Apart from the 'Rivington Pike Fell Race', there are many similar 'dashes' up and down dale that can be deemed ''Classics''. The 'Lantern Pike Fell Race' can truely be regarded as one of those races.

'Meandering' around the many stalls and tents at the 'Little Hayfield' show each year, there is a 'rare breed' amongst the thousands of every day folk enjoying their day out in the autumn sunshine. They will have more on their minds at present than watching the local Wood-carver at work, or queuing for a delicious 'Hot Dog' or 'Burger', that will come later...For these are the 'Lantern Pikers'. Nervously pacing up and down the gradual gradient of the show field, trying to conserve as much energy as possible before they tackle the steep slopes of the 'Lantern Pike'. From the showground, the route can be viewed by those competitors brave enough to glance afar towards the 'large green mass' that looms in the distance. 

Will the 'Magical' figures of 29':12'' ever be broken?

Since 1977 when the local 'Sheepdog Trials' were revived at Spray House Farm, the 'Lantern Pike' race as we now know it was devised. Part of a splendid country fair named 'The Little Hayfield show', the Lantern Pike Fell Race provides a great attraction for the thousands of show visitors attending each September, along with the many other crowd pleasing activities organised over the weekend bonanza. The Fell race course was designed so that it was mainly visible from the Showground, enabling spectators to view the ever decreasing ascending 'speck's' against the grand backdrop of the Lantern Pike hillside, and along it's horizon before they hurtle back down towards the main road leading back up towards the finish in the showground. Just as the Rivington Pike race has attracted the best athletes over the years, so has the 'Lantern Pike' since it's inception in 1977. Indeed, the very first race held on the new course proved to be a true ''Classic''. One that will be remembered in Fell running history for an eternity, as it was in this very first race that the legendary name of 'Ricky Wilde' rose to the surface of a truely high quality field of the very finest athletes of their generation. Wilde went about destroying the opposition, which included names such as Rivington Winner and '2:12 Marathoner' Jeff Norman by a staggering 90 seconds! He set a figure that has never been seriously challenged throughout the races 35 runnings since, and in fact may never be challenged unless a runner of the very highest order is attracted once again to the 'Lantern Pike' fell race.

 

Below we can see the peak of 'Lantern Pike', Steve Vernon proudly displaying the 'champions cup', and right, Andy Wilton collecting his prize after victory in 1996.

The figures Wilde set, now engraved in Fell Running History, as we all know them as the 'Oldest record in the book' are the 'magical' numbers of ''29:12''. For the near five mile route that takes in every undulation the 'Pike' has to offer, this was indeed an incredible feat. It comes as no surprise that no other man has approached this mark, as Wilde was no ordinary runner. He was infact a ''World Record Holder'', a man who in his day was held in such high esteem as say one of the top African athletes of today who hold every world record in today's generation of world class athletes. Wilde had achieved the highest of accolades when breaking the world indoor 3000m record whilst taking the 'European' title. His time of Seven minutes and 46 seconds for the 15 laps of the 'throat burning' indoor circuit took him to victory over the 'cream' of Europe's top Distance runners. Wilde took the 'scalp' of the great German athlete Harald Norpoth, who was already Olympic 5000m Silver medalist and 3 times European medalist from 1500m through to 5000m beating the tall lithe German by a massive three seconds. He then carried this top class form out onto the hillsides of Little Hayfield, so now we can fully understand why the record has stood for so long, and remains so well intact. Wilde was also a superb X/Country runner as he had earlier demonstrated in his career by finishing 6th in the 1970 National, and then an amazing 6th in the 'International' XC. This fully illustrated the depth of British Distance running in the '60's' and '70's' in the process, as he was 'only 4th' scorer in the 'England' team on that 'golden' team occasion. His world class credentials were also shown on the roads, were he held a phenomenal best time of 58':40'' for 20k. A 10k p.b of 29':20'' for most athletes would be a dream, but to do two 'back to back' at that pace shows you the class of this modest Manchester Harrier who tore up the hallowed turf of the 'Lantern Pike' almost 35 years ago.

 

The other record of true note is that of Rivington Pike female fame, Carol Haigh (nee Greenwood). The 'gutsy' and 'strong' Haigh set her 1984 'Lantern Pike' Women's record of 34':45'' to go way faster than any other female athlete had achieved over the Lantern course. It is still a record that stands almost thirty years on, mirroring Wilde's jaw dropping performance of seven years previous, and adding to her growing reputation of a champion fell runner.

