Hobbs defies cramp to lead the Harriers home

Todmorden Harrier 'Paul Hobbs
Todmorden Harrier 'Paul Hobbs

Twelve 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 on a cold, crisp day.

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 nearBig 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 descents on the fell running calendar.

After a gentle run back up through the middle of Pendle Hill, the race starts in earnest with three 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 sec.

Ben Crowther stormed round the course, almost catching Paul at the end to finish next in 2hrs 42 sec.

Next came a trio of Harriers who had all been looking to break the three hours barrier for the race.

Marcel Ellison was the first 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, 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 seconds. All three finished in 2 hrs 48 sec - well up on their target.

Rob Gray, in his first tour, was accompanied by Dwayne Dixon, who was using the run as training following an injury lay-off.

The two started steadily and finished in 3hrs 11sec. Joe Daniels completed the men’s entries in just over 3 hrs 30 sec.

The ladies’ team also used the conditions to record good times. Elise Milnes was well ahead of her four hour best for the route in 3hrs 51sec. Mandy Goth, who is at her best for years after training for the Joss Naylor Challenge earlier in the year, was the last Harrier home in just over four hours. The other two Todmorden starters, the experienced Craig Stansfield and Kath Brierley, both dropped out .