Mark Hartell put the heat on his rivals to win the gruelling Fellsman event for an unprecedented eleventh time.
Mark Hartell en route to his eleventh Fellsman victory
The Team Vasque long-distance expert ran himself into the record books on a day when conditions were more suited to a desert marathon than the traditional Yorkshire Dales trog through mist and rain. With temperatures in the valleys pushing 24C, times were slow, but Hartell paced himself perfectly to take the Fellsman Axe trophy for the sixth successive year, with second-place man David Wade hot on his heels a mere two minutes behind him.
Hartell’s time of 12hrs 8mins was one of the slowest in years, which is understandable in the intense heat, but the winning margin of only two minutes is rare. In 2005, for instance, Hartell was two hours ahead of his nearest rival.
Third man home was Steve Birkinshaw, with a time of 12hrs 16mins. The Macclesfield-based winner took the lead on the section after Dodd Fell, at the start of the last half of the race.
Hartell spoke to grough shortly after his victory. He told us: “I was looking over my shoulder towards the end. I was feeling nauseous and had stomach cramps.
“I had been down to about eighth place earlier. Not only was it hot but there wasn’t even a breath of wind. It was the toughest one I’ve done so far.
Steve Birkinshaw led until the Hartell overtook him on the way to the Redshaw checkpoint. He passed David Wade coming down Great Knoutberry.
“I think the key to today was to pace yourself," Hartell said. "I felt pretty poor anyway after a virus so I couldn’t push it any faster, so it worked out for me.”
Hartell’s eleventh victory surpasses the ten wins of previous record holder Alan Heaton.
Fastest woman in the event was Christine Preston, with a time of 14hrs 46mins.
The 100km (62 mile) Fellsman course begins in Ingleton and crosses virtually every major peak in the southern Dales, ending in Threshfield. 299 competitors started the race, at 9am on Saturday. The majority of participants are faced with a daunting crossing of the bogs of Fleet Moss and Middle Tongue and a prolonged stretch of night navigation before reaching the finish up to 29 hours after starting.