The Rivington Pikes 'Fastest of All-time' performers...

''A true mix of International athletes, from Olympic Track runners through to British Fell running champions. The Rivington pike has been a 'meeting ground' where athletes from either end of the distance running 'spectrum' have battled to achieve 'Pike stardom'.''

 

Experienced Rivington Pike racers and enthusiasts alike, calculate that the latest course change which occurred in 1986 (explained earlier) added approximately 20 seconds to times previously achieved in earlier years competitions. Therefore, I have shown any times achieved before 1986 as 'converted race times' with 20 seconds added onto actual race times, and any after 1986 (inc.1986 race) as 'actual race times', to come up with a more accurate list of the pikes top performers. From record holder John Wild, all the way through to every sub 17:20 performance, the list throws up some true heroes of British long distance running, such as the legendary Ron Hill, along with fell running 'royalty' Colin Donnelly, and European track medalist Alan Blinston. The slopes of Rivington Pike have been graced by many National' & 'Inter-counties' cross country champions and even Olympians, and been witness to many epic battles over it's undulations too, thus proving it's long history has intrigued and attracted the very finest the sport of distance and fell running has to offer.

Please Note: My simple calculations or 'conversions' of times shown are based on information derived from much more knowledgable and experienced Pike racers and followers than myself, and are by no means intended to undermine the achievements of the athletes who set times before 1986. The conversion is purely intended to bring performances more in line with one another, and therefore give a 'fairer' reflection of the Pikes fastest performances. The conversion applied to pre 1986 times will never be 100% fully accurate, but at least, I hope it shows a truer 'all time' list for us to see. At the end of the day, according to the '20 second' conversion, John Wild would still be course record holder but of course by a much slimmer margin over Paul Dugdale, and Carol Haigh's time would of course be unchanged as it was set in 1987....


 

 1.John Wild: 16':13'' (1981)

 

The 'race record' is held by 'running legend' John Wild at an incredible 15:53 (16:13 with conversion) which was set in his only outing over the pike course in 1981, and smashed the existing record by a staggering 37 seconds. Wild's talents were not only limited to the fells, where he excelled and was indeed British Champion on two occasions in 1981 and '82', but he was also an accomplished 'steeplechaser' on the track where he was a 'Commonwealth Games' finalist. RAF man Wild was also a Champion cross country runner where he is still the youngest ever winner of the Senior 'Inter-counties' XC at only 20 years of age, while he also enjoyed success at World level by placing a fine 15th in the 1978 World Cross Country Championships held in a total 'mudbath' up in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Wild's short lived fell running career saw him do battle with the great 2:11 Marathon man Kenny Stuart on many occasions. (One such epic battle is illustrated well in the pic shown right taken by Neil Shuttleworth in the 1983 Welsh 1000m Peaks race, with Wild just tucked in behind Stuart on the approach to Ugain). The 3 hour plus classic and brutal race came down to a sprint finish along the Snowdon railway up to the summit of Snowdon, with Wild narrowly edging Stuart to take a superb and hard fought victory over his closest rival Stuart. The two 'masters' fought tooth and nail in many classic fell races, where they demolishing long established records along the way, most of which have stood the test of time and all attempts to break them by athletes since those 'glory days' of the 'eighties'.

 

 


 

      2. Paul Dugdale: 16':18'' (1990)

Paul Dugdale (No.47 in pic left) became a local Hero when he set about trouncing the opposition in the 'pike' race a total of 6 times, therefore becoming the 'most successful athlete in the 'modern' races history'. His quickest time at the 'pike' of 16:18 would have undoubtedly challenged Wild's seemingly untouchable record if it weren't for the course changes carried out in 1986. Keen pike observers and athlete's alike had estimated the changes added ''approximately 20 seconds'' to the 'pre 1986' course, thus making Dugdale's p.b ''within touching distance'' (around 5 seconds) off Wild's record. Dugdale was also an athlete who excelled on the cross country circuit, where he also lifted the Inter-counties title in the early nineties, along with collecting a team bronze medal in none other than the World cross in 1992 where he placed 33rd behind the great John Ngugi and a phalanx of top Kenyan countrymen. His time was exactly 60 seconds down on the 5 times world cross and Olympic champion Ngugi over the frozen 12km Boston course, which was a superb effort. In the process he also took many notable scalps, such as 1988 Olympic 10,000m champion Brahim Boutayib, the 'disgraced' Olympic 5000m champion Dieter Baumann and one of Portugal's dynamic 'twin's' Dionisio Castro, amongst many other world class performers. He was also no mean performer on Tartan, where he set a 10,000m best of 28:22 in Oslo, and on the road where he won many big races proving he really was a master of all surfaces.

Dugdale, pictured on the cover of 'Athletics Today', on his way to victory in the 1991 'Inter-Counties' XC & right (centre of pic) in the 'Margate International XC'. Also in pic from left to right are No.210: Martin Mcloughlin, No.203: Mark Flint, No.444: Paul Larkins, No.209: Steve Tunstall, and race winner, the diminutive Kenyan Richard Chelimo.

 

 

     3. Craig Roberts: 16':37'' (1993)    

Kendal's Craig Roberts excelled over the fells, whilst also being a top cross country runner, with a best placing of 22nd in the 'National'. He also had fast steeplechase times to his name (8:54), but his prowess was shown over the rougher terrain of the fells, and in particular, the more runnable courses such as Rivington Pike. Roberts was champion three times including a memorable victory over 3 times National XC Champion Dave Lewis in the 1997 race, where he held off the fast finish of Lewis to score a superb victory by a mere 3 seconds, and take the scalp of one of Britain's finest athletes for the first time. His record in World and European championships is a strong one with a best of 11th in the '95' Worlds, and a great 8th place at the European's of '96' held on home turf at the 'Snowdon' race route. His time of 65:56 in far from ideal conditions proves his quality. Roberts's brother Mark is a champion runner himself, with fast track p.b's and high placings in AAA Steeplechase races with time's in the 8:40's region. He transferred his ability extremely well on to the fells, so much so that he took the 'British and English' fell running titles in the 1997 season. The younger of the two brothers Craig, can still be seen each year burning up the pike still at the very sharp end of the field, and in 2011 actually finished 3rd overall at the age of 47 and then successfully carried this form into the World masters mountain running championships in the summer of 2011 to take Gold in the over 45's race.

