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