Calder Valley legend KG 4 GB


On an international stage, Calder Valley legend Karl Gray represented Great Britain at the World Mountain Running Championships event in Premana, Italy on Sunday, finishing 33rd in the gruelling 20 mile mountain race.

Karl gray with team mates Strain and Wood

He was the second Great Britain runner to finish but the team was hampered by injuries.  Gray described the challenge as “amazing” and said that the course was really tough with 9500ft of ascent and descent.  A technical course was made even more tricky by thunderstorms and torrential rain.

Gray said: “With a huge amount of spectators on route, it made for a Tour de France style atmosphere from start to finish. “While I don’t think this was my best performance, I still had a good consistent run and was pleased in the end with my 32nd position.”
Gray said the British team had suffered some really bad luck.  One of the had fallen on the first descent and broke her wrist while one of the men had torn his calf muscle a third of the way into the race.  An unhappy day for the team was completed when Victoria Wilkinson narrowly missed out on a medal by dropping from third to fifth place on the last descent.  Gray added: “Overall it was a disappointing GB team performance but what an amazing experience.  “I felt really proud and privileged to represent my country at such a fantastic event.”  Gray was part of the Great Britain team which had taken the silver medals in Slovenia last year. “Earl” Gray clocked a fantastic 4:00.19 to

Karl Gray with the GB squad

Last Tuesday, rather than their usual pack run, the red and white strips were out in force at the Crow Hill Reverse race, a fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Charity. Twenty three CV runners joined the starting line of this 5 miles, 1001 ft of climbing, local race over Midgley Moor all the way to race’s summit, Crow Hill, and back again.

Always popular with CVFR and Todmorden Harriers alike, combined the 2 clubs represented over half of the 78 entries. This year too, the race was in the CVFR championships, generating a healthy dose of inter club competition.

The overall race winner was U18 Josh Boyle from Ribble Valley in an impressive 00:31:52.First CV back was Ian Illstone in 00:34:41 (7th) followed closely by club mates Rob Allan (8th) and Simon Ashton (10th) comfortably securing the men’s Team Prize. First lady was Todmorden Harrier’s Gemma Ford in 00:39:03. Calder Valley’s Karen Forster secured the LV50 prize and Catherine Holden FV40 prize. Said Catherine:

“It was a joy to run Crow Hill Reverse race; a short but steep little number that was much more fun on the way back down to the finish and the pub”

Catherine Holden LV40

So taking account of the most recent Club Championship races (Crow Hill Reverse and Old Crown Round), James Cooke and Lindsey Oldfield are currently first and second respectively in the CV Club Championships. Although both have completed all 6 race counters, there are a number of other runners who can still complete a full 6 counters, and who could all be in with a chance, depending on who turns up to the last 4 races in the Championships.

Crow Hill Andy Wright

In the Vets Table Toby Sydes is holding top spot, with 2 more races needed to make it count, though a number of club mates threaten his position so all could yet change. Jackie Scarf currently stands as the likely contender for the Lady Vets prize.

The next race in the BOFRA (British Open Fell Running Association) at Farleton Knott just south of Kendal in the Lakes District is a challenging race of just 4.5miles but with 1500’ of ascent. It rises steadily around Farleton fell to the summit before a breathtaking descent down the scree at Holmepark Fell. Once the runners land at the bottom, they start the long climb back up to the summit before retracing their way back through the bracken to the fast downhill finish.

An inform Mark Taylor placed 6th overall and 1st V45 and has come first in his age category in all the BOFRA races that’s he managed to do so far this season.

A great run by Dave Hammond saw him take a fine 21st place and 2nd V50. In the junior race William Hall showed how dominant he’s been in his age category by taking top spot. He’s now leading the under 12s and looks to be on course for yet another title this season to add to his U13s English Junior Champs.

Will @ Farleton

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Bourne Breaks 24

Last Wednesday marked the annual CVFR Summer handicap, a legendary fun event, promising waist deep bogs, evil tussocks and the chance for runners to experience that ‘winning sensation’, regardless of ability.

Philip Wells last seen up to his neck in it (courtesy of Mick Fry)

Rather than the usual mass start, the handicap race has staggered start times, with each runner allocated a starting time based on their performance in recent races. In theory, everyone should finish together but this is seldom the case with all runners putting in extra effort to beat their club mates. Thirty two determined CV members started from Overden windmills carpark to complete the 6.6 mile route across the moor to High Brown Knoll and back, encountering the infamous bogs and tussocks as they went. Mike Wardle was first over the finishing line with Stella Chrisanthou the first lady and LV40. Said Stella:

“It was lots of fun and I got heaps of encouragement on the way round. I seemed to avoid the monster bog- I think I came off quite lightly compared to others! And I’d like to thank my fellow club mates for guiding me through the cow field- I wasn’t so keen on that bit!!”

