Mearley Clough Fell Race, English Championship counter, 14th May
A select few Holmfirth Harriers made the trip across the Pennines last Saturday to Worston, near Clitheroe, to compete at Mearley Clough in the second of six English Fell Running Championship races. With 3.5 miles and 1200’ of ascent, the race is a category ‘A’ short race and the first short counter in the series. Due to the size of the field in a Championship race and the short distance, the ladies run separately from the men giving athletes the opportunity to watch and support the other race.
It was ladies first and Helen Berry, who finished 5th in the English Championship last year, was out to pick up as many points as possible from this event. The showers held off and though windy in parts, the conditions were near perfect for runners and spectators alike. During the first gradual climb through the fields Helen was up with the leading group and soon found herself in second place chasing current title holder, Lauren Jeska of Todmorden, up the steep ascent. Jeska pulled away on the summit and extended her lead, meanwhile Helen was caught and overtaken by Mel Price (Mercia) and Helen Fines (Calder Valley) on the steep descent from the Clough. However, the final short climb out of the gully gave Berry the chance to play to her strengths and she was soon back in third ahead of Fines. A sterling effort down the final fields and through the crowds of spectators narrowed the margin between her and Price, making for a thrilling finish, with Berry getting the edge and crossing the line 6 seconds clear. Team mate Paula Gould, a regular on the fells, had a great run in a quality field, finishing 36th out of a 101-strong field.
In the men’s race Tom Brunt, who would admit to being more accustomed to longer races, was not relishing the idea of such a short race. He still made it look easy though, finishing 31st out of 188 finishers. Veteran Andy Hauser, was comfortably in the top half of the field, in 80th place and 4th V55.
The next English Championship race is Duddon Valley on 4th June which doubles up as the next counter in the Holmfirth Harriers Fell Championship.
Full results: Ladies’ race: 1st Lauren Jeska (Todmorden) 34.29; 2nd Helen Berry, 35.33; 36th Paula Gould, 41.54. Men’s race: 1st Simon Bailey (Mercia) 27.45; 31st Tom Brunt, 30.48; 80th Andy Hauser 34.04.