It was like a scene from Gorillas in the Mist at this year’s BOFRA Helm Hill Race. The weather was certainly tropical, being warm and rather wet by the time the senior race got under way. To complete the scene, trees, tall bracken, foxgloves, wild sage and wide variety of calling birds made the course feel more like a rainforest than Cumbria as runners fought their way round this thigh challenging, 3 climb monster of a race. Starting near the station at Oxenholme, the race has a long, undulating, run out to the woods at the other end of The Helm. It then winds its way up, down and around The Helm, visiting the summit trig 3 times, before a long, exhilarating, down-hill run to the finish line. The wet weather was no deterrent as 88 senior runners and over 100 juniors lined up to take on the challenge of The Helm!
In what is becoming a theme for this series of races, Mercia’s Simon Bailey battled with other tough competitors around the course to romp home first in the senior race. Barlick’s Jimmy Craig was 2nd and Wharfedale Harriers’ James Hall was 3rd. The ladies race was again a familiar sight as Wharfedale’s Kirsty Hall won, with Hunter’s Bog Trotters team mates Georgia Tindley 2nd and Briony Curtis 3rd. By contrast with the senior race, the rain held off for the junior races. So, their conditions were merely warm and cloudy rather than tropical. The warmth facilitated some impressive and fast running by some determined junior fell runners.
The U17 race visits the trig once before returning the same way as the seniors, and the girls race was won by Helm Hill’s Erin Bagge, 2nd was Settle Harriers’ Emily Carpenter and 3rd was Keighley and Craven’s Alana Willis.
The U14 race was again a fierce battle between a clutch of talented runners, all of whom can win on any given day. The victor on this occasion was Wharfedale’s Alex Thompson, followed by Settle’s Thomas Marshall, 2nd, and Wharfedale team mate and brother, Will Thompson in 3rd place. The girls’ race is no less fierce and no less talented, with Ambleside’s Chloe Rylance claiming victory over Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg, 2nd and Helm Hill’s Lottie Beardwood 3rd.
The U12 boys’ race was won by Ambleside’s James Bowen, with Helm Hill’s Henry Hunter 2nd and Ambleside team mate and twin, Harry Bowen 3rd. The girls’ race was won by Broughton Runners’ Emily Swarbrick, with Clayton-le-Moors Ella Dorrington just behind her in 2nd place and Ambleside’s Sophie Rylance 3rd.
The U9 boys’ race was won by Ambleside’s Alex Graham. 2nd and 3rd boys were Helm Hill team mates Leo Ranner and Simon Rigby. The girls’ race was won by Barlick’s Lucille Pickles, whilst 2nd and 3rd girls were Keighley and Craven’s Neive Roberts and Ambleside’s Seren Green.