 

 

Below is the 'All-Time' list from the 'Lantern Pike' fell race showing all 'Sub 31' minute performers over the race route used today. As you will notice, the list throws up many names that also appear on the 'Rivington Pike' all-time list, showing that many of these champion athletes would win and run fast over any terrain, week in-week out.

A selection of the finest athletes to grace the 'Lantern Pike Fell Race'

 

1. Ricky Wilde: 29':12'' (1977)

We all know the quality of 'Record holder' Ricky Wilde. Holder of many long standing marks in the fell running calendar including an 'awesome' 18:50 run in the 'Saddleworth' Fell race which has survived the test of time and many brave attempts by the sports very best 'elite'. Coupled with 13:30 5000m track speed, we can see why Wilde excelled over a 'runners' fell race such as Lantern Pike.

 

 

eq.2nd. Andi Jones: 30':04'' (2007)

Salford Man Andi Jones (Pictured left,) tracking Warwickshire's 13:39 & 28:37 5K/10k man James Walsh), along with Highgate's Charles Addison are the only athlete's to threaten the magical 30 minute barrier at the 'Lantern', apart from record holder Ricky Wilde. The holder of 3 Northern XC titles, Jones proved his class by running away from non-other than former 'British Fell running champion' Simon Bailey and 'Uphill' specialist John Brown, who's times of 31:27 and 31:40 respectively, though good marks on their own, proved insufficient to threaten the 'Salford star' on the day in the 2007 edition of the 'Lantern Pike'.

 

 

 

eq.2nd. Charles Addison: 30':04'' (1993)

Highgate Harrier, Charles Addison is an interesting athlete on the 'Pike' all-time list, who I'm sure many people including myself don't know a great deal about. Up there with the best of the 'Lantern Pikers' he was surely a great athlete. The only recolection of his name comes as a distant memory from an 'Inter Area' XC race held at Cosford which must have been around the time he set his time of 30:04 over the 'Pike'. I think it was the January of 1994, when as a young 'up and coming' athlete I had been given a chance to represent the 'Midlands' team after some positive road races. I recall the name of 'Charles Addison' finishing near the front of the field, I believe in 4th spot against a quality line up where he was fighting it out 'up front' with athletes of the calibre of 61:56 Half marathon man, RAF's Mark Flint amongst many other notable names. The only other performances I could find of his were a 14:37 5000m race and a 17th placing in the 1998 National XC at Leeds's Roundhay Park. Surely his time on the 'pike' suggests he was capable of at the very least low 14's for 5k.

 

 

4. Lloyd Taggart: 30':17'' (2005)

Lloyd Taggart's 2005 race over the Lantern course saw him elevate himself right up to 4th amongst the greatest 'Lantern Pike racers', which was testament to the Dark Peak Fell runners great record already shown in many other fell races. This run proved Taggart's versatility as a fell runner, showing he could not only run well on the 'tougher' courses, but also just as well on the more 'runnable' terrain he faced at Lantern Pike. This run showed why Taggart had the ability to race to magnificent World Trophy results of 12th and 18th in his career, as well as win many of the fell running races held over the past decade! Only 3 men have ever raced quicker around the route  with, as you can see below, plenty of 'pretty handy' athletes backing Taggart up further down on the 'Lantern all-time' list.

 

 

5. John Taylor: 30:27'' (1992)

The young Bingley man (shown left) set the 2nd fastest mark at the time behind Wilde's awesome record mark. John took the yellow Holmfirth vest of his club at the time round and over the 'Lantern Pike' at terrific pace to win the 1992 race outright. He would go on producing many runs of this calibre showing why he was one of the 'all time' greats on the 'Hayfield Hill'. He later joined the successful Fell and XC club of Bingley Harriers where he won many road, fell, XC and mountain titles with the Yorkshire club. John's time over the Lantern course ranks him 5th 'all-time', which is a much truer reflection of his ability than his Rivington ranking.

