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

Karl Gray … the V45 World Champion

Karl The World Champ

In a season full of achievement for Calder Valley fell runners, they can now boast a bona fide World Champion among their ranks. Brighouse’s Karl Gray, for many years the club’s leading light, claimed the crown last weekend at the World Mountain Running Championships in Betys –y Coed in Snowdonia.

Gray, widely regarded as one of the country’s leading all round fell runners, being expert over multiple distances, showed that even at the ripe old age of 46, he is still a runner of fabulous ability. This he demonstrated fully over the demanding six mile route.

Gray said “It feels amazing being a world champion. I’d had an eye on this race for most of the year and started to do shorter, intense training sessions through the summer to prepare me for the fast six mile course. I’m much more suited to races over 15 miles now and usually only start getting warmed up at the six mile mark.”

Pre-race, Karl’s ambition was to be among the medals, but was wary of the strong field and knew he had a job on his hands. “I felt great and led the field up the first climb,” he said.

“Near the top, and as the terrain started to level out, Salford Harriers’ former British and English international mountain runner, Martin Cox, took up the running and pushed the pace.  I noticed that we were away on our own at this point and I was on my limit following him. I hung in there and managed to open up a gap on the descent, and with the recent overnight rain making for a wet course, this suited my fell running style especially on the descents and tight twisty terrain. I managed to maintain this gap on the very tough second climb and opened it up a bit more on the descent into the finish, allowing me time to saver the moment during the last 100 metres to the line.”

Karl Gray WMRC

Karl, who has had to live with star team mate Ben Mounsey hogging the headlines of late, was understandably thrilled with his success. “This is without doubt the proudest achievement so far.”  Gray said it had been a great year so far for himself and Calder Valley Fell Runners.

“The club has won both the men’s English and British open and veteran 40 fell titles. The female v40 team has secured an English bronze and I’m the 2015 vet 45 joint English champion.  “The amazing team spirit has kept me focused and motivated all year.”

Ben’s brilliant season earns him a British vest

Ben M England 2Building on his brilliant 3rd place at the recent Snowdon Mountain race, Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey was yet again to the fore at last weekend’s Home International race at delightful Betws-y-coed in North Wales. His ripping run at Snowdon had cemented his England credentials and Saturday’s race saw him pitted against the best fell and mountain runners the UK can muster.

Perhaps it was the red and white of his new England vest that reminded Ben of his beloved Calder Valley, fell running’s original red and white hoopsters, but Ben was more than at home alongside the great and the good of today’s elite. One can either be daunted or inspired by such company, and adrenalin, nerves and self-doubt can wreak havoc in even the most able athlete’s mind. But Ben, fortified physically by his now legendary 500km training months, a record of number one spots that would do One Direction proud, and of course, that confidence boosting 3rd place at Snowdon, showed why he is now the real deal and feared across the land.

The stakes were even higher with places ultimately up for grabs to be picked for team GB and a chance to run alongside runners of near Olympic calibre. Ben, understandably nervous before the race explained, “I’m not going to lie, when I saw the line-up for the Home International (which was also the 3rd counter in the UK Mountain Running Championship AND the World GB Trial) I honestly thought I was aiming for a top 15 at best. The field was seriously stacked with the very best mountain runners in GB, Ricky Lightfoot (serial 3 Peaks winner) the only absentee. It’s the strongest field I’ve ever raced against in my 10 years of competing. However If anything I do thrive on the competition and I was well up for this one. The only thing I wasn’t happy about was the course- seriously fast, runnable and not technical at all which really suited the roadies who flirt with mountain running.”

Ben’s usual trick of firing off from the gun has worn somewhat thin in recent months in local fell races. He is a one man winning machine and has struggled to find any takers to go with him. Races are over within a 100m or so. However, among a field as good as this, they all play this card so the start is akin to an F1 grid, where its right foot down for the first corner and we’ll see who blinks first.

The race was based on three laps of a specific course. Ben had to gird his loins and swallow hard to keep tabs with the leaders on lap one as a fearful pace ensued. Ben picks up the story once again, “The positions changed after every lap, all except 6th which I was never prepared to give up. The 3rd and final lap nearly broke me, I’ve never destroyed myself as much to protect a position in a race. With England International Chris Steele breathing down my neck on the final descent I throw myself down the track and gave it everything I had left to hang on for 6th. We also won the team beating Scotland to first place. I still can’t believe I’ve managed to do it, especially on a course which really didn’t suit.” To put the result in perspective Simon Bailey was 10th, Rob Hope was 12th and Lloyd Taggart 24th – all three recent British Champions. The race was won by Scot, Robbie Simpson, a seriously good athlete who will spearhead the GB team, a team that will now include Ben whose astonishing 6th place has done the trick and assured him of a team GB vest.

