Some “Grin n Bear it” in Summits and Mountain Marathons

Race you to the Summit

For over 50 years a race has been run from Summit on the Todmorden – Littleborough Road to the White House on Blackstone Edge and back. This year the 4 mile race was won by Chris Holdsworth of Clayton Le Moors in 28:21 and Annabel Mason of Leeds in 35:12.  Mark O’Connor was 4th and first man back for Calder in 32:40 and Ruth Thompson Davies was first Calder woman back in 59:44.

Calders  Results
4 Mark O’Connor 32.40
14 Steve Smithies 36.04
16 Dave Hammond 36.26
23 Jonathan Moon 37.56
30 Calvin Ferguson 39.08
54 Graham Lloyd 44.05
74 Steve Cavell 49.40
88 Ruth Thompson-Davies 59.44

OMM Mountain Marathon

A two day event held, this year, in Great Langdale, involves pairs of runners navigating a course across the hills carrying all their equipment including camping gear for an overnight stop.  Runners can be out for over eight hours a day and are only shown the course once they have started.  Always held at the end of October the OMM is known for its interesting weather. This year navigation was made hard by mist and strong winds on the Saturday. One of the portable toilets at the overnight camp was blown over, it’s not known if anyone was in it at the time.As usual there were some great results from Calder Valley’s best navigators.  Jackie Scarf and her sister Debbie Ryde were 1st women in the medium score category and Phil Scarf and Bill Johnson were 1st vets and 6th overall in the long score.  Helen Buchan and Paul Taylor were second mixed vets in the B class.

Grin ‘n Bear It

A 25km race across the Peak District Moors south of Langsett Barn, the Grin ‘n Bear It was won by the elf like Gavin Mulholland of Calder Valley in 2 hours 7 minutes and 55 seconds – no further details at present.Gav’s said “Grin n bear it, the boggiest 26k fell race on the planet and was reclassified this year with a new less boggy section following a river valley and an extra climb. Yes. 27.5k and 700m had it enter the long B class. I ran it last year but was well gapped by Karl “legend Gray” and Andy “super” Swift but this year I was back on it. Expectation was high in the week leading up as The Legend’s wife Helen was traumatised at the possible loss of the rather unique petrified bog oak trophy, designed by race organizer Supremo Simon Rippon. Despite changes and kit checks etc this guy was the coolest in the Langsett Bunk Barn during registration.Swifty and Gray were out with injuries so I sailed the cvfr flag. It’s a fast start on forest trails and then it’s a steady climb up to cutgate in the Dark Peak District. I set an early lead but an unknown runner, Seb Batchelor came cruising by and continued to do so. I did spot he was a top junior athlete on power of 10 with 9.27 for 3k pace so no surprise. After cutgate there was a great descent at last quarries to the next check point before the river section. I could see Seb as a distant dot but I also had an eye on the guys closing in from behind.I took a rough line up to Swales Head and had them on my heels but on the way up to Ladycross Despite summer conditions above ground my hands got colder and colder as the race unfolded. I was able to push on though as it is less technical as you turn west for home, and I had kept some fuel in the tank after last years experience. I got my lines right, for once and came home in 2.07.55 which was a nice surprise considering the new additions. I was shocked to find out I had won the race. Seb had overshot in the valley so lost the lead. I was oblivious to this. I remember asking marshals at Salters Brook how far he was in front. They looked at me funny and said “don’t you worry about him” and shoved 2 jelly babies in my gob ;). So didn’t realise I was leading until the end. In 2nd was Peter Davies Dark Peak FR and Seb still managed 3rd after some disqualifications of other runners for a few who missed a check points. Bread, beer and honey for me, and the ugly trophy for the Grays as I knew they wanted to keep it really. Result

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks

Mulhollands Matterhorn Madness …the unedited version

After years of Ben Mounsey and co racing in Europe, when one time cvfr Johny Helliwell (I have allergies to racing) asked me I took him up the offer to go and do this Matterhorn race.

There are 3 choices offered by ultraks, 16k, 32k and 46k. I know my limits so we registered for the 32k in a very commercial but impressive arena with most leading brands enticing you for sales.

