Captain Cook’s Fell Race – 1 January 2019

A new New year and the traditional early morning race across the fells at Great Ayton, birthplace of the legendary British seafarer and navigator whose horizons extended way into the southern oceans.

Despite the preceding evening’s social and sporting ‘events’ attended by many of the top Polyfellers plus Greg Penn (who materialised with a fridge), 9 runners made the start line at 11 am. There was no Greg Penn nor any sign of a fridge but ready and steady to go was the ex Poly Club Captain, Vaughan Hemy. His presence lifted the spirits of a team coming to terms with the prospect of reacquainting an unstable body and fuzzy mind with a 318 metre climb and a run down a steep mud gulley with many quirky changes of direction.

Conditions today were as good as anyone can recall with no wind, warm temperatures and clear views across Teesside from the summit.

Taking back control of the title as first Poly runner to cross a competitive race line in 2019 was Graham Lewis Dale. He dodged all roadblocks to hit the backstop with a hard exit on the finish line in about 37 minutes and a top 40 placing in a strong field. Previous years he’d been hindered by a hangover but this time round he’d reformed as he was still talking a lot of sense at midnight.

The resurgent Hemy was a minute behind after some acrobatics in the gulley which cost him time but got 9 from the judges for difficulty of execution. He was the ‘fell discovery’ of 2018 (like one of those 60s bands reviving its greatest hits – last time the Capt was ‘big’ on the fells he was also in vinyl). He was definitely back after his leg 1 on the British fell relays as the ‘ghost of fellrunner past’. The ex Capt picked up good pace across the final mile or so and was within shouting distance of GLD by the line. The men’s team was closed out by Mark Smith (getting back to race pace) and Barry Young (not getting anywhere fast).

The team were complemented by 2 extremists with Jonathan Jamison (notorious ultra runner) and Dave Johnson of the track (the shorter the better). One had barely chance to get beyond ‘C’ on the temperature gauge; the other had blown the thermostat by the time he had left the village.

First lady home in 2019 was (again) ever reliable Helen Heaney who (again) is crowned as first Polylady to cross a race line in the New year. She formed part of a triumvirate with Jenny Simpson and Suzanne Lewis Dale. All 3 packed in very well within a couple of minutes with a 6th team placing for the effort. SLD exhibited all the descending skills of a chamois which the ex Capt could have done well to copy. A descent of a thousand metres could have thrown that race wide open. Good pace setting by Jenny enabled her to creep past SLD by the finish.

In the children’s races, the short event was down to Aidan Lewis dale and Bea Lewis Dale – Bea exhibiting some of her father’s characteristics in questioning the orthodoxy of a fell race where you can’t fall over and wasn’t very long. Ben Heaney scrapped away with the seniors across the first mile or so before being re routed back with the other U15s in a 4 k circuit around the mud track.

The day was completed with a slice of Helen Heaney’s Christmas cake which we all devoured in the interests of health.

A fine to start to an important year for GLD and like Capt Cook he’s looking way beyond Europe for his targets. For Helen Heaney as current ladies’ fell champion, it was steady as she goes.

2019 is a new year and a new fell championship. For anyone who wishes to get involved from the Club speak to any of our Polyfellers about this; check the championship schedule (just published)  or ask to join the closed facebook group which is full of surprises !

Here are the results:



Juniors :


Author: Barry Young