One hundred years ago on the morning of March 21, 1917, Sedberghians woke to a fine morning and hopes were high for a pleasant Wilson Run day. However, by 3pm snow that had been falling lightly since noon began to fall heavily. The wind picked up and what the Sedberghian Magazine termed ‘a very good specimen of a Sedbergh blizzard’ whipped up.
The small field of 30 runners had an eventful afternoon with three competitors failing to complete the run.
Little, who had been identified as the likely winner, strained a ligament just beyond Ten Mile lane and had to be brought home.
Thorman was unlucky enough to find his feet frozen on the heather and was brought home from Danny in an unenviable state. He had been running well up to Cautley, where he was twelfth.
Cunningham lost a shoe in the mud near Hebblethwaite but ran on to finish with a bloody and swollen foot in a time of 1.46.00.
Frank Duxbury was photographed at the top of the climb from Danny bridge, where he had taken the lead. He held his pace to win with a time of 1.20.20. Duxbury won again the following year with a time of 1.17.20.
Duxbury went on to live in Canada and, in 1938, founded ‘Sedbergh School’ in Quebec following the model of a strong house system and wide range of outdoor pursuits that he had so enjoyed at Sedbergh.
Sedbergh School’s historic ten-mile race first took place in 1881 and follows a course up the fells and down the gullies around Sedbergh.
The course was instigated by Bernard Wilson, who inspired the boys and masters to run. Following his death in 1913 the race was re-named the Wilson Run.
The race has been cancelled just three times in its 136-year history. In 1936 the school was struck by illness as a measles epidemic and two cases of meningitis caused the school to close for several months.
In 1947 snow up to chest height in places caused the cancellation, although some boys walked the course.
In 2001 the foot-and-mouth epidemic closed large areas of farmland and, as a result, the traditional ten mile race was not possible.
A ten mile relay was held around the school site to ensure that this Sedbergh traditional was upheld, albeit in a different form.