Dave Evans reports on a year tinged with sadness

You will find below our Chairman’s moving and informative report on the year 2018 to 2019. As John Crahan noted at the AGM held last Saturday Dave Evans has been a tower of strength in holding things together since the tragic loss of Fred Pearce.


Before presenting my annual report of the life of the club in the last 12 months I need to honour the achievements of Fred Pearce, the longest serving member of the Lancashire walking club in its 112 year history. Despite suffering from increasingly poor health in his last 12 months he maintained his enthusiasm for the sport and was solely responsible for the continued existence of the club. Fred’s involvement with the sport goes back to his teenage years and he became a member of the Lancashire Walking club in the early 1950’s. He was a very stylish walker throughout his competitive years and even in recent times was able to display all of the skills of a proper exponent of race walking before one of our Bury track races. He will be greatly missed by the club especially as he was a steady hand, an excellent communicator and extremely hard worker in the name of the club. We now have to continue to manage the club as best we can and keep our national profile at a decent level. In praising Fred’s unrivalled expertise we must not forget that behind the scenes he was supported magnificently by Chris and her family and we hope the Pearce family will continue to visit us as often as they can.

Chris accepts graciously the request from Dave Evans that she steps into Fred’s shoes as our President.for the rest of 2019

I will start my annual report by confirming that our club has maintained its membership at around 35 comparing very favourably with most of the country’s prominent race walking clubs. Whilst we continue to promote our monthly races I would like to give special thanks to our regular guest walkers and officials, these being Glyn Jones, Eric Horwill, Stuart Edgar, Dan Maskell and Martin Fisher. Both Glyn and Eric either hold or have held high office in the RWA so their presence has kept us in touch with what is going on further afield. 

            The championship highlight of this year’s walking  programme was the BMAF event at HORWICH in June supported by the Lancashire Walking club in substantial numbers.  Adrian Edwards was the race co-ordinator and with the assistance of Eric Horwill the race was a great success. We had 4 individual gold medallists with Andrea Lennon securing the womens V75 title, Tony Malone the V65 , Joe Hardy the V75 and John Payn the V85 crown. Silver medals went to Tony Taylor(V70), Sailash Shah(V50), Phil McCullagh(V60) and Ian Hilditch(V75). Sole bronze medallist from the club was Greg Smith in the V65 category.  Tony Taylor was a member of the winning English national team and Tony Malone a silver medallist in the Irish team. Despite performing with distinction John Crahan, Roy Gunnett and Steve Sargent found themselves in the age group with the most competitors and finished 5th, 6th and 7th in the V70. Tony Taylor recorded an age graded performance of 90.7 % and Andrea an excellent 80%. 

                              In the last 12 months we have had 12 club races with fields ranging from 5 through to 20, the latter being Fred’s relay event.  Overall we have maintained a decent turnout at races although very slightly less than in 2018. We have had 144 walkers in total at our races with guests accounting for a quarter of the field. Whilst the numbers are slightly less than in 2017/18 I must point out that 2 or 3 club members officiated at the events but did not walk.  Our guests have continued to support us and we owe them a debt of gratitude given they have travelled from the Midlands, Yorkshire and the South to be with us. Dan Maskell, Glyn Jones, Eric Horwill, Stuart Edgar and Martin Fisher have kept us on our toes, sorry heels, and we hope they will continue to walk and/or officiate at our fixtures. Although not all are Lancs WC club members they are considered very much part of our infrastructure. 

