Fell Section April Update

April 2024 – weatherwise, not as bad as March, but still damp!

The juniors just had the first of this year’s English Junior Champs races, which was over in the Duddon Valley on Sunday 21st April. Unfortunately, as it clashed with the first of the West Yorkshire Track & Field meetings and with it being such a trek to the south-western Lakes, it doesn’t look as if anyone made it across. Here’s hoping for a better turnout at the next event, the local Coiners races on Bank Holiday Monday May 6th.

The seniors had 2 races to enjoy, with different challenges to overcome. First up on Saturday 6th was the second of this year’s English Champs races, the ever-popular Lad’s Leap, organised by Des Gibbons from Crowden Campsite. With 1700 feet of climb in just 6 miles, this is a tough AS race, made harder by the state of the bogs on the tops, which caught out a few unwary souls! In a stacked field, we had 4 starters in the Ladies race & 13 in the Mens race. First lady back for the club & continuing her strong form of late, was Fran Whitworth, 62nd overall & 11th FV50 in 1.14.38, whilst not too far behind, in her first race of the year, was Barbara Hinchliffe, who was 89th overall & 4th FV65 in 1.26.01. Hot on Barbara’s heels, Stef Dickinson had another good run, finishing 93rd in 1.27.69, followed by Becky Burdon, who despite the conditions knocked off 6 minutes from last year to finish 105th in 1.41.17. In the Mens race, it was great to see so many Harriers on the start line once again, although some of us were a few rows back! First back was Jamie Wood, who posted an excellent time of 55.51 to finish 78th, watched on by young Joss – one for the future! Close behind, Tim Brook had another great race to finish 85th in 57.05, staying ahead of Phil Hewitt, who was 152nd in 1.04.42. We then started packing in pretty closely, with Adam Sunderland next back, 171st in 1.06.24, followed by Gavin Baxter (193rd in 1.09.25), Louis Cromwell (199th in 1.11.01) & Andy Shortt (220th in 1.13.38). Continuing the Vets theme, we then had Keith Baird (231st in 1.15.08), Jon Burdon (247th in 1.17.36), Phil Hobbs (252nd in 1.17.57), Rob Kersey (269th & 6th V70 in 1.24.59) & Mark Henderson (295th in 1.49.35). Unfortunately, Curtis Firth twisted his ankle in the bogs, so was unable to finish, much to his frustration. At the sharp end, the Mens race (where there were 296 finishers) was won by Matlock’s Dan Haworth in 45.37, whilst the Ladies race (110 finishers) was won by Eve Whitaker (daughter of the legendary Helen Diamantides) in 51.54.

It was then time for an Amber Away Trip to the Newlands Valley for the AM Newlands Memorial race on Saturday 20th. We haven’t had this in the champs for over 10 years, so another visit was well overdue! At 11.5 miles, with over 3600 feet of climb, this is a classic Medium Lakes race, with plenty of ups & downs, coupled with some lovely ridge running and we had fourteen on the start line, plus one roving supporter, taking in the welcome April sunshine. Jamie Wood continued where he’d left off at Lad’s Leap & took maximum champs points, coming in 18th overall in 1.53.52, chased hard by Tim Brook, who finished 28th in 1.59.12. Phil Hewitt had another strong race (no doubt helped by his previous recce at the tender age of 9 months!) and came back 46th in 2.07.33, whilst Michael Sanderson was also pleased with his run, clocking 2.11.57 to finish 59th. It was then the battle of the Vets once again, with 8 of us within 20 minutes of each other! Chris Beadle ran a canny race & slowly picked off his rivals to finish 128th in 2.32.47, with Gav Baxter close behind, 132nd in 2.34.07. Heinz Soup Boy Adam Sunderland isn’t a fan of races longer than about 7 miles, but stuck it out to finish 135th in 2.35.33, closely followed by Keith Baird, 137th in 2.36.28, with Andy Shortt, who wasn’t sure if he’d be fit enough to race, battling the lurgy to finish 150th in 2.40.18. Jim Durrans made his 2024 champs debut to come back 181st in 2.50.52, ahead of the fast-finishing Rob Kersey, 188th & 2nd MV70 in 2.54.01 and Jon Burdon, 191st in 2.54.54. Stef Dickinson ran her own race, safe in the knowledge that if she finished, she’d bag 25 points for the champs, which she duly did, recording 3.04.24 for 197th place. Last but not least, super-vet Bill Hunter, definitely the oldest runner in the field, had a great day on the hill and finished 215th & 3rd MV70 in 3.37.19. Overall, there were 221 finishers, with Keswick’s Mark Lamb victorious in 1.40.14 and Sharon Taylor of Helm Hill first lady back (& 26th overall) in 1.57.05. All in all, a great day out, made all the better by a stopover at the Borrowdale YHA, where the odd pint or two might have been sampled! This could catch on!

In terms of the Holmfirth Senior Champs, it’s still early days, but it’s been great to see so many taking part so far. In the Mens competition Tim Brook has done every race (including sweeping at Ian Roberts) and is on 122 points, whilst Phil Hewitt, Michael Sanderson & Andy Shortt have done 5 races and are on 103, 100 & 80 points respectively. For the Ladies, Becky Burdon has completed 5 races and is on 99 points, ahead of Fran Whitworth (94 points from 4 races) & Stef Dickinson (89 points from 4 races). Plenty of races to go at though, so still all to play for!

Fingers crossed, but we’re looking good for the Calderdale Way Relay on Sunday 19th, with pretty much 4 full teams plus a few reserves. Mind you, there’s still over 2 weeks to go, so I’m sure the reserves will be called upon! In terms of the champs in May, as well as the Calderdale, the seniors have the next of the English Champs races, Pendle Cloughs, on Saturday 11th, whilst the juniors have a very busy month, with 3 races to go at – 2 English Champs (Sedbergh on the 12th & Shutlingsloe on the 19th), as well as the Yorkshire Champs at Coiners on the 6th!

Elsewhere in the month, we had a few out & about, including Katie Walshaw at Wardle Skyline (where she was 3rd overall & 1st lady), Tim Brook at the Skipton Skedaddle 34 mile Ultra (where he was 1st overall by over 40 minutes & didn’t even get a 4-pack of beer for his troubles, just a trophy!), Matt Crompton & Mark Henderson at Herod Farm, James Young at the Derwentwater Dawdle, Richard Anderson, Jonny McLean, Curtis Firth & John Field at the 3 Peaks and, experiencing all four seasons in one 24 hour period, Phil Brown at The Fellsman! It was also the 1st & 2nd Trunce races, so we had Katie Walshaw, James Washington, Adam Sunderland, Chris Beadle, Helen Ilsley, Mark Wilson, Rosie Cole, Tracey Newman, Richard Whale, Phil Hinchcliffe, Louis Cromwell & Janet Foreman all trying to stay on their feet through the river!

Finally, some local(ish) races coming up in the next few weeks:

Coiners (BM) (Mytholmroyd) – Monday 6th

The Cake Race (BM) (Diggle) – Saturday 11th

Trunce 3 (Oxspring) – Monday 13th

Hayfield May Queen (BS) – Friday 17th

Blackstone Edge (AS) – Wednesday 22nd

That’s So Hebden Bridge (BM) – Thursday 23rd

Bamford Sheepdog Trials (BS) – Monday 27th

See you on a hill sometime.

Cheers, Phil



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Lad's Leap - Men

Newlands - The Aftermath

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