The Last Drop Loop Fell Race
11th May 2013
It was 7am on a cold, wet and windy morning. Race organiser Andrew Doyle was already on Turton Moor with flags, signs and tape, marking out the course for the first ever Bolton United Harriers fell race.
As the start time drew nearer the marshals and runners started to appear, all in full waterproofs, all already soaking wet. Off the marshals went to their points and the final numbers got pinned to vests, there was no time to lose, the sky cleared, the rain stopped and they were off.
This challenging course took the runners over a well marked and well marshalled route beginning at the the top field at the Last Drop village, around the golf course path and up to Torra Barn. From there a steep drop onto the rocky Witton Weavers Way. From there the runners headed up onto the fell and the real running began. Up, up and up some more to the Trigg Point and along a series of tracks to the finger post, sharp right and the ground began drop away as the runners were sent to the Lonely Tree before another sharp uphill kick (which we have on good authority that only THREE runners actually ran up!). A technically difficult run down to farmland, negotiating a deep high sided stony track and from there a series of stiles and gates were to be negotiated before heading back to the golf course and onto the top field. There was plenty of mud, plenty of water, plenty of rocks and the odd bog deep enough to sink knee high into. Isn’t that what we want from a fell race?
First back to the finish line was Simon O’Meara from University of Manchester Athletics and Cross Country Club in the brand new course record of 37.54. It was a few minutes before the second runner, Karl Darcy from Bolton United Harriers crossed the line in 40.36 and another University of Manchester runner, Ben Hobson was third in 41.03. First lady to finish was Kirsty Normanton (47.52) from Burnden Road Runners who managed to stay almost clean until the last mile, there’s a lot to be said for the woman who can win a fell race with filthy legs and perfect lipstick. Next in was fellow Burnden runner Lesley Fisher (48.25) and third lady was Bolton Harrier Catherine Jones (57.24).
As runners finished, they were allowed a minute to get their breath before being awarded with a Greenhalgh’s pasty and a drink. This growing gathering ensured that there were plenty of hearty cheers for the remaining runners as they crossed the line. The atmosphere was one of high spirits in the sunshine as one runner did a forward roll over the finish line and two more arrived adorned with our red and white marshalling tape tied around their heads and mud smeared on their faces, bringing peals of laughter to the runners and watchers alike.
Medals were handed out and finally the presentation could take place. There were prizes for the usual categories and one special award in remembrance of our fellow runner and friend Brian Mawdesley, who sadly passed away in 2011. We would especially like to thank Brian’s wife Carol, who stepped up to award a special trophy cup to Karl Darcy, the first Bolton Harrier to cross the line today.
The Brian Mawdesley Memorial Cup will always be awarded to the first Harrier across the line in future races.
The end to the day came when the final marshals appeared carrying the course with them. Finally the tents and flags came down, the course packed away and the die hard marshalls were allowed to go home. Some of them had done more miles than the runners, all of them were proud of what their club had achieved.
Feedback has already been brilliant and we’re looking forward to next year when we’ll be bigger and better. We hope to see you on that top field next year, bring fell shoes and make sure you’ve got room for a pastie!
Special thanks to Nick Howarth and his endurance group who all pitched in on the day to make this fell race happen. To the other wives, husbands, friends and relatives, who helped just because they could, we are truly grateful for your support.
Final thanks to the runners who turned out, braved the elements and set new personal bests on this brand new challenging course. Thank you from all at Bolton United Harriers.