Stuart braves the elements

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Two days of fell racing in two very different days of weather. On Saturday, the classic Langdale horseshoe in the Lake District presented Calder Valley fell runners with a mix of heavy rain, drizzle, bad visibility and high winds. On Sunday, at Withins Skyline over in Bronte Country, the weather was remarkably cheerier, with sunshine and much warmer winds.

The Langdale horseshoe race is a tough 21 km circuit with 1,450 m of ascent and the terrain is almost exclusively on either rocky, slippy or boggy ground. This did not stop 11 CV runners making the journey up to race. The bad weather and terrain caught many of the runners out, as well as several of the CV team.

Stuart Russell Enjoying the elements at Langdale 2017

The eventual winner was Carl Bell for Keswick in a time of 02:13:14; John Allan was first home for CV in under three hours in an excellent time of 02:57:09. Rachel Crossland had a really strong race finishing in a time of 03:25:58 and 6th fastest Senior Woman.

Tim Brooks, who was competing added “When I spoke to Ian Symington, Steve Grimley and Mark Wharton at the end we all agreed we’d had shocking runs! The ground was either sodden bogs or slippery wet rock and the visibility was poor on the tops. Mark Wharton took a long ‘detour’ to avoid the Bad Step (a 4 metre down climb) which added to his time. Rachel Crossland powered through the course in a really good time, she looked really strong as she passed me on Martcrag Moor.”

At the Withins Skyline race on the Sunday, CV had amazing success in the junior categories and some great results for the seniors too. In the U9 race there were 3 CV runners in the top 5, including Samuel Annison in 1st, Clara McKee as 1st girl and Harry Cliff as 4th boy and; in the main junior race William Hall finished 4th.

Withins Skyline 2017 Juniors

In the senior ladies event, Jo Buckley, Lindsey Oldfield and Trudi Entwistle also had success by taking the team prize.

Withen’s Skyline Jo Trudi Lindsey and Paul

As for the men’s category Mark O’Connor was first back for CV in a time of 49:00. Said Mark “It was a perfect morning for fell running and what was set to be a delightful boggy course didn’t disappoint. After a bad start to the race I found myself boxed in and had to work harder than planned to catch the red and white vests in front. Calder valleys Martin Howard then came back passed me at the base of the first ascent to Within’s top and Calder’s Iain Illstone then came past just before the summit. We tussled back and forth along the top of the moor doing our best to skip the knee deep sapping bogs. It was at this half way point where I settled into the race and started to push on and close in on a few runners. A long run in, on fast track lost me a couple of places but I feel more positive going into next weeks British Relay’s team event in Llanberis.”

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Paul Gilbert

Godsman and Whittem bring it home

Hodgson Brothers Relay.

Held in Patterdale every year the Hodgson Brothers Relay is one of the most prestigious relays in the Fell Running year. As it is also a couple of weeks before the British Fell And Hill Running relays, it’s a good preview to see which teams are running well and gives the captains a chance to fine tune their teams. It is a four leg paired relay running out of Patterdale at the head of Ullswater.

The weather forecast for Sunday of heavy rain and strong winds led to a course change; the runners doing the first two legs to Kirkstone Pass, and returning the same way in reverse. This meant that Red Screes, Hart Crag and Fairfield, where the conditions were worst, were avoided.

Shaun Godsman and Alex Whittem had a storming run on the first leg coming in 1st place. Matty Roberts and Andy Swift dropped a couple of places on the 2nd leg to a strong challenge from Keswick and Dark Peak. The team positions then did not change to the finish with Keswick 1st, nearly 5 minutes clear from last year’s winners, Dark Peak in second and Calder Valley in the bonze position. A great result, up with the best in the country. Looking promising for the British relays in Llanberis on the 15th October.

Calder also entered a mixed team, they came in 4th mixed team with a particularly strong leg 3 from Stephen Edwards and Ian Symington.

Theiveley Pike – good results for the youngsters again.

