QUEEN of the fells Wendy Dodds is proof that athletes perform better with age after another sensational display of running at last weekend’s Three Peaks Race in North Yorkshire.
The 61-year-old Clayton-le-Moors Harrier has been one of the country’s outstanding long-distance mountain runners for over 30 years.
A multiple English fell champion, she enjoys a phenomenally high win-rate in races in her age category and very rarely finishes outside of the top three.
Having done so much in an incredible career, it would seem there is little left for the prolific Dodds to achieve on the fell scene, but the veteran ace has produced another incredible feat by beating the men in another fine display at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, in a race run by people from all over the world.
Overcoming the mighty three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborugh, Dodds was the leading over 60 for both males and females in a time of four hours, 23 minutes and 14 seconds.
In a close finish, Dodds sprinted towards the tape just two seconds ahead of the top vet 60 male, Rossendale Harrier Ken Taylor, a former English and British champion.
It says something of her performance that the next over 60 was Calder Valley’s Rod Sutcliffe, a further 25 minutes back.
There was further Three Peaks success for Clayton in the shape of another ex-English and British champion Mike Wallis.
The Harriers secretary was unsure whether he had clinched the over 50 prize in Yorkshire after confusion over his finish time, but Wallis was home in 3:42:46, a minute and a half clear of nearest rival Andy Hauser of Holmfirth Harriers.
Wallis was 60th overall, but the leading East Lancastrian was Blackburn Harrier Matt Nuttall, the 43-year-old county star coming home 37th in 3:28:46.
Other distinguished displays from our local runners came in the shape of Chorley’s Dominic Raby, 46th in 3:36:38, and club-mate Adam Critchley, 62nd in 3:42:54.
Rossendale Harrier Craig Stansfield (3:43:53) and Clayton’s Andrew Orr (3:46:51) were slightly further back.
The overall winner was Joe Symonds of Hunter Bog Trotters in a time of 2:55:58, with club-mate Sarah O’Neil (3:28:43) taking the female honours.
n In the Hawkshead Trail race, Sarah Ridehalgh was quickest of the women for Accrington Road Runners, finishing sixth overall.