BLACKBURN Harriers’ Ben Fish was East Lancashire’s top performer in the Ribble Valley 10k road race in Clitheroe as he took fifth place in a highly competitive field.
More than 1,000 runners took part, including Great Britain internationals and a whole host of sub 30 minute 10k runners, with Chorley’s Olympic pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale handing out the medals at the event hosted by her club Blackburn Harriers.
Rossendale’s Christopher Fell was the next runner from the region home behind Fish, as he took 45th position, with his team mate Rob Webb also making the top 100 in 89th.
Fish’s team mates Karl Billington and Paul Bradshaw also impressed, finishing in 65th and 67th respectively, with Clayton Le Moors Harrier Matthew Lalor close behind in 71st.
Clayton’s Phil Hall finished 117th overall and second in the 50-54 category, while Accrington’s top runner was Shaun Livesey in 91st.
Accrington’s Sarah Ridehalgh was East Lancashire’s top female finisher, finishing 13th and the first 35-39 runner home.
Blackburn Harriers’ Olympic Modern Pentathlon silver medallist Sam Murray was the region’s next female home, finishing 28th, with Accrington’s Deborah Gowans in 30th.
Rossendale Harriers’ Emma Flanagan came 33rd, and Blackburn Harriers’ Helen Leigh and Rebecca Shorrock finished in 35th and 36th respectively.
In the junior race Blackburn Harriers’ Robert Warner ran well to come seventh.
Other notable Harriers’ performances in the junior race included Jack Hindle, who finished 10th, and Zachary Howe, in 12th. Harry Paige was 16th and Morgan Phillips 19th.
Rossendale’s Daniel Walsh ran strongly to finish in 13th, with team mate Robert Savage 20th.
Blackburn’s Rebecca Shorrock took victory in the junior female race, with team mate Charlotte Atkinson also running well in sixth.
Jacinta Davison, Katie Buckingham, and Holly Ballantyne, all Blackburn Harriers runners, finished eighth, ninth and 12th respectively.
Burnley’s Faron Jones was 10th.
With late dropouts in the men’s race from last year’s winner Jonny Mellor, Andy Vernon and Tom Lancashire the elite race was blown wide open.
The race started at a steady pace with a very large group including Antony Ford, Matt Clowes, Andi Jones and Fish. After the first mile it was Joe Bailey, Andrew Wiles and James Tartt pushing the pace.
Approaching the 3k to go mark it was Wiles in the lead with David Bishop, Matthew Bowser, Clowes and Bailey.
Coming into the final 600m it looked like Wiles was going to really push on and run away with it but the hill seemed to take it out of him and with 300m left it was Bowser in the lead but, with about 200m left, Bristol’s Bishop unleashed his phenomenal kick finish to run away with it.
The strength in depth of the race was there for all to see with 41 athletes breaking 32 minutes.
In the women’s race it was Chester le Street’s Alyson Dixon who found herself alone for large chunks of the race to come away with the title and the Northern title.
Coming in toward the finish Katie Hewison (Ingram) was closing down on Dixon but she managed to hold off her charge as well as that of Felicity Abram and Kate Avery.
Hewison, a former winner at the Ribble Valley 10k and World Duathlon Champion, looked in great shape and with Australian Triathlete and former ITU World Junior Champion as well as GB Junior International Kate Avery finishing behind her, it makes her performance that little bit more impressive.