Points means prizes

The fell running world quietens down towards the end of the year.  The championships and relays have all finished and there are only a handful of races before the New Year.  However there are still opportunities for long runs and navigation practice in long distance orienteering competitions known as score events.

Simon Fisher on a tricky decent in the Chew Valley, Saddleworth courtesy of Granddayou

Kong Mini-Mountain Marathon

The last weekend of November saw four Calder Valley Runners head over to Saddleworth for the 4th and final race in the Kong Mini-Mountain Marathon series.  With the controls ranging across the featureless moors south and east of Dovestones, there was plenty of route choice and accurate navigation was essential.

Tim Brooks was first Calder runner in 31st place overall with 471 point narrowly pipping Rob Rawlinson in 33rd with 460.  Although Rob was back within the four hour time limit, Tim pushed to six minutes over time to get an extra 20 points with a 9 point penalty.  This result also gave Brooks second place in the V40 series.  Neil Talbot of Ambleside gained 758 points to take today’s win.

Simon Fisher got 297 points in 131st place after struggling to find a couple of 40 point controls.  Prizes for the longest run went to Jim Mosley who covered nearly 19 miles going for the big points around the Crowden Valley.  Unfortunately the terrain and miles of tussocks caught him out.  He lost all of his 510 point by returning 1 hour and 38 minutes late.

Peak Raid 3

The 1st December was the second race of four in the Peak Raid 3 series of 3 hour score events.  Run from Great Longstone in Derbyshire, the controls were across the fields and limestone valleys of the Peak District, including Cressbrook Dale and Monsal Dale.

8 Calder runners headed south.  Iain Powell had a superb run coming in 7th place and second V40 with 395 points.  Ben Frechette also had a cracking run in 8th place with the same points as Powell but 38 seconds behind.  The competition is fierce.  Philip Vokes  of Loughborough was first with 490 points.

Jim Mosley will have been much happier with this week’s result, 29th and nearly 4 minutes inside the 3 hour limit. Perfectly cooked.  Linda Hales represented the Calder women with 220 points and 3rd V60 woman.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: TIM BROOKS

Howard’s Heroes victorious @ Lee Mills Relay


Iain Illstone climbing out of the quarry

It was a bumper turn out for CV at the classic Lee Mill relay in Rossendale on Sunday with CV representing almost 10% of the field. This popular fell relay is a firm favourite with many clubs, and has earned a reputation for excessive bogs, wintery conditions and great camaraderie over the years.  (CV’s international athlete Ben Mousey dubbed it his toughest race in 2015 following a near miss with hypothermia).   But fell runners are hardy folk and such talk merely inspires clubs to enter their teams of four runners, all of whom run individually over the 6 miles route. Eight of the 88 teams this year belonged to CV and, as with previous years, entered as ‘handicap’ teams, all competing against each other rather than other clubs, generating much inter-club rivalry and banter both on the day and in the weeks leading up to it. And the incentives for beasting their team mates is the post-race party, whereby the winners have free food and drink, courtesy of the slowest team. 

Usually an all-male club tradition, this year saw many CV women joining the handicap teams also wanting to join the fun and frolics of bogs and beer. The clear winner of the CV cohort was Howard’s Heroes, captained by Martin Howard with fellow team mates Gloria Ayuso, Jon Underwood and Jonathan Moon. The team, finishing 32nd overall in a time of 04:12:18, were a good 5 minutes ahead of 2nd place Make life a banana (and negative split). Drinks were on SatNav Smithies who finished a good 23 minutes behind Howard’s Heroes. Said Gloria Ayuso, the first CV woman to be part of a winning Lee Mill handicap team:

‘Sunday in Lancashire was perfect racing conditions; plenty of bogs and mud which I loved. It was the best weather in the three years I’ve taken part; dry, no gales and no snow!!! It was my first encounter of this handicap malarkey. I was a bit nervous at first but it proved to be a fantastic day out. A fabulous team atmosphere where all were competing against each other whilst wanting everyone to do their best! All 8 CV teams were of mixed abilities so we had some of our elite athletes in the same team as our slower runners. And I got to experience what it felt like to be a winner! I’m still grinning now’

A clear contender for a mud monster prize was CV’s Paul Haigh who returned looking like he’d emerged from a swamp. Said Paul:

‘I stupidly followed the Keswick’s team advice of following the quarry fence at the end. I’d already fallen in 3 times trying to overtake Ben Cliff on the decent. But that was nothing compared to the quagmire at the end. Not even Grin n Bear it had bogs chest deep. I had to role about like a seal to get out!’

