The 64th Chevy Chase Fell Run took place on Saturday with over 170 competitors in action, many keen to take up places held over from 2020’s understandably cancelled fixture.
The 20-mile circuit of some of the finest Northumbrian countryside, described as ‘rewarding and demanding’ by promoters Wooler Running Club, includes ascents of both Cheviot and Hedgehope and requires all participants to carry a full range of equipment following Fell Running Association standards.
With a start and finish at Wooler Youth Hostel, there is a six-hour cut-off time for all taking part, although those running are more likely to be put out of action by falls and turned ankles.
Saturday’s weather was both close and muggy, with the odd gratefully received shower, but also overcast, with the twin summits of both peaks either side of the Harthope Valley shrouded in low cloud.
Won by William Robson, representing Northumberland Fell Running Association, in a time of 2 hours 52 minutes and 9 seconds (only 12 minutes off the longstanding course record of 2h 40 m), fellow NFRA member Matty Briggs was second in 2:59:34.
The Lancaster University student was keen to get out on the fells of his native county, but set a fine example to all club members when he quite remarkably turned out for his club in the Senior Track and Field League fixture at Churchill Playing Fields less than 24 hours later, winning the 5000m track race.
Four other Morpeth members and NFRA members all finished also, with Gary Mason next home in 4:29:44 in 65th place. Good to see Gary back in action over the fells after a wretched spell with injury.
Gwenda Cavill had an excellent run to pick up a category prize as 1st Over 50 (76th in 4:31:01) with Jane Briggs 2nd in the same category in 102st place, having run in the company of Mike Steven round the course (4:56:28).
Spare a thought for poor Claire Calverley, however, who turned an ankle badly on the slopes of Cheviot and was forced to hobble down the mountain side and back to where she could be taken back to the finish.
On Sunday, local resident Bertie Marr was a comprehensive winner of the Coquet Valley 5k in a time of 17 minutes 16 seconds, over four minutes ahead of the next finisher.
In the accompanying half-marathon, won by Gateshead Harrier Ali Bailey in a time of 1 hour 16 minutes 47 seconds with South Shields Harrier Emma White 1st female athlete (8th overall in 1.40:42), Shaun Land came 4th in 1. 31:14 with Andy Leeson next home in 5th place but 1st Over 45 athlete (1.36:54).