Calder Valley show English Champs promise at Stretton Hills

Sunday saw some some welcome relief from the weather for fell runners and organisers alike at the first 2019 English Championships outing, Stretton Hills Fell Race.

Snow was forecast but Sunday brought a glimmer of sunshine after the deluge of rain and flood sirens in the Calder Valley on Saturday. 

Nine Calder Valley runners made the journey to Shropshire to battle navigational wits with 339 finishers in this season’s first English Champs race. 

2019 Stretton Hill Fell Race start (Credit: Bob Howard)

With only map and compass allowed, they had to find their own route on this mostly unmarked 9.5k, Category A course to visit all five checkpoints in order, avoiding out of bounds areas, and making sure they completed the few mandatory sections. Experience and pre-race recces would likely have paid off in this challenging route.

With 2,198 ft of climb and some tough options of either shorter, brutal climbs or longer more runnable routes, Mathew Roberts was first back for Calder Valley in 11th place in 47:06 mins. Within seconds Karl Gray showed class to make it back in 47:21 and take 1st Male Vet spot (13th overall). Darren Kay also did well finishing 2nd Male Vet (37th overall). Calder Valley took the men’s Vets team prize with Gray and Kay joined by Adam Osbourne (45th) and Mark Burton (87th). CVFR’s Mark Taylor was just four seconds behind (88th). 

CVFR’s Matthew Roberts, Karl Gray, Adam Osbourne and Martin Howard at Stretton Hills (Credit: Bob Howard).

Martin Howard continued his good run of form to finish 3rd U23 (51st overall), but narrowly missed out on 2nd U23 prize by just 2 seconds to Adam Fieldhouse!

Stephen Smithies (134th) and Toby Sydes (267th) showed their navigational skills and also put in good runs for Calder Valley.

Keswick took 1st and 2nd men’s prize with Carl Bell (45:04) and Mark Lamb (45:19) back within seconds of each other. They also took Men’s team senior prize. First woman back  was Nicola Jackson from Ribble Valley Harriers (54th overall). Mercia Fell runners scooped Women’s Senior’s and Vet’s team prizes.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach

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Howarth Hobble

The February heat wave was firmly extinguished as the weather decided to give the 300+ competitors (solos and pairs) an even greater challenge at the Haworth Hobble on Saturday, as if 32 miles off road wasn’t sufficient.

Calder Valley was well represented and first back, 15 mins off the winning time was Kevin Hoult in a time of 4hrs 37 mins, 5th overall. Kevin has completed the hobble several times and has been awarded the keys to the city for his efforts.

Next to return, just under 5 hours was John Allen who said the course was a bit flat for his liking. And only 3 mins later, Michael Hyde returned to the fold.

The first Calder females to complete was Jackie Scarf as part of a F50 winning pair. First solo back was Elina Eady, out sprinting her rivals to finish in 7hrs 17 mins. The final CVFR home, and still drying out, was Carolyn Shimwell, and Diane Wright in a time of 8.31, with no coffee breaks permitted.

CVFR – Howarth Hobble Dou, Carolyn Shimwell and Diane Wright

Calders map men were showing the rest of the country how to orienteer with Welsh champion (m55) Phil Scarf taking the honours at the Northern championships, with his fellow cartographer, Jonathan Emberton taking 2nd place in their age category

CVFR Navigating Masters

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gavin Mulholland

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Leaps, Round and High

Lad’s Leap

A six mile race with 1700ft of climbing Lad’s Leap is run from the Crowden Campsite just off the Woodhead pass.  The race visits the rock formation of the same name that looks over the Peak District’s Longdendale.

Calder’s Holly Page was first Lady and 4th place in 53:47. Mark Buton was 2nd and first vet less than a minute ahead in 52:53

Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round

Toby Sydes running for his beer!!!

A healthy turn out of 252 runners ran in great conditions with some blistering fast record breaking by the record holder Rob Hope, 1:05:03 although 2nd & 3rd beat the previous record too. The Ladies were chasing record breaking pace as well, with Lindsey Brindle smashing the previous best by 9 minutes in 1:15:22 with 2nd & 3rd also coming under the previous record.

The race is a sensible 11 mile circuit of Pendle Hill with no gratuitous descents, just one big climb to the trig point on Big End followed by a tour of the moor.  Calder’s Darren Kay was 6thin 1:08:22. Toby Sydes, enticed to race by the free bottle of beer promised to all finishers, was 124thin 1:33:24, Calvin Ferguson 139thin 1:34:28 and Steve Smithies was 199thin 1:45:46.

