Gray earns GB selection

Mounsey (Left) then Gray and Swift – Three Peaks 2017 (Thanks: Woodentops)

The week saw a packed and busy itinerary for CVFR with a catalogue of races ranging from 3.3 miles to 61 miles. In the offing was a mid week run in Todmorden (the Orchan Rocks), two classic fell races (the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the epic ultra Fellsman), and a popular club event, the Coiners, hosted by the club itself. And, as ever, the red and white stripes scooped up a range of prizes along their way.

Orchan Rocks, a short 3.3 mile race, was first run in 2014. Starting a couple of miles outside Todmorden, it’s a short sharp blast of a race on some fast, grassy paths. Going up the Knotts Cliffs, the route does a quick loop around the Orchan Rocks before descending back the same way. Calder Valley’s Alex Whittem was the overall winner with a time of 22.30. Calder Valley men took the Team prize and Sue Martin claimed the WV50.

Sue Martin WV50 Orchan Rocks

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is an iconic event, popular with runners and spectators alike. Richly steeped in history, it’s a race where many great athletes have made their mark. Billed as the “Marathon with Mountains”, this 23 miles fell route, which has 5,279ft of ascent, features on the bucket list of many fell runners with its steep climbs, challenging descents, fast runnable sections, a variety of all terrain, and of course unpredictable Yorkshire weather! It attracts the very best fell and mountain runners in the land with fierce competition, especially this year as it was a selection event for the Great Britain Team for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. The race starts from Horton-in-Ribblesdale and snakes it way up, round and down the iconic peaks of Pen-y-gent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. And if that’s not challenging enough, the strict cut off times, means there’s always significant number of runners who are unable to complete the race.

The 2017 event, held last Saturday, attracted a field of 760 runners. Conditions were favourable as 22 hardy Calder Valley runners gathered at the starting line, including the club’s finest athletes, to take on this gruelling challenge. All 22 CV runners accomplished the mission of making the cut off times and completing the race.

The overall winner was Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters in Edinburgh completing in 2:49:38- 3mins 35secs outside the men’s record for the current course, which Andy Peace, of Bingley Harriers established 21-years-ago in 1996. Calder Valley’s Karl Gray came in 4th overall at 2:56:37, winning the MV40 category and breaking his own record. With his team mates Ben Mounsey and Andy Swift, CVFR secured 2nd men’s team prize.

Karl said ‘I had amazing run at the 3 peaks. I’d prepared really well leading up to the race but you never really know how you’re going to run as it’s such a tough race to get right. I’d told myself that a top 10 would be a great result. My plan was to run my own race aiming for a sub 3 hours and see what happens.

‘I’d stayed in the top 10 at Penyghent and was 7th on Whernside and was starting to feel more confident on the way to Ingleborough as the run off Ingleborough to the finish is the strongest part of the race for me. As others start to fade I feel good there. I just needed to survive the run down to the Hill Inn and keep a good rhythm on the long climb up Ingleborough. My plan worked out perfectly and I manage to pick off the 3 runners that I could see ahead of me finishing in 4th place in a new personal best time and veteran 40 record of 2.56.32. Being overjoyed is an understatement – I’d amazed myself! ‘

Victoria Wilkinson, of Bingley Harriers, claimed a £500 bonus prize for breaking the ladies’ record. She finished 13th overall at 03:09:19. Helen Buchan, the lone Calder Valley female runner, completed it in 4:41:11

Among the 22 CV crew was Paul Haigh. Determined to put his running efforts to good use, he completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks as the first of 4 Mountain Marathons this year to raise money for Mental Health UK. His marathons will be part of his quest to run 1000 miles and climb 100,000ft of ascent in 2017.  

Paul said ‘I’m still buzzing from an absolutely fantastic day. My aim was just to finish. To do it in just over 4 hours, making new friends along the way, and receiving some brilliant support both on and off the course has made this a day I’ll never forget. Thanks everyone who’s donated so far to my ‘Mental’ Health challenge. On course for at least £1.5k so far with only a quarter of the Mountain Marathons completed!’

The Fellsman 2017, Joint 2nd, Calders Simon Bourne(Left) and Kevin Hoult (Right)

This year’s 55th Fellsman is another Yorkshire classic. A high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland, the event climbs12,000 feet in its path from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales. Conditions this year were kind – remarkably dry underfoot and no rain The overall winner was Chris Perry from Dark Peak in 11h 21m. As a counter for CVFR’s 2017 Ultra Club Championships, Calder Valley’s Simon Bourne and Kevin Hoult were determined to undertake the challenge and in doing so, finished joint 2nd  along Stewart Bellamy from Mercia  in 11h 56m. Not only that, CV won the men’s Team prize.

Simon said ‘The three of us started running together early on and we pulled through the field from 20th to 3rd place at half way. I’m a Fellsman veteran (was my 7th top 10 position and was also 2nd last year) so know the route well and the other guys were happy to follow me. Early on, Kevin and myself agreed to run together to the finish like we did in 2015.’

‘We were in sight of the guy in 2nd place (Lawrence Eccles from Liverpool) for all the second half of the race, but he held us off until the final 8 mile descent off Great Whernside to the finish which we ran really hard as we were hugely motivated to break 12 hours. We kept pushing hard all the way and were delighted to finish a few minutes under 12, having passed Lawrence with 6 miles to go’

Finally, on Bank Holiday Monday, CVFR hosted the popular Coiners race for both juniors and seniors. This year, the race was an English Juniors Championships counter and Yorkshire Championship race, thus attracting large numbers of youngsters from all over the country, with over 400 juniors racing. The pressure was on for CVFR to pull off a super, successful junior event and they did just that with club members coming out in force to support and marshal the races, superbly organised and coordinated by junior coach, Alastair Whitelaw. The testing junior routes each started with a tough uphill, with the older the age group the wilder the route. The older runners take in large chunks of open moorland before a long fast downhill descent with a bit of everything – moor, tracks, woodland and fast grassy slopes.

