Flower Scar Fell Race - 7th March - English Champs
Having originated from Lancashire, only extreme circumstance shall see me voluntarily quest forth onto the rival turf of Yorkshire. So, on the morning of the 7th March, with fellow Moorland runner David Bethell and couple of strong Leek fell runners in tow, we bravely ventured northwards to do battle once more.
That occasion was the Flower Scar Fell Race in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. This opening counter to the FRA English Fell Running Championship, fought over a tough 9km course with over 430 metres of ascent, is a real eye-opener to the quality of runners out there and true wake up call early on into the fell running season. The men's field of nearly 330 runners, set off at 12.30 with a quick circuit around Centre Vale Park to spread the field out before heading up through narrow trail paths, tight gates and occasional squeeze gaps. Soon the moors opened to see (for the runners further down the running order) a long snake of runners questing at a heave for the high point of Flower Scar Hill. The following fast descent came as a short respite, for as soon as your breath is caught the route rose again through ancient mud and stone paths to an almost equal high point before descending back to the start.
The men's race was won by a good margin by ex Staffordshire Moorland runner Simon Bailey, followed by Rob Hope and Morgan Donnelly. Our own David Bethell, returning from a bad bout of bronchitus, fought for a well earned 151st with myself also recuperating from a case of man flu in 222nd. Fellow car shares, and my henchmen for my border crossing, Gareth Briggs and Robin Hope battled to 64th and 192nd respectively.
As for the ladies, this was won with a blinding effort and a lead of over a minute and a half by Ambleside's Annie Conway over fellow club runner Sarah McCarmack. Staffordshire Moorlands was represented by an ever improving and psyched Rebecca Neill who not only finished 33rd out of a field of 150 ladies, but also took 4th place in the Under 23 class. Fantastic effort!
All in all a great day was had. The event was brilliantly organised by Todmorden Harriers, with great marshalling all around the route and start and finish areas – cheers guys and gals! And we all escaped unscathed – pheow!!
Next skirmish, Stretton Six Summits in Shropshire, 9th May.
Clockwise, Martin Dearden, David Bethell and Rebecca Neill doing Flower Scar.