2013 was an extra special year for Settle Harriers organised Settle Hills race as this year it had been chosen as the FRA Inter-counties Fell Running Championships and was also the first race in the 2013 British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge. As a result the event attracted some of the top fell runners from across the country and the ensuing battles were something to savour.

First off were the junior events, with the U16’s and U18’s battling it out over challenging courses to claim the converted title of UK Inter-counties champion. Pulling on a county vest and racing for your team as well as individually brings out the best in many runners and this was evident with some closely fought battles for victory. In the U16 men’s event the North East’s Jack Willis held off Yorkshires Lewis Byram by just 3 seconds and in similar fashion in the U18’s race Yorkshire’s Max Wharton had just 2 seconds to spare over North Wales’ Iolo Hughes. The junior ladies races were won in slightly more dominant fashion by Elizabeth Greenwood representing Lancashire in the U16’s race winning by almost 3 minutes. Yorkshires Junior European Mountain Running Champion Annabel Mason was also a convincing winner leading home a Yorkshire 1, 2, 3 in the U18’s race. Local county rivals Lancashire and Yorkshire had two victories each in the team events with Lancashire proving superior in the younger age groups whilst Yorkshire lead the way in the older age group. This left it for the seniors to determine which county would emerge victorious overall.

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With close to 200 runners toeing the start line in the town’s market place, the big race of the day, the senior inter-counties race, attracted teams from as far afield as Essex, Scotland and Wales. Ahead of them lay a challenging 11.3km course, including approximately 400m of ascent and descent, the runners were faced immediately with a tough climb to the limestone country above Settle and setting a fast pace from the off were GB international mountain runner Nick Swinburn representing the North East Counties and Scotland West’s Ethiopian born Wegene Tafase. The pair soon pulled away from a large chasing pack and it became a two man race to the finish. Entering the final mile the two were still shoulder to shoulder but Tafase proved too strong for Swinburn as he finally managed to pull away for a 17 second victory. Tom Adams had the satisfaction of leading the Yorkshire team to victory with a fine third place finish, although their victory was by just a single point ahead of a strong North Wales team.

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The team race in the women’s event was far clearer with Yorkshire providing a clean sweep of the medallists through Emma Clayton, Victoria Wilkinson and Katie Walshaw. The individual title however was a much closer. With Clayton and Wilkinson having both demonstrated good form over the last few weeks, spectators were anticipating a battle royal and they weren’t disappointed. Emma took the race out hard building a significant lead over the first half of the course but as the race progressed and the terrain became slightly more technical it was clear that Victoria was closing and by the time the race reached its climax the pair were neck and neck. Entering the finishing field it was Emma’s track speed that proved the deciding factor as she just edged away to the win. Full results are available here.

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Castleberg Outdoors were proud to be able to support the local event providing a retail stall stacked high with bargains for the competitors which was a great success. The atmosphere at the finish was fantastic with many locals coming out to show their support for the runners and the sunny weather certainly helped to make the day an all round success.