A happy looking bog monster

So while the 8 CV teams were battling it out amongst themselves, the Battrick Athletic team won the overall relay in 03:19:38. First ladies team was Ribble Valley Harriers in 04:01:53. Full results here 

Photo: Some of the Lee Mill gang: (L-R)  Lee Shimwell, Jocasta Fletcher, Gloria Ayuso, Toby Sydes, Rachel Johnston, Christina Turner, Di Wright

Meanwhile, in sunny Spain, CV’s international athlete Ben Mounsey was racing the 21km (with 1200m climb) Pego Trail in Alicante, finishing second. Said a delighted Ben:

‘I had no idea what to expect from the race as it’s a little bit further than I usually run. But nevertheless I set off with the intention of trying to win and I climbed hard for the first half of the race, earning the prize for the first athlete to the summit of the first mountain – a 1.5 litre bottle of wine. 

The route was very runnable at the start and the finish, but extremely technical on the trails, with lots of tight switch backs, especially on the descents. 

After 17km, I was still in the lead and I’d managed to open up a gap on the next runner after a crazy effort on the longest descent where I took a lot of risks!!!’

Unfortunately and unbeknown to Ben at the time, the man in 2nd place was Pol D’Olesa, a Spanish international and Salomon sponsored athlete. Needless to say they endured an epic battle on the final climb, but D’Olesa managed to put distance back between them at the top and by the time they’d reached the last checkpoint in the town of Pego, he was the clear leader. Although Ben finished second, both men had broken the old course record of 1:55. The winner finished in 1:47:22  and Ben in 1:49:17.  

A happy Ben Mounsey (2nd left) with other winners

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Bill bows out …

Calder Valley Fell Runners paid tribute to Bill Johnson, who stepped down as Chairperson after 13 years at the helm. Bill’s contribution to the club, which has gone from strength to strength under his stewardship, was recognised at the club AGM this month.

Bill Johnson presented with CVFR gifts from new Chair, Jocasta Fletcher (credit: Eileen McDonach)

CVFR’s committee secretary Mike Wardle summed up Bill’s unwavering commitment to the club:

Bill Johnson in the Montane Spine Race, a 268 mile winter mountain marathon (Credit: Montane Spine Race)

“His leadership has been inspiring to all members and helped the club establish itself as a well regarded club in the fell running world. Bill’s ambition  and organisational skills have enabled the club to host prestigious national events in the fell running calendar. Bill has completed many challenges as an individual runner and as a member of club teams. Calder Valley Fell Runners are indebted to Bill for his enormous contribution to the club and he has been made an honorary member.”

Calder Valley will still benefit from Bill’s expertise as organiser of the Castle Carr Fell Race. Some club members have questioned how such a lovely man could conceive of such a beast of a race!

Its a bumper weekend of racing for the Hoops

This week was a bumper one in the local fell running calendar – both on & off the hills & fells.

In terms of racing, highlights include the Tour of Pendle on Saturday 16th November – a 27km (16.8m) race , boasting an eye-watering 4833ft (1473m). CVFR legend Karl Gray stormed to victory in the men’s vet 50 category (beating all other MV40 & MV45 runners in the process) to finish in an impressive 3rd overall. His time of 2h26:47 saw him beat the existing the course V50 record by nearly 3.5 minutes. Grandson of previous record holder, Calvin Ferguson, whose granddad had previously run the fastest MV50 race 28 years ago, commented how it was ‘a delight to witness such a great performance by a top-class fell runner today … Karl Gray made the record his own … well done mate!’

Karl Gray coming coming down Geronimos – credit to David Belshaw.

