Created in 2002 by Malcolm Sowerby with the help of David Eyre who planned the 4.5 mile & 1001ft of climb route, the Bamford Sheepdog Trials fell race is run each Spring Bank holiday Monday and traditionally started by the Lady President at 1pm.
The FRA asked for a long stretch to spread the runners out at the beginning of the race and this is accomplished along the Thornhill Trail which makes way for one of the fastest starts you’ll find to a fell race. With no chance to catch your breath, you then hit the serious climb along Paddy line and up Parkin Clough. A slight levelling off ensues running out onto the open moorland before the final ascent to the trig post at the top of Win Hill (464m). The return down is immediately very technical over rocky outcrops down the front of Win Hill before the grassy trails and paths take over. Although the trails were fast underfoot, they are twisty and with some awkward cornering, a number of stiles and odd fence to navigate, it is no easy return back through Thornhill Woods and onto the trail back to the starting point at Bamford recreation ground.
That said, 245 intrepid competitors, including three from the Harriers, set off at bang on 1pm in glorious sunny conditions.
The start was frantic with everyone jostling for position before hitting the climbs, and this was to prove really important as the tracks up the hill were mainly single file and very steep making it difficult to overtake.
Katie Walshaw, continuing her excellent season, hit the bottom of the hill placed within the top 25 and used her climbing strength well to reach the top comfortably within the top 20. Her adeptness at descending paid dividends too, overtaking several more competitors to finish a superb 13th overall in 34.38, claiming the 1st Lady prize and taking 25 seconds of the course record which had stood since 2007, a fantastic achievement!!
James Washington had another solid race finishing 49th in 39.01 and Elspeth Taylor in 210th in 56.10.
Don’t be put off by the fact this event is linked with the Sheepdog Trials, as this is another great race not far from our doorstep. It attracts a high quality field, with yesterday being no exception as no less than a dozen competitors have represented their county or country. At just £8 to enter, it’s also great value for money as you get to watch the sheepdog trials and visit the craft stalls too!!