A group of competing fell runners from three different clubs, including Matlock AC, buried their fierce rivalries for one weekend only to join forces and pull off a tremendous victory in the annual Lee Mill Fell Relays in Lancashire.
Matlock combined with Buxton AC and Wirksworth Runners as White Peak Fell Runners to tackle a hilly 6.3-mile course, made more challenging by snow on the fells, deep mud and an energy-sapping bog.
In a race over four legs, Harry Holmes, of Wirksworth, took control of the first, and acted as snow plough for the grateful runners whom he left slipping and sliding in his wake!
In trademark style, Holmes brought it home far ahead of the rest of the field, and the baton was passed over to Billy Cartwright, of Matlock, with a commanding two-minute lead for the White Peak team.
The wintry temperatures seemed to help cool Cartwright’s sometimes heated approach to racing, which has previously landed him hot water, and his blue and white vest descended the steep quarried flanks with nearest rivals Chorlton some seven minutes behind.
On the third leg, Matlock runner Dan Haworth used a quick start up the runnable track on to the fell to ensure the lead was maintained, and he slogged across the demanding tops to surely secure White Peak Fell Runners’ first victory.
On the fourth and final leg, Buxton’s Alasdair Campbell used his expertise as a local cement plant foreman to set the victory in stone. Not content with merely holding on to the lead for White Peak, Campbell went on to set the fastest leg of the day in 50 minutes, 33 seconds, bringing home the overall winners’ trophy.
Considering a total of 83 teams took part in the race, it was no mean achievement by the White Peak squad. Their aggregate winning time stood at three hours, 32 minutes and one second, nearly 15 minutes ahead of Chorlton in second place. The women’s category was won in four hours, five minutes and 51 seconds by the impressive Ribble Valley Harriers Yorkshire, who also won the mixed category.