IN any other year Gareth Williams would have probably won the 2022 Ironwood Challenge.
Unluckily for Williams, who is a member of Southville Running Club, this was the year that Joe Mercer of Horwich RMI Harriers turned up for the popular event organised by Nailsea Running Club.
For members of Horwich RMI running on hills, fells and mountains is usually bread and butter stuff so the nasty climbs of the Ironwood probably didn’t phase Mercer.
Admittedly his Powerof10 stats suggest he doesn’t race on the fells very much but a top ten finish in the ‘National’ at Parliament Hill in February plus a PB of 30:26 at the Trafford 10k last month confirm he is a quality runner.
Williams will know that himself know as hard as he worked he could make no impression on the winner as he cruised to victory by almost three minutes for one of the best victories in the history of the event.
But Williams also showed good form as he was on his own for much of the way with a huge gap of 2mins 39secs to Matt Franklin in third.
Williams wasn’t the only Southville runner to enjoy the race as Neil Kempton (fourth), Paul Deaton (seventh) and Simon Marchant (ninth) also made the top ten, with Deaton picking up the M50 award.
Also squeezing into the top ten was Bristol & West AC’s Annabel Granger, whose ninth place was enough to land her the women’s prize.
But she was pushed hard by Southville’s Jane Faram, just three places behind in 11th overall and second woman with another B&W runner, Katrina Entwistle, third.