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Clough Head & Great Dodd Fell Race

Sat 15 May 2021, Threlkeld, near Keswick On Saturday the 15th of May 2021, the two Lake District mountains – Clough Head and Great Dodd- welcomed fell runners from all over the North of the country at a friendly but rather competitive race organised by Kong Racing of Keswick. The race was approximately 9 miles long with nearly 3000 ft of elevation. Seven Preston Harriers fell runners were thrilled to finally take part in a proper mountain race after such a long time of lockdown. Nervous but excited, the runners set off from the Threlkeld quarry. Fortunately, the weather was very kind, despite the predicted 50% chance of rain, and the race participants were treated to the spells of sunshine.

The runners had three different routes to choose from to ascend Clough Head’s summit. The majority of runners chose the Bob Graham’s straightforward path up Clough Head, providing steep, steady ascent. Olga Wiggins, being slower than other runners, was given an opportunity to start a little bit earlier than the rest of the runners (the overall time was chipped, so the time was measured fairly). She commented, “The fastest runners caught up with me just before the first summit. I’ve always wanted to be able to see the fast people running up, it was amazing to watch them charging up the steep ascent where I was nearly crawling up on my hands and knees.”

Olga was first caught up by the first Harrier finisher Alistair Palmer, whose overall time was 1:19:16. Only last weekend young Alistair competed in the Windermere ultra race, covering 46 miles of fell and finishing 7th overall. Alistair was followed by Eleanor Davis, only 5 seconds apart. Eleanor was the 5th lady overall (1:19:21). Eleanor, who made a staggering marathon record of 2:33:24 in 2019 precovid, is keen on conquering and enjoying more fells.

Rob Mitchell was third Harrier. He completed the race with a big smile on his face. His time was 1:26:10. Rob was followed by vet 50 John Griffiths, whose amazing effort let him reach an overall time of 1:30:36. David Parkington was the next Harrier finisher. Dave chose the steepest way up. However, despite not being happy with his initial route choice, he managed to complete the race within an impressive 1 hour 37 minutes and 58 seconds. Craig Walker also enjoyed racing the stunning mountains of the Lake District. His race time was 1:38:36. Craig and his girlfriend decided to make a weekend out of the race in the Lake District by visiting relatives in Windermere and enjoying a nice pint or two in a country pub. Olga Wiggins was the last Harrier finisher. She loved racing on the fells again and having an opportunity to run amongst the best mountain runners in the country. She explained, “This is why I love fell running. Everyone is very friendly and down to earth, this sport is not elitist – the highest level mountain runners can run in the same race as average amateur runners like me all taking part in what they love best – freedom of the fells!

Michael Mcloughlin and John Rainford, fellow Preston Harriers fell runners, were injured at the time of the race, but they still came to Keswick to support their team mates and to cheer them on, which was a great boost of the team spirit as well as a cheeky pint at White Horse pub (just at the foot of Blencathra) after the race.

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