Closer to home, the Thieveley Pike Fell race from Cliviger is a long standing classic race in the calendar. Fearne Hanson won the under 11s race outright, with George McFie 4th boy home. Patrick Casey was second in the under 13s

139 seniors set off last Saturday in this short classic race that takes a steep ascent to the trig point on the top of Thieveley Pike high above the sheer sided Cliviger gorge. Calder’s Martin Howard was first U19 back in 6th place overall. Andrew Worster from Todmorden won in 36.33. Mark Wharton was beaten to 2nd V50 by 1 second. Carole Fryer was first Calder woman home with Lindsay Brindle of Horwich winning.

Senior Calder Results

6 Martin Howard 39.06
14 Lee Shimwell 39.55
16 Mark Wharton 39.59
20 Matt Ray 40.55
24 Dave Hammond 42.25
28 Stephen Smithies 43.46
41 Calvin Ferguson 44.51
59 Anthony Costello 46.03
79 Carole Fryer 48.44
99 Mike Wardle 51.47

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Tim Brooks

Mighty Mulholland’s Great at Whernside

Great Whernside

Gav Mulholland at Great Whernside

Great Whernside short fell race starts at the bottom of an intimidatingly steep climb, the runners craning their necks toward the summit. After an exhausting pull up to the top, the runners turn around hurtle back down again. An incredible 1,600 feet of climbing is packed into just four miles.

It’s a short race with big significance. As well as featuring in Calder Valley Fell Runners’ club championship it was also the decider for both the Yorkshire fell championships and the prestigious English Fell Championships.

There was an excellent turn out from Calder Valley, but the run of the day was from Gavin Mulholland, who finished in 14th place in 31:48. He was the first v45, a win that sees him crowned as this year’s v45 English Fell Running Champion. Ben Mounsey also had a good run, finishing in 10th. Darren Kay was the second V45 in 16th place, while Karl Gray took 24th. With this mix of great runs in this, the last of the English Fell Running Championship races, it looks likely that Calder Valley will take gold in the English Champs vets team competition, among others, once the points have been added up.

Yorkshire Gold – Gav Mulholland, Ben Mounsey, Sam Tosh & Karl Gray

Great Whernside was also the decider for the Yorkshire Fell Championships, with Calder Valley topping many of the categories. The men’s won took gold, while Martin Howard took an excellent bronze in the under 23s.

Mountain Marathon Championships
At the same time as the English Championship was being decided, so was the inaugural British Mountain Marathon Championships, with three Calder Valley runners high up in the medal tables. Bill Johnson took silver and Phil Scarf bronze in the Long Score competition, and in the women’s Long Score competition Jackie Scarf won joint-bronze.

Bill Johnson said: “This weekend was the concluding event of the championships, the ROC Mountain Marathon. Both Phil and I had to grind out our results – we were both coming back from injury and went through the mill mentally to get through and do as well as we could. I ran solo and finished 9th. Phil and Jackie ran together. They finished 12th and first mixed pair. Jackie was 2nd woman at the ROC which earned her 3rd place in the women’s championship, while my and Phil’s results gained us 2nd and 3rd in the national competition.”

Phil and Jackie Scarf

Calder Valley juniors

In the Juniors, Calder Valley had a fantastic weekend. At the English Schools Fell Running Championships, Calder Valley’s Will Hall won the Year 7 category, adding another gold to his very successful season of running. James Duffy was an excellent fifth.

Over in Wales meanwhile, Calder Valley juniors competed in a series of races around the Orme, racking up a host of wins on a tough course that started at the top of the hill, meaning the finish was a hard climb. Sam Annison and Clara McKee won the boys and girls under 9s races respectively, both beating the course records in the process. Charlie Pickens won the under 11s race, George McFie took 3rd place and Fearne Hanson was fifth. In the under 13s Patrick Casey was fifth and Tom Owen 7th.

William Hall

Penistone Hill Race

Andy Swift had a fantastic run at the Penistone Hill Race, which takes in roads, footpaths and trail over six miles of fast, hilly lung-busting running. Andy hadn’t raced since July but that didn’t seem to hold him back as he smashed the course record by over a minute.

