This weekend is a busy one in our local runners’ diaries – and a bumper one for CVFR results – with a couple of the year’s much-anticipated races taking place, at various corners & ends of the British Isles.
On Saturday, 27th April, CVFR was out in force at the 65th Three Peaks race. This event – advertised as the marathon with mountains – with its 23.3 miles starting at Horton-in -Ribblesdale and includes an eye-watering vertical mile of climbing, as runners take on the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. One of the oldest races & most famous races in the fellrunning year, despite the wild weather conditions, 670 runners (10 from CVFR) still finished the course.
Impressive running from Calder Valley’s Karl Gray saw him finish 8th overall in a time of 3:05:51 – retaining his First Vet runner trophy for an amazing fourth year in a row and a 7th time in the last eight years. There were also strong runs for fellow CV MV40 runners – with seven finishing amongst the first 50 Male Vet 40s to cross the line, including Mark Burton (64th overall, 17th MV40), Jonny Croston (70th, 19th MV40), Paul Haigh (89th, 24th MV40), Jon Smith (137th, 41st MV40) and Luke Meleschko (171st, 49th MV40). Dan Masden was the first in the open male category to finish the race in four hours, finishing 150th overall (78th in his category).
Sharing Ingleborough and Whernside with the Three Peaks, the Fellsman is a gruelling 61-mile ultra around the fells of the Yorkshire Dales, taking in Gragareth, Great Coum, Blea Moor, Great Knoutberry, Snaizeholme, Dodd Fell, Fleet Moss, Buckden Pike, and Great Whernside – to total a whopping 11,000 feet of ascent.
This year’s 57th Fellsman race took place from Saturday 27th to Sunday 28th April and was also well attended by Calder Valley. Red-and-white hooped top ultra runners, Kevin Hoult and Simon Bourne led the way – finishing 8th & 10th respectively, with Bourne delighted to finish in the top 10 for an impressive 9th time. Both commented on how the difficult weather conditions had made this overnight race even more challenging than usual. Other CVFR male runners to finish this monster race included John Allen (30th), Johnnie Watson (72nd). In the women’s race, Calder Valley’s Linda Murgatryod and Jackie Scarf both ran extremely strongly to finish in the top ten. It was also something of a baptism of fire for the club’s two newest ultra runners – Eileen McDonach & Ellie Eady – who finished 203rd & 204th overall – an amazing achievement bearing in mind that they had, by the end, been on their feet for 26 & ½ hours.
In the Scottish Highlands, also on Saturday 27th April, CVFR’s Melvyn Ward was one of 647 runners to complete the tough Highland Fling – an ultra trail marathon along the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long-distance footpath, through the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Ward – who placed 542nd in his first attempt at what he characteristically referred to as ‘a longer distance with some bigger hills’, completed the 53-mile course in 13h 42 minutes & 46 seconds, describing it as ‘a great experience but for the weather’, namely driving rain for most of the day meant which saw him soaked by the end of his first climb, & going through three pairs of gloves & needing to dig deep to finish this latest ‘adventure’, despite incredibly sore knees. Nonetheless, Ward was quick to point out that all of the above serves to make finishing all the more satisfying – it was worth it for the scenery alone, especially the view of Loch Lomand and the deer & squirrels in the forest section. On his way home, Ward was already talking about having another go at the race next year & thinking forward to the Pennine Barrier Ultra 100 in June!
Over in Northern Ireland, Saturday 27th April was also the date for The Mourne Highline race – the Northern Ireland leg of the British Championship – a race put together specifically by the organisers to offer just over 15km or race through some of the highest places in the Mourne mountain range – including everything from grassy climbs, to rocky descents & airy ridges. In a field of over 200 highly talented runners, and a race that proved even more of a test than usual, given the wild, wet & windy weather conditions, CVFR’s Matthew Roberts ran brilliantly to finish 4th overall (3rd in the men’s open category) – in 1:04:32 – only 1 minute & 15 seconds behind the winner, Mark Lamb of Keswick AC. Fellow red-&-white hoops runner, Charlie Ing, also ran another strong race to finish in 1:08:33 – 15th overall (9th in the men’s open category) in a race he described as something of ‘a leap into the unknown’ as his first race predominately on stone. Other notable runs from club members included Shaun Godsman, who came in 33rd overall & 5th in the MV40 category in 1:12:49, plus Mark Taylor, James Logue & Toby Sydes who finish 42nd, 45th & 151st overall respectively.
Further South, two CVFR ran the iconic London Marathon on Sunday 28th April for charities of their choice. Mark O’Conner, running to raise money for research into dementia, did amazing well to come back from injury last year and finish less than 9 minutes over the challenging three-hour target he had set himself for this race. Michelle Hanley, running for the Nehemiah Project, finished in 4:17:56 (Photo – Michelle Hanley with her medal).
Last, but not least – & the only race to be run in fine conditions – Wharfedale Harriers hosted the final instalment in this year’s Easter bunny runs on Penistone Hill with the infamous Bunny Relays on Tuesday 23rd April. 66 teams and 3 individuals competed for glory & chocolate & the dry conditions made for some fast times with two teams breaking previous records (in the girls U15 & the female V40 categories). Howsons Pickles (Seth Howson, Charlie Pickens & Oliver Pickens) finished 24th overall & first boys U13 team. Three of the red-and-white juniors, running as the ‘Stripy Vipers’, Elijah Peers-Webb, Alex Duffield & Ed Ademavicius finished 29th overall, just pipped to the post by CVFR’s Stephen Smithies family team (Duck Billed Deer Otter) in 28th position (4th family team). Finally, Carole Fryer & Colin Duffield ran in the Odds & Sods team with Brett Muir & finished 50th overall.