Saturday 24th August West Witton Fell Race by Holly Matheson

West Witton Fell Race
For a lot of years I have been going to West Witton which is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales to visit my grandparent’s caravan. Every August the village has a Feast weekend which includes a Junior & Senior Fell Race.
I ran last year finishing second out of a small field of junior runners. The junior race is 5.9km climbing 210 metres. The senior race is slightly longer at 6.5 km but has an additional 140 metres to climb to the top of Pen Hill. The race starts at the foot of Chantry Bank just off the main road between Leyburn and Hawes and climbs immediately up the side of Pen Hill.
I registered and headed up to the start line where both the senior and junior runners were warming up. The starter confirmed that there were 10 runners in the junior race and the omens were good as looking around I appeared to be the eldest in the category by a couple of years.
I waited as the seniors set off up the hill and into the distance. A minute later the starter set us away. After a steep climb up the road I passed the turning to the caravan site where my friends were cheering me on. We then turned off the road onto a stone track that continued to climb and after a few minutes I reached a field. I was in first place and couldn’t hear anyone behind me. A marshall pointed me straight onwards where I began to overtake some of the slower senior runners. After a short flat section I came to steep climb where I was barely able to run. Thankfully there was soon another flat section but unluckily it was very boggy (my sisters shoe came off here!) and made running very difficult (and slow!). Another climb followed and as I reached the top of the field the next marshall told me that I’d missed my turn and was running the senior route. Oops!
I turned around and ran down over a ridge to the field below to rejoin the junior route but was unsure whether I was still in the lead or whether I’d been overtaken. I continued along the bottom of a field and through a stile onto a grassy lane. I followed the winding lane for a few minutes until I came to road which I turned left onto and followed the steep descent down. At a sharp bend in the road I had to jump over a dry stone wall (a big drop that I could remember from last year) so I lowered myself down and continued my descent down through several fields towards the village sports field where the finish was.
I passed a marshall who told me I was the first junior through which lifted my spirits. Next through a field of nettles and brambles and through a stream and I knew I was nearly home. I then took another wrong turn along a tall dry stone wall and was running away from the finish. Fortunately the people at the finish (including my Dad) could see the top of my head and shouted that I was going the wrong way! I ran back to the previous field and eventually managed to climb over the wall and barbed wire fence and drop into the final field before the finish. The last obstacle was 2 bullocks grazing in the final field one of which decided to charge towards me! I ran away in a panic but it stopped and I was able to go around the side of the field and over the final wall to the finish.
I was the second person to finish the race and the first junior home in a time of 36 minutes. My sister Ellen was third junior home. Lee Tolhurst from Overton Harriers won the senior race in 34 minutes.
Ellen and I both received a medal and a trophy for finishing in the top3 and I was presented with the Eddie Hammond Challenge Children’s Fell race Trophy for winning the race. It has all the winners engraved on it dating back to 1982. Alistair Brownlee won the race in 2000 and 2002 and his brother Jonathan in 2004. How cool is that!holly and ellen

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