FROM Blackburn to Barcelona, Karl Billington will be hoping his Winter Warmer win will be the perfect warm-up for the forthcoming half marathon in Spain.

The Blackburn Harrier enjoyed the win on ‘home soil’ – on a course held in and around Witton Park – and will head abroad in fine form.

BLACKBURN Road Runners hosted the popular annual event but it was the Harriers who dominated the race, taking the top four places while Victoria Mousley was also first lady.

Billington completed the challenging 10k race – which starts with a climb straight up Buncer Lane – in an impressive 33 minutes 07 seconds.

Clubmates Jacob Watson and Josh Holgate finished second and third respectively.

Billington, like a number of other Blackburn Harriers Senior Men, is preparing for the Barcelona Half-Marathon which takes place next weekend.

“It’s always great to win on home soil, it’s been a while since I last did this race and the course is just as tough,” Billington told the club website. “It’s all looking good towards the Barca half. Shout out to the rest of the lads who ran well.”

Watson, making his Winter Warmer debut in a Harriers vest, clocked 33.59 and admitted he lost to the better man.

“It was a superb team effort and a dominating performance from Karl,” he said. “Today was my first time running the Winter Warmer for Blackburn. It was hard not to feel proud given the amount of blue vests finishing near the front.”

Holgate made it a one-two-three for the Harriers as he completed the podium places with a time of 34.05 while clubmate Ben Costello was fourth in 34.42.

And Chris Davies made it five Blackburn Harriers in the top 10, finishing eighth in 35.10 – winning the Vet40 prize in the process.

“The Winter Warmer is always a tough course even when you are in good form so can’t grumble,” said Davies. “As a team, again another outstanding performance. The stand out performance obviously being the winner, Karl Billington.

“He is getting better every single week and deserves this win. The rest of the team were outstanding as always and have done the club proud as always that also includes the women as well, some great performances from them as well


The first non-Blackburn Harrier to cross the line was Mark Magee of Clayton-le-Moors, finishing fifth in 34.48.

Steve Littler was one of two runners from outside of East Lancashire to break in to the top 10, the Wesham Road Runners finishing sixth in 34.51.

Behind him, Ben Walmsley of Ribble Valley Harriers was seventh in 35.04 with Chris Walton of Accrington Road Runners ninth in 36.00.

Leigh Harriers’ Richard Smith completed the top 10 in 36.07.

A total of 730 runners took part in the popular race and finishing just outside the top 10 was Calum Holmes of Blackburn Harriers who clocked 36.14.

Ryan Bradshaw (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) was 13th in 36.43 while Accrington Road Runner, Glen Goodwin was 14th but was first M55 in 36.49.

Matt Nuttall was also a veteran winner, the Blackburn Harrier clocking 36.53 for 15th place and first M50.

Top 20 places also went to Jonny Murphy (Blackburn Harriers) 16th, 37.09; Daniel Fleming (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) 17th, 37.20; James McLeod (Accrington Road Runners) 18th, 37.42 while senior men’s captain, Paul Guinan (Blackburn Harriers) was 19th in 37:48.

Blackburn Road Runners had 13 members competing and David Birtwistle was first home for the host club, the V40 runner finishing in 33rd in 39.29.

Mousley, in 49th place overall won the women’s race as well as being first V35 – much to her surprise.

“I was full of a cold so wasn’t expecting much and my aim was to plod around,” she said.

“I felt strong all round and was really pleased to finish in pretty much the identical time to last year.

“So I am not as unfit as I thought!”