English Junior Uphill Championships – Sedbergh (16th July 2011)
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As part of the FRA English Junior Championships, one race is designated as uphill only – a different test for the athletes, designed to see who has the strength to keep going when others around are flagging. Although not part of the Harriers’ own championship, there was still a healthy turnout from the club looking to consolidate their position in the overall English series.
This year the race was held amongst the Howgill fells at Sedbergh, where all the runners faced the daunting prospect of running most or all of the way up Winder, the hill that dominates the skyline of the town. 15 juniors (and their parents) braved the rain clouds and made the trip to pit themselves against some of the best fell runners in the country and once again, they were rewarded for their efforts.
Elphina & Soljai Waterman both ran in the U8’s race, with Elphina continuing her recent success finishing 2nd girl. Sunnivah Waterman maintained the family tradition by leading the Holmfirth contingent back in the U10’s race, finishing 7th overall & 2nd girl, just ahead of George & Harry Hobbs.
The U12’s race was a stern test for the competitors, having to climb nearly 600 feet in only 1 mile and taking them 2/3rds of the way to the top. Jimmy Burke continues to enjoy the challenge of competing against older athletes and finished 7th overall, followed closely behind by Nicky Farquhar in 11th. Unfortunately, Erica Byram was unable to start the race, but her sister Lucy ran superbly to finish 14th overall & 2nd girl, just ahead of Lewis Bartholomew and Daisy Smith.
Lewis Byram has had a great 12 months, winning not only a number of fell races, but triathlons and cross country events as well. He can now add the title of English Junior U14 Uphill Champion to that list. In a race that climbed some 800 feet in 1.25 miles, he destroyed the opposition, winning by over 20 seconds in a time of 12.18 – a great achievement against athletes from clubs as far flung as Glasgow, Middlesbrough and Scarborough. Seth Waterman, last year’s U12 champion, is also running well in his first year in this age group & finished 8th overall in 13.59. Eddie Hinchliffe & Andrew Farquhar completed the team, finishing 19th & 25th respectively – again, great performances in a high class field.
The team prizes on the day were based on the best 3 results for both boys & girls from the U12’s upwards, with local club & race hosts Helm Hill taking the top prize narrowly from Blackburn Harriers. Happily, the journey was worthwhile for Holmfirth, as the team of Lewis Byram, Seth Waterman, Jimmy Burke, Lucy Byram & Daisy Smith finished 3rd and proudly collected their medals from Rob Jebb of Bingley Harriers, a GB & England international & one of the top fell runners in the country.
As this fixture also forms part of the English Junior Championships, the results on the day count towards both the individual & club championships. After 5 of the 6 races, Lewis Byram is leading the U14 competition, with Seth Waterman close behind in 5th and Eddie Hinchliffe in 10th. With the best results from 4 races to count, Lucy Byram, Daisy Smith & Jimmy Burke still have a chance of a top 3 placing if they can finish well at the final race at Carlton in September. The club championship is based on the best 3 results at each race and currently, the top 4 clubs are only separated by 8 points, with Holmfirth in 3rd place, behind Blackburn & Helm Hill.
Next up for the juniors is the Yorkshire Championships at Hellifield on 6th August, where we will be hoping to repeat last year’s success and come home with some more Yorkshire champions.