SHARON TAYLOR - DESCENT SPECIALIST
Sharon Taylor is a medical rep who sells drugs to doctors. She achieved a fair amount of success as a schoolgirl playing hockey and netball, and as a track and cross-country runner. She joined Bingley Harriers at the age of 12 and ran her first fell race on Hebden, Wharfedale, when she was 16.
“Training with the Harriers as a junior consisted of a 40 minute run on a Tuesday evening,” she recalls, “and speed work on Thursdays, generally followed by a race at the weekend. In between these sessions, I continued to play hockey and netball.”
Her first outright victory in a fell race (as distinct from age-group wins) came in August, 1998, at Langdale Country Fair. “I turned in 5th position at the top (among the ladies), on Harrison Stickle, and came down well to cross the line first.” This was a classic steep up-and-down course and her performance showcased her outstanding talent as a fell runner, for she truly excels on steep descents. The following year, she came 5th in the Langdale Horseshoe, another steep, rough course, but this time calling for both endurance and navigational skills. For a 19-year-old novice, this was another brilliant performance, and she did in fact enjoy several other good runs that year, both in Lakeland and the Yorkshire Dales.
Sharon ’s second victory came early in the Millenium Year at Ovenden Moors on the South Pennines and another good season saw her attaining runner-up placings in both the Buckden Pike and Skiddaw races, with 3 rd places at Black Combe, Ben Nevis and the Tour of Pendle. Her penchant for long-distance racing paid off early in 2001 when she was first lady back in another South Pennines event, the Wadsworth Trog, but then the Foot and Mouth outbreak disrupted the fell racing season, although she and Rob later notched up three double victories, as previously mentioned.
With their move to Burneside, and later Staveley, completed that year, the partners were now able to concentrate on a wide range of Lakeland events to compete in, while also having the ideal training terrain right on their doorstep. This played no small part in helping Sharon to triumph the following year in such demanding races as Black Combe, Anniversary Waltz (Newlands), Kentmere Horseshoe, Dale Head (Borrowdale Shepherds’ Meet) and Wansfell (Ambleside), while in the FRA championships she finished a highly creditable 4 th in the British and 5 th in the English.
In 2003, however, she slipped back one position in both Championships, and secured wins in 2 South Pennine races and 1 at Kirkby Moor, among the Furness fells. “The competition was better that year,” she says modestly, low-rating her more successful 2002 season. Like Rob, she is also a cyclist, and in 2003 won the Mountain Bike Dash at Grasmere Sports prior to finishing 4 th in the Guides Race.
2004 saw her finishing 5th in both championships after leading the British with only one race to go - the ‘Two Breweries in Scotland’s Southern Uplands’, which she did not contest. Another 5th in the English followed in 2005, with 8th in the British, though she did achieve several outstanding victories in such races as the Wadsworth Trog, Coniston, Burnsall, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Great Whernside. Last year, she completed her hat-trick of wins in the Ben Nevis and attained a highly commendable 3 rd placing in both of the FRA championships.
Sharon trains locally on Potter Fell for between 30 and 60 minutes and also does a weekly session of speed work on the track at Kendal. For a long Sunday run she will, like Rob, use the higher Kentmere fells or else recce the course of a forthcoming race. She admires, and is inspired by, champion fell runners like Carol Greenwood, Sarah Rowell, Angela Mudge and Lou Roberts, with whom she sometimes trains.
The noted coach and former international athlete, Dennis Quinlan, has said of Sharon: “She has always been a talented girl and has been running well for many years now. I’ve always known that she had the potential to do better. She is now fulfilling more of that potential and her relationship with Rob has been of mutual benefit in supporting each other. Sharon saw what Rob had done and picked up from there.”