After over a year away it was a great feeling to be back at a large scale running event. Tebay on the edge of the Lake District was the venue and Helm Hill runners the hosts for the end of season battle with hill running clubs from around the country. What was possibly a club record of 4 teams of 6 runners each headed down the M6 to join in the fun. Here’s how they got on….

Women’s team by Myrtle Breckenridge

It was an impressive day of hill racing for Shett’s Women’s team who just missed out on a top-10 spot, placing 11th in the women’s open team category. This was a particularly notable achievement since it’s been 5 years since we last got a team together! On leg 1, Kathryn Pennel got the squad off to an excellent start. Up and off the hill toward the changeover zone in 20th position (45:48). Next up were Ruth Stanley and orienteering pro Bryony McLeod to tackle the nav leg, and they were certainly up for the challenge! The pair found all 6 checkpoints smoothly all whilst gaining ground on several teams to clock a split time of 1:27 which would be 11th fastest of the day. Taking on the longest route of the race were Ruth Joss and Jessica Brydon who were well matched to finish this 10km leg in 1:35 (9th fastest pair) and again pushing the team further up the leader board. And finally, Myrtle Breckenridge brought the team home safely on the short and steep final leg (42:24).

Jessica Brydon and Ruth Joss enjoying the gentle going on leg 3 before the climbing started

Mens A team by Mat Sullivan

Leading off for Mens A was in form Iain Pender.  It is questionable whether a woolly hat belongs anywhere near the head of a runner on Leg 1 of the fell relays but it seemed to work for Iain who ran a solid leg that gave his team a good start and enough of a scent of their prey for the legs to follow.  Next up were Joe Symonds and Tom Owens on Leg 2.  Tom had been heard voicing concerns regarding the navigation on the journey south; as it transpired, they might have hoped for a more challenging course to stand a chance of making up a few more places but they ran a strong leg, Tom on “3 Peaks legs” from the previous week, to bring the team into the halfway point in 15th overall.

Leg 3, and a sterling effort from Robert Simpson and Harry Pulham who had brought the team into the top 10 by the time they’d finished.  Some were incredulous to see the dibber entrusted to Robert again given his previous record but on this occasion said dibber was well looked after and made it safely to the change-over.  A fine run from Harry too on his relay debut for the club.  They handed over to Matthew Sullivan running the anchor leg. Despite being taught a harsh lesson in uphill running by the last leg runner from Edinburgh Uni, Matthew brought the team home in 9th place overall.

A solid if unspectacular outing and plenty of work to do over the winter months ahead to compete with a formidable-looking Carnethy in 2022. (ed – Carnethy mens team won the race – becoming the first Scottish team to win on English soil. Shettleston won the race in 2010 in Fife)

Joe Symonds and Tom Owens after a solid leg 2

Mens B team by Bill Breckenridge

Even before the Men’s B team lined up at the start they suffered an early blow, losing one of their top seeds to the men’s A! Sadly, the diva like behaviour of the A-team is nothing new. They have made a habit in recent years of unashamedly stealing the fastest runners from other teams to paper over their own cracks. Despite this setback the abundant-lustre B-team, riddled with virgin relay-debutants, put in a faultless performance from start to finish. Matty low set the standard on leg 1 storming home into a dog free change-over zone in 81st place. Next up on the navigation leg was the fresh faced Luis Eisen and the considerably less fresh Bill Breckenridge. Despite the age gap the Anglo German combo came up trumps, keeping the B team in contention for something as 3 leg runners Ross Cruickshanks and Kevin Brydon took over the dibber. The lads were as sharp as their haircuts suggested, carving through the field to lift the team even further into contention and release the B teams secret weapon Alex Clarkson on the final leg. It is symbolic of this courageous B team that they were willing to risk everything by selecting the inexperienced but crucially ’in form’ debutant. Despite the pressure of running anchor leg, not to mention wearing the blue and gold for the first time, the result was never in doubt as Alex crossed the finish line in 51st place overall. Outstanding effort all round!

Kevin Brydon and Ross Cruickshanks heading onto the hill on leg 3

M40 team report by Chris Pantrey

After a few obligatory tweaks to the team, Shetts Vets Aging Gracefully had Mark Thistlethwaite lined up on the start for leg one in his first FRA Relay. It was up the road, under the M6 and into the cloud for the only leg west of the motorway. It was great to see the characteristic hill-running sight of a string of runners heading up the first ascent from the event field and disappearing into the cloud. But they were soon out of it and back to the changeover with Mark setting a solid start in 47th place and handing over to Kenny Richmond and Chris Grant-Pantrey for the Run of the Navigators. This leg route is not published prior to the event and a map is shoved in your hand a few hundred metres into the leg. Then is find the best line between check points. Not too difficult with so many people about and no cloud and Kenny and Chris were back after about an hour but not without a few tumbles (spot the Shetts at

We were in 21st place and 1st Male Veteran Team ahead of our local rivals, Carnethy. It was over to John Conaghan and Steve Winter for the longest leg with some brutal climbs and descents. Calder Valley and Carnethy vets had pulled ahead of us. A returning from injury Jethro Lennox dug in for the final shorter leg but still with some rough terrain chasing Carnethy and bringing us into a final position of 23rd. But we’d held onto 3rd vet place and were all pleased with our bronze place in a time of 03:36:00. It was great to be enjoying what felt like a normal race including cake stall and beer van.

Bronze M40 medalists – John Conaghan, Mark Thistlewaite, Chris Pantrey, Steve Winter, Kenny Richmond (also holding Jethro’s medal who had already headed back up the M6)

Full results available here


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