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Brownlee brothers were West Witton Fell Race stalwarts
12:46pm Friday 10th August 2012 in News
OLYMPIC triathlon champions Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were once frequent competitors at a Wensleydale fell race, and a former organiser said the brothers were fiercely competitive even as youngsters.
Janet Harker used to be heavily involved in organising the West Witton Fell Race every summer, and said the Brownlee family would enter every year from when the boys were a very young age.
She said: "They would have been eight when they started running it with their dad as that is the minimum age.
"They would take part in the junior race though - and Alistair would usually win."
Mrs Harker said the family also used to stay in a holiday home in Melmerby, Coverdale, that belonged to the boys' grandmother, and that the family still occasionally use the house.
The fell race was a tough competition, even for junior runners who did not have to do the amount of climbs as the senior runners.
"The route of the fell race starts from the west end of the village and it goes up the valley, almost to Penhill but only the seniors go all the way up to the top.
"Runners have to find their own route back down into the village over stone walls, they have to be careful not to turn an ankle but they always did very well."
Alistair Brownlee was the first brother to take part in the senior race - and Mrs Harker said he won with no problem at all.
"Many of the local runners would have known the route much better but he did it in 31 minutes and 42 seconds - our record was 29 minutes so he was very close to that," she added.
But when Jonathan took part in the senior race - on a year Alistair did not take part - he actually beat his elder brother's time and completed it in 31 minutes and 34 seconds.
Mrs Harker said: "Of course, weather can have a lot to do it with but I'm sure he was very happy to have beaten his brother's time."
The Brownlee brothers stopped taking part in the West Witton Fell Race once they began their triathlon careers as fell runners can be injured easily.
Mrs Harker added: "We have had lots of memorable runners doing the race - but so far they are the only two to become famous!"
The West Witton Fell Race takes place on Saturday, August 25 at 6pm, and starts at the west of the village.
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