Thropton Show – the last hurrah

After 12 races and a terrific season, the club fell championship had its final fling at the Thropton show in deepest Northumberland.  15 Polyfellers made the trip for the 6.5 mile race up to the summit of Simonside and back down again.  The sun shone, the wrestlers wrestled, the lurchers dashed and the kids emptied their parents’ wallets for want of ice creams and goes on the bouncy castle.  It was a great scene.

108 runners were there in total and the race was set to be an interesting one.  Phil Green of Heaton and NFR gave us the customary start-line speech about how to retire and added the unorthodox element regarding the waist deep river crossing about half a mile into the race (and from the end).

Suitably warned, we were off! The first half mile is a road run once the show field is left and the pace is hot.  The queue at the river made for a surreal pause so soon after starting and the ignored option of the footbridge, 150 yards distant, glistened empty and redundant.  Fellrunners, as is their way, all went the interesting way.

Fields and a steep road give way to forest tracks and only a short section of genuine fell terrain as the steep climb to the summit of Simonside eventually yielded a superb prospect, including Thropton to where we were to return.  The initial descent was very technical, but also very short, much to those of us that gain an advantage over such ground.  Mental notes were made to include more races with more of this in next years champs (more on that little update in a blog near you very soon).

Then a thunderous descent through forest tracks and soon were were back on the route out, with the Coquet no less deep and the show field no less jovial as we all collapsed back into it.

Will Robson finished third in a strong field and showed his intentions perhaps to rob his dad of the championship next time around. Gary defended his crown with a great run to finish 8th but this time they were split in the Poly ranks by Danny Richardson who was 6th and could well feature in the rankings next year.

Jon Heaney was a superb 11th and secured the overall runner up spot with Chris Rowe a strong 13th.  The rest of the standings are given below.

3 Will Robson NSP U21
6 Danny Richardson NSP SM
8 Gary Robson NSP V40
11 Jon Heaney NSP V40
13 Chris Rowe NSP V40
29 Matt Fletcher NSP SM
30 Mark Smith NSP V40
37 Will Powis NSP SM
40 James Hennin NSP SM
42 Michael Kane NSP SM
45 Terry Brown NSP V40
54 Kath Davis NSP Fv40
55 Barry Young NSP
92 Rachel Inman NSP SF
107 George Adamson NSP V60

Well done all for a brilliant championship – brig on the relays and the do on the 29th


Deejay’s Review of 2016

Polyfellers montage.jpg

What can I say about this year’s championship? Well to begin with I must digress a bit and take you back to the distant, murky past, when all of this started, well to 2013 anyway. This was when I, along with Barry Young and Trevor Wakenshaw decided to hold the first ever Poly Fell series. It attracted a dozen runners and we counted that as a bit of a success. However, in 2014 the series seemed to die a death after the first two races and we thought long and hard about bothering again. In the end we went ahead and even expanded it slightly, but I was full of trepidation as time for the first race, Brough Law, approached. Trepidation was doubled because I knew three of our stalwarts Gary, Chris and Barry were unavailable but despite this we managed to field slightly more runners than normal. What was more heartening was that seven of the eight were newcomers to the series and some were Fell virgins. However, my natural pessimism told me it could all be a flash in the pan and we might never see them again. I needn’t have worried, they returned and the numbers kept up throughout the 2015 season. Even more encouraging to see was the increasing number of ladies taking part. In short the season was a great success with a threefold increase in overall participation and a sevenfold increase on the ladies side. The reason for this was totally inexplicable,at least to me and I suspect it will always be so! But back to 2016.

As usual the season began with Brough Law and it began well with thirteen Poly runners taking part. It was already clear 2015 was no one off. This series saw the inclusion for the first time of two Lake District races and I was very happy when events justified their inclusion when nine ran at Coledale and seven at Fairfield. The new Alwinton race saw a record Poly turnout of seventeen and there were sixteen at Thropton and the Chevy. Amazing numbers! Now, the purpose of this piece isn’t to highlight individuals if only because there were just so many great performances throughout the year but it was great to see two youngsters, Will Robson and Scott Ellis doing so well. Indeed in the first half of the season, with Gary Robson struggling with an injury, the men’s title was shaping up to be a battle between those two and perennial contender, Chris Rowe. As it turned out the youngsters didn’t get enough races in and then Chris picked up an injury which let the now in form Gary in to win by a comfortable eleven points. Jon Heaney sneaked into second place as he gradually improved throughout the year. There should be a tremendous battle for the top half dozen places next year judging by the results of those who joined late in the season, notably Will Powis and Terry Brown.

For the ladies, well there was never any real doubt who would take this prize as long as she got in the required number of races and Katherine Davis duly triumphed. However she was kept on her toes by Ms Consistent, Rachel Inman along with Rachel Carr and Lisa Henderson. If these two relative youngsters stick at it they will be serious challengers for next year’s title.

