A bus trip to Wales to pick up some silver

FRA RELAYOn Sunday, one of the marquee events of the fell calendar, the British Fell Running Relay Championships was held at Llanberis, north Wales. The event was staged at the foot of Moel Eilio, one of Snowdon’s less famed peaks, but at 726m high, a formidable foe nonetheless. One hundred and eighty fell clubs from around the UK made the trip and were superbly hosted by the local club Snowdon/Eryri who put on a mightily impressive event, full of variety, intense challenges and creative routes.

Overall, Calder Valley fielded an impressive eight teams, expertly captained and organised by Ben Mounsey, with the group meeting bright and early at 6am in Mytholmroyd. The journey down was enlivened by Rob Paradise’s renowned Yorkshire Ferret Show, which kept young and old amused, but the serious business was to begin in earnest at 10:00am, with the first of the four legs that began with a mass start.

But it was agony and despair for Calder’s Men’s Vet 40 team who missed out on a gold medal by a mere 24 seconds, after nearly four and a half hours of ding dong running. A herculean effort by maestro Karl Gray on the last leg nearly did the trick as he ran the fastest V40 time of the day by over 3 minutes; but alas agonisingly failed to haul in Borrowodale Vets, who grimly hung on for gold. Shuan Godsman had set the tone for the vets with a blistering 6th place on leg one and Irish duo, James Logue and Gav Mulholland had kept the pedal down on leg two. Despite crucial time lost on leg three, the paired navigation leg, the Vets were still in the hunt on the final leg, but it was just too much for King Karl to reel in.

Elsewhere it is difficult to know where to begin as there were umpteen heroic runs throughout the day, not just from the silver medal vets. With the weather ranging from A to B – atrocious to biblical – some of the performances, either as singles or in pairs will live long in the memory. The weather was truly awful at times but mention must go to the following who put in memorable runs. Calder C team, who finished 38th overall, can thank the sheer doggedness of Ben Frechette and Mark O’Connor who upstaged the B team to finish ahead of them on leg 2. Then the navigational brilliance of Ian Glendinning and Lee Beardy Shimwell who made mincemeat of the paired leg 3, waltzing round in 30th place, just two places behind the equally impressive B team comprising ultra fiend Ian Symington and the old pro himself, Bill Johnson.

The ladies were also flooring it in in fifth gear with England stars Jo Buckley and British Champ Helen Fines teaching the men a thing or two with a rapido 68th place on leg 2, which was all the more impressive as the weather by now was akin to being sat in a washing machine. On leg 3, the teak-tough pairing of Barbara Lonsdale and Sally Newman made short work of the map and compass and rubbed shoulders with the men in a fantastic 88th place.

Back to the men and on leg two, captain Ben Mounsey and Alex Whittem (pictured) strained every sinew to stay with the heavyweight names such as Rob Jebb and Ian Holmes and can be mightily pleased with their superb 7th place. But perhaps the pick of the bunch and was on nav leg three where Tim Ellis and Heptonstall’s Graeme Brown embarrassed a raft of big names to come in a quite brilliant 6th. Visibly spent as they both finished, Graeme was to end up in A&E later on with torn ankle ligaments. That, as Roy Castle once said, is dedication.

All in all, a brilliant effort from all in the CVFR squad who made the trip, with the women’s B, the men’s V50 and the men’s All Stars also putting in some amazing runs. Culpan, Whitehead, Davy, Wisbey & Murgatroyd et al. Rather like the Ryder Cup in golf, the event draws the very best out of people, amateur sports men and women at that too. A day to remembered indeed.

Ellis up there in Lakeland Classic and good club results in popular Skyline

its all go at Withens Skyline www.woodentops.org.uk

its all go at Withens Skyline
www.woodentops.org.uk

Calder Valley’s Tim Ellis continued his excellent summer of Lakeland fell races with an outstanding third place at Saturday’s Langdale Horseshoe race. This marvellous race is rightly regarded as one of the best in the calendar, taking in 16.5 miles and 1450m climb of arguably England’s finest scenery. A race for novices, it is not.

