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Keswick Mountain Festival 2021 - Winners and RD report

Kmf Sept21
Whats App Image 2021 09 11 At 07 57 42

Its been 2 and a half years since we have been able to deliver the Keswick Mountain Festival Trail races, but thankfully we managed to make it happen last weekend. This race report is a general sum up of the weekends activities.

Keswick Mountain Festival 2021

Race Report by Charlie Sproson, the KMF Adidas TERREX Trail Race director.

The KMF weekend is always busy, lively and for me a little stressful, but having a great core and marshals team means we get through it in one piece and we hope from the competitors side it seems a slick process. We know there are always hitches and our job, once we have organised it, is to plug the holes and gaps that inevitably appear over a very dynamic 2 days of organising and racing.

Our events run as follows;


• 11:00 The start of the Adidas TERREX 25km which sets off in waves, one every 5 mins until 11:40 when all waves are out on the course

• 13:20 The start of the Adidas TERREX Junior 5km

• 14:00 The start of the Adidas TERREX 5km Trail Race

• 15:00 The second wave of the Adidas TERREX 5km Trail Race


• 06:00 The start of the Adidas TERREX 50km Trail Race

• 09:00 The first wave in the Adidas TERREX 10km Trail Race

• 10:00 The second wave in the Adidas TERREX Trail Race

• 11:00 The third wave in the Adidas TERREX Trail Race

• 12:00 The forth and final wave in the Adidas TERREX Trail Race

Adidas TERREX 25km Trail Race competitors getting ready to start

All races were full on the entry lists, but with the event being rolled over for 1 and a half years, we experienced, inline with other events, around a 40% no show to race, which is not surprising when many races are trying to fit into a 6 to 8 week window around the current situation.

Saturday's racing was fast and furious at the front end of the 25km with our previous record holder for the mens time, Chris Holdsworth was back to defend is own win from 2019. Whilst the course and ground was fast, Chris noted that the bracken in September is much bigger and more overgrown than it is in May and therefore, he didn't challenge his own record, but still took the win to take the male overall champion position for 2021. 2nd and 3rd places were battled out between James Craft and Joel Birks, finishing within a minute and a half of each other, but Chris held the clear lead with over a 15 minute advantage on them both.

In the ladies race, the first 3 places were taken by Elizabeth Wheeler, Katie Percival and Sarah Polglass, although annoyingly we didn't know Elizabeth had won on the day, as some one ran under the name of Isabel Mancebo, who in retrospect we have discovered was a male. The results have been adjusted and Elizabeth now credited with the 1st place. Elizabeth was 30th overall.

Adidas TERREX 25km Winners in action under Walla Crag - Chris Holdsworth and Elizabeth Wheeler ©RouteNorth
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Adidas TERREX 25km Winners in action under Walla Crag - Chris Holdsworth and Elizabeth Wheeler ©RouteNorth

In the 5km Junior race tensions were high on the start line and when the gun sounded, the juniors were off at pace.

Callum Darby looked the hot favourite, for the boys race, on the start line and he didn't disappoint crossing the finish line in a cracking time of 22:21, finishing 4th overall.

In the girls race, Sophie Mitchell dominated the course, finishing in a fantastic time of 23:55, putting her not only 1st in the girls race, but 3rd overall in the female results and 11th in the overall results!

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Sophie and Callum racing hard in the Adidas TERREX Junior 5km Trail Race ©RouteNorth
Sophie and Callum racing hard in the Adidas TERREX Junior 5km Trail Race ©RouteNorth

In the adults 5km race the male race was dominated and won by Oliver Whitehurst in a time of 19:42, with George Bullard taking the 2nd podium spot in 21:08 and Mark Sheppard in 3rd in a time of 22:14.

The ladies race was battled out and won by Victoria Bailie in 22:43, Victoria went on to race in the 10k the following day. Second place was won by Katie Mcpartland in 23:46 with Kiley Baird taking the 3rd place in a time of 24:38.

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George and Victoria stomping their way to win the Adidas TERREX 5km Trail Races 2021 ©RouteNorth
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George and Victoria stomping their way to win the Adidas TERREX 5km Trail Races 2021 ©RouteNorth

With Saturdays racing done and dusted we just had to wait for our course markers to re-appear after finishing off marking up the 50km and 10km routes for Sunday.

With all competitors back safe and sound and a great days racing behind us all, plenty of folk took to the bars and events field in order to enjoy the evenings festivities with some lively bands and great music.

Sunday morning saw the 50km runners toe the start line of the Adidas 50km Ultra Trail race at 06:00, but we decided to delay the start by 15 mins, as the sun was certainly lower in the sky than we experience in May and in all honesty, we got it wrong and hadn't considered this correctly.

06:15 and 196 runners, out of 450 entries, set off under pink skies and the prospect of a fantastic days racing.

08:30 was soon upon us and we had the first of the wonderful Keswick Launches loaded up by one of the marshals team, setting off for the first start of the day on the Adidas TERREX 10km Trail race, starting at Low Brandlehow.

The 10km waves start at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00.

Whilst this race and wave starts were underway, Michael Holliday came racing into the finish arena to take the 1st place, overall, on the Adidas TERREX 50km Ultra Trail race in a time just over 5hours, completing in 5:00:11 to take the champions position for 2021. Second place was snapped up by Damian Carr in a time of 5:06:02, who commented he just can'\t do the hills justice, coming from flatter terrain down south and Ewan Lowther took the 3rd place in 5:12:09.

