Sunday, 29 November 2015

Hundreds rise to Coniston Challenge

BEAUTIFUL scenery, massive hills and 16.7 miles to conquer – the spectacular Coniston 14+ drew around 1,200 runners to the Lake District. NATALIE CHAPPLES reports

THEY came from all corners of the country to take on a challenging road race which boasts some of Britain’s most stunning scenery.

Club runners and charity competitors pounded the roads circling Coniston Water on Saturday.

This year’s Coniston 14+ runners also had to contend with temperatures reaching 20C – so extra water stations were made available.

Supporters cheered on the 1,200 runners from grass verges along the 16.7-mile hilly route, which is surrounded by a majestic backdrop of the fells.

A crowd of families and friends provided encouragement for the last 100 yards push down Lake Road to the finish line at John Ruskin School, where the race had also started.

Steve Cockrell was the first man home with a time of 1.39.35. The 25-year-old, who lives in London, said: “This is my favourite race, so I’m chuffed to have won.

“I’ve done this race four years on the trot and I’ve had top 10 finishes, but this year seems like a breakthrough year. I’ve trained really hard.

“I come here for the scenery. It is very different from the city races.

“It was hot out there today.”

Mr Cockrell, a delivery driver for Tesco, had caught the race leader, last year’s winner John Herbert, at around eight or nine miles and they ran together.

Mr Herbert came in second and congratulated Mr Cockrell with a handshake and a hug.

Mr Cockrell was also supporting his partner, Sarah Hern, of London. This weekend he will be running the London Marathon.

Eleanor Greenfield, 32, of Nuneaton, led the charge for the women and returned first with a time of 1.54.33 – making it two Coniston 14+ victories in a row from three attempts.

Miss Greenfield said: “I’m really pleased. I love this course because it’s hilly and so scenic. It’s such a great race and I love the Lakes.

“It was warm in places but it was okay.”

She led the women runners from about a mile into the event. When she finished her race, she supported her dad, Pete Greenfield, 63.

The first local club man home was Jonathan Deegan, of Ambleside AC, in 1.41.31.

The first local club lady was Stephanie Gillies, 43, of Ulverston and from Glaxo Hoad Hill Harriers, in 2.19.40.

The first Coniston man home was Paul Reilly, the son of Colin Reilly who founded the race with fell race legend Fred Reeves, in 2.09.25.

Mr Reilly, 34, ran with his friend John Kirkbride, also of Coniston.

Mr Kirkbride is the son of one of the original race committee members, the late John Kirkbride.

Each year the race raises thousands of pounds for local charities and St Mary’s Hospice of Ulverston receives a donation in memory of Mr Kirkbride.

Race coordinator, Geoff Cooper, said: “We are very pleased with the event. It is a community-run event which raises money for local charities.

“We’ve had approximately 1,200 runners, it’s a bit down on last year because of the longer distance.

“People come from all over to run, from Scotland, to the South coast.

“The main runners are from the local area, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

“We’ve had an 82-year-old man, Maurice Copeland, from Norfolk, running this year.”

Mr Copper thanked the volunteer team of around 90 people who helped stage the event, the police and John Ruskin School for being the event base.

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