It is said that the beauty of the English climate is that it is never the same for two days running. That is certainly true when comparing any given day from one year to the next!
Last year’s Coniston Gullies race was more akin to a tour through Mordor than a short fell race. Where one expected grassy mounds, there were child eating bogs and puddles deep enough to accommodate Dr Foster on his trip to Gloucester.
This year, by total contrast, the grassy mounds had returned, Mordor was banished and Dr Foster was nowhere to be seen. It was a glorious Cumbrian Spring Bank Holiday Sunday.
The sun shone, the ground was dry and firm and the spectacular screes that form such a prominent feature of the descent to this race were dry and traversable. All races commence on a relatively flat track before turning right onto the fell proper. The juniors climb, near vertically, to their turn points and complete a short loop before descending the equally steep fell side to the finish funnel. The seniors continue up the near vertical fell side, over rocks and boulders, to the top of Yew Pike. For the ascent, it is not necessarily running speed that governs who is first to the top but sheer thigh power and lung strength. Runners are then treated to a short recovery section on relatively flat moor land before commencing the steep, adrenaline fuelled, scree descent. It is not for the faint hearted as good scree descent involves a type of fell skiing, unique to this sport.
This year 68 intrepid seniors and 86 junior runners lined up on the start line to brave this short but; very technical fell race.
Senior race winner was Mercia’s Simon Bailey (13.58), followed by Barlick Fell Runners’ Jimmy Craig (14.40) and Keswick’s Chris Edis in 3rd place (15.08). First lady off the scree and home was Wharfedale Harriers’ Kirsty Hall (18.07). 2nd and 3rd ladies were Helm Hill’s Katherine Lawson (19.46) and Pudsey and Bramley’s Rachel Pilling (20.08)
The U17 race follows a different route and climbs up Mouldry Bank to Rascal How and back. This year, Ambleside’s Joe Edmondson won the race (9.07) followed by Helm Hill’s Jacob Aubrey (9.16) and Ambleside’s Luke Bowen (10.00) in 3rd place.
1st girl was Clayton le Moors Briony Holt (11.56)), with Wharfedale’s Emily Jones 2nd (13.49) and Helm Hill’s Katie Russell, 3rd (14.57).
The U14 race was won by Joe’s younger brother, Ben Edmondson (6.52). 2nd and 3rd boys were Wharfedale’s Alexander Thompson (7.01) and Settle Harriers’ Thomas Marshall (7.06).
First girl was Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg (8.10), followed by Wharfedale’s Alice Jones (8.14) and 3rd girl home was Helm Hill’s Lottie Beardwood (8.27).
The U12 race boys’ podium was a repeat of the Sedbergh race with 1st place going to Ambleside’s James Bowen (5.02), 2nd to Helm Hill’s Henry Hunter (5.12) and 3rd to Ambleside team mate and twin, Harry Bowen (5.21).
1st girl was Broughton Runners’ Emily Swarbrick (6.12). 2nd girl was Keighley and Craven’s Beth Roberts (6.14) and 3rd girl was Hoad Hill’s Bethan Saunders (6.24)
The U9 race was won by Ambleside’s Alex Graham (3.34). 2nd was Mercia’s Oliver Bailey (3.37) and 3rd boy was Ambleside’s Rowan Ashworth 3.44). The first girl home was
Pudsey and Bramley’s Annie Wilkinson (4.38). 2nd and 3rd girls were Ambleside’s Seren Green (5.13) and possibly the most intrepid and cheerful U9 runner: Keighley and Craven’s Betsy Willis (5.13).