MORE than 50 runners braved scorching conditions and a steep moorland course in the senior fell race at Kirkby Gala over the weekend.

Winner Ben Mounsey of Calder Valley admitted the red hot conditions got the better of him during the second half of the race, finishing what was an extended route this year in an impressive 39 minutes, 44 seconds in the British Open Fell Runners Association event.

“I didn’t really know much about the second half of the race. It was so hot,” said Ben as he collapsed to the ground and sought the shade and plenty of water to recover at the end of the race.

First local man home was Josh Hartley, of Kirkby, in fifth place. There was home success in the women’s section with Ulverston’s Hollie Orr, of Black Combe runners, coming home in 47 minutes, 27 seconds.

The races started earlier than scheduled, with organisers keen to get everyone home safely in the heat, given the highest temperatures experienced at Kirkby Gala in living memory.

Hollie was almost caught out by the change in schedule. She said: “The senior fell race was supposed to start at 4pm, so I had only just arrived on the field when they said they were going to be starting the race.

I didn’t have chance to warm up. You really need to warm up when you have such a steep climb, and such a tough start to the race that you have here.”

But Hollie’s local knowledge and pre-event training paid dividends. “I train a lot in this area. It’s an amazing place to run. And after a tough start I began to get into my stride. I found my rhythm and took over the lead from half way and had a good run from there.”

While fell runners of all ages took part in the races up the moor all afternoon, there was plenty of activity on the field to keep locals and visitors entertained.

An inaugural five-a-side football tournament was held on two pitches and South Lakes Academy of Karate-do, put on a demonstration of the martial art.