BEN Fish stormed to glory to win the David Staff Memorial Race high on the hills above Darwen.

The Blackburn Harrier completed the five-mile race in 26 minutes 50 seconds to finish a minute and half ahead of his nearest rival.

The annual fell race – held in memory of the former Darwen Dasher – attracted more than 120 runners who climbed out of Sunnyhurst Wood to Darwen Moor, taking in the iconic Tower, before descending back to the starting point.

It proved to be ideal conditions for running with Victoria Mousley setting a new ladies record – the Blackburn Harrier clocking 33mins 41secs to finish in 19th place overall.

The race has been held to remember popular runner David from Hoddlesden who collapsed and died at the age of 17-years-old while competing in the Clitheroe 10k in December 1994 – his first race as a senior.

The former QEGS pupil had an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertropic obstructive cardiomyopathy, causing a thickening of the heart muscles.

Ever since then, David’s dad Granville and the club have raised funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and have raised more than £100,000 to purchase vital equipment to help detect the condition.

“This is a very important race in our race calendar so thanks to all runners who took part,” said Darwen Dashers chairman Simon Fox.

“We would also like to thank the marshals, supporters and Bolton Mountain Rescue Team for providing cover. As always, all funds raised went to the CRY charity.”

In total, 123 runners from across the north west and beyond took part in what was the 25th anniversary since David’s death.

Fish, who has already won the Pendle and Burnley Grand Prix series this year, proved to be too strong for the rest of the field with Sam Watson of Wharfedale Harriers is closest rival as he crossed the line in 28mins 24secs. Bowland FR’s Oliver Heaton, was third in 28mins 28secs.

Stephen Hall of Ribble Valley Harriers was first V40 and fourth place overall in 29mins 14secs – beating Horwich RMI’s Dan Gilbert in the same category by just eight seconds.

Fish’s Blackburn Harriers’ teammate John Horrocks was sixth in 29mins 23mins while Buxton’s Finlay Grant, who crossed the line seventh in 29mins 54secs to also take the first junior prize.

The top 10 was completed by Matt Dunn of Holcombe Harriers (31mins 35secs), Ed Gambe of Cheshire Hill Racers (31mins 35secs – who was also first V50 – while Paul Brindle was the third Blackburn Harrier to break in to the top 10 with a time of 31mins 38secs.

Matthew Connell took the honours of first Darwen Dasher home despite being just 14-years-old as he clocked 35mins 8secs to finish as second junior in 23rd place.

At the other end of the age scale, his granddad, Jim Taylor, was second V70 – finishing 116th overall in 56mins 31secs.

Rossendale Harriers’ Jeff Hignett was first V70 in 43mins 39secs in 76th place.

* Other top club runners: 14 Peter Coates (Clayton) 32mins 11secs; 24 Lee Entwistle (Ramsbottom RC) 36mins 18s secs; 47 Scott Lowe (Chorley) 38mins 45secs; 90 Barry Skelton (Blackburn RR) 46mins 51secs; 100 Pete Murphy (Darwen RC) 49mins 44secs.