50th Birthday Celebrations for Grantham Running Club’s Craig Drury
There are many ways to celebrate a 50th birthday but Grantham Running Club’s Craig Drury chose to race up England’s third highest peak and shaved nearly an hour off his course best to boot. Family and friends came from as far away as Geneva and London to support him in the Lake District as Craig made his second attempt at running one of the country’s toughest fell races – Hellvellyn and the Dodds.
A 24km race with 4,386 feet of climb, saw Craig run to the top of Helvellyn and back down again. For the past few months Craig could have been spotted repeatedly running laps up and down Grantham’s Hills and Hollows in preparation for this year’s race.
Craig enjoyed perfect conditions on Saturday 27th May, it was warm but not hot, with a cool breeze.
As 11 o’clock approached Craig was very nervous as last year he had taken 5 hours and 3 minutes (it was his first proper fell race) only beating those who retired from the race. Guided by local fell running legend Leslie Malarky (FV70) of Keswick AC, Craig kept his head when climbing to the top of the first summit, Clough Head (726m), then to Great Dodd (857m) and the cut-off point at Raise (883m).
Last year Craig just made the cut off time of 1pm, this year he was feeling strong and made it there almost 20 minutes faster.
Craig and Leslie hit the summit within seconds of each other, but she showed her fell running skill running down the rocky descent of Lower Man, where she came into her own and showed Craig the best “trods” or routes.
As only his 5th fell race it’s clear there is a lot of skill to running down mountains as well as fitness.
Completing the course this year in 4 hours 9 minutes and 57 seconds, Craig was 53 minutes faster than last year, that’s 17.5% improvement!
The cheers from his supporting friends and family gave him that extra boost to finish under 250 minutes! The winner’s time was 2 hours 6 minutes and 23 seconds, Bertie Houghton from Dark Peak Fell Runners.