Nicky Spinks and other competitors make the ascent of Ingleborough during the 2021 event. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Nicky Spinks and other competitors make the ascent of Ingleborough during the 2021 event. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A historic endurance event in the Yorkshire Dales has fallen victim to coronavirus.

The Fellsman was due to take place in April, but organisers have cancelled the 60-plus-mile ultra-race.

The event has only once before been postponed in its 58-year history when foot-and-mouth disease wiped it from the 2001 calendar.

Hundreds of competitors normally take part in the Fellsman, which runs from Ingleton to Threshfield via 10 Yorkshire Dales fells. But organisers said the risks posed by the Covid-19 virus were too great and the event, which was due to take place over 25 and 26 April, would not go ahead.

In a statement, the Fellsman committee said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we are aware that many will be bitterly disappointed.

“We wished to make the decision ourselves, before it could be made for us, and felt it was only fair to give you our reasons for taking this action.”

The committee said the event is wholly dependent on volunteers to run the event on the weekend. “With the current spread of the virus we cannot ensure that we will have enough staff available to man the event to the required levels of safety,” it said. “All we need is one checkpoint team to require to self-isolate on the Friday evening and the whole event could not run.”

Organisers said, although the Fellsman is an outdoors sports event and consequently the UK Government was currently not advising cancellation of such gatherings, the nature of the Fellsman means there are periods where large numbers of people are confined in relatively small spaces across the event, at the kit check, the start and checkpoint tents, which mean it is not a normal outdoor event. “In all conscience we feel we cannot put either entrants or staff in positions of increased risk,” they said.

They added: “We are concerned that, should the unnecessary stockpiling of goods and provisions continue, we would not be in a position to provide adequate refreshments around the route.”

If the main base for the event, a school in Threshfield, were forced to close by authorities, it would be likely the Fellsman staff would not have access to the buildings.

The committee added: “As you are aware the Fellsman is a non-profit event run by a team of volunteers from Keighley District Scout Network.

“The monies paid to us in entry fees support the year’s event and we do not have a large cash buffer in place to absorb costs from a cancelled event. At the current time the outlay for this year’s event has been minimal with large payments due in the next week or so. By taking the decision to cancel now, before these payments are made, we can ensure that, after refunding entrants their entry fee, the Fellsman still has sufficient funds in reserve to allow us to run in 2021.”

“We are aware that some entrants will have made accommodation bookings in the local hotels and B&Bs. Please consider using the weekend to still come and spend some time in our lovely countryside – without the need for a 62-mile slog through bogs and moorland.”

  • A major climbing event taking place this weekend has been closed to spectators.

The Climbing Works International Festival will still go ahead as planned, but anyone who wants to watch the event can do so only via a live-streamed online feed.

Organisers of the Rab CWIF said: “In light of the UK government’s move today to increase efforts to contain and delay the spread of coronavirus, The Climbing Works have taken the decision to reduce the scale of this year’s CWIF. Registered athletes will still be invited to compete, however we are asking that spectators view the competition via the online live stream only.

“All proceeds from spectator tickets are donated to Climbers Against Cancer.” Anyone who wants a refund is asked to email the organisers.

“We would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support at this time.”

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