High Peak Marathon

Jackie and her team mates, happy after completing the HPM

The High Peak Marathon is an over-night mountain marathon for teams of four which follows a route based on the Derwent Watershed over the high moors of Derbyshire.  This classic 40 mile bog-trot around the wildest part of the Peak District was first completed in 1918 by Eustace Thomas of Manchester’s Rucksack Club.  The High Peak Marathon was first organised in 1972 by students from Sheffield University. This was their idea of a challenge – to take one of the Peak’s longest, toughest routes and see who could complete it, at night, in winter.  A unique feature of the event is being greeted by a couple of cheerful students at every checkpoint.

Several members of Calder Valley Fell Runners took part this year.  Simon Fisher, John Allan, Dougie Zinnis and Jack Rose took 11hours 37 minutes and 33 seconds to get round in 18thplace, despite some navigational hiccups.  They were just three hours behind the winning team that included this year’s Spine race winner, Jasmin Paris.  

Doug Gurr and Phil Scarf were in a non-competitive team that finished in 12:19:26 and Jackie Scarf’s team completed in 13:53:58 and 37thplace.

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Midgley Moor and Ilkley

Last weekend on the Spring like Sunday saw a gaggle of fell runners gather at Booth cricket club for the annual Midgley Moor fell race. Organised by Calder Valley’s Graham Davy it’s a fundraiser for Springhill Hospice, Rochdale. It’s a challenging race involving route choice on paths and moor covering 5 miles with 1250ft of ascent.

Calder Valley didn’t go home empty handed with Rachel Johnson scooping first female prize and young Martin Howard came second overall in an impressive 40:56. The overall winner was Harry Holmes from Matlock in 39:58.

The Juniors were out in full force at the weekend, making the most of the unusual Feb conditions. Luckily the mist cleared to provide perfect running conditions at the very popular Ilkley Moor Fell Race with these races providing excellent tough courses for all ages groups. Fondly known as the “racing snakes” group this was the first championship race for Calder Valleys junior who enjoy going to races. Have a go Dads also took part in the fun with Iain Illstone and Ben Cliffe both racing in the seniors Ilkley Moor fell race, a 5 mile circuit staged by Ilkley Harriers. Renowned as a tough winter race, it consists of steep, slippery and rocky descents. With over 260 runners, Ian finished 21st in 44:18, and Ben 105th. Jon Smith was first CV home in 15th place in an impressive 43:22.

Iain Illstone, have a go Dad at Ilkley Moor Fell Race. Photo credit: Dave Woodhead

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

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On and off the fells

On the fells this weekend, red & white-hooped runners Stuart Russell & Calvin Ferguson competed at Bleasdale Circle Fell Race on Saturday 16th February. This five-mile race from Bleasdale Parish Hall, includes 1250 feet of climb to Paddy’s Pole, and Parlick, before a steep & technical descent to the last 2km along track & across farmland. 

A fast-race in dry conditions made for some great running, veteran runner Russell finished 56th overall in 48 minutes 51 seconds and Ferguson 93rd in 54:48.

Away from the fells, on Sunday 16th February two of CVFR’s ladies took part in races in the grounds of Yorkshire’s historic Harewood House. Competing in the popular off-road half-marathon along an extremely hilly route along trails, tracks, through fields & up steep forest inclines, Heather Pritchard ran a strong race to finish the 13.1 miles in 2h07 & 50 seconds. In the 10km, one of CVFR’s newest club members, Abbi Fernley finished in 1:02:22 – despite starting right at the back of the queue & having to battle past the fun runners. 

Also running a half marathon this weekend, CVFR’s Elliot Corner flew the CVFR flag at the Great Northwest half, finishing his 13.1 miles with a personal best time of 1hr 22min, & placing a noteworthy 20th overall. 

Further away from home, Calder Valley’s international runner, Holly Page, competed in 15th Coastal Challenge race along Costa Rica’s tropical Pacific coastline. Having run through jungle, rainforest and across mountain trails, as well as along single tracks across ridge lines, through highlands and coastal ranges; beaches, rocky outcroppings, reefs, and river and estuary crossings, the final leg of this race this last weekend saw runners finishing on Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, in Corcovado National Park – a Unesco World Heritage site – in a fishing village until recently only accessible by boat. 

As the top six runners had a staggered start, the last leg of this race is unusual in that none of them really know how well they were doing in comparison to each other. Holly reports how rather bizarrely despite having already completed 200+km of running, her legs still felt good. She was not only the first runner to cross the line – holding off the other top-5 runners and catching all those who were ahead of her at the beginning of this last leg, but in the process she also set a new stage course record (in addition to her female course record on stage 4) –  ‘a nice way to end an awesome week with wonderful people in wild surroundings – so many great memories!