Roberts is pictured above in the 1995 'World Trophy' held over Edinburgh's 'Arthur's Seat' where he placed a strong 11th.

 

 

        4. Keith Anderson: 16':41'' (1992)

Keith Anderson was an 'animal' on the fells, and reputed to be the fastest descender the sport has ever seen (of course along with 'the king of descents' Ian Holmes, also shown in pic shown right alongside Anderson, No 512). His descent times at 'Pen-y-fan' and 'Burnsall' are to say the very least incredible, where he ''dropped like a stone'' over the burnsall Heather, dodging boulders and ''leaping the 8ft wall like a startled deer.'' He was also crowned 'British' fell running champion in 1991, and collected his only win at Rivington in 1992, of course catching top rivals on the descent back down to Horwich. Anderson's exploits were also not limited to the fells, just like so many of the 'pike racing champions' who could mix it on any surface. He also showed great pedigree on the XC where he placed 4th in the 'National' after only just 'switching' from fell running, but his greatest achievements away from the rougher terrain were arguably on tarmac where he made the 1998 England Commonwealth Marathon team in the stifling heat of kuala lumpar at the ripe age of 40. Anderson also set a time of 2:17.08 in the Boston Marathon which ranks him very highly amongst V40 'all-time' athletes. He was also a speed merchant over 5K on the roads where he won many big races with sub 13:50 times, and in one such event held off all of Britain's best, only being narrowly beaten by Kenya's great Daniel Komen (7:20 3000m World record holder) running once again a fast 13:49!

 

 

            5. Colin Donnelly: 16':49'' (1991)

Colin Donnelly is one of the 'all-time' greats of fell running, collecting many British titles over his long and illustrious career, including a British championship 'hat-trick' in 1987, '88' and '89'. Donnelly has smashed many records on the fells form short steep blasts, all the way through to long arduous tough races, run over the roughest and harshest terrain. Donnelly's one and only appearance at the pike came in 1991, where he finished in only 3rd position behind Dugdale and Anderson, but in the fast time of 16:49 underlining the speed he possessed as well as the vast amounts of strength and stamina he displayed week in, week out throughout the fell racing calendar. His run at the pike was in between a period which saw him collect silver in the 1989 World Trophy, and a 4th place to back it up in the 1992 championships.

 

 

 

           6. Ron McAndrew 16':50'' (1971) 

Ron McAndrew was renowned as an ''awesome descender'', and he used this talent to full advantage to become one of only 5 athletes to attain 3 Rivington pike race victories. His 1971 winning time of 16:30 (16:50 converted) smashed the existing record by a massive 17.8seconds, and catapulted his name to the very peak of pike racing achievements. The photo right illustrates McAndrew's ferocious downhill speed as he races through the mist in the 1972 'Rivington pike' to take his third consecutive victory. McAndrew was also a class 'steeplechaser' where he took several AAA's titles in the 2km race, all around the 5:30 mark, and was infact crowned 'World indoor champion' in this event, which is now only held outdoors. His 2km times equating to 8:15 pace for today's 3km distance. His 8':35'' 'chase' personal best for the 3000m distance shows just why he was such a formidable 'Pike Racer'.

 


A Slideshow of 'Pike Racers' most of whom feature on the 'all-time' list...from L.to R. Steve Hawkins, Neil Wilkinson, Paul Dugdale, Dave Lewis, Bashir Hussain, Jeff Norman, Keith Anderson and Andy Peace. With only the two extreme 'left' and 'right' Bingley runners, Hawkins & Peace not featuring on the Pike 'all-time' list out of these featured athletes, they were non the less formidable athletes who had both achieved greatness in other events, as well as solid runs at the pike...

 

 7.Alan Blinston 16':51'' (1977)

Alan Blinston's record at the Rivington Pike fell race is one of the greatest ever, having achieved the magical 'hat-trick' of victories from 1967-1969, but also coming back 8 years later to once again trounce the opposition for a fourth victory! Blinston's pedigree was undoubted, with a 5000m p.b of 13:39 along with a European Bronze medal which he took in the 1969 Championships behind Ian Stewart's great victory, he is amongst the quickest track men to tackle the demands of the pike race. His winning times of 16:47, 16:48, 16:50 and 16:31(all require an additional 20 secs) show his consistency over the course, with his 1977 time just missing McAndrew's record by a mere 1 second. Blinston, as well as being an exceptionally fast track runner, also represented England in the Cross Country Championships showing his like for the softer ground too, which he proved on four magnificent occasions by taking 4 Pike titles as well as placing highly on other occasions.

Blinston can be seen here above (far left of pic wearing spectacles) tucked in behind non other than track legends, Brendan Foster and Kip Keino whilst racing over 2 miles in London 1970. Left, he is pictured rubbing shoulders with 1971 'double' European Champion, Finlands Juha Vaatainen.

 

 

   8. Paul Massey 16':52'' (1987)

Paul Massey (left of pic), at the young age of 17 years and 9 months displayed maturity and strength beyond his years when in the 1987 'pike' race, he gave Dugdale an extremely good run for his money but ultimately had to settle for 2nd place like so many of his fellow 'pike racers' against the might of 'Dugga's'. Massey drew level onto Dugdale's shoulder on the concrete road descent, and they ran neck and neck down to the final 600m road section, before Dugdale once again demonstrated his world class athleticism and edged away with each powerful stride to record an 11 second victory over Massey. However, Massey's time of 16:52 is still one of the quickest ever, and all the more impressive given his young age, and to this day is still the 'Junior' record, which may never be broken, or even approached given the quality of such a magnificent performance.

