National Fell Relays 2014

October 17, 2014

Sally Houghton in Full Descent Mode! (John Leech Photography)

Sally Houghton in Full Descent Mode!
(John Leech Photography)

This was a big day for Harrogate Harriers: Somewhat incredibly, we managed to field three full teams for the National Fell Relays, a fact that reflects how popular the off-road discipline has become in the club. This year’s relays were held in and around Middleton Fell, this is a little-known corner of Eastern Cumbria and it proved to be a superb venue, matched by outstanding organisation from the hosting clubs of Dallam R.C. and Howgill Harriers.  We had teams in the Open, V50 (Mens) and Mixed categories against what can only be termed formidable opposition; All the big fell clubs (Dark PeakCalder Valley, Borrowdale etc)  had multiple entries and counted current and former British champions among their number, so we knew it was not going to be easy!  Each team had six members and there were four legs to run, legs 1 and 4 were both of about 5 miles and ran individually, while legs 2 and 3 were 8.5 miles and 7 miles respectively and ran as pairs.  Leg 3 was the navigation leg and competitors did not get maps or route instructions until they were approximately 400 meters into the race.  Things kicked off with a mass start and the 2014 British Champion Rob Hope (Pudsey & Bramley) showed his class by taking the field apart and easily coming into transition in first place, however Dark Peak showed just what a force they are by taking the lead during the navigation leg and with that the 2014 Relays Title.  Somewhat controversially, Calder Valley and Borrowdale Mens’ V40 teams came home in second and third places but were awarded the V40 1st/2nd prizes while Mercia and Wharfedale were credited with second and third place overall.  Apparently those are the rules.

So how did the Harriers contingent do?  Pretty well as it happens :-)  Our Open Team lads ran their hearts out to come home in a very creditable 41st place overall, a great result out of the 217 teams that entered and to be truthful, they would have probably been a good bit further up the order if Knights in Shining Armour John Young and Barry McGuire hadn’t stopped for a few minutes to assist a couple of totally lost damsels in distress.   These poor ladies were from a club from “Down South” (Cheshire actually, but that’s South isn’t it?) and John and Barry quite properly stopped to direct the poor girls back on to the proper line while other more ruthless runners charged past.  Ten out of Ten for chivalry lads!

Ros Moore Working Hard on Leg 1 .... (Dave Woodhead)

Ros Moore Working Hard on the Leg 1 Climb ….
(Dave Woodhead)

Our V50 team were less fortunate and suffered a devastating blow when Paul Render (on leg 2 with Brian Miller) was forced to retire with a nasty calf injury before reaching CP1 on Eskholme Pike, meaning that those on legs 3 and 4 had to partake in mass starts and would not have been in contention for a place.  So how about the Mixed Team?  Well, it’s a story worth telling:  Ros Moore  did superbly to hang on and pass the baton to Martyn and Helen Price who were running leg 2.  They used all the experience at their disposal to pull back a lot of places on the long descent down to Wrestle Gill and navigated straight to a cleverly concealed checkpoint, while other teams overshot and had to contour back around the tricky terrain at the foot of the hill – there’s a lot to be said for studying the map carefully!  David Fountain and Nick Andralojc charged off on the navigation leg and put in a phenomenally strong performance, going straight to each CP with no problem and handing over to Sally Houghton who was on leg 4.  Sally went out there – in deteriorating conditions – and simply buried herself to bring the Mixed Team home in THIRD PLACE overall.  I hope she remembers the entire Harriers contingent yelling and cheering her in at the finish, she really did us proud.  According to the Compere (who was fantastic) we were the rowdiest club on the day and I think this is something to be proud of, quite apart from some great running from everyone who took part.

So well done to all concerned, but particular thanks to club fell running POC Helen Price for all her work and organisation, thanks also to chairman Tony Essex who travelled up to Middleton to support and stoically endured some pretty nasty weather in order to support our teams.   Next year’s relays will be held in Scotland and Harrogate Harriers  will again be entering teams  – watch this space!!

Harrogate Harriers A (Open) – Andy Grant, Chris Miller, Chris Gibbins, John Young, Barry McGuire, Jake Turnbull

Harrogate Harriers B (V50) – Ben Grant, Brian Miller, Paul Render, Harry Dowdell, Simon Watson, Ian Rowbotham

Harrogate Harriers C (Mixed) – Ros Moore, Martyn Price, Helen Price, David Fountain, Nick Andralojc, Sally Houghton


PlusNet Yorkshire Marathon

October 12, 2014

Simon Childs in full flight at York .....