After 2 sleepless nights I was ready to put this beast to bed 🙂 Race day we hopped on the train to Zermatt (the start) to save all energies. 8.40am and anxiety levels spiked as I tried to block out the mcs/comperes as they revved up the crowds and then it was blast off.

I had imagined a Hebden 22 as a very rough guide but this course had 2000m of climb and start height of 1600m, 10 times my home height, we knew this would be a weakness. A few extra days to acclimatise in future.

With no “Bullet Ben” start, I set the pace for the first mile, and then Wenker (Swiss, Scott) trotted past along with eventual 2nd place, making the first climb look easy. It was, except I had no oxygen but Johny set a good pace and we reached the summit at Sunnega 2260m. Plenty at the feed station but I couldn’t get any food down which was a concern.

Me, Baptiste and Johny worked together contouring on fantastic trails and up the 2nd climb (not as brutal as the first) but still 600m uphill called Riffelalp. We hit a tricky section and Baptiste took off but I chased and closed it, leaving Johny with his own mental ghosts to endure the 2nd half. 

I found I could only drink dilute coke and didn’t even try to eat but I felt okay on the final killer ascent 800m to 2583m though I didn’t really take in the views too often. On the top I waited for Baptiste, but the voice of grandmaster Gray, like Obe Wan Kanobi, told me to go, we shook and I flew down to the reservoir that provides power to the whole town, expecting Zermatt to appear.

Instead I got a 4K sign and my fake duracells were spent. Tiny ups became Trooper Lanes and my cadence became erratic. I tried to crouch at a mountain stream and aborted as the change in movement ignited cramp.

I got over the line in 3hrs 4mins in 3rd and Johny came in only 5 mins after in 5th. I gave the trademark kiss to the mcs/comperes, got photographed in the top 3. Then dropped to the ground and crawled off for shade and food.

Unfortunately I started hyperventilating though in my head I didn’t panic. Emergency aid was given and eventually I came back to life in plenty of time for me to wreak havoc at the awards kissing all the top 10, the organisers and pretty ladies. Some great prizes too.

still holding onto that well deserved medal

A few hours later after a wash and feed, all part of the courtesy, and the mcs spotted me and thanked me for making everyone laugh. Now I must’ve underestimated my rechargeable as I drank the complimentary cocktail and boogied until 4am.

A wonderful day and I would urge fell runners to consider a race of this stature. The Earl himself may do battle with the 46 in future!  

Boulsworth, BOFRA and British Champs success

Rob leading Iain at Boulsworth in the fight for the title

It was another successful week for Calder Valley Fell runners with wins and awards in British and club Championships and for the juniors too.

Firstly to Boulsworth Hill fell race, where Rob Allen was able to seal this years club Championship with a strong win against his two closest rivals – Iain Illstone and Dougie Zinnis. Rob finished 12th overall in the race, which takes runners from Trawden Agricultural show on tracks over to the base of Ladd Law, where runners climb sharply up – almost to the trig – and then back down on sweeping, soft moorland, before returning along fast tracks to finish.

Said Rob “Swelled by over forty from Clayton-le-Moors the numbers of over two hundred runners for Boulsworth gave the organisers a few headaches, with late arrivals only having their race number written on the back of their hands in biro. Nine Calder Valley runners lined up; after a couple of recent, close, battles with Iain Illstone, I knew who my main rival was for club champs points. Aware of Iain’s descending prowess on technical terrain, my tactic was simple; keep with him on the fell section until the fast final mile on gravel track and put in a big effort to finish. 

Dougie Zinis led out the Calder Valley pack to the bottom of the the main climb where Iain and I passed him. True to form, after hitting the high point of Saucer Stones together, Iain opened up a gap coming off Little Chair Stones. I managed to reel him in before the start of the track where my recce paid off; I had enough left in the tank for the frenetic run in. A lung busting sprint with Chris Snell of Clayton-le-Moors saw a dead heat for twelfth place, and a hundred points in the bag. A satisfying conclusion to the club champs for myself, and a cracking day out in the sun for all.”  
The battle now remains for second place ….

Will descending to take the title

Next, over to Arncliffe Gala for another installment of the BOFRA Championship series – the seniors race containing 459 ft of climbing in 1.9 miles. William Hall claimed another title by taking the BOFRA under 12s prize with yet another win at Arncliffe. Will has been 1st at all his races in the BOFRA series and is a massive talent – one to definitely watch out for. He took the title from Dexta Thompson of Blackburn Harriers.

