On Saturday 19th October, 12 Settle Harriers made the 2 hour-plus journey to Fairholmes in the Peak District and joined approximately 250 other teams for the British Fell Relay Championships. Aiming to cut down on carbon emissions around the race-site, competitors parked 6 miles from the start and boarded a shuttle bus. The whole day, hosted by Dark Peak Fell Runners, was impeccably organised and those in charge couldn’t have done a better job. The back-drop to the hand-over/start area was stunning; the imposing Derwent Dam was accompanied by the forest and craggy hills of the National Park.
The courses were over rugged terrain, with large parts of the courses off-path and over thick heather. A few bogs and steep sections were dotted about the courses, very much making it a proper fell race and one which would take everything out of our legs.
The relay consisted of 4 legs: a solo 5 mile leg with 360m climb; a mapped 7.5 mile leg with 480m of climb (2 runners); an orienteering route of 7 miles and approx. 550m climb (2 runners) and finally another solo leg of 5 miles and 375m climb.
First off for us was Matt Holroyd of the Men’s team and Catherine Speakman of the Mixed team. Both runners placed their teams in great positions for the following legs, with Matt picking off several runners on the descent before finishing 73rd and Catherine moving through the runners to come back 189th.
Our duos for the 2nd leg were Matt Fretwell and Matt Cardus (Men’s team), and Richard Timms and Sam Allsopp (Mixed team). Both teams moved up a lot of places on this leg, as Matt and Matt had the 41st fastest lap time and Sam and Richard had the 127th.
Leg 3 was the most challenging leg of them all, as the runners were only given a map of their route a few minutes before setting off. In addition, this map was not the most straight-forward of maps, and therefore tested their orienteering skills greatly! Martin Holroyd and Zach Jennings had a cracking run as they propelled the Men’s team into the top 40, with a 48th fastest time of 1:34:45. Carol Evans and Sharon McDonald also had a great run, finishing 206th on their leg.
Several hours after the start of the relay, leg 4 runners eventually set off on their route. For the Men’s team, I moved us up into 34th and 27th Open Men’s team with the 59th fastest leg time and John Osborne propelled the Mixed team several places up into 168th and 18th Mixed team as he registered the 105th fastest time for leg 4.
Both teams had a stellar performance, but more importantly, everyone had an amazing time and the great fell running atmosphere was not lost in the competitiveness of this race.
Report by Sebastian Segger-Staveley