Holly Page is 1st and sets a new course record on the Coiners 2017

Smiles and mud were abundant as the juniors zipped their way round their respective course (U9, U11, U13, U15, U17 and U19). U9 overall winner was Tom Ashworth (Ambleside) with Samuel Annison first CV home followed 2 seconds later by CV’s Clara McKee who was first girl. CV’s Charlie Pickins (7th) and George McFie (10th) were within the first 10 back of the U11, with CV’s Thomas McKee, Ben Hodgkinson, Ollie Pickins, Fearne Hanson Finley Canning , Kenton Jones McCalla ,Wynn Standish all showing great determination and effort.

In the U13, CV’s William Hall came in 3rd with James Duffy (8th) and Patrick Casey (9th) also in the top ten.  Great performances from CV were also seen by Alex Duffield, Farrell Brown, Tom Owen, Elijah Peers-Webb, Matilda Baldero, Evelyn Illstone, Sylvie Smith and Hattie Pope.

Charlie Pickins Coiner junior

Frazer Sproul (Kendal) was the overall winner for the U15, with promising performances from CV’s Erik Powell, Eilo Beesley,  Maya Brunt and Ruby McFie. U17 winner was Alex Ediker (Buxton AC) and first girl Rosie Woodhams (Dallam running club) with CV’s Lucas Greenwood running well.

With this being a Junior Yorkshire championship race William Hall was crowned under 13s boys champion. A fantastic result for the William who’s running fantastically this season.

The well organised seniors race later that day, coordinated by CV’s Rob Rawlinson, also had a strong CVFR turn out both as participants and marshals. The scenic 6 mile loop with 967ft of climb takes in Coiner’s country on paths, tracks moorland. It goes over Erringden Moor, Stoodley Pike and Bell House Moor, offering spectacular views of Cragg Vale and passing by the old coiners cottages of Bell House and Keelam.

The overall winner was Tom McGuiness (East Cheshire) in 45:33 with Holly Page the first CV home and first lady (5th overall) in 49:47. Holly broke the previous record held by Katie Walshaw, an international runner from Holmfirth Harriers. Not only that, but the red and whites also successfully scooped both the 1st Ladies Team prize (Holly Page, Jo Buckley, Lindsey Oldfield) AND the 1st Men’s Team prize (Romans Sustovs, Matt Ray and Steve Smithies).

Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Howarth Hobble GB vest for Roberts

Haworth Hobble

Jo Buckley – Fly’s around the Howarth Hobble

With 32 miles of off road running around the hills of Calderdale, the Howarth Hobble is always a tough race. But it was made all the more competitive this year because it was being used as a trial to decide who would run for Great Britain in the international trail running championships in Italy this summer.

With over 400 people taking part the race was full and, for the front runners at least, the stakes were high. As a local club with some of the UK’s leading fell and ultra runners, there was a strong turnout of runners Calder Valley.

Ultra Beast Ian Symington – Howarth Hobble

The long race, which includes a mile of ascent, begins in Haworth, takes runners across the moors of Crimsworth Dean and along the Calderdale Way, down into Todmorden before going back up to Stoodley Pike, descending into Hebden, up again to Heptonstall and back along the moors to Haworth.

Because it was a trial for a GB vest, speedy runners were out in force, among them Calder Valley’s Math Roberts, one of the club’s elite runners. He had an excellent run and despite getting lost on the descent into Todmorden was third, finishing in just under 3 hours 56 minutes – only a minute behind the race winner Thomas Payn. Second for Calder Valley was Kevin Hoult in 12th place, and third for the club was Ian Symington just behind in 14th place. Together they took the team prize. To give an indication of the speed of the race this year, all of the first 8 runners beat the previous course record.

Jo Buckley also had an excellent run, finishing as 3rd in the female V40 category and 6th lady overall, completing in 4 hours 53 minutes. Jim Mosley ran the Hobble for charity and, having run the course in 5 hours 35 minutes, raised over £1,000 for Overgate Hospice.

Man on a Mission, Jim Mosley – Howarth Hobble

Math Roberts said:

“Beforehand I was a little worried about cramp but more about the issue that’s blighted me in so many races – getting lost! Little did I know that the route was totally unmarked.”

“The first eight miles felt good,” he continued, “but I saw a gap developing up ahead, so I put my foot down and caught the leading group. Inevitably, though, I got lost descending into Todmorden – having been two minutes ahead of the next group, we were now two minutes behind.”

“From Hebden Bridge the real grind kicked in and I slowly moved through the pack, with Gareth Hughes of Mercia the only guy I could not get rid of! Then, as the last descent approached, Kyle Greig had somehow caught us up. So a madcap sprint ensued through streets of Haworth. I led us down a dead end lane, Gareth took advantage by spotting the correct route and he got me by a split second with Kyle a split behind me. Not the desired finish after 32 miles of running! So, very happy with 3hrs 55mins. It was definitely the hardest I’ve pushed myself in any race, particularly that last section from Stoodley summit to finish. Fingers crossed to see whether the two Welsh ‘Exiles’ get a place in the GB squad!”

Matthew Roberts – Earning that GB vest at the Howarth Hobble

Photos courtesy of Woodentops.org.uk

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –

The stuff of Legends – #TeamGB

Calder Valley Fell Runner Karl Gray was part of a Great Britain team which took a silver medal at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia.

