April’s News!

Wow, where to start?


Firstly a huge well done to the Pensby Runners who took part in today’s Chester Half Marathon.  There were some brilliant times, but probably most notably achievement goes to Lucy Shayle who was running her first half marathon. Great running and great to see such a good turn out – 15 Pensby Runners altogether.


There were eight Pensbys at the scorching London Marathon last weekend.  Some old hands like Andie Gow and some first timers like Rob Chalmers, who was running as our club allocation representative.    I was driving back to Liverpool at the time, stopping in service stations on the M6 to keep track with everyone’s progress on the app, very happy to see each running safely crossing the line in what were very challenging conditions.

Andie running in the heat of London (thanks Mark for the photo


On the same day, Rob Beech was up on the coast for a slightly cooler (I think only a touch though) Blackpool Marathon, and only went a came fourth in 2:50!  Wow!


We had 17 Pensby Runners out for the second Wirral Seaside Run of the 2018 series, from Leasowe Lighthouse down to New Brighton.   For the second time this year the runners had a tail wind most of the way, so there were some pretty fast times.  Although a couple of people commented on how we exfoliated they felt after being sandblasted from the left hand side by the gusts whipping in off the beach. Well done to all the runners, and to Mark, Gordon and the rest of the team who make the series happen.  I’ve posted some photos of the race here, and you can find out more about the series at the official website here.

Happy Pensbys in last week’s Seaside Run – deceptive peaceful looking beach views as well.  It was windy!!


Going back a little further now there were 11 runners from the club out for a sunny Liverpool Half Marathon, on March 25, with Jayne also our one runner in the 10 miler – and great to see her running so strongly after coming back from injury.  And continuing the strong representation at the local races, nine of us pitched up for a the Tunnel 10K on April 15th.  It was my first time running this race and I was left feeling like I had some unfinished business with that uphill out of the tunnel!  I’m already down for next year’s race and I’m sure I won’t be alone.  On the same day, Simon Rogers was out lone representative at the St Helens 10K – the first race of the road league and rather under supported. Hopefully the league will start to get up a head of steam at next weekend’s Liverpool Spring 10K.


Helen and Rob running in the Liverpool Half Marathon



Finally, the Summer fell league starts soon with the Ysgol Dinas Bran Race on May 9th – a new midweeker for our league, down in Llangollen.  Andrew Sumner was out getting some training in at the Yorkshire Three Peaks race this weekend.  It’ll put him in good stead for the Pedol Peris which makes an appearance on this year’s league.

Thanks as always to Chris for documenting some of the weekend and weeknight training runs – in all weathers as you can see from the second shot!


As always, a lot of great training runs, and club handicaps going on, both midweek and on the weekend. Thanks to all of our many coaches for leading these – do come and join us some time if you are not (yet) a member!!





Pensby Runners brave all kinds of weather in huge weekend of running worldwide

Wow, this news roundup certainly took a while to round up!


Despite some varied and often inclement weather, there were a lot of Pensby Runners determined to get out and race in one form or other, somewhere in the world!!

The weekend started early with our quarterly Chairman’s Challenge event, which for anyone outside of the club or new to it, takes in three of the highest and lowest points in the Heswall area of the Wirral, where we train.  The title ‘challenge’ is no joke, with 993 feet of climb in the 7.6 mile route.  Nine runners turned out on Friday night, lower than normal numbers, but not surprising given the amount of running and travelling the rest of the weekend had in store.  Well done to those who ran, and thanks to those who helped keep time.

Australia was the starting point for Saturday’s running – the wonderfully named Wollongong Park Run (I have always secretly wanted to work at the University of Wollongong because of its name), where Tracy and Brian rocked up to grab 1st and 2nd places in their age groups.    Back in the UK we had runners and volunteers out at Birkenhead and Princes Park.

The Cross Country Nationals were down in London at Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon, and four of our runners made the trip south to take part.  A huge well done to Helen, Rob, Andie and Nigel, not only for your running but also for making the effort to get down there on a freezing cold day and literally fly the flag for the club.  There were well over three thousand runners in the senior categories, quite an event and one we’re very proud to have some jade vests competing in.  Next year the Nationals come North, and hopefully we’ll take even more of our runners along.

