Conditions could only be described as perfect for the final race of the 2015 BOFRA season. It was a warm, fine, bright Autumn day and firm underfoot. What could be better for the battle of Wasdale to commence? Last race of the season it might be but, Wasdale Show Fell Race can only be described as a beast.
It starts pleasantly enough in the flat field next to the show ground. However, once runners have climbed the stile over the wall and out of the field, the relentless climb up Kirk Fell begins. Runners must first negotiate a rocky track before reaching the fell base. It is now a hummocky grassy ascent that only seems to get steeper the further up one progresses. There is a brief pause in the relentless climb at the point where the U12’s leave this path to complete their race. The rest continue up the steep grassy climb to the boulder marking the U14 turn. Ever upwards, racers must go, to reach the U17 turn where the terrain now changes to become scree and rocks. Scree is underfoot until the first false summit where it becomes rocky and remains like this until the real summit is reached, 2,400 feet above the start line. The summit is rather worryingly marked by a team of Mountain Rescue volunteers, cheering on runners as they now begin the descent. Should competitors so choose, the day was clear enough for some fantastic views of Western Cumbria and Scafell Pike itself.
Steep ascent equals steep descent as the race returns via the outward route to the finish funnel. If the ascent burned the calves and solidified the thighs, the descent turns legs to jelly, making the sight of the stile over the wall into the finish field both welcome and dreaded in equal measure.
However, in true fellrunning style, this deters no-one and an impressive 69 seniors and 74 juniors lined up to take on the challenge.
This year’s race had extra buzz as it was a battle between Wharfedale Harriers’ Ted Mason and Barlick Fell Runners’ Jimmy Craig for race win and the BOFRA Championship title. For the first part of the race Jimmy led the pair but Ted caught up at around the U14 turn and never looked back. Ted stormed into the finish even managing an acrobatic leap over the stile at the end, to finish 1st (36.44) and take the title. Jimmy was beaten into 4th place (39.32) by Helm Hill’s Paul Aitken 2nd (38.15) and Keswick AC’s Chris Edis 3rd (39.00).
The 1st lady was Wharfedale’s Jean Powell (53.00) making it a double win for Wharfedale seniors. Cumberland Fell Runners’ Lyndsay Buck was 2nd (54.25) and Trawden AC’s Fionnuala Swan was 3rd (54.54).
U17 race winner was Wharfedale Harriers’ and England runner Thomas Nelson (21.08). 2nd and 3rd boys were Broughton runners’ Joe Edmondson (21.33) and Helm Hill’s Jacob Aubrey (24.04). Girls’ race winner was Helm Hill’s Georgia Stevens (29.41). 2nd and 3rd girls were Keighley and Craven club mates Hannah Thom (32.38) and Alana Willis (37.05).
The U14 race was dominated by the Hudson boys of Keighley and Craven. Older brother Joe won (9.33) with Louis 2nd (9.39). 3rd boy was Broughton Runners Ben Edmondson (9.47). The girls’ race was won by Helm Hill’s Katie Thurlow (11.36). Club mate Emelia Stevens was 2nd (12.13) and 3rd girl was Ambleside’s Courtney Hutchinson (12.51).
Wharfedale’s Sam Smith won the U12 race (4.01) with club mate Alex Thompson 2nd (4.12) and Ilkley Harriers’ Lewis Carr 3rd (4.23). Wharfedale club mate Charlotte Barrett won the girls’ race (4.36). 2nd and 3rd girls were Keighley and Craven’s Beth Roberts (4.39) and Broughton Runners’ Emily Swarbrick (4.54).