Bill’s Amazing Ramsay Round

Distance of 56 miles and 28,500 feet of climbing.

Bill takes up the story …..

“As we were making our way up to Fort William, I brought the start time forward from 2am Sat morning to 8pm Friday evening to take advantage of a window in the wet weather. That was good because the weather wasn’t too bad – occasional drizzle and low cloud, but no real rain until the final couple of hours, by which time we were on the home straight so it didn’t really matter. There’s still quite a bit of snow on Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries, and some of the slopes are very slippery with all the rain and melted snow.

Just as you’d expect, my support team were fantastic – the last minute change of start time meant that everyone’s timings of when they were going to have to run changed completely, but it all went like clockwork, with Anne running the show!

Unfortunately, from fairly early on I found that I just had very little energy. My whole body was much more tired than it should have been. I don’t know why. I had been doing a lot of hard training in the previous few months, and then had 19 days of relative rest – perhaps that wasn’t long enough recovery? Or perhaps it was too much?

Anyway, I had decided that I was not going to carry on by the time I got to Fersit, a third of the way round. However unbeknown to me my support team had made a pact that the only way they were going to let me stop was if I was ill or physically unable to continue! I’m glad they did that.

Karl accompanied me on the long first section over Ben Nevis and the Grey Corries – the hardest support section of any of the 24 hour rounds, and even Karl looked shattered at the end of it. We lost about 15 minutes in the dark and cloud on the snowy slopes of Aonach Beag when I made a navigational mistake, but got back on track.
Lee supported me on the second section, and Mike and Linda on the third and final section across the Mamores.

By about halfway through, I knew I was not going to get round in 24 hours, but I wanted to complete the circuit in however long it took. As you know, I got round in 25:54, and I am absolutely delighted.”

Speedy Stevens BG Joy

The weather forecast leading up to Jason’s BG attempt didn’t look great and he nearly pulled the plug on it earlier in the week. Thanks goodness he didn’t as he was blessed with an almost perfect day for running and Jason posted the second fastest BG time of 2012 with a stunning time of 18 hours 46 minutes. His small team of pacers and navigators had a hard time keeping up with him on some of his legs as he climbed and descended well. As the day went on it was obvious that he was well inside his 21 hour schedule and it looked more like 19 hours. Dropping off the last summit of Robinson and down to Newlands Church a new challenge was thrown at him by Anne Johnson of getting inside her time of 18 hours 49 minutes. The road run was a fast blast and he raced to Moot Hall to just sneak inside Anne’s time and the 4th fastest ever recorded by a Calder Valley Member. A job well done Jason. Congratulations from all your club mates.

More Bob Graham Success!

Congratulations to Jackie and Phil Scarf on completing the Bob Graham Round on 11th June, along with friend Doug Gurr.

Jackie came in before the boys, in 23:35; with Doug completing in 23:36 and Phil in 23:42.

And on the next weekend, Dave Almond romped round in a speedy 21:51. Well done Dave!

We are going to run out of room on our plaque of Bob Graham completers!!

Inter Counties 2011

Two of our Calder Valley members represented Yorkshire in the Inter Counties in the borders of Scotland on 28th May.They did themselves and the club proud with Ben Mounsey being the 3rd counter to take team silver and Jo Buckley being the 1st counter for her Yorkshire team to take team bronze.

Jo has now been selected for England in the International Snowdon race.


Linda Murgatroyd – BG Success !!

Last weekend (13th/14th May), Linda Murgatroyd stormed round the Bob Graham in fine style. Strong and smiling all the way round, never once looking like she might fail, Linda shrugged aside the poor weather to return to Keswick Moot Hall in 23hours 15mins.

Congratulations Linda!!

Calderdale Way Relay Winners

It was a tremendous day for the club at the Calderdale Way Relay. For the first time ever, our A team won the event.

Then to prove the strength in depth in the club, our next team won the mixed team category – again a first for the club. Our Vets team were 3rd vets team; and the Mixed-B team were 7th out of 11 mixed teams.

Truly a great day in the sunshine for CVFR.