It was a grey, drizzly day but the fluorescent green of Settle shone loud and proud with no less than three teams in fell running’s big day out – the British Hill and Fell Relay Championships at Grasmere.

We fielded a men’s open, ladies’ open and mixed team in the 2018 edition, hosted brilliantly by Ambleside AC on challenging, classic fell routes in testing conditions, with runners barely out of the clag all day.

Pudsey and Bramley were the well-deserved victors after an exciting day’s racing. Nobody would have bet against Keswick when Carl Bell and Mark Lamb led them home on leg 2 with more than a minute in hand, but a disastrous nav leg proved that going walkabout can happen to anyone. Ladies champions were Helm Hill.

Our men’s team of Mark Rogerson, John Murfin, Tom Hare, Alex Pilkington, Paul Lambert and Thomas Marshall finished 55th in a combined time of 4.42. Settle Mixed, represented by Jill Gates, Rachel A-F, Carmel Ramwell, Simon Oxley, John Oz and Matt Holroyd, clinched 178th in 6 hours with the ladies – Judy Marshall, Hester Cox, Becky Howard, Carol Evans, Kirsten Angus and Jess Bagnall – just 13 minutes behind them in 202nd.

Leg 1 took the runners up to Grisedale Hause then the summit of Seat Sandal before a fast and furious descent back to the Grasmere event centre in a four mile, 2,500ft blast. The slippery conditions showed their bite early on with the next to penultimate field soon earning a reputation as the place to take pictures and videos (there’s a good one on FB called Descending – the Good, the Bad and the Bloke From Horwich, which is fast going viral).

Our runners tackled it brilliantly. Judy took a tumble near the finish which dislodged her dibber and luckily another runner handed it in, but anyone following events live online may have seen a ‘dnf’ appearing for our ladies team early on. Not so! The results were amended pretty quickly – panic over!

Leg 2, seven miles and 2,800ft, was for pairs. It was tough, gnarly and very skiddy taking competitors up to Fairfield, Cofa Pike, Grisedale Hause and back down Tongue Gill. Dubbed the event’s Queen Stage, it was a thorough test of ascending and descending skills which our pairs relished. All of them gained places on this leg.

The nav leg was mainly off-piste and featured bracken, eye-wateringly steep slopes and lots of rocks. Kirsten describes how it went for her and Carol:

A late substitution saw me joining speedy Carol on leg 3, the navigational leg, eeeek! Now, I love an adventure, but I described my navigational skills as ‘rusty’. Alex, Martin and Simon came to the rescue with some quick compass refreshing skills and tips, and away Carol and I went maps and compasses in hands.  We followed the masses and gill to CP1 before we headed further upwards into the clag (the weather was not being helpful). A couple of errors, and a bit of luck and we happened upon the fence crossing (we were looking for a wall) and down to the sheepfold at CP2.  A runnable section on an actual path up to CP3 was quite enjoyable before a calf and gluteal burning ascent in a crawling position towards Great Rigg. Back in the clag and trying to figure out the best descent line to Tongue Gill, actually took a bearing here, yey! Got it roughly right as we descended through a rock strewn fell covered in bracken, it wasn’t exactly quick. Then a quick up and over Great Tongue to CP4. Next, a quicker descent with fellow pairs back down to the finishing field, which was by now very slippy, and producing some interesting running styles and techniques, before being cheered home by the Settle team. And of course, we loved it, what an experience, testing our navigation and we did ourselves proud. It was a grand lakes day out and a pleasure to run with Carol and Settle as always. The whole event was great to be part of with around 240 teams, wow! I’m looking forward to the next relay.

And so to the anchors. Leg 4, for solos, allowed teams to field 16-18 year olds while all the other legs had minimum ages of 18. Settle made full use of this by allowing our talented youngsters, Thomas Marshall and Matt Holroyd to step up to senior competition. Both lads, plus Jess for the girls, smashed it over the four miles and 2000ft trip over Stone Arthur, with what many described as a ridiculously steep, exhilaratingly fantastic descent.

As always, a thoroughly enjoyable day out (for the supporters as well as the runners). A chance to catch up with friends from other clubs, bond with team mates and generally celebrate our wonderful sport. Credit to Ambleside for a slick, well organised event with what were universally acknowledged as excellent courses. Well done to all the runners and a huge thank you to team managers Carol Evans and Roger Laycock for a job well done.