Decent weather prevailed, albeit quite windy and fresh up on the tops and the clear skies proved a godsend for many runners as low cloud and mist can often play havoc navigationally. Instead, runners were left to wrestle with nothing more than shin splitting descents and thigh burning climbs as they weaved their way up and over most of the main peaks of the Langdale Valley. The race was won by local star Ben Abdelnoor in an impressive 2hrs 7 mins, with Tim helping Calder into second place overall in the men’s team event, James Logue (13th) and rising star Joe Crossfield (18th).

Newly crowned British champ Helen Fines was second overall in the Ladies’ race with a splendid 55th place and Barbara Lonsdale 14th in a super time just over the three hour mark.

At the ever popular Withins Skyline race at Howarth on Sunday many Calder runners made the short trip over Cock Hill for the 7mile/1000ft mud splash across Bronte Country. Cader’s Graeme Brown, still in search of a pair of shorts, finished in a superb 6th place behind winner and new course record holder Tom Adams of Ilkley. Tom broke Olympic Gold medallist Ally Brownlee’s record from 2006, admittedly set when Alistair was a mere slip of a lad. Mark O’Connor, after a blistering start, faded somewhat to be next Calder man home in 34th.

First Calder lady home was Graeme’s other half Kate Mansell in a solid 158th place. The event is another of the Woodentops Fell races laid on by the irrepressible Dave Woodhead, who must be commended for his sheer enthusiasm and passion for the sport. Even more so for his endless prizes that he merrily dishes out afterwards in The Sun Inn where the majority of runners convened to partake in the fun afterwards.

Ian Hodgson – Captain’s log: star date 6/10/13

I suppose the writing was on the wall for a disappointing performance the moment that Karl Gray text me on Saturday morning to say he was pulling out of the relays….
and it didn’t fill me with much hope when Tod fatty no.2 A.K.A Goldie turned up to the start field eating a bacon and egg butty as big as his head just before his leg (breakfast of champions ay Mark)

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But despite not having our finest day, the lads and Jo B still did the club proud, even if there were a litter of navigational errors ;-)
So how did it all go wrong I hear you ask? Well hopefully this will help explain…

The day started brilliantly. Everyone turned up on time, Goldie and Shaun were well fed and after leg 1 the A team were in 3rd place just behind 2nd place favourites Borrowdale and leaders Dark Peak. It was this leg we were most concerned about, worrying perhaps the lads had a chance of getting lost or taking a bad line. But ironically this was the only leg that our runners didn’t get lost! Our young superstar Max ‘Power’ Wharton dragged Joe Washington round the leg in an excellent time of 35 mins and set up the A team with a superb start. Arguably Joe had the run of the day by hanging on to Max and really did himself and the team proud! 
Equally impressive was our heroine Jo Buckley and local hardman Roberto Pazzolini. Paz told me afterwards that Jo ‘destroyed herself for the team’ by running extremely hard throughout the leg and they flew round within the top 20 and sub 40 mins !

Leg 2 was full of promise. BOFRA boy Godsman and ‘the flying postman’ Alex Whittem were hopeful of running one of the fastest legs, especially as Shaun had reccied the route a number of times and in his words ‘knew all the best lines’. The thing is I’m not sure Shaun’s best lines were the fastest ones because 30 mins into the leg they had gone horribly wrong and lost around 15 mins and 20 places. Alex told me afterwards he knew they’d gone wrong when checkpoint 2 turned out to be the McDonald’s drive through in Kendal, Shaun however said ‘it’s the way he always goes!’ Oddly enough Alex also said the big man had exactly the right amount of change for a supersize Big Mac meal and an XL Cadbury’s Mcflurry AND it was ready for them as soon as they arrived! Weird. Maximum points earned for Tod’s finest in the navigational cock up of the year competition. 
In comparison navigational cock up 2013 pre race favourite Steve Smithies had a much better day than everyone else! This was mainly due to being partnered with top nav man Bill Johnson who made sure that Steve got safely round without being *’Smithied’. Well done lads!!!
* definition of ‘Smithied’: being utterly and hopelessly lost, usually in familiar territory and mainly in the Calder Valley area (but pretty much anyway to be honest).