All in all thirty eight runners took part this year and it was good to see another big increase in the number of men. Although there was no increase in the number of ladies running, those that did were doing more races than ever before which was good. All that remains for this season is the British Fell Relay Championship in October where our team will make history as the first Poly team to take part in this prestigious event. Some “All” eh?

But just because the championship is over, that’s no excuse to stop racing because there are plenty of races about to see you through to 2017. There’s the Natural Ability Race and Alwinton Show races in October. In November there are Dunnerdale and Kirby Moor in the South Lakes and Saltergate Gallows on the North Yorkshire Moors. In December also on the Moors are the excellent Eskdale Eureka and Guisborough Woods races, whilst nearer to home you have The Hexhamshire Hobble and Simonside Cairns. You could then round off the year by racing against the Brownlee brothers in the Auld Lang Syne race at Haworth on New Year’s Eve!

So what of the future. Well we are keeping the same format, i.e. a championship of thirteen races with seven to count. There will be one change because we are going to build on our increasing experience by sticking in another two, longer Lake District races in the 2017 series. In all there are eight new races to look forward to and five old favourites to savour have been kept and you’ll get the details of these at the unofficial presentation night on the 29th September.

To finish then, I’d just like to say I am completely amazed at how fell running has taken off at the Poly. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever be challenging good old NFR with the number let alone the quality of the runners who are representing us. Marvellous as that is, even better is the wonderful enthusiasm and sense of fun people have brought to the section. Anyway, I’d better stop now before I get carried away, but I’ll leave you with a few stats to ponder over. Roll on 2017 and up the Poly!






Number of Races in the Championship





Maximum number counting





Number of participants





Total number of male runners





Total number of female runners





Total Championship race entries





Total Male entries (ooer missus)





Total Female entries





Number who did four or more races





Average Poly turnout per championship race





Average Male turnout





Average Female turnout





Most Poly runners in one race

6 BL

6 BL

14 TS

17 ATT

Most Poly males in one race

5 BL, TS

5 BL

10 TS

14 TS

Most Poly females in one race

2 WG

1 BL

4 TS


BL = Brough Law, TS = Thropton Show, WG = Windy Gyle, ATT = Alwinton 3 Tops, CC = Chevy


4 runners have competed in every championship: Chris Rowe, Gary Robson, John Baty and Ian Holland

8 runners have completed 10 or more races: Gary Robson 20, Chris Rowe 20, Mark Smith 15, Rachel Inman 14, Barry Young, Katherine Davis 13, Will Robson 12, David Johnson, Jon Heaney and Chris Oliphant 10.

Leading Race Winners: Katherine Davis 11, Garry Robson 10, Will Robson 7, Chris Rowe 5, Rachel Carr 4, Scott Ellis 4. John Baty 3.

Most runner up finishes: Chris Rowe 8, Gary Robson 8, Rachel Inman 6, Lisa Henderson 4, Will Robson 4.

Whitfield wanderings

Nine Polyfellers took part in the Whitfield show race, which has a theoretical distance of 4.7 miles and climbs around 750′, so a short and sharp race then, without complication.

The thing about show races is that they lull you into a false sense of security.  Sunny day, well marked route, generally easy ground – not really fellrunning at all and certainly no need for any kit on a fair day.  All you need to do is follow the tapes, the signs and the runner in front and focus on the racing.

Our polyposse managed to traverse at least five alternative variations of the route with only those fast enough (Gary) to keep the lead quad bike in sight and experienced enough to have done it before (DJ) running the course.  Mark and Terry made similar mistakes and somehow made a shortcut longer?! Will, Katherine and Michael decided to a good extra 1km at the end and ran through the finish the wrong way.  It was, in truth, a bit of a farce.  Signs, it seemed, were missing….

But everyone made it back safely and it was a lovely run out.  So any short term annoyance as quickly forgotten.

Gary Robson took the 50 points in the Poly champs and was 4th overall. Terry Brown was 11th overall and continues his fine introduction to the fells.  Mark Smith was 19th, somehow, having been near the back of the 69 runners at the top of the first climb and was lucky so many went astray.  The full roll of honour is given below.

NAME Position TIME
Gary Robson 4 32:58
Terry Brown 11 38:55
Mark Smith 19 40:52
Michael Kane 25 41:47
Katherine Davis 27 42:06
Willliam Powiss 29 42:16
David Johnson 34 46:23
Angela Green 37 46:53
Rachel Inman 40 48:26
No-one has a clue which way to go

There is just one race to in the Poly Championships, next week’s Thropton Show race.  After that, it’s the Polyfellers ‘do’ and perhaps some winter racing?