Lee’s Paddy

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The last week of May & first week of June may include a school & a bank holiday, but there’s no break in the fell running calendar – with plenty of races to choose from.

PB Round:
For Calder Valley runners, the most epic of this week’s races was without a doubt the Paddy Buckely. Along with the famous Bob Graham in the Lakes and Charlie Ramsay in Highlands, the PB in Wales makes up the third of the UK fells three ‘big rounds’ – & is recognised the hardest, due to its terrain. On 1st & 2nd June, CVFR’s Lee Shimwell & Karl Grey took on the this 100km & 47-summit run, looking to finish in the arbitrary 24-hour time challenge.

PB Round – before setting off

Thankfully given the atrocious weather for the first 14 hour of their attempt at this monster round, unlike the Bob Graham, runners do not have to finish in one full day & night. In the gusting gales, sliding over wet rocks with zero visibility & persistent rain, Shimwell described how his he almost gave up half way round, but his ‘fantastic CVFR support team wouldn’t allow it’, partly he suspects due to having camped all night in a deserted quarry high in Snowdonia. They kept him going, finishing the full route in a very respectable 26h & 39 minutes. Less that one day later, Shimwell commented that he was just ‘extremely pleased to have got round’, although having not met the time challenge he ‘might have to try again!’ However, he was also quick to observe that he could not have even got around the full round without the fantastic support he received from all involved.

With many Calder runners in Wales offering support on the Paddy Buckley round, only eight CVFR runners braved the early morning drive over to Rossendale, where the Edenfield residents’ association sponsor a fell race with a great prize haul.

Some of the red & white hoops before the race – courtesy of Mick Fryer

The 10.3km race begins its 477 miles of ascent from the off, with a quick climb at the start up to the moors. This year’s weather made running across the moors a challenge in itself for the 136 competitors – between cold showers & baking heat, without even taking the steep technical descents and vicious sting in the tail of 200m climbing in about 200m of the course just 2km from the end.

Paul Haigh was the first red & white hooped runner home finishing 18th overall (& 4th in the MV40 category) at 52 :25. Completing the first three home & just pipped the men’s team prize by Rossendale, Andy Wright & Rob Rawlinson (third in the MV45 category) had a real sprint finish to the line, with only six seconds between them as they crossed it, in just under 55 minutes a-piece.

Fellow MV45 runners Jonathan Lees & Tim Brooks also ran strong races – both finishing in the top ten in their age category. In the women’s, another strong race from Carole Fryer say her finish 5th woman overall & 1st in the LV50 category. Elina Eady also finished first in the LV40 category & Eileen McDonach ran strongly to finish in the top 5 LV45.

Elaine Eady – courtesy of Mick Fryer

On bank holiday Monday, 27th May, the Austwick Amble attracted 169 runners, including 10 CVFR. In a fast race, where the course record was broken by Tim Stratton (City of York), Calder Valley’s Jonny Croston ran brilliantly, to finish in just a shave over 55 minutes, finishing 10th overall & 5th in the MV40 age category. With good runs from red & white-hopped MV40 runners Luke Meleschko & Rob Rawlinson (13th & 16th in their age category), CVFR men took first team prize. Toby Sydes also ran strongly, finishing 9th in the MV50 age category. For the ladies, Catherine Holden ran strongly to finish in 1:10 the top 5 women’s vet 40 & Carole Fryer had another strong outing, finishing 4th in the MV50 age category.

On Thursday, 30th May, the popular local race That’s So Hebden Bridge took place with 120 runners overall – over 1/5th of whom (24 competitors) wore red & white hoops. CVFR’s Alasair Pedley ran an outstanding race to finish 3rd overall (only two seconds behind the second placed runner), taking 2nd in the men’s under 23 category behind winner Wharfdale’s Robin Howie, who also beat the existing course record. Luke Meleschko ran a second strong race in as many days to finish 14th overall & second in the MV40 category, with Liam Williams finishing 7th in the open male category (16th overall) to see CVFR win the men’s team prize again.

Rob Rawlinson & Liam Williams – courtesy of Mick Fryer

There was also a slew of 2nd & 5th places in a number of categories for the red & white hoops: Taking second place in their respective age categories were Mark Wharton (M50), Natasha Butterfield (W35), & Jonathan Emberton (MV55), Carole Fryer (W50) & Stella Chrisanthou (W45). In fifth place were CVFR’s Rob Rawlinson (M45), Darrren Earnshaw (M45) & Toby Sydes (M50).

