145 runners turned out on an overcast Wednesday evening for the last race of the season, with a number completing race number 14 of 14. Jimmy Craig took the honours in 22:31, followed closely by youngster Joe Hopley of Rossendale, who is defiantly one to watch out for in the years to come, and Lawrence McCourt in third. For the ladies once again it was Hannah Jarvis who crossed the line in 22nd, 1st lady, Sarah Bell dusted off her racing vest to take 2nd and Liz Ensor took third. Team prizes went too Barlick for both the mens and the women's prizes with Jimmy, Smurf and Ben making up the mens team and Sarah, Laura and Molly the ladies.
The penultimate race in the Pendle and Burnley Grand Prix league saw runners make their way over to Barlick to take on what many describe as the hardest race in the league, Weets. A damp start to the morning soon cleared as 129 runners made their way to the start line.
A quick check to see if anyone had misplaced some keys and the race was off with Gary Priestley taking the lead and maintaining for the whole race, with the battle on for 2nd and 3rd. Up and coming runner Alex Mason was looking comfortable in 2nd with a strong lead over current Grand Prix leader Jimmy Craig however towards the latter end of the race Craig found his feet and managed to pull past Mason to take 2nd. In the ladies race Hannah Jarvis took the honours in a time of 47:02, followed by Wharfedales Liz Ensor and Molly Ralphson just over a minute behind.
The team prizes this year went to Rossendale for the men and Barlick for the ladies.
The final race in what has been a jam-packed grand prix series for 2021 is Kelbrook on Wednesday a short 3.4 mile race with 700ft of ascent.
Another outstanding performance by Jimmy Craig. He decided to take the initiative and took an early lead, but he was being pressed all the way by Jacob Watson of Blackburn as they ran the first loop past the Alma. To those watching, the question was; would he be able to maintain that lead? It seemed like an age before the runners came into view again and this time, Jimmy was well and truly in front with a thirty second lead as the came down the hill from the Alma. It was a big ask for Jacob to close that gap and that was how it finished, with another first place for Jimmy.
Just two more races to go and with performances such as this, Jimmy has got his sights on being this year's Grand Prix Champion. Let us hope that he stays injury free for this last cluster of races.
1 Jimmy Craig 33:55
14 Andy Berry 38:53
15 Barrie Charnley 39:06
33 Andrew Smith 43:41
34 Laura Craig 43:43
39 Jacqueline Collins 44:22
61 Lucy Brown 48:08
69 Emma Pease 49:31
83 Hannah Newbold 52:00
85 Katie Towers 52:29
What a perfect day for a fell race. There was a shower of rain in the morning but by the start of the race, it was a bright cloudy day, with a slight breeze – ideal running conditions. The race starts with a long climb. Coming up the hill out of Worsthorne, there was nothing to chose between Jimmy Craig, Gary Shaw and Stephen Hall. After the first initial climb, there is a slight downhill section before anther climb to the race summit. As the runners disappeared from view, the race opened up and it rapidly became a two horse race between Jimmy Craig and Gary Shaw. The race has a sting in its tail in that after passing the second reservoir, there is another climb before the final descent back to Worsthorne. As the two leading runners approached this last ascent, Gary Shaw made a challenge on Jimmy. To those watching, it was fascinating. There was a vet runner was taking the lead from a “young Turk”. The fact that he was able to do so says a lot about the fitness of Gary Shaw. One assumes that at this point, he was trying to break Jimmy and build up an unassailable lead. But Jimmy did not allow this to happen and settled in behind him and kept up with him. As they approached the top of this climb Gary was leading, but Jimmy Craig was on his tail and it left everyone wondering who would come out tops on the run in. As it turned out, Jimmy just had the edge and he passed Gary on the downhill run and with a bit of a sprint at the finish, he made it home with an eleven second gap. However this was a race and a half and it says much that Gary could push Jimmy so close. This was racing at its best.
Further down the field, Barlick had two runners in the top ten, with Ian Beresford finishing 5th and Andy Berry finishing 9th. Afterwards Ian admitted that he owed his position very much to being pushed by Andy during race.
In the ladies’ race, Jackie Collins led the Barlickers home in 5th place with Molly Ralphson close on her tail. Laura Craig has an excellent run to finish 8th overall and third Barlick lady.