Not far back in the field Holly Wooten was having the race of her life, after having a cracking season already winning the gruelling Lakes Sky Ultra back in mid July, to take the win in the female race, finishing in 5:13:04, setting a new course record in the process, which was previously held by Beth Pascal in a time of 5:21:39. Second place in the ladies race went to local Keswick AC runner, Catherine Spurden in a time of 5:32:54, with Sophie Likeman from the locally based Cumberland Fell Runners club in 5:37:09.

Holly not only set a new female course record, but finished in 4th place overall and looked exceedingly strong at the finish, she is certainly one to look out for during the 2022 racing season.

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Holly Wooten leading a pack of male runners and Michael Holliday about to take the win on the Adidas TERREX 50km Ultra Trail Race 2021 ©RouteNorth
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Holly Wooten leading a pack of male runners and Michael Holliday about to take the win on the Adidas TERREX 50km Ultra Trail Race 2021 ©RouteNorth

Now with all the 10km waves underway and competitors finishing regularly we were able to extract from the waves who the winners were for 2021.

In the mens race, Greg Hopkinson had a brilliant race, crossing the finish line in 41:15, only 31 seconds ahead of Jan Bailey who took the 2nd spot, David Searle taking the 3rd place a few minutes behind the winning time.

Sally Braithwaite had an amazing race in the female 10k to take the win, finishing in 54:11 and placing 15th overall, 2nd place was taken by Sarah Davies in 55:09 and the 3rd place was won by Victoria Bailie in 56:16.

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Greg Hopkinson and Sally Braitwaite in action on the Adidas TERREX 10k Trail Race on Catbells Terrace ©RouteNorth
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Greg Hopkinson and Sally Braitwaite in action on the Adidas TERREX 10k Trail Race on Catbells Terrace ©RouteNorth

With the above concluding the racing for 2021, it only leaves me a few things to say.

Swapping of race numbers:

It seems evident we had a few issues with race numbers being swapped and possibly not notifying the folk at Results Base. This always makes it tough when we are in the process of trying to workout who has won the race, so please please in future, if you swap a race number for any reason, please let one of the team know.

Skewed results:

Due to the current situation we were light on marshals and Results Base were down a few on the team. With so many changes on the day due to fitness or race swapping, the results ended up slightly skewed on Saturday and it made it very difficult for us to get the correct winning times and to be 100% sure we actually had the winners correct. The prize giving was delayed by 30 mins, whilst I went through the results with a fine tooth comb with Sarah Pritchard, my second in command for 2021, and we managed to reach the final and correct results, at least for the age category winner and of course the overall 3.

However, please if you notice any discrepancies in the results, email me or one of the results base team and we can take a look and get it sorted out for you.

Final checks and flag clearance:

Its a massive job to mark out the Adidas TERREX Trail Race Routes and we take it very seriously, as we don't want you to go off route and do more miles and km's than you need to, plus it ruins the races if this happens.

Its just as big a job, sometimes bigger to make sure all our course markings are back in once the races are over.

We send a course sweep to make sure all runners are off the course, we then send out a course stripper, from checkpoint to checkpoint, directly behind the sweeper. Their job is to take out all the flags and signage and pick any litter up, whether it has been accidentally dropped by a runner or tourist. We don't differentiate between our runners or other general fell and trail users. We want to leave the trails cleaner than we did before we set up the courses.

This year seems to be particularly difficult and the only explanation I can think is that the events marshal team were smaller due to 'self-isolation' etc, and therefore very tired and have missed more markers than usual.

We know this is or can be a problem, so the following week, as quickly as we can, we send out a final stripper to make sure what ever the original course stripper missed, is then collected back in.

We know even they can miss something and so over the following weeks/months we endeavour to run the courses again. Each time we do, we also perform a litter pick and just feel happy we have the opportunity to try to keep the trails as clean as we can.

Please please please, if you happen to find a flag or sign that we have missed and left behind, either pick it up and let us know where you found it, we'll offer you a reward for it, or let is know where you have seen it [exact grid reference is very handy for this] and we will send out one of the team to clear it up.

Please remember, we are not a faceless organisation out to just make a quick buck, we are a passionate mountain and trail running organisation and we care greatly about the fells and trails we are all blessed to use and we do not like to add anything to nature, that should not be there.

Thanks to all:

So with all of the above, I would like to thank:

  • My team of marshals, who work tirelessly over the weekend for only the kicks and giggles of it [they do get a race entry of they would like one] and without who's help, we would not be delivering these races and you would not be racing in them.
  • My core team who support me in my role as a race director and keep me on the straight and narrow, plugging holes, spotting mistakes and making sure I don't make a real mess on the weekend.
  • The KMF Core team for all their support and flexibility, many of who I have been working with for the last 5 years.
  • The land owners, farmers, locals and residents of the villages and habitation we pass through for tolerating the use of the land, trails and areas.
  • Adidas TERREX for again sponsoring the Keswick Mountain Festival Trail Races
  • All the competitors for racing and their families for supporting them and making such a fantastic atmosphere.

So until next Spring, have a great time running and training on the trails and we look forward to welcoming you back to Crow Park on the weekend of 20th to 22nd May 2022

Charlie [Race planner and director since 2015]

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