Senior Fell Championship update & current standings

Just over halfway through the season seems like a good point for an update on this year’s Senior Fell Championship. We’ve had new races, old races, local races, foreign (well, Wales) races & have endured snow, ice, mud & latterly a heatwave! And that hasn’t put off nearly 60 of you, so well done all!

Back in January, in an attempt to get as many amber vests (old & new) onto the fells as possible, the first race was a popular old favourite, the Stanbury Splash meeting over at Haworth. On a breezy day in Bronte Country, we had 14 starters in the senior race and first back for the club, in a race that probably didn’t have enough climbing for his liking, was Mike Fanning, 8th overall & 2nd V50, whilst pride of place went to Ruby Sykes, who won the ladies race, finishing 39th overall, over a minute ahead of her nearest rival.

Into February and another local favourite, the Mickleden Straddle from Langsett Barn. Often held with snow on the ground, this year was no exception, with some added ice at Cut Gate to make it even more interesting! We had another good turnout, with 14 making the start line & there were some great battles throughout. First back once again was Mike Fanning, 7th overall & 1st V50, just ahead of Tim Street (9th) & Dan Shaw (12th), the 3 of them scooping the Mens team prize. Jordan Mullinger had another good run to finish 62nd & 7th lady, with Helena Croft close behind, finishing 90th overall (despite taking a tumble on the run-in) & with Jean Shotter finishing 146th, Holmfirth also picked up the Ladies team prize, so more beer & wine!

A couple of weeks later, it was the short, sharp Ilkley Moor race, held in some of the muddiest conditions I’ve ever known. 13 seniors took on the 5 mile, 1400 foot course, which this year was also hosting the Yorkshire Senior & U23 Championships. The cramped start is always pretty manic, but once you’ve negotiated the track to the Cow & Calf, the race thins out a bit & you can settle into your own pace! The youngsters were on fine form this time, with Kai Sunman 30th overall and Harry Shelbourne 37th overall & 1st U18. But star of the show once again was Ruby Sykes, who finished 93rd overall & 7th lady, but more importantly, 1st U23, so became a Yorkshire Champion!

Into March & the first English Championship race of the season, the 21 mile, 4500 feet Edale Skyline. Entries for this race filled up very quickly, so we had just 4 keen Harriers make the trip over to Derbyshire. Over 400 started & at the sharp end, Keswick’s Carl Bell carried on where he left off last season to win the race by nearly 3 minutes in 2.37.13. First back for Holmfirth was Mike Fanning, 91st overall & 8th V50 in 3.20.08 – he would have been quicker, but had a slippery encounter with a stile & needed a few minutes to compose himself! Not far behind & setting herself up for another tilt at the FV40 Championship was Helen Berry, 122nd overall, 9th lady & 2nd FV40 in 3.29.18. Next back was David Milton, who has been turning his hand to some longer races & finished a very respectable 276th in 4.17.26, holding off Ladies Vice-Captain Jean Shotter, a creditable 321st & 4th FV55 in 4.30.03.

April saw the Gisborough Moors race from Gisborough Rugby Club. After an eventful journey up in Phil’s car, 4 Harriers were on the start line and, putting all thoughts of his smoking brakes behind him, Phil Hewitt stormed round the 12.5 mile route to finish 3rd overall in a time of 1.34.20. Not too far behind, Dan Shaw (44th in 1.48.03) just managed to stay ahead of the fast-finishing Chris Beadle

(45th in 1.48.08), with Mike Prior a little further back, 161st in 2.19.20 – all of them picking up valuable championship points.

Super busy in May, with Clough Head first up - a new short out-and-back race, freshly installed into the English Championship. On a glorious day at Threlkeld Cricket Club, the ladies race was first off, with Helen Berry continuing her FV40 battle with Mel Price from Mercia. On this occasion, Mel had the edge, coming back 8th & 1st FV40 in 46.28, with Helen just behind, 11th overall, 2nd FV40 in 47.17. In the mens race, the assembled field was stacked with many of the best runners in the country and as if to demonstrate this, the winning time by Mark Lamb of Keswick for the 4.5 mile, 1800 feet race was a staggering 37.31. First back for Holmfirth, continuing his great vein of form was Mike Fanning, very pleased with 48th overall & 2nd V50 in 42.46, whilst a race within a race saw Andy Shelbourne (V50), John Ewart (V60) & Mark Law (V50) battling it out, carrying on where they had left off from the cross-country season. Andy had the edge this time, finishing 156th in 51.02, just pipping John (161st & 5th V60 in 51.14) & Mark (162nd in 51.30). Remarkably, this also helped Holmfirth to finish 4th V50 team on the day – life in the old legs yet it seems!