KG TeamGB Line up

Left to Right, Legend Karl ‘Earl’ Gray, Ricky Lightfoot, Andrew Davies, Tom Owens and Rob Hope

Competing against the world’s top mountain runners, “Earl” Gray clocked a fantastic 4:00.19 to finish 12th overall last Saturday. The 42.195km course included a whopping 9000 feet of ascent. Throw in the heat, altitude, and a host of elite rivals used to competing on alpine routes and you have some idea what our local hero was up against.

Karl Gray #TeamGB

Karl Gray #TeamGB

Runners gathered from across the globe in bright sunshine, taking in the fresh alpine air of the spectacular Podbrdo mountains. With a mixture of technical terrain, complete with rocks and mud, the footing was challenging on many parts of the course. Those with tentative descending skills were quickly left behind by the sure-footed mountain goats. The best runners on the day were those proficient in all types of mountain running technique.

Gray’s years of experience competing at the highest level in UK and in international races ensured he maintained a strong position as those around him faltered. Early leader Andy Wacker (USA) dropped out of the race at 28 kilometres, having set a solid pace and took a lead of nearly four minutes at the top of the first long climb.

There were many positional  changes after that as runners battled for medals. Alessandro Rambaldini won in a record time of 3:44:52, leading Italy to gold. With Marco De Gasperi second in 3:46:12 and Fabio Ruga 14th in 4:01:15, they had a total time of  11:32:19. That was more than five minutes ahead of second-placed Great Britain,  who had Tom Owens in fourth (3:49.34),Ricky Lightfoot sixth (3:53.30), Andrew Davies ninth (3:54.39)  and Rob Hope 16th (4:01.59).

Team GB Silver Medalists

Team GB Silver Medalists

Gray gained selection after finishing fourth at Yorkshire Three Peaks race, knocking two minutes off the veterans 40 record. He said:

“I’ve been lucky to run for England before but getting selected for GB is another level and I am really proud to have achieved that! “I have been training really hard so that I didn’t let the very strong mens team down. “I had a fantastic race in Slovenia. I managed to pace myself well around the course by not overdoing it on the first climb and descent. “I think I was in 26th place at the first summit and managed to steadily make my way up to 15th before the last climb and lost a couple of places by the summit. “I then gave it everything on the final descent to pull through to 12th. “It was a fantastic team performance with all five of us finishing in the top 16 and one I am really proud to have been a part of. A fantastic experience!”

Al on the final summit of Ben Nevis

Alistair on the final summit of Ben Nevis

Hebden Bridge’s Alistair Morris has completed the  Three Peaks Yacht Race, one of the oldest and most remarkable multi-sport endurance contests in the world. It is a unique event combining sailing, running and cycling; with the quirky feature that rowing is allowed in moments of calm. It takes competitors through some of the most spectacular scenery in the United Kingdom. Not only are teams required to have excellent sailing and navigational abilities, but they also run Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis in only a few days. Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth on the west coast of Wales up to the finish in Fort William on the west coast of Scotland. Two of the crew are required to climb each of the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland en route, thereby running the equivalent of three marathons. Calder Valley Fell Runners’ Morris, 43, was a member of the White Cloud team which finished fifth out of 17 teams. He was one of the two runners in the team and ran all three mountains – almost three marathons in four days. The crew had to row when the wind dropped and Morris said: “It was an amazing  experience. “We saw whales, dolphins and seals and sailed day and night, completing in four day and nine hours.”

Calder Valley’s Calvin Ferguson was disappointed with his 90th position at the Aggies Staircase fell race on a sunny Thursday night in Darwen, Lancashire. He clocked 41.52, three minutes slower than last year.

European Mountain Champs #TeamGB

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.

Tom Adams, Ricky Lighfoot then CVFR Ben Mounsey #TeamGB

Tom Adams, Ricky Lightfoot and Ben Mounsey #TeamGB

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.

EuroChamps Mounsey3

Ben Mounsey making his move at the European Mountain Running Championships

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.

Saddleworth Edge - Joe Washington

Saddleworth Fell Race – Joe Washington

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.

Bill Johnson takes 1st V50

Bill Johnson takes 1st V50

Ben Mounsey’s 1st at the English Championship

Black Combe, English Championship Victory for Mounsey.

Ben Mounsey’s trooper legs don’t disappoint at Black Combe

At the south western tip of the Lake District is Black Combe, a little climbed, 600 metre high hill. It was also the venue of the first race in the English Fell Running Championship for 2016.

The weather promised an eventful race as the clag was down with visibility less the 100m on the higher parts of the course. In the run up to the race the money was on Ben Mounsey to take the win.  He had reccied the route a couple of weeks earlier.  You can be as fast a runner as possible but if you don’t know the course inside out and the fog comes down, you’d better hope your navigation is up to the job.

BM BC DescentBen went out hard and broke away early with Sam Tosh of Rossendale. They opened up a good lead at the top of Black Combe before taking a poor line off together on the way to White Combe. They re-joined the race in 4th and 5th behind Rhys Findlay-Robinson and Kris Jones of Dark Peak. Their calm heads and navigation saved the day. The four of them broke away as a group and worked together till the final climb when Ben used his leg strength, built up on reps of Trooper Lane, to pull away on the ascent. His final mile run in, with 1000ft descent, was clocked at 4 minutes 38 seconds.

Ben said “There was some serious pressure and weight of expectation on me before the race and I am absolutely chuffed to bits that I didn’t disappoint and managed to deliver the win! I can’t describe the feeling of winning at the end – unreal. Thanks to everyone for their support and kind words.  I’ve achieved a career dream of winning a Championship race against the very best competition in the country, and on unfamiliar Lakeland soil. This is a big deal. I now have a realistic chance of becoming English Champion 2016. Whether it will happen I don’t know but I’ll certainly give it my best shot!”