Andy said: “Having not raced since the summer I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew I’d been training well so hoped for a strong performance. I ran hard from the off and soon found myself with a slender lead over the field by the top of the first climb, and from there I just pulled further clear to come home comfortably in first place.”

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Giles Simon

Johnnie and the Giants

Two weeks ago, Johnnie Watson was competing in the quite-incredible Tor des Geants (“Tour of the Giants”) race. This is Johnnie’s report of his week amongst the giants:

Tor Des Geants 2017, Johnnie Watson

The Tor des Geants is a trail race around the Aosta valley in the Italian Alps. It’s been on my radar of a few years but I needed to wait for the green light from my wife. The stats are amazing, 330 km, 24,000 meters of climb, average altitude 2000 m and single stage. It was difficult to get a place as it’s very popular but luckily, I managed. I trained by doing as much climb as I could, and made sure I ran in the dark and through the night a few times. The longest I had run this year was the Fellsman, I was hoping for longer but injury and time conspired against me. People ask how you train for a race like this and I have no good answer, every race that you have ever done becomes your training and adds to your endurance. I did the Spine race a couple of years ago so knew I could cope with little sleep and constant motion. And I have also run the UTMB so thought I would be able to cope with the altitude.

 

The race starts in Courmayeur and loops anticlockwise around the Aosta valley. It passes through a main town every 50km or so. Here, there are ‘life bases’ where runners can get a meal, shower, massage, sleep etc, but the clock keeps ticking. Each runner also has a drop bag that is transported to the life bases. The race also passes many mountain refuges where food and rest can be found but you’re limited to a 2 hour stop. Before the race, people talked of race and sleep strategy. I was hoping to come in in around 120 hours so had a rough schedule but was not sure about sleep. I had heard the life bases were very noisy so planned to sleep for short periods at the refuges.

I can’t give a step by step account of the race as I don’t remember a lot of it, so I will concentrate on the key points.

Terrain/ Course

This is without doubt the most spectacular race I have been in. It gives you a sense of an epic mountain journey and exposes you to every mountain landscape. The climbs go on for ever, you go through town, wood, pasture and then up to the high mountain. A lot of the climbs are 1500m and more. The highest point on the race is col Loson at 3300 m. this is after a 1650m climb. I was struggling to breathe up there and was glad it was daytime and in good weather. Some of the descents seem to go on forever with endless switchbacks and village lights that get no nearer hour after hour. The ground is generally no more technical than what you will see on the higher Lakeland fells but there is some via ferrata and fixed ropes on the higher cols. Navigation is easy, just follow the yellow flags with reflective strips for night time, every 10 to 20 meters without fail. I took maps but never used them.

Weather

We were lucky with the weather, warm sunny days and cold clear nights generally. A weak front came through on the second half of the race and gave some rain and snow as well as some strong winds, but it only lasted for 12 hours and just made the place look more dramatic. I heard some people had to use their crampons (mandatory kit) to get over Col Malatra (last climb). It was just muddy when I went over, but at night this would have frozen. I was just lucky with timing. The course was very dry, with very little mud in general. A lot of people suffered with bad chests from breathing so much at altitude (where the air is much dryer). Covering my mouth and nose with my buff seamed to help but I was still coughing loads at the life bases.

Kit

I ran in Montrail trail shoes with orthopaedic insoles. I did take my size 11 Salomon Fellraiser but my feet never swelled up that much, maybe because it was so dry. I tended to my feet at every chance and got some blisters but never suffered with them. Shorts and t shirt during the day and tights and long top during the night. High cols at night were very cold, I packed my woolpower 200 top and this was perfect. Some runners wore down jackets. An altimeter was part of the mandatory kit list, useful to monitor your progress up to a col or down to a refuge. However, a double edge sword when on the countless switchbacks, so much time and distance for so little change in altitude can play havoc with a tired mind.