Other note-worthy finishes included Johnie Watson (9th MV45); Anthony Costello (8th MV50), Graham Lloyd (8th M55) & Lawerence Fenelly (10th M50), Jocasta Fletcher (4th W45), Gill Dickinson (5th W45), Tamsin Cooke (7th in the women’s open category) & new recruit James Halliday – running his first fell race – who crossed the line in the top 25 in the men’s open category.

Natasha Butterfield – courtesy of Mick Fryer

 

On Sunday, 2nd June, saw a couple of hardy CVFR runners travel up to Coniston Gullies – a BOFRA championship race. Dreadful weather and an unforgiving short, steep course with a very difficult sheer-drop descent including a scree section, meant lots of slips and trips. Charlie Ing & Stephen Smithies flew the flag for Calder Valley senior runners, finishing 4th & 17th overall – 1st MV50 for Smithies. Given the conditions & the technical difficulty of the course, CVFR’s junior runners also raced exceptionally well. In the U12s race, Ollie Pickens finished 32nd overall (23rd boy) & Fearne Hanson crossed the line in 41st place (12th girl) & were just happy to come home in one piece!

The Juniors at Conniston

Further from home, CVFR’s international runner Holly Page, on the mend from the broken foot that saw her have to forfeit running for her country earlier this year, is back to racing again. With three outings in just over a week, on Sunday 26th May, Page competed in the prestigious Gamperrney Berglauf in Germany. At 1,000+ meters of climb for just 9km, this race packs a serious punch – not least for only the second week back running after a serious injury. Page finished an outstanding 3rd in a very competitive women’s field (the trial for the Germany national team) – in a time that would have won the race the previous year. Then on Saturday 1st June, this time in Switzerland, Page took on the half-marathon trail race Cuors da Flims, which she likewise stormed round – finishing the 21km in under 1h45 minutes, taking not only first place but also the women’s record for this distance.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

Midweek Fell Racing

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Blackstone Edge Fell Race saw Calder Valley out in force to take on this short (3.5 mile), but steep (1200 ft) local course. With valuable points up for grabs in the club championships, there was a lot to play for.

Blackstone edge (Credits Smith Photography)

Calder didn’t disappoint, with Darren Kay and Martin Howard running 1st and 2nd spot as well as being part of the winning first and second men’s teams. Natasha Butterfield, Catherine Holden (running this race for the first time) joined and Carole Fryer to win First Ladies team.

Martin Howard Blackstone Edge (Photo Credit Mick Fryer)

Calder’s hard efforts were rewarded with a range of coveted, if somewhat unusual prizes with Martin Howard winning a frying pan, Stephen Smithies, a watermelon and Elina Eady a set of ski goggles. Andy Wright, showed his dedication to the sport, running in his work clothes, but may miss out on full championship points for flouting the club vest rule

Meanwhile, at the back of the pack, an early, but strong contender for Calder Valley ‘Navigational cock-up the year award’ was on show, with one novice Calder runner missing the turn and heading back up the hill for a second ascent. Just goes to show, even in a local race, it always pays to recce!

Further afield, Calder’s elite travelled to Blaenau Ffestiniog for the Ras y Moelwyn Fell Race as part of the British Championship series. Billed as  the ‘best fell race in Britain’, this iconic race takes in the peaks of Moelwyn Mawr, Graig Ysgafn, Moelwyn Bach, and Moel yr Hydd. With stunning views, and 800m of ascent, the 15km route is reported to have it all – rocky ascents, fast trails and grass descents, even a bit of mud.

Gavin Mulholland was first back for Calder Valley (24th overall) followed seven seconds later by Adam Osbourne. Strong performances put them in a great position for V40 men’s team prize with Shaun Godsman (49th overall) making it three top ten finishers in the V40 category.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach

Watsons Rovaniemi 150

Rovaniemi is a city in northern Finland that sits on the arctic circle. Every February there is a series of races that start on the frozen river in the city. The races are varying distances of 66, 150 and 300 km and you can compete on fat bike, ski or foot. It’s a similar format to more famous races in North America like the Iditarod Trail Invitational and the Yukon Arctic Ultra. The Rovaniemi races however are more accessible, cheaper and relatively safer, and as far as I am aware the only such races in Europe.