Gayle Sugden, Lucy Collins, Lindsey Oldfield, Jo Buckley and Rachael Crossland made a strong challenge in the team competition to pick up third women’s team prize. Captain Helen Buchan was disappointed not to be running, having recently picked up a neck injury. The women’s race was won by Victoria Wilkinson of Bingley in 33rd place.

Unfortunately some of Calder’s other runners were ‘navigationally challenged’. Karl Grey headed east in search of checkpoint 4 coming off White Combe, essentially ending his race.  Steve Smithies was really pleased to finish and see Karl along with Rob Hope and Simon Bailey come in behind him.

Calder Valley Full Results

1 Ben Mounsey 1:10:28
27 Darren Kay 1:17:40
92 Math Roberts 1:24:19
164 Steve Smithies 1:33:16
167 Gayle Sugden 1:33:19
194 Lucy Collins 1:34:35
208 Tim Ellis 1:35:22
217 Lindsey Oldfield 1:36:30
228 Alex Whittam 1:38:28
233 Mark Wharton 1:38:45
257 Gillian Wibsey 1:41:45
315 Jo Buckley 1:49:31
334 Darren Sargent 1:53:50
336 Rachel Crossland 1:54:03
357 Toby Sydes 1:55:36
374 Dave Culpan 1:58:01
383 Rod Sutcliffe 1:59:50
399 Dan Biggs 2:03:24
410 Graham Lloyd 2:05:04

Haworth Hobble

Ian and Ken win the Hobble 2016

Ian and Ken win the Hobble 2016

The Howarth Hobble is a 33m ultra distance race that is rightly a classic in the fell running calendar. Starting in Howarth the route heads over Top Withens, past Widdop to Lancashire before heading to Stoodley Pike and returning to Haworth via Heptonstall.

Calder Valley’s ultra experts, Ian Symington and Kevin Hoult stamped their mark on the race, gaining 1st and 2nd places respectively.  Ian, the reigning Runfurther Ultra champion, ran with Ken Sutor who will surely be challenging Ian for his crown this year.  They came home in 4 hours 16 minutes.

Kevin Hoult at the Howarth Hobble

Kevin Hoult at the Howarth Hobble

Ken and Ian had decided to run together towards the end of 2015. They are in the 2016 Goretex Transalpine running as a team and needed to check their compatibility. During the Trog in February,  they ended up racing together and were pretty much step for step the whole way until Ken broke free on the final climb over the muddy fields.  Ken has been Ian’s regular Ultra rival for the past two years.

Ian said “He always starts faster than me so it is quite a nerve wracking experience waiting until about the 30 mile mark to see if I’ve paced it better than him. I’m convinced he is a better runner, he just runs Ultras like a greyhound out of the trap”

“I think we may have been a bit faster if we were racing each other. I made Ken run conservatively and I thought the biggest threat was from Kevin Hoult storming through at the end if we faded. With Kevin in mind I just knew we had to keep going at a reasonable pace on the 2nd half and we would be OK.

“We whittled it down to a pack of three on the climb out of Widdop and were on our own as we dropped down into Tod.  We took it really easy going up the pike but none seemed to close in so I was fairly confident we had it.

“I like the Hobble but I always get cramp on it. It is the amount of fast runnable climbs that do it. I felt the twinges as I was passing Tod golf course then had it fully lock out coming off the pike. I’ve had this often enough to know you keep going it can go away (don’t stop and try and stretch it out, keep running). I stamped it out on the way down into Hebden and it wasn’t so bad for the rest of the run home.”

Simon Bourne made a pleasing return to racing after a calf injury side-lined him earlier in the year. Starting off in about 30th place at the first checkpoint he worked his way thought the field to finish 8th overall.  The women’s race was won by Lucy Colquhoun in 5hrs 10mins.  John Minta, not content with the 33 mile Hobble on Saturday also completed the 16 mile Edale Skyline race in the Peak District on Sunday.

Full Calder Results

1 4:16:01  Ian Symington (& Ken Sutor)
2 4:22:38  Kevin Hoult
8 4:48:26  Simon Bourne
48 5:30:57  Bill Johnson
56 5:35:03  John Minta
161 6:24:00  Phillip Beecroft
218 6:58:25  Linda Hayles
267 8:00:14  Philip Jones
288 8:53:18  John Nunn

b

A golden year

A gap in the racing calendar allowed fell running’s great and good to gather at the FRA annual presentation at The Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere, hosted by Ambleside AC.

Men's English and British Gold 2015

Men’s English and British Gold 2015

SHIRTS FRA Presentation 2015Calder Valley’s glitterati were out in force as the club’s men celebrated in style, picking up trophies for a clean sweep of the national 2015 FRA team titles.

An amazing year has shown that the club’s strength in depth is second to none.

CVFR were recognised for their magnificent achievement of winning gold medals in both the English and British Championship, with further gold in the English Vets and British Vets Championship.

This was the result of around 10 runners each contributing in some way in a multitude of counting races across the UK’s hills and mountains.

The women won bronze team medals in the English vets championship.

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

There were also individual successes to celebrate.  Karl Gray won joint-gold in the English V45 championship and Bronze V40, Gavin Mulholland won bronze in the British vets and Sally Newman won gold in the English FV50 and silver V45.

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

The Tour of Pendle

A hardy group of Calder Valley Fell Runners struggled across flooded Pennine Valleys to Lancashire on the 14th November, to take on the daunting Tour of Pendle, an early winter classic that packs in a mighty 5000 feet of climbing over 17 painful miles that criss-cross Pendle Hill with several immense ascents.

