The Fellsman 2017 winner Chris Perry. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Fellsman 2017 winner Chris Perry. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

An ultrarunner confirmed a family dynasty with a win in one of the toughest events on the calendar.

Chris Perry followed in his brother Adam’s footsteps with victory in The Fellsman, the 60-mile (97km) traverse across 10 peaks in the Yorkshire Dales.

The 31-year-old Dark Peak Fell Runners member led the field to finish the gruelling challenge in less than his personal target time of 11½ hours.

His younger brother, who has posted a hat-trick of wins, sat out the race this year, but was on hand at various checkpoints to encourage Chris, and the pair’s father Kev also took part in the event.

This year’s Fellsman was run in mainly dry conditions, with early sunshine after the 8.36am start giving way to cool and windy conditions. The terrain underfoot was unusually firm.

Chris Perry arrived at the Threshfield finish shortly before 8pm on Saturday, with a provisional time of 11hrs 21mins, ahead of three joint second-place runners, Simon Bourne, Kevin Hoult and Stewart Bellamy, who finished more than half an hour behind the winner.

Speaking at the finish, Chris Perry said: “This is my fourth time. The last few have definitely been over 12 hours. I was ill last year; I actually turned up to run but I was ill, so I had a score to settle this time round. I’m pleased with today; it went well.”

He put his result down to a good training regime over the past few weeks, with a few Lake District fell races to ‘put a bit of strength in my legs.’

Even for someone who has run the course three times before, navigation can be a problem. He said: “Over Fleet Moss I had a bit of a nightmare. I don’t understand what I did, but I ended up going a bit too high and couldn’t find the fence-line. I was a little bit tired at that point too. The rest was pretty bang on.”

Lawrence Eccles led early in the event. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lawrence Eccles led early in the event. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lawrence Eccles had set the early pace, with strong runs up the hills, but Perry made his decisive move after Dentdale as the event entered its second half.

“I took the lead just coming out of Stonehouse. I was behind Lawrence for a while. I thought I’d let him run up the hills, because he seemed to like to do that, and I thought, eventually he’s going to wear himself out so overtook him and worked a little bit harder and put a bit of a lead in, and I didn’t see him again.”

An unusually dry period had left the Yorkshire Dales fells largely free of some of its energy-sapping bogs.

The Fellsman winner said: “Today suited me really because it was bone dry everywhere, so there was a lot of running that could be done.

“It wasn’t too hard underfoot, but it was dry. A lot of the becks and streams, there was nothing in them. A lot of the bogs where you are normally knee-deep, you were just gliding over, so it was good.” Early sunshine made for warmer than usual conditions for the runners, but the day clouded over and the breeze grew stronger throughout Saturday.

Perry said: “This morning it was boiling; I couldn’t take enough fluids on. By Great Whernside, the wind was in your face and it definitely cooled down a little bit.”

Chris Perry receives encouragement from three-times Fellsman winner Adam, along with Chris's family and a four-legged supporter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Chris Perry receives encouragement from three-times Fellsman winner Adam, along with Chris's family and a four-legged supporter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Entrants in The Fellsman run unsupported – there are no pacers or navigators to help runners, but at roadside checkpoints encouragement is often on hand – and Chris Perry also had another incentive to keep up what turned out to be a largely solo run in the second half of the event.

Recovering at the finish, he said: “The old man’s out there somewhere – Kev Perry – he’s a bit of a soldier. It’s always handy when he’s chasing you, to get you round. My wife and my little boy were out supporting me and my dog Archie. It’s always nice to get to a checkpoint and see some friendly faces.

“It was a little bit of a struggle being on my own, because I didn’t know how hard to run; I couldn’t even see anyone, so I couldn’t gauge how fast I was or how hard I was running. From Stonehouse I was pretty much on my own.

“I tried to put a bit of a gap out of Stonehouse; I ran all the way out there. I don’t know if that was a good idea or not.”

The Fellsman starts in Ingleton and makes its way over many of the Dales’ peaks before descending into Threshfield, 60 miles later. The route goes over Ingleborough, Whernside, Gragareth, Great Coum, Blea Moor, Great Knoutberry Hill, Dodd Fell, Middle Tongue, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside.

Chris Perry said: “I got a little bit tired from Dodd Fell and Fleet Moss. I always struggle there for some reason; I don’t know if it’s a mental thing. But once you’re over Buckden Pike, you’re going home then, so you get a little bit more energy in the legs. After that, I was feeling good again.”

His legs held out, and by the time he checked in at Threshfield, his nearest challengers were 35 minutes behind him. “To win is fantastic,” he said, “especially to put another Perry name on the axe. I’m overjoyed with that. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m dead chuffed with it.”

Fellsman runners-up, from left, Simon Bourne, Stewart Bellamy and Kevin Hoult. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Fellsman runners-up, from left, Simon Bourne, Stewart Bellamy and Kevin Hoult. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lawrence Eccles held second place until the descent from Great Whernside, the final fell, when a trio who had run the full race together, Simon Bourne, Kevin Hoult and Stewart Bellamy, overtook him to take joint runners-up honours with a time of 11hrs 56mins.

Self-employed electrician Chris Perry has added another family victory to the Fellsman rollcall but says he won’t be pitting himself against his younger brother. “I don’t team up with Adam; he’s too fast for me. And I’ve got a little boy to look after.” He’s also looking forward to the birth of his second child in June. In the meantime he has the Old County Tops Fell Race to train for, while Adam has his own plans for the coming few weeks.

Fastest woman in the event was Emma Hopkinson, who finished in 34th place overall, with a time of 14hrs 45mins. Sharon Mcdonald was next woman finisher in 15hrs 33mins.

Kev Perry took the honours for the fastest runner over 50, completing the course in 12hrs 30mins in eighth place, with Peter Chapman taking the over-60s trophy with his time of 13hrs 27mins in 18th position.

Terry Butterworth was the first participant over 70 to finish, in a time of 17hrs 31mins, in 109th overall place.

There were 374 starters, of whom 291 managed to complete the event.

Mark Helie was the final walker to make the finish, in a time of 28hrs 57mins.

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