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Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay

Sun 6 October 2019, Patterdale A report by John Griffiths After a year’s absence due to an admin mix-up, Preston Harriers fielded a team in the 33rd running of the HBMR. It is a true fell relay – definitely not one for novices. It includes near vertical climbs and very steep, technical descents, and some ridge running is required as well as navigational ability.

Mick McLoughlin drove Roger Taylor and me up to Patterdale where the event starts and, for the rest of the day, ferried runners to and fro, took pictures and generally supported the team. We are indebted to him it made my day so much easier as team captain.

After registering the team, we met up with leg 1 runners John Rainford and Dave Parkington and issued their slate coasters (memento), team numbers and electronic “dibber” which would act as the relay baton. Then onto Hartsop – leg 1 / 2 changeover point to rendezvous with the remaining runners.

The race was off right on time 0915 and leg 1 runners John and Dave had a fine run, covering the 4.5 miles/ 1000 ft ascent in 45:53. They handed over to Jon Green and Gethin Butler who has been doing several fell races recently with impressive results. They had an excellent run especially considering Jon had turned his ankle near Caudale Moor checkpoint and still had to deal with a very tricky technical descent to the changeover. Jon and Gethin gained 6 places covering the 7.5 miles/ 2600’ in 1:21:58.

At Kirkstone, Roger Taylor and John Griffiths were waiting to take over for leg 3 as the cloud descended. This leg begins with an almost vertical climb up Red Screes which really sets the tone for the rest of the leg. Roger and John had a reasonable run conceding some places and covering the 4.5 miles / 2000’ in 1:13:11.

On leg 4 we had relay debutant Alistair Palmer- he really enjoys his fell running and clearly has great potential. He has trained with the Tuesday group several times over the summer and makes it look far too easy. His dad Peter drove Alistair up to the relay and stayed all day to support and even helped the race organisers with parking duties- top man. Alistair felt he could have done better but the pairing still covered the leg in 1:34:47- that’s 7.5 miles /2800’.

The Harriers finished 39 out of 70 starters with a total time of 4:55:49. The race winners with international runners in their team were Keswick AC, retaining their title in 3:36:33.

Special mention to John Rainford who, for various reasons on the day showed what a great club man he is. Preston Harriers are lucky to have him. Roll on 2020 edition of the HBMR.

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