  count for the individual awards. Some final positions are already settled, the remainder will be decided at Farndon 10k on 15th October. 

Full results tables are here but in summary:
Men, teams:  Vale Royal have won (CONGRATULATIONS!!!); second is between Macc & SCH. (Mathematically, Wilmslow could snatch third, but this would require a maximum score with SCH not improving)
Men, individuals: Chris Williams (VRAC) and Stu Doyle (VRAC) will finish first and second respectively (CONGRATULATIONS!!!). Third is between Andrew Miles,  Scott Wilson, Mark Walker and  Barry Archbold
Women, teams:  Macclesfield are a certain third, but only 10 points currently separate Vale Royal & Macclesfield
Women, individuals:  Diane McVey has won. Second and third are between Janine Ellis, Diane Bygrave, Helen Smith, Louisa Harrison, Carolyn Dooley & Chloe Dooley.

We need a good turnout from the ladies at Farnden to be in with a shout of doing the men/ladies team double!


1 Oct: A new edition to the Mike Harrington portfolio of races with plenty of runners and volunteers from VRAC. Some great performances in the A race (17 miles from Duckington to Delamere) in particular David Shepherd who covered the hilly, muddy trail in 2.17.18 and was unlucky not to pick up and age group prize. Following on from a long-term injury David seems to have found his niche with these longer distance races.  In the B race (10 miles from Beeston Castle to Delamere) there were again some great performances with terrible conditions under foot. Great to see some of the 'track mums' (Caroline Buckley and Debbie Broad) running fantastically well in their own right.  Full Results


1 Oct: 6 VRAC members made the short trip to the salt mines in Winsford for this scenic multi-terrain race.  1st home and retaining her crown was Gemma Barnett who finished 4th overall. Steven Thompson just beat John Todd for the age category win and the pair were followed closely home by a returning to form Melanie Johnson.  Next home was Claire Thompson who narrowly missed her age category prize and rounding it off solidly for the club was Ray Tran. Full Results.


1 Oct: Race 6 in the Cheshire Grand Prix series saw a low turnout from VRAC due to a congested racing weekend.  Ably representing the club however were Stu Doyle who was unable to hang on to the lead group and retain his title but still finished with an age group win in a creditable 1.17.31 and 5th overall. In next was the usual solid run from Daren Cotter in 1.31.  Third in and a little off the pace by his own high standards was Joe Cavanagh in 1.35.07. Full Results The final race in the series is the Farndon 10k on Sunday 15th October. Details and entry here.