The mandatory kit is what you might expect, shell and warm clothes, basic emergency gear, altimeter, crampons, food and water etc. Everybody used poles, except me. I didn’t see another runner without them. So many people commented on this fact to me. Maybe they had a point…

Race/ Sleep strategy

I know I am a slow runner, to give myself a chance of a 120 hour finish I knew I had to keep the sleep to a minimum. I ran with Matt Neale for the first section of the race, we kept up a comfortable pace and made the first life base in 13 hours. Here Matt had an hour’s sleep, I carried on and had my first sleep at refuge Sella (about 100km) after 29 hours. I asked for an hour but woke after 45 mins. I think I slept 10 times during the race, most were for 45 mins but I had longer sleeps at the last two life bases, not sure how long but less than 2 hours. I tried to get into the routine of sleeping just after sundown and then just before sunrise. Sunrise in these mountains is spectacular, this gives you a lift, and coping with tiredness is much easier in the daylight. I did not sleep during any daylight hours for this reason. I did however have a few powernaps, just close my eyes for a minute, let your head bob and this means you had some sleep. Even if it was for 5 seconds it helps you concentrate and keeps you going. In total, I think I probably had between 6 to 8 hours sleep during the race. This is much less than I had on the Spine race and I didn’t really suffer with sleep deprivation or hallucinations.

Race organisation/ support

This race is so well organised it is amazing. It just works perfectly without being obtrusive or officious. I cannot think of anything that could have been done better. Local volunteers staff the life bases and are very keen to help anybody who needs it. They will take you to find your drop bag and find a bed, and wake you up when you ask. There is a sense of great pride in the race and in the area, many check point have local dishes or delicacies, I remember having some fantastic ravioli somewhere and fried crispy cheese with soft cheese sandwich somewhere else. Everybody you run past on the course shouts encouragement. Earlier on there are groups of people on the higher passes who have obviously made a special trip to support the race.

After Thoughts

I would put this race harder than the Spine race, others disagree. Maybe I am just well-practiced at running over bog. I struggled with the altitude on the Tor, I have been to higher altitudes and not felt it as much. I must have acclimatised a bit during the race as I was less affected later on. I finally finished the race on Friday evening at 20.31 giving me a race time of 131h 18m. which was good for 206th place. The GPS tracker clocked up 339 km and 30908 m of total climb.  If I did the race again I would probably use poles, I would also learn more Italian and would try to get some acclimatisation in beforehand. My memory now of the race is rose tinted by time. At the time, I remember thinking the race was just too hard, I was cursing myself for entering as I would now have to suffer to finish.

                                     JOHNNIE WATSON

The futures bright for the juniors in red and white

The future’s bright for Calder Valley as the juniors again did the club proud at their races last weekend.

The BOFRA (British Open Fell Runners Association) Embsay Fell Race on Sunday saw champion William Hall adding to his already numerous 2017 victories, winning the U12s race. In 2nd place was CV’s James Duffy. All the CV U12 runners came in the top 10 with Patrick Casey finishing 8th.

William Hall in lead then James Duffty and Patrick Casey

And CV victory was also seen in the Seniors race with Gav Mulholland finishing 2nd and taking the MV45 prize. Said Gav:

‘It was a great atmosphere and nice to see junior races. I was second behind 2nd Jack Wood (Ilkley Harriers) who stormed the course. Fast undulating fields and then a climb that just gets steeper. Great views on the tops before we sailed back down. Mark Taylor was 2nd v45 and going for gold’

Gav Mulholland BOFRA Embsay

The weekend also hosted one of the gruelling and challenging fell race classics- Scafell Pike. The short 4.5 mile route packs in an excessive ascent of almost 3000ft. 4 CV runners took up the challenge. From a field of 75, Mark O’Connor came in 16th in 01:08:30. Stephen Smithies was 19th (01:10), Dave Hammond 35th (01:15) and Calvin Ferguson 48th (01:20).