Whilst results from this race have yet to be published at time of press, there were strong runs from Calder Valley’s ladies Vet 40s, who won the team prize, & for the men from Darren Earnshaw (who beat his previous personal best by five minutes). In addition & of particular note was CVFR’s Toby Cotterill, who for his birthday not only ran the race in the number 40 vest, but also ran all the way there! This feat involved setting off from home well before dawn & running through to morning to cross the finish line at exactly 40 miles for his 40th birthday. On the race itself, Toby commented the challenge ‘actually made the Tour of Pendle quite enjoyable’ as he ‘wasn’t racing/pushing it as much!’

Toby on his 40 mile run for his fortieth birthday


Saturday 16th November also saw great results from CVFR & Todmorden Harriers at Penmaenmawr Fell race, near Conwy (10.5 miles). This was a tricky race, with low cloud over the bogs making visibility poor & giving those with local knowledge a distinct edge. However, despite this disadvantage, Calder Valley’s Jackie Scarf ran exceptionally well to finish 8th lady overall, & winning the LV55 category. Team mates Jonathan Emberton & Phil Scarf took 2nd & 4th MV55, respectively. For Todmorden Harriers, Jane Leonard won the LV60 race and Phil Hodgson was 3rd MV60.

Closer to home, Saturday, 16th November was also the date for the 2019 infamous Harriers vs Cyclists, which as the name suggests is a race that pits those on bikes against runners. This year’s competition was convincingly dominated by the runners, with 10 of the firsts 13 finishers on two legs rather than two wheels.  Vetran runners Tim Brooks & Steven Cavell flew the flag for CVFR at the race, finishing 199th & 205th respectively overall, with Brooks commenting that it was not only ‘harder to drag’ his bike around the course than it would have been running it, but also how it took longer to clean his bicycle afterwards than it took to complete the race!

Sunday, 16th November saw CVFR were out in force for club race the Wadsworth Half Trog. This local classic packs a punch: with 9.3 miles (15km), 1400ft (420m) of ascent, & a varied tough terrain, including plenty of mud & bogs to contend with – to quote Ricky Parish of Todmorden Harriers, it is the ‘boggiest, muddiest race ‘ he has ever experienced!

Martin leading the way on his local turf. Photo Credit Jonathan Moon

As a partially flagged route, runners need to pick their own lines for much of the race, & local knowledge comes to the fore. CVFR’s Martin Howard added another strong result to his collection for the year, finishing not only first under 21 but first overall by quite a margin, in 1h13 minutes & 51 seconds – an impressive time, given conditions under foot. For the ladies, Calder Valley’s Natasha Butterfield ran another strong race to finish second only to Todmorden Harriers legend Annie Roberts – & with good results from Cass Chisholm & Rachel Johnson – the CVFR ladies took the team prize for the red & white hoops (with the men narrowly missing out to Todmorden Harriers).

The first 3 over the line at Half Trog

Away from the actual running on the fells, the BOFRA championship awards ceremony (the best 8 results of 16 set races) saw CVFR’s Charlie Ing lifting the trophy for second place (462 points) & Stephen Smithies coming 9th (404 points) in the men’s senior competition. In the Vet50 category, Stephen Smithies took first overall with 477 points. In the ladies competition, despite only running three races, Jo Buckley came 20th in the senior ladies & 5th in the Vet40 category (165 & 180 points respectively). For the juniors, Charlie Pickens’ results saw him win the second-place trophy in the U15 boys’ category (460 points), with red & white stripped teammate Euan Loge coming 4th (422 points) & in the U12, Ollie Pickens placed 12th place (386 points).

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

Superb Vertical Kilometre for Ben

Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey continued his international running exploits in the French Pyrenees this weekend. Despite being a late entrant to the VK Belmaig race in Arles-Sur-Tech, Ben describes how his efforts on this brutally steep course paid off:

“I entered the race only last week as I was training over in Spain, just at the other side of the Pyrenees. I thought it would be a great race/training session because VK races are very tough challenges. As it turned out, I’d entered the last race of the French National VK Skyrunning Championships by accident! Obviously, the field was a little more stacked than I’d first anticipated and the route extremely steep and technical – 1000m of climb in 2.9km!!! Most ran with poles, but I don’t own a pair so ran it as I normally would. It was a time trial format, with competitors setting off in 30 second intervals. There were just over 150 athletes and surprisingly I managed to finish 3rd senior and 6th overall, the standard extremely high, so I was very pleased. I also managed to post a new PB time of 41’05” for a VK, so even happier.

