Holcombe Harriers Running Club in Rossendale continue to punch above their weight after taking part in some gruelling races.
Several runners have previously competed in the World and European championships in duathlon and the gruelling Ironman challenges, including the ‘X’ off-road Iron Man – an event that includes a 2.4 mile open water sea swim, a 112 mile multi-terrain bike ride and 26.2 mile trail run. Many of the club’s members have run for their country.
Compared to the well-established Harriers in neighbouring towns, Holcombe’s branch is both new and modest in size. Yet the members position well in age categories at local fell races and ultra races.
Formed back in 2010, the Holcombe Harriers was up by keen runner Claire Raho, John Raho, John Kirkham and Michael Horan.
Claire said: “Me and my partner had been competing in the local fell races casually under the name ‘Holcombe Harriers’ as the word ‘unattached’ made us feel like they weren’t really part of the fell community. The other local clubs hadn’t appealed to us.”
Soon the four runners increased to eight who ran through the winter, whatever the weather, and raced at the weekend.
By 2013, the club decided to affiliate to England Athletics UK, which allowed them to join in team competitions such as the Calderdale Relay.
As time passed, the club attracted more runners with different racing goals. Members were encouraged to try out other sports from long distance fell races, swimming, road and mountain biking, duathlons and triathlons.
The one core principal that remained throughout all of the developments of the club is that all the members loved competing whatever the discipline.
Four years on the club has 50 members, which is still a tiny number compared to the likes of the Rossendale Harriers (400), Stockport Harriers (500), Horwich RMI (300) and Bolton Harriers (400).
Carmen Byrne has been a Holcombe Harrier since 2013. She said: “Although the other clubs have more members, we probably have a bigger percentage of members who compete regularly. There’s a lot of us who have been racing for a while and we motivate each other.
“The Holcombe Harriers has already made its name known as many of the club members win prizes in their categories in fell, road and trail races, aquathons, duathlons, triathlons.
“The club has also organised its own gruelling ‘Mountain Trial duathlon; for the second year, consisting of two 8.6km fell races and the original Mountain Trail time trial route on the bike which is steeped in history.”
Another aspect of the club’s success is their tight-knit community.
Their closed Facebook group of 61 members is constantly updated with race events, new routes, words of encouragement and tips and techniques.
Fell running typically attracts runners aged between 30-60 who can physically and mentally handle longer distances over tough terrain.
In May 2016, 49-year-old cancer survivor Nicky Spinks completed a 132 mile run in less than 48 hours. The UK’s leading fell runner, Robbie Britton is considered a young gun in the sport.