English Fell Championship - Kielder Blast - 1 Oct 2012

Saturday saw the final race in the 2012 English Fell Championships. It has been a long season, with the first race held at Crowden back in early March. Since then athletes have notched up Championship points from Coledale, Great Lakes, Borrowdale and Weasdale all in Cumbria. The final race was hosted by Northumberland Fell Runners in a new race from Kielder Castle. The 'short' category Kielder Blast race was advertised as 5.9 miles with 1560' of climb though there was some doubt about the distance with many believing it to be nearer 7 miles. The course was more of a trail or cross country race, consisting of loops through the forest paths and across some very tussocky terrain, before an out and back stretch to Grey's Pike.

Two of Holmfirth's leading fell runners made the long journey to Northumberland. Helen Berry was going into the race with her Bronze medal in the Open Women's Championship secure, but an overall win at Kielder could have moved her ahead of close rival, Holly Page of Calder Valley Fell Runners, to take the silver. Holly was well aware of the threat and made every effort to hang on to her silver medal. Helen and Holly were in the leading group with Calder Valley's Helen Fines until Holly pulled away a couple of miles into the race, finishing clear of the field in 59:07. With such poor marking of the course it was easy to make mistakes and Fines and Berry took a wrong turn, costing them about 6 places and almost 2 minutes. Whilst Fines withdrew, Berry showed her determination to catch up with the pack and by the finish had gained 5 places to finish in 4th place in 1:02.

A slight oversight by the organisers meant that the men's race set out on the same course at the same time as the leading women were battling for position on the final descent, which unfortunately for Helen meant a speedy collision with one of the men!

Amongst those leading men was Holmfirth's Tom Brunt who has had his best season in the Championship series with consistently good results, giving him a top 20 overall position. Kielder was probably a bit short for Tom's liking but he had a great result to finish 23rd out of a 153-strong field in 53:20. Mercia's Simon Bailey battled it out with Borrowdale's Morgan Donnelly for first place. The two athletes secured Gold and Silver medals respectively in the Championship.

Unfortunately for Tom he managed to lock his keys in the boot of his car after the race, forcing a return journey from the Holme Valley to Kielder Forest with the spare key on the Sunday!

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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