Weasdale Horseshoe Fell Race, Sat 18 Aug

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Weasdale Bill WadeThe great and the good of the English Fell Running fraternity gathered on the north-west edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park to contest the fifth and penultimate race in the 2012 Championship series, which also doubled up as a counter in the Holmfirth Harriers fell championship. The day started very wet and misty, which was not ideal for runners, spectators or the locals, for whom this race was part of their annual Ravenstondale show.
A traditional horseshoe route, the 8.5 mile course over the Howgill hills took in 2000 feet of climb and is considered very runnable and particularly fast on the descent from Green Bell. The start of the course through very boggy and muddy reed land proved hard work, particularly on the return trip to the finish.

For some, today's race would be the decider of their final placing in the English Championship. Helen Berry was in second place after four races and hoped to secure herself a medal for the first time since winning as an Intermediate back in 1994. The leader to date and previous winner, Lauren Jeska of Todmorden, was absent, safe in the knowledge that her points score could not be beaten. That left Helen and closest rival Holly Page of Calder Valley, and Under 23 and England international, to fight for second and third in the Championship.

Weasdale Lucy NeedhamThe ladies race was run separately and before the men's due to the large Championship field. The clear leader, who won by over 4 minutes, was GB and England international Olivia Walwyn-Bush of Altrincham. Meanwhile the race was on behind her between Helen, Sharon Taylor of Bingley and Holly Page. Helen and Sharon pulled clear of Holly on the first ascent to Hooksey and remained together until the closing stages of the race, with Helen finishing 7 seconds adrift. Holmfirth ladies also had representation from Lucy Needham who had an excellent run to finish 16th and collected valuable Holmfirth Championship points.

By the time the men were off, two hours after the ladies start, the sun was shining and the Howgills and race route were clear to see by spectators from the 'showground'. The men also had a prominent winner in Simon Bailey of Mercia, who took an early lead and finished almost a minute ahead, a result which has probably clinched him the English Championship. Holmfirth's Tom Brunt, who prefers the longer distances, found this shorter race somewhat fast but nevertheless clocked a good result just outside the top 20 in a class field. Club mate Bill Stewart had made the short journey from his home near Appleby and was rewarded with a good run in 51st place. Dave Knight finished with a smile on his face in 148th, having now competed in all 12 of Holmfirth's Championship qualifying races to date. Holmfirth's veterans, Andy Hauser and Bill Wade, who are contesting the English V55 and V70 categories this year, both came into this race in 4th place in the standings. Andy enjoyed the softer terrain of Weasdale, having not enjoyed the rocky terrain of recent races in the Lake District, and did well to finish 4th V55, 92nd overall. Bill Wade, looking as fresh as ever, took third in the V70 category in 188th place.

Weasdale Tom BruntThe final English Championship race will be held over a short course in the Kielder Forest in Northumberland on 29th September.

The following day the Sedbergh Hills race was held the other side of the Howgills from Weasdale. Tom Brunt took in his second race of the weekend over the 14 mile route, with 6000 feet of climb, and finished in a very impressive second place.

Weasdale results (Holmfirth unless otherwise stated):
Ladies: 1st Olivia Walwyn-Bush (Altrincham) 1:04:35, 3rd Helen Berry 1:09:52, 16th Lucy Needham 1:17:22. Men: 1st Simon Bailey (Mercia) 55:09, 21st Tom Brunt 1:00:55, 51st Bill Stewart 1:04:47, 92nd (4th V55) Andy Hauser 1:10:42, 148th Dave Knight 1:23:11, 188th (3rd V70) Bill Wade 1:38:25.

Copyright Holmfirth Harriers Athletics Club 2012