Wirksworth Running Club’s 2021 league season finished on Sunday 28th November after 11 months of hard-fought contests in both the women’s and men’s races.  Each had a slightly different story in terms of the type of runners that finished top, showing that basically any club runner can win the club league if they are prepared to work hard on their running.

Because of the handicap system, if someone who is new to running (or hasn’t run for a while) joins the club and decides to run all the segments that comprise the club league, that runner is likely to improve at a very fast rate and hence then be very difficult to beat – that’s really the whole point of the handicap system, designed to reward those who improve.  This is the story that dominated the women’s competition this year with one extremely notable exception.  To say Tanya Rountree has been through a lot in the last 2 or 3 years is definitely the understatement of this report.  A long established runner, Tanya has been working her way fit again in 2021 and quietly went out to complete all the segments.  She was in the lead for a while before settling down into 3rd place overall.  She was overtaken by two runners who have both improved enormously over the year, Liz Abrahams and Chloe Gordon.  Each worked hard on their running and just continued to improve at such a rate that, by the end of the season, they were pretty much unbeatable when they ran their best on the segments.  Chloe finished as club champion with Liz not far behind her in 2nd place.  Kathy Mitchell should also get a mention – Kathy also joined the club and improved at an astonishing rate, ticking off the segments and scoring heavily.  At one stage it looked like Kathy would continue her strong run onto the podium but she wasn’t able to complete all the segments in the end, still finishing in 4th place.

The men’s competition had a different story.  Olly Pratten led the competition by a very large margin for many months before the 3 runners on this year’s podium finally decided to start reining him in.  Last year’s league champion, Graham Robinson understandably started the 2021 season with a pretty tough handicap and it was going to be extremely tough for him to improve further on his tectonic shift in ability from 2020.  But improve he did, scrubbing about 3 minutes off his already very good 10km capability for example, and started scoring heavily towards the end of the season.  Sadly, Graham left his parkrun attempt too long and was ill by the time he attempted it, his time not then being reflective of his ability.  He still finished 3rd overall, an impressive feat for any runner (not including super-human Elaine Stone that is!) to appear in the top 3 two years running!  Tussling with Graham for first place and eventually securing it for himself, was Dave Spencer.  Dave has been a top runner for many years so, with youth not on his side as much as some others, to ask him to improve on this level was a big, big ask.  Dave rose to the challenge, ticked off all the segments and secured the win.  David Brassington ran in 2nd with a late charge of segments.  David’s story is similar to Dave’s in that he was already a top athlete with an accordingly tough handicap at the start of the season.  David would probably describe himself as a triathlete first and foremost, quite happy to polish off an Ironman (!) as part of his season each year, and with a comfortable sub-20-min 5km ability, improvement was a tall order.  However, improve he did, scoring heavily as he ticked off the segments.

Raf Abrahams picked up the parkrun win with his 24:10 at Markeaton on 31st July.

A massive well done to everyone involved, not just this year’s winners!  The final club league scores can be downloaded from our website, where details of the 2022 club league will also appear in due course.