Stella on the CV Summer handicap (courtesy of Mick Fry)

Jon Smith had the fastest overall time (52:05) with Helen Roberts the fastest lady (01:02:25).

Helen Roberts takes the plunge on the CV Handicap (courtesy of Mick Fry)

Later that week saw a handful of CVFR taking part in the epic Lakeland 50/100 mile ‘Ultra Tour of the Lake District’, renowned as the UK’s most spectacular long distance trail race. The circular route encompasses the whole of the lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here it heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston. It weaves its way through stunning valleys, coutours picturesque fells and cuts it’s own line through the amazing Lakeland topography. Some may consider that, with 40 hours available to complete this epic route, there is time to stop to admire the view but many competitors choose not to stop or sleep, challenging themselves to compete it in just over 24 hours. .

Simon Bourne sprint finishes the LL100

CV’s Ultra legend Simon Bourne is familiar with the route having attempted it previously. Not only did he complete it, he also came in 8th overall. Said Simon:

“I’m delighted to break 24 hours at the Lakeland on my 3rd attempt, having been training all year”

Elsewhere, CV’s Mark Taylor was first MV45 at Ambleside Sports Guides BOFRA fell race last Thursday, undertaking the 2 mile dash with 244 m ascent in just 16.10 minutes.

Mark Taylor 1st V45 (courtesy of Woodentops)

Turnslack also saw a handful of Calder valley taking part in the gruelling tussock, bog and fern bashing fun!

Turnslack Fell Race 2017 – Photo Credits: Steve Batesman


– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon

Swifty’s Bob Graham

Andy Swift’s Bob Graham round

New club signing Andy Swift made his second attempt at the Bob Graham, one of the toughest challenges in fell running – to run 66 miles over 42 peaks in the Lake District in under 24 hours. It’s an arduous challenge and a true test of endurance and navigation.

Andy is in good shape and has recorded some excellent results in the fell running championship races to date, but the Bob Graham is a different beast altogether. Having attempted the round before, there was a lot at stake. Thankfully he didn’t disappoint, completing the epic run in 19 hours and 12 minutes, a fantastic result, particularly because he ran it in terrible conditions. As he put it:

Andy Swift – Bob Graham Round 2017

“At 2am I set off into the night hoping to finally conquer the Bob Graham Round. After last year’s ill fated attempt I knew all too well that this wasn’t to be taken lightly!

“We hit the summit of Skiddaw in conditions which I can only describe as like running in a washing machine! Zero visibility, torrential rain, and 50mph winds just for good measure. That set the tone for the whole morning and early afternoon; rain, low visibility, wet rocks, and bogs.

“Despite this I felt strong, arriving in Threlkeld 10 mins down on schedule, and then 15 mins up by Dunmail. Some rough running and the dreaded bad patch, coupled with sharp pains in the ankles, shins and knees meant I arrived in Wasdale an hour down! A longer than planned 20 min stop to recover meant I was just about on for 20 hours as we headed up Yewbarrow. Frustratingly, apart from the horrendous pains shooting through my legs I felt really strong, and despite not being able to descend at much more than walking pace I was making my way up the hills with ease. By Honister I was comfortably on for sub 20 hours. Not wanting to waste time I quickly changed into my club vest and started my run to the finish. I was determined to finish as fast as I could manage so really went for it.”

“I set off aiming for sub 18 hours, but with conditions as they were I’m over the moon.”

Lingmell Dash

Another elite Calder valley runner was also out in the Lakes this weekend. Ben Mounsey took part in the very different Lingmell Dash, a 4.5 mile race up to the summit of Lingmell and back. Ben won the race, despite have just one hour’s sleep after supporting Andy Swift on the night shift of his Bob Graham round.

Snowdon Half marathon

Over in Wales, Catherine Holdon ran the Snowdon Trail Half Marathon. Involving a climb up Snowdon and running through the scree and rock of old slate mines, this is not your average half marathon route! She finished the race in an excellent 2 hours 30 minutes, just missing out on first FV40, 8thwoman overall and 51st out 512 runners.

Widdop Fell Race

Closer to home saw 146 competitors take part in Widdop Fell Race, one of the peak summer races organised by Calder Valley Fell Runners. It takes the runners from the Pack Horse Inn around some of the remote moorland of Widdopreservoir and rough ground on Heptonstall Moor and back through some heavily overgrown ferns. At 7 miles, it’s one of the longer mid week evening races and always gets a good turnout.

There was a battle at the front of the field, with Sam Watson of Wharfdale Harriers just beating Calder Valley’s Gav Mullholland by twenty 22 seconds and 10 seconds later Todmorden harriers’ Andrew Worster. Jo Buckley of Calder Valley took the women’s prize, beating the next runner by a comfortable 5 minutes.
Calder Valley also took the team prizes – Jo Buckley, Jackie Scarf and Stella Christanthou for the women, Gav Mulholland, Oliver White and Romans Sustovs for the men.

It was a pretty much a clean sweep across the age categories for Calder Valley’s juniors at Widdop too. Clara McKee and Sam Annison won the under-9s. Charlie Pickens took the under-11s. Will Hall won the under-13s.


Widdops Juniors

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon

Snowdon International

Top effort – Gav Mulholland – over and out after Snowdon

The main event in the Calder Valley Fell Runners calendar this week for many in the team was the Snowdon Mountain Race – or Ras-yr-Wyddfa in Welsh. This 10 mile race is a straight up and straight down affair, starting in Llanberis and climbing 3,300 ft to the top of Snowdon and then back down the way you came. The weather was pretty grim with wet conditions under foot and very misty. Alex Whittem led the red ‘n’ whites for the first phase, with Gav Mulholland, Math Roberts and Jason Williams close behind. The Northern Irish vet then took over, with Math, Jason and Alex not far behind. Gav was 12th to the summit and ended up in 11th place overall in a time of 01:12:59. Representing Northern Ireland for this race he was the first runner back for his country. Math had a great run in his Welsh vest to take 16th place and only just under a minute behind his team mate. Alex Whittem was next back for the club in 26th place in 1:16:34 with 35th place for Jason in just over 1 hour 18 minutes.

Helen Roberts on her way to 2nd lady

Also on Saturday was the Oxenhope fell race, held as part of the village gala. This year the 3.3 mile race attracted a record number of entries, with 58 runners taking part. The race takes runners around the beautiful scenery of Oxenhope and Leeming reservoir. Three runners from CV entered, with Rob Allen finishing 4th overall and 2nd lady for Helen Roberts only a few seconds off taking top spot.

Mark Taylor running hard @ Cracoe

On Sunday there was another race in the BOFRA Championship counter at Cracoe, Yorkshire Dales. This was another short and testing race at 2.6 miles in total with 900 ft of ascent. Only one senior CV men entered, Mark Taylor, finishing 8th overall. In the juniors U12 event, Will Hall had a cracking race, finishing 2nd overall; James Duffy was not too far behind in 6th place too. 

Finally, Jon Smith, Iain Powell and Gail Tombs entered the Kentmere Horseshoe race in the South Lakes, finishing 39th, 145th and 307th respectively out of 346 runners. This popular race, run in very hot conditions this year, takes the runners on a 12 mile outing from Kentmere up to High Street and back down.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert

1st for Mounsey & Oldfield at the Craggs Reverse

Calder Valley Fell Runners had another week of quality running, with some fantastic results in local short and long distance races.

Lindsey Oldfield (no 17) – Cragg Vale reverse 2017

One of the valley’s classic mid-week fell races, Cragg Vale is a short and fast route, taking runners from the Hinchcliffe Arms up to Erringden moor through the bogs of Sunderland pastures and back down again in just four miles. For the first time this year it was run in reverse, meaning the final section is run through the tricky, thin woodland track that leads runners home.

An impressive 37 of the 83 runners were from Calder Valley. Among them was Paul Gilbert, who had an excellent race, taking several places in the last 100 metres of the race, to finish 17th. He said: “It was a great turnout for the club from the elite level down to newer members that recently started on the back to the fells courses in Spring. Andy Worster of Todmorden Harriers had a great start, leading Ben Mounsey and Alex Whittem up the initial steep climb on the tarmac.” Ben, one of the fastest runners in the sport, went on to win the race in just over 28 minutes, with a single second separating Alex and Andy in second and third respectively.

Calder Valley’s women also ran well, with Lindsey Oldfield having a strong run as second woman back in 36 minutes behind Bingley Harriers under 18 Emily Field.