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

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Busy few days for the hoops

Alex Whittem & Jon Smith in fine form at Windy Hill

CVFR teamwork wins out on Windy Hill
With Storm Erik forecast this weekend, Windy Hill Fell Race lived up its name. Seven CVFR lined up at Hollingworth Lake, for this popular, 9 mile race which climbs 1281 feet over the Pennine Moors with fast runnable tracks, and a memorable ascent. 

Calder Valley men worked well together to scoop the first men’s (Alex Whittem, Jon Smith, Elliot Corner) and third men’s (Michael Hyde, Stephen Smithies, Darren Earnshaw) team prizes. 

Alex Whittem was 5th overall in his first race back in a while and Jon Smith, 9th, also winning 1st V40 prize. 

Ribble Valley’s Chris Holdsworth, continued his winning form to take top spot on Windy Hill in 57:12 mins. Lindsay Brindle, Horwich RMI Harriers, was first female (17th overall)

Doctor’s Gate Fell Race
Calder Valley’s club champion, Jonny Croston ran well to finish in the top five at the tough 12 mile Doctor’s Gate Fell Race, which starts and finishes in Glossop, with over 2,800ft of climbing. 

Future Bright for Night Score
Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge were the dual settings for the inaugural CVFR urban night score event this week. Jonathon Emberton employed his considerable orienteering expertise to devise this challenging introduction for his club mates. It proved extremely popular, with juniors and seniors across the age (and navigation skills) spectrum, dusting off their road shoes, and braving the rain to take part in this two centre event. 

Nicki & Jocasta looking well pleased with themselves

A mass start saw calder valley runners (and some Tod harriers) race to find the 11 compulsory, linear controls in Mytholmroyd before dashing to Hebden Bridge. Relying on honesty, a total of 31 points were now up for grabs across 18 controls, including up in Heptonstall, for those skilled enough to make it back to club HQ within the allotted 90 minutes. An added option to grab three extra controls on their way provided further intrigue. 

In a hard fought contest, CVFR’s James Logue took first place, back four minutes ahead, though tied at 51 points with three other veteran category runners (Chris Goddard (Tod Harriers), James Williams, Iain Powell). Martin Howard, showed his navigational prowess, in first men’s solo class (6th overall). Catherine Holden and Richard Sunderland took first mixed pair (11th overall), Dougie Zinnis and Luke Meleschko first male pair (13th overall), and Jocasta Fletcher and Nicky Latham, first women’s pair (23rd overall).

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach

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Sunny, Snowy Trog

On Saturday it was all hands on deck as Jake Ackroyd (race organiser) called upon CVFR members to volunteer and man the various check points around the valley. The fun starts from the cricket club in Old Town, covering 31km and 1111m of climb over a snow covered course, taking in the moors over to Warley reservoir, over to Cock Hill where you then  do a loop of Wadsworth Moor and Bronte territory to Walshaw and Shackleton knoll before returning back via Lumb hole waterfall and across Midgely Moor to the finish.Some of Yorkshire and England’s finest talent were out to build up their strength for the coming fell running season.

A very happy looking Helen out in the snowy conditions


Jack Wood of Ilkley was first back in 2.36 with Karl Gray, the course record holder, first vet and 4th placed overall.  Ultra runner Kevin Hoult was next in for the club and young Martin Howard, after a good first half, took on a crampathon, still coming home in 43rd place.
On the ladies side, Sharon Taylor had a massive gap on her competitors going sub 3 hours, with ultra running vet 50 Nicky Spinks first vet. First local lass was CVFR and Lancashire County runner Helen Buchan. Over 160 runners participated in all.

On Sunday, from Langsett barn in the Dark Peaks, Mark Burton was first home for the club coming third overall in the Mickleden Straddle, just under 10 mins of England International Chris Holdsworth.  Some of the other CVFR in attendance included, Andy Thorpe 10th, Phil Wells 21st, Dan Marden 29th and Andy Wright 31st.  For the ladies, sarah Hodgson was done in 2.04 with our own Elina Eady and Eileen McDonach coming home in 2.53 and 2.56 respectively. 

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gav Mulholland

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Thirza & Hyde

Huge Thanks to CVFR’s Membership Maestro Thirza Hyde

Thirza in full flight

Thirza Hyde has been Calder Valley Fell Runner’s membership secretary for the last 20 years and is handing on the baton to take up her new roles as joint co-ordinator of the club juniors and on the CVFR committee. This is a great opportunity for the club to thank Thirza for her hard work and dedication, during which time CVFR has seen successful growth in membership for both seniors and juniors.

