Fell runner committed suicide

Date: Saturday 14th June 2003

LEGENDARY fell runner Chris Bland, found dead in a car park in the Borrowdale Valley in March, committed suicide, the coroner at an inquest in Workington concluded.

Mr. Bland, aged 62, of Undercroft, Stonethwaite, was found hanging in a car park at Bowderstone, near Keswick, by two walkers.

He was one of the pioneers of Keswick Athletic Club and it was largely through his efforts, and the support of Borrowdale hotelier Miles Jessop, that the Borrowdale fell race, one of Cumbria’s most famous fell endurance events, was inaugurated 30 years ago.

DEPRESSION

West Cumbria coroner John Taylor said Mr. Bland had been suffering from depression and had received medical help, but obviously felt he could go on no longer.

Mr. Bland was a keen sportsman in his younger days, playing cricket for Braithwaite before taking up fell running when the new Keswick Athletic Club was established.

It was the start of a remarkable family association with the traditional Lakeland sport because his brother, Anthony, and cousins, Billy, Stuart and David, all regularly appeared alongside him on entry sheets for major events.

When he retired from the fell running scene, he became involved in orienteering.

OWNBUSINESS

Mr. Bland attended Keswick’s Lairthwaite Secondary School and worked at the town’s Woolworths store before leaving to work at Honister Quarry. In the 1970s, he set up his own business in the valley as a stonemason.

A talented craftsman, he built his own house at Stonethwaite and the effects of his skill can be seen all over the Borrowdale Valley in the stone-faced properties and walls he built.

He was devoted to the church, serving on the parochial church council at various times and being a churchwarden for 20 years. He was also a governor at Borrowdale School.

He was married to Sheila for 30 years and the couple had three children Emma, Christopher and Ben.

Mr. Bland is buried at Borrowdale Church.