ONE of the most unique races in the UK sporting calendar played out on the windswept waters of Windermere.

It sees 14 athletes taking part in the individual race, twice rowing across England’s largest lake as well as running up and down a steep fell.

The century-old Lakeside-Gummer’s How Fell Race also features a team race, with 14 teams of three doing battle against each other watched by a large crowd from the Windermere shoreline.

Before the start organiser David Birch, of Morpeth, recalled that his great-grandfather competed in the historic event back in 1890.

In those days a special train service was put on from the nearby town of Barrow to bring folk along to the race.

Starting with an 800-metre dash along the road to the jetties at the rear of the Lakeside Hotel, all participants row a quarter of a mile across Windermere, before a run to the 1,053ft summit of Gummer’s How and back, culminating in a final row back across the lake.

Helm Hill’s Alastair Dunn (27-18) won the individual race for a fourth time with nearly five minutes to spare from Michael Jones (31-57) of Black Combe Runners.

Dunn’s nearest challenger was expected to be England international and Ambleside AC athlete Jon Brown, who got into difficulties on the initial row across Windermere. Despite recovering ground on the running section Brown (32-20) had to settle for fourth after hitting a jetty and allowing Idle AC’s Leon Winder (32-14) through for third.

Team Inov-8 (28-57), made up of Ambleside’s Ben Abdelnoor, Endmoor’s John Helme and Keswick’s Carl Bell, were victorious in the team race despite a rather ‘dog-legged’ outward journey across the lake which left them in third place by the time their boat hit the eastern shore.

Determined to make up for lost time, the trio pelted out of the boat and ran hard at the hill. Ascending into the mist, they first passed the team from Black Combe Runners and then the Helm Hill team.

Helm Hill’s (29-22) Craig Burrow, Mark Addison and Robin Stones were still in hot pursuit as the two teams hit the water in the race to be the first back to the Lakeside Hotel. But on the return row the Inov-8 lads managed to remain calm and with clear directions and a steady stroke made a near perfect straight line return. Black Combe finished third in 30-44.