 

 

John can be seen here flying down the paths on 'Latrigg' in the 1995 World Trophy 'Trial' race, where he qualified for the England team.



eq.6th. Andy Wilton: 30':30'' (1996)

Andy Wilton's fast 30:30 run came at the rear end of his 'peak years', yet still he claimed a time that ranks him eq.6th on the 'all-time list, just showing what an outstanding talent the 'Moorlands' athlete was, and indeed still is. Running for top Midlands team Tipton Harriers at the time, Wilton had already taken many National Gold medals as part of the 'Green and white' army in his long and illustrious career that had kicked off with a National Individual Bronze medal in the Youths National XC, or U/17's as we now know it. The Buxton man obviously had talent from the off, and utilised this to the very best of his abilities to produce times of 28:59 for 10k and 47 minutes for 10 miles on the roads. Along with 'top ten' performances in the Senior National X with a best of 7th in 1986, and many fast 12-stage road relay runs for his Tipton club (for any of you that don't know, the 12 Stage 'long leg' is over 5.4 miles, with 'Wilt's' best timed at 25:27, which is motoring!) The 'long striding' 'Buxton Bulldozer' trounced many a quality field in his day, showing why he sits near the top of this illustrious list of legends at Lantern Pike.

 

 

Wilton is pictured right, powering along the roads around the Staffordshire Moorlands in the 'Buxton' Half Marathon, where he holds the race record at an amazing 65 minutes, taking into account the 1500ft of climbing the races statistics show!

 

 

                       eq.6th. Steve Vernon:  30':30''(2008)

Stockport's Steve Vernon made a rare appearance on the fell's in 2008 to take the 'Lantern Pike' title after having many successes in 'mountain races', where he has taken victory in many specialist 'Uphill mountain Trial' races. Vernon is 'pure class' when it comes to Cross Country running, and with a record to prove it. His record amazing four Northern X-C titles... (so far) came earlier this year when he ran away from the very best northern athlete's in the final mile or so to finally record an  excellent victory over the Pontefract grassland. Add to this his many 'top three' National XC performances, and Indeed being the current 2011 National XC champion, you can see why he had no trouble at all producing a 'pike' run to match the best over the course. You would have to imagine, given his credentials that he is capable of producing a run well under the 30 minute mark if he so wished, but could he threaten the 'Magical' figure of 29:12? Maybe we will see in future...as it would take the likes of an athlete with the pedigree of Vernon to think about approaching the 'Oldest record' mark now engraved in 'fell running stone'.

 

Vernon is pictured left skating over the ice and snow in the 'Edinburgh International' XC, where over the past few seasons this meeting along with the 'Durham' equivalent meeting have proven extremely fruitful for Vernon. Above, 'well in control' on the climb up 'Lantern Pike'.

 

 

 

   8. Bashir Hussain:  30':33''(1988)

Bashir Hussain is another athlete who has figured in both the Rivington and Lantern Pike 'all-time' fastest lists. Another quality athlete from the 'Stockport' stable, adding to the reputation of the 'Lantern Pike' fell race as one of the true ''Classics''. Hussain's fast 30:33 was achieved when taking the 1988 Lantern win, and backed up his run from the previous year where he gave Horwich legend, Paul Dugdale a real run for his money to finish a close second in the 1987 edition of the race. The great Lantern Pike Fell Race being enhanced by such athletes as Hussain shows the event has attracted a truely great standard of athlete throughout it's 35 year history, just like the Rivington Pike has done throughout it's even longer past.

 

 

eq.9th. Ron Bailey: 30':44'' (1979)

Ron Bailey's run in only the 3rd running of the 'Lantern' on the current course saw him produce an outstanding time to win the race outright and rank alonside non-other than Altricham's Superstar Marathon man, Jeff Norman.

 

 

eq.9th. Jeff Norman: 30':44'' (1977)

Yet another Rivington Pike 'all timer' sits inside the top ten fastest 'lantern pike racers'. Jeff Norman's time came in the very first outing over the new Lantern route, and was only beaten by Wilde's majestic performance out front. The 2:12 Marathon man could at least boast a superior marathon record than Wilde's at the end of their International Careers, although only just as Wilde was no mean performer even over the 26.2 mile distance with a 2:14 time to his credit.
Norman had many other good performances over the Lantern course, and 35 years on from his peak racing pike times and now into his sixties, Norman can still be seen regularly lining up each September on the Lantern start line ready to tackle the slopes of the pike once again.

