> 2007 race reports
07/10/07 Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay 2007 - from David Armstrong

The Club once more entered a strong team in this year’s event, which is the only team fell racing event that takes place on true mountain terrain. After two years of strong results, culminating in our highest ever finishing position of 12th last year, we were hopeful of another good performance.

For the first time since the 10th Anniversary race in 1995, the race took place in an anticlockwise direction rather than the usual clockwise route. There was a record entry of 70 teams. With 8 runners in each team this produced 560 competitors, and so must surely have been the largest pure fell-racing event of the year.

The first leg was a leg-busting 4.5 miles incorporating 2,840 feet of ascent with our opening pair being Francis Blunt and Aengus McCullough. The route started at Sykeside Campsite in Patterdale and ascended to Dove Crag, across to Red Screes and handed over to Leg 2 at the Kirkstone Inn. With a time of 1.04.59 Francis and Aengus achieved a very creditable 17th position, and might even have finished higher had they not lost a little time taking a slightly different descent line off Red Screes than many of the teams ahead of them.

David Armstrong and Steve Birkinshaw took over for Leg 2, a 7.5 mile route of 1,980 feet of ascent over Caudale Moor, Stony Cove Pike, High Street and The Knott and ending at Hartsop. They managed to make up six places by the highest point at High Street summit, but Dexter had suffered a twisted ankle on Stony Cove Pike that slowed progress on the descent and resulted in the loss of two of the gained places and a hand over for Leg 3 in 13th place in a time of 1.06.27.

Steve and Dexter - photo: David Armstrong
Steve & Dexter set off on leg 2

The third leg is a faster leg, of 4.5 miles and 1,450 feet of ascent, from Hartsop over Angle Tarn and down to the playing fields in Patterdale. An excellent run on this leg by Dave Atkinson and David Steel continued our progress as they finished in a time of 40.53 and moved us two places higher to 11th position. This raised us to the highest position the Club has ever reached at any point on any of these relays in its 10 year history of entering.

Our anchor leg pairing was Nick Swinburn and Charlie Stead and we wondered whether such a strong pair might just lift us even higher and into the hallowed turf of the top 10. It was a tough ask, with many teams choosing their strongest pairs for this last leg, the hardest leg of the event at 7.5 miles and a whopping 3,130 feet of ascent over St. Sunday Crag, Fairfield and Hart Crag. Nick and Charlie ran superbly against tough competition to maintain our position of 11th at the finish in a leg time of 1.17.16.

Nick and Charlie - photo: David Armstrong
Nick and Charlie on the final run in

Borrowdale Fell runners won the event for the 13th consecutive occasion. 11th out of 70 teams was a record finishing position for us, beating our previous best of 12th out of 62 teams last year. This was an excellent effort for a Club that is based so far from the steep and rough terrain of Lakeland, which makes effective training for such an event so difficult, and whilst including 3 Vet runners in the team. It was a result based on great consistency and an excellent balance in the pairings with Steve and Dexter, David & Dave and Nick and Charlie all building on Aengus and Francis’ sound start by running the 11th fastest leg times of the day on each of their respective legs.

Well done to everyone. We’ll be going some to improve on that next year …… but there were a couple of our top runners unavailable this year, so who knows?

David Armstrong

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