 

            

  9. Dave Lewis 16':53'' (1997)

Dave Lewis must be the 'finest athlete never to have won the 'Pike' race', although he only had one attempt and came a close second to Craig Roberts in the 1997 race, finishing a mere 3 seconds down but 6 seconds up on 'mountain man' Billy Burns. Lewis's XC pedigree is top notch, having recorded three wins in the 'National', a couple of seconds and also several top 10 placings as well as numerous World Cross appearances for G.B. His Half Marathon time of 61:17 whilst placing 7th in the World Half Marathon Champs ranks Lewis amongst Britain's quickest men of all time. Along with track p.b's of 13:21 and 28:08, he surely boasts an athletic c.v that any athlete would be proud. His one and only marathon appearance came at New York, where his time of a little over 2:13, on what is described as ''not the fastest of courses'' due to it's many undulations, was achieved on a training diet of long Sunday runs over his home fells of Rossendale where his love and ability for 'pike racing' was obviously born. The photo on the left above shows Lewis (left of shot) battling in a group which includes Dugdale (right of shot) in the National XC at Newark in 1992, and the shot shown above right shows a 'mudsplattered' lewis racing to his 2nd of 3 National XC titles in the horrendous conditions of the 1989 'National' held in Nonsuch Park, Cheam. He took his 3rd 'National XC title in Sunderland 4 years later.                                           

 

Lewis can be seen Left battling with fellow 'Lancastrian' Steve Tunstall as they fight 'tooth and nail' taking a memorable 'one-two' in the 1989 'National X' held at 'Nonsuch Park, Cheam. With Tunstall a 'phenmenon' on the hills, we can only wonder what he may have achieved on a course such as Rivington Pike. He later went on to successfully advise Billy Burns to great things as you will read later in his profile.

Dave Lewis pictured beating the mighty Steve Ovett proving just what an outstanding athlete the modest 'Rossendale Rocket' was, and showing why, even with a rare appearance on the fells he could still figure highly amongst the 'all time' fastest men at Rivington Pike.

 

 

            10. Mike Bouldstridge 16':54'' (2002)      

Mike Bouldstridge was the first winner of the pike race into the new century, when he held off a strong challenge from Snowdon and Inter-counties fell champion Neil Wilkinson, who was out to defend the title he had lifted the previous year. Wilkinson was denied a second title despite quickly pulling back Bouldstridge's 30 second lead he had held at the pike summit. The Salford man, much more accomplished on the fells than Bouldstridge, drew level with the Birchfield Harrier on the slippy descent only for Bouldstridge to again edge away as he hit his preferred surface of tarmac to record a 4 second victory in his first fell race. This victory gave Bouldstridge a real taste for the fells, and in the seasons of 2000-2003 he placed highly in several British and English championship races, and also Mountain races around Europe. Bouldstridge's strength was his climbing ability, which he used to gain selection for two World Trophies, and two European Championships. He was also an England International on the XC, and an accomplished road runner where he lifted National 12-stage titles with his Birmingham club Birchfield, and posted quick individual times around the Sutton park circuit. Bouldstridge returned to defend his pike title successfully in 2002, after he was denied a 'hat-trick' of victories when the outbreak of 'foot and mouth' in 2001 resulted in the fell racing calendar being decimated for the season. His chance to join a select band of men who have won the race three years in succession was missed whilst Mike was at the peak of his running career. He was cruelly dealt another blow in 2003 for a final tilt at joining the illustrious few 'hat-trickers', when a back injury sustained in the Long Mynd valleys race the day after placing 22nd in the 'National XC' put him out of action. His winning time from 2002 of 16:54 finalises the top 10 athletes over the pike course.

Bouldstridge is pictured above on his way to Rivington win No.2, Photo kindly donated by Eileen & Dave Woodhead, and Right, descending in the 2003 Skiddaw 'British champs' fell race towards a 'sub 65' minute run, photo courtesy of Steve Bateson.

 

                           

     eq'11. Bashir Hussain16':55'' (1989)

Bashir Hussain's one and only tilt at becoming 'Rivington Pike champion' came in 1989. His valiant attempt was only denied by yet again the great Paul Dugdale, and can be seen in the photo below. Hussain's versatility was displayed fully to match Dugdale stride for stride up and back down the 'Pike' route, as he used his 4 minute miling ability along with his XC strength to maximum effect. Finally, he had to succombe to the superior strength of Dugdale on that particular occasion, but his finishing time whilst placing 2nd still holds up well on the pike 'all-time' list. This run came in a period where Hussain was in a 'rich vein of form', as in the 1990 World Trophy 'short' race he placed a brilliant 5th. Hussain was also crowned Northern XC champion in 1992, and represented England many times over the cross, on roads and also on the track where he was a 13:40's 5000m performer. Hussain also excelled like so many of his fellow 'pike racers' in the Alpine mountain races held around Europe's many ski resorts. He took his pace up into the altitude of the  mountains using his 29 minute 10k and 63 min half marathon speed and strength to compete against the world's best mountain men .He also made many international teams for World trophies, as mentioned earlier throughout his long distinguished athletic career, and can still be seen competing in veteran races and putting a little back into the sport by coaching many young and upcoming athletes, and in many 'Team Managment' roles.

Hussain can be seen winning the Llandudno 10 mile race in the colours of 'England', and right, battling up the 'concrete road' section of Rivington Pike alongside rival, Paul Dugdale.

 

 

   eq' 11. Paul Campbell: 16':55'' (1982)

Bolton's Paul Campbell's time of 16:35 (16:55 converted) to win the 1982 race by 30 seconds would have been considered an outstanding run in any other year, but coming the year after John Wild's stupendous record run, Campbell's run was made to look almost pedestrian in comparison. Of course, his time is by no means 'pedestrian' and in actual fact, it holds up very well on the pike 'all-time' list, sitting nicely alongside the names of several extremely accomplished athletes. Campbell was also a very useful road runner, winning many road races for his local club Bolton Harriers throughout the 'eighties and with many 30 minute 10k times to his name. Upon moving up in distance to the marathon, he showed some great results, notably a 2:14.47 'London' in 1983.

