SUNDAY’S Sedbergh Hills race was packed with the usual high number of fell runners from Cumbria – yet it was East Lancashire’s improving Andy Brown that stole the show with a comfortable victory.

The 38-year-old Clayton-le-Moors Harrier has been getting close to a big win on the fells for some time.

He twice finished second at the Fiendsdale Fell Race, in both 2010 and 2011, and also took third in the Tour of Pendle last year.

In May this year, he was runner-up to Tom Brunt at the Pendle Cloughs Fell Race.

But Brown scored a victory over Holmfirth’s Brunt at Sedbergh by finishing more than four minutes quicker to take first place.

At 14.3 miles – and with 5,300 feet of climb – Sedbergh Hills is one of the most demanding fell races in the region.

Conditions were reasonable for runners, dry to begin with the rain coming down later.

Brown’s fine run was reflected in his time of two hours, 22 minutes and six seconds.

Brunt clocked 2:26:15 while Steve Birkenshaw of Borrowdale made up the top three places in 2:27:28 and was the first vet 40 finisher.

East Lancashire’s next best time came in the shape of Toby Evans (2:39:54) of Rossendale Harriers, finishing 12th, while Clayton’s vet 50 runner David Naughton (2:40:29) was 14th.

There was further joy for Clayton with two veterans – Wendy Dodds and Jeffrey Pickup – taking vet 60 honours in their respective female and male categories.

Dodds finished 57th overall in 3:06:06, with Pickup two places and 14 seconds behind.

Many of the north’s leading fell runners were in Westmorland on Saturday for the Weasdale Horse-shoe, and there was success for Rob Hope with a fifth place finish.

Hope, who lives in Wheelton, near Chorley, came home in 57 minutes and one second, just two minutes behind the race winner, Mercia’s Simon Bailey.