Finally on Sunday there was Maesgwyn Muddle, the final counter in the British Championship series, which took place in Llanberis in North Wales. The race was approximately 10 miles and included 3,700 ft of ascent.  The weather was poor and very claggy, so there was very limited visibility on most of the course. Calder Valley v40 team needed to get a team round this race strongly to try and get into the national medals again.

Said Shaun Godsman “The race started fast along 2 miles of undulating track, after which you hit what felt like a mile of vertical climb followed by a steep fast descent back into the valley where you then start to climb and descend several times over welsh peaks taking in the famous Moel Eilio. After the final descent out of the mist there is a short climb and long run in to an uphill finish.

Gav and myself were able to push on in terms of our team; however, Gav ran off into the mist on his own race route (not the official route) and got lost for a while – long enough for me to claim the club lead. It finished myself in 19th overall and 4th v40, then Matty Roberts, Gav, Mark Taylor, Stephen Edwards, then Mark Wharton as team back up.”

This result gave Calder the overall v40 team win and 3rd open team. As a result, Calder v40s leap frogged Dark Peak and Todmorden Harriers in the medal table into an overall silver medal position after a hard year racing.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert

The long and the short of it … its brilliant results all the way


The mighty Wasdale fell race was held last Saturday. The race is a counter in this year’s fiercely contested English Fell Running Championship as well as Calder Valley Fell Runners Club Championship. So there were a good few red and white hoops on the start line with the 273 strong field.

Considered to be possibly the toughest fell race in the calendar, Wasdale packs over 9,000 feet of climb into its 21 mile route and includes England’s highest peak. Starting at the northern end of Wastwater, the route heads over the hill that stands over the famous screes, Whin Rigg, before crossing the valley to head up Seatallen, Pillar, skirting Kirkfell, and climbing over Great Gable before heading up Scafell Pike. The race then finishes with a leg pulping 3,000 foot drop down Lingmell.

Karl climbing hard with Bingley’s Rob Jebb

Calder’s Karl Gray played a sensible race keeping pace with Bingley’s Rob Jebb over much of the route. They were neck and neck at Beck Head in 6th and 7th place, before the climb up Great Gable, sharing foot and water offered by spectators. Karl then pulled though the front runners finishing in a spectacular 2nd place taking 3 hours 50 minutes and 5 seconds. Not bad for a 47 year old and one of his best results ever! The race was won by a Carl Bell of Keswick who was over 9 minutes clear of Gray in the fastest time since Andy Styan in 1990. Andy Swift was second Calder runner in 27th place, shortly followed by Ian Symington in 32nd.

The women’s race was much tighter. Anna Lupton of Black Combe was first woman in 4 hours 41 minutes and 26 seconds, closely followed by Nicola Jackson of Preston only 2 seconds later. Helen Buchan was first woman back for Calder, followed by Jackie Scarf.

Calder Results

2nd Karl Gray – 3:50:05
27th Andy Swift – 4:29:14
32nd Ian Symington – 4:33:58
70th Stephen Edwards – 4:59:00
94th Phil Scarf – 5:19:04
114th Dougie Zinis – 5:30:06
127th Iain Illstone – 5:41:07
131st Paul Haigh – 5:45:08
138th Johnnie Watson – 5:47:35
209th Helen Buchan – 6:25:10
225th Jackie Scarf – 6:39:22

Alva Games

Will & James on the podium @ Alva

Calder Valley Juniors, Will Hall was 1st and James Duffy 3rd at the Alva Games held near Sterling, Scotland as part of the British Open Fell Runners Association. They are both doing really well in the BOFRA under 13 champs (Will 1st and James 4th). Will is on course for winning both the FRA English championship and BOFRA championship this year. In the senior race an injured Ben Mounsey kept his senior title hopes alive by placing a fantastic second place behind Wharfedales Ted Mason who’s won this race on numerous occasions. Mounsey, who is an excellent descender, had to take it steadier than he would have like to protect an already painful knee.