It was super-tough and I was on my limit for the entire race, but worth it for the unbelievable views at the finish, overlooking the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees mountains

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach

Soggy Shepherds doesn’t stop them

Shepherd’s Skyline

Always a fiercely competitive end of season race, the Shepherd’s Skyline fell race was run from the Shepherd’s Rest Inn, Lumbutts last Saturday, the 7 mile route heads up to Langfield Common before heading to Stoodly Pike. A rapid drop to London Road is followed by a steep climb back up to Withens gate before returning across the moors to the Shepherds Rest.

Alex working hard to maintain an excellent 5th place

Heavy rain was falling as the runners set off, and it continued to fall throughout the race.  This led to muddy conditions underfoot and times were a little down on previous years.  Alex Whittem was first back for Calder in 46:45 and 5th place, which he was probably a little disappointed with.  However he was beaten by two former national champions, Simon Bailey of Mercia (1st in 43:40) and Ian Holmes, Bingley (1st V50 in 3rd place).

Calder men did take the team prize with Whittem supported by Lee Shimwell (19th), Dan Marsden (24th) and Rob Rowlinson (35th).

Natasha loving the wet muddy conditions

Calder Valley’s Natasha Butterfield was 3rd woman home in 56:06.  Annie Roberts of Todmorden was 1st in 52:43 and Claire Green of Pudsey and Bramley was 2nd.

Calder Valley Seniors Results
5th Alex Whittem 46.45
19th Lee Shimwell 52.23
24th Dan Marsden 53.42
30th Rob Rawlinson 55.33
35th Natasha Butterfield 56.06
54th Dan Jones 59.19
55th Ben Cliff 59.25
81st Tim Brooks 64.26
91st Jackie Scarf 65.36
109th Gillian Wisbey 70.05
152nd Dean Dickinson 77.20
179th Di Wright 82.53

Fell Runners Association: National Championships Presentation

The FRA ‘Do’ was held last Saturday in Grange-over-Sands  after the Dunnerdale Fell Race.  Calder Valley men were presented with the British V40 silver medals with Adam Osborne winning individual bronze in this category.

In the English Championship Calder’s V40 men’s team went one better and won gold.  Team counters were Karl Gray, Darren Kay, Adam Osborne, Mark Taylor, Mark Burton, Shaun Godsman (capt.) and Gavin Mulhollland 

Karl Gray won individual gold in the V45 and Darren Kay won silver.  Gray also was joint silver in the V40.

At the younger end Calder’s Martin Howard won bronze in the Under 23 championship.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks

Summit and OMMs

Mark, Martin and Jon the winning Summit team

Calder Valley’s Martin Howard had some unfinished business last Saturday as he took to the start line of the Race to the Summit fell race, determined that history wouldn’t repeat itself after getting lost last year

This local 7km race goes from the Summit Public House up to the White House pub and back. The race started 49 years ago to settle a pub argument about whether the distance could be run in under 30 minutes. Martin Howard came in closest to this mark, overall winner in 31:41. A very happy Martin said:

‘‘This was unfinished business for me as I led the race last year before a navigational error took me off the course. This year I made sure I knew the route and led pretty much from the start. Conditions were poor with a lot of standing water but that doesn’t worry me and I was very pleased with the win’.

Prizes were aplenty for CV with Mark Wharton taking the MV50 ’s prize and the CV men scooping the men’s team prize (Martin Howard, Mark Wharton and Jonathan Moon)

Also splashing in the mud and rain at the weekend were the CVs hardcore OMMers battling it out over 2 days in Scotland in this epic score event. Husband and wife team Phil and Jackie Scarf were 1st vets in the medium score event (7th overall) and Bill Johnson and Jon Underwood 4th vets in the long score event (11th overall).