Paul added: “There were lots of tussles for places throughout the race. Rob Allen, Mark O’Connor and Iain Illstone all had a great race with Rob leading them up the hill and Mark leading them down.”

A few days later, over in Heptsonstall, another large turnout of Calder Valley runners put in great runs at the Heptonstall Festival Fell race, a tough 6 mile that drops down to Hardcastle Craggs, climbs to High Brown Knoll and then turns and heads furiously back down and up to the village again. There were 89 runners in total, with some excellent runners travelling to this event – encouraged perhaps by the reward of beer and music at the festival afterwards!

Ian Symington – Heptonstall Festive 2017

The overall winner was Christopher Holdsworth of Clayton-le-Moors and the first lady Pudsey & Bramley’s Rachel Pilling. First back for Calder Valley was ultra-distance supremo Ian Symington, who finished in 10th place in 55 minutes, despite the race being about 30 miles shorter than his usual. He was closely followed by a clutch of Calder Valley runners: Mark Wharton and Simon Bourne battled much of the way round, finishing in 14th and 15th respectively, just 7 seconds between them. Martin Howard was 19th and Paul Haigh 20th.

“It was perfect running conditions for the race” said Ian Symington, in typically modest fashion. “I started off like an idiot and effectively ruined my race by getting carried away and chasing my usual Tuesday night downhill rival Martin to the bottom of the first hill. Thirty seconds up the first climb it was clear I had overcooked it with the fast Toddies swiftly disappearing into the distance. Though I managed to get a personal best, I spent the rest of the race just trying to keep moving, aware that there were a few club members behind who would welcome the chance to give me a good kicking.”

At the other end of the scale, Calder Valley’s Jonathan Emberton took an excellent third place in the Vet category and fourth overall in the Pillar class of the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon – a very prestigious solo event that took place over two days with more than 10 hours of tough running and orienteering over the fells of Enerdale.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon

3 Peaks easy sailing

The start of the week saw an amazing result for Calder Valley’s Phil Scarf and Alistair Morris in the 3 Peaks Yacht race, the original adventure race. This unique event combines sailing, running and a little cycling and is reputed to be one of the toughest long distance events in the world. Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of the crew climbing Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, clocking up the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days. Competitors start in Barmouth sailing to fort William stopping at Caernarfon and Whitehaven for runners to ascend the 3 Peaks.

It draws competitors from all sporting backgrounds & with sailing experience from off-shore cruising to round-the-world races. A very pleased Alistair said:

“This involves 60 miles of running and 30 cycling with 500 miles of sailing. Engines are not allowed so teams take to rowing when no wind or against the strong tides. Boats sail through difficult waters such as the Menai straits and around the mulls of Kintyre

Other boats had problems such as a man overboard in the rough waters of Bardsy Sound and others ran aground on sandbanks.

We ended up rowing on and off for most the 24 hour journey from Mull of Kintyre to Oban. We competed in 4 days 11 hours in the end.”
Meanwhile, while the CVFR gang were hitting the hills at the Tebay fell race the week before for the joint championship counter, Calder Valley’s Jason Williams was chasing a dream of winning the trail half marathon at Trail marathon Wales in the beautiful Coed y Brenin forest. And he certainly fulfilled that dream, as the overall winner with 01:32:33.

Said Jason:
“ Always a tough race with lots of changes in terrain and a fair amount of elevation change. After taking the lead at after the first mile I slowly opened up a gap and didn’t look back.”

Alex Whittem leading the way at Bridstones 2017 (Photo by Mick Fryer)

And CV continued to clock up more wins throughout the week with Alex Whittem the overall winner and Lindsey Oldfield, first lady at the Bridestones race last Tuesday. A short, steep route of 4.7 miles and 1230ft, Alex completed in 34:29 and Lindsay in 43:53. Alex was joined by team mates Mark O’Conner and Iain Powell to take the Men’s Team prize with all three coming in the top 4 places. Then the following evening, CV’s Carole Fryer took the LV50 prize in the Sabden race. Carole was jovial about her win of a bottle of win, particularly given that the second prize was a pint of milk!

Lindsey Oldfield is 1st back at Bridstones 2017 (Photo by Mick Fryer)

But the week’s prizes didn’t stop there. CV’s English U13 champion, William Hall, expanded his prize collection as U12 winner at the Kirkby Gala Fell Race.
Then to round up the week, 5 CV ladies clocked up 135 miles between them in the 6 Derbyshire Dales Challenge. Sheer determination, team effort, laughter and plenty of cake aided completion of the undulating 27 mile trail which they ran together in an impressive 5 hours. They finished in the top third, despite their late arrival at the start line due to a navigational mishap. Said Gill Dickson:

“The event started at Biggin but unbeknown to us, there are 2 Biggins within 16 miles of each other in the Peak District. We were in Biggin for the 8am start- just not the right Biggin! So by the time we eventually got to the start line, we were already a good 1 hour behind everyone else. But despite this, we still managed to finish in the top third.

