The British Athletics Fell and Hill Running Championships is an annual event that takes place in England, Scotland and Wales. The level of competition at the event is always high, as fell runners across the country get the chance to represent their club and run as part of a team – a rare opportunity for what is often a very individual sport.
This year is the event’s 30th year, hosted by Ambleside Athletic Club, with 250 teams of 6 runners entered. The event started in Grasmere, home of William Wordsworth with the routes for all relays legs running on the iconic fells, with big climbs and rough ground taking competitors over sections of the Bob Graham Round.
The relays take four leg format with teams of six runners. Leg 1 a Solo Leg taking in Seat Sandal. Leg 2 a bruiser of a longer leg for pairs taking in Great Rigg Man, Fairfield and a rough descent via Cofa Pike to Deepdale Hause before returning via Grisedale Hause. Leg 3, again for pairs and the navigation leg giving route choice, particularly difficult due to low cloud and poor visibility Leg 4 the final solo leg over Heron Pike via Alcock Tarn with a fast descent and slippery descent over Stone Arthur.
Newcastle AC entered four teams,
Leg 1 – Luke McMullan
Leg 2 – Seamus Lynch & Zak Hanna
Leg 3 (Nav) – David Hicks & David McNeilly
Leg 4 – David O’Flaherty
Finishing in 23 place overall, against very strong opposition
Leg 1 – Jack O’Hare
Leg 2 – John (Hen) Kelly & Pete Grant
Leg 3 (Nav) – Deon McNeilly & Eamon McCrickard
Leg 4 – Colum Campbell
Finishing 20 in their category and 81 overall.
Leg 1 – Joanne Mills
Leg 2 – Bronagh McInerney & Grace Neville
Leg 3 (Nav) – Sam McNeilly & Linda Rogan
Leg 4 – Catherine McIntosh
Finishing 30 in their category and 212 overall.
Leg 1 – PJ McCrickard
Leg 2 – Stephen Wallace & Dominic McInerney
Leg 3 (Nav) – Eugene McCann & Owen Brady
Leg 4 – Seamus White
Finishing 18 in their category and 155 overall.
All teams competed well with the navigation teams doing well not to make any mistakes in challenging conditions, unlike local favourites Keswick , who were well clear in the lead having posted the fasted times on the first two legs, their navigation team went to the wrong sheepfold possibly relying on local knowledge rather than checking the map resulting in 71 quickest time , their final leg runner again the quickest but could only pull them to 10th place overall.
Standout performance for Newcastle AC was Column Campbell, having returned to fell running after 3 years retired just to make the team finish with 49th quickest overall on the final leg, the protein shakes clearly working.
After the event the Newcastle athletes set off in search of entertainment and found a local Pub in the middle of the moors, it wasn’t long however, before a dispute over how the drinks kitty was being managed resulted on verbal exchanges upsetting the locals. Eviction to outside followed, when the drizzle started it was time to move on by taxi to the bright lights of Ambleside.
On return to the hostel Grace had found some new friends and was taking part in demonstrations of Acro-Yoga involving headstands in extreme positions. The remainder of the evening was a bit of a blur but good time was had by all, at least by those not bothered about sleeping.
All those attending thanked Sam McNeilly for going to a lot of trouble organising a great trip, James Rogan from Newcastle Coach hire for getting us home safely and the Lake District is now a place of tranquillity again now that Newcastle AC have returned home.
Contributed by Newcastle AC