Ladies' winning team at the cross country relays, Esther Harrison, Bronwyn Mayo and Clare Rowntree
Photo Kim Wilkinson
A busy week, and a fitting end to the cross country season, saw the annual relay event at South Park, Darlington, hosted by Darlington Harriers on Sunday, on a day with the early arrival of April sunshine and showers! The club entered 5 teams, and a great atmosphere built up, especially as the club's ladies won the team event with an aggregate time of 38.40. The team of Esther Harrison, Bronwyn Mayo and Clare Rowntree have all finished in high places throughout the season so it was just reward for them to win. The team of Kim Wilkinson, Denise Gandy and Beth Haggath were in 10th place and Trish Radford, Sharon Keegan and Rosie Gatenby were 11th. In the men's event, which requires teams of 4, Gary Wilkinson, Joe Joyce, Richard Grant and Paul Peacock were in 8th place and Hugh Jenyns, Geoff Bullock, Stuart Hill and Simon Spence were 15th, coming in to rousing support from their fellow team mates! Thanks, as ever, to Sid Rudd, for recording and tallying all the runners.
Members at the cross country relays
Photo – Joe Joyce
The day before, Saturday, was wet most of the day for the Hardmoors 55 race, entered by club members Lindsey Collins and Duncan Fothergill, with the race beginning at Guisborough and ending at Helmsley, by way of Roseberry Topping, Kildale, Osmotherley and the White Horse, much of it along the Cleveland Way. Rain and a total of 7500 feet of ascent made for tough going and Duncan was well out of his comfort zone, especially having lost a close friend just a day or two before. He did the run in Ben's memory, and was happy to finish in 14hours 43 minutes on his first attempt at such a race. For Lindsey on the other hand, it was her 4th time, one of them being virtual during the covid years. This was her fastest, by 9 minutes, and she took 12 hours 31 minutes – many congratulations to both of you on such a huge achievement!
Lindsey Collins and Duncan Fothergill cheerful after their Hardmoors 55
Photo – Lorraine Hiles
The previous weekend, when conditions were fine and sunny, saw the fourth running of the Bilsdale Fell Race, a stand alone race and not part of a series owing to its arduous nature, 23k and 1300 metres of ascent, with no markings and self navigation of the 10 checkpoints needed. Although it was warm and sunny, it wasn't without mud and water owing to rain over previous days. 116 runners started from Seave Green with a long uphill across the moors to Round Hill with magnificent views before a downhill of Hasty Bank then more “undulations” before a sharp descent to the Kirby Scout hut at Toft Hill. A brutal section followed with a direct, pathless, ascent to Falconer's Seat and then a vicious climb, often involving hands and feet, before the route falls away steeply taking in a mud slide and waterfall in a direct line down to below Lordstones. More climbing followed with a short section of road on Carlton Bank, then hands and feet again up to the old glider station on the moor. It's still not over as a hidden checkpoint has to be visited on the high moor before crossing over to Scugdale via Barker's Crags then back up to Barker's Ridge, Green Howe, Cock Howe and a final steep descent to finish at Chop Gate Village Hall.
Of the 105 finishers, Trudy Morrice was once again first Harrier back, 65th, and 1st F50, in 3.23.49, with Marc Davies 72nd in 3.30.19, Alan Simpson 76th in 3.33.33, Kim Wilkinson 78th in 3.34.52, Anna Whitham 85th in 3.49.27. Pedro Carrasco was 109th but wasn't given a time as he inadvertently missed out a checkpoint – after all that! The ladies' team finished 3rd, continuing their excellent form. A creme egg was the reward for all runners!
The course record was smashed by Harry Holmes of Matlock, who knocked an amazing 11 minutes off the existing record, and many thanks are due to the marshals manning the checkpoints for long hours, sometimes on remote moorland, without whom the race would not be able to take place. Thanks also to Marc Davies for giving me the race details.
(How would anyone even consider putting themselves through the last two events??? Not me, certainly!)