• Luke Beresford

The National Fell Relays

The British Fell & Hill Relay Champs returned on Saturday 16th October after an absence of two years, but the wait was well worth waiting as the 2021 edition was just as good as ever.

Set in the enchanting district of Eden, Cumbria, the hosts 'Helm Hill Runners' did a magnificent job of organizing the event, with clubs coming from far and wide across the UK to the location of Tebay, probably best known for the Services at junction 38 of the M6.

Thankfully there was no motorway running or pit stops at the service station but instead runners were rewarded with majestic, steep hill running and bum sliding on the mighty Howgill Fells that protrude out of the valley floor.

After a 45 minute challenging fell walk to the start from the events main car park following the beautiful River Lune winding down through the valley it was a relief to finally see a colourful display of dazzling club tents and banners with lunatic fell runners bounding around like some hungry animals ready to pounce on there pray.

This year Ripley RC fielded two exquisite mountain goat resembling teams with a Ripley Mens A Team and a Mixed Ripley Kermit squad looking for good pasture to place there feet firmly amongst the tussocks and bogs of the almighty sleeping elephant hills of the Howgills as Alfred Wainwright referred to them in his guide books.

Setting off on the solo leg 1, for Ripley Mens team Wayne Smithurst and for the mixed team Neil Worthy, both did a cracking job of making good mountain goat progress on the 4 mile route that rocked up some whopping 1400ft of climbing returning back in fine time to hand over to leg 2 runners.

For Leg 2 runners this year was the navigation leg with runners receiving there maps shortly after setting off from the start. Running for Ripley mens team was ever present Matthew Jones and Richard hungover West, working well together and dragged each other around and were soon coming back into the finish allowing plenty of time to beat the que for the beer tent. For Ripley mixed, Nick Hilton and Carl Hopkinson were left wondering what the heck they had signed themselves up for on the tough run up on the fell tops that included well over 2000ft of mountain goat climbing in the roughly 6.5 mile route, but they took some excellent navigation lines and did superbly well to make light of the hills.

Up on the paired leg 3 for Ripley Men myself and Brendon Moore kangarooed up and down fell and boomeranged back in good time, with Esther and Jo Howett in the Ripley Mixed doing a sterling effort on the calf burning route that took in some 3200ft of elevation in the nearly 7 mile route even finding time for plenty of bum sliding on the way down.

Finally for the leg 4 solo run, Danny Elliot was in fine form and took to the hills like a seasoned pro fell runner and was soon back to join Richard in the beer tent. For the Ripley mixed Stacey Smith was full of beans and ran with a beaming smile and a little bit of craziness flying around the route of just under 4 miles and 1300ft ascent to bring home Ripley in proud style.

220 teams took part in the event with Ripley mens finishing in 104th and Ripley mixed finishing in 187th.

A Great day was had by all and post run celebrations were well spent in the Thai Curry Restaurant in Kendal with a WAN JAY and a few pints of Ullswater blonde there after.

A Big kudos must go to Matthew Jones for bringing the teams together and organisation on the day. Also Jay Bird and Ali B for superb support on the day.

Great to see Ripley back out in action and fine spirit with some great camaraderie.

Well done everyone!!

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