Harriers out in force on the fells!
Last Saturday saw an impressive thirteen Rochdale Harriers brave Storm Erik to complete the local nine mile Windy Hill fell race. A favourable tailwind helped runners on the tough climb up the Roman Road to the medieval Aiggen Stone, but a turn onto the moors towards Blackstone Edge saw runners having to battle against a powerful side wind, gusting up to 70km/h. The tricky conditions meant that a couple of Harriers sustained falls on the rocky sections, but were able to dust themselves off and carry on running.
After reaching Blackstone Edge a pleasant run down following the Pennine Way over the moorland paving stones took runners to the second motorway bridge over the busy M62, which was somewhat interesting with the gusty crosswind to contend with. A short climb up to the transmitter marked the summit of Windy Hill.
First Harrier home and continuing his impressive run of form was Alex Frost in a time of 1:15:49 – a superb course personal best by over five minutes. Next to cross the line in a time of 1:21:24 was John Bramwell, marking a strong comeback after injury. Only eight seconds behind John was Nick Walsh, who having fallen earlier in the race finished in 1:21:32. Again very little separated the next two Harriers to finish – Mark Walker finished in a time of 1:23:13 with Ladies Captain Jill Barton just behind him, first lady back for Rochdale in a time of 1:23:22 (2ndLV45). Stephen Leak crossed the line shortly afterwards in 1:24:20. Stephanie Harrison once again demonstrated her excellent fell running calibre, to finish just seconds behind Stephen in a time of 1:24:33.
Jeff McCarthy made a welcome return to racing to finish in a time of 1:31:55, with Norman Eames finishing next in a time of 1:34:14 (2nd V70). On the post-injury comeback trail, next to cross the line was John Mayall in 1:34:28. Less than a minute later Colette Cooke showed her fell running mettle, crossing the line in a time of 1:35:18 in spite of having a couple of nasty falls along the route. Craig Wellens was next to finish in a time of 1:41:31 with Karen Conduit completing the race in 1:59:52, finishing as 2ndLV60.
The ladies in particular had a strong race, to finish second overall ladies team (Jill Barton, Stephanie Harrison and Colette Cooke).
The week before Windy Hill fell race, three Harriers travelled to Old Town above Hebden Bridge to take part in the gruelling Wadsworth Trog fell race, in superb snowy conditions. A 20 mile looping route involving navigation and 3650ft of ascent, the race is semi-affectionately nicknamed ‘The Beast’.
The route takes runners over the spectacular moors above Hebden Bridge and Pecketwell, over Cock Hill to Bronte country. Runners have to ‘dib in’ at several checkpoints along the route, one checkpoint being the iconic Top Withins ruin, of Wuthering Heights fame. After dropping down to Walshaw, yet another climb saw runners summit Shackleton Knoll before dropping down to another iconic landmark at Lumb Hole Falls. Runners pass a plaque commemorating the local late poet laureate Ted Hughes who wrote a poem titled ‘Six Young Men’ which was inspired by a photograph taken at Lumb Hole Falls just before the First World War.
All three Harriers managed to tame ‘The Beast’ and all finished within seven minutes of each other. First home for Rochdale again was Alex Frost in an impressive time of 3:49:51. John Bramwell and Jill Barton spent much of the race in fairly close proximity, with John having the stronger finish over the last few miles to complete the race in a time of 3:54:10. Jill crossed the line in a course personal best time of 3:56:20 in spite of taking a slightly wrong turn in the latter stage of the race, taking over twenty minutes off her previous time.
(c) Ricky Parrish
The Run The Moors fell racing championship starts next month with Wolfs Pit fell race. A strong contingent from Rochdale are hoping to take part, with Windy Hill demonstrating the breadth of Rochdale’s fell running talent. Good luck Harriers!