 

 

                                      11. Andy Trigg: 30':46'' (1991)

Local 'Glossopdale' athlete Andy Trigg displayed his true pedigree and versatility with a fast time to win the 1991 'Lantern Pike' race in a quick time of 30:46. Trigg was a 'renowned' performer on the fells and also in Mountain marathon events, which proved his prowess as an athlete at the top in many disciplines. Trigg was not only extremely strong but also showed great pace with numerous fast times over his 'home course' of Shelf Moor' which he trained over several times every week without fail. This course knowledge was put to great use with many wins over the 'Shelf' with a best of 41:30 achieved over the 'rhythm sapping' petey, bog filled craters that make up the classic Shelf Moor fell race route. His time at 'Lantern Pike' sits nicely alongside some top athletes, showing why Trigg had many notable top 10 performances in 'British and English Championship' fell races, along with many successes in Karimoor mountain weekend events.

Trigg is pictured in the '3 peaks classic fell race', an event he has won in the past.

 

 

                         12. Neil Wilkinson: 30':48'' (1994)

The Salford man produced a great run to take the 1994 Lantern Pike race title, and again 3 years later produced yet another 'flawless' display of front running for another win in a similarly quick 30:51. Wilkinson's ranking of 12th goes well alongside his high ranking at Rivington Pike, and many other 'classic' fell races over quick courses such as the 'Wrekin' fell race. Over the 'Shropshire slopes' he sits 3rd on the 'all time' list, sandwiched between the mighty names of fell running legend Mark Kinch and 'Climbing extraordinare' Robbie Bryson.

Wilkinson is pictured sprinting in taking his Salford club to National Road Relay victory.

 

 

 13. Paul Dugdale: 30':50'' (1987)

Paul Dugdale's 1987 fast 30:50 time came after a titanic batle with regular rival Bashir Hussain. Although this run was at the earlier stages of Dugdale's domestic dominance where he was still very much on the 'way up' as an improving athlete, nevertheless it was still a great run and put him well within reach of the 'all time' top ten times set over the course. Given the chance to race over the route maybe 4 or 5 years later whilst at his very peak, we would surely have witnessed the XC expert challenge Wilde's figures, or at the very least produce a run well under the 30 minute barrier to join the 'peerless' Wilde at the echelons of the 'Pikes' peak performers. We shall never know Dugdale's true full potential over a course that obviously suited his style, but even so, his 30':50'' is still a great run and with only 12 men quicker in the races history just goes to prove it's worth.

 

 

14. M. Weeks: 30':58'' (1977)

The 'all-time' list is ably rounded off with the final 'Sub 31' performance, and yet again is held by a 'Rivington all timer', Martin Weeks. The fell running champion would have liked the fast descents over the Lantern route, and his time of 30:58 to rank 14th amongst this fine list of champion athletes goes to prove he was no mean performer.

 

 

  *Ladies record: Carol Haigh (nee Greenwood): 34':54'' (1984)


Holmfirth's champion fell and mountain runner Carol Haigh, set the still standing 'Lantern Pike' ladies record almost 30 years ago. She then went about re-writing 'Rivington Pike' history by setting records that have also stood the test of time to go with many other records she still holds on to.

 

Haigh is pictured here in the National women's XC championships where she finished a creditable 7th behind non other than the great Paula Radcliffe.

 

 

 

So as you can see, there are 14 'Sub 31' minute athletes over the present pretty much 'unchanged' route since the very first 'Lantern Pike' race held in 1977. There have been a couple of stiles added which would slow progress a little, but other than those the course is reputed to be identical to that used when the record was set.

A really special and 'unique' touch of the race is that the organiser uses a system whereby the race numbers on the day start from the number '11', with the numbers '1-10' reserved on the registration tent wall as a 'tribute' to the ten fastest 'winners' of the race, male and female. If any of these athletes turn up and run, then they wear their allocated number dependant on their ranking amongst the 10 greats of Lantern Pike male and female 'fastest race winners'. So if you see anybody wearing any of the numbers from one to ten, even if they might be nearer the rear of the field than the front end, then just remember that in their 'hey day' they must have raced over the Lantern Pike course at a tremendous lick.

I hope that by showing this list of great athletes, it may once again inspire some new or young talent to have a go at the 'Lantern Pike' race, and maybe become the 15th athlete to join the 'all-time' fastest of 'Lantern Pikers' or maybe challenge the ladies long time mark, to go down in true 'Pike' history.