Andy Jebb (Mens Fell Team Manager) Facebook post from 16 Oct :
‘October arrives and its senior fell relay time! Two weeks ago our open team finished a credible 9th place at Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay (HBMR) in Patterdale, Cumbria. This Saturday is the British Fell Relays, at Grasmere hosted by Ambleside AC. Our ladies will be there too, and I am really pleased we have got two young runners Reuben Mantle and Matt Merrick in the mens open team along with the experiance of Ian Holmes.
Good luck everyone!’
The men’s 9th place in 4.02.29 in the Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay (Sun 7th Oct) was brought home by :
Leg 1 (6.7km, 440m) Reuben Mantle and Andy Peace (11th, 40.00)
Leg 2 (11km, 890m) Andy Brown & Ged Callan (15th, 1.14.37)
Leg 3 (7.5km, 570m) Andy Jebb & Tom Gomersal (13th, 57.01)
Leg 4 (11km, 900m) Victoria Wilkinson & Ian Holmes (8th, 1.10.51)
The ladies team had a mix of ‘experience and new’, either to the club or to the HBMR relay but plenty of Lake District experience. A lot of ladies were not available for HBMR for one reason or another and we had had a few late team changes. I was keen to keep our place in the event, which is always oversubscribed, and give those who were available the opportunity to experience a great Lakeland relay race so a massive thank you to the ladies and supporters who made this tough event. Only 11 of the 70 teams were ladies teams so a great result to get a ladies team out.
Ruth Thackray and Eliza Findlay lead us out on Leg 1 with a fast start. The event is generally a ‘Senior’ event but a 16+ runner is allowed on Leg 1 which is less than 10k and less high and exposed than the other legs, so it was great that Eliza was able to join the team. Ruth & Eliza headed back immediately after their run to keep up with work and study commitments – thanks Ruth & Eliza for making the time.
Denise Wright and Sarah Dewhirst were on Leg 2. Denise is a regular in the Lakes, while Sarah was just back from 3 years at University in Sheffield. She had been active in athletics in general but less so in the fells; young strong legs but few recent Lakeland visits so had to dig deep on the climbs and rough descents.
Leg 3 was Mary Green and Eleanor Brown. Mary is a seasoned Lakeland visitor while Eleanor has enjoyed her first Lakeland fell races this year. Following a good recce they were confident of the route even if the rough, path free descent wasn’t Mary’s favourite.
The challenging Leg 4 was with Sally Parkin and Jo Henry. Both with Lakeland experience from walking and running – especially Sally who had been preparing for the Lakes in a Day 50mile Ultra Run. The narrow rocky ridge and strong cross wind between Fairfield and St Sunday’s Crag proved a challenge for Sally’s vertigo and Jo stepped in with ‘focus on the path and follow me’. Their navigation was spot on, despite the low cloud at times, and once climbing to St Sunday’s Crag the ridge broadens out.
The following weekend, despite her confidence knocking ‘vertigo experience’ only the week before, Sally successfully completed the Lakes In A Day 50 mile Ultra Run, in the atrocious weather conditions of Storm Callum, in under 20 hours. The LIAD Ultra Run includes several major Lakeland peaks – Blencathra, The Dodds, Helvellyn, and Fairfield. Well done Sally on your first Ultra Run.
Two weeks later on Sat 20th Oct came the British Fell Relay Championships at Grasmere. A drizzly Lakeland day with low cloud hugging the tops around Grasmere – not too cold but the huge marquee provided welcome shelter. Bingley had a Mens and a Ladies team of 6 for this 4 leg relay – with L1 and L4 solo legs, and L2 and L3 paired with the added challenge that L3 is a full navigation leg where runners only get the map after they start running. With the low cloud hiding the mountain tops there was much ‘nervous’ chatter in the marquee from all clubs about the ‘nav leg’.
Victoria Wilkinson was the Ladies L1 (8km, 730m, Seat Sandal) runner. Coming in 15th overall, out of 240+ teams and fastest Lady on the leg, Vic was pleased to have overtaken about 10 runners on the long largely grassy descent off Seat Sandal.
