HOLMFIRTH Harrier Helen Berry remains third in the English Fell Running Championship thanks to a seventh place in a heat-sapping Loughbrigg and Silver Howe Chase at Ambleside.
Lying in bronze medal position after the previous three championship races, Helen was keen to maximise the points and retain her position.
With 8.5 miles and 2,530 feet of ascent, the race is a category ‘A’ medium event and the second medium counter in the series.
The course is an out and back, with the summit of Loughrigg being visited twice – once on the route out to Silver Howe and once on the return – before taking a slight detour of the return route to visit the final checkpoint at Lily Tarn.
In previous years the men and women have set off together, but due to the size of the field a decision was made to have separate starts to avoid any bottle necks.
The race is considered tough at the best of times, but with the heat and without having the leading men to follow, there were many anxious female athletes on the start line!
Berry ran well in the first half of the race, keeping within the leading group of six and well ahead of the other 71 runners until the return journey, when a nasty fall and cramp meant that she lost some time and sight of the leading group.
The winner of the ladies race was last year’s English Champion Lauren Jeska, of Todmorden, who was not aware of her win until she re-entered Rothay Park.
The two leading runners, both from the Calder Valley club, had taken a wrong turn to the final checkpoint and ended up in fourth and fifth place.
There were no such navigational problems in the men’s race.
However, the race proved interesting when the men on their run out to Silver Howe had to pass the women making their return.
The organisers had tried to avoid the inevitable by separating the starts, but with only 30 minutes between them, it was not enough to prevent a clash on the narrower paths.
All three representatives from Holmfirth were well placed in a field of 179 finishers.
Bill Stewart, who is now based up in Cumbria, had an excellent run in 29th place.
Tom Brunt struggled in the humidity and by his own admission did not enjoy or perform well in the race, finishing in 45th position. Andy Hauser continues to do well within his age category, finishing third V55 and an impressive 65th overall. These valuable points mean that Andy is leading the V55 English Championship to date and with just two races to go he is well placed to be in a medal position.
The next English Championship race is at Whittle Pike on 30th July, though before then Holmfirth Harriers will be hosting their own fell race at Holme Moss on 17th July.
Results (Holmfirth unless otherwise stated): Ladies’ race; 1st Lauren Jeska (Todmorden) 1:27:38, 7th Helen Berry 1:33.57. Men’s race; 1st Ian Holmes (Bingley) 1:08:20, 29th Bill Stewart 1:16:35, 45th Tom Brunt 1:19:00, 65th and 3rd V55 Andy Hauser 1:23:49.