Although the sun shone during the actual event, the Cumbrian micro-climate lived up to its reputation and hurled rain at the hills around Coniston for a good 24 hours before the BOFRA Coniston Gullies Fell Race. This ensured a very generous helping of running water, slippery slopes, deep mud, and deeper puddles to challenge the 59 senior and 70 junior runners braving the fell.
This race is not for the faint hearted; being a short, sharp, thigh burning 900 feet of ascent followed by a very brief summit trot before the all-important steep, scree descent. The wet conditions underfoot made this part of the race either doubly exhilarating or doubly treacherous depending on your viewpoint. In all cases it was an adrenaline soaked descent as runners battled to remain upright on the wet, near vertical terrain. The sting in the tail of this year’s race was amply provided by a deceptive slide into a very deep, very muddy, grass coated bog at the base of the fell followed by several muddy footpaths on the home straight. On this occasion, fell running lived up to its reputation as a mud-lovers’ sport with many returning covered from head to foot.
The first senior home was Jack Smith (Wharfedale Harriers) in 14.45 mins, improving on his 3rd place in 2014. 2nd man home was Jimmy Craig (Barlick Fell Runners) in 14.59 mins followed in 3rd place by Chris Edis (Keswick AC) in 15.22mins. The first lady through the finish funnel was Katherine Spurden (Keswick AC) in 18.06 mins followed by Emma Hopkinson (Wharfedale Harriers) in 19.31 mins and Hannah Russell (Helm Hill) in 19.35 mins.
The U17 race took a slightly different route, though equally challenging, route over the fell and saw Joshua Boyle (Blackburn Harriers) first over the finish line in 9.08 mins. 2nd boy home was Thomas Nelson (Wharfedale) in 9.14 mins, repeating his performance in 2014. 3rd boy was Joe Edmondson (Broughton Runners) in 19.32. 1st girl was Katherine Lawson (Helm Hill) in 11.20 mins, repeating her win of 2014. 2nd girl was Ellie Lambert (Wharfedale Harriers) in 11.59, repeating her performance from 2014. 3rd girl was Georgia Stevens (helm Hill) in 13.30 mins.
1st boy, and winner of the U14 race was Ben Edmondson (Broughton Runners) in 5.09 mins. Ben continues his excellent form in the higher age group as he won the U12 race in 2014. 2nd boy, in 5.11 mins was Robert Askew (Helm Hill) and 3rd boy was Thomas Marshall (Settle Harriers) in 5.22 mins. First U14 girl was Briony Holt (Clayton le Moors) in 5.49, repeating her win of 2014. 2nd girl was Katie Thurlow (Helm Hill) in 5.57 mins followed by Emily Jones (Wharfedale Harriers) in 6.26 mins, 3rd.
The U12 race was won by Alex Thompson (Wharfedale Harriers) in 4.14 mins with James Bowen (Ambleside) 2nd in 4.18, repeating his performance of 2014. 3rd boy home was Ambleside club-mate and twin, Harry Bowen in 4.24 mins. 1st girl was Charlotte Barrett (Wharfedale Harriers) 4.51 mins making it a double win for Wharfedale in the U12 race. 2nd girl was Emily Swarbrick (Broughton Runners) in 5.06 mins, and 3rd girl was Beth Roberts (Keighley and Craven) in 5.18 mins.
The U9 race saw a real battle of the sexes for the first 7 places. The race was won by 1st boy, Alex Graham (Broughton Runners) in 2.51 mins. 2nd boy (3rd overall) was Matti Ligema (LOC) in 3.07 mins and 3rd boy (5th place overall) was Blake Mills (Keighley and Craven) in 3.13 mins. 1st girl (2nd overall) was Bethan Saunders (Hoad Hill Runners) in 2.55 mins. 2nd girl (4th overall) was Jessica Edmondson (Broughton Runners) in 3.09 mins and 3rd girl (7th overall) was Esme Walkingshaw (Eden Runners) in 3.18 mins, repeating her position of 2014.