Trail blazer – Road Runner Rob retains title

ROB James led home 253 finishers to ensure host success at the Royton Trail event for Royton Road Runners (writes Gary Smith)

James, champion in 2018, clocked 32 minutes 36 seconds to beat clubmate, Jarrod Gritt, by 23 seconds.

Rochdale Harrier Chris Marchant took third place in 33:25 while Oldham Royton AC’s Michael Mannings was fifth in 33:38.

Sarah Thomas, 38th overall, won the ladies title in 39:17 with Fiona Williams (39:37) of Rochdale Harriers second and RRR’s Janet Jobey (41:06) third.

This challenging, annual multi-terrain race is in its 12th year, with the event continuing to grow in popularity. A total of just 72 runners competed when it was first held in 2007.

The start of the race is outside the Tandle Hill Tavern. For the first time it was a chipped time event with runners’ times recorded electronically from a sensor worn by the individual.

The chip mats had to be carefully placed to avoid the possibility of any agricultural vehicles going over them.

The route took the runners down Thornham Lane, over the M62 motorway before crossing the A627, along Stakehill Lane then back over the M62 on Hough Lane.

From there the field went to Cinder Hall Lane before turning into Tandle Hill to go up the steep path through the woods before emerging at the other end of Thornham Lane.

Even then there was a last, large ‘bump’ to go over before the finish

The men’s team champions were the Rochdale Harriers quartet of: Christopher Merchant, Danny Bennett, Phillip Hinchcliffe and Richard Stirzaker who triumphed for the first time in this event.

The ladies’ team champions were the RRR four of: Janet Jobey, Rochelle Evans, Valerie Kilburn and Vikki Smith.

This reversed last year’s results when Royton won the men’s prize and Rochdale the ladies.

Gift vouchers, provided by race sponsors Up and Running, Oldham were presented by RRR president and race director Bryan Lawton.

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