Road running performances by members of Cheshire clubs have again been collected during 2014 and analysed.  Tables 1 to 10 inclusive provide a detailed breakdown of a number of aspects.

Park Run participation has again increased dramatically over the previous year to the extent that the performance numbers are almost as high as the cumulative numbers for all road races themselves.  Over the seven year period from 2008 (which coincidentally was the first year of Park Runs in the area) for which detailed data collection has been carried out the number of participants from Cheshire clubs in Park Runs has increased 22 fold and their “acceptable” performances by 40 fold.  In contrast total participation in road races at all distance over the same period has increased by only 1.5 in terms of athletes and by 1.4 for performances. Twenty percent of active males and 23% of active females only took part in Park Runs.  Park Runs will be discussed in more detail in a separate document.

 When looked at in slightly more detail it is females who have shown the largest increases, admittedly from smaller numbers.  The proportion of females in road races has shown an increase of 5% over the last 2 years from around 30% for several previous years. It is also interesting that a couple of Cheshire clubs now have more female participants than male.

Participation at different distances shows some variations.  2014 produced the highest number of participants and performances at 10K, half and the full marathon over the 7 year period, but disappointing reductions at 5K, 5 and 10 miles.  We had the highest number of athletes taking part in road races in 2014, with most clubs showing an increase while several new Cheshire clubs in 2014 contributing significantly to the totals.  A couple of the new clubs in 2012 also had significant increases in athletes and participation compared to their first couple of years (notably Lymm Runners).  However, participation in road races by individual athletes (that is, number of races/athlete) has fallen slightly.  One concern is the dip in road running activity by one club which has seen an increase in numbers taking part along with a significant increase in Park Run participation.  Is there a link?  However, two other clubs who have also had large increases in numbers of Park Run participants show the reverse trend; that is an increase in road races/athlete.

An attempt has been made to determine average ages for those participating at different distances and for the data base overall.  In general the averages for women are 3 to 5 years younger than for males; overall they are 38.8 for females and 42.1 for males (5 year age groups or actual ages for 5% of senior males and 7% of senior females are not yet known).  The most populous age group for men is M45-49 and for females the F35-39 age group, with very low figures in the 20-24 and 25-29 age groups for both (lower than for all older age groups up to 55-59 inclusive).  Again this will be looked at in more detail later as there is a possible link with the age profile of the general population. 

On the performance side we had some excellent performances from a few ladies with several “faster than scratch” times.  Top of the bunch were Stevie Stockton’s (Vale Royal) sub 34 minute 10K’s, the faster one breaking a long standing Cheshire record.  New County age group records were set at several distances, particularly in the older age groups. Averages of the best performances in the Top 10 list were the fastest over the 9 year period at 5K and 10K for men and at 10K for women. Averages of best times for all athletes and for all performances showed little change, but were in general slower at the longer distances.  The best male single performance of the year (based on the BDS handicap system) was by Chris Perry of Vale Royal who was just slightly slower than scratch at 5K.

The top individual performers listings, which is points based depending on the ranking lists at 6 different distances which include all known performances of athletes, has been used this year to establish an overall Cheshire Road Running champion to replace the Cheshire championship at a particular distance.  These tables have been compiled for several years.  In 2014 the overall male “champion” was Stuart Doyle of Vale Royal AC despite only being the leading runner at one distance (10K).  Diane McVey of Wilsmlow RC is the female champion, topping the lists at 4 different distances and second at a 5th distance.  Some new names appeared this year with Andrea Hilldrupo of Lymm Runners top of the female 5K list and Colin Thompson of Helsby RC top of the male 5 mile list.  In the club equivalent, the leading male club for the 4th year in succession was South Cheshire Harriers and the leading female club was Wilmslow RC.

The most popular event for Cheshire club runners was the 4 Villages half-marathon, Helsby after missing out in 2013 due to cancellation (as has happened again in 2015) due to icy conditions.  Most of the Cheshire GP races (5 out of 7) are in the top 10 for popularity.  Also noticeable in 2014 are 3 non-club organized events in the top 10.

John Driscoll     15th February 2015

TABLE 1 : Summary of number of athletes, number of performances; number of events overall and at different distances.

TABLE 2 : Breakdown of summary data by club

TABLE 2a :Numbers of active athletes by club 2007 to 2014

TABLE 3 : Breakdown of performances at different distances by month and by club

Table 4 : Performance Trends using BDS handicap number as indicator 2006 to 2014.

TABLE 5 : Age Distribution of athletes at different distances.

TABLE 6 :  Improvers, New athletes and Turnover at different distances 2009 to 2014.

TABLE 7 : Age Group best performances at different distances (5 year age groups).

TABLE 8 : most popular events at different distances and where year bests were set.

TABLE 9 : Top individual and club performers at different distances in 2014

TABLE 9a : Top individual and club performers 2008 to 2014. 

TABLE 10 : most popular races for Cheshire club athletes 2008 to 2014 

Summary table of Park Run participation for local venues 2008 to 2014

  Any comments, etc to John Driscoll  (E-mail )