Stanley Park was at its glorious best in warm Spring sunshine, as the women’s teams lined up on the start line. 71 teams had entered, with 59 athletes lining up to start stage 1, one of the 2 long stages.

First back was Leigh’s Dionne Allen, some 7 seconds ahead of Holmfirth’s Katie Walshaw, with Salford’s flying Tessa Robinson in 3rd, Rotherham 4th, Jarrow & Hebburn 5th.

Leg 2 saw Leigh, in the shape of Abigail Howarth at the front, but with 2 big movers behind her. Emma Clayton, Leeds City, in 17.28 ran the fastest short leg of the day, to move her team up 4 places. Host club, Blackpool, had Emily Japp producing the 2nd fastest short lap time of the day in 17.44, as she moved the host club up 21 places.

Leg 3 saw Leigh still in pole position, with Rotherham moving up from 4th to 2nd, Holmfirth 3rd, Leeds 4th, Jarrow & Hebburn 5th.

Leg 4, the 2nd long leg, saw the first change in leadership, as Sophie Cowper moved Rotherham into the lead, with the fastest long leg of the day in 33.54, overtaking Leigh’s Laura Riches. Leeds and Jarrow remaining 3rd and 4th, whilst Holmfirth dropped to 5th.

Leg 5 saw Rotherham’s experienced Jenny Blizard increase her club’s lead to almost 2 minutes ahead of Leeds and Leigh.

Leg 6 saw no change in the top 9 clubs. Natasha Hatswell increased Rotherham’s lead to almost 3 mins at the finish, with Hannah Bateson 2nd for Leeds from the fast finishing Georgina Leck of Leigh. Jarrow & Hebburn remained in 4th place, with Holmfirth 5th and the experienced Bev Simons ensuring 6th place for Salford.

1st: Rotherham Harriers & AC, 2hrs 24.11
2nd: Leeds City AC, 2hrs 27.05
3rd: Leigh Harriers & AC, 2hrs 27.20

Fastest short leg: Emma Clayton, Leeds City 17.28
Fastest long leg: Sophie Cowper, Rotherham, 33.54

Report Ken Smith
Photos Eileen Ingham