Sat 4 May 2019, Coniston
The third instalment of the Harriers fell championship took place on Saturday 5th May in Coniston. It is a very popular race and has been since its inception in 1982. At just short of 8 miles with approx. 3,300ft of climb, it is a tough AM category fell race. The conditions were favourable this year, mainly dry and very clear- so navigation was not an issue; but with a cold and at times strong northerly breeze, organisers insisted on full kit. 10 Harriers were among over 300 starters, including Harrier debutant Richard Warburton. Unfortunately, Richard had to pull out of the race early on with knee trouble.
The prolonged climb from the village up to Wetherlam soon had people warming up with several shedding layers, including fell running legend and race record holder Ian Holmes. He said he had arrived at the race on his motorbike and felt cold prior to starting. After the prolonged climb to Wetherlam, the race then traverses over to Swirl How, up and over Coniston Old Man and, after an initially tricky descent off the summit, it’s a fast, leg-pummelling return to the village far below.
John Rainford had the run of the day being 1st Harrier and 6th in his age group out of 33 in a quality field. His time was 1:33:15, a minute clear of Andy Harrison in 1:34:14 and 2nd Harrier. Dave Parkington was next in with 1:37:08 closely followed by John Griffiths 6 secs later. 1:41:45 was Tony Livesey’s time but strangely he was listed as a Coniston runner……..hands off I say. Colin Shuttleworth was next in 1:42:29 and 2nd in his category out of 20 ! Roger Taylor and Mick (Mac) Mcloughlin were next in with times of 1:46:07 and 2:10:25 respectively. Special mention is due to Vicky Sherrington, lone lady Harrier who, despite a few doubts prior to the start turned in a fine run and was in contact with Mick Mac until the final descent when Mick pulled away. She is getting stronger with each race and in a time of 2:14:23 was almost an hour ahead of the last of 312 finishers.
At the sharp end, the race was dominated by the oldies-multiple fell champions Rob Jebb V40 and Ian Holmes V50. Despite being well behind at the summit, ace descender Holmes pulled back time on Jebby but ultimately he fell short by 8 seconds. Rob Jebb, his former Bingley clubmate, held on to win in 1:13:11. His partner Sharon Taylor was first lady home in 1:29:03. They both now run for Helm Hill. Post race refreshments were sought in the Sun Inn by a jovial, if tired group of harriers and friends.