Calvin Ferguson at Scafell Pike 2017

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Gill Dickinson

Fyrers hot at Hades hill

Hades Hill
 
It was a super result for Calder Valley runners last Thursday at the Hades Hill fell race in Whitworth. As the summer evening races are drawing to a close, Lindsey Oldfield, Gavin Mulholland and Carole Fryer took 1st places respectively for ladies, men and ladies V50. Gavin won the race in a time of 34:02. The nearest competitor finished a full 3.5 minutes behind him. Roman Sustovs also had a great race in 7th. Similarly, Lindsey finished in a time of 43:34 and was a full minute in front of the next female.
 

Lindsey 1st Lady Had Hill – Photo by Mick Fryer

 
Yorkshireman Off-Road Marathon and Half-Marathon
 
It was also one of the closing races for the Calder Valley club championships this last Sunday. Although the first place positions are tied up, the 26 mile Yorkshireman off road marathon still provided good battles further down the pack. Taking in a circuit of the Bronte Moors before heading through the countryside between Denholme, Wilsden, Harden and Keighley, the route is considerably harder than a road marathon being on stony footpaths, boggy moors and climbing about 3200ft through the course.  
 

From the Left Dougie Zinis Paul Haigh and Ian Illstone – Photo by Woodentops.org.uk

 
In particular the battle for 2nd place men between Dougie Zinnis and Iain Illstone was exciting. Said Dougie “We set off from Haworth in fairly good weather conditions sticking to a vest. There was a good turn out of CVFR runners. Paul Haigh, Iain and I decided to run together for the first half to pace each other on the climbs. There was good support on the way around (Jocasta Fletcher had a Calder flag shouting support) and the bogs were very wet as expected. After the second trip to Ogden I pushed on from the lads creating a good gap finishing in 3hrs 51mins in 8th place and a happy man.” Iain and Paul went on to finish 12th and 13th respectively with only a second between them. Toby Sydes also had a great race, knocking 15 minutes off his personal best to come in 34th place.  Carolyn Shimwell / Liz Lloyd came 16th in the paired event in 6:09:20
 
Calders Full Marathon Results
 
8 Douglas Zinis 03:51:02
13 Paul Haigh 04:08:32
14 Iain Illstone 04:08:55
35 Toby Sydes 04:24:53
69 James Cooke 04:57:02
111 Gill Dickson 05:40:13
113 Gloria Ayuso 05:40:14
143 Sue Martin 06:31:37
144 Ruth Thompson-Davies 07:04:54
 
In the half Yorkshireman Dan Marsden, who has struggled with injury this year, was first Calder runner back in an excellent 35th place.  First Calder woman, Ann Holden also had a good race as 7th woman and 49th overall, knocking over 20 minutes of her time from last year.
 

Dan Marsden YM Half – Photo by Woodentops.org.uk

 
Calders Half Marathon Results
 
35 Dan Marsden 02:10:16
49 Catherine Holden 02:14:40
69 Andrew Davies 02:19:50
131 Linda Cooper 02:45:40
133 Matthew Bott 02:45:56
196 Elina Nhinda-Latvio 03:15:38
204 Eileen McDonach 03:21:38
 

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert & Tim Brooks

King of the Castle Gray, surges to the finish.

Castle Carr

The Castle Carr Fell Race was a counter in this year’s English Fell Running Championship. Over 200 of the country’s best fell runners descended on the Hare and Hounds at Old Town where the race starts. Over 50 marshals helped out including some of the finest CVFR runners helping direct parking before doing their race.

The runners set off to the pulse-racing beats of the Hebden Bridge Samba Band then took in 15 miles of moorland, tussocks and faster tracks over and around Midgley and Warley Moors. The route includes running twice through the grounds of the Castle Carr estate, past the famous fountain and the ruins of the old hall. The private estate allowed access for the race thanks to the generosity of the farmers, the Scholefields. Thanks are due to all the local landowners for their helpfulness.

