Saltwell Harriers have been competing in the Hodgson Brothers relay since 1988. This mountain relay covering 25 miles of Lake District fells was inaugurated by the Hodgson family in 1986 as a memorial to their son and brother Ian, who was killed in a cycling accident, aged 25 the day after competing in the 1985 Karrimor International Mountain Marathon. Ian and his father and brothers all competed in that event. Ian would win the score class but was killed not knowing he had done so.
The family decided that a unique tribute to Ian would be a 4-leg fell relay, run in pairs like the KIMM (now OMM) using as far as possible controls from the 1985 KIMM.
Held on the first Sunday in October the relay takes place on the mountain tops between Patterdale and Kirkstone Pass with a total ascent of 8038ft/2450m.
The Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay is certainly a highlight in the fell running calendar for Saltwell Harriers with keen competition for the eight available slots in the team. Paul Richardson has been fortunate to make selection on numerous occasions and his experience would be required this year on 4.5 mile/1000ft leg one where he was accompanied by debutant Dominic Martin. From the start runners can be seen on the gentle climb up to Angle Tarn; well, you can on a nice sunny day. This year all our pairs would experience limited visibility on their respective legs, with only our leg four runners, Andy Armin and Iain Armstrong, getting the opportunity to run with shadows.
What make this relay special is that performance is determined not only about the effort that is left on the mountainside but the skill of navigation and making decisions on the move. Seb Bufton and Simon Long taking a risk to contour beneath Thornhwaite Crag to steal a few places and Jim Thompson and Graham Stephenson deciding to leave the well-defined path over Dove Crag to run across open fell in limited visibility, hoping their line brings them to the checkpoint; it did!
For us spectating, there is the worry and concern as we eagerly wait for the sight of a Saltwell Vest. ‘They should be here in the next few minutes.’ ‘Is that them?’ ‘Thought they would be here by now. Do you think something has happened?’ ‘Here they are, well done Saltwell, go on.’ ‘Isn’t this a great day out?’ ‘Yes it is!’
This race brings out the very best camaraderie from all those who attend. Each individual looks after their running partner and each pair gives everything and more for the team. Who would not want to be a part of that? Selection for next year is now open!
The Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay is certainly a great day out and those of us who attend year on year would recommend you get Sunday 6 October 2024 in your diary.
2023 Saltwell Team
Leg 1: Paul Richardson & Dominic Martin
Leg 2: Seb Bufton & Simon Long
Leg 3: Jim Thompson & Graham Stephenson
Leg 4: Iain Armstrong & Andy Armin