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Fen skaters get competitive races on Earith ice
Fen skaters at Earith in Cambridgeshire
Fen skaters took to the ice in Earith for some competitive action

It's been 13 years since competitors were able to get their skates on for races in Cambridgeshire.

But Saturday 9 January saw the perfect conditions in Earith for Fen skaters itching to get on the ice.

Next to the usual skating haunt of Bury Fen Malcolm McInnery won the Muriel Parsons one mile open race with a time of three minutes three seconds.

Meanwhile David Smith took the Gary Warrington Trophy quarter of a mile sprint with a time of 42 seconds.

The shallow waters of the Fens make for perfect ice rinks when they are frozen over and Malcolm Robinson, secretary of Fenland Skating Centre, was able to organise competitive speed skating in Earith.

He told BBC Cambridgeshire: "It's on a flooded meadow so the water's only about 18 inches deep.

"We've got about two inches of ice at the moment, most of that is made up of frozen snow rather than water that's frozen.

"It didn't last very long on Sunday, as soon as the temperature came up a bit it soon went soft on top.

"But on Saturday, while it was still old, it was nice, it was quite smooth."

Meanwhile Whittlesey also saw some skating, where Roger Hunt-Paine commentated on the action.

He said: "We flood the field specifically for skating, so the grass is quite short when it's flooded.

"The last time we were hoping to have races, about 15 years ago, we bought a snow plough that goes on the front of a quad bike and it's proved very affective this year."

Whittlesey was able to host 15 races, most of which were aimed at families who lie within a 10 mile radius of the town.

Earith's competitions attracted professional skaters, some of whom were getting their first taste of outdoor action. Malcolm has seen a range of people taking to the ice.

A Fen skating track at Earith
The Fens are the home of British speed skating

He said: "Most of the traditional Fen skaters have been involved since they were little children.

"Other guys we're picking up at the moment are guys who have been doing in-line racing because that's the closest you can get to ice skating without being on blades - they're on wheels instead."

Getting on the rink is a rare treat for Fen skaters, with warmer winters making it less likely that a safe layer of ice will materialise.

Malcolm said: "I don't know if it's the memory playing tricks but thinking back to my childhood I think we skated nearly every year, unlike the five or six year gaps we're getting at the moment."

Skaters will be hoping for more freezing conditions this week as they hope to hold the legendary British and Fenland Championships at the weekend for the first time in 23 years.

You can find out if skating is on by going to this website

Skaters flock to frozen Fenlands
10 Jan 09 |  Cambridgeshire
Fen skaters hopeful of more action
11 Jan 10 |  People & Places
Farmer skates to glory
20 Feb 03 |  England



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