Ben Takes World Masters Crown!

September 23, 2015


Ben powers to the finish …. (courtesy of Woodentops)

Ben Grant has put the finishing touch to a fantastic season by taking the MV65 Winner’s Crown at the recent World Masters Mountain Running championships, this year held on home turf in Betws-y-Coed.  Of course, Ben is no stranger to these championships; eleven years back he showed his class by winning the MV55 title in Sauze d’Oulx and since then has competed on a number of occasions, finishing 2nd in the 2013 event held in the Czech Republic.  He has been running really well this year – evidenced by his FRA English Championship win – and going into the World championships had to be favourite.    The course differed from the usual European formula insomuch as it featured some hefty descents (the World Masters are frequently uphill only) and in fact this race had a full 1450ft of climb – and that’s a lot in just 5.5 miles.  Ben’s fell-running experience was going to be the decisive factor.

Ben recce’d the course well in advance and in fact travelled down to Wales on the preceding Thursday in order to go over the route carefully, by the time of the race he had been round it no less than four times!  It rained heavily the night before the race and of course, British fell runners are used to wet, slippy conditions so he had good reason to be optimistic and elected to wear fell shoes for the race.  Right from the off it was hard work, his main Italian and German rivals pulling away on the first climbs.  Ben bided his time though, conserving his energy and catching up with them on the first long level section.  Coming in to the first serious descent, it was the old adage of “brain off, brakes off!” and they just didn’t stand a chance of keeping up with a man who honed his descending skills on the Lakeland Fells.  He held the lead over the next big climbs and coming in to the final hard and slippy descent, had a decent lead on them.   It must have been a hell of a descent, because Ben did that last mile in 5.02, further increasing his lead to cross the finish line in 43.43,  a full 42 seconds in front of the Italian Franco Valle (44.25) and then the German Reinhart Vogler (44.47) This was a fantastic result and showcased Ben as one of the world’s best off-road runners in his age group today.  Well done from all of us Ben, absolutely outstanding stuff!

Link to WMRC website and official results.

The Leeds City A.C. Winning Team (Daniel Oxtoby Photograpy)

The Leeds City A.C. Winning Team – L-R Mike Burrett, Tesfaye Debele & Jonathan Wills
(Daniel Oxtoby Photograpy)

The annual Harrogate Town Centre 10K proved to be a fantastic occasion with over 622 runners crossing the finish line in Crescent Gardens.  We enjoyed superb conditions for racing, a very light breeze and not too hot, it was always destined to be a good one.  And what a day it turned out for Leeds City A.C. – they dispatched a formidable team and claimed the first three places and with it the overall mens’ team prize.  First across the line in a superb 31:28 was Tesfaye Debele, followed by Jonathan Wills in 32:20.  Harrogate local Mike Burrett was third in 32:41.

The ladies race was claimed by Wetherby’s Pauline Munroe in a speedy 36:51 and 12th place overall, while last year’s winner Sharon Barlow finished second in 37:51.  Charlotte Wills of Leeds City A.C. added to their overall haul by taking third spot in 38:07.

First Harrogate Harrier across the line was MV65 Ben Grant in a stunning 38:10, this result places Ben at the top of the UK rankings for his age group, over a minute ahead of his nearest rival.  This is some achievement and confirms what we’ve known for years – Ben is a seriously talented runner!

Pictures from the race are available on the Harrogate Harriers Flickr page courtesy of Daniel Oxtoby Photography and are free to download.  If you enjoy the pictures, please consider making a donation to our supported charity Bowel Cancer UK via Dan’s Just Giving web page.  The 2015 race was held in memory of one of our founding members, Ken Fozard, who sadly passed away late last year as a result of this terrible disease.

Electronic chip timing was provided by our friends at Sports Entry Solutions.  Results here.

A Brilliant Bob

June 3, 2015

Helen celebrates success at the Moot Hall!

Helen celebrates success at the Moot Hall!

We’ve got used to Helen Price achieving some pretty spectacular results in ultra-distance events over the past few years – her fantastic runs at last year’s Lakeland 50 and Grand Tour of Skiddaw being good examples – but she has really come up with the goods this time:  Since late last year Helen has been training hard in order to make an attempt on the notorious Bob Graham Round, a circuit of 42 Lake District Mountains that you have to complete within 24 hours, starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick’s Town Square.   Does that sound easy?  It’s not.  The route covers around 66 miles of steep, rocky and difficult terrain, with a cumulative ascent of over 27,000ft –  that’s about the same as climbing Everest from sea level and it’s phenomenally tough.  For those that succeed, membership of the elite Bob Graham 24-hour Club awaits.

Helen made her attempt on Friday 22nd May, leaving Keswick at 7.00pm.  She was supported by a team of over 25 fell runners, drawn from a variety of clubs and with strong representation from Harrogate Harriers and Nidd Valley Runners.  Very fortunately, she had a perfect weather window and was able to make great progress overnight, in fact by the time she came off Leg 2 (the bulk of the Helvellyn range) she was over 30 minutes ahead of schedule and it was clear that she meant business.

Helen on the West Wall Traverse onto Scafell

Helen on the West Wall Traverse onto Scafell

Leg 3 was dealt with in less than 6 hours and at Wasdale she was joined by husband Martyn who would navigate Leg 4 and aim to keep the pace moving along.  As is common, by this point Helen was struggling to take on food and the phenomenal effort required was beginning to take its toll, however she continued to gain time on her schedule – climbing Yewbarrow in a very fast 42 minutes –  and along the way picked up some support from legendary fell runner Steve Birkinshaw.  By the time she was on the fifth and final leg, everyone knew she was on for a fast time and she was joined by a whole posse of friends and supporters for the final push home, not least of whom was Harriers Chairman Tony Essex.

She came off the final mountain (Robinson) looking very strong, all that stood between her and success was the final five-mile road section to Keswick.  A quick change into road shoes and she was off, realising very quickly that if she could maintain a decent pace a rare sub-22hr BGR was on the cards.  A huge effort followed and she reached the famous green door of the Moot Hall at 4.51pm precisely, meaning she had completed the Bob Graham Round in an awesome 21.51, the fastest “new” female round of the last three years.

This was an amazing achievement  – well done Helen.

Ros Moore at Melmerby

Ros Moore at Melmerby

We’re now quite a few races into our season and the Club Championship is going well, we currently have no less that 129 members on the championship table!   We had a great turnout at the last Evening League event (Dragons), Shaun Winstanley –  making a welcome return to racing – was first Harrier across the line and 14th overall, with Nathan Smith not far behind.  Our ladies did pretty well too, Emma Robinson was 1st lady overall with Lorraine Mitchell taking second place.  Can’t argue with that, excellent work!

It was also the Melmerby 10K last Sunday, with lots of club members present: Barry McGuire was first Harrier over the line in 34:29 and 6th place overall, while Adam Prentis put in a fine 39:33 to take the second club spot and 3rd MV50.  This means that Adam now heads the championship table with 147 points, Simon Watson and Nathan Smith follow with 130 and 120 points respectively.  Wendy Marks leads the ladies with 87 points, Ros Moore and Sarah Gill follow with 84 and 69 points each.

Club Championship table