Sat 19 Oct 2019, Derwent Valley, Peak District
This year Preston Harriers were only able to get a single team into the Championship as there is now a great demand for one of the 250 places available and a pre-selection process is applied. The event was hosted by Dark Peak Fell Runners at the foot of the Upper Derwent reservoir and on arrival at the start/finish area, participants were blown away by the spectacular Upper Derwent reservoir dam wall cascading water down noisily.
The race set off a few minutes early, with Steve Bamber taking the charge for Preston Harriers on the solo leg of 7.8km with 360m of climb. Steve had a great run and finished strongly for the team despite taking a nasty tumble on the insanely steep and muddy final descent through the woods – leaving him with a nasty gash on his leg and a limp after the race. Steve came in in 55mins37sec in 140th place out of the 244 teams that started. Next up were John Griffiths and Roger Taylor on a 12.8km leg with 600m of climb run as a pair. They took 1hr40min and came 180th, leaving Mick McLaughlin and Jim Doherty a bit of making up to do on the navigation leg. Mick and Jim completed their leg in 2hrs06mins, coming 163rd, and clawing back a few positions in the race. Setting off in the mass start for the 7.8km final leg with 375m of climb just before Mick and Jim had returned, Gordon Thompson was the perfect gentleman and allowed all the ladies in the queue to start ahead of him for the tough pull up a near vertical embankment. 1hr11mins later Gordon entered the finish field in a blur of colour, taking the final turn at such speed that his body could not keep up with his legs as he rolled head over heels towards the waiting spectators, bringing the team home in 166th place.