Then on Sunday the intrepid cross country crew were at it again – Rob quite literally having run the day before in London – at Birchwood country park.  Six of our runners turned out in total, and special mentions goes to Lucy who came 6th in the ladies field.  By all accounts it was another rather ‘fresh’ race.


Meanwhile on the road, there were Pensbys in action both in the UK and on the Continent.  Rebecca was down in Brighton for the Brighton half, in arctic conditions, her first, and run in a brilliant time – well done Rebecca.  In Wrexham five Pensbys including your truly were out for the Village Bakery half, where notably Kate smashed five minutes off her PB in what were at times quite breezy conditions – I found them hard going in comparison to other years at the VB.  Ben was at Oulton Park half and admitted that after a while the laps start to get to him – although it was his third time back there, so there must be something going for the route!  And finally on the road, we had two runners, Rob and Iain, running in the Malta Marathon, and two more, Emily and Victoria, running in the half.  In contrast to the UK weather it sounded rather hot and humid over there, but the waterside photos all looked rather appealing!!


And rounding things off, some of our fell runners, Dave, Paul and Lisa to be precise, were out in the Clwydians taking part in the 18.5 mile Sheeptracks race.  This is a tricky run, with 4500 feet of climb and a lot of navigation required – but plenty of cake as a reward for your hard work at the end!  It sounded like they all got home in one piece – as you can see from Paul’s photo there was some concentration of the navigation element required.

Well done everyone! I’m sure I missed a few people out (apologies), but what a weekend of running!



Sunday Running

Just a quick Sunday report – after a rather grey and wet Saturday, the sun came out for us all on Sunday and quite a few Pensby’s braved the ice and even a little snow, to catch a few rays and put in some miles.


The normal Sunday run group went off from Thurstaston for a a bit of beach and trail.

And Jeff, Ciaran, Andy, Dave and Fiona headed up into the snowy Carneddau in Snowdonia to take part in the Mini Mountain Marathon.


Meanwhile I had a lone plod on the Liverpool side of things, where Sefton Park was looking pretty in the early morning sunshine!



Weekend Round Up

Another busy weekend for Pensby Runners.  Well done to the five Pensbys who headed to Leeds on Saturday for the Northern Cross Country champs.  It sounded like a very runnable course, but not without it’s claggy sections.  A particularly big well done to Claudia, who was representing the club whilst running her first ever XC. Quite a start!













On Sunday we had 12 runners out at the Croxteth Hall cross country.  It’s a new course, and I thought it was a lot of fun – pretty fast in sections, with a nice mix of woodland trail and open grass paths, and several stinky knee deep water features to wade through :)  Special mentions this time for Sarah, who came first lady, having not long returned to cross country, and to Rob and Paul, who had already competed in Leeds the day before, and came back for more :)


The Junior Fun run went out on Sunday – thanks Stella and Peter, and there was the usual Sunday Run on the Wirral way, for the ‘grown ups’.


Finally, Andrew Pettitt only went and won a marathon!  I’m hoping he will provide a full report – but it’s fair to say that the club are very proud of him!




Pensby Runners out in force for chilly start to the road season

Well done to the 28 Pensby’s who braved the 35th Essar Four Villages half marathon on Saturday.  This race is considered by many to be opening event of the road season in this part of the world, and traditionally it has been well attended by club members.  One of its quirks is that you never quite know if it’s actually going to go ahead, with previous years seeing last minute cancellations for snow and ice.  This year however, it was only freezing cold rain that the runners had to contest with ;)  Although there did seem to be rather a lot of that!  It was great to see a number of club members running PBs and everybody seeming to enjoy themselves a great deal despite the inclement conditions!  A big well done as well to Sam Cox, who completed her first half marathon in equally challenging conditions, and on trail, at the Coed-y-Brenin Buff Winter Trail Half in North Wales.  A great start to 2018!

Rob Chalmers in celebratory mood at the end of the Four Villages – deservedly so after starting 2018 with a new half marathon PB.


Cross Country Season Kicks Off!


