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Mountain silver at seventy

Norman Bush was second male 70+ runner at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships at Korbielow, Poland on 28 August, taking home a Silver. Geoff Howard who won Gold in the same competition running for the 60+ England men’s team in 2008, reports on the race. Two weeks later, Norman won the 70+ category in the English Fell Championships.

Masters Mountain Race (WMMR) has been an up-hill only race ascending 2,500 to 3,000 feet on a firm track of about 10k. This year’s event had that format and succeeded in perpetuating the tradition of excellent competitive challenge and enjoyable socialising. However, unfortunately, it also raised concerns about basic safety issues.

A The re-awarding of gold medals to last

year’s winners in 50 per cent of the age categories reflects the high standard of running ‘at the sharp end’ especially when the winners included Angela Mudge of Scotland and Megs Greenan of Ireland. All of which puts into context the magnificent achievement of Ilkley Harrier Norman Bush, whose silver in the v70 race was the best award to a runner from England, the only other being the v65 bronze to Martin Ford of Cheltenham.

I had walked the course on the day before the race and had established that, unlike in previous years, the finish neither had facilities such as a ski lodge, hotel or restaurant, nor was it accessible to motorised transport. It was in fact on the summit of the 6,000 feet plus Mount Pilsko, 2k of exposed mountain above the ski lodge which runners pass at the 6k mark and to which they had to return from the finish to collect their kit bags and obtain refreshment. This lodge was only accessible to non-runners by walking or 4x4 vehicle.


part from when it was held in Keswick, a typical out and back English fell course, the World

Early on race day I walked up to the lodge to support Norman and the other runners. I was lucky because, although it had been raining, I reached the lodge in dry weather. Then it started! Steady at first, but by the time the first runners came past (65 and above age groups) the rain was lashing down and the wind was blowing strongly across the hillside and it continued for at least a couple of hours. It took the runners, who had started in good weather and had not been required or advised to carry any extra kit, a good half hour to complete the 2k from the lodge to the finish and then return to the lodge by which time they were all very cold and some so much so that they were incapable of opening their kit bags or obtaining a warm drink. This was compounded by the absence of organisation in kit bag collection. The situation gradually improved as the wind and rain eased for the later (younger age group) races, and body heat was generated by having a mass of people in such a confined space. Amazingly none of the runners lost their composure despite the most trying of circumstances.

The running of the event didn’t appear to have been as well resourced as previously, but the local people tried hard to ensure that it all went well and that everyone had a good time. However for any event finishing at over 6,000 feet one would expect the World Mountain Running Council to ensure that basic safety precautions are taken with respect to issues such as: minimum kit levels;


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