Mercia Hill Trial   Sunday 20th January Pics from Alastair

The Mercia Hill Trial is a new navigation and fell running challenge based on the successful Kinder Trial. Competitors start at intervals and have to visit a number of checkpoints in any order and return to the event centre. We launched the event to encourage runners to learn better navigation skills and show how much fun this kind of event can be. Competitors either run solo (with previous experience of similar events) or in pairs.

The days before the event had seen some heavy snowfall over Shropshire and those placing the checkpoints had a chilly couple of hours work late on Saturday afternoon. Sunday dawned without further snow and it seems that everyone who tried to travel successfully reached us including Robert Taylor (Pennine FR), a welcome visitor from up north.

The early starters definitely had the best of the conditions as heavy snowfall from 10:30am made both the navigation and the underfoot conditions progressively more difficult. Kristof Nowicki was one of the first to go out, setting a time which proved impossible to beat. SLMM veteran Brian Crowther navigated superbly to claim second overall paired with Chris Atherton, a local runner who has improved greatly in the last year. The remaining prizes were taken by Mark Bollom and Anna Bartlett (first mixed pair), Susan Howarth and Lucy Aphramor (first lady pair) and Joanne Dodd of Wrexham Tri (first solo lady). It was great to see Emma Clarke, one of Mercia’s promising juniors, navigating the course with her dad Phil, and also local farmer Roger Lloyd combining a bit of fell running with a check on his sheep!

In view of the conditions we’d asked all the runners to take special care and look after each other and were pleased to see the event was very much run in a competitive but friendly spirit. Thanks to Zoe Owen, Mark Agnew and Ian Vann for helping place and remove checkpoints, the event centre team of Charlie Leventon and Keith and Pauline Richards, Wrekin Orienteers for their mapping, Al Tye for his excellent photos, and most of all to John Taylor for sitting through a snowstorm for four hours in a tent at 1,600’ to provide safety cover on the hill. The event was a great success which we hope to repeat next year with a 2014 Mercia Hill Trial.

Jim Tinnion Coaching and Development, Mercia Fell Runners