The Pendle Fell Race is a short, sharp blast from the pretty Lancashire village of Barley and with the sun shining the village may never have been busier with tourists and fell runners enjoying a beautiful spring day.
The race was awarded Lancashire championship status, swelling the size (340 runners) and quality of the field and amongst the favourites was Rob Hope of Pudsey & Bramley and Ian Holmes of Bingley. Calder Valley elite runners, Tim Ellis and Shaun Godsman, both residing in Lancashire, and thereby eligible for the Lancashire champs, also fancied their chances of a race win.
The race starts on Barley New Road and the first mile is run uphill on a road/lane before veering left onto the open fell and continuing to climb for almost another mile. With the summit on the horizon the route suddenly drops 300 ft to the bottom of the ‘Big End’ leaving an almost vertical 500 ft climb to the Trig point. It’s hands on knees now and even the fittest fell runner will struggle to run this climb. From the Trig point there’s two miles of the best downhill running to the finish.
In a close finish Rob Hope took first place and being a Lancashire counter also the Lancashire champs gold medal. Ian Holmes, looking back to his best after injury, was second just 8 seconds later, with Darren Kay, another Pudsey & Bramley athlete, in third 15 seconds behind Ian.
In the Calder Valley elite battle, experience triumphed over youth with Shaun showing young Tim that he’s not quite top dog at Calder yet! Shaun managed sixth place overall and but was just beaten out of the prizes by Chris Birchall of Leeds. Shaun, the Todmorden fireman, was rewarded with a Lancashire champs vet40 gold medal and a bronze medal in the overall Lancashire champs. Keeping it in the family, Sharon Godsman claimed vet40 bronze in the Lancashire champs.
The ladies race winner was Victoria Wilkinson of Bingley in 14th overall and possibly the performance of the day. Under 18 running sensation, Annabel Mason of Wakefield was second, 17th overall, with Helen Glover of Keighley third.
Team prizes were won by Rossendale men and Burnden ladies.