Organisers of last weekend’s Ennerdale race, the third in the English Fell Running Championship, were forced to amend the 21 mile/7500 feet route to a 21 mile/4500 feet circuit. That was to avoid exposed ridges threatened by lightening strikes.
Runners met under a gathering storm with torrential rain and high winds forecast.
Calder Valley’s legendary Karl Gray still brought thunder to the new route. His lightening pace was too much for the likes of former champions Rob Jebb and Morgan Donnelly.
In a field full of the UK’s classiest fell runners, Gray was always in contention over the low col to Crummock Water and Buttermere.
As the race climbed 1100 feet over Scarth Gap, he pushed three-times British champion Jebb into third place, pursuing Rob Hope down to what is probably England’s most remote youth hostel, Black Sail in Ennerdale.
The Jebb-Gray–Hope battle continued on the 1100 feet climb to just below Green Gable, after which they skirted below the summits of Great Gable and Kirk Fell and then dropped back down to the youth hostel. The top three were locked in a sprint finish along an eight mile run-in along Ennerdale valley bottom and although Gray was chasing Hope down he couldn’t quite overtake him and finished only 12 seconds behind to take a memorable 2nd place.
A host of Calder runners followed Gray, led by Tim Ellis, Ian Symington, Johny Helliwell, Bill Johnson, Garry Traviss and John Minta.
Helen Buchan bravely completed with a gashed shin after falling on rocky path.