Updated: British Champs preview: Time to get sleeves rolled up for Round 2

Posted in At the Races by Matt Ward on Thu 10 May '12

© hillerscapes.co.uk

The beauty of Slieve Bearnagh

This weekend sees the second round of the British Fell Running Championships in the beautiful Mourne mountains, Northern Ireland. The race at Slieve Bearnagh is only 5 miles in length, but still has 2690ft of climbing…

The Course
Perhaps best described by the race webpage:

This is an extended version of the original Bearnagh Race which was previously a British Championship counter in 2003, 2006 and 2009. The change to the route is only at the end of the final descent to bring the finish to Meelmore Lodge where the Mourne Peaks race finished in 2011. This extension adds about 2.2km and 90 metres of descent to the race.

© Chris Upson

With three 700m peaks there is plenty packed into a short race and we trust that it will make the journey across the Irish Sea worthwhile. Slieve Bearnagh (739m) is easily recognisable with its obvious rocky tors; the race also includes the neighbouring peaks of Meelbeg and Meelmore.

With 8.5kms and 830m of climb it is either up or down for three quarters of the distance followed by a gradual downhill run in from Happy Valley to the finish at Meelmore lodge.

The Contenders
The last time that the Champs visited the race it was Rob Hope who took the spoils ahead of brother Danny and went on to claim his third British crown. However, although he romped to a very good win last week at Coniston, the Pudsey & Bramley man has decided that his showing at Coledale in Round 1 means that his championships aspirations in 2012 will not be met, and doesn’t travel.

© Mike Raffan

Joe Symonds at Clachnaben 2012

One person who did perform, and does travel, is Joe Symonds. Arguably the man of 2012 to date, the HBT runner stormed to victory at Coledale and followed that up with a famous win at the 3 Peaks and will start favourite.

With this one of two ‘short’ races in this year’s Championship, it looks like a few strong-men are opting for the Welsh Moel Wnion option as other likely lads such as Morgan Donnelly, Lloyd Taggart, Rob Jebb, Ben Abdelnoor and Carl Bell don’t appear to be entered.

So, others to watch who are entered include Mercia’s Andy Davies who is running well after his strong showing at the 3 Peaks, Helm Hill’s Addison cousins Mark and Tom, Keswick’s Phil Winskill, CVFR’s Karl Gray and Ben Mounsey and Eryri Harrier Richard Roberts and Mercia’s Paul Jones.

With round one winner Lauren Jeska sitting this one out, the door would seem to be well open for fell-great Angela Mudge. The Carnethy runner did travel to Coledale but suffered a back spasm just before the start and failed to start. She will be hoping that the drive over will be kinder this time round and after her 13th win at the Carnethy 5 earlier in the year and a very good win at Stuc a’Chroin last weekend, will be hard to beat.

© Mark Johnston

Angela Mudge - win number 13 at Carnethy 5

Those looking to challenge the 5-time British Champion are Calder Valley’s Helen Fines, Mercia runner Mel Price, Ambleside’s Hazel Robinson and Mudge’s Carnethy team-mate Jasmin Paris. A full entry list at the time of writing is available here.

We know that Fell Running Briefs will be over there on location, so follow their Twitter feed for all of the news on the day.

Reactions so far
  1. Phil Winskill May 11, 05:59 PM

    Carl Bell is in the car next me and out for the win tomorrow. He is pleased its such a weak field.

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