Last Saturday 26 members of Cumberland Fell Runners making the trip down to Silecroft for the annual 13k Black Combe Race.

The men's race was won by ex-English champion fell runner Rob Jebb of Kendal based Helm Hill club, just ahead of Keswick based Rhys Findlay-Robinson who runs for Dark Peak – an ex British champion.

Both runners finished just either side of 73 minutes and a good two minutes clear of the chasing pack, but a good eight minutes outside of the record. Times were generally a lot slower than normal due to the very wet underfoot conditions making for heavy going, slippery descents and tired legs.

The ladies race was won by Sharon Taylor who also runs for Helm Hill, in a time of 1:27. Sharon is Rob’s wife, so both trophies will end up in the same house. Elena Davies was best placed of the Cumberland Fell Runners’ ladies finishing an impressive seventh place in a time of 1:40. Elena is relatively new to fell racing and this result shows her potential and surely with more experience she will go on to get closer to the top runners.

Next CFR lady home was Jennie Chatterley with a promising run after a long lay off after a series of injuries.

First male home for Cumberland was Tim Irlam who finished an impressive 30th in the large field of over 180 runners. He just pipped over 40 veteran Jim Masters by three seconds, both runners coming home in just under 89 minutes.

Next back for the blue and whites was Peter Crompton, who finished inside the top 50 in 94 minutes, to claim the over 60 prize.

The race was the first in the club’s 2019 championship. Fell running is undertaken by all ages and there were many battles were fought for the points in the various age categories. The male vet 45 looks like a competitive class with Mike Harrison continuing his good form from late last year and taking full points ahead of John Skelton and Colin Rhodes.

With only a few minutes between the three it should be a competitive season. Similarly, in the ladies’ vet 45 category it looks like it's going to be a mighty battle between Jennie Chatterley, Anita Barker and Amanda Graham, who all showed good early season speed to finished the race in under two hours.

Cumberland Fell runners were also present at a variety of other runs over the weekend. Emily Robinson was first runner back at the Keswick Park run on Saturday morning – a tremendous achievement, not often a parkrun is won outright by a female.

Adam Cresswell travelled to the Peak district for the 21-mile Grindelford Gallop and finished third covering the 21 miles of off road undulating ground in a very impressive two hours and 36 minutes.

However, the furthest travelled runner was Victoria Wright who posted three hours and 21 minutes for a 30 Km race with 1000m of climb – to win the ladies race at the Columbeira trail races in Portugal.

Nearer to home, and not on the natural surface for fell runners, Mark Likeman won the Lorton School 10 Km road race in a time of 35:22. With over 200 runners present at this increasingly popular race, this was a great result for the vet 40 class runner. Fellow club member Tim Cook was 21st, with over 60 runner Tony Jewell finishing an impressive 62nd in a time of just under 48 minutes.

Next race in the club’s championships is in two weeks’ time – the Carrock Fell race, hosted by neighbouring club Northern Fells. This is a short race and suitable for those new to the sport – though the route can be tricky to follow in poor weather.

Several of the club’s runners were missing from Black Combe, saving themselves for next weekend’s opening English Championships race in Shropshire. Cumberland Fell runners have entered a good ladies’ team and a mens team with some strong male runners. It is a while since CFR has been able to test themselves against the best in the country. For those wanting their fell racing fix nearer to home, next weekend is the Muncaster luck Fell race, which finishes by crossing the river below Muncaster Castle before the final scramble up the cannon bank. In the mean time club members will be out on Tuesday night for a headtorch run on Lank Rigg and an interval session on Thursday night.

Pictures from Black Combe courtesy of Tom Chatterley.