 So if leg 2 was a navigational nightmare, thank god I’d played a master stroke by putting James ‘Mr Dependable’ Logue on leg 3 to save the day and pull back a ton of places and avoid any further embarrassment.
 So picture the scene…Timbo Baggins and I were waiting patiently at the start of leg 4, freezing our b******s off in the driving wind and rain, hungry and cold but safe in the knowledge that Britain’s greatest orienteer was about to work his magic like Harry Potter and his wand. 
1 hour later than schedule … feeling like Scott of the Antarctic and wondering where my next meal might come from and dreaming of a time when I could actually feel my arms and legs, I was delighted to see Logie and Joe Crossfield emerge from the mist having been horrendously lost and 110% Smithied. Unfortunately no one has seen James since he wandered into the woods above Patterdale after the race carrying a large amount of rope. 
It’s probably also worth noting that Goldie and Lee Shimwell DIDN’T get lost on leg 3 and beat Logie and Joe’s time by quite a number of minutes ;-) cue Goldie taking the p*ss for at least the next 5-10 years. Don’t worry James I’m sure we won’t rub it in….much ;-) did I mention you’re sat next to Goldie on the coach to Llanberis?

Needless to say by the time we set off on leg 4 it was almost getting dark and I was 10 minutes away from my trademark visit to the back of a St John’s Ambulance. However, true leader and inspirational captain that I am I soldiered on to set the early pace for Timbo. 
Things were going swimmingly, I was picking up all the best lines, climbing well (for a fat lad) and Timbo was looking equally strong! But then part of me started feeling a bit sorry for Godsman and Logue… so just to make them feel a bit better a took a really bad line on the way up to Fairfield and we also got a wee bit Smithied. Also I thought Timbo really needed to sharpen up his nav skills in preparation for the British relays so I let him take over to stop me running us off the edge of a cliff. Thankfully he sorted it and we finished the leg in a respectable time. Shame really cos if we hadn’t have gone wrong we’d have been very close to the fastest leg!!!
 The final pairing on the B team, ‘housewives favourite’ Johny Helliwell and ‘ultra man’ Ian Symington had no such navigational worries and finished the day as it started…by showing the A team how to use a compass! Well done lads!

 So all in all it was a day of mixed emotions. Not quite the result we were hoping for (14th for the A, 29th for the B) but team spirit was once again the real winner. This was just a bad dress rehearsal for the Brits…roll on 2 weeks! 

Over and out,

 El Capitano xx

P.S. Shaun/Logie: don’t worry about what happened today, no one really reads my emails anyway so perhaps no one will ever find out ? ;-)

A “mist’ opportunity @ Ian Hodgson Relay

ian hodgson 2013-95Following their 2nd place in 2012, Calder Valley Fell Runners men were hopeful of a strong finish last weekend in the annual Ian Hodgson Relay from Brotherswater, Patterdale in the Lake District. Unfortunately however, poor weather conditions resulted in a catalogue of navigational errors which ultimately led to a disappointing finish.

This Lakeland mountains relay race, held annually in memory of a Leeds based runner who was tragically killed in a road accident the day after winning the prestigious Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Cumbria, is run over four legs with competitors running in pairs. Last year another runner, Darren Holloway, tragically died of heart failure whilst competing on leg 4 and it was testiment to his memory that his club Pennine Fell Runners finished this year’s event in a club record 4th position.

Calder Valley were the first Calderdale team to complete the 24 mile route, finishing fourteenth from 70 teams. The Calder Valley B team were 29th with Todmorden Harriers A in 30th.

The event was won by Borrowdale runners who took their 17th title in the event’s 26 year history.

First off for the Calder club was junior international Max Wharton and Joe Washington who ran the 4.5 mile leg from Patterdale to Hartsop in 3rd place and in an impressive time of 35 minutes. Washington did extremely well to hang on to the young Calder valley starlet and in the process demonstrated his potential as a top club runner. Equally impressive was the B team’s only female competitor, Jo Buckley who put in a stirling performance with teammate Rob Paradise (pictured) to finish in a very respectable 26th position.

