TWO Ambleside athletes triumphed in the second race in the Kong Fell Running Winter Series from Braithwaite at the weekend.

Despite freezing conditions and strong winds, a field of more than 100 competitors took part in the five mile (1,700ft of climbing) race over Stile End, Outerside and Barrow,

Ambleside's Tom Simpson returned back to Braithwaite first, in a time of 40 minutes and 11 seconds. By the first summit he had opened a significant gap on the chasing pack of Steve Hebblethwaite (Keswick AC), Jack Wright (Ambleside AC) and Mario Yeomans (CFR).

Despite Hebblethwaite closing the gap heading up to the final summit on Barrow it was not enough and he had to settle for second in 40-30. Wright finished third in 40-44, with Yeomans fourth, just four seconds behind. Phil Davies of Borrowdale Fell Runners finished ten seconds adrift of Yeomans in fifth place and first V50. Andy Reid of Ellenborough was the first V60 in 55-24.

For Simpson, a regular competitor on the fells despite living in Cambridge, it was a special win.

“I’ve only won one race before, and that was at a low-key shepherd’s meet early this year," he said. "I couldn’t believe how windy it was today; I was doubled-up at times, trying to move forwards.”

Sarah McCormack, also from Ambleside AC, was the convincing winner of the women’s race, breaking the course record in the process. McCormack finished in a time of 44 minutes and 15 seconds, some four minutes ahead of Keswick AC’s Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn (48-59) who in turn was half a minute ahead of third place, and first U23, Eve Pannone (49-31) of Eden Runners. Nina Walkingshaw (Howgill Harriers) was the first V40 in 54-16, with Marie Robson (Helm Hill) first V50 in 58.21 and Lesley Malarky (Keswick AC) first V60 in 67-54.

McCormack described the race as challenging, especially given the conditions.

“The route itself was harder than I’d anticipated it being, and the weather really added to the challenge,” said McCormack who has had an outstanding season finishing eighth at the European Championships, winning the prestigious Stellina race in Italy and recently being crowned the 2018 Irish Mountain Runner of the Year.

The next race in the Kong Fell Running Winter Series is Clough Head, starting from Threlkeld Quarry, at 11am on Saturday 12 January 12.