I have long taken an interest in races such as the Yukon, so was keen to enter the Rovaniemi 150 when the opportunity arose. To enter the 300 km race, you must have winter arctic experience, unfortunately the Spine race doesn’t count. It cost 300 euros with another 30 euro to hire a pulka, which is a small sledge that you pull behind you with all your kit in. You can put your kit in a backpack, but this makes you heavy and more likely to sink in soft snow, it also makes your back sweat, which then freezes and causes problems. I had contacted lots of people that have experience in these sorts of races and moisture management is a key consideration. The average low temp on previous races has been about minus 20 to 25 but the record low in Rovaniemi was minus 45. There is a bare minimum of mandatory gear, just lights and sleeping system., but your sleeping bag must be on their approved list. I spent the summer buying cold weather gear and training for pulling a pulka. I pulled an old car tyre round a 10-mile circuit between Hardcastle crags and Walshaw dean reservoir, which ended up being quite realistic training and hilarious to anybody who saw me.

I flew from Manchester on the Thursday before the race. John Minta was supposed to come too but he was still injured after putting his all into finishing the Spine in 5th place. It was minus 28 the Thursday night, unfortunately the race weekend was forecast to be warm. It was the weekend in Feb when the jet stream bathed Europe in warm air from the Azores. The race brief on the Friday made a lot about the weather and how it would make the underfoot conditions soft and difficult and would increase the chances of overflow. (when water from the lake or river your running on comes to the surface and turns it to slush, in cold weather it freezes before this happens).

The race started on the Saturday morning. It was a clear with bright sunshine, it looked fantastic. Everybody starts at the same time, so it was crowded, there were more entries this year than ever. The First 10 km great, snow was still frozen but as the day warmed up the snow got soft. The fat bikers ,who shot off at the start, were struggling most with the soft snow as they have to get off and push. Everybody struggled on the first lake as there was lots of overflow. I was keeping pace with a Spanish 66km runner, and decided to give snow shoes a try. Never used them before and I don’t think they helped, probably only of benefit if its soft powder that you sink in. The Spanish runner had pulled away so I took them off after an hour, never used them again.. They daytime temp got up to about plus 2, I was in shorts and long sleeved top. I had a windproof jacket that I put on and off to regulate my temp. On my feet I had a pair of goretex trainers with metal spikes in the bottom, over the calf sealskinz and mini gators, my feet stayed warm and dry. After a great sunset the temp dropped but it only got down to minus 8. I just put on a pair of windproof trousers and wool hat and gloves which was just enough.

The route follows a big loop through the forest north of the city. It starts and finishes on the river, and goes over numerous lakes. There’s plenty of forest tracks that become endless tree tunnels at night by headtorch. These also a 20km ice road section, I was glad for the spike on my trainers. The check points have a fire pit and water and not much else. Some have a lean to for sleeping and the one at halfway is in a log cabin. I didn’t stop much, only to take on water and rearrange kit. I took some cheese and ham sandwiches wrapped in foil that I would warm by the fires and then eat on the go (great tip). I carried water in flasks, there was plenty of hot water at check points. I ran most of it alone but kept passing the same 2 runners at the check points, a Finn and an American. They were faster than me but stopped for much longer. I did run with an Italian 300km runner for a bit who looked very strong, the 300km racers does the same 150km as I did then go off on a different 150km loop. I passed her at the last checkpoint, she was taking advantage of the fire, as the second 150 loop has no checkpoints and is totally unsupported. The Finn had passed me on the last lake and the American lady passed me on the last 10km stretch of river, by which time I had no running left in my legs (running on soft snow aint easy). I finished in 29 hours 37 mins in 7th place, which I was more than happy with. The first runners came in on 23;15. And the first fat biker did just under 12 hours. The Italian was first runner in the 300 km.

Great race, well organised with the minimum of mollycoddling, it was just so different to anything I had done before, I was just hoping for much colder weather. The landscape is beautiful, especially at night, the locals are friendly in their own “to the point” way. Including flights and accommodation it probably cost the same as a Spine entry. I am hoping to go back and do the 300 km in 2021.

