Crowds out in force for Buxton Carnival 4 Mile road race

WAY AHEAD OF THE REST -- Damian Nicholls, of Wilmslow RC, is clear of the field and on his way to victory in Buxton Carnival Day's four-mile road race, which was a huge success last Saturday.
WAY AHEAD OF THE REST -- Damian Nicholls, of Wilmslow RC, is clear of the field and on his way to victory in Buxton Carnival Day's four-mile road race, which was a huge success last Saturday.

The weather forecast promised a torrential downpour - but the rain held off for another successful four-mile road race to mark Buxton Carnival Day last Saturday.

The crowds were out in force for the fourth running of the Carnival 4 Mile, supporting more than 100 runners, both local and from further afield.

And the winner was Damian Nicholls, a member of Wilmslow Running Club in Cheshire, who clocked a fine time of 21.24 minutes. The women’s race went to Mandy Vernon, of Trentham Running Club in Stoke-on-Trent, who improved on her second place last year to romp home by more than five minutes in a time of 24.19, only 17 seconds short of the women’s course record.

The Thomas Theyer Memorial Trophy, awarded to the first local junior runner, was won by Elliot Meylan, of the race organisers, Buxton Athletics Club (AC), who finished 11th overall in a time of 24.02 minutes. Thomas was a popular member of Buxton AC who sadly died in July 2013, just over a month after his 18th birthday and only a week after he himself had competed in the inaugural Carnival 4 Mile.

The early leader was another of Buxton’s own, Rob White, who set a blistering pace to string out the field. But Nicholls was already stalking him and by the time White had reached the top of St John’s Road, the eventual winner had taken the lead, with Jason Burgess, another Trentham RC runner, in second.

At the start of the second climb up St John’s Road, Nicholls had built a sizeable lead over Burgess, with White back in a group with Mark Walker, of Macclesfield Harrier, and Rob Downs, one of Nicholls’s Wilmslow RC clubmates.

Nicholls held on to win and equal the top time from last year, although more than a minute down on the course record of 20.17 minutes set by Ryan Holroyd in 2014. Burgess also clung on to second place, finishing in 22.15, with Walker taking third in 22.26.

The second female runner to cross the line was Kim Cassidy, who is not attached to a club. She clocked 29.34, just ahead of third-placed Tania Wilson, of Buxton AC, in 30.26.

Prizes were also awarded to runners who won their age categories. They were: Rob White M40 (fifth in 22.34), Andrew Whittingham M45 (seventh in 23.00), Ray O’Keefe M50 (34th in 27.56), Andy Wilton M55 (14th in 24.14), Jim Grant M60 (61st in 30.52) and Alan Webb M65 (56th in 30.29).

For the ladies, the prize winners were: Louise Morten F35 (85th in 32.49), Gayle Johnson F40 (71st in 31.47), Kate Phillips F45 (76th in 32.06), Corrinne Mackay F50 (63rd in 31.05), Kate Ledin F55 (72nd in 31.52);,Liz Stillo F60 (108th in 35.03) and Eleanor Robinson F65 (74th in 31.54).

In the team competitions, the trio of Nicholls, Downs and Whittingham helped Wilmslow RC take the male prize, while Tania Wilson, together with Annemarie Fitzgerald and Gayle Johnson, lifted the women’s award for Buxton AC.

Buxton AC would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who took part in the race, and also the marshals and volunteers, without whom the event could not have gone ahead. Many thanks also to the local police, High Peak Borough Council’s highways department and the carnival committee for their co-operation in supporting and approving the new course. Said a spokeswoman: “We hope to see you all again in 2017.”

The following day, many Buxton AC athletes completed a weekend racing double and competed in the Great Hucklow Fell Race, the 13th counter in the club’s main championships. The testing 10K route was made all the harder this year by the persistent rain that had fallen over the previous few weeks. In fact, the going was more akin to cross-country in January than a fell race in July!

Despite the testing terrain, the sun shone periodically during the race, making it a hot and humid affair. After his fifth place the day before, Rob White went two better on the fells to come third in 49.33. Jake Fearn was the second Buxton AC runner to finish in 52.26, with Richard Bouglas completing the top three in 57.15.

Jo Bednall was the first Buxton lady home, in 1:02.03, while Elizabeth Nocton finished in 1:10.14, with Tania Wilson eight seconds behind in 1:10.22. Together, the trio took the ladies’ team prize after coming second, ninth and 11th respectively.