Darren West pushes on despite the conditions! (Photo courtesy of David Owen)
The wettest December in living memory has wreaked devastation on the North of England and our area has also suffered, the awful conditions meant that the local race calendar was under threat and the Chevin Chase was no exception. As it was, the race went ahead but it was a challenge just getting there – the River Wharfe burst its banks at key crossing points between Harrogate and Otley, meaning several Harriers just couldn’t safely make the journey, moreover those that did only just made it in time! Anyhow, a large contingent from the club still made it and what a run it was: The rain had been bucketing it down for hours and the course was awash, even the road section at the start had a river running down it. As you’d expect, things got a bit interesting as the course progressed off-road and the track leading down to East Chevin Road was hugely eroded and caught out many runners, simply due to the depth of water and rutted surface. It was a bit dodgy, perhaps that’s why the Brownlee brothers (very sensibly) didn’t make their customary appearance.
Anyhow, I think everyone enjoyed the race despite the entertaining conditions -and it has to be said, Harrogate Harriers had some very good results: Chris Miller had a superb run to finish third overall in 41:36, just 4 seconds behind Phil Tedd (Thames Hare & Hounds) who took second. The race was won by John Franklin (Serpentine RC) in 40:39. Other standout results were from Nathan Smith (49:45) and Darren West (51:15). The ladies didn’t do too badly either, Helen Price was second LV45 (57:59), Sarah Gill second LV50 (1:00:25) and Julie Patmore third LV50 (1:00:44). Results
Ian Rowbotham giving it everything ….
Harrogate did pretty well in the 2014 UKA Fell Relays, so it was a bit disappointing that the 2015 event had a limited entry (just 140 teams) meaning no Mixed or V50 categories. Nonetheless, we were lucky enough to have both an Open and V40 team accepted in the ballot, though it’s slightly ironic that our V40 team (Ben Grant, Martyn Price, Nick Andralojc, Steve Fry, Phil Mason, Ian Rowbotham) are all over 50 and it’s possible that we had the highest combined age of any of the competing clubs! This year Clayton-le-Moors Harriers were the host club and course, that meant one thing: Pendle Hill. Home of the fearsome “Tour of Pendle”, this particular lump of Lancashire is a proper epicentre of fell running and many a runner has been reduced to tears on its steep and unforgiving slopes – a great location for a championship event! All the big clubs were out in force and flying up and down the fell at ridiculous speeds, however we didn’t too badly, our Open Team (Chris Miller, Barry McGuire, John Young, David Fountain, Jonty Bright, Jake Turnbull) posting a very respectable 4:06:31 and 37th overall. This was a great result for the club, both our teams fielding runners who were feeling well below par and should really have been at home with a mug of hot lemon – proper esprit de corps in action! Results – UKA Fell Relays 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 – 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.