400 runners arrived at Barley Village Hall to the news that famous course was to be shortened by 3 miles to avoid the risk of exposing marshals to long periods of potentially dangerous weather. In practice this meant missing out the last two torturous climbs of Pendle Hill, reducing the course to 14 miles and 2700 feet of ascent.

The race began as usual with first big climb from Barley to Check Point 1, at Pendle Hill’s summit cairn. There followed the enjoyable descent over open moor and into a valley following a fast flowing stream to

Check Point 2, before a sharp drop to Churn Clough reservoir and a relative rest as runners ran along the access track by the water to Check Point 3.

By this time the race had settled down, with the leaders off ahead and a long column behind, containing most of the Calder Valley mid-pack runners.

The leg to Check Point 4 was a short but nasty climb up a steep sodden hillside covered in bracken and peat making for inefficient motion. This big effort was immediately rewarded by the massive, adrenalin-inducing descent to Ogden Clough. The kamikaze-style running that typifies this section of the race has led to the infamous descent being branded ‘Geronimo’. This seemed about right, as many runners resorted to slithering down on their backsides at great speed to Check Point 4 in the valley bottom.

The race then turned sharply through a water crossing, to follow a stream for a few hundred yards before climbing sharply to Check Point 5, only to turn 90′ and drop back to Ashendean Clough, and the foot of the last big climb on the shortened route, back to the top of Pendle Hill (again!) where the race dropped rapidly, back to Ogden Clough for a relatively easy half mile downhill to the road, where the Calder Valley contingent put in a 1 mile sprint finish to arrive back in Barley.

Pudsey & Bramley’s Rob Hope was first home followed by Chris Holdsworth of Clayton Le Moor in second, just ahead of Bingley’s living legend, Ian Holmes. Calder Valley’s A team were noticeable in their absence, which gave Kevin Hoult the honour of being the first Calder runner over the line in 2.05.24, in 36th place overall.

Ladies Captain Helen Buchan was having the race of her life until the sole came off her fell shoes. She still limped home to finish but was obviously disappointed. That’s fell running for you  … you just never know whats round the corner.

Pendle results:-

36 Kevin Hoult 485 M40 02:05:24
53 Ian Symington 118 M 02:10:01
78 Bill Johnson 477 M50 02:15:55
101 Mark Wharton 247 M50 02:19:16
191 Helen Buchan 164 W 02:32:40
215 Michael Wardle 152 M55 02:36:12
254 Mike Dean 23 M50 02:42:22
325 Linda Murgatroyd 290 W45 02:52:03
350 Craig Hall 445 M 02:58:28
357 Dave Culpan 180 M50 02:59:08
383 Philip Jones 463 M55 03:05:01
390 Rod Sutcliffe 206 M60 03:11:46
393 Daniel Biggs 70 M 03:14:22

 

Awarded for the best season ever …

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

Calder Valley had a stellar 12 months on the fells so it was no surprise that they were nominated in a few categories at the recent Halifax Courier Sports Awards. They were nominated and went on to win the Amateur Team of The Year prize. This was jointly awarded for both the seniors and V40s men after their best season ever by mopping up English and British team titles before adding the British Relay Crown recently.. This was followed by Ben Mounsey being voted the Amateur Male Sports Person of the Year much to his surprise!!! Ben has stepped up a level in his sport this year being honoured with both English and Great British vests and he was GBs top runner at an event in Italy recently. He revealed the secret of his success to the audience – a 70 mile per week training schedule. Co host Pete Emmet had the audience laughing when he said that was a far as he did in his car!!!

Here’s what Ben had to say  …

A couple of weeks ago I’d been contacted by our local newspaper, The Halifax Evening Courier, to tell me that I’d been shortlisted for ‘Amateur Sportsman of the Year’ at the annual Calderdale Sports Awards. Obviously I was both extremely flattered and excited about attending the event. What made the news even sweeter was that my good friend and training partner, Karl Gray, had also been shortlisted. In addition to this both the Calder Valley Open and V40 teams were in the running for ‘Best Amateur Sports Team 2015’.

Karl was crowned the World Mountain Running V45 champion in September, capping yet another fantastic season and cementing his name at the top of the Calder Valley ‘Legends’ list. I’d like to think I’m close to climbing up to those dizzy heights myself but I’ve still a way to go before I match Karl’s great achievements over the last decade.

The club nomination for ‘Best Team’ was no great surprise to me, both the Open and V40’s were crowned English and British fell running champions a couple of months ago and of course we managed the ‘Grand Slam’ by also winning the British Fell Relays last month at Pendle. A fine season indeed. I was hopeful of us walking away with at least one trophy at the awards ceremony.

The presentation was once again held at The Venue, Greetland and as ever it was a well organised affair. Huge thanks to both the Evening Courier and all the sponsors for organising and funding the event. I also need to praise all of the hard work and genius that goes into writing the sports reports. Jim Mosley, Tim Brooks, Steve Grimley (CVFR) and of course Ian Rushworth (Sports Editor at the Courier) and his team. I think it’s fantastic that Calderdale’s finest sports stars are recognised for all their hard work and commitment.

Martin Howard (Calder Valley Junior Fell Runner) was also nominated so Kudos to him for a great season, one to watch in the future I’m sure.

What did cross my mind was that if the top female award had gone to a runner then perhaps it would lessen the chances of a male equivalant doing the same. At least we were up for the team prize I thought. Also strange to think that our Calder Valley Open team were competing against the vets too, I suppose it doubled our chances of winning!

