A rather disappointing turnout of Wallasey Athletic Club's athletes last Saturday was compensated by the excitement caused by Ron Barlow's fine performance in the Northern Counties Cross Country Championships. The course, 9 miles, consisted of initial 1 mile lap and four 2 mile laps.
The start of the senior race was quite a spectacle with about 350 starters out of the 685 entered taking to the line. The start was fast, with a very strong wind, and straight away Barlow was up with the leaders Hill, Freary, Turner, and McGrow. After 2 miles Ron Barlow decided the pace was too slow and pushed into the lead which he held till about the fifth mile when Ron Hill and Mike Freary caught Barlow. The three swopped places for about two miles when Hill burst into the lead. Barlow mistaking this for an attempt to burn him off and so let Hill's teammate Freary win, held back. With about 1 mile to go Ron Barlow realised his error and at once set about closing the 200-yard gap. Unfortunately Barlow left his effort too late and could only close to about 80 yards but was gaining very fast at the end, leaving Freary with a tremendous burst of speed at the finish. The only other Wallasey athlete in the senior race, Dave Field, finished 199th.
The boys' race was of 2 miles, two 1 mile laps, and with 290 starters was the second largest race of the day. The field was tightly bunched as it passed the stand for the first time but by the second time was somewhat spread out. Dave Lockley looking strong but worried was dropping back from about 20th place. All the boys, John Jones, Paul Emery, Mike Roche, and Ray Kay appeared to have plenty of strength but were unfortunate in lacking speed when running with the wind, although they were running well when the wind was head on to them. At the finish Dave Lockley was 41st, Ray Kay 95th, Paul Emery 103rd, John Jones 106th and Mike Roche 111th; all comparatively fresh showing their strength but lack of speed. Next year all these young athletes will still be boys and should form a formidable team.
With just four runners for Wallasey A.C. in the 5-mile youths' race there was a little despondency since at least two of the runners who didn't turn out would have been very good in the prevailing conditions. Barrie Smith found conditions troublesome but was first Wallasey athlete in 121st place, followed by Dave Grennan 126th, who was running very well in such conditions. Mike Mason finished 163rd and Mike McNamee 164th.
The junior race only produced one Wallasey runner for the 6-mile course, Mark Aldridge, who started too fast with the wind and put himself in difficulties from the start, unable to recover sufficiently Mark decided to retire at mid-distance.
Tomorrow, Wallasey A.C. will attend a track meeting at Warrington. This meeting is intended as a training or acclimatisation type of meeting where athletes start the change-over from cross country training to track training. The travel arrangements are as arranged during the week.
Today, the club H.Q. will be open from 2:00 p.m. and a training run will be arranged for 2:30 p.m. Any one wishing to join the club should think more seriously about it now since there is little racing activity for a few weeks giving newcomers chance to increase their strength. New members will be welcome any time the club house is open. During the week training nights are Monday 7-9 and Thursday 7-9.