It was a case of what you know, rather than who you know that was crucial at this year’s Burnsall Fell race. This short, sharp, lung-buster of a race runs over approximately 1.5 miles and 800ft of ascent. It starts as it means to go on as the start line is at the bottom of a not too insignificant first climb. Once through the first field gate all runners are treated to a relatively flat run, by comparison, over more fields and across a minor road. Runners must then negotiate the first bog, pass the U9 and U12 turns before crossing the wall. The wall marks the U14 turn and is reached across yet another boggy area. Once over the wall, the senior and U17 runners have now reached the fell proper. Once on the fell, the route is flagged past two cairns to the summit. The first cairn marks the U17 turn but senior runners must continue to the second cairn and their turn point. From here it is what you know that counts. Runners can take any route they choose back to the finish line. However, given the heather coated and rocky nature of the fell, this task is more easily said than done. From the start field, spectators can see what appears to be a best line through the heather but, in reality, it is a deep, rutted path that is difficult and time consuming to negotiate safely. Legend tells of “best lines” through the heather and rocks but few actually know where they are.
Undeterred by the tricky nature of the race, 72 senior racers and 119 eager junior runners lined up in the sunshine to test their skill and stamina over this challenging course.
This year’s senior winner, Jimmy Craig of Barlick Fell Runners, demonstrated the importance of valuable insider knowledge as he chose the best line across the fell to finish in 14.44 mins. He was closely followed on his line from the summit by the 2nd and 3rd men; Keswick AC’s Carl Bell (14.50) and Wharfedale Harriers’ Jonny Bradshaw (15.41). No other runners chose this line, preferring instead to take more vertical routes down the fell.
1st lady was Keswick’s Jenn Mattinson (20.39). 2nd and 3rd ladies were Wharfedale’s Jean Powell (20.55) and Trawden AC’s Fionnuala Swan (21.07)
The U17 race is slightly shorter than the senior race but retains the interesting ingredient of being flagged only as far as the summit. So these older juniors have the added thrill of finding their own way back to the finish line. Wharfedale’s Thomas Nelson was 1st back (11.21) with Broughton runners Joe Edmondson 2nd (11.43) and Helm Hill’s Jacob Aubrey 3rd. (12.25). 1st girl was Bingley Harriers’ Eliza Findlay (15.18) followed by Helm Hill’s Georgia Stevens (15.49) and Bingley’s Lucy Miller, 3rd (16.23).
The U14 race was won by Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson (7.16). 2nd and 3rd boys were Broughton Runners’ Ben Edmondson (7.25) and Joe’s brother Louis (7.37). 1st girl was Clayton-le-Moors Briony Holt (8.23). 2nd and 3rd girls were Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg (8.36) and Wharfedale’s Emily Jones (8.41).
U12 race winner was Kendal’s Fraser Sproul (5.23), marking his 8th win in 8 races. 2nd and 3rd boys were Wharfedale’s Sam Smith (5.31) and Clayton-le-Moors Jackson McKay (5.41). 1st girl was Wharfedale’s Alice Jones (6.06). 2nd and 3rd girls were Hoad hill’s Olesia Winder (6.17) and Wharfedale team mate Charlotte Barrett (6.25).
The U9 race was won by Broughton Runners’ Alex Graham (2.58). 2nd and 3rd boys were Keighley and Craven’s James Sadler-Townsend (2.58) and Trawden’s William Rowlands-Whiteoak (3.04). 1st girl was Hoad Hill’s Bethan Saunders (3.07). 2nd and 3rd girls were Wharfedale’s Helena Roberts (3.09) and Broughton’s Jessica Edmondson (3.18)