This week, fell running travelled North of the border to Scotland, to the Famous Alva Games in Clackmannanshire. The challenge that is the Alva Games Open Hill Race beckoned and runners from as far as the Netherlands and the USA heeded the call. A record 99 seniors and 58 juniors assembled in the show ground to compete in their various races. The senior route leaves the relative security of a flat, mown grass race track, to quickly become a near vertical course that climbs 1300 feet up through bracken, gorse, rocks and rough grass to reach the summit of Torry. The ascent might be a hand over fist crawl but the descent is pure adrenaline as the only real way to go is to slide and bounce down on your backside. Recent rain had made the grass greasy, making this the fastest and safest form of descent. Alva is unique in the BOFRA race calendar in that runners are visible throughout the whole course and the show is audible to runners for the whole of the race, and can be watched should you dare to look directly down.The first to the summit, and race winner, was Bingley Harriers’ Rob Jebb, (19.45). 2nd man to cross the finish line was Dessie Flanagan of Carnethy (21.26) and 3rd man was Helm Hill’s Alastair Dunn (21.33). 1st lady back into the show field was Ochil Hill Runners’ Sarah Wiseman (25.29), 2nd was Helm Hill’s Sharon Taylor, 1 second later and 3rd lady was Lisa Allen (Cairngorm Runners) in 28.39.
The U17 race takes in all the delights of the gorse and much of the bracken as it winds its way part way up Torry and back again. This year’s race winner was Blackburn Harriers’ Joshua Boyle (11.24). 2nd and 3rd boys were Wharfedale Harriers’ Thomas Nelson (11.34) and Robbie Johnstone (13.14). 1st girl was Keighley and Craven’s Alana Willis (20.49) and 2nd was Wharfedale’s Ellamae Gibson (21.08).
The U14 course included the gorse but little bracken before turning and returning for a second dose of prickles. 1st and 2nd boys home were Keighley and Craven brothers Joe and Louis Hudson (9.55 and 10.01). 3rd boy home was Wharfedale’s Logan Hargreaves-Madhas (10.20). 1st girl was Helm Hill’s Katie Thurlow (11.16), 2nd was Keighley and Craven’s Katie Atkinson (12.35) followed by Wharfedale’s Emily Jones, 3rd (13.27).
The mixed U12 and U9 course was the same as the U14 but run as a separate race. Here, the race winner was Kendal’s Fraser Sproul in 9.37, setting a new course record. 2nd and 3rd boys were Wharfedale duo Alexander Thompson (10.00) and Sam Smith (10.33). 1st and 2nd girls were Wharfedale team mates Alice Jones (11.51) and Charlotte Barrett (12.13). 3rd girl back was Broughton Runners’ Emily Swarbrick (12.51).