The setting was perfect for this year’s Ambleside Sports and Guides Fell Races. The grass in the sports arena had been perfectly mown following ample nourishment from rain over the previous few days. Even the bracken along the course of the races had been trimmed enough for runners to find their way. Lastly, the sun shone topping off a glorious British Summer’s day. It all added up to make the fell that was to be raced upon look innocent, being lush, manicured and bathed in Summer sunshine. Looks can be deceptive, however, and this set of short, sharp, chest straining races are no exception.
All races start from the centre of the arena before heading off up to Sweden Cragg, visible from the start line. Very quickly, the course steepens and rarely relents before the senior turn point at the cragg. The now tall bracken that covers the fell side deadened the breeze and intensified the sun’s heat making the day seem much hotter to those who were exerting themselves. Deep, muddy sections created by springs, obstacles including rocks and ankle wrecking deep ruts add to the fun and challenge of these races.
91 seniors and 140 juniors, aged 6 to 16, were undeterred and toed the start line in their respective races.
The senior race started with a mass tumble, causing many runners to indulge in a spot of impromptu hurdles before charging off up the fell. The finish, however, produced an element of deja vue as Helm Hill’s Mark Addison repeated his win of 2014 in exactly the same time of 13.59. 2nd place went to Borrowdale’s Oscar Meanwell nearly a minute later (14.58). 3rd man home was Wharfedale Harriers’ Ted mason, repeating his performance of 2014 (15.13). 1st lady back to the show field was Keswick AC’s Catherine Spurden (17.36). 2nd lady was Wetherby’s Caroline Lambert (18.40) with Helm Hill’s Catherine Niblock 3rd (20.28).
Bingley Harriers’ twins, Matthew and Victoria Merrick proved themselves to be versatile runners, switching between track, mountain and fell, as they both romped home 1st in the U17 boys’ and girls’ races respectively. Matthew finished in a time of 15.25 whilst sister Victoria finished in 19.27. 2nd and 3rd boys were Cumberland Fell Runners’ Joseph Dugdale (15.26) and Wharfedale Harriers Thomas Nelson (15.43). 2nd and 3rd girls were Helm Hills’ Imogen Burrow (20.17) and Ambleside’s Hannah Durkin (21.09).
The U14 race turns before the summit but is no less challenging than the U17 or senior races. Keighley and Craven brothers Joe and Louis Hudson produced a one two as Joe finished first (12.33) and Louis 2nd (12.39). 3rd place went to Eden Runners’ Sam almond (12.56). The girls’ race was won by Helm Hill’s Katie Thurlow (14.53). 2nd and 3rd girls were Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg (16.14) and Helm Hill’s Lottie Beardwood (16.49).
85 runners jostled for position on the start line in the mixed U12 and U9 race. Repeating his win of 2014, Kendal’s Fraser Sproul raced home in 1st
place (7.51) with Wharfedale club mates Alexander Thompson 2nd (8.12) and Sam Smith 3rd (8.17). Local girl, Ambleside’s Chloe Rylance repeated her win of
2014 in the girls’ race (9.10). Wharfedale girls Alice Jones and Charlotte Barrett took 2nd (9.30) and 3rd (9.44) places respectively.