Twenty-three Pensby Runners turned up to welcome in the cross country season in muddy style, at a wetter than normal Clarke Gardens course last weekend.  As well as the great turn out, we welcomed two new runners, in Helen and Lucy, and were all pleased to see the return of the likes of Sarah, Alistair and Jeff, who have all had stretches out of competitive action.  Great running from all involved, and a big thank you to Penny Lane Striders for hosting.



Pensby Autumn Marathon Summary


I’m a bit tardy in putting together a quick report on the autumn marathons, and other exploits, that Pensby Runners members have been taking on this year. However, here goes!



It all kicked off in September, when Alex headed up north to complete the Loch Ness marathon. The same weekend, a whole bunch ‘o’ Pensby’s were running in the Hoylake 10k, back on home turf. Paul and Andy were completing a little mountain marathon, and Stephen, Gary, Victoria and Ben were in the Lake District taking part in the Kendal Sprint Triathlon.


At the beginning of October, three Pensbys – Rob, John and Andrew, completed the Chester Marathon, which over the last few years has become something of a staple fixture in the calendar for club members. Jayne was there on the day as well, completing the metric marathon, which seems an increasingly popular option – it’s a lovely distance.


Rob then gave his legs a good seven days to recover, before flying over, with three others of us, to Amsterdam. I can thoroughly recommend this race, which starts and finishes in the buzzing atmosphere of the Olympic stadium. The support the whole way around was amazing – not the intensity of London, but somehow more personal for it. Despite blowing up, and finishing with a personal worst for a flat marathon, I loved it and would certainly return. Mike, then Rob and Iain all sailed past me at around the half way point, and despite having racked up a healthy mileage exploring the city the day before, all finished with very impressive times.


Finally, two weekends ago a group of us braved the hills, and some inclement looking weather, and took on the Snowdonia marathon in North Wales. My fourth time running what was my first marathon, back in 2011, and I loved it. Much better paced this time, and with enough gas to steam up the final hill at Waunfawr. Iain, Ben, Dave and I watched Mike fly off from the top of Pen-y-Pass, early in the race, and he never looked back from that point on. Ben, guided by Iain did well to navigate the very slippery descent back into Llanberis, with only on knee scrape to show for it.   Andrew finished a breath behind Iain and Ben and I, going from strength to strength this year, and Dave had to admit that road marathons weren’t all that bad really, and actually looked quite happy at the end!



I’m sure I have missed one or two marathon exploits here (Rob). But I hope it’s a reasonable summary! Well done all!



Bright start to the winter fell season as Pensby take the Petzl Cup in Cilcain

A strong team of Pensby runners turned out for the Clwydian Hills race in Cilcain, on Sunday 22nd October, and walked away with the Petzl Cup (actually a helmet) team trophy at the end of a very enjoyable morning of fell racing.

The weather in the run up to the race had been somewhat ominous, with high winds and rain battering the North West.  On race morning however, the sun came out and the winds dropped, just in time for the start.  The Clwydian Hills race has a bit of everything – fast sections, steep bits, technical descents, navigation and lots and lots of gorse bushes.  Everyone on the team made it around safely, and arrived safely back in Cilcain, ahead of soup and tea at the village hall.  As well as some spot prizes, we were very pleased to bring the Petzl Cup home for the first time, after fielding the strongest team of the day.  Big thank you to the organisers and the NEWSAR for such a great event.  We’ll be back again next year!

Full Report: British Athletics Fell and Hill Relay Championships


After several weeks of organising and pulling the teams together we were nearly there.  We had been tantalisingly close to fielding a ladies’ team as the numbers of those available, uninjured and fit fluctuated up and down but alas it wasn’t to be.  So, with 2 teams firmed up; one male and one mixed we were ready to go.  Unfortunately, the last minute rejig of the teams had meant that I had had to place some runners on legs they would rather not have been on including myself but we took it for the team donned fell shoes and bum bags and proceeded to the holding pen.

Fell running is a unique sport to the British Isles due to the nature of our mountains.  In general our fells, hills, Bens and Bryns are a little too small to put roads and well-made paths up them so it’s not quite the same as European mountain running.  The routes are generally off path on sheep trods but have a lot of climb in a small distance with a bit of navigation so it’s not trail running but the navigation is not so refined as to make it orienteering.  It’s an odd sport much like the people who take part.  It’s cheap and grass roots.  The top athletes who take part would be Olympians if this was a good spectator sport that attracted big sponsorship deals.  In essence it’s like turning up to a pub car park and paying £3 to run against Mo Farah and if you win you get to choose your prize off and old pasting table with a selection of Aldi bought goodies on display.

