Two teams from Buxton Athletics Club travelled to Scotland and recorded their best ever showing at the British Athletics Fell and Hill Running Relay Championships on Saturday.
Buxton, traditionally a road running club, has recently been challenging specialist local fell clubs, such as Pennine and Dark Peak.
The sport of fell running is rooted in upland areas such as the Peak District, North Yorkshire and the Lake District, as wells as Scottish and Welsh mountain ranges.
Race organisers typically send competitors up muddy paths to the tops of the nearest local hills, with the winner being the first to make it up and back down.
The Fell and Hill Running Relays, run over four legs, adds additional difficulties as some sections are not on marked footpaths and require accurate navigation skills. Two of the legs are run in pairs, who must stay close together, making a total of six runners in each team.
This year’s event was based in the small Scottish village of Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond. Half of the Buxton contingent braved the elements and camped at the venue ready for an early start.
The Buxton men’s senior team finished 28th overall and 22nd in the ‘MOpen’ category. Ben Light ran the first leg, passing the baton in 29th place. Bryan McKenna and Jason Bennett ran Leg 2, a brutal double climb of Beinn Dubh.
Tim Aldridge and Richard Bouglas ran Leg 3, a tough navigational challenge. Bouglas had to contend with a disintegrating shoe, which he was not able to repair until the final checkpoint. Alasdair Campbell ran the anchor leg in the 11th fastest time of the day, mixing it with the country’s best.
The men’s veteran team featured Rick Aldred on Leg 1. Andy Lidstone and Nick Jones were the second leg pair. Robert White and Stefan Ledin navigated by compass bearings on Leg 3 as dense fog reduced visibility to around 30 metres.
Then Jonathan Sewell brought the team home, in 85th position, which represented 10th in the MV40 category. A welcome result as ‘top ten’ had been their target from the outset.
Hayfield-based club, Pennine Fell Runners featured strongly, as both the over 40 and over 50 men’s veterans took third prizes in their respective categories. Local runners Rick Houghton, Dave Soles and Darran Hawkins featured for Pennine.
Dark Peak’s senior team were the overall winners, and Buxton based Jon Batt was part of the Dark Peak MV50 team that took 4th in category. Hunter’s Bog Trotters of Edinburgh won the overall women’s race. Liz Batt was part of Dark Peak’s 11th placed women’s team.
On Sunday the local Windgather fell race took place. The race is based in Burbage and summits Shining Tor via Windgather Rocks. Richard Bouglas (complete with new shoes!), was the first Buxton man home and the only member of the previous day’s relay teams to race.
Jo Bednall was first Buxton woman to finish and also took the first LV50 prize. The race was the penultimate round of the Buxton Club Championships.
The final race, a one mile dash around the Pavilion Gardens will be held on Wednesday evening.”