Team trophyWhen they announced the nominees for ‘Best Team’ I was really nervous, I realised then how much I wanted us to win. I joined Calder Valley about 8 years ago and during this time I’ve seen the club grow in stature and watched the men’s team slowly transform into the best team in Britain. I’d like to think I’ve played a significant role in making this happen. I remember running for Stainland Lions in 2006 at Thieveley Pike when it was an English Championship counter that year. It was my first champs race and I came 10th, beating Karl who was competing for Calder Valley. After the race he and Jo Waites both asked me to join the club. Karl is one of my fell running heroes so naturally the thought of racing in the same team as him was very appealing. I laid my cards on the table and negotiated a contract that was to massively change the fortunes of both great clubs. I agreed to join Calder Valley in a record breaking deal…2 pints of Guinness and a packet of Big D peanuts. Sky Sports got hold of the news and it was all over the telly for a couple of weeks, I’m pretty sure most of you reading this will remember it well, ground breaking stuff 😉 Also as part of the deal both Jo and Karl signed 2nd claim for Stainland and the rest as they say is history! Stainland Lions began smashing the local Cross Country league and Calder Valley went from strength to strength as many others at Stainland followed my lead. Since then the club have signed Gav ‘Mad Legs’ Mulholland, Shaun ‘Lardy Lancs Lad’ Godsman, Alex ‘The Flying Postman’ Whittem, James ‘Logie Bear’ Logue, Tim ‘Timbo Baggins’ Ellis, Richard ‘Ironman’ Pattinson, Math ‘The Welsh Whizzard’ Roberts, Jason ‘Benjamin Button’ Williams and Daz ‘Special K’ Kay, to name but a few! Success breeds success. As well as being team mates we’re also great mates so I wanted to win the team award just as much as the individual.

When they announced the winner I was chuffed to bits…Calder Valley Open….AND V40 team! We’d all been honoured! A brilliant decision and one that celebrates our 10 year journey of becoming the best in the country.

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

Bens Trophy

Shortly after we returned to our seats it was straight onto the main award for the night…’Amateur Sportsman of the Year 2015’. They announced the four nominees, including Karl and then me. I genuinely would have been happy if either of us had won, I honestly believe we’ve both earned it this year.

There was a long pause as the sponsor announcing the award fumbled with the envelope. At first I didn’t recognise the winner, his name wasn’t familiar. In fact I couldn’t even remember him being announced as a nominee. Then I realised it was me! The guy reading my name was obviously a ‘back page courier virgin’ because he couldn’t even vaguely pronounce ‘Mounsey’ . Still I didn’t care as I walked up to the stage because I was proud as punch.

For me this award represents the 2,700 miles, the 395 hours and the 380,000 ft of climbing that I’ve done so far this year. I’ve trained hard, raced hard and earnt every bit of success that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. It’s not come easy and I’ve not taken my fitness for granted. So when I say it’s one of the finest achievements of my career I really mean it.

Scarf’s win OMM while Mounsey’s Class in Italy #TeamGB

Jackie & Phil Scarf, Cragg Vale’s formidable adventure racing couple, added the prestigious OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) prize to their bulging trophy cabinet at the weekend. The duo won the mixed prize on the ‘Long Score’, which consists of two days of running [7 + 6 hours] while trying to visit as many controls as possible.

Jackie and Phil Scarf the OMM 2015

Jackie and Phil Scarf the OMM 2015

The event was held in the beautiful Tweedsmuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, where the terrain consisted of steep grassy slopes with swathes of heather, plus the usual imponderable of the Scottish weather.

While there is a kit list to adhere to everything has to be as light as possible: this means sleeping on bubblewrap, eating dehydrated food and eschewing all suggestion of luxury.

Whereas in the BBC’s Apprentice, the sleepy candidates are woken by Alan Sugar’s early morning phone call, the protagonists in the OMM were woken by a lone bagpiper, shattering the Caledonian calm. He was swiftly followed by a booming loud haler to signify there was an hour to the first starts. A drone camera hovered overhead filming the apprehension below, capturing all the head torches switching on in tents and the frantic gathering in of camping equipment – quite surreal according to Jackie. However, there was no fear of boardroom reprisals for Team Scarfe as they comfortably won the task in hand, and they remain one of the country’s finest pairings at this elite level.

Friday wouldn’t be Friday without a mention of Ben Mounsey. It didn’t seem possible but he has gone one better and somehow seems to be getting faster. Due to the merit of his brilliant run at Snowdon recently, he was selected to represent Great Britain at the Trofeo Vanoni relay in Morbegno, Italy.

Ben Mounsey 2nd in Italy #TeamGB

Ben Mounsey 2nd in Italy #TeamGB

Ben was selected to team up with established stars Rob Hope and Tom Adams. The race is a prestigious 3 lap relay which climbs steeply up almost 2000ft above the town before a madcap descent back to the finish. France, GB and some of the Italian teams began as favourites. Each member does a leg each before handing over to their partner. The race was televised, with over 10,000 people spectating en route. GB have previously only ever won the relay once. This year 155 teams took part.

By the time of Ben’s handover, Rob Hope had expertly guided GB up to 2nd place. Ben, on the finishing leg, had the unenviable task of racing course record holder Alex Baldaccini (Italy) and Juliet Rancon of France. Rancon had a comfortable lead and couldn’t be caught. He ran 30:49 and the 4th fastest leg. There was a battle of epic proportions between Ben and Baldaccini. The Italian closed in on the long climb but Ben out-descended him on crazy downhill section recording a time going down which was only 11 seconds away from the descent record.

Alex then caught Ben on the flat run in to the finish before Mounsey hit the afterburners and outsprinted him in the final 100m to take 2nd place! Ben, understandably elated by the result exclaimed, “It was unreal! Baldaccini ran 28:48 and the quickest time of the day and I ran an unbelievable 30:21 which was the 2nd quickest of the day! It was also the 3rd EVER quickest time by a GB athlete in the history of the competition. My greatest result to date given the fact Janu and Baldaccini are ranked 10th and 11th in the world.”

~TeamGB Rob Hope, Ben Mounsey & Tom Adams

~TeamGB Rob Hope, Ben Mounsey & Tom Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red White & Gold

The Best Fell Runners in the Country

Gold for the CVFR Mens team at the British Fell Relay 2015

Gold for the CVFR Mens team at the British Fell Relay 2015

Not content with winning the British and English fell running championships this year, Calder Valley Men’s team wanted to prove they were undoubtedly the best in the country by winning the British Athletics Fell Relays.  Run this year on Pendle Hill and organised by Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, the relays are made up four legs, a short 7km fast first leg, a longer 15km paired second leg, a paired navigation third leg and a fast short 8km glory leg.

Tim Ellis on Leg 1

Tim Ellis Leg1 BFR 2015

The recent loss at the hands of Borrowdale in the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay did not hold the team back despite having the added pressure of starting as favourites with South Yorkshire neighbours, Dark Peak.

The mighty hobbit, Timbo ‘Baggins’ Ellis started leg 1 as the team wanted a strong start. Tim has been running well on the short stuff recently so it made perfect sense. As expected, the legend that is Rob Hope romped home in 1st place for Pudsey & Bramley despite struggling with a serious cold.  However when Tim followed him home in 2nd place and just 6 seconds behind, with Helm Hill’s Mark Addison in 3rd, it was the perfect start.

The start of leg 2 looked like a 400m race and it was all Ben Mounsey’s fault who dragged Wales’ best export Math Roberts in his wake.  By the top of the first field they had managed to wrestle the lead from Pudsey’s Graham Pearce and Joe Baxter.  They kept their lead over the rest of the leg to bring Calder back in a strong position for the navigation leg.

Ben Mounsey Leg 2

Ben Mounsey Leg2 BFR 2015

Matthew Roberts Leg 2

Math Roberts Leg2 BFR 2015

The team were hopeful James Louge and Darren Kay would do the business on Leg 3 but equally there was also a good chance they might murder each other halfway round. Logie Bear likes to take charge and let others follow his lead. Daz also likes to take charge and isn’t afraid of saying what he thinks. Pairing them together was a bold and daring move.

The lead changed more times than Daz changes his sunglasses. There were tears of joy, tears of frustration and for everyone watching tears of relief as the runners approached the changeover. In one of the closest fought relays in years, no fewer than 4 teams sprinted in together with Pudsey and Bramley leading the charge. Thankfully the red and white vests were just behind Horwich and Keswick which meant Karl Gray on Leg 4 was still within touching distance of the lead. That bad news was it would take an unbelievable effort for him to win.

John Heneghan (P&B) led the race out, followed by Sam Stead (Keswick), Jonathan Bruton (Horwich) and Karl Gray (CVFR).  There was much debate over who would take the win once these first 4 runners set off on the first climb. There was also much doubt as to whether Karl could do the business; he was chasing the first 3 right from the start. His team mates never doubted him for a minute. He’s in superb form and no one can match his speed on the descents.

Eventually a figure emerged in the distance. It wasn’t clear at first but then another appeared and another behind them. They quickly disappeared behind the line of trees in front of us and when they finally emerged it was Karl who was now leading the race.

Karl Gray British Fell Relay 2015 Leg 4

Karl Gray British Fell Relay 2015 Leg 4

Team gold in the relays now proves Calder Valley Fell Runners are officially the best team in Britain! It was close and it could’ve easily been a very different result had something gone wrong.  Worth all the training and certainly worth the wait.

However the women’s team probably put in the performance of the day.  Anne Johnson ran leg 1 and got the team off to a perfect start despite hating the descent. It really is amazing to have an athlete of her calibre & experience in the team.

British Fell Relay 2015 Ladies Team

British Fell Relay 2015 Ladies Team

Gayle Sugden and Sally Newman both had an amazing run on Leg 2 bringing the women in 4th at the end of their leg. All this despite Sally being full of a cold and thinking she might not be fit enough to run at all.

Leg 3 was definitely the run of the day.  Jo Buckley was in charge of the navigation,

Lindsey Oldfield just did what she was told! Their split to CP1 was faster than Calder Valley’s v40 men’s team time. Lindsey was absolutely destroyed at the end of the leg couldn’t speak for a good 30 minutes.  Lindsey and Jo brought the team up to 2nd at the end of leg 3. Cue massive excitement.

Lucy Collins Leg4 BFR 2015

Lucy Collins Leg4 BFR 2015

Leg 4 was run brilliantly by new signing Lucy Collins. She gave her absolute all, kept her cool & held on to 2nd place, meaning Calder Valley has won the silver medal.

Anne commented that she didn’t expect to ever win a British Relay medal ever again, so she really was chuffed to bits! Calder Valley are extremely proud of them all.

 

GB Team Mountain Man Mounsey

Mountain Man Reaches New Heights to help British Team to world medals

The picturesque village of Betws-Y-Coed in North Wales was the setting for the 31st running of the World Mountain Running Championships.  32 countries took to the start line in the main event on Saturday afternoon with Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey lining up for the club’s first ever Great Britain cap . The course involved 3 laps of the course covering a total of 13km with three steep climbs. The competition is really is the really is as good as gets in the world as fell running, as the then planet’s hardest, fittest, fastest, and most technically gifted, come together to fight it out on the international stage.

