The Ben Nevis Race has been run every year since 1951 with the exception of 1980, that year the elements won and the race was cancelled. The record times for both men and women have stood since 1984 when Kenny Stuart and Pauline Stuart (nee Haworth) respectively recorded 1h 25m 34s and 1h 43m 25s. The Ben exercises a hold over runners and for those completing 21 runs a coveted Connochie Plaque is awarded.
This years’ race saw the restricted field of 600 runners gathering at the race headquarters of Fort William Football Club in very changeable weather. One minute it was rain, the next sunshine, fortunately the wind was gentle and a mere 15mph was expected at the summit. Just before 1pm with the sun shining brightly the runners followed the pipers around the field to the start line. The first mile is along a tarmac road before the route heads out onto the mountain with a runnable 2 mile climb. At this point is Red Burn, the first checkpoint and a fairly tight cut off point of 1 hour. With the sun still bearing down many runners took a quick sip from the Burn before heading up the steepest section of the race. This time it’s hands on knees or the ground and make as much progress as possible. After another mile and half of scrambling towards the summit the gradient eases and the last few hundred yards are runnable again. The summit cut off is two hours and then it’s about turn and descend as fast and as safely as possible. Even with all the sunshine the ground was slippy due to heavy overnight rain and plenty of runners came a cropper on the treacherous descent.
In the race, Finlay Wild, of local club, Lochaber, was firmly in control and well on his way to a fourth consecutive victory. Angela Mudge of Edinburgh based club, Carnethy, also had a commanding lead over the next lady. Andy Fleet of Oldham, and running for Calder Valley was having the race of his life and had shadowed regular top ten finisher, Sam Watson of Wharfedale, all the way to the summit. 48 year old, fell running legend, Ian Holmes of Bingley was showing most of the younger lads how to run this race as he descended at break neck pace in fifth place but Ian needed to make sure he finished though as he was due to collect his Connochie Plaque later that evening along with two others.
Finlay and Angela went on to win their race in times of 1h 30m 6 s and 1 h 52m 37s respectively, with Angela finishing in 31st place overall. Second man home was under 23 runner Sam Tosh of Rossendale making his Ben Nevis debut in a time of 1h 37 m 27s. Sam was regularly heard asking “Did he go that way”, and with a bit more experience he may be a future race winner. Just over a minute later Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters was third man home with a delighted Ian Holmes finishing fourth. Andy took a bad tumble just before the road section but wasn’t going to let this rob him of his fantastic achievement and made it to the finish line in tenth in 1h 42 m 3 s, one of the fastest ever times by a Calder Valley runner and a well earned bronze medal (8 bronze medals awarded to top ten finishers). Diane Baum of Lochaber was second lady in 2h 2m 57s with clubmate, Sarah Mackenzie third in 2h 5m 19s.
Other Calder Valley runners: Toby Cotterill 2h 6m 11s, Stephen Smithies 2h 8m 16s, Trevor Murgatroyd 2h 34 m, Linda Murgatroyd 2h 39m, Nicky Bolton 2h 40m 8s, Blair Garrett 2h 44m 52s
Yorkshire half and Full off road marathons: Half 15 miles: Full 26.2 miles
Ben Mounsey, El Capitano of CVFR managed to successfully defend his half Yorkshireman title and win the race for a 6th time so he was very pleased. He finished in a decent time of 1:41:04 and held the lead for the whole race which began with a trademark sprint start.
The weather and conditions were excellent but unfortunately he was nowhere near the record of 1:36 he set in 2009! (he’s eating too many pies these days haha) It was however his first race for 3 months so not a bad comeback.
In the full race Martin Huddlestone and Kevin ‘Usain’ Holt also successfully defended the title they won last year in the full marathon paired event in a time of 3:47:07 just winning by 10 seconds!!!!! Ian Symington had a fantastic run as a solo taking 3rd place in a time of 3:24:44