Thursday, March 11, 2010

History Lesson, pt. II

I rejoined the Fell Runners Association at the end of 2009. I became a member in 2005 but My Hectic Past meant that a lapse was only a matter of time. Last years resurgence of the running spirit, combined with my newly found competitive urge, made the FRA Race Calender a must have tome.

Membership entitles you to three issues of The Fellrunner - the association magazine compiled by 'active fell runners for active fell runners'. The Spring 2010 edition (surely a sign that good weather is imminent?) crashed through my letterbox yesterday, and with it came a grand supplement to celebrate 40 years of the FRA. 40 pages of great mountain photography, an article by Bill Smith which is a potted history of those 40 years, and a reproduction of the very first issue of the same magazine.

It's this I wanted to mention. I was pleasantly surprised to see, in the Other Results section, two entries that are local to me. It seems that somebody, back in the day, considered a race at Malvern to be suitable for recording in The Fellrunner.

Firstly, for 1970:

"WORCESTER BEACON 1. P.Wood 33.39, 2. R.Cooper 33.44 3. A.Jenkins 35.18"

and for 1971:

"WORCESTER BEACON 1. R.Cooper 33.41 2. E.Hansen 34.14 3. A.Rowlng 34.18 Team: Worcester Y.M.C.A."

Then, further on, at the top of the Provisional Calendar of Events for 1970, the first entry reads:

"Sat. Mar.14 WORCESTERSHIRE BEACON RACE- 6 and 3/4m / 1,369' - from Malvern, Worcs. -Rec 33.24s. - Obvious course - Entries 2/6d ind. 7/6 team - by Mar. 7 to R.Hinds, Y.M.C.A. Henwick Rd. Worcester. Some road."

I would love to know what course this ran over, as the current winners time for the Beacon race 10k is 43.48 (Bill Nock, M40 of Halesowen).

Maybe the 10km course of today is not the same as that run 40+ years ago? What could account for the 10 minutes added to the course record pre-1970? And if so, why has it been changed?

'Some road' may provide a clue.

I feel an investigation coming on. The YMCA (who still have a homeless shelter on Henwick Rd, I believe) organised a hill race? When did that start? Why did it stop?

In the meantime, check out D., Mike and George. I'd like to dedicate this song to the memory of the fallen and to those who are currently falling:


  1. Hi, just having a look at your blog after following a link from your post in todays training on the fra forum. Regarding the Worcester beacon race, a fellow of mine in the Ledbury harriers remembers the old route used to run along the common before heading up the old Wyche road, can't remember where it went exactly but I'm guessing through the Wyche cutting and then on up as normal. He said that it used to be a lot harder than it is now, the old Wyche is a steep road.

  2. Nick

    cheers for that - I might send them an email and see if I can get any further information.

    All the best