It was then a return to the Calderdale Way Relay where, after a few of the now-traditional changes here & there (including your Fell Captain) we managed to enter 3 teams (Open, Ladies & Vets). The squad was another great mixture of new faces and old hands & all 36 seemed to enjoy the occasion on what is a great team event. On an incredibly warm day, the Open team finished an excellent 8th overall, the Ladies were 41st overall (2nd team behind Todmorden) & the Ale Stars were 25th overall from 99 teams. Results of the day included new recruit Luc Burnip & Tim Street posting the 3rd fastest time on Leg 6 and Helen Berry & Jordan Mullinger with the fastest ladies time on Leg 4.

The following weekend, everyone was in action at our own West Nab races and once again, I just want to say a massive thanks to everyone who helped make the day a success in my self-inflicted absence! 10 seniors made the start line & bagged a few of the prizes - Mike Fanning was first Harrier home (5th overall & 1st V50), whilst close behind, Harry Shelbourne finished 12th overall (6th U19 & Yorkshire U19 Silver Medallist), just ahead of Helen Berry (14th overall & 1st lady), Ruby Sykes (20th overall, 2nd lady & 1st FU23), Rob Kersey (41st overall & 1st V60) and Sophie Barraclough (50th & 2nd FV50).

Into June & a trip over the border for the Welsh leg of the British Championships at Tal Y Mignedd. Injuries took out a few who had pre-entered, but the 5 who went came back with great reports of the race. At the sharp end, Mike Fanning suffered a little in the heat, but still finished 63rd overall & 5th V50 in 40.23 against some tough opposition, whilst in the separate ladies race, Helen Berry was 5th lady & 2nd FV40 in 42.55. Also running, we had Dan Stewart (117th in 45.19), Chris Beadle (151st in 48.57) & Mike Prior (222nd in 56.44). To give you an idea of the quality of the field, the mens race was won by James Espie of Deeside Runners in 33.45 & the ladies race winner was Caitlin Rice of RVH in 40.49.

July & in the midst of World Cup fever, we headed to Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales for the tough AM Blackfell race, organised by Bingley Harriers. In a very exclusive field of 35 runners, just 3 Harriers made the start line at 1.00pm, aiming to finish in time to catch the England-Sweden quarter-final kicking off at 3.00pm! Helen Berry was comfortably back on schedule, finishing 6th overall & 1st lady in a new record time of 1.44.00, whilst Chris Beadle left himself with a jog back down to the pub after coming in 14th in 1.55.35. Not being a great fan of the heat, Phil Hobbs was

just happy to finish 22nd in 2.06.39 & had to be content with hearing the cheers for the first goal echoing around the valley!

Finally in July, it was another of our races, the super-tough Holme Moss, organised by Rob Kersey & his large band of willing helpers. We had sunshine at Cartworth Moor, clag in Derbyshire & then more sunshine to bake the runners on their way back from Laddow Rocks along the Pennine Way in some of the driest, dustiest conditions I’ve known on the Moss! 9 Harriers made the start line & once again, Mike Fanning lead Holmfirth home (despite suffering in the heat), finishing 6th overall & 1st V50 in 2.58.23, holding off the challenge of Helen Berry, 7th overall & 1st lady in 2.58.39 (just outside her own record). Also amongst the prizes were Andy Shaw (1st V55) & Elaine Stewart (1st FV60), so well done to them & everyone else that managed to finish on a tough day at the office!

With 5 races left in the championship, Mike Fanning is looking like the man to beat in the Mens competition, which will be easier said than done, whilst for the Ladies, Helen Berry is hoping to reclaim her title & is certainly staking her claim! To qualify for the championship, everyone must complete 7 races, including 2 of each length (Short, Medium & Long) & if you’ve only done 1 short race so far, you’ll need to pull your finger out & do the Denis Stitt on Thursday 9th August, as it’s your last chance! It’s also coming up to the serious Fell Relay season, with the Hodgson Brothers & the FRA British Relays in October, so make sure you’re all available & fighting fit!

See you on a hill sometime.

Phil Hobbs

Standings at the halfway point

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

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