These Challenge events allow you to do just that- challenge yourself but not in a race setting. None of us had done anything like a marathon before but we wanted to know if we were capable of that sort of distance for some fell marathon races later this year. And after Saturday, I think we are!

For me, this event summed up what fell running is all about- fabulous views, fresh air, lots of delicious cake and great friends to help and encourage you round. We couldn’t have done it without each other. And we’re certainly up for more long distance running- we didn’t want to stop at 27 miles!”

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickinson –

The bullet is back making the headlines

This week, CV’s top athlete Ben Mounsey kicked off a victorious start by winning Blencathra Fell race in an impressive time of 01:04:06. He showed signs of a return to top form by going on to win another race just 4 days later.

Blencathra Sprint finish Ben Bullet Mounsey

Ben said: “Blencathra last Wednesday is a true Lakeland classic, 8 miles with over 3,300ft of climb.

The weather was dry but very windy so conditions were good, but not perfect. Aside from the wind, the main problem I had was not knowing the route, as it’s the first time I’ve ever done the race. So my tactic was to start conservatively and work my way to the front so I could try and follow the best lines. It was a clever tactic that paid dividends as I worked my way from 6th place to 2nd over the first 4 miles. On the final climb I made my move and overtook the leader, Steve Hebblethwaite, before descending my way to victory. It was a big win against a classy field, many of whom are past and present international athletes.”

The following evening saw CV’s Jason William’s take 1st V40 at the Snowdon Twighlight race, and 4th overall. A relatively new addition to the fell runners calendar, this race was born from the main Snowdon race held in July each year.

Jason said: “This is a fantastic event and is only in its 3rd year. It’s a good precursor to July’s Snowdon race and let’s you know how you’re likely to fair on the long ascent to the summit come race day.

Numbers were up slightly on last year and 111 runners turned up from the 129 entries taken.  I wanted to improve on my 5th place from last year and beat my previous time of 47:08 minutes and as the race got under way I felt like I had a good chance. By the halfway point I was in third place and working hard but my chest was feeling tight and breathing was getting laboured, I had to ease off slightly which gave away my position back to fourth. I kept up with the guy in front but just couldn’t close the gap and finally reached the finish line about ten seconds behind in 47:44 … 36 seconds slower than last year but 4th place and first V40 on the night.

All in all I enjoyed the challenge and a lovely run back down, after a brief rest and some refreshment at the summit cafe. Looking forward to the main race now on July 15th…. more pain and for longer!”

Saturday offered a range of nearby race options for CV and despite the wet, soggy conditions, red and white stripes were out in force at the Midgley’s Churn Milk Chase and Rossendale Harriers 50th Anniversary Juniors event.

11 hardy CVFR were at the starting line for Churn Milk Chase, undeterred by the downpours and bogs. Associated with Midgley Village Fete, this is an ideal introduction to fell racing and the wider fete activities provides entertainment for spectators and families alike. The route is a 5 mile dash across Midgley Moor and back and was won by Michael Fanning from Holmfirth. First lady was Judy Howells from Wharfedale Harriers
CVFR scooped both team prizes with Simon Ashton, Mark O’Connor and Lee Shimwell taking the men’s and Catherine Holden, Stella Chrisanthou and Gillian Wisbey the ladies. It was the first fell race for Ana de la Fuent Herrero, a recent recruit from the Back to the fell sessions.

Ana said: “After starting as a beginner runner with CVFR, I was excited and nervous to participate in my first ever fell race in Midgley. The first part uphill was very difficult and there were moments when I felt like giving up, but I got so much support from the marshals and sweeper. Even faster runners already on their way back down would say ‘well done’ when crossing paths with me. They all really helped me to cross the finish line and it was an incredible experience afterwards”

Churn Milk Chase Ladies team, Stella Chrisanthou, Catherine Holden, Gill Wisbey

Meanwhile, over the border, 13 CV juniors competed and excelled in the final junior and U21 Championship counter, and Junior Inter-counties event hosted by Rossendale Harriers and held at Cowpe. The event resulted in a new English Champion in the club. William Hall was placed well enough in his race to claim the under 13 title, a fantastic achievement for William and CVFR.

Other impressive race results from the day included seven year old Clara McKee, 1st U9 girl, Sam Annison 3rd boy U9, Charlie Pickins and George McFie 4th and 5th in the U11.

Then Ben Mounsey finished the week as he’d started with another superb win on Sunday at Hawkswick, Yorkshire Dales. This was the 4th instalment of the BOFRA (British Open Fell Running Association) series. Ben is planning on competing for the championship this season and looking to build on his debut victory at Sedbergh in the opening race (competitors need to complete 8 races from 16). The nature of each race is to run as fast as you can up and down one hill/mountain. Most of the races are around 2 miles in length and Hawkswick Dash is classed as one of the shorter races at 1.5 miles in total, with 890ft of climb.

Said Ben: “There is only one tactic for a race like this and I didn’t have any choice but to sprint as fast as I could from the gun. Thankfully, this type of race suits my style of running and by the top of the climb I had already opened up a significant lead over the rest of the field. By the time I’d reached the descent I was able to enjoy the final sprint to the final, eventually clocking a winning time of 11 mins & 37 seconds.”

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickinson –

Gayle’s return to the top.

What a week it’s been for Calder Valley Runners. Closest to home was the Hebden Bridge Fell Race, that saw 85 runners heading up from Calder Holme Park in the town centre to Stoodley Pike and back 6 miles later, on a beautiful mid-summer evening.

Alex Whittem HB2017

There was an excellent Calder Valley turnout of 27 runners, some of whom were competing in their first fell race after joining the club for its introduction to fell running sessions just a few weeks earlier.
The race, organised by Todmorden Harriers, was won by Michael Kallenbeg of Cardiff AC with Calder Valley’s Alex Whittem just 11 seconds behind him in second, and no less than eight other runners from the club in the top 20. In a fit brotherly rivalry, Stephen and Simon Ashton, both new to fell running, finished in sixth and seventh place respectively were separated by less than twenty seconds. Gayle Sugden meanwhile, who has been out of the racing scene since last year due to an injury, made her return at Hebden Bridge and true-to-form was the first woman back. Calder Valley took the men and women’s team prizes.

Gayle said: “After eight months away from racing I decided to do the Hebden race, I’m still not fixed but thought I’d give it a shot. I started off steady up the first climb and climbed well up to Stoodley but then came the descending, which didn’t go so well…ha ha! My injury wasn’t too happy after the race but it was great to be back out there. I really enjoyed it.”

Gayle Sugden HB2017

A little further afield was the short, sharp shock of Kettlewell Fell Race, which sees runners climbing 600 feet straight up the rocks and back down the scree in just 1.5 miles, showing just how steep this route is. There was an excellent turnout from Calder Valley juniors at the race, and some even better results. In the under 9s, Sam Annison had a fantastic run to finish in 4th place. In the under 12s meanwhile, William Hall took 1st place, James Duffy 5th and Patrick Casey 6th, showing the strength of the club in this age category.

William Hall Kettlewell fell race 2017

Over in Lancashire, and starting in the picture-postcard village of Downham, is the Pendle Cloughs fell race – a tough route of 23 km around Pendle Hill. Despite being in Calder Valley’s club championship, only four club members headed across the border to complete. They didn’t disappoint. Lindsay Oldfield was first lady and Rob Allen second man, while Toby Sydes and Jim Cooke also put in good performances.

The club’s Phil Scarf and Bill Johnson, meanwhile, took part in the Low Alpine Mountain Marathon in Scotland, a two-day score event involving navigation and running across three iconic mountain ranges and covering thousands of feet of climbing. Despite tough competition, the pair won the score event outright – a fantastic result for the Calder Valley pair. The club’s Jackie Scarf with team-mate Simon Birch also finished well-up the field as leading mixed pair.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –

The Dragon Slayers

Two local running club members took part in the famous Dragons Back Race, billed as the world’s toughest mountain race, last week.

CVFR John Minta – Dragons Back 2017 (Photo Credit: NAV4 Adventures)

John Minta (Calder Valley FR) and Darren Graham (Todmorden Harriers) were among those who set off from Conwy Castle in North Wales heading for Llandelio in the south.
It takes the runners five days and the 315k route has more than 15000m of ascent and crosses wild, trackless and mountainous terrain. The milage and ascent is based on optimal route choice and runners have to self navigate to each checkpoint so they could run further and climb higher! By modern ultra running standards, an average of 63k a day isn’t high but competitiors can be out for 13 hours each day and cumulative effect of five days of testing running tests mental and physical ability.