:Johnie Watson

CW Relay and Ultra Beasts

The Calderdale Way Relay was held last Sunday.  A six stage, off road race around the district’s boundary, with each stage run in pairs.  It’s the Country’s largest off road relay with 1200 people taking part.  Calder Valley Fell Runners have won the race in 4 out of the last 6 years so were hotly tipped to win again.  There has been stiff competition in recent years from the Wharfedale and Barlick teams.

CVFR C team, B team and Ladies team at the sa=tart of Leg 2, Hinchcliffe Arms

The men’s A team made a fast start with Tim Ellis and Andy Swift finishing leg 1 at Cragg Vale two minutes ahead of Barlick and four minutes ahead of Wharfdale.  Old man Shaun Godsman and young buck Martin Howard came into Todmorden still ahead but Wharfedale had closed the gap to two minutes.  Both teams had dropped Barlick by this point and it was now all to run for between Calder and Wharfdale.

Johny Croston and Pual Haigh (with Baton) CWR leg 4 Jerusalem Farm

The short, fast leg 3 to Blackshaw Head was next and Wharfdale just overtook Calder’s James Louge and Mark O’Connor at the end to start leg 4 with an eight second lead.  Wharfedale now played their joker, top runners Sam Watson and Ted Mason who pulled away from Calder’s Johny Croston and Paul Haigh to take the lead by more than 7 minutes at the Wainstalls handover.  Mark Taylor and Mark Burton couldn’t catch Wharfdale on the leg to Shelf leaving wonder pair Karl Gray and Gavin Mullholland 11 minutes to make up on the last leg back to Copley.

Putting in the fastest leg 6 of the day Gray and Mullholland only managed to pull 3 minutes back and CVFR had to make do with 2nd place this year.  Wharfedale 6 hours and 23 seconds for the 50 mile loop and Calder Valley Fell Runners 6 hours, 8 minutes and 53 seconds.

Calder Valley Ladies were 8th women’s team and 71st overall with Natasha Butterfield and Helen Buchan putting in a strong anchor leg to come 27th overall.  The men’s B team came in 17th place with Dougie Zinnis and Steve Edwards 5th place on the short fast leg 3.  Zinnis’s recent Bob Graham Round hasn’t slowed him down.  Calder’s mixed C team were 74th with Andy Wright and Blair Garrett 45th on leg 3.

Ultra Trail Snowdonia

The previous weekend Andy Wright and Ian Illstone took on the challenge of the Ultra Trail Snowdonia described as “Beautiful Beyond Belief.  Savage Beyond Reason.” This 50 mile (85km) route has 5,100m of climb.  A vertical parkrun.  The race was a counter in Calder Valley’s Ultra Championships.  The expected finish times reflect how this compares to regular 50 mile runs.  The winner is expected to come in around the 12 hour mark, with most finishers taking more like 20 hours and some 30 hours to complete the course.

The route start in Llanberis at 5am, takes in a few hill before heading up Snowdon.  For the first time.  A few more hills to Bedgellert and a long runnable stretch before a final climb up the rocky Y Lliwedd and onto Snowdon for the second time.

Andy’s knee started hurting fairly early on in the race but, eschewing the trekking poles of most other competitors, he found a suitable stick which helped him along nicely.  Illstone and Wright ran together the whole route, finishing shortly after dusk in 17 hours 28 minutes and 50th place.  The winner was Josh Wade in 11hours and 20 minutes, a new course record.

Sedburgh

In the senior race Calder’s Darren Kay and Charlie Ing were 2nd and 3rd behind Mercia’s Simon Bailey, winner of the recent Coiners Race.  Steve Smithies was 12th and 1st V50 with James Louge 13th.

Old Counties Tops

The Old County Tops Fell Race covers 37 miles and involves around 10,000 feet of ascent.  The exact distance and amount of ascent are dependent on the route you choose!  The Race starts in Great Langdale and takes in the tops of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike  and Coniston before returning to Great Langdale.  Calder Valley’s John Allen ran the route in 8 hours 51 minutes.  That mustn’t have been hard enough for him as the next day he ran the 13 mile route of the classic Langdale Horseshoe in 3 hours 30 minutes!

Ultra Trail Snowdonia

Andy Wright had never done an Ultra run before so decided that a good starting place would be the most brutal 50 miler that Snowdonia could muster.  Below he describes his experience at the 2019 UTS50

The Idea

For some time now I’ve been keen to try my hand at an Ultra, though some level of depravaity led me to decide to start my Ultra journey by picking a race as brutal as the UTS50.   The seed had been sown 12 months previously when a group of us met race organiser Michael Jones during our Welsh 3000s challenge.  I’m sure he did mention something about tough climbs etc, but all I heard was “top quality coffee at all the check points” and so it was that I’d signed up and began training. Continue reading

Howard takes top spot

The week saw a packed and busy itinerary for both CVFR juniors and seniors, ranging from 3.3 miles to 62 miles. In the offing was a mid week run in Todmorden (the Orchan Rocks), the junior Lothersdale race, a Bob Graham round and the popular club race, 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 Martin Howard was the overall winner with a time of 22:31 Said Martin: ‘This is a great little race and I’d love to come back next year to try and take the course record’ 

Martin Howard, Orchan Rocks winner (photo: Mick Fryer)

And another name is to be added to the club’s Bob Graham Round plaque. Dougie Zinis put in a sterling effort to complete the BG challenge in an incredible 20 hours 27 minutes. The BG is an infamous fell running challenge in the Lake District. This gruelling 66 miles route, involving 27,000ft of climbing over 42 Lakeland peaks requires a completion time within 24 hours to make it into the BG hall of fame. Supported by a number of CV team mates, Dougie appeared remarkably refreshed and at relaxed at the end of his incredible feat.

Dougie Zinis, with some of his CV support crew (L- R Andy Swift, Dougie Zinis, Ian Glendinning and Martin Howard)

Other achievements over the Bank Holiday weekend included Nicki Latham and Jocasta Fletcher securing 1st Ladies team prize on the bike/ run 2 day OMM lite on Cannock Chase. They biked 37kms and ran 24km, whilst navigating, over the 2 days.

Coiners Fell Race, organised for the first time by Stella Chrisanthou, 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 Simon Bailey from Mercia in 44:12. CV’s Natasha Butterfield (2nd lady), Trudi Entwistle and Rachel Johnstone took the Women’s Team prize. It’s clear where junior speedsters Clara and Thomas McKee get their running genes from as mum, Trudi Entwistle, flew round the course finishing 3rd lady. Mark O’Conner was first CV home.

Coiners Women’s Team winners: (L-R Trudi Entwistle, Natasha Butterfiels, Rachel Johnstone)

Last Tuesday saw the first of the club’s ‘Have a Go’ session. This is an opportunity for people to have a go at fell running and sample the delights of CVFR club. The club welcomed at least 15 new people, all keen and eager to experience the joys of fell running. The next Have a Go session is on Tues 14th May, 6.45pm at Mytholmroyd Community Centre. If you can run at least 3 miles, just turn up with grippy trainers and your biggest smile. For more info contact gillhdickson@gmail.com

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Its time to …..

AT FELL RUNNING

TUESDAY 30 APRIL AND 14 MAY.
6.45PM AT MYTHOLMROYD COMMUNITY CENTRE

If you can run at least 3miles/5kms do come and join us. We are a friendly club catering for all abilities. Mud and fun guaranteed. Bring your grippy trainers, a waterproof and your biggest smile. 

Email Gill Dickson for more details gillhdickson@gmail.com

And read Kate’s real life story on how she got hooked on fell running …

“It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when I didn’t run. And there was a time when driving over the tops with the expanse of moors stretching away  on either side, gave me the heebie -jeebies. Our moors always seemed desolate to me. Too empty. Too unknowable. I was happy in the valley thanks very much. Right at the bottom; on the flat.

In the summer of 2014, as a mother of 3, I felt old, achey, heavy. Unfit. That summer my cousin talked about a half Marathon she’d just run. New to running, she told me how she’d started out with a Couch to 5K podcast. My cousin is slim and gorgeous and I was still carrying my baby weight, but I thought, why not me? 

I started in secret. Even my husband didn’t know the first few times I went out. I went out early so I would see as few people as possible. That first time I ran for a minute and a half. 9 weeks later I could run for 30 minutes. It made me so happy. With small children it’s impossible to do anything fast and it was a delight to move at speed. I soon worked out that I couldn’t avoid the hills forever. The first time I made it up to Stoodley Pike I called my Mum from the top.

I could manage about 6 miles when I joined the Calder Valley Fell Runner’s ‘Back to the Fells’ in the spring of 2015. Everyone was very welcoming, and very encouraging as we struggled up our first climb. It turned out that walking the steep bits was perfectly acceptable! I remember the incredible copper light on the heather up at Crow Hill, and the feeling of the soft boggy ground under my feet as we descended. 

Running that first year I discovered that being out in sideways sleet, on the tops, through bogs, in the dark, in fact in anything that might put a sensible person off, gives you a lovely feeling that you’re beating the system. That you’re embracing the elements and the seasons and nothing can stop you! For years I’d suffered with SAD, but not any more.

All smiles at the local Stoodley Pike Fell Race.

In 2016 a group of CVFR friends helped me to celebrate my 40thbirthday by seeing sun set on Pendle Hill, and running through the night to see it rise at Stoodley Pike. I’d said I wanted to hit the ground running at the beginning of my 40thyear. We’ve had bigger and better adventures together since. Half Marathons, Marathons, Mountain Marathons, Lakeland races, our first Ultra. We talk each other into things and don’t like to miss out. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at its best. 

The club is made up of a whole spectrum of runners. We have elite runners who run with a GB vest (the likes of Ben Mounsey and Holly Page and the U23 champion Martin Howard),  serious racers and the more social, fun fell runners. But we’re all united by the love of running, and of where we run. 

Do you want to experience the joys of fell running too? Come along to one of CVFR’s Have a Go sessions; Tues 30thApril and Tues 14thMay. 6.45pm at Mytholmroyd Community Centre. You’ll need to be able to run at least 5kms. You’ll need grippy trainers, a waterproof jacket and a smile. Contact gillhdickson@gmail.comfor further info.

If you’re not up to running 5kms just yet, why not build up your distance and fitness with the Couch to 5k programme then join a local Parkrun? (There’s one in Shroggs Park, Halifax). And before you know it, you’ll be hitting our local fells and signing up to lots of crazy new adventures!”


7 in a row

This weekend is a busy one in our local runners’ diaries – and a bumper one for CVFR results – with a couple of the year’s much-anticipated races taking place, at various corners & ends of the British Isles.

On Saturday, 27th April, CVFR was out in force at the 65th Three Peaks race. This event – advertised as the marathon with mountains – with its 23.3 miles starting at Horton-in -Ribblesdale and includes an eye-watering vertical mile of climbing, as runners take on the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. One of the oldest races & most famous races in the fellrunning year, despite the wild weather conditions, 670 runners (10 from CVFR) still finished the course.

Impressive running from Calder Valley’s Karl Gray saw him finish 8th overall in a time of 3:05:51 – retaining his First Vet runner trophy for an amazing fourth year in a row and a 7th time in the last eight years. There were also strong runs for fellow CV MV40 runners – with seven finishing amongst the first 50 Male Vet 40s to cross the line, including Mark Burton (64th overall, 17th MV40), Jonny Croston (70th, 19th MV40), Paul Haigh (89th, 24th MV40), Jon Smith (137th, 41st MV40) and Luke Meleschko (171st, 49th MV40). Dan Masden was the first in the open male category to finish the race in four hours, finishing 150th overall (78th in his category).

3 Peaks – Karl Gray Credit-Dave Woodhead

Sharing Ingleborough and Whernside with the Three Peaks, the Fellsman is a gruelling 61-mile ultra around the fells of the Yorkshire Dales, taking in Gragareth, Great Coum, Blea Moor, Great Knoutberry, Snaizeholme, Dodd Fell, Fleet Moss, Buckden Pike, and Great Whernside – to total a whopping 11,000 feet of ascent.

This year’s 57th Fellsman race took place from Saturday 27th to Sunday 28th April and was also well attended by Calder Valley. Red-and-white hooped top ultra runners, Kevin Hoult and Simon Bourne led the way – finishing 8th & 10th respectively, with Bourne delighted to finish in the top 10 for an impressive 9th time. Both commented on how the difficult weather conditions had made this overnight race even more challenging than usual. Other CVFR male runners to finish this monster race included John Allen (30th), Johnnie Watson (72nd). In the women’s race, Calder Valley’s Linda Murgatryod and Jackie Scarf both ran extremely strongly to finish in the top ten. It was also something of a baptism of fire for the club’s two newest ultra runners – Eileen McDonach & Ellie Eady – who finished 203rd & 204th overall – an amazing achievement bearing in mind that they had, by the end, been on their feet for 26 & ½ hours.

In the Scottish Highlands, also on Saturday 27th April, CVFR’s Melvyn Ward was one of 647 runners to complete the tough Highland Fling – an ultra trail marathon along the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long-distance footpath, through the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Ward – who placed 542nd in his first attempt at what he characteristically referred to as ‘a longer distance with some bigger hills’, completed the 53-mile course in 13h 42 minutes & 46 seconds, describing it as ‘a great experience but for the weather’, namely driving rain for most of the day meant which saw him soaked by the end of his first climb, & going through three pairs of gloves & needing to dig deep to finish this latest ‘adventure’, despite incredibly sore knees. Nonetheless, Ward was quick to point out that all of the above serves to make finishing all the more satisfying – it was worth it for the scenery alone, especially the view of Loch Lomand and the deer & squirrels in the forest section. On his way home, Ward was already talking about having another go at the race next year & thinking forward to the Pennine Barrier Ultra 100 in June!

Mel Ward at the end of the Highland Fling

Over in Northern Ireland, Saturday 27th April was also the date for The Mourne Highline race – the Northern Ireland leg of the British Championship – a race put together specifically by the organisers to offer just over 15km or race through some of the highest places in the Mourne mountain range – including everything from grassy climbs, to rocky descents & airy ridges. In a field of over 200 highly talented runners, and a race that proved even more of a test than usual, given the wild, wet & windy weather conditions, CVFR’s Matthew Roberts ran brilliantly to finish 4th overall (3rd in the men’s open category) – in 1:04:32 – only 1 minute & 15 seconds behind the winner, Mark Lamb of Keswick AC. Fellow red-&-white hoops runner, Charlie Ing, also ran another strong race to finish in 1:08:33 – 15th overall (9th in the men’s open category) in a race he described as something of ‘a leap into the unknown’ as his first race predominately on stone. Other notable runs from club members included Shaun Godsman, who came in 33rd overall & 5th in the MV40 category in 1:12:49, plus Mark Taylor, James Logue & Toby Sydes who finish 42nd, 45th & 151st overall respectively.

Further South, two CVFR ran the iconic London Marathon on Sunday 28th April for charities of their choice. Mark O’Conner, running to raise money for research into dementia, did amazing well to come back from injury last year and finish less than 9 minutes over the challenging three-hour target he had set himself for this race. Michelle Hanley, running for the Nehemiah Project, finished in 4:17:56 (Photo – Michelle Hanley with her medal).

Michelle Hanely – London Marathon

Last, but not least – & the only race to be run in fine conditions – Wharfedale Harriers hosted the final instalment in this year’s Easter bunny runs on Penistone Hill with the infamous Bunny Relays on Tuesday 23rd April. 66 teams and 3 individuals competed for glory & chocolate & the dry conditions made for some fast times with two teams breaking previous records (in the girls U15 & the female V40 categories). Howsons Pickles (Seth Howson, Charlie Pickens & Oliver Pickens) finished 24th overall & first boys U13 team. Three of the red-and-white juniors, running as the ‘Stripy Vipers’, Elijah Peers-Webb, Alex Duffield & Ed Ademavicius finished 29th overall, just pipped to the post by CVFR’s Stephen Smithies family team (Duck Billed Deer Otter) in 28th position (4th family team). Finally, Carole Fryer & Colin Duffield ran in the Odds & Sods team with Brett Muir & finished 50th overall.

Howsons Pickles – Bunny Run – credit Dave Woodhead

Easter Heat

Beating the Easter Heat at the ‘new’ Newlands Memorial

Mark Wharton and Darren Earnshaw flew the flag for Calder Valley at the newly named Newlands Memorial Fell Race.

Formerly known as the anniversary waltz, this popular, but tough race was held each year to commemorate Wynn and Steve Cliffe’s wedding at the Newlands Valley church. Steve sadly passed away last year and Cumberland Fell Runners stepped in this year as race organiser to ensure this, and the seven other classic senior and junior fixtures, held on the same day, continue. By all accounts, CFR did a great job. In blistering, unseasonable Easter temperatures, 354 runners lined up to tackle this category AM race over 11.4 miles with 1,100 metres of climb.

Rob Jebb took first male spot in a time of 1 hour 40 minutes and Sharon Taylor first female (12th overall) in 1 hour 54 minutes. Darren Earnshaw was first back for Calder (92nd) closely followed by Mark Wharton (103rd).

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach