Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey is all set for an Italian job after another top draw performance at the British trials for the European Mountain Running Championships at Whinlatter forest, near Keswick.
With team GB places for the European Championships in Italy up for grabs there was plenty at stake as the elites of British mountain running gathered to take on the challenging 12km course with 750m of ascent, over 3 mountainous laps in hot, energy sapping conditions. Learning from bitter experience in recent FRA Championship events, the Calder runner reigned in his instinct to set off like a bullet, knowing that most of the field would go off too fast and pay a heavy price later in the race. Mounsey’s patience was rewarded as he reeled in his rivals moving from 15th to 10th after the first lap, to join a the leading group, with Andy Douglas and Andy Davies setting the pace.
By lap the end of the second lap Mounsey’s recipe for success saw him climb his my way in to sixth place behind Ricky Lightfoot, while many of the favourites ran out of gas, having over-cooked the first half of the race. Sensing a ticket to Italy was within his grasp Calder Valley’s mountain man launched himself into one last big push to move past Max Nicholls, on the last lap, before steaming home in a fantastic 5th place behind Andy Douglas in 1st, Andy Davies 2nd, Ricky Lightfoot 3rd and Alex Pilcher 4th. Mounsey will find out later this week if his performance was enough to secure a prestigious Team GB place at July’s European Mountain Running Championship. Since going to press it has now been confirmed that Ben is off to Italy to represent #TeamGB.
Closer to home Calder Valley’s Joe Washington headed over the other side of the M62 for Sunday’s Saddleworth Fell Race. Washington was all set for a memorable victory over the tough 3 mile route with 950 feet of ascent, but having done all the hard work, he somehow lost track of the flags to end up finishing a highly credible, but frustrating, 2nd place.
Bank Holiday Monday saw Steve Smithies and Bill Johnson join George Osbourne in the Tatton MPs home constituency, taking in the festivities at the Wildboarclough Fete in Cheshire.
Unlike the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who clearly had not budgeted for the £4 entry fee, the roving Calder runners threw their hats in the ring for the Shutlingsloe Fell Race. Proving the point that not all of Cheshire is as flat as some would belief, this short sharp race manages to pack 900 feet of climbing into 2 brutal miles of running.
Johnson was able to show his Yorkshire legs were more than a match for the local talent as he romped to a V50 category victory in 21.22, just ahead of club mate Smithes who descended the Shutlingsloe (commonly described as Cheshire’s Matterhorn) just 1 minute behind. Local legend Simon Bailey was first home completing a winning streak that stretches back over more than a decade.