Loughrigg & Silver Howe Chase Fell Race, English Championship counter, 26th June
A select few Holmfirth Harriers made the trip up to Ambleside in the Lake District on Sunday to compete in the Loughrigg & Silver Howe Chase, which was the fourth of six English Fell Running Championship races. With 8.5 miles and 2530 feet of ascent, the race is a category ‘A’ medium race and the second medium counter in the series. The course is an out an back, with the summit of Loughrigg being visit twice; once on the route out to Silver Howe and once on the return, before taking a slight detour of the return route to visit the final checkpoint at Lily Tarn. In previous years the men and women have set off together, but due to the size of the field a decision was made to have separate starts to avoid any bottle necks. A field of 77 ladies set off from Rothay Park in very humid conditions which proved tough for many athletes. The race is considered tough at the best of times, but with the heat and without having the leading men to follow, there were many anxious female athletes on the start line!
Helen Berry was the only representative from Holmfirth Harriers in the ladies race. Lying in bronze medal position after the previous three races, Helen was keen to maximise the points from this race and retain her position. She ran well in the first half of the race, keeping within the leading group of 6 and well ahead of the other runners until the return journey, when a nasty fall and cramp meant that she lost some time and sight of the leading group. Helen found the heat hard going and ended up in 7th place, however it was still enough to keep in third place overall.
The winner of the ladies race was last year’s English Champion, Lauren Jeska of Todmorden, who was not aware of her win until she re-entered Rothay Park. The two leading runners, both from the Calder Valley club, had taken a wrong turn to the final checkpoint and ended up in 4th and 5th place.
There were no such navigational problems in the men’s race. However the race proved interesting when the men on their run out to Silver Howe had to pass the women making their return. The organisers had tried to avoid the inevitable by separating the starts, but with only 30 minutes between them, it was not enough to prevent a clash on the narrower paths.
All three representatives from Holmfirth were well placed in a field of 179 finishers. Bill Stewart, who is now based up in Cumbria, had an excellent run in 29th place. Tom Brunt struggled in the humidity and by his own admission did not enjoy or perform well in the race, finishing in 45th position. Andy Hauser continues to do well within his age category, finishing 3rd V55 and an impressive 65th overall. These valuable points mean that Andy is leading the V55 English Championship to date and with just two races to go he is well placed to be in a medal position.
The next English Championship race is at Whittle Pike on 30th July, though before then Holmfirth Harriers will be hosting their own fell race at Holme Moss on 17th July.
Full results (Holmfirth unless otherwise stated): Ladies’ race; 1st Lauren Jeska (Todmorden) 1:27:38, 7th Helen Berry 1:33.57. Men’s race; 1st Ian Holmes (Bingley) 1:08:20, 29th Bill Stewart 1:16:35, 45th Tom Brunt 1:19:00, 65th and 3rd V55 Andy Hauser 1:23:49.
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