Only 127 of the 232 starters managed to slay the dragon but Minta (71st in 61.44.40) and Graham (86th in 64.44.42) were among them. The first two home were Marcus Scotney (37.58.37) and Carl Morgan (48.41.47).

Foe Edge

Last Wednesday 6 Calder Valley runners headed over to Rossendale to take part in the Foe Edge fell race, which is proving itself in becoming a classic mid-week South Pennine race. 142 runners entered the short race, which took in two extremely steep climbs as well as open moorland terrain. Rob Allen had a blistering start and really set the pace of the race on fire, leading the way for a good length of time. However, it proved too much and in the end he was not able to hold the lead and was passed accordingly. Gareth Clarke chose a different tactic and paced himself well. This paid off and he finished in 12th, with Rob in 16th. Carole Fryer was 1st V50 woman and Calvin Ferguson also had a strong race with a new personal best time.

12th Gareth Clarke 36:11
16th Rob Allen 36:20
41st Paul Gilbert 39:55
52nd Jon Underwood 41:05
55th Calvin Ferguson 41:13
95th Carole Fryer 45:50

Foes edge is over – CVFR Heading Home (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

Weets – English Championship

The 2nd race in the English Fell Running Championship series took us into Darkest Lancashire last Saturday for a short sharp shock of a race; 6 miles and 1500 feet of climb.

The Calder Valley caravan was a man or three down but still managed to get some top teams out. The ladies set off first, in heat wave conditions. Bionic women, Karen farah fawcett Forster saw her come 2nd in her age category. 2 ladies suffered heat stroke and visited A&E but were reported to be OK.

Calders Karon Foster (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

The Calder men were led by trio and Alex (endangered species) Whittem, Timbo ‘Baggins’ Ellis and Old Man Mulholland with the 2 youths striving on to finish 18th and 20th. Vet 45 Mulholland hung in to finish 27th and 1st vet, strengthening his lead in the individual champs tables. Not far behind came Jason ‘Wilf’ Williams, who had a stormer and classed 2nd v40 on the day.

falling at his feet… (Gav Mulholland) (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

The vets may have clinched 1st team with contributions from Mancunian Stephen Edwards, hop a long Mark Taylor who is actually injured and Mark ‘The Wart’ Wharton. Unlike the women, the men were offered thunder, lightning and mega hail stones by the fell running Gods.


Of all the islands in the west of Scotland, the Isle of Jura, though one of the most beautiful, remains one of the most mysterious and least known. The spectacular Paps of Jura, rising from sea-level to over 2,500 feet are visible from the Argyll mainland some 16 miles away. These three spectacular lumps of hard Scottish quartzite are traversed by the Jura Fell Race. It is a great classic and a test in rough terrain, fitness and fell running technique, not to mention navigation. It is one of the toughest challenges in British hill races at this distance. 9000ft of climbing all within the first 12 miles of the 16 mile race.

Jake Ackroyd at Jura 2017

Several Calder Valley Fell runners took the opportunity to race there this year. Karl Grey was first back for the club in a fantastic 4th place 3 hours 27 mins and 12 seconds and gaining a coveted Jura Race whisky glass. Findlay Wild of Lochaber won in 3 hours 5 mins and 14 secs. Ian Symington was an excellent 26th taking just over four hours, in what is a short race for him.

4th Karl Gray 3:27:12
26th Ian Symington 4:06:08
89th Mark O’Connor 4:51:42
95th Dougie Zinnis 4:59:32
108th Lee Shimwell 5:07:03
127th Jake Ackroyd 5:20:42

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks –

Calder Men take the CWR Top Spot

Firstly, in England, Halifax Harriers hosted the 33rd Eric North Memorial Calderdale Way Relay, with 96 teams entering. Covering a total distance of 50 miles, each team of 12 runners share the duties as each of the 6 legs are run in pairs throughout the day. CVFR men’s Team A took home 1st place in a combined time 05:59:55, beating their closest rivals, Barlick Fell Runners by just over 4 minutes.

The men’s B team also had a very strong and consistent run thanks to a superb start by Iain Powell and Iain Glendinning, finishing in 25th place and beating many other clubs A teams.