 

 

   eq' 11. Andy Taylor: 16':55'' (1982)

Kendal's Andy Taylor (No.357-middle of shot) raced to a 'pike' victory in the 1980 race as an 18 year old youngster, and very much regarded as an 'outsider' to clinch the title. Up against well established stars, many of whom had achieved previous success at Rivington, the precocious Taylor 'let rip' on the descent back to Horwich, passing local man Mike Short on the 'concrete road' section to establish a slender lead which he held to the line to record a 2 second victory, thus becoming the youngest ever winner at Rivington Pike. His time was a quick one too, at 16:35 (16:55 converted) and at such a young age showed what potential Taylor had. He returned the following year to try to defend his title, but unfortunately for him and the rest of the 1981 field, a certain J.Wild of the R.A.F had similar ideas of victory and duly went on to record an historic win and in the process smash the pike record and go down in Rivington Pike history. Taylor's 2nd place was by no means a disgrace, with another quick time only 6 seconds slower than his winning time from 12 months previous. The Kendal man went on to record many great runs, and as shown in the photograph above taken at 'Wolverhampton & Bilston's' famous 'Turkey Trot 5.6 mile road race in 1985, Taylor could mix it with Britain's finest road racers as well as 'pike racers', as the race always attracted many international standard road and track athletes. Taylor was also one of the many notable 'steeplechasers' to win the 'Pike' race, and with a 3000m 'chase' time of 8:37 to his name, we can see how the Kendal man strengthed it out over the pike course for victory.

 


                    14. Mike Short: 16':57'' (1980)

Mike Short is another athlete in the category of 'finest athletes never to have won the pike race'. Many of the race times he ran throughout the seventies would have undeniably seen him take victory in a race he must have held close to his heart being a Horwich athlete. Despite twice being a 'British fell running champion' in 1975 and '78', he was denied victory several times over the pike course as year in, year out he came up against formidable opposition. Short finished in 2nd position on 3 separate occasions, each time being beaten by the narrowest of margins, and in 1980 his margin of defeat being a mere 2 seconds! That year saw Short hold a fifty yard lead at the summit over established athletes of the caliber of world 2000m record holder Colin Robinson, 3 times 'Pike' champion Ron McAndrew, 1973 National Fell Champion Harry Walker, the legendary Marathoner Ron Hill and the young precocious Andy Taylor of Kendal. It was indeed Taylor who mounted the strongest challenge on the descent to Short, where he passed the Horwich man to no-doubt the disgust of the screaming crowd who were willing local man Short onto what would have been his first victory in the pike race. He longed to add the 'Pike' to a tally of race victories that he had collected throughout his career. But once again he was denied the victor's trophy, but had the consolation of running a time, what was on the day only 7 seconds shy of the record. It is a performance which see's him still well up on the 'all-time' pike lists. Short was still racing terrifically well into the late eighties, where his 7th position in the 1989 World Trophy is strong evidence of this.

 

 

 15. Martin Weeks: 16':58'' (1976)

The 1976 edition of the pike race saw Bingley's Martin weeks convert his previous pike 2nd and 3rd placings into an outright victory after a hard fought battle over a strong field. Weeks reported that he felt ''good and extremely strong'' on the climb where he was in contention with the leading athletes, Mike Short and Alan Blinston. He used his 'superior descending skills' to full advantage to open a gap on the way down, and then held off a strong late challenge from 'speed merchant' Blinston to hold on for a narrow 4 second victory. Indeed, 1976 would prove to be a 'vintage' year for Weeks, where this 'purple patch' would also see him take the 'British fell running' title, along with many other accolades.

 

 

         16. Mark Croasdale 16':59'' (1993)    

Royal marine Mark Croasdale took victory in the 'pike' in 1994 in 17:12, a year which saw him place 9th in the World trophy backing up his emergence into top flight fell and mountain running. But his quickest outing up and down Horwich's best known hill came in the previous years race where he placed a fine second to Craig Roberts. His time of 16:59 was a quick one, and was further proof of his ability shown over the fells. That year as he was crowned both 'English' and 'British' fellrunning champion of the '93' season. Croasdale showed great versatility to show top form on any surface, and in particular road races where he holds best times of 63 mins and 2:16 for the 'half' and 'full' marathon distances. His athletic ability was first noted in the Royal Marines, and no doubt developed with their vigorous training regimes. He started out as a cross country skier, and represented GB in Olympic competition and then progressed to fell running where he collected National titles like so many of the pike racing champions. He is possibly best known for his exploits in the 'Man V Horse' race held over 22 undulating miles in the Welsh Breacon Beacons, where he narrowly missed out on beating the first horse by a mere minute and a prize purse of £25,000 to boot! Croasdale has enjoyed a long running career which has also seen him place 7th in the 'National XC' and set numerous records in fell and road races.

Croasdale can be seen above left racing it out on the roads at the 'Wells 5km road race', an event in the 90's which regularly attracted 30 to 40 'sub 15' 5k men to the twisty multiple lap route around the picturesque Somerset City.

 

   

           17. Billy Burns: 16':59'' (1997)

'Mountain Man' Billy Burns has achieved one of the highest accolades in the sport of mountain running, by winning the 'classic' Sierre-Zinal race, held over a tortuous point-to-point 31km route which climbs over 6000ft into the Swiss alps and descends to finish in the town of Zinal. Mention the name ''Billy Burns'' around the surrounding areas, and immediately listeners remember the day Billy took the world of mountain running by storm, to win their home race and become engraved in Swiss folklore forever. Burns often trained in Kenya with World and Olympic champions, and quoted ''to be the best, you have to train with the best''. He made many sacrifices, often living in a tent for months on end high up in the Swiss mountains where the air was thin and clear. These sacrifices came to fruition when he claimed an England vest in the 1998 Commonwealth games Marathon after a scorching 2:15 debut in London, whilst already being a well established fell runner. Burns's quickest time set on the 'pike' came in the previous year when he finished a close 3rd behind Roberts and Lewis in 16:59. He went on to record a victory in 2003, albeit in a slower time of 17:12. Burns's career also saw him collect the Bronze medal at the 2001 World Mountain Trophy in Italy's Arta Terme, boasting four more 'top 10' placings in these championships, making him one of England's most successful World championship performers ever. These go along with many other noteable victories in many prestigious mountain races, such as the day he destroyed quality fields to win the 2000 'International Matterhornlauf Berglauf' held in the beautiful Swiss resort of Zermatt, to add his name to the impressive champions list along with fellow Brits Nigel Gates and Phil Makepeace. As mentioned earlier, Burns Marathon credentials are classy proving his great stamina, and are ably backed up with road pb's of 29:31 for 10k and 64 mins for the half marathon. Along with his renowned XC strength where Burns had many good placings in 'Reebok Challenge' meetings against Britain's best athletes, making him a true all rounder of our sport.

Burns is pictured above (left) on his way to victory in the 2000 'Matterhornlauf', and (right) 'dipping his dibber' at the 3 Peaks fell race. Also pictured is the 'commemorative medal' all participents recieve on completing the 'classic' Swiss Matterhorn berglauf.

 

 

 

 
       eq'18: Pete Ravald: 17':02'' (1977)

Pete Ravald had dreamed of a win in the famous Rivington Pike fell race, where he had finished in high placings on several previous occassions. But 1979 proved to be a great year for Horwich athlete Ravald, when he achieved his dream to lift the coveted title that had eluded him so many times before. Going into the race, he was indeed considered to be one of the favourites, given the fact that his time from two years previously would have won the race on all but three occasions in it's history. But, with so many world renowned athletes entered alongside him such as Ron Hill, considered to be the world's greatest Marathoner at the time, and Olympic and Commonwealth marathoner Jeff Norman, Ravald's quest was never going to be an easy one! Infact it was neither of the aformentioned Marathoner's who posed the biggest threat to Ravald on the day, but 'Fell runner' of the year, Mike Short who ran Ravald 'ragged', so much so that he collapsed over the finish line into the arms of the mayor, and in doing so became the first Horwich athlete to win the pike race in it's modern form. The race elevated Ravald into a local hero, alongside Short in 2nd for a Horwich 'one-two'. After the race, Ravald revealed that he would not contest another pike race, prefering to 'retire' on a high note. ''It's a dream fulfilled, I don't need to do it again'' he told reporters from 'the Horwich news', and also that he would just concentrate on Road and cross country races now he had won his local race. Ravald's winning time of 17:03 (17:23 converted) was not his quickest time on the course. This came in the 1977 race when finishing 2nd in 16:42 (17:02 converted) between Alan Blinston and Jeff Norman.

Ravald, pictured above in the arms of the Mayor after collapsing at the finish of the 1979 'Pike'.

 

 

  eq' 18. Geoff Hornby: 17':02'' (1989)

Spenborough AC's Geoff Hornby ran a gutsy race to finish 3rd in the 1989 running of the Rivington Pike fell race to begin a successful season which saw him ultimately race to a 'magical' 7th in the World 'Short' mountain champs. Never far off the pace of Dugdale's and Bashir Hussain's battle upfront, the Yorkshire XC expert was relatively inexperienced over the fells, but fought hard to the finish posting a more than repectable 17':02''. This was perhaps little surprise to the Spenborough athlete, who gave non other than future National XC champion Dominic Banister a tremendous run for his money in the Yorkshire XC championships, and was a regular top 25 performer in both National and Inter-counties XC championships. His run started off a good day for Spenborough AC as clubmate Kath Drake took the ladies race just 4 minutes later to round off a successfull day for the Yorkshire club.

 



  eq'18. Andi Jones:17':02'' (2004)

Andi Jones 'burst' onto the scene of fell and mountain running in 2003, when he ''absolutely decimated a quality field'' to win the World trophy trial races held near Keswick in Cumbria. On a blisteringly hot day, the relatively in-experienced Jones went about tearing apart a field that included many of the countries top mountain runners to take victory by a massive 4 minutes! This performance boded well for the Salford Harrier in the forthcoming World trophy to be held in Alaska. Jones performed well on the day to take a creditable 4th in the snowy Alaskan mountains behind the legendary Marco DeGaspari of Italy. Since then, Jones has continued to perform well over all surfaces, and has lifted 3 Northern XC titles and placed highly in the 'National' several times with a best of 4th. His consistency has also seen him run to three 'top 12' European championship runs, with a best coming last year when placing 6th. His record at Rivington is run 2, won 2, just as he has achieved at 'Snowdon; 5 starts, 5 wins! along with so many other races. His 100% record is a credit showing his consistency at the highest level. Jones's first win was his quickest, set in 2004 at 17:02, and he showed yet again by winning in 2011 in 17:08 that he is still a formidable athlete. He has quick road p.b's of 29:28, 64:40 and 2:15 with masses of fast times just off these. Jones has also represented GB in the World XC, and can still be seen at the head of many races today with no doubt many more race victories ahead.

Jones can be seen pictured above representing GB in the World XC in Edinburgh, and right, in the European Mountain Champs in 2011 where he finished a creditable 6th.

 

  

      21. Jeff Norman: 17':06'' (1977)

Jeff Norman took the 1973 'Pike' title whilst disposing many established fell racers in the process. He repeated his win the following year to retain his title once again beating a quality line up, and backed this up by taking the 'British championship' fell running title that season. However, his winning times of 17:01 and 17:07 (17:21 and 17:27 with conversion) would rank as only Norman's 4th and 5th best efforts where times were concerned, after his time in the1977 race of 16:46 (17:06 converted) when finishing 3rd behind Blinston and Ravald proved to be his quickest run up and down the pike. He also had other fast times whilst finishing in the top 3 at the pike. Norman's ability was not only limited to the fells, but he was also a master over grass and tarmac. As a road and XC runner he was highly successful, and in particular as a Marathoner, where his p.b of 2:12:50 gained him Olympic and Commonwealth selection and would stand up well against British Marathoners over 30 years on. Norman continued to 'pile on the pace' well into his 'forties' as his 48:55 10 miler in the 'Tipton 10' in 1987 proves. He can still be seen today scooping up veteran over 60's titles, although he says it is ''more for fun'' these days. Norman has two very talented sons, Dave and Andy, who have followed in their father's footsteps and represented their beloved Altrincham club tirelessly over the past 15 years, as well as being 'England internationals' on road, XC, fells and Mountain running. Indeed, they hold fast p.b's themselves, with Andy's 14:02 5000m p.b demonstrating his speed, and Dave's 2:18 Marathon proving his undoubted strength. They regularly clash in races held over 'middle ground' distances such as 10k, where they are both regular 'sub 30' performers.

Norman is pictured above descending down 'Latrigg' on his way to a 'sub 64' minute time and victory in the 'Skiddaw' fell race.

 

 

                     22. Rob Hope: 17':07'' (2007)

Pudsey and Bramley's Rob Hope is one of the true fell-specialists to have lifted the 'Moss Challenge cup' to become Rivington Pike Fell Race champion. Winning the British Championship in 2007, 08 and 09, and being crowned  English Champion in 2005 and again in 2010 proves his class over rough terrain. Hope started out as a Horwich RMI athlete along with younger brother Danny, and both were pupils at the Rivington School throughout their teenage years. As the brothers were raised near the Pike, they must have been inspired as youngsters to one day run the Pike fell race themselves, and so to actually lift the 'Pike' title must have been a dream come true. This accolade was first achieved by Rob in 1995 as a young 20 year old. Rob has since gone from strength to strength, picking up numerous national titles on the fells, and winning many 'classic' races, including 'Burnsall' and 'Grassmere' several times. His record for consistency over the past 20 years is unblemished, where week in, week out he has continued to beat the very best of British fell runners. Hope has also competed internationally several times in World trophy races with a best of 30th place in the 2007 championships, and also a European best of 27th in '08'. Earlier in Hope's career, he was part of the Bronze medal winning team at the 'Worlds' with the likes of team mates, Salford trio Billy Burns, John Brown and Martin Cox, along with Mike Bouldstridge and John Taylor. Hope's record in the Pike race since his first win in 1995 has been strong, particularly into the new century where he has collected another 6 wins, after his most recent victory in 2015, and numerous high placings along the way. His best time of 17:07 set in 2007 demonstrates his speed as well as the stamina he has in abundance.Younger brother Danny, who has also become an extremely successful runner over the fells, and has fought it out at the front end of British championship fell running for the past 10 years can also be seen as a regular at Rivington, again always at the sharp end of the race. Indeed, in 2009 the Hope brothers scored a memorable 'one-two' in the race with Rob coming out on top in 17:25, to Danny's 18:02. Danny's best time of 17:51 would also fair pretty highly amonst the 'all-timer's' list, although to date he has not yet matched Rob in winning the race outright. The brothers obviously inherited their running genes from their father John, who is a top veteran athlete and climber...so running really does run in the Hope family, just as it does with the 'Norman's' and many other 'running families'.

Hope is pictured above on his way to one of the many British Fell running race victories he has achieved throughout one of the most consistent careers at the 'sharp end' of Fell running.

 


           

 eq'23. Gerry North (1959)/ K.Darlow (1976)/ A.Buckley (1981): 17':08''

Fresh from his Northern XC silver medal run being beaten by only 'Olympian' Fred Norris, Gerry North (shown left) made no mistake to take victory in the 1959 pike race. Indeed, the Blackpool and Fylde athlete went out so fast that when he arrived at the Pike's summit he already held a 150 yard advantage, towering over his rivals as he continued to pile on the pace to record a resounding 46 second victory and smash the old record by an amazing 59 seconds! His time of 16:48 (converted to 17:08) was the first 'sub 17' run, and demonstated North's XC ability and 13:44 5000m pace to the full. His 1959 run out over the 'Pike' was infact his only ever fell race, being a XC, track and road specialist where he lifted non-other than impressive titles such as 'Inter counties and National XC champion' in his illustrious career, as well as high placings in the World XC along with team medals at this highly prestigious international. North can still be seen regularly cheering on his club nowadays (Belgrave Harriers) in Sutton park at the 6 and 12-stage road relays, mingleing and reminicing with old rivals such as Dick Taylor (Coventry Godiva) and Jimmy Alder (Morpeth).

North is pictured above racing towards Rivington Pike victory in 1959 through the horde's of cheering spectators lining the later part Lever park avenue.



       26. Stuart Stokes: 17':10'' (1997)

Steeplechase International Stuart Stokes's record as a young up and coming junior athlete in the 'Pike' race is impressive to say the least. It's no doubt that races such as this instiled the strength and stamina he has later shown during his career as one of Britains top steeplechaser's, regularly being ranked UK no.1 with a p.b of  8:22! Stoke's earlier days saw him excel on the XC where he was Northern junior XC champion as well as the track, and his races over the pike course in the nineties as a youngster where he placed 2nd and 3rd in '95' and '96' respectively displayed the growing talent he possessed. Another year of hard training saw him slash 34 seconds from his 1996 time, when in 1997 he produced a fine run for 4th position, up against many seasoned internationals including non other than the ''Rossendale Rocket'', Dave Lewis. His time of 17:10 still ranks 3rd on the 'all time Junior list' behind Massey and Taylor, and was a sign of what was to come in his now long and successful career as a steeplechaser for Sale Harriers. Stokes has represented England and GB many many times, with two 4th places in Commonwealth finals, each time being beaten by only the might of a trio of Kenyans. After retiring from International duty after his controversial ommission from the 2008 GB Olympic team, he has more recently returned to top flight athletics, and must now have his sights on setting the record straight and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, which would be a deserving finale to a great International running career. (Indeed, as I update my website I am pleased to say that Stokes actually made it to London 2012 to cap off a great steeplechase career!) 

Stokes is pictured above taking victory in the UK Steeplechase 'trials' race, proving his 'number 1' status.

 

 

    27. Ron Hill: 17':12'' (1967)

Ron Hill's relentless record in the 'pike' stands at 39 races, and at the age of seventy he can still be seen competing in the 'Pike' race as enthusiastically as back in the sixties, where at his peak he proved to be a formidable 'pike racer' on many occasions. Hill's record in the Rivington Pike saw him notch up 3 wins as well as numerous high placings, which were sometimes achieved as the 'filling' in a sandwich of 'Easter racing', where he would tackle the 'Salford 7' on Good Friday, the 'Pike' on Easter Saturday and then finish off with a run out in the 'Beverley Marathon' on Easter Sunday. Hill's 1965 win was part of a 'Hat-trick' of wins over the Easter festival as he proceeded to win all 3 of the above events in the 3 days! His victory over cross country International Tim Johnston, who had travelled up from Portsmouth to take on fellow International Hill, and 'fell running expert' Fred Reeves proved to be a scintilating edition in the 'Pikes' history. As the competitors battled up the ascent through the mist in cold and wet 'diabolical' conditions, it was Johnston who held a slender 15 yard advantage at the summit. But this did not deter Hill, who fought with reeves to catch Johnston and later leave his two rivals standing on the final run in to record his 2nd 'Pike' victory in 17:08 (17:28 converted). Given the horrendous conditions this was no mean achievement. Hill returned the following year to retain the pike title, albeit in a relatively slow 17:56, attributed to once again very poor running conditions. Infact, Hill's fastest time on the Pike was set when finishing 2nd to Alan Blinston in 1967, when his 16:52 (converted to 17:12) was beaten by a mere 3.2 seconds on the day, and after Hill had took a headlong slide in the slippy conditions, winding himself in the process!. Hill's renowned desire to race week in, week out surely moulded him into the athlete that saw him evolve into one of the worlds very best long distance runners. His record in International competition in the World XC and Marathon is unrivaled against fellow Pike racers, where his career highlights were '1969 European Marathon champion', 1970 Commonwealth Marathon champion and World XC silver medalist, a mere 1.4 seconds away from gold! He also represented G.B at 3 Olympic games, won the 'Boston' Marathon and set World records at 10miles, 15miles, 25KM and 20mile distances. Hill's domestic record was just as impressive where he lifted the 'National XC' title twice amongst countless successes throughout his glittering career. Hill's Marathon p.b of 2:09:28 set when taking the Commonwealth crown still ranks among the fastest UK marathoners ever, and proves at the height of his running career,  Ron Hill was one of the 'all-time' greats .

Ron Hill, legendary 2:09:28 marathon man was 'peerless' when it came to many finishing straights, but is surrounded by inspired friends off the track as he continues to be an inspiration to the distance running community even nowadays into his seventies.

 

 

 28. Colin Robinson: 17':14'' (1969)

Rochdale's Colin Robinson's participation in the 'Pike' race proved that the attraction of racing it out up and down one of Lancashire's most famous hills enticed athletes of the very highest calibre. Robinson was indeed world 2000m record holder on the track, and the lure of collecting victory on the 'pike', over what was always a 'star studded' field attracted this 'speed merchant' to the race on several occasions. Although Robison's quest to lift the winners trophy never quite materialised, he came close on several attempts, his best effort being at the 1969 race where he was runner-up to non-other than fellow track specialist Alan Blinston, who managed to hold off Robinson's fast descent effort by a mere 4 seconds. Robinson's time of 16:54 on the day (17:14 with conversion) proved to be 6 seconds up on Jeff Norman at the finish line, and once again complete a high class result to this iconic and classic race. Robinson was also a great XC runner, and was part of many Lancashire successes in Inter-counties XC races, where he regularly teamed up with the likes of Ron Hill, Mike Freary and Geoff North. He also made World Cross teams with team mates such as Mel Batty, Ron Hill and Eddie Strong, and in 1962 was part of the winning England team. The 'pike' race has seen so many great athletes compete over the years, and Colin Robinson can truely be regarded  amongst one of the very best.

 

 

eq'29. Wilf Brindle: 17':15'' (1990)

Horwich AC's Wilf Brindle ran a cracking race in the 1990 'Rivington Pike race' to record a fast 17:15 time, but what had happened in the previous four 'pike' races occurred for a fifth successive time, in that Horwich Team mate Paul Dugdale had took the victory once again as he went about making 'Pike history'. With Brindle sat in the main chasing pack at the 'pikes' summit around 15 seconds down on Dugdale, times were always going to be quick as Dugdale was timed at 9:53 as he rounded the tower. Brindle's strength was his great descending speed, and so excitement rose in the crowds as they anticipated a descending battle between the two of Horwich AC's best down to the wire. But on this occasion Brindle had no answer to the superiority of the mighty Dugdale, as he stormed down the descent to record a near minute victory over Brindle as he crossed the line in a magnificent 16:18! Brindle had the consolation of beating the 'best of the rest', and recording a personal best time whilst taking a 'one-two' for host club Horwich. Brindle was also a notable road runner with a 30:14 10k clocking and a fast 18:54 4 mile p.b, showing why he had the ability and pace to run at the front end of 'Pike' fields.

 

 

 eq'29. Neil Wilkinson (1999)/ Paul Blake (1994)/ J.Calvert (1978): 17':15''

Neil Wilkinson's 1999 campain over the fells proved to be a fruitful one, where he collected 'inter-counties', 'Snowdon International' and indeed 'Rivington Pike' titles to add to his growing reputation over the 'rough stuff'. The Salford Harrier (shown left) had a proven record on the roads and over the XC, with high placings in 'Inter-counties' XC's (11th in 1996) as well as numerous other top flight performances in the National Road Relays. He was part of the winning Salford 12 man team at Sutton park in 1997 and won many medals with the Manchester based club. Wilkinson carried this pedigree onto the slopes of Rivington Pike and In '99' he strode down Lever Park avenue with 17 seconds to spare over 'pike phenomenen', Craig Roberts and the great, late John Taylor of Bingley Harriers to become the last winner in the 20th Century. All three men were truely world class exponents in the world of mountain running, where they all had achieved top 10 placings in either World or European Championships, with Wilkinson's bests of 7th in both championships! On this occasion, Wilkinson came out on top to take his only victory on the pike, and on his attempt to regain the race win the following year put up a valiant attempt, but was denied a second victory by fellow International XC runner Mike Bouldstridge. The pair continued to enjoy many close battles over the next few years in open competition. With p.b's on the road of 29:24 and 65 mins for the half marathon, Wilkinson backed up these performances in 2002 with a call up for G.B at the 'Ekiden World road relays' held in Chiba, Japan, where he teamed up with athletes of the calibre of 3:49 miler and 13:19 5000m man, John Mayock amonst other top GB Internationals, to take on the might of Africa and other continents in this World challenge. Neil can still be seen competing for Scotland in International Veteran events, and representing his new club of Morpeth Harriers in Northumberland.

