WITH spring now well under way and the light nights upon us it was the perfect chance for local runners from the Black Combe Runners Club to get a last-minute warm-up race done before further club championship counter races happen days later.

Up first was the non-club counter Loughrigg fell race (Ambleside) recently, this popular four mile 1080ft ascent run during the school holidays ensured a good turnout of 172 runners, with BCR well represented in brilliant weather and superb conditions underfoot.

The main race was dominated by Ambleside AC runner Charlie Allmond, who, at just 16 years of age, is a talent not to be underestimated by anyone, won the event just outside the course record, clocking 27:32, whilst runner-up spot went to Jack Wright (Ambleside AC) 33 seconds later, with Tom Simpson (Ambleside Ac) also on the podium at 28:16. The ladies race had more distance between the top three, with Ambleside ACs Antonia Fan clinging on for victory in a good 31:23. Runner-up went to Sophie Rylance (Ambleside AC) 48 seconds later, whilst also on the rostrum was Lizzie Browne (Black Combe Runners) at 35:12.

Ten other Black Combe Runners all had good runs, with Josh Hartley the fastest of them with his sub-30-minute clocking when he sailed over the finish for fifth overall in 28:38. Harry Stainton was close after, also under the half hour by 38 seconds. Robert Driscoll (31:06), Gavin Lloyd (32:57), John Millen (33:44), William Silvie (34:28), Karl Tumelty (35:51), Nick Sebley (39:03), Julian Donnelly (42:41) and Eleanor Claringbold (44:30) also took part.

Other races included the 13 mile, 4770ft ascent Eskdale Elevation race from Boot earlier this month. This event, was a club champs counter race, the round route visits the summits of Whin Rigg and Scafell, before calling at Eel Tarn, meaning careful navigation was required throughout given just the three checkpoints in this long gruelling fell race.

Fifteen BCRs took part and some remarkable results were achieved. First back was Josh Hartley in a cracking 2:01.00 (fourth position overall). This ranks amongst the fastest fell runners in the country, and Josh was just 8 minutes behind elite fells man Huw Davis of Mercia Fell Runners, winning in 1:53.06. Jack Scott of Stafford AC, was second and arrived 3:24 later, whilst Rob Jebb (Helm Hill Runners) was the first MV40 back, and third overall, in 1:58.11.

Josh was followed up by Harry Stainton, also finishing in the top ten, clocking 2:09.12, Tim Ripper got round in a highly respectable 2:16.40 for fourteenth place overall. BCR also won the men's team prize.

Other times included Ethan Furness at 2:20.20, Harvey Lord clocking 2:33.40, Robert Driscoll (2:41.26), Karl Tumelty (2:42.34), Matthew Allen (2:42.55), Kevin Brooks (3:05.34), Rebecca Cleator (3:17.00), Phil Clayton (3:21.59), Ava Grossman (3:22.06), Emma Seery (3:35.56), Jonathan Bailey (3:58.27) and Kate Maltby sadly retired.

The lady's winner was Sharon Taylor (Helm Hill Runners) in 2:20.10, followed by Despina Berdeni (Dark Peak) in 2:44.00. Third lady back went to Sue Richmond (Pennine Fell Runners) clocking 2:44.52.

Also, this month the popular Coledale Horseshoe fell race took place from Braithwaite caravan park, near Keswick. This 8-mile, 3000+ ft ascent run visits Grisedale Pike and Barrow fell on its return, and the race was supported by nine BCRs, despite not being a club counter.

The overall winner of the race was locally based Ambleside AC fells man Matthew Elkington, who stormed round the course in very warm weather conditions, to clock a great 1:12.09. Mark Lamb of Keswick AC took the runners-up spot just 13 seconds later, and Ben Sharrock of Ambleside AC arrived 67 seconds later, at 1:13.29, for third.

The ladies race saw a great victory for BCRs new member Kate Maltby, clocking 1:29.34, however, Ambleside ACs Antonia Fan claimed the runners-up spot arriving less than a minute later, whilst Eden Runners' Eve Pannone was closely behind, arriving in 1:32.20.

BCR results: Josh Hartley got round in 1:19.33 for another top ten finish under his belt, Ethan Furness (1:29.46), Robert Driscoll (1:35.00), Karl Tumelty (1:35.58), Christopher Durkin (1:47.19), Nick Sebley (1:48.32), Eleanor Claringbold (2:13.40) and Rachel Read (2:47.43).

On Sunday, the junior English championship counter races were held on Black Combe, with races over varying distances and amount of ascent, in line with maximum distance and ascent allowed under FRA rules for junior runners, dependent on a runners' age category.

A senior race (Black Combe Dash) of about 4.7 miles and 1900ft ascent followed the junior events, though the U19s ran the same course.

Some results included the new BCR junior section kicking off with outstanding performances in the U9 cat as Ellis Greaves was denied winning it by 15 seconds to Settle ACs Callum McGoldrick, who clocked 7:02. Lola Hodgson (Ambleside AC) was first U9 girl home, in 7:46, and BCRs Lucy Greaves (8:54) and Owen Millen (9:58) ensured sub 10 min clocking's all around in good weather and underfoot conditions.

There were no other BCR juniors in the other age groups taking part.

The senior race saw 38 competitors taking part, and over a quarter of the field were BCRs, however, the winner was Rob Jebb of Helm Hill Runners, in 40:09, who was closely followed in by Alistair Thornton (Howgill Harriers) in 42:00, but BCRs Richard Walker was third back in 47:25.

The lady's race was won by Trudie Entwistle (Calder Valley Harriers) in 57:23 whilst her club mate Layla Hirst followed in for second, in 60:21, pushed all the way by BCRs Helen Walker, who was just five seconds adrift, though she was first FV40 back.

Other BCR times were Gavin Lloyd (49:04), Ethan Furness (49:35), John Millen (51:04), Karl Tumelty (53:23 and first MV40), Jonathan Bailey (64:30), Jeffrey Bailey (65:17), James Goffe (66:30 and first MV60), and Rachel Read (74:41).

Karl Fursey is limbering up for next month's Keswick to Barrow 39.4 mile walk / run charity challenge which starts near the A591 at Legburthwaite, using the same course as last year's walk.

The next races in the clubs' fell champs is the 9 mile, 3500ft ascent Coniston fell race on Saturday, entry is available only in advance, at 12:30pm from Coniston sports and social club.

That's followed a week later with the Harrison Stickle short 3 miler, 2100ft ascent toughie, from the Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale, at 11am on the 7th, whilst this busy spell also features the Fairfield Horseshole race, at noon on the 15th, completing a busy fortnight for the green and blacks.

This Friday, at 7:15pm, those BCRs wanting a tarmac race from Dalton cricket club can do so when the town's annual 10k race takes place. Entry is available in advance or on the night.

Please see http://www.bcrunners.org.uk for much more on the club, including a lively forum pages plus all the latest results.