Ben Mounsey, who was drafted in at the last second to run Leg 3, in addition to Leg 1 had this to say “Unfortunately for the CVFR A team, Darren Kay pulled out of the race with an injury less than 36 hours before the event. After frantically trying to find an adequate replacement over the weekend, we finally made a decision (literally a few hours before the relay!) that we would move Richard Pattinson to Leg 6 and I would run both Leg 1 and Leg 3. A very risky and bold strategy that would either pay dividends or fail quite spectacularly. When the race began, I knew that we would need a remarkable run on leg 1 to give us a healthy lead, especially as we expected to lose time on leg 3. Thankfully, both myself and Andy represented Yorkshire last weekend, so I knew we were in excellent form. By the time we approached Norland Moor we had a sizeable lead over the chasing pack and a good 45 second advantage. Over the first few miles I really pushed the pace to try and extend our lead and seconds quickly turned into minutes. Behind us there was a real tussle for 2nd place as Wharfedale, Harrogate and Clayton fought it out between themselves. I knew that once we reached Mill Bank our tactics had worked and it was just a case of how many minutes advantage we would have going into the second leg. We finished with a real flourish on the final descent, in a time of 01:09:47 and gained a 4 minute lead over the next teams, Harrogate Harriers and Wharfedale Harriers in 2nd & 3rd respectively.”

The men’s Team A were then able to hold onto the lead for the remainder of the race, with Shaun Godsman putting in a really strong push on Leg 3, having recently returned from a serious back operation. Jon Smith and Mark O’Connor also put in an excellent Leg 5, as Barlick were chasing and closing the gap. Lastly Karl Gray and Richard Pattinson, as two of the most experienced fell runners in the country proved, there was no catching these legends, finishing comfortably in 1st place.

Jon Smith – CWR 2017 – Leg5 – Mens A Team

Jon Smith leading the way on Leg 5.

In Scotland, Holly Page took first place at the Goatfell race on the Isle of Arran. The 9.6 mile race heads out from Brodick, taking the competitors 2,800 ft up the Tourist route, before descending and heading back into Brodick for a fast finish. Likewise in Wales, Math Roberts came home first for CV in the Cader Idris Mountain Race in a time of 01:24:08, beating his closest rival by 6 minutes. The race is one of the toughest in Wales and is considered one of the ‘must do’ races on a lot of folk’s calendars.

1st. Holy Page – Goatfell 2017

Holly Page descending Goat Fell, Isle of Arran.

At 37 miles and incorporating 10,000 ft of ascent and descent, the Old County Tops race is a classic test of mountain running endurance that has been held annually for 29 years. From Langdale the competitors must visit the highest points in each of the three counties that used to incorporate the Lake District before the county of Cumbria was formed – Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. The highest points being the summits of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Old Man of Coniston respectively. This year the test was made considerably harder by heavy rain, wind and cold conditions all morning. The 30% dropout rate during the race, even from the hardy mountain folk who toe the start line of an event like this, was indication of the severity.

Elite ultra runners Kevin Hoult and Simon Bourne were targeting a win in their vets category. They set a fast time of just over 8 hours for 7th place overall, but were pipped for the vets win by just two minutes. Further back, there was a good tussle between two more CVFR pairs: Johnnie Watson and Simon Fisher stayed just a few minutes ahead of Helen Buchan and Bill Johnson for almost the whole route, until a navigation error led to Johnnie and Simon heading to Dow Crag instead of Coniston Old Man, allowing Helen and Bill to emerge at the final summit in front – a position they held to the finish. Those two pairs both finished in just over 10 hours.They were followed by CVFR’s Tim Brooks who had paired up with Todmorden Harrier’s Andy McFie.

The race was won by Rob Jebb (Bingley) and Josh Jardine (Helm Hill) in under 7 hours, while Nicky Spinks (Dark Peak) and Jean Brown (Clayton) impressively lowered their own women’s record to 8:15 despite the conditions.

Duo, Kevin Hoult & Simon Bourne on the Old county tops 2017

Lastly, just over the border in Lancashire, a group of hardy CVFR entered the Blackstone Edge fell race, as part of the clubs Championship series. From the old Roman road, the race heads down through a boggy track before climbing very steeply over rough tussocks – 1,200 ft in total – to the Trig point at Blackstone edge. It then drops down a technical decent and once more through the bogs, for a fast finish. Lindsey Oldfield took first ladies prize for the club and Bill Johnson took 1st Vet 50, as well as being first back for CV. This result extends his lead even further in the men’s Club Champs – come on lads, he needs a challenger!

CVFRs Stephen Edwards took part in the Jurassic Coast ultra on Saturday 20th May and won the race. It was 46 miles with 6112’ of climbing visiting the famous site of Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert –