ATHLETICS: WEST Cheshire AC is continuing its middle-distance running initiative this year.
The Chester and Ellesmere Port-based outfit is keen to promote and encourage people in the locality to take up distance running, which is currently struggling to attract as many competitors as other disciplines within the sport.
In an effort to address the situation, WCAC agreed to sponsor this season's Chester and District Schools' Cross-Country Championships, held at Christleton High School.
Pupils from the city's secondary schools competing in the district cross-country event were treading the first step of a ladder which will culminate in the English Schools' Cross-Country Championships, being held at Maidstone, Kent, on Saturday, March 13.
WCAC are also preparing to host the fourth and final round of an open junior cross-country series which is taking place at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port, tomorrow (10am start). Any youngster interested in taking part in the races catering for U11s, U13s, and U15s can enter on the day, from 9.30am, at a cost of 50p per athlete. West Cheshire AC's men are heading for a memorable clean sweep.
The club currently top the Borders Road Running League Men's Division One and Veterans League tables after five of the seven rounds.
The purple-vested men captured their fifth successive team win on Sunday at Frodsham.
Duncan Bell, who had an exceptionally good run at the Wrexham Half Marathon the week before, spearheaded WCAC's charge to the line around the six-mile course.
He clocked 34 minutes nine seconds to secure sixth position, just four seconds in front of clubmate Paul Frodsham, who posted seventh spot in 34:13.
Chris Essex-Crosby, fresh from his exploits at the English National Cross-Country Champion-ships staged at Leeds last month, achieved 12th position in 34:43.
Dave Tiernan provided valuable back-up in finishing 14th with a time of 35:04, just ahead of club treasurer Graham Jenkins, who banked 16th spot in a time of 35:12.
Gary Withers finished 19th in 35:23 and Andrew Clague achieved 35:41 for 23rd position.
Graham Earlam was eighth team counter with 35:49 for 27th position ahead of Paul Price, 53rd in 37:29, and all-important final team counter John McGill, 80th in 38:41.
Other finishers for WCAC on the day included Gary Munsey (81st in 38:43); Dave Crawford (84th in 38:51); Alan Cooper (123rd in 41:42); Lisa Davies (37th lady in 49:00); Mike Lamb (190th in 49:14); Frances Mudway (38th lady in 49:23 and Geoff Harvey (203rd in 50:54).
Simon Shiels, of Abergele, won the race in 31:39, ahead of runner-up Clive West of Buckley, who posted 33:24, and third-placed Ian Houston, (Wrexham AC) in 33:34. Phil Langan, of Ellesmere Port RC, finished fourth in 33:58.
Helen Lawrence, of Wirral AC, won the ladies' race in 36:34, from runner-up Caroline McIlroy, also Wirral AC, in 36:50; and Jane Mountford (Buckley) was third in 37:48. Nicky Bird, of Ellesmere Port RC, was fourth lady in 38:29.
Team results: Men - Division One: West Cheshire AC 257 pts; Buckley 375; Wrexham AC 425; Ellesmere Port 456; Wirral AC 527; Eryri Harriers 712.
Overall: West Cheshire AC 1,180pts; Buckley 1,829; Ellesmere Port 2,240; Wirral AC 2,421; Wrexham AC 2,621; Eryri 3,838.
Veterans: West Cheshire AC 202pts; Buckley 241; Eryri 270; Wirral 365; Wrexham AC 373; Abergele 374; Wallasey 401; Ellesmere Port 421; Prestatyn 574; Tattenhall 705; Helsby 801; Wrecsam Tri 808; Deestriders 937.
Overall: West Cheshire AC 685; Buckley 1,120; Wirral 1,347; Eryri 1,493; Abergele 1,723; Wrexham AC 1,961; Ellesmere Port 1,990; Wallasey 2,502; Prestatyn 2,583; Helsby 3,405; Tattenhall 3,434; Wrecsam Tri 3,889; Deestriders 4,338. Four West Cheshire AC roadrunners completed the Radcliffe 12-miles Trail Race near Manchester on Saturday.
Bob Benson finished 41st in one hour 25 minutes 21 seconds to head the quartet home.
Chris Rhodes sliced five minutes off last year's time to clock 1:26:42 for 54th position.
He will be heading to next month's London Marathon with Richard Batterham, who fell at Radcliffe but recovered to finish 66th in 1:29:40.
Mike Perchard was the fourth member to finish, clocking 1:31:30 for 72nd place.
Unattached runner Mike Aspinall won the race in a time of 1:07:32. Rachel Stoakley smashed her 200m personal best in Birmingham on Sunday.
The West Cheshire AC U15 sprinter reduced her 200m time from 27.35 to 26.89 in reaching the semi-finals of the National Indoor Championships, held at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena. Fixtures this weekend include the fourth and final round of the West Cheshire AC Open Junior Cross-Country Races, held at Whitby Park, Elles-mere Port, tomorrow (10am first race).
Several WCAC members will be representing Cheshire at Saturday's Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, at Nottingham.
And WCAC roadrunners will be heading for the Farndon 10k Road Race on Sunday (1pm start).
Further details about West Cheshire AC can be obtained from Dennis Wall on 0151 201 1254.