Local athletes challenged by woods race

Burn Road Harriers' Paul Wilson
Burn Road Harriers' Paul Wilson

Christmas dinners and puddings were put to good use as the residual carbs propelled nine Burn Road Harriers up and around the challenging three laps of the Guisborough Woods race.

The route is a rollercoaster ride, consisting of a gradual climb through forest tracks that level and climb again.

And just when runners are coping with this gradient, a direct right turn up a very steep hill appears out of nowhere.

Once at the top it gets easier as the track descends gradually and an injection of pace is easily found (on the first lap at least).

The runners then hit the exhilarating steep muddy downhill single track, which requires superb balance and the agility of a gazelle to stay upright to avoid tree roots, trees and hidden rocks.

If the runner gets through this path unscathed the route continues on another wider curving muddy steep downhill track, at the bottom of this the fun starts all over again for another two laps.

Leading the Burn Road Men was Paul Wilson (14th, 42.15) who relished the uphill and downhill sections, pushing himself hard to pull away from his rivals.

Next up was Mark Calvert, who also put in a tremendous effort. For someone who has little fell experience he was up at the sharp end among some good fell runners, finishing 29th (44.38).

Further down the field, Karl Edwards was working his way past rivals after a steady start,

Karl had suffered a drop in form over the last month, but was happy with his run for 56th (47.30).

Close behind was John Howey (new to this type of race) and David Kirk, both of whom are getting over injuries.

John had David in his sights for two laps and decided to make his move on the third lap at the base of the big climb.

Pulling out all the stops, John went past his rival, a brave move on such a difficult part of the course, David also dug in hard, hoping not to lose too much ground.

After the steepest part of the course, John opened up a gap and kept this all the way to the mad downhill, coping well with this tricky section. However, David, who has vast experience, was closing fast.

Coming on to the last part of the downhill, both athletes were flat out and David, with his kamikaze approach, caught John just metres from the finish line. David was 74th (49.34) and John 76th (49.37).

A runner who seems to enjoy the off-road scene more each time he gets his shoes muddy is John Mansfield, who ran well around this course to finish in 122nd (53.30).

Richard Robson also looked to be enjoying the route and put in a lot of effort on those climbs, finishing well for a road runner in 154th (57.35).

Another battle between Matty Dawkins (157th, 58.36) and Dave Wallace (159th, 59.30) was in full swing, Dave having the upper hand on the climbs and Matty stronger on the downhill.

On the last lap, hitting the steep downhill Matty overtook Dave and never looked back, bounding through the mud and avoiding all obstacles in his way.

Dave, knowing he was beaten, took the more sensible approach downhill, not wanting to risk any injury.

Andy Minister, Burn Road’s ace, was running for his fell club on this occasion and had a cracking run for seventh place in 40.39.