A young Wilkinson anchoring his Salford club to Northern Road Relay victory. This would be one of the many area and national titles he went on to win with the Manchester giants.

 

 

 eq'33. Dave Cartridge (1980)/ D.A. Slater (1971): 17':16''

Bolton's Dave Cartridge was a consistent top performer on the fells, and was indeed an 'Engish Champion' over rough terrain in 1986. With many fine performances in the 'Pike' race, his best time of 16:56 (17:16 converted) was set when finishing 3rd in 1980 behind Andy Taylor and Mike Short, but infront of top 'pike' exponents such as Ron McAndrew, Ron Hill, Peter Ravald and the young Colin Robinson. This run was one of many other strong performances in the 'pike' race by Cartridge, noteably in 1982 where he backed up his Bolton team mate, Paul Campbell's win with a fine 4th place out of the 300 strong field. Cartridge's career saw him take many records in fell races over the years, and his name can be seen very high up on the 'All-time' list of my local 'Wrekin' fell race, sandwiched between the great names of Paul Dugdale and Mike Bishop in 6th place overall, a time he set in 1988. Once again, the name of J.Wild sits at the top, whose 1980 mark has never seriously been challenged. Cartridge's class was also demonstated brilliantly with a fine 10th and 12th places in the '86' and '87' Worlds, again proving the class of runner the great 'pike race' continued to attract.

Cartridge demonstrating the 'rock hopping' descending skills that took him to National fell running champion of 1986.

 

 

35. Tom Cornthwaite: 17':17'' (2012)

Tom Cornthwaite's impeccable display of front running in the 2012 edition of the Rivington Pike fell race rocketed his name up the 'all time' list to join the many illustrious names on the 'sub 17:20 rankings. On his way to a fine 11 second p.b and a fast 17:17 clocking, Cornthwaite had set off with intent on achieveing his goal of a sub 17:20 time, and by the time the athletes hit the steep gradients of the pike, Cornthwaite was already powering away from his rivals, demonstrating his strength and climbing technique to the full, and that he is fully absorbing the knowledge passed on by his coach and mentor who is non other than the greatest pike racer of modern times, 'Pike master' Paul Dugdale. This strong and determined effort resulted in a glorious third victory for the Northumberland Fellrunner to join a small and elite band of 'pikeracers' who have achieved the fine accolade of 3 'pike' victories. This third win was perhaps Cornthwaite's most comfortable taking the pike title by almost 40 seconds from Rossendale's young fell star, Sam Tosh. His run built on an already superb history in the Rivington race after initially taking victory whilst running in the 'blue and white' of Blackburn Harriers in a breakthrough run in the 2006 edition. The young Lancastrian had taken victory over some more established 'pike racers' at the time and thrust his name amongst the best fell runners over fast terrain. His strong time of 17:39 was improved well by 11 seconds the following year, but this time he had to play second fiddle to 'British champion' Rob Hope, who in the form of his life raced to a comfortable win in a fast 17:07. Cornthwaite took his 2nd pike title in 2010, again consistently applying pressure on the climb, to record another time close to his best running 17:31 just 3 seconds shy of his 2007 mark. Cornthwaite showed his versatility by finishing 29th in the 2011 National XC in a 'mud bath' at Alton Towers, and has promisingly backed all these results up with some quick 10k and strong Half marathon road races with good p.b's of 30:04 and 66 minutes respectively. Arguably, along with his 3rd pike race victory, Cornthwaite's best run to date came in the 2011 edition of the 'World Mountain Running Championships' held in Albania, where his 21st position finish placed him around some well respected names in the world of Mountain running, backing up other great mountain race results such as his victory in the World 'trial' selection race held on the slopes of Snowdon in 2010. The 2013 edition of the pike race saw Cornthwaite take a remarkable 4th title after a close tussle with Salford's Gary Priestley who held a narrow advantage over Cornthwaite at the pike summit. T.C finallly got the better of strong XC man Priestley on the final 600m run in to the finish to come home 3 seconds clear, thus taking him ever closer to the record 6 victories held by coach 'Dugga's'. Still a relatively young athlete, there's no doubt we will be seeing even more of Tom's name in future 'pike races', with surely a few more wins in the tank yet. With time still on his side, could Cornthwaite possibly challenge his coach and mentor- Paul Dugdale's record of 6 victories? Only time will tell...

Cornthwaite can be seen above flying down the hot 'n' dusty descents of the Albanian World Champs course leaving a 'lung busting' cloud for his rivals to tackle behind.This great photo was taken by fellow G.B international and Pike race winner Laura Riches, And above right (climbing hard on his way to a 21st place in the World Mountain running championships)

 

 

36.Ray Owen: 17':18'' (1986)

Ray Owen complete's a 'who's who' of the very fastest 'pike racers'. A list of 35 athletes who over the past half Century have re-written the record books and history of one of the most famous 'classic' fell races in the fell racing calender. Local athlete Ray Owen is a deserved athlete to finalise this list of Champions and 'fast men', being  from Horwich and racing for 'RMI'. England Fell and mountain running International Owen put up a great fight against the young 20 year old student, Paul Dugdale in the 1986 edition of the pike. It was the first year the new fences above 'Georges Lane' had been erected, thus making for slower times than in previous years. These changes made Owen's 17:18 time a good one behind Dugdale's 17:12 victory, given the approximate 20 seconds dis-advantage upon pre-1986 races. Dugdale and Owen were joined by young Paul Massey on the winners rostrum for a Horwich RMI 'cleansweep' signalling an extremely successful period to come at future pike races for the host club. Owen backed up this fine performance with another 2nd place in 1988 behind Dugdale, who was begining to re-write the record books in the races history. Owen could not quite match his time of 2 years earlier, but his 17:36 run was still more than respectable. This run came at the start of another great season for Owen, which was rounded off with a 9th at the World's 'short' mountain champs, to back up his great eighth from 3 years previously against the world's best mountain men. Without the might of Dugdale, Owen would have no-doubt been a 'pike' champion on several occasions but was unfortunate to come up against his Horwich team mate at Rivington as he hit the peak of his career.