Next up for the A team were in form Shaun Godsman and Alex Whittem, who took up the mantle for the 7 mile run to Kirkstone Pass. They were hopeful of running one of the fastest legs of the day but unfortunately like many of the other teams they took a poor line during the race and ended up getting hopelessly lost in the mist, finishing some 16 minutes behind many of the top teams. The B team combination of Steve Smithies and Bill Johnson fared much better and despite a number of small errors minimised any time loss.

Next for the A came a blend of youth and experience with young Calder runner Joe Crossfield pairing up with Todmorden based crack orienteer James Logue to carry the baton to Sykeside campsite. Unfortunately however Logue suffered a very rare off day when he made a poor navigational error and uncharacteristically lost even more time to rival clubs in the extremely poor weather conditions. In reverse fortune the B team enjoyed a very successful leg with Mark Goldie and Lee Shimwell. Without making any major error they actually beat the time of Logue and Crossfield.

Finally, Calder Valley’s captain Ben Mounsey and Tim Ellis took the baton for the A team on the anchor leg where they managed to overhaul a number of teams on the tough 7.5 mile leg to the finish. But they like the rest of the team made yet another navigational error at Fairfield costing them around 6 minutes and blowing the chance of recording the fastest time of the day. However, despite the error they still managed to run the 7th quickest time of the day and bring the team back to a more respectable 14th place finish. Ian Symington and Johny Helliwell ran solidly for the final leg of the B team and just managed to be local rivals Todmorden by just 9 seconds.

At the front of the race Borrowdale’s Jim Davies and Ben Bardsley held off the challenge from a very strong Dark Peak team to record yet another victory for the local club.

Calder Valley will hope that this was just a poor dress rehearsal for the British fell relays, held in Llanberis, Snowdonia in two weeks time.
(See Captains Log for the unedited version)

Skyline, Pike and RAB successes

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Helen crossing the line at Edale

Calder Valley’s top guns headed to the Peak District on Sunday to compete in the re-arranged Edale Skyline. As the name suggests, this takes you on an undulating, 22mile plus route of the picturesque scenery above Edale village, famed for being the southern start point of the Pennine Way. On a pleasant but windy day, the race was the final counter in this year’s English Fell running champs so a strong field inevitably turned up, including Calder’s Helen Fines who was looking to cement her share of the ladies’ spoils with Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson.

Helen’s brilliant 3rd place was enough to do just that, and in the men’s, Calder’s James Logue lead home a strong Calder contingent finishing in a brilliant seventh place, and with three others, namely Ben Mounsey (14th), an exhausted Gavin Mulholland (16th) and Ian Symington (20th) also having super runs, Calder can take great pride in having four runners finish in the top 20.

Closer to home, Saturday’s Thieveley Pike fell race out of Cliviger saw plenty of red and white vests in attendance with it being a club championship race. This tough little Class A gem is becoming a real star of the calendar, its four mile burst really testing the stamina of the field with steep climbing and sharp descents. With the adjacent farmers’ fair, sheep dog trials and dog agility contest going on, you really could have been at a Lakeland show; especially with the number of Land Rovers, Hunter wellies and tweed jackets on show.

On a lovely sunny day local postie Alex Whittem finished second, hard on the heels of winner, Horwich’s Joe Mercer. A good scrap also ensued between Mark Wharton (Dad of Max), housewives’ choice Rob Paradise, the bearded Lee Shimwell and new French acquisition, Giles Simon, all of them vying for precious championship points as the denouement of the season approaches.

Up in The Lakes at the Rab sponsored Mountain Marathon, Jackie & Phil Scarf, Cragg Vale’s indestructible duo claimed victory in the mixed ‘short score’ category. Don’t be fooled by short though as this involves two days of six hour running and map reading over some of Britain’s prettiest but toughest terrain, where you have to carry all you need to survive, such as tent, food, stove, pyjamas, dressing gown, the lot.

In the solo event, Calder’s Bill Johnson demonstrated his prowess with a splendid 6th place in the ‘long’ category, despite the unseasonable warm conditions which caused dehydration issues for all competitors.