Another strong showing from vets keeps them in medal contention

Despite the scorching weather, the sweltering heat did not put a large number of Calder Valley runners off heading to Tebay for the English Championships race. Tebay was also one of the races in the CVFR club championships. The 8 mile race (3,000 ft climbing) saw 451 runners finish, with Ben Mounsey first back for CV in a time of 01:15:13 placing 7th. The eventual winner was Sam Tosh of Rossendale Harriers in a time of 01:12:51. Karl Gray took second in MV45 and finished 13th overall. In the same age category Gav Mulholland had another excellent run placing 4th and with a win, a second place in the other races he is in an excellent position to win an individual vets medals. The vets team are also in a strong medal winning position with 3 races still to be contested they sit in gold medal place.  In terms of the club championships after Tebay, very little changed at the top. In the handicap champs James Cooke held onto first place going into the Cragg Vale club championship race next week. It is all to play for still.

On the Sunday several CV fell runners also took part in the Helm Hill race near Kendal, which is part of the British Open Fell Race Association (BOFRA) series of events. The races are characterised as being fast, short (1 miles – 5 miles) and with a substantial amount of ascent. Helm Hill was no exception and provided the runners with 900 ft of climbing over 3.3 miles. William Hall did exceptionally well in the U12 race, coming home with a substantial lead as 1st boy. Patrick Casey also had a great race finishing 6th. As for the seniors, Ben Mounsey was out in force, having already finished 1st the weekend before in the Hawkswick Dash BOFRA race. This time he finished in 2nd place – still an excellent result having competed in the English Champs the day before!

Elsewhere in the fell racing calendar Steve Smithies had a good race a Brown Wardle in East Lancashire, finishing 9th and Paul Gilbert battled through the heat at the relatively new Castle Canter race at Dobroyd Castle to finish 8th.

Tebay results and photos here

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert –


Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon Success

Bill Johnson’s take on their fantastic win….

We’re both looking particularly haggard at the end of the LAMM after a second day of complete 100% effort.

Absolutely delighted to win the score class with Phil Scarf.

Day 1 saw glorious running over the tops of the Fannaichs, followed by a fast descent to the valley bottom to keep warm in the sudden hailstorm. We pushed hard from there to pick up every point we could in the 7 hours. It felt like a lot of effort for each of the extra 10 pointers, but we reckoned that those small margins would make the difference.
And so we ended the first day with a slender 16-point lead.

Halfway through day 2 came the crux. We reckoned we could take a ‘safe’ route to get a good score of 215 and finish in time. Alternatively we could put in an additional 2500′ climb up Beinn a Claidheimh and get 20 points more (by missing off a couple of later controls). We reckoned 75mins to get up, 40mins down. Big climb, a risk that we might underestimate how long it would take, or be too trashed to finish in time – and all for just 20 points more. But for all we knew Darrell High and Daniel Holmberg (2nd team) might do it, so we had to.

It took us 70mins up, 35mins down and we gave it everything from there to the finish below An Teallach, to take the win. 🙂 

Members Summer Solstice Run

I am arranging a Tuesday club away run to coincide with the Summer Solstice on June 20th (day before, I know…). The run would head from the Robin Hood pub in Cragg Vale up to Great Manshead and back down – leaving at 6:45pm. Please do not turn up at the Robin Hood pub in Pecket Well. 

Two routes are attached – both anti-clockwise. A long version, primarily aimed at a faster group (14km) and a short version, aimed at a steadier group (11km). With the plan to meet at the trig point on the hill at around the same time for some sun and good views. Both routes return the same way. 

I can lead the faster group and James Cooke said he would lead the steadier group.

Roger at the pub said he can put food on after. Probably chip butties. So… if you want some food, please email me at by Thursday 15th June. Please don’t tell me in person, as I will forget.   

There will be a strict ‘no Strava art’ policy in place and will be enforced on the night. Sorry Ian. 

Cheers Paul Gilbert

Summer training runs will ALL be on the fells

Meet at Mytholmroyd Community Centre at 6.45pm. Now that it’s light nights we will be running off road. Yippee. Various groups of different abilities. All welcome to this all inclusive club. Plenty of opportunity to get out and enjoy the fells on these glorious spring and summer nights. More info here.

Please note away run on Tuesday 20th June. Summer Solstice run.