The British Athletics Fell and Hill Relay Championships 2017 are the pinnacle of this eccentricity.  This year’s event was in Llanberis and again organised by Eryri Harriers.  There is a great atmosphere and all the big clubs, big names and record holders are there.  If you like off road running the atmosphere is great, the competition high and the courses tough and Pensby were there trying not to come last.

Good solid performances on the individual Leg 1 by Lisa Grantham for the mixed team and Zach Ryan for the men’s.  I didn’t get to see Lisa for the rest of the day after she set off from the start line but she set the mixed team up well for the day.  Zach who is new to fell running with just a handful of races under his belt put in a blinding performance finishing well up the field despite picking up a nasty gash to his wrist which required gluing due to awkwardness of its position.

Leg 2 was covered by myself and David Green for the men and Lucy Partridge and Julie Dala for the mixed.  Zach had set the men’s team up so well that whilst out on this 9 mile run with over 3000 foot of climb we were being overtaken by some of the most famous fell runners still active.  It was an absolute privilege to be overtaken by them and was a great reminder of how accessible this sport truly is.  I had a shocking run as like several of the teams’ members I was not on top form.  Apologies to Dave for holding him up as I just didn’t have it in me on the day.  Julie and Lucy overtook Dave and I about 6 miles into the run just below Hebron Station.  They looked really strong and continued to pull away over the last 3 miles of the race.  On the high tops of Foel Goch and Moel Cynghorion the clag came in with very strong winds which made me worry about our navigators on the forthcoming Leg 3.

Post-match analysis, fell running forums and the kangeroo court that is Facebook has shown Leg 3 to have been a bit of a disaster.  The fineries of orienteering map legends was lost on most of the fell runners on the leg and certain proscribed routes were ignored and compulsory crossing points on walls and fences ignored.  These deviations from the rules were meant to have been committed by even the best of teams there.  Despite this it was a challenging route in tough weather conditions which meant visibility was down to 5 – 10 metres and you struggled to stand in the wind our runners performed well.  Mixed team Andy and Fiona McGivern and men’s team Andrew Sumner and Roy Fisher managed to find all controls despite having to yomp up the tussock grass strewn rear face of Moel Eilio without being able to see many navigable features around them.  A huge well done and thanks to all 4 runners as this is the leg most difficult to fill when compiling the teams.

Our Leg 4 runners started in a mass start.  Mass starts are utilised at the relays for the teams that are lower down the results table.  This allows everyone to get back safely and in daylight including the marshals who will have been on the wind battered fellside for six to seven hours.  Alex Royden ran for the mixed and Anthony Dala for the men.  Both runners boxed off our teams’ efforts in fine style putting in performances that maintained our positions as the weather continued to deteriorate and kept the Pensby entries off the dreaded last place.

Thank you to all runners for throwing your hat into the ring and a big thanks to Lisa and the Dalas for agreeing to run at the last minute.  Also, thank you to Jeff Adams who was unable to run but still gave me background support both during the organisation of the teams and on the day.  Also thanks to Nigel and Pat for coming to support.

Paul Challender

Multi Terrain Series Update


Belatedly, a report on the September Multi-terrain Series!


A huge thanks to Steve Saunders for another really enjoyable series of Tuesday night MT races this year.  We really appreciate the hard work he puts in to organising these events.  And thank you to all the Pensbys and other clubs runners who volunteered to marshal, help with timing, and collect finishing tokens and entry fees. A great effort all around.


Team Pensby put in a very respectable showing again this year – perhaps not quite the heights of previous seasons in terms of team positions, but a large number of team members who can be very proud of their category positions.  Special mentions to Ruth and Zach who were first and second respectively in their categories.  Overall, our  highest women’s team finish a very respectable fourth and our men’s eleventh.  Most importantly though, more than forty Pensbys turned out to run over the course of the series, and had a brilliant time doing so.  We won’t forget the day someone parked a boat in the way of the race, for a while…