The torrential rain, high winds and accompanying thunder and lightening the previous evening had the desirable effect of softening the ground for the 2015 Kirkby-in-Furness Gala fell race. The additional water also gave the boggy parts of the course that extra squelch factor and foot cooling properties loved by fell runners on hot days. Add into the mix a good helping of fences and mixed terrain including heather and tarmac, and we have a good, challenging, 4.3 mile romp around the fells of South Western Cumbria. The weather on the day of the race was a complete contrast as the sun shone and light breeze kept the 58 senior and 74 junior runners cool as they raced around their various routes. All races began and ended with a run around the gala field with age dependent distances up over the fells.
The senior race was won for a 5th time by Ted Mason (Wharfedale Harriers) in a time of 31.59, gaining another entry on the winners’ board held at Kirkby and, repeating his win of 2014. 2nd man home was fellow Wharfedaler, Jack Smith (32.16). 3rd man was Calder Valley’s Joe Washington (35.01). 1st lady round the gala field was Wharfedale’s Jean Powell (46.14), earning a second entry on the Kirkby winners’ board. 2nd lady was Clayton-le-Moors’ Wendy Dodds (46.26) followed by Fionnuala Swann (Trawden Runners) in 46.57.
The U17 race went to the top of the first hill, and back, and was won by Blackburn Harriers’ Joshua Boyle (18.16). 2nd boy was Chris Richards (Helm Hill) in 18.37. 3rd boy through the finish funnel was Wharfedale’s Thomas Nelson (19.24). The U17 girls race was a Helm Hill 1, 2, 3 as Imogen Burrow (20.55), Katherine Lawson (24.03), and Georgia Stevens (24.51) all appeared in the gala field in succession.
The U14 race leaves the gala field and heads out part way up the first hill before returning the same way. This year it was won by Eden Runners’ Sam Almond (14.59). 2nd boy was Wharfedale’s Logan Hargreaves-Madhas (15.16) and 3rd boy was Broughton Runners’ Ben Edmondson (15.26). The first U14 girl to finish was Clayton-le-Moors Briony Holt (16.39). 2nd girl was Helm Hill’s Katie Thurlow (16.45) followed by Keighley and Craven’s Katie Atkinson (17.38).
The U12’s had the pleasure of not climbing over any walls or fences as their race turned at the first wall on the hillside. Wharfedale Harriers produced the race winner, Alexander Thompson (8.44) and 2nd boy, Sam Smith (8.58) with 3rd boy being Ilkley Harriers Lewis Carr (9.37). All 3 then ran back up the fell together to cheer on other runners. The 1st girl across the finish line was Keighley and Craven’s Beth Roberts (10.08), followed by Wharfedale’s Charlotte Barrett (10.23) and Eden Runners’ Martha Richards, hot on her heels, one second later in 3rd place.
The U9 race is slightly different as it doesn’t leave the Gala field. Instead, 2 large laps of the field are run, separating the fit from the very fit. Following a now established trend this season, the boys didn’t have it all their own way as the first 3 girls finished before the 3rd boy. Race winner was Broughton Runners’ Alex Graham (2.43). 2nd boy (3rd overall) was Settle Harriers’ Rio Egner (2.49). 3rd boy (6th overall) was Keighley and Craven’s Blake Mills (2.52). 1st girl, and 2nd overall, was Beth Saunders of Hoad Hill Harriers (2.47). 2nd and 3rd girls (4th and 5th overall) were Helm Hill’s Tara Allan (2.50) and Broughton Runners’ Jessica Edmondson 1 second later.