Gummers How?

This race is steeped in history; it was originally part of ‘The Finsthwaite, Lakeside and District Unionist Demonstration’ an event held in the grounds of Buck Yeats House. In addition to the fell race were hounds trials, wrestling, flat races for boys and men and long jump. Such was the popularity of the event special trains were laid on from Barrow & Ulverston that a crowd of between 2000 - 3000 would attend. The race used to be the unique guides race and for this particular race a copper kettle or a silver teapot was awarded to the winner along with the prize money (£12 in 1927 £125 or a weekend for 2 at the Lakeside Hotel this year). Competitors had to run a quarter of a mile to the shore of the lake leap into a boat, row across about half mile, race to the top of Gummers How, the famous old Beacon Point, and return. Sadly the event ceased and so with it the race.

But in 1994 after a gap of approximately 60 years the race was revived by ex local David Birch in memory of his Grandfather who competed and won the silver teapot. David who now lives in Newcastle has been organising ever since. The event now consists of two races, an individual race starting at 5.30pm and a team race at 6.30pm (3 in a team).

Fast forward to the present day. After some late negotiations by Richard Wilkinson a team place was secured. The original plan was to be a team with Colin Bostock, Richard Wilkinson & Phil Walters. Richard & Phil were due to come over after competing in the Great Lakes fell race in the morning. But due to the horrendous conditions throughout the race and in Langdale they were unable to make it out of Langdale in time. That left me looking longingly for runners who may want join a team. As luck would have it Stewart Allen of Allithwaite Running Club who had turned up just too late to secure a spare place in the individual race agreed to join and Paul Singleton of Ambleside kindly agreed to be the third member. (Paul had already competed and come 4th in the individual race). A team name of South Lakes Runners was quickly agreed on and we were ready.

On the shore side the draw for boat numbers was made before moving on to the start, unfortunately my number ended up being the furthest away. On the start line a short briefing took place with the main emphasis being don’t fall in! Off we went but unlike the old race going directly to the lake we had a short sprint out of the field down the road into the hotel car park and onto the shore. A good entry into boat and an even row saw us pick off a couple of boats on the now quarter mile row. Then came the harder part to the race for me being the eldest member and not having fell pony legs as the other 2 local team members. Climbing up through fields crossing one road then a short run up a 2nd the terrain levelled for a much needed recovery before the final ascent to the summit. This is where local knowledge is an advantage as a fast steep descent off the summit gained us a good distance in front of a team who beat us to the top but returned on the path used on the way up. By the time we got to the boat they were nowhere to be seen and a good steady row back saw us nearly home before they cast off. A great time was had and for me the pleasure of not coming last in a field of only 14 teams was a bonus. I think that was mainly due to the encouragement of my team members and me not wanting to let them down.


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