Afternoon all – strap on your Inov-8’s, it’s time for the latest Fell Update!
So, July 2023 – wet to middling, with a good smattering of races in both the senior and junior champs.
The seniors made their way across to Calderdale on Saturday 1st July for the Heptonstall Festival, which is the shorter of the two races starting on the cobbles outside the church in the middle of the village. Advertised as 5.9 miles with 1640ft climb, it’s an out-and-back race from Heptonstall to High Brown Knoll, with lots of up and down in-between and a sting in the tail as you climb back to the finishing field. We had a great turnout of 11 Harriers (plus some old friends) amongst the 102 starters and first back once again was the ever-consistent Tim Brook, who finished 5th overall and 2nd V40 in 52.20. It was then a real tussle between the current top 2 in the champs, with Michael Sanderson (26th in 1.00.28) just pipping Adam Sunderland (28th in 1.01.09), whilst not too far behind and continuing his conversion to the fells was Bob Dickinson (32nd in 1.03.09). It was then the battle of the ladies, with Fran Whitworth (42nd overall, 2nd lady and 1st FV50 in 1.07.15) proving too strong for Sophie Cromwell (44th overall & 4th lady in 1.07.48). We then had a cluster of Vets, with Jim Durrans (51st in 1.10.27) leading home Jon Burdon (54th in 1.12.57) and Phil Hobbs (59th in 1.13.44). Not too far behind & enjoying the downhills more than the up was Becky Burdon (82nd in 1.24.59), with Mark Henderson close behind (86th in 1.27.41). It was also great to catch up with Clark Hind, Mike Fanning & Judy Howells as we sampled the complementary pint of the Nightjar Brew Company’s 4.2% Lost in Ikea Session IPA – makes the pain worthwhile!
Well done to everyone who either ran or helped out at the Holme Moss race on Sunday 23rd July. What an epic day! The continual rain leading up to the day meant that Andy and Jean had to change the route to avoid crossing Crowden Great Brook below Laddow, which was in spate. It was still difficult to cross further up the valley, and there were reports of some runners taking an unexpected dip, with others helping each other across! Andy has reported elsewhere on the race itself, but from a Holmfirth perspective, we had 10 Harriers amongst the 131 starters and first back for the club – with another top 3 finish – was Richard Anderson, 3rd overall in 2.40.47. Close behind was Tim Brook, 7th overall and 1st MV40 in 2.54.05, whilst Phil Hewitt paced himself a little better this year, finishing 21st in 3.14.55 and joining Richard and Tim as they scooped the Men’s Team prize. Curtis Firth, recently returned from his amazing Americas honeymoon, was simply concentrating on finishing, which he duly did, coming in 48th in 3.37.39, whilst Bob Dickinson was attempting this distance for the first time and had a great run to finish 52nd in 3.39.50. Adam Sunderland wasn’t relishing the prospect of battling the wind & rain, but triumphed in the battle of the V50’s, finishing 73rd in 3.58.57, ahead of Chris Beadle, who swam round to finish 76th in 4.00.08 – should have dipped for the line!! Sophie Cromwell was also taking on the Moss for the first time and stuck with Chris for most of the race, finishing 85th and 7th lady in 4.04.03, which guaranteed her maximum champs points as first Holmfirth lady home. It was great to see Paul Fearns back racing in an amber vest after a few years away and he battled round to finish 114th in 4.41.48, whilst unfortunately Andy Shaw had to retire at the Holme Moss checkpoint, so lost house bragging rights to Blandine, who kept going to finish 119th and 1st FV60 in 4.53.26.
