Rotherham Harriers & AC Challenge Cup race

Christmas Day 2020

Phil Smales achieves his second victory

Race results
Race lap splits

Once again the race, the 133rd, was held over the distance of 5 miles, the course being three laps around Herringthorpe Playing Fields on the pavements. The conditions for this years’ race were excellent, being dry and virtually wind free. There were 23 starters. This year's race had four times previous winner Brian Harney in the field. However there were other previous winners in the field, including Steve Dawson, Phil Smales, last years’ winner Stephen Cotter, and James Gallacher . Also in the field were course record holder Elliott Smales, scratch runner Joe Massingham, and 17 years old Elliott Morton.

First runner off this year was four times previous winner Brian Harney. One by one the runners set off in hot pursuit, until finally the scratch runner, Joe Massingham, started. After the first of the three laps Brian Harney was still in front but being closely followed by Michelle Eddison and Malcolm Rhodes. Further down the field the runners were giving serious chase, with Elliott Smales covering the first lap in a scorching 8 minutes 15 seconds. Joe Massingham was also moving rapidly through the field, clocking 8min 32 seconds for the first lap.

By the end of the second lap, 57 year old Phil Smales had a lead he would not relinquish, with Michelle Eddison and Brian Harney in second and third places respectively.

And so to the final lap. Phil Smales showed no signs of weakening as he held on to win the event for the second time. The gaps were rapidly closing throughout the field with Gillian Neal moving through to take the runners up spot, and Ben Burton storming through to take an excellent third place in his first attempt at the event. There was further drama though as Elliott Smales came powering through to break the existing course record with a storming 24 minutes 48 seconds clocking, the fastest time of the day.

Awards were made to Phil Smales (Challenge Cup), Gillian Neal (Bill Burns trophy for runner up), Elliott Morton (Sam Howis trophy as first under 23 athlete to finish), Elliott Smales for fastest men's time, and Laura Denman taking the fastest ladies' time trophy. The family award for the lowest aggregate for two family members was won by Phil and Elliott Smales.