Ten years ago the tradition of the long distance Harriers relay was born. The route chosen was one of the iconic long distance footpaths, the Pennine Way, 268 miles between Edale and Kirk Yetholm. In 2007 we ran it as a non-stop club relay in 62 hours 26 minutes in difficult weather conditions. In the tenth anniversary year in 2017 it was decided to revisit the Pennine Way but in a far more civilised format - no night running and sleeping in proper beds at night after a nice meal and a few beers. The trip was split over two weekends, one in March (Part 1) and a long weekend in June (Part 2).
Part 1: 25-26 March 2017
At the start at Edale temperatures were hovering around freezing, but by early afternoon, with Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill behind us, heatstroke was a more likely hazard than frostbite. At the break, north of the Calder Valley, Mark Fowell and Matt
Tomlinson had run the entire 47 miles, and looked fresh as daisies. An overnight stop in Burnley somehow brought on a recurrence of an old knee injury for Matt however, and he was forced to miss out on day two. This was a Sunday, and the fine weather had brought out the crowds to the tourist hotspot of Malham, providing a parking challenge to the on-duty minibus driver. The day finished with a run over Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, and down to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Mark had continued his form of the previous day, and added all of Sunday’s 45 miles to his total.
Part 2: 17-20 June 2017
For part 2 in June, there were some changes of personnel. Mark Fowell and Jon Leek were unavailable, but we were joined by Bryan Carr, Cliff Cooper, Keith Covell and Malc Marchant. Expecting Horton-in-Ribblesdale to be relatively quiet at 7am on a Saturday, we arrived to find it overrun by vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and people of all shapes and sizes, as this was the day of a major charity event on the Three Peaks. Once our five runners had been set on their way and the minibus headed off to the first checkpoint ten miles away, tranquillity returned however. Early morning mist soon dispersed and a hot day was in prospect. A core squad of Bryan Carr, Jon Kinder and Matt Tomlinson were set on completing the whole 176 miles to Kirk Yetholm, and this they duly did, as the rest of us ducked in and out of the bunch. Over the next four days we were treated to the Pennine Way at its rare best, with fabulous views, especially from the highest point of the Pennines, Cross Fell, to the Lake District, where several of the peaks could easily be recognised. High Cup Nick and Hadrian’s Wall were other memorable landmarks, and the final 20 miles or so along ridge of the Cheviots was quite magnificent. There was plenty to talk about in the pub on the last night, and we didn’t forget to raise our glasses in memory of two of the 2007 team who are no longer with us, and greatly missed, John Thornhill and Dave Cluley.
Report by Bill Southgate.
The Part 2 team at the finish in Kirk Yetholme. Left to right is Andy Swift, Matt Tomlinson, Keith Covell, Bob Bond, Jenny Southgate, Malc Marchant, Ian Page, Bill Southgate, Alan Eccleston, Cliff Cooper, Jon Kinder, Karolina Kucharek, Bryan Carr.