Simon Childs in full flight at York …..

The second running of the PlusNet Yorkshire Marathon was an unqualified success and it looks like this event will now become a permanent fixture on the local race calendar – A total prize pot of £12,000 was up for grabs and first across the finish line was Boniface Kongin, from Kenya, in a time of 2:13:59 – just 28 seconds slower than last year’s inaugural winner.   Harrogate Harriers despatched a good contingent of runners to make our mark and of course we didn’t disappoint:  Tim Broomfield was the first Harrier across the line, running a fine, evenly-paced effort to finish in 3:25:32, however Simon Childs – running his first road marathon – finished in a slightly faster chip time of 3:25:18 and of course not far behind Tim, an excellent effort.  Our first lady was Nicola Gray in 4:12:15, I suspect that this might also have been her first marathon so well done to her!

Tim reports that getting to the race start was very well organised and that the route goes through the City Centre and past the Minster, before going onwards to Sand Hutton, Stamford Bridge and Osbaldwick.  It seems to be very well supported with water every three miles and energy drink/gel points enroute.  And of course, it’s very flat thereabouts so it lends itself to fast running – there are actually two out-and-back sections that impact on the course a little, but for a city marathon that’s expected.   The only complaint that Tim has is in regard to the T-Shirt – apparently it’s got a “bit too much pink in it”.  I know what he means.

For some it was their first marathon and the experience was a good one.  Edward Hardcastle ran a great race to dip under the 4-hour barrier and complete in 3:52:03.  He has taken the trouble to write an account of his race, please find it at the following link – well done Edward!


Ben working hard at the Langdale (Grand Day Out Photography)

Ben working hard at the Langdale Horseshoe
(Grand Day Out Photography)

In recent years you would have been lucky to see a single Harriers vest at any of the big Lake District fell races, however off-road running is becoming more and more popular within the club and it’s perhaps no surprise that there was a strong Harrogate showing for the last of the season’s Lakeland Classic fell races, the Langdale Horseshoe.  This famous event starts at the head of Great Langdale and follows a  very tough 13-mile route (with an eye-popping 5,000ft of climb) up Stickle Ghyll and around Stickle Tarn before crossing the notoriously boggy Martcrag Moor and a long climb up past Angle Tarn to Esk Hause Shelter, then onwards to the mighty Bowfell and the tortuous Crinkle Crags and Wainwright’s “Bad Step”.  As if this wasn’t enough, this is followed by a further long climb to the summit of Pike O’Blisco before a frantic descent back down to Langdale!

Seven Harrogate Harriers made the journey to Cumbria and represented the club very well, despite difficult, slippy conditions that resulted in several serious accidents and three seperate Mountain Rescue call-outs:  Our fell-running mentor and 2014 MV65 English FRA champion Ben Grant celebrated a terrific return to form with a superb time of 2:52:06, easily taking  the category win.  Good performances also from Steve Fry, David Fountain, Phil Birch, Martyn Price and Tim Palmer.   Our only lady entrant was Helen Price and she continued her recent good form with a course PB of 3:18:40 and 3rd LV40 – an excellent result in a very strong field.  Well done to all!


Andy Grant leads at the Wetherby 10K ....

Andy Grant leads at the Wetherby 10K ….

Andy Grant has been on a rich vein of form this season and he reaped the rewards of his hard work with a superb win at the Wetherby 10K, coming home nearly a minute in front of the 2nd-placed runner in 32.49.  This was a fantastic result and reinforces his position as one of the most capable (and fastest) MV40 runners in the area.  There were good results from other club members too, the pick of the bunch coming from Ed Beecher who recorded an excellent 36:09 to finish in 16th place overall and 1st MU20 in front of Rob Etherington of Wetherby Runners.  Our first lady was Sarah Gill in 44:50 (not far behind husband Mike), followed by Ros Moore in 45:36

There really was a huge turnout from the club for this race, probably the biggest of the year so far – an incredible 36 Harrogate Harriers took part in the race, much to the delight of Wetherby’s race director!  Looking at the results, I suspect very strongly that there must have been a few PBs among them but don’t know which – please get in touch with me on if this was the race of your life and I will be sure to mention it here.  Well done to all!