Tuesday 27th December 2022

The Northern Athletics 10K championship 2022 was again incorporated into the Ribble Valley 10K organised by Blackburn Harriers. Regarded as one of the top 10 K’s in the country, the event once again attracted talented athletes from across the country. The established undulating course has the benefit of closed road, and a history of fast times, as the course records keeps being broken. This year was the 2nd year in succession that a new women’s course record was set and George Davies, organiser had to pay out an additional £500.

For the men, there was a strong North East contingent, Gateshead and Morpeth included. For the women, Gemma Steel, Charnwood A.C., travelled up to compete with the local Olympian Jessica Warner –Judd. Weather condition at the start were better than forecast, with the rain stopping, little wind, and a positive temperature. The race started off fast, with a strong group of athletes contesting that lead position before going down the hill. Included in that front group was Jessica Warner-Judd.

By 1 K, a group of 3 athletes had opened a narrow gap at the front, as Rory Leonard, with his distinctive white cap, worked together with Calum Johnston to maintain the pace. By 3 k the gap from the front 2 had become 40 metres as these two applied the pressure, with the group behind containing Matt Ramsden and Daniel Bebbington , both Blackburn, and Carl Avery, Morpeth. Rory and Calum were still shoulder to shoulder at 5k, but it was the Gateshead Harrier who now took control slowly pulling clear metre by metre from Rory. As they approached 7k Calum had a 40 meter lead which he continued to increase with every stride, but Rory remained ahead of the chasing pack battling it out behind him. Surprisingly at 8k Calum glanced over his shoulder, but he need not have been concerned, as his lead was now approaching 80M and growing. Up the hill to the finishing straight and Calum could now see the finish and won in 29.10 minutes, Rory 2nd ,30 seconds behind, and then the chasing group lead by Matt Ramsden who finished 10 seconds behind Rory, and just 2 seconds ahead of 4th, another Blackburn athlete Daniel Bebbington, with Carl Avery, Morpeth 5th.

The team race was very close, with Blackburn scoring 14 points against Morpeth’s 16 and Liverpool 3rd.

Results. Men.
1st Calum Johnston Gateshead Harriers 29.10
2nd Rory Leonard Morpeth Harriers 29.40
3rd Matt Ramsden Blackburn Harriers 29.50

1st Blackburn Harriers 14 points
Matt Ramsden, Daniel Bebbington, Rob Warner –Judd.
2nd Morpeth Harriers 16 points
Rory Leonard, Carl Avery, Daniel Dixon.
3rd Liverpool Harriers 96 points
David Devine, Matthew Leahy, Stephen Campbell.

In the women’s race right from the start if was host club, Blackburn’s Jessica Warner –Judd making her intentions clear, as she went not only for a win, but also that course record. Gemma Steel looked the only possible challenger, but was not in the N.A. event as her club is in the South. Mollie Williams and Carla Davies should, and were, up there in the top finishers. However nobody, but nobody, could match the Olympians pace as Jessica finished a fantastic 22nd in the men’s race and not only comprehensively won the women’s event, but also smashed the course record by some 20 seconds. An outstanding performance. Mollie Williams, Stockport, was 2nd over 2 minutes behind the winner with Emily Kearney Wirral 3rd and Carla Davies, Preston 4th.

Results. Women
1st Jessica Warner –Judd Blackburn Harriers 31.18
2nd Mollie Williams Stockport 33.32
3rd Emily Kearney Wirral 34.12

1 Cheshire Dragons
Joanna Marsden, Hannah Cowley, Sara Avery
2nd Wirral A.C.
Emily Kearney, Fay Hughes, Evie Smith
3rd Blackburn Harriers
Jessica Warner –Judd, Rachel Wood, Rachael Gavin

Ken Smith