Hot off the press, we had 4 runners taking part in this weekend’s Montane Lakeland 50/100 event from Coniston. Having successfully completed the 50 last year, Matthew Rose moved up to the 100 this time and has been training religiously all year to give himself the best possible chance. Setting off at 6.00pm on Friday evening, the race heads west from Coniston to Seathwaite, before turning northwards as the sun sets in Eskdale, up and over into Wasdale. Skirting the slopes of Kirk Fell, the runners are in total darkness, save for their head-torches, as they clock off the checkpoints at Black Sail Hut, Buttermere, and Braithwaite, before greeting the dawn at Blencathra. Yomping along the Old Coach Road on the edge of Matterdale Common, they make their way south-east to the edge of Ullswater and the start point for the 50 at Dalmain. From there, it is south via Howtown, Mardale, and Kentmere, before turning west in the fading light towards Ambleside and Chapel Stile. The final stretch up and over from Langdale to Coniston via Tilberthwaite adds more climb to what has already been a mammoth effort – over 6500m according to Strava! The weather was mixed, with strong wind & rain on the Saturday adding to the very wet underfoot conditions. Despite this, Matthew was going well for the first 70 miles or so, before knee problems slowed him down to a painful shuffle. But he stuck it out and crossed the finish line in 36.22.47, so many congratulations to him – I’m sure he’ll give us a write-up once he’s recovered! David Milton is an old hand at this event now and was using it as a start point for his attempt at this winter’s full Spine race, but even he struggled towards the end as his quads seized up and he was happy to run back for the last 10 miles alongside Matthew and finish in 36.22.45 – comrades in amber! John Field was dipping his toe into the Ultra waters with the 50 and was determined to finish. He managed his pace (and refuelling strategy) pretty well, getting to Ambleside in a little over 9 hours, just as it started to get dark and then pushed on to the finish, crossing the line in 14.47.33. Close behind, new(ish) member Sophie Clarson was also (I think) taking part in her first Lakeland 50 and pretty much followed John the whole way round. Going well up to Ambleside, she started to struggle, but perked up after some much needed food and drink at the Chapel Stile checkpoint, to finish in 14.59.11. A great effort all round – well done guys!
In terms of the senior Fell Champs, after 10 races, the men are currently being led home by Michael Sanderson, who has completed 5 races, plus the Calderdale Way Relay, so is on 127 points. Hard on his heels, also having completed 5 races, we have Jon Burdon, Adam Sunderland & Bob Dickinson, on 123, 120 & 114 points respectively. For the ladies, Sophie Cromwell has completed 7 races, plus the Calderdale and is on 182 points, ahead of Becky Burdon (123 points from 5 races) and Fran Whitworth (111 points from 4 races).
The juniors had the final two English Champs races in July, but I don’t think anyone made it down to North Wales for the Clwydian on July 9th. Happily, the Gibbs family ventured out for the Big Stone race near Hayfield on Sunday 16th & acquitted themselves well against some quality opposition, with Arthur finishing 16th in the U11’s, whilst Florence was 44th in the U13’s. Jack Sunderland was also there, competing in the U19’s & finishing 24th overall in a race that also included the U20’s (also beating his Dad into the bargain, as the seniors ran the same race)!
Coming up, the seniors have the Denis Stitt on Thursday 10th followed by Sedbergh Hills on Sunday 20th, whilst the juniors have the Burnsall Classic on Saturday 19th. If you’re not planning on racing at the Denis Stitt, then I know John is looking for helpers on the night, so please let him know if you can make it. Looking further ahead, I’ll shortly be starting to round up volunteers for the two fell relays in October – the Hodgson Brothers on Sunday 1st, where we should be back to 2 teams, plus the British/UKA/FRA Fell Relays from Braithwaite, nr. Keswick, on the 21st, where I’ll be looking to enter 4 teams (Mens, Ladies, V40’s, and V50’s).
Entries for the Shelf Moor race (on Saturday 23rd September) open for FRA members on 7th August and for non-FRA members on 14th August. This will fill up pretty quickly, so fastest finger first!
Elsewhere, good to see those out and about including Katie Walshaw and James Washington at Peak Forest (where Katie was 4th overall & 1st lady), Richard Anderson and Mark Henderson at Widdop, Adam Sunderland at Big Stone, Katie Walshaw and James Washington at Stoney Middleton (where Katie was 11th overall & 2nd lady), and Tim Brook, Jacob Harman, Michael Sanderson, Bob Dickinson, Sophie Cromwell, Mark Wilson, Kevin Yewlett, Jess O’Brien, Phil Hinchcliffe, Tracey Newman, Richard Whale and Andy Shortt at Trunces 6 & 7. Don’t forget, please let me know if you’ve been racing and I’ll give you a mention. Or even better, feel free to send in a race report to the website for everyone to read!
Finally, some local(ish) races coming up in August/early September include:
Salt Cellar (Ladybower) – Friday 4th
Chip Chase (Uppermill) (new race) – Sunday 6th
Trunce 8 – Monday 14th
Burnsall Classic – Saturday 19th
Piethorne (New Hey) – Sunday 20th
Crowden Horseshoe – Sunday 20th
Longshaw Sheepdog Trial – Saturday 2nd September
Blackshaw Head Fete – Saturday 2nd September
See you at Denis Stitt!