It was especially good to see Charlie Boyce back competing at the event (with Peter Bowles) after his dreadful cycling accident in the winter. Charlie and Peter finished 104th on the short course. Welcome back Charlie! Also on the short course, Linda Murgatroyd was 122nd with John McIntosh, and Neil Croasdell & Gerry Symes were 146th in Gerry’s first mountain marathon.

Good Shepherd, Scafell, Beefy’s Nab, Embsay

Paz in action at Embsay

Paz in action at Embsay. www.woodentops.org.uk

The deceptively named Good Shepherd Fell Race bounced back from a disappointing 2012 turnout as a healthy entry of 99 runners made their way to Mytholmroyd on Saturday morning for what many prefer to call the Bad Shepherd, given its potential to leave the badly prepared to wander lost and bewildered across empty hill sides. Covering a lung-busting 14 miles of moorland, including 2 tough ascents of Stoodley Pike, this year’s race featured the additional challenge of tricky navigation in disorientating autumn mist.

Starting out from Dauber Bridge in Cragg Vale, Calder Valley’s men disappeared into a veil of damp fog which threatened to lead the Shepherd’s flock astray on the long, un-flagged sections across Withins Moor.

A 4 man group quickly pulled away from the pursuing pack lead by Calder Valley’s Tim Ellis, closely followed by club mate, and reigning course record holder, James Logue, along with Chris Farrell of Horwich Harriers, and Pudsey and Bramley’s Richard Pattinson.

The visiting runners perhaps mindful of the Sherlock-Holmes style pea-souper, tucked-in behind the locals, allowing Ellis and Logue to shepherd them round the unmarked parts of the route. This ensured that all 4 of the leading runners reached the 14th mile within 1 minute of each other, at which point the Horwich Harrier and Valley’s Logue pushed ahead of Elllis, who had kept pole postion to within sight of the finish line.

In a dramatic finale it was Horwich Harriers Chris Farrell who seized victory in 1:41:33, and in doing so snatched the course record from previous record holder Logue, who crossed the line only 9 seconds behind (01:41:42), Tim Ellis was hot on his heals in 3rd place (01:41:51) just ahead of Pudsey’s Pattinson (01:42:40).

Calder Valley’s dark horse, Graeme Brown, shadowing the pack the entire way, surely marked his cards for A team selection as he arrived back in 6th place (01:46:35) behind 5th placed Dave Kirkham of Wharfedale Harriers, and in doing so helped Calder Valley to the men’s team prize. Lorraine Hopley of Rossendale won the women’s race in (02:14:53).

The rest of field filtered back having enjoyed yet another great day out on the South Pennine moors, to be greeted by volunteers offering warm soup and drinks. Organisers of this wonderful charity fund-raiser, hosted by the Good Shepherd church, can now look forward to its 10th anniversary with some optimism, as the event re-establishes itself in the fell running calendar.

Calder Valley’s Alex Whittem was 20th in 1:24:48 and Trevor Murgatroyd 33rd in 1:38:30 at the Scafell Pike race, a very steep and technical 4.5 mile race in the Lake District. Low cloud made navigation a challenge and the ground was very wet. Hunters Bog Trotters’ Murray Strain led a field of 58 home and women’s winner Hazel Robinson (Ambleside) was an amazing ninth overall. Valley’s Liam Gough came third in 22.28 and Robert Paradise seventh in 23:45 at Sunday’s three-mile Beefys Nab race at Leeming near Oxenhope. Wharfedale had a 1-2 through Mark Sennett (21:44) and Paul Crabtree (22:06).

Paradise turned out again on the same day, finishing 12th in the 2.75 mile Embsay Fell Race near Skipton in 22:48.  James Kershaw was 25th in 24:38 and Dave Hammond 29th in 24:55, Trevor Murgatroyd clocked 26:01 in 35th and Sharon Godsman was 49th in 27:55. Charley Godsman was 18th in the under 14 race in 20:46 and Ben Godsman 23rd in the under 12 race in 11:11.