Young Fell Runner Set to be Awarded Career Boosting Bursary

One young Cumbrian fell runner, potentially ‘one to watch’ for the future, will have some of the expenses associated with participation in the sport taken off their or their family’s shoulders, by becoming the first recipient of the Pete Bland Bursary, announced at last year’s Grasmere Lakelands Sports and Show.

The Bursary was created in honour of Pete Bland, the former Fell Race Manager of the annual August Bank Holiday weekend show, whose name was synonymous with fell racing and who sadly passed away of Covid.

Pete had a passion for helping young fell runners pursue their ambitions within the sport, so the Bursary, which comprises £500 to help a young person’s sporting development, is most fitting.

Applications for the Bursary close on June 30 and will be judged by both the Grasmere Lakeland Sports and Show directors and members of Pete Bland’s family. In 2023, both his widow, Ann, and his son, Matt, stepped into his shoes, to run the fell racing programme.

The chosen recipient of the Pete Bland Bursary could be either a young male or female but must be aged under 18 and must come from Cumbria. It is all about developing young local talent, who can do the county proud.

“With athletic clubs across the north heading to Grasmere Sports’ fell racing events – for many the pinnacle of the fell racing year – it is important that the Bursary recipient be someone who wants to be a local flag-bearer and talisman or woman for the sport,” says the show’s Chairman, John Hibbert.

“However, what we will also be ideally looking for, is an applicant for whom the £500 will make a real difference and be the financial catalyst that perhaps enables them to step up a level in their fell running career. It could, for instance, perhaps provide the opportunity for them to compete further afield, gaining more experience, or to enjoy a different and more advanced training regime.”

Pete Bland’s family will no doubt make the choice that Pete himself would have recommended. He was a successful racer and a champion at many famous fell events, from Ambleside Sports to the elite KIMM (now OMM), where he and Ann, a 2:50 marathon runner in her own right, also won the mixed team event.

For 40 years, he organised the Kentmere Horseshoe race and for a decade he was the manager of the England Mountain Running team. He was also a member of the FRA committee and, through his own business, sponsor of the British Fell Running Championships and various other events.

The announcement of who has won the Pete Bland Bursary is anticipated to be made around the end of July, by Grasmere Lakeland Sports and Show.

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