Sam Tosh (Rossendale) and Carl Bell (Keswick) are both vying for the men’s title and had a good tussle throughout the race. Carl pushed the pace on the flat and downhills, while Sam went ahead on the climbs, with Tosh ultimately victorious by just over a minute. They were in a leading group of 4 with Simon Bailey (Mercia) and newcomer John Spill (Pudsey and Bramley) for much of the race, but John dropped out injured around halfway, and Simon fell back before the final sections of the race. Sam and Carl both were under 2 hours, amazing speed over such tough terrain. Bell is currently leading the English Championship but if Sam can win at the final race of the season, Great Whernside in October, he could pip him at the post.

Calder Runners, Karl Gray and Gav Mulholland worked together for the first 3/4 of the race, then Karl surged ahead as the route crossed the Luddenden Dean valley. Carl was 8th in 2 hours 4 minutes 49 seconds and Gav was 13th in 2:08:02. Gav’s result will put him at the top of the V45 Championship, but Karl’s 1st in the V45 at Castle Carr will mean he could take the title if he does well at Great Whernside.

Karl Gray approaches the Rocking Stone checkpoint

In the women’s race Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley) continued her winning streak and looks to be unbeatable in this year’s Championship. She has won it for the previous four years an must surely count as one of the all-time top fell runners. Having beaten the record at Kilnsey Crag earlier in the week, her time at Castle Carr was quicker than Ben Mounsey’s race-winning time last year. Under 23, Annie Roberts’ 3rd place amongst the women was superb. Helen Roberts was Calder Valley’s first woman back in 22nd place.

Full Castle Carr Results

Pos Name Category CP1 CP5 Finish
8 Karl Gray M45 00:20:23 01:06:07 02:04:49
13 Gavin Mulholland M45 00:20:22 01:05:56 02:08:02
39 Mark Taylor M45 00:23:28 01:15:23 02:23:56
48 Darren Kay M45 00:21:24 01:11:38 02:26:07
53 Ian Symington MSEN 00:25:48 01:19:47 02:30:32
57 Stephen Edwards M40 00:24:37 01:17:52 02:31:42
76 Romans Sustovs MSEN 00:25:43 01:24:16 02:39:22
119 Matthew Ray MSEN 00:27:57 01:30:35 02:53:01
131 Helen Roberts WSEN 00:28:49 01:30:51 02:56:29
143 Martin Howard MU21 00:26:13 01:28:48 02:59:01
149 Phil Wells M45 00:26:39 01:24:25 03:00:57
188 Simon Fisher M40 00:31:37 01:42:13 03:28:50
189 Jackie Scarf W55 00:30:41 01:40:58 03:29:47
195 Karon Forster W55 00:30:45 01:42:07 03:38:23
199 David Culpan M55 00:40:31 01:56:21 03:39:27
206 Graeme Woodward M55 00:41:01 01:58:14 03:56:43

Blackshaw Head

Many of Calder Valley’s runners who were marshalling at Castle Carr on Sunday, took the opportunity to race at the Blackshaw Head fete on Saturday. Taking in a rapid circuit of Heptonstall Moor and finishing with a steep uphill run into the fete field from Jack Bridge the 5.5 mile race was won by Callum Hanson of Pudsey and Bramley, shortly followed by Calder’s Shaun Godsman who was 1st V40. Backed up by Iain Illstone in 8th and Paul Haigh in 12th, Calder took the men’s team prize. Christina Turner was first woman back for Calder and second female V40 overall.

Calder Valley Results:-
2 Shaun Godsman 37:01
8 Iain Illstone 41:28
12 Paul Haigh 42:59
14 Toby Cotterill 44:17
26 Toby Sydes 48:43
28 James Cooke 49:30
33 Blair Garrett 51:25
40 Christina Turner 53:21
47 Jeremy Wilkinson 54:39
59 Charlotte Wetton 58:49
64 Jocasta Fletcher 1:01:03
78 Tasmin Cooke 1:16:20

Kilnsey Crag

Some of Calder Valley’s fastest runners headed up to the Dales the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday. The Kilnsey Crag Fell race is a traditional, short fast and steep race from the Kilnsey Show. It includes an infamous scree descent known as The Chimney. Math Roberts, Ben Mounsey and Darren Kay were 6th 7th and 9th respectively out of 110 runners, all under 9 minutes. William Hall was first in the under 12s race, with James Duffy 3rd and Patrick Casey 4th out of 34 runners. Fearne Hanson was 6th girl.