Anyone interested in running next year, it’s being hosted by Dark Peak and the intention will be to try for three teams again. Do let Carol and Roger know if you’re interested!

Words – Julia Murfin, Kirsten Angus
Pics – Settle Harriers (various)

Last Sunday saw the Settle Harriers take part in the Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay. Starting and finishing in Patterdale this tough 36km course is split into four legs taking in Angletarn Pikes, High Street, Stony Cove Pike, Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag and St Sunday Crag. Teams are made up of four pairs each running a leg. The event is heavliy oversubscribed so is essentially an ‘invitational’. We were fortunate enough to get a team in the Mixed category, four women and four men. The weather was thankfully fine although there was a bitter wind which had us wrapped up warm until our starts.

Leg 1 was run by Judy Marshall and Rachel Avison Fell. 140 runners thundering down the playing fields at the start made for an impressive sight and we caught a glimpse of green vests among the horde. Craig, Rachel’s other half, had been press-ganged into bus driver duties so Josh Westward and myself jumped in his van and were whisked off to the start of Leg 2 at Hartsop.

A scene of great excitement as runners from different teams came in to cheers and encouragement. We soon saw Judy and Rachel sprinting down the track to the changeover. Grabbing the ‘dibber’ that acted as baton, Josh and I started the long haul up to Knott and High Street. We held a good pace on the climb and overtook several pairs as we approached the check point at the summit. A previously reccied line around Thornthwaite Crag and down to Threshwaite mouth gained us a few more places. After hitting the checkpoint at Caudale Moor tarn Josh found an extra gear and I struggled to hold on as we flew down the hill towards Kirkstone Pass. Team Settle was in full voice as we crossed the road to hand over to Leg 3 runners Carol Evans and Becky Howard.

Carol and Becky looked strong as they powered their way up Red Screes and we watched them for a while on their ascent. Craig had collected Leg 4 runners John Murfin and Tom Hare on his travels and we headed off down the road to Sykeside. After an amusing incident involving sports tape and maltloaf we made out way to the start of the final leg. Runners were spread out now and it was an anxious wait before the sight of green vests appeared from the woods. Carol and Becky handed over to John and Tom and they set off back up the fell.

The rest of the team were ferried back to the start at Patterdale where we were able to have tea and cake (and buy new shoes!) and wait for our runners to come in. The first few Mixed teams had been announced over the loudspeaker so it was a case of ‘any minute now’ before we were met with the sight of Tom and John hammering down the finishing straight.

Settle Harriers finished 41st overall out of 70 teams and 7th out of 14 mixed teams. A good result at this prestigious event. Well done to all the runners and support team!

Leg 1 – Judy Marshall, Rachel Avison Fell
Leg 2 – Mark Wildsmith, Josh Westwood
Leg 3 – Carol Evans, Becky Howard
Leg 4 – John Murfin, Tom Hare

Support crew – Craig Avison Fell
Mascot – Joy

Jessica in action at Curly Wurly’s

Well done to the 10 juniors that took part in the “Rat Runs” near Haworth on Sunday 7th October.  Conditions were good – cold but sunny and we had some excellent performances in the junior races followed by a lot of chocolate eating thanks to the generous goody bags !

This was the last fixture in our 2018 Junior Club Championships.  Prizes will be awarded in late November and the overall scores will be secret until then !

The Settle Harriers results are as below followed by some photos.

Settle Harriers Results from Curly Wurly Rat Runs

Under 9s        
6 Carl Sanderson BU9 02:57 5th U9 Boy
23 Mabel Whitaker GU9 03:38 6th U9 Girl
24 Franacesca Bagot GU9 03:39 7th U9 Girl
Under 11s        
23 Jack Sanderson BU11 07:21 5th U11 Boy
61 Lucy Bagot GU11 08:47 6th U11 Girl
83 Jessica Oakey GU11 09:36 14th U11 Girl
Under 13s        
53 Martha Rigby GU13 08:17 6th U13 Girl
56 Ned Whitaker BU13 08:33 19th U13 Boy
Under 17s        
11 Emily Crossley GU17 17:30 4th U17 Girl
12 Sim Rigby GU17 18:05 5th U17 Girl