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Veteran hoops take gold in the British relays & Simon’s Joss Naylor

This week’s British Fell Relays hosted by Dark Peak on Saturday, 19th October at Derwent Dam near Bamford. This event marks a highlight in the fell running calendar & was also the first time a national fell running event had been organised on the Derwent & Howden Moors. The relay sees 250 team compete in a race run over four legs: with legs 1 (7.65km & 360m ascent) & 4 (7.85 km & 375m ascent) solo runs, & leg 2 (12.3km, & 484m ascent) & 3 (11.2km, 520-570m ascent) paired – with the latter also requiring strong navigation skills.

This year, CVFR fielded four teams: three for the men (an open, a V40 & a V50 team), & one V40 for the women.  The Men’s V40 – consisting of:

V40 winning team – mugs in hand ready for a cuppa. You’ve got to keep warm at their age. (obviously Sarah Rowell wasn’t part of the team)

Leg 1: Gav Mulholland Leg 2: Karl Gray/Darren Kay, Leg 3: James Logue/Mark Burton &  Leg 4: Shaun Godsman – ran a storming race to win their category outright (finishing 14th overall) in a time of 4:06:27, an astonishing 3.5 minutes quicker than 2nd placed Dark Peak’s MV40 team.

A very happy LV40s team who came oh so close to getting bronze. They even surprised themselves how close they were to medalling!!!

The women’s vet 40 was a much closer contest, with only 2.5 minutes separating the teams finishing 2nd, 3rd & 4th. The ladies red & white hoops were  – Leg 1: Jocasta Fletcher Leg 2:  Catherine Holden/Rachel Johnston Leg 3:  Natasha Butterfield/Jo Buckley & Leg 4: Jackie Scarf –  ran well overall, with fantastic performances in particular from Holden & Johnston on Leg 2 (jumping up 76 places during their leg) followed by Butterfield & Buckley on leg 3 (gaining another 55 places). In the end, the red & white hoops were pipped by only 30 seconds into fourth place in their age category by Helm Hill FV40 team.

Calder Valley’s Men’s V50 squad – Leg 1: Andy Davies, Leg 2: Bill Johnson /Mark Wharton Leg 3: Phil Scarf/Jonathon Emberton & Leg 4: Toby Sydes – ran strongly to finish 7th in their age category. Here, the pairing Scarf & Embteron was particularly noteworthy, pushing the team up the rankings a staggering 83 places during this navigation leg.  

The men’s open or A team, consisting of Leg 1: Martin Howard Leg 2: Adam Osbourne/ Ben Mounsey, Leg 3: Andy Swift/Alex Whittem & Leg 4: Matt Roberts, also ran exceptionally strongly, finishing legs 1-3 18th, 11th & 16th place respectively. However, unfortunately the dibber recording the check points was lost in the final leg, causing the team to fail to qualify for ranking. This decision may be overturned on appeal as the dibber was found quickly. The team placing is hopefully 9th overall.  

Despite this bitter disappointment, it was agreed by all that this had been a great event – superbly organised by Dark Peak & their team of 200+ volunteers, with some tough running but amazing scenery & fantastic company/camaraderie. 

Elsewhere, it was also a difficult weekend for CVFR’s international runner, Holly Page, who – despite running ‘conservatively’ in last Sunday’s local fell race, avoiding risks & remaining mindful of the need to stay injury free for skyrunning final this weekend – unfortunately suffered a slightly twisted foot that turned out to be close to a fracture. An MRI confirmed that she would not be able to compete in the Skyrunning SkyMasters at Limone in Italy this past weekend, although Page still went to the race to cheer friends & fellow competitors on.

Simon with the legend that is Joss Naylor

Finally, this week also saw an important event for club ultra-runner, Simon Bourne, who was in the Lake District for the annual presentation evening for the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge – named for the fell running legend himself who devised this 42-mile route as a charity funding raising challenge for the over 50s  – crossing the Lake District from Pooley Bridge to Wasale, taking in an astounding 30 peaks & an eye-watering 17,000 feet of ascent. Bourne completed this challenge in June, in an impressive 10h & 47 minutes – the fastest time this year & fourth fastest ever. He was delighted to receive his award this weekend from Joss Naylor himself, who is still going strong at 83 years old! 

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones