British Championship Fell Relays

Better late than never, eh.  So the curtain came down on the 2017 championship hill running season in Llanberis last Sunday with Eryri Harriers putting on a spectacular show as the hosts of the British fell relays.

The club had hoped to field three strong teams however, some late cries of ‘injury’ and other ‘excuses’ meant a reshuffle of the pack and a reduced Shettleston squad making the trip to North Wales. The senior men’s team was the first to go but with some quick thinking from respective captains, agreement was reached to run strong mixed and MV40 teams.

The relay involved a solo leg 1, paired leg 2, navigation paired leg 3 and solo leg 4.  Some tough running for everyone on all legs with conditions blustery and testing underfoot.  With 176 teams entered, there were was plenty of talent from all over the UK on display.  Also made overtaking on the descents a bit of a challenge too with all runners covering the same section to the finish funnel, which quickly turned into a XC mud bath.

John Connaghan set the stall up on leg 1 for the vets team having a strong run to keep the rest of us on our toes. Kenny Richmond, being demoted back to the MV40 team after the senior team was disbanded, paired up with Jethro Lennox.  The duo didn’t mess about either, tanking round to bring the team home in 12th overall and into the lead in the MV40 category.  Our nav experts Steve Winter and Bill Breckenridge took on the challenge of leg 3 and despite getting ‘misplaced’ on occasion, they still battered round to keep the lead.  Whilst there has been some online friction regarding leg 3 route choices this week and some apparent corner cutting, at least Bill and Steve had no chance of being caught up in this controversy!  Here are the nav experts putting the hammer down.

This meant I had the ‘squeaky bum’ moment of making sure not to lose any places.  Which was fine until the race started going uphill.  Fortunately for me there was plenty of downhill to the finish and despite a cracking fall and a willingness to ‘break a leg’ for the team, I managed to hold off the chasing Calder Valley and local Eryri teams.  So all in all, the team managed 17th overall and in doing so attained a first British Championship MV40 title for Shettleston to take back up the M6.

So that was the old boys, we then had the dream mixed team on the job too.  Our recently decorated FU23 SHR champion, Myrtle Breckenridge took on leg one.  A great run from Myrtle passing on to another SHR medal winner, Shona Robertson and wild child Ryan Stewart.  This pair appeared to work well together and they passed on to the big guns, Ali McLeod and Ross Gollan who were quick enough to clock the 3rd fastest nav leg 3 of the day.  Bryony Harding, who at least got to actually run for Shettleston in this years relays, ran the anchor leg and manage to hook, line and sink the competition to take the 1st Fixed British relay title too.  A fantastic achievement for all 12 runners taking some nice ‘unique Welsh prints’ and some other booty home for their efforts.

Iain Pender who made the trip but didn’t have a team, also managed a run for an English club and it was good to see him rebelling and running in his Shettleston vest.  Susan Breckenridge was also in the travelling party but regrettably wasn’t as lucky as Iain.  Still, invaluable to have her there for morale support.

The relays were won outright by last year’s winners, Dark Peak who trounced the rest of the competition.  Mercia somehow managed to get disqualified in 2nd, meaning a surprised, but well deserved 2nd place for Edinburgh Uni, with Keswick in 3rd.  Good performances from Ochil and HBT, both finishin in the top 10 outright.

The  long delays on the way home and some plastic beds to sleep in the night before the race were, on balance, well worth the trip.  The wining teams can be see in the cover photo.  Some of the team in action below;

More details of results and pictures can be found here:

British Relay Championship results

Sport Pictures Cymru – Photos

International duties

On the continent, recently crowned MU23 Scottish hill running champion, Ross Gollan had justifiably done more than enough this season to pull on a Scottish vest again at the Trofeo Vanoni relays in Italy.  Ross, joined a stellar squad and ‘Who’s who of the Scottish racing scene’ including Robbie Simpson of Deeside, Sam Alexander of Westerlands, Andrew Douglas of Inverclyde and Gavin Bryson of Edinburgh AC.  Tom Martyn of HBT also made the trip but frustratingly missed out after he had injured himself reccing the British champs course the previous weekend.  The boys did their country and respective clubs proud finishing 3rd in a stacked field and landing them a podium finish.  The girls team also managed a fantastic 5th with some great running from the Welsh and English teams.  A special mention to our very own Malcolm Patterson as gaffer for the two Scottish teams. Ross in action and the travelling Scottish squad below.  More details here: Trofeo Vanoni

Domestic – Run of the Mill

Closer to home, six Shettleston Harriers made the trip to Alva for the Run of the Mill hill race.   Good conditions albeit a tad wet underfoot making the downhill running somewhat slippy and the uphill a bit of a trudge.  This wasn’t enough to put Robert Simpson off who took the win in a time of 1:12:41.  The win gave Rob back to back victories after winning the race in 2016.  His effort was also enough to knock Joe Symonds off as the face of Scottish Hill Racing with Rob being replaced as ‘poster boy’ on the website.

Ben Hukins of Cambuslang was 2nd.  Kenny Richmond took 4th, John Connaghan 7th, David Houston 10th and me 11th.  The old men did enough to take the beer home with a clean sweep of 1, 2, 3 in the vets.  Kevin Brydon, also a canny hill runner, made a rare appearance.  Despite sitting in the top 10 for most of the race, Kevin took an alternative route choice close to the finish, adding on some extra running.  Fortunately, the race organisers didn’t disqualify Kevin for coming across the finish line the wrong way!  It didn’t appear to phase him looking chirpy as ever, good to have him back on the hills in a club vest.

Results can be found here:  Run of the Mill results

Photos courtesy of Chris Upson and Pat Fitzpatrick can be found here:  Chris’s photos and Pat’s photos

Over the water – Garmin Mourne Skyline

Ryan Stewart, also made the trip back home on Saturday to take on the mighty Mourne Mountains Skyline race.  Shocking weather and a beast of a course couldn’t keep this man down, as can be seen below, coming home 3rd in 4:12:19.  Not hard enough though to race in a club vest.  Local lad Ian Bailey of Newcastle AC won in a time of 3:57:18.

Results here: Mourne Skyline results  

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