                               While we turn up each month to contest another club race I think I should use this opportunity to thank a number of people for their part in the life of the organisation.  Roy Gunnett has taken over full responsibility for our fixtures and the finances. All of our events have to be given a racing permit and this requires Roy to obtain authorisation and where necessary a risk assessment. He does all of this quietly and has ensured that the club meets all of its financial responsibilities. Registering club members is a large part of the job and Roy has done this efficiently. The finances are in safe hands.  Tony Taylor is always with us in spirit developing our club website from Crete and very fortunately for us in person when he can get a suitable flight back to the UK. The site has gone from a fairly mundane display to a gradually evolving collection of interesting articles, statistics, photos and comments on the walking fraternity and related issues. We appreciate the work which has gone into its development and hope people will have a look at it regularly and if required send articles to Tony for publication.  Greg Smith is the quiet man of the club going about his business without prompt and although still very capable of racing will always marshal if we’re short. He is a steadying influence and I hope he manages to get back into racing on a regular basis to stir the competition. As AGM secretary he does quite a bit behind the scenes and his expertise is greatly appreciated. Our races are spread between 4 venues, most of which we have used for many years, thanks to the goodwill of our hosts. Eric Crompton and Louise have continued to allow us to operate from St Peter’s club at Chorley, Marshall Barnard and Kath have entertained us at the Ex Serviceman’s club at Macclesfield, both venues at no charge with provided refreshment for free.  Emma, one of the “trustees” of today’s location, has always looked after us and just recently when we had to transfer our race from Macclesfield, made sure we could use her school. She even makes a financial adjustment if we can’t use all of the normally available facilities. Even the full cost of this is minimal. Pat, our resident caterer, has done a great job providing refreshments at Simister, and I would like to thank her for looking after everyone including our vegetarians.  Our final venue in the round is the Bury Athletic club track where Roger, a retired” athlete always makes us welcome and provides very good changing rooms with showers and plenty of room to do post race activities.  

Tony Malone powers away in the Fred Pearce Relay

                                                        Having found his Irish roots a few years ago Tony Malone is now able to walk in their national championships and in the Masters event he walked a solid 29 mins 53 for 5th place. 

                                                        In   the Centurions 100 mile, an event we have hosted in the past , our two aspirants were Adrian Edwards and Sailash Shah. The Isle of Man, was this year’s venue, and both of our colleagues were ready to do battle. In the first 12 hours both Adrian and Sailash were on target but in the next hour or so the wheels started to come off.  Adrian had done all of the right sort of training but a large blister on his heel gradually brought him to a stop having walked 59 miles in 13 hours 9 minutes of walking . Sailash was walking particularly well as he entered his 50th mile but not too long afterwards he experienced increasing problems with his system which meant his body not holding onto its fluid content. He gradually started to dehydrate and eventually was taken to hospital and was lucky not to have suffered any permanent damage.He still managed a very reputable 53 miles in 14 hours 8 minutes.   Looks like it might be 2020 for our next attack on the Centurions event which I think could be in Colchester. Hopefully we can get some supporters down there to second both challengers and any other club walkers who want to have a go at this iconic challenge. 

                                                             Prior to the 100 Sailash competed in the NARWA 10k championships where he finished third.  Generally we do not manage to field any really numbers in the championships which by and large are category A events. 

Chris Bolton

Chris Bolton, one of our oldest members completed yet another Nijmegen walk, this one being his 18th. Chris first started doing these marches in 1958. 

It has come to my notice recently  that Maurice Ireland, one of our oldest members has recently been in hospital following a stroke and I know you will all join me in wishing him well. Tony Taylor put a nice article on the club website highlighting Maurice’s ability to lead most races regardless of standard so in common with his usual race practice we wish him a speedy recovery. 

                                                 Amongst a number of interesting facts which arise during bits of research conducted by me and my ever vigilant colleagues are the following:-

  1. The running shoes worn by Roger Bannister when he broke the world mile record in 1954 were designed by Eustace Thomas, a member of the Lancashire Walking club.
  2. The Lancashire walking club was founded in 1907 under the direction of Mr W Coles of the Manchester Athletic club who wanted to inaugurate a club which would have as its objective the promotion of walking as an exercise and sport in Lancashire.  The title of Lancashire Walking club was decided upon and a Mr A Edwards was elected our first honorary secretary. The meetings were held in late November 1907 at the Sherwood Hotel in Fallowfield. 40 walkers had expressed an interest in joining the club from Liverpool, Bolton, Chorley, Stockport, Altrincham, Sale and Manchester. The annual subscription was set at 5 shillings.  Within 1 month a group of walkers were already planning a stroll from Manchester to Blackpool a precursor of the famous race over that course and by complete coincidence another name appears, mirrored in the present day. A Mr Crompton no less who with Mr Edwards and a third party completed the stroll with I read, meals on route at the 16 mile point, then Preston and finally Lytham.  6 months later the club arranged a Whit tour of London which in itself is not too exceptional but when you do it on foot from Manchester the exercise is a different challenge. They covered 190 miles stopping at Congleton, Rugeley, Coventry, Towcester and St Albans. They finished at Marble Arch and by all accounts were guided from St Albans to London by a cluster of London walkers and on finishing were entertained with a substantial dinner at a London hotel. 

Dave Evans, Chair of Lancashire Walking Club

Race result, photos and more information to follow.

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