Anna McMillan and Vicki Merrick took over for L2 (10.8km, 850m Great Rigg, Fairfield, Grisedale Hause Gap) amongst the generally faster men’s teams. Vicki’s work on her hill climbing over the last year came to the fore as she lead Anna up the climbs while Anna, with her long distance experience and orienteering background, was more sure footed on the rough traversing and descents.
Denise Wright and Bryony Harding headed off for the L3 Navigation (D&B did ~11km, and 914m ascent around Heron Pike, Rydal Beck, Great Rigg & Little Tongue Gill) . Running together for the first time they quickly slotted together. Bryony, with her family and university orienteering background, quickly took charge navigating and was not distracted by others. Denise swallowed her natural ‘risk aversion’ and trusted as Bryony lead them off across rough terrain with no paths in low cloud with no visibility, on a compass bearing. Sometimes they would see other pairs but often they were alone. Bryony hadn’t got much hill work in over the summer so Denise, with regular Lakes activity in her legs was faster up hill, similar on the good running and Bryony faster on the descents.
I took over for Leg 4 (solo, 7km, 600m, Alcock Tarn, Heron Pike, Stone Arthur) happily, just before the cut-off. Recovering from a recent foot injury and the better part of 2 months off running and a cough, I wasn’t my first choice to be part of the team, but I had plenty of Lakeland activity in my legs and experience so a safe choice. A number of cut-off runners soon caught up on the climb to Alcock Tarn and Heron Pike, as I slogged up, chest hurting. Running off the top of Heron Pike I began to notice my injured foot and it wasn’t at its most comfortable on the sloping traverse around the head of Greenhead Gill to Stone Arthur. The first view of the descent from Stone Arthur to the finish was one of those ‘ Wow, this is going to be steep’ experiences as the fell disappeared below and the marquee and event field appeared a long way down in the valley bottom. The drizzly day meant the mostly grass & bracken descent was damp and slippy and I slithered a few times wishing I had more aggressive fell shoes on, having gone for safer shoes to protect my foot. But my descending is reasonable so I held my place.
With a fast start from Vic and the rest of us holding solid mid-field positions we were 13th (5.28.12) ladies team out of 56, and 122nd overall out of 240 teams, a fantastic result. The winning ladies team were Helm Hill in 4.43.20 and 59th overall. It was great to welcome Anna, Bryony and Denise to their first British Fell Relay team event.
The men’s team came a respectable 23rd place in 4.16.35
L1 Ged Callan (32)
L2 Ian Holmes & Matt Merrick (43)
L3 Andy Brown & Tom Gomersal (18)
L4 Reuben Mantle (48)
Pudsey & Bramley were the winning mens team in 3.43.13. Good to see a Yorkshire team out in front. Keswick men, local to the event, were leading by a good margin but got ‘lost’ on the navigation leg; it will take them a while to live that one down! Full results on http://www.sportident.co.uk/results/2018/BritishFellRelay/
HBMR pictures (by Becky Weight, sorry – not many of the men!).
HBMR 18 – Ready for Leg 1 – Andy Peace, Eliza Findlay, Reuben Mantle and Ruth Thackray
HBMR 18 – Leg 2 handover – to Andy Brown and Ged Callan
HBMR 18 – Leg 4 start. Sarah Dewhirst and Denise Wright ran down from the end of L3 at Kirkstone Pass. Sally Parkin and Jo Henry ready to go.
HBMR 18 – Leg 3 finish for Eleanor Brown and Mary Green
HBMR 18 – Finished 🙂 Sally Parkin and Jo Henry.
British Fell Relay 2018 Grasmere – Pictures by Becky Weight unless credited otherwise.
British Fell Relay 18 L1 – Final adjustments in the start pen for Vic Wilkinson
British Fell Relay 18 – L2 Vicki Merrick and Anna McMillan, and Ian Holmes & Matt Merrick on their way. Photos by John Merrick.
British Fell Relay 18 – L3 Bryony Harding and Denise Wright – Leg 3 successfully navigated and done
British Fell Relay 2018, Grasmere – Bingley Harriers supporters and runners; Barbara Carney’s camera.