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Gary lands England fell call-up
BLACKBURN Harrier Gary Priestley is celebrating another international call-up after turning in a superb run at the Inter-Counties Fell Race at Goyt Valley.
The 23-year-old, who represents Horwich RMI Harriers but trains at Witton Park, was among many East Lancastrians young and old running for the Red Rose county in the Peak District.
There was plenty of success for the Lancashire squad at the Shining Tor race, with all six of the county’s teams, in every age bracket, bringing home a medal.
All of our local athletes missed out on a top three finish, although Priestley’s achievement in coming sixth in the senior men’s race has led to him earning England selection.
Competing against an exceptional international field, Priestley was the top Lancastrian in his event, and best U23 athlete overall, clocking 48:32 minutes.
GB international Steve Vernon (Stockport) was in superb form to win the fast running 7.9-mile race in a time of 46:54, ahead of another GB star Chris Smith (Thames Valley) 47:32 and five-time Snowdon Race winner Andi Jones (Salford) 47:52.
Priestley will now don England colours at the 37th International Snowdon Race on July 21.
One of Europe’s toughest endurance challenges, the 10-mile race involves running from the edge of Lake Padarn in the village of Llanberis to the highest summit in Wales and England and back down.
Priestley has represented his country before, when coming 12th in last year’s Commonwealth Championships in Llanberis, near Snowdonia.
Also at Goyt Valley, Lancashire’s U18 women’s team, comprising Helena Leathley (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers) and Sarah Hodgson (Lancaster and Morecambe AC), claimed the gold medal.
Hodgson was first overall, while Leathley came home fourth.
There was further success for the U16 men’s and women’s team, both striking silver.
Blackburn Harriers duo Robert Wong and Connor Mahoney came fourth and fifth respectively to give Lancashire second place, while club-mate Jack Hindle also finished ninth.
Rossendale Harrier Leah Williamson and Mary Hodgson, of Lancaster and Morecambe, helped the women to second overall.
Similarly in the U18s men, the duo of fourth-placed Dominic Mahoney (Blackburn Harriers) and Declan Bulmer (Wharfedale) in seventh helped their team to a silver medal. Rossendale’s Daniel Walsh came home ninth.
With Priestley landing a top six finish in the senior men’s race, Wheelton-based Rob Hope and Joe Johnstone of Rossendale Harriers added the gloss to help their team to a silver medal.
Hope (49:13) finished 12th overall and Johnstone (53:03) 38th, while Chorley’s Dominic Raby (53:58) was the next Lancastrian to follow, coming 48th.
The senior ladies made it a medal clean sweep for Lancashire.
Melanie Hyde of Helm Hill led the Red Rose home with a superb sixth place finish.
Blackburn’s Beckie Taylor (1:00:43) was 13th, with Debra Campbell of Horwich 17th.