This was the 3rd time in the 31 year history of the competition that it had been held in the UK and the first time in Wales. The route for the senior men was 14km, run over 3 laps, from the centre of Betws-y-coed to Llyn Elsi lake with a total of 2700 feet of climbing. Snowdonia’s mountains basked in warm summer sunshine, perhaps allowing those used to running in Africa, America, and continental Europe to feel more at home. For once the GB guys must have been wishing for some classic clag to help their cause. The senior men had never won a team medal in the history of the competition and this was their best chance, with an extremely strong team with Scotland’s Robbie Simpson leading the charge backed up by Andy Douglas, Chris Smith, Tom Adams, Tom Addison and Valley’s very own Ben Mounsey.

The race started in almighty battle to win an early advantage, Mounsey had to work his way from the back, amidst elbowing and jostling as runners fought to get a good position near the front of the race. Ignoring the setback of picking up a cold the week before the race, Mounsey’s plan was to take the first lap steady, pace himself, and work his way through the field. Settling in to a good rhythm Ben was in the top 40 after lap 1,  before putting the hammer down in lap 2, to show a host of the world’s finest mountain runners a clean pair of Calder Valley heels. Mounsey’s devastating pace on this second ascent saw him climb to a dizzying 26th place by the time he reached Llyn Elsi lake. At this point he had managed to drop current English champion Tom Addison, and nudge in front of Tom Adams into 4th position for the British team. Despite this display of truly world class running, the strength of the field meant that there was no let up as the race entered its third and final lap.

At the front end of the race the Ugandans and Italians were battling out for 1st position with GB superstars Robbie Simpson, Andy Douglas and Chris Smith all in the top 10.  Mounsey was now working his socks off to try and help the team to medal, but sustaining the effort was a tough ask, and he admitted later to struggling through the last climb, tired and exhausted. Nevertheless Mounsey limited the damage, dropping only a few places at the top of the final climb, before getting the wind back in his sail’s to hold his position on the descent and traditional bullet-like sprint to the finish to take a fantastic 31st place,  proving his international credentials on the world stage on his debut performance. This is a remarkable achievement given the fact most competitors are professional sponsored athletes and can run a 10K in 27 minutes or less.

Ben Mounsey Team GB

Tom Adams was just 12 secs in front in 27th position and Tom Addison finished 42nd. At the head of the race the Ugandan Fred Musobo took the win for the 2nd year running ahead of Italian Bernard Dematteus. Remarkably GB’s Robbie Simpson (Salomon running pro) based in Germany had managed to hold onto 3rd place and claim the bronze medal ahead of Bernard’s brother Martin. GB’s Andy Douglas was 6th and Chris Smith 10th, which combined with mine and Tom’s result meant we beat USA to team bronze behind Uganda in 2nd and Italy in 1st. The medalling success didn’t stop there with the GB junior girls claiming silver, the junior boys claiming bronze and the GB women proving they are easily the best in the world by winning gold. Debutant Emmie Collinge won the silver medal with Salomon’s GB poster girl Emma Clayton taking the bronze. Sarah Tunstall took 4th place with Vic Wilkinson finishing in 15th. The GB medal haul meant that they were the most successful team in the entire competition and therefore the best in the world. This was a historic moment for team GB. The Betws-Y-Coed event saw them earn the title of the most successful GB mountain running team ever.

A delighted Mounsey said “It’s been an amazing weekend, truly the best experience of my life! Earning selection into the GB squad was a massive achievement and I really wanted to prove to everyone I was good enough to compete on the world stage. Nothing quite prepared me for the standard of competition, like nothing I’ve ever faced. It seriously makes the English Championship races seem pedestrian. I’ve trained extremely hard for the event, clocking 75 miles and over 10,000ft of climbing per week and I knew I would have to be in 100% form for a top 50 finish. Last week however I rested up ready for the big day and 2 days before the event I came down with a cold!!! I couldn’t believe it! I knew I’d have to dig deep in the race and just do my best, top 50 the aim.”

CVFR Joe Washington retained his King of the Mountains crown at the weekend.  He competed in all of Britain’s highest mountains with Snowdon in July, Ben Nevis in September and Scafell just this weekend gone. His cumulative placings for all three races made him the highest placed runner and the crown was his once more.

Joe Washington descending Ben to retain the 2015 KOM

Joe Washington Descending Ben to Retain the 2015 KOM

A beautiful day greeted the runners at the start line of the 13 miles Good Shepherd Fell Race. Oliver Barnes who runs unattached was out to defend his win from last year and this he duly did. The race heads up from a Dauber Bridge start to Stoodley Pike then all height gained is lost on the descent to Withens Clough Reservoir. The runners pay a visit to Cloven Stone before traversing their way around rough moor before crossing the Calderdale Way down to a checkpoint near Mankinholes on London Road. It was here that Barnes had the company of Stainlands Ed Hyland and the 2 runners had a commanding lead over the rest of the field. It became obvious that some of the front runners must have taken a longer route to this checkpoint as they approached it from a different longer path than the shorter obvious route hence losing them time including Sophie Horrocks who had been the lead female runner . Another hard climb back to revisit Stoodley Pike the ladies race became a close fought contest with Calder’s Lucy Collins reaching the Pike in 1st place. This lead was to change a few times on the return route via Cragg Road and Robin Hood Rocks with flags being missed and as the girls reached the finish Lucy sneaked to take the win with only 2 seconds to spare in a time of 2 hours * mins 55 seconds from Horrocks. A strong run home from Barnes saw him pull away from Hyland to win by 7 minutes with Stewart Gregory from Hulme Pierre taking the other podium spot. Calder’s Lindsey Oldfield getting back to some good form to take 3rd female on the day in a time of  2hours 14 mins 29 secs.

Lucy Collins Good Shepherd