DARWEN Dashers’ Aggies Staircase race may have been hit by terrible conditions – but that didn’t stop four women from eclipsing the fell course’s record in an extra-ordinary fast-paced run.

Given the torrential rain that hit the area, organisers were more than surprised to see a bumper field of 180 runners from East Lancashire and beyond take to the testing four-mile course that takes in 1,150 feet of climb three climbs of Darwen Moor – including the shortest but steepest ‘Aggies Staircase’.

Last year, Blackburn Harrier Beckie Taylor set a new female record in 33 minutes and 40 seconds, and the 18-year-old was back to defend her title.

But she could not dislodge Helen Fines of Calder Valley, who broke Taylor’s 2011 time with 33.26.

However, Taylor still improved on last year’s effort as she finished just 14 seconds behind on 33.40.

A terrific women’s race also saw two more runners, Horwich’s Debbie Campbell (34.42) and Sarah Sarginson (35.03) of Bowland Fell Runners beat the record.

There was double joy for Calder Vale as Tim Ellis won the overall race in 28.13, one minute ahead of Black-burn Harrier teen Dominic Mahoney, who took the junior prize.

Clayton’s Andy Brown (29.23) took third spot, while Paul Guinan (30.45) of Blackburn was fifth and leading vet 40. Pete Booth (35.34) of Clayton took the vet 60 prize.

Race organiser George Thompson said: “The weather was pretty awful. Having said that, conditions on foot were not too bad.

“We had 180 runners which is 60 more than last year despite the weather. I thought the field may have been depleted.

“With the weather the way it was, it’s astonishing that four women managed to beat last year’s time.”

Thompson added: “I would like to thank all the race marshals who gave up their time to stand in the pouring rain to help out and make the race possible.”