Bland clinches fell running title in front of home crowd GAVIN IS THE

Date: Saturday 14th August 1999

BEST OF BRITISH

BEST OF BRITISH

A HOME crowd cheered on Thirlmere’s Gavin Bland (pictured) as he clinched the British fell running title with third place in the annual Borrowdale run.

The 27-year-old farmer crossed the line behind club colleagues Simon Booth and Jim Davies to secure the championship.

Gavin, a member of Borrowdale Fell Runners, was crowned English champion in June with a win at the Holme Moss event in Yorkshire.

He said the thrill of winning the title was tempered only by not finishing in first place on Saturday.

Having won the championship for the first time, he will now compete at Keswick for a place in the World Cup in Borneo in October. “There is a field of about 100 runners, but there will only be 20 with a real chance, including myself and Simon Booth,” he said.

Gavin said he never gave the British title a thought as he finished ahead of former English and British champion Ian Holmes, of Bingley Harriers, who had to win at Borrowdale to keep his championship hopes alive.

“You don’t get anything for being champion, just the glory,” he said. The defence of the crown next year is his next aim and he added: “It will probably be easier now that I have won it once.”

The season draws to a close with a race in Wales later this month. Ian Holmes currently lies in second place, although he will have to withstand a challenge to finish in the runners-up spot.

Excellent conditions at Borrowdale resulted in fast times and there was a bumper field of 395 runners.

Gavin said: “You normally get an average of 250 people each year, but a British championship event will almost double that.”

Having started fell running about 10 years ago, Gavin has competed in every Borrowdale race in the 1990s.

Simon Booth was only 40 seconds outside the course record with a time of 2hr, 35min, 18sec. The mark was set in 1981 by Gavin’s father Billy. Second placed Jim Davies finished in 2.38.25.

Borrowdale Fell Runners, who also claimed the team title, occupied the first four places, with Johnny Bland coming home in 2.41.26.

Fellow members Andrew Davies, Ben Bardsley, Andrew Schofield and Scott Collett finished sixth, eighth, 12th and 20th respectively.

Organiser of the race, Anne Bland, said she was delighted with entries. “The conditions were good and the first four runners were together for most of the way,” she said.

l The event can be seen by viewers of BBC1’s Grandstand today on Athletics Focus.