Will Hall and Patrick Casey at Kilnsey

World Masters

Amazing results for Calder Valley Fell Runners out at the World Masters Mountain Running Championship in Pruske, Slovakia. Ben Mounsey was 5th in the V35 race, Jason Wilf Williams was 7th in the V40 and Mark Wharton was 20th in the V50. Last but by no means least, Max Wharton was 2nd in the open race.

Ben Nevis

A handful of Calder valley made the long journey to Fort Willam’s for the Ben Nevis race. Standing at 4400ft this is the UK’s largest mountain. A quick 4.5m straight up and then a zoom back down, however, this does include a mile run in on tarmac to the finish, which is known to catch out many jelly legged runners. A few impressive results saw Calvin Fergus PB and Jon Smith in fine form, ran a sub 2hr for his Nevis debut.

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Tim Brooks

Mulhollands Matterhorn Madness …the unedited version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

still holding onto that well deserved medal

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

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

Gav’s a Matterhorn

Matterhorn Ultraks

The Matterhorn Ultraks is a hugely competitive international race. Part of the Skyrace series – so-called because the races take place at high altitudes with large amounts of climbing – the it is a 20-mile race with over 2,000 metres of climbing, including one of Switzerland’s highest mountains.

Gav Mullholand (right) with 1st and 2nd place runners

Alongside a host of international sponsored trail running athletes was Calder Valley’s Gavin Mulholland. He has had an excellent season running already this year, and his performance in Switzerland topped it off. Over a tough three hours, starting off in wet, misty conditions and ending in the blazing sunshine, Gavin came an excellent 3rd place and first veteran in a very high calibre field of almost 500 runners. His running partner Johny Helliwell was just a little behind in fifth place.

Recounting the epic race, Mulholland said:

“I set the pace for the first mile, and then Wenk (the eventual race winner) trotted past, making the first climb look easy. It was, except I had no oxygen. Me, Baptiste (4th place in the end) and Johny worked together contouring on fantastic trails and up the second climb. We hit a tricky section and Baptiste took off but I chased and closed it, leaving Johny with his own mental ghosts to endure the second half. I found I could only drink diluted coke and didn’t even try to eat but I felt okay on the final killer ascent.
“I then flew down to the reservoir that provides power to the whole town, expecting the finish to appear. Instead I got a 4K to go sign and my fake Duracells were spent. Tiny ups felt huge and my cadence became erratic. I tried to crouch at a mountain stream and aborted as the change in movement ignited cramp. I got over the line in 3.04 in 3rd and Johny came in only 5 mins after in 5th.”

Reeth Show, Malham Show and Grasmere Guides

Ben Mounsey and Calder Boys

Up in the Lake District, three Calder Valley runners competed in one of the classics in the fell running diary, the Grasmere Guides. In true fell running fashion, the race is just 1.6miles long but includes 900 feet of climbing, making it a lung-busting slog up and hair-raising dash down again. Math Roberts had an excellent run in a very competitive field, finishing in seventh place in 14: 21, with Darren Kay, getting over an injury, not far behind in twelfth 14: 56. Paul Gilbert finished in 87th.
Calder Valley had a series of great results in some other fast and furious races too. At the Reeth Show, Ben Mounsey took first place in a short, steep up and down fell race, with Mark Taylor in fifth place overall, and first V45. In the under-12s race it was a clean sweep for Calder Valley, with Will Hall, Patrick Casey and James Duffy in 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.
James Duffy was also at the Malham Show, and took an excellent first place in the under-12s race, topping another successful weekend of running for him.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon