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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tour of Pendle | Florence Marathon | FRA Presentation

Saturday dawned and it was a cold crisp day as 12 hardy Todmorden Harriers made their way to Barley for the 30th Tour of Pendle, the last race in the 2013 Fell and Grand Prix Championships. There was much anticipation among the 430 starters eager to get going on this toughest of South Pennine races.
Conditions were good with large parts of Pendle frozen, providing perfect conditions for fast running on a route more renowned for bogs and tussocks. The race starts with a big climb to the Trig Point near Big End followed by a fast run along the top to the Nick of Pendle. After a short run down to Churn Clough Reservoir the climbing started again up and over Spence Moor. Then came one of the highlights of the day the daredevil descent of ‘Geronimo’ , one of the steepest and most technical descent on the Fell Running calendar. 
After a gentle run back up through the middle of Pendle Hill, the race starts in earnest with 3 big climbs stacked together in the second half of the race. The last of these climbs goes back up ‘Big End’ to the Trig point and is very steep. By the time they reached it many people were suffering with cramp. One of these was Paul Hobbs who was flying in his first outing at the Tour. Despite the cramp Paul managed to keep moving to finish first Harrier in 2hrs 41. Ben Crowther stormed round the course, almost catching Paul at the end to finish next in 2hrs 42.
Next came a trio of harriers who had all been looking to break through the 3 hours barrier for the race. Marcel Ellison was the first to get up Big End and to the Trig Point, but couldn’t match the pace of Dan Taylor and Andy Mcfie on the long descent to the finish. First Dan, then Andy caught and overtook Marcel who also had the beginnings of cramp setting in. Andy didn’t quite have the legs to catch Dan who sprinted home by 2 seconds. All 3 managed to finish in 2 hrs 48 well up on their target. R
ob Gray in his first tour was accompanied round by Dwayne Dixon (who was using the run as training following recent injury layoff) The 2 started steady and managed to  finish in 3hrs 11, Joe Daniels completed the men’s entries just over 3 hrs 30.
The ladies team also used the conditions to record good times. Elise Milnes was well ahead of her 4 hour best for the route in 3hrs.51, with Mandy Goth (who is at her best for years after training for the Joss Naylor Challenge earlier in the year), last harrier home just over 4 hours.  
The other 2 Todmorden starters Craig Stansfield and Kath Brierley (both very experienced Fell competitors) dropped out of the race after not feeling at their best, proving what a difficult race the Tour of Pendle can be to complete.

Further afield and with slightly warmer weather, Andrew Bibby travelled to Italy for the Florence Marathon on Sunday. Andrew showed the good form he has had all year with an outstanding time of 3hours 28 minutes.

Following the Tour of Pendle race on Saturday, Clayton Le Moors Harriers hosted the Fell Runners Associations annual dinner and prize giving at Langho. Richard Blakeley of Todmorden collected his trophy for 1st Place in the V70 category at the English Championships.
This had been made possible by Richard winning the last 2 races in the series to overtake his rivals for the title. 
Meanwhile in the British Championships the ladies team of Jane Leonard, Kath Brierley, Sarah Vickers, Gemma Ford, Claire Harris and Lauren Jeska took Silver Medals, capping off a good year for the ladies.
Jane Leonard finished off the prizes for the Todmorden party, with Bronze medals in both the English Champs V55’s and the British Champs V50’s. 


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