The race was run for the first time in 1986 under the name of The Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay. Ian and his partner Jem Wilson won the Score Class of the Karrimor Mountain Marathon in 1985 but Ian was tragically killed in a cycling accident the day after the event. Delays in calculating the result in those pre electronic times meant that Ian never knew that he had won. The Hodgson family decided to organise an event in his memory and because he was always keen on team sports chose to make it a Relay event. The chosen race venue was Sykeside campsite, Brotherswater and the course was planned in the fells surrounding Patterdale.

Ian Hodgson descending

Despite some doubts whether the event would be successful, as the F.R.A. had just turned down a proposal for a Relay Championship, the first race attracted an entry of 36 clubs including several of the leading fell clubs at the time. The race was won by Rossendale in a close finish from Keswick. The following year, the maximum number of teams of 50 originally agreed with the National Trust was reached and in 1989 the race was honoured to be chosen by the F.R.A. as the first British Relay Championship. Perhaps, unsurprisingly the Open Race has been dominated by Lake District clubs with Borrowdale winning every race between 1995 and 2015, a remarkable sequence probably un-surpassed in any sport, not just fell-running. Their hold on the trophy was finally broken in 2016 by Dark Peak Fell Runners. Other leading places and Women’s, Mixed and Veterans categories are keenly contested and widely shared around between various clubs.

The race is for teams of eight who run four legs in pairs. The route of 24.5 miles covers many of the best known mountains in the area including High Street, Red Screes, Hart Crag, Fairfield and St Sunday Crag. It includes steep climbs, rocky descents and spectacular ridges using some of the check points used in the 1985 KIMM. The race has now become recognised as one of the most popular events in the Fell Running calendar and the entries are invariably oversubscribed.

The event was organised by the Hodgson family for 20 years with help from Horsforth Fellandale and family friends. However, in 2006 the responsibility for the event was taken over by Lakeland stalwarts Jon Broxap, Andy ‘Scoffer’ Schofield and, for a few years, Chris Speight. The current race Organisation team still consists of Jon, Scoffer and two Hodgson’s, Chris and Sara. Each year we try and run a family team with at least 4-5 members of the family and hope to continue this tradition for a while yet. Sykeside served the event well as a race venue for over 20 years but a series of wet autumns caused relocation to the present venue of Patterdale Playing Field with more space and indeed a glorious setting to watch the race start & finish.

Mike Hodgson in the Alps

Sadly, the family suffered a further loss in August 2015 when Michael, Ian’s elder brother, suffered a fatal sudden cardiac arrest when cycling near Keswick. Michael and Ian were great friends and Michael was actively involved in setting up and organising the Relay during the early years. He also competed many times in Horsforth Fellandale teams (and is 2nd from right in the Family Team picture above from 2014) so it seemed a good idea to re-name the race “The Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay”. The relay format generates team spirit and the intention is to provide a challenging mountain course, a friendly competitive atmosphere and a fitting memorial to Michael and Ian.

Words above written by Dave Hodgson (father of Michael and Ian)

In April 2023 our dad, Dave Hodgson, died at the age of 91-yrs old after a short illness. He was the driving force behind the creation of this relay race, and together with our mum organised the race for over 20 years. Our dad was an excellent fell runner himself, winning Burnsall fell race twice and coming second at the 3-Peaks on four separate occasions. He was also Chairman of the FRA, England Team Manager in his later years, and competed in this relay race on several occasions. We shall miss him enormously but his influence lives on, nowhere more than on the first Sunday in October on the fells around Patterdale.

He did indeed have a ‘life well lived’.