Bill Johnson, CVFR chairman summed up Thirza’s contribution: “Thirza has been the heartbeat of the club for 20 years. Without her unwavering enthusiasm and energy, the club would not be what it is today. Thirza is a shining example of someone who dedicates hours of their time, on behalf of others, for no thought of reward. We are lucky to have had her as CVFR membership secretary for two decades. And now the CVFR juniors will continue to benefit from that enthusiasm and energy as she directs more of both those talents on the juniors who form the future of the club.”

CVFR’s Rod Sutcliffe remembers Thirza in the ‘early’ days working hard to grow the membership, particularly among women, spending time to encourage ‘unattached’ fell runners in races to become proud Calder Valley club members.

Thirza centre_21st Anniversary Run 04-11-07 (High Brown Knoll 6)

Regularly going above and beyond the call of duty, Bill Johnson recalls Thirza and club mates spending many hours making ‘sheep’ batons for the British Relay Championships, hosted by CVFR at Castle Carr. These unusual batons were greeted with much hilarity when each competing team was given them to carry round the relay event.

Clare Kenny, Thirza, Rose Carnochan, Amanda Farrell.

As well as enjoying success as a runner (five times ladies club champion in a decade), our CVFR club archivist, John Riley also found a great deal of evidence of Thirza’s penchant for fancy dress.

Thirza at CVFR Club do Jan 2012

Jo Waites, a fellow CVFR runner remembers fondly, the early starts and arrivals at races, as she benefitted from Thirza’s fell-running experience, fuelled by copious tea and egg sandwiches.

Calder Valley are still benefitting from Thirza’s experience as she works with Andy Clarke and the club juniors and contributes to the committee. Trudy, a CVFR parent commented: “Thirza’s familiar personality starts the junior sessions off with a smile and enthusiasm ready to run the calder hills. For them she is the face of CVFR. Thanks for getting us organised Thirza!”

Thirza, once confused as ‘ Tizer’, may also pursue her new-found talent for photobombing, as experienced first-hand by top cyclist Mark Cavendish at the launch of the 2018 Tour De Yorkshire. You have been warned!

Thirza photobombing Mark Cavendish

The future is bright. The future is red and white. Thank you Thirza, for everything you have done for CVFR (so far).

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Winter Handicap & Presentation Evening

Calder Valley Presentation Evening

Throughout the year Calder Valley Fell Runners take part a series of club championship races. The annual presentation evening, held this year at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, is a celebration of the best running of the year. Club Champion was Jonny Croston was so overcome at winning the trophy he could only be heard saying ‘In’t Fell Running Great’ for the rest of the evening. Croston also won the V40 title. 2nd place was Paul Haigh who, by one point, narrowly beat Phil Wells who took the 3rd place trophy. Phil also won the most improved runner of the year, and the Handicap Championship, reflecting his return to form.

Ann Holden’s Haul

In the Women’s competition Tamsin Cooke was third, Charlotte Wetton 2nd, and the title was won by Ann Holden with a maximum 600 points. Holden also won the V40 title and medium and long race Queen. Tamsin Cooke also won the short race Queen.

Mike Wardle was crowned the V50 champion. For those who enjoy going long, the Ultra titles were won by Womens Captain, Caroline Shimwell and for the men, Kevin Hoult. Martin Howard won the Short Race King, Steve Smithies the Medium King and Toby Sydes the Long Race King.

In the Summer series, a series of short summer races, Toby Cotterill and Christina Turner took the crowns.

Despite winning gold in the English U23 fell running championship, Martin Howard took home the less salubrious title of CVFR Navigational Cock-up of the year. Having got lost at several races throughout the year, the highlight was Race You The Summit. Despite doing the race in previous year, while in the lead, he took a wrong turn and sprained his ankle in a rabbit hole trying to regain the correct course.

On a more positive note Howard was joint winner, with John Minta of Spine fame, of the Runner’s Runner of the year award, as voted for by club members.

Winter Handicap

Calder Valley Fell Runners held their Winter Handicap race last Saturday, a great warm up to the clubs’ annual presentation awards held that evening. Runners start times vary depending on how well they have raced over the previous year, with the aim that everyone crosses the finish line at the same time. The slowest runner starts first, and the fastest runner starts last. The race heads from Mytholmroyd to Stoodley Pike and back, just over five miles and about 1000ft of boggy climbing.

Matthew Bott recieves Handicap Trophy from organiser, Marc Collett

Matthew Bott was first back to Stubbs field to take the trophy with a great run, with Stewart Russell 2nd. Summer Handicap winner, Elina Eady, was first woman back in 3rd place. Fastest runner was CVFR hero Karl Gray in 37 minutes 39 seconds three and a half minutes ahead of newly crowned club champion Jonny Croston. Natasha Butterfield was first woman back in 49:19 and Charlie Pickens was first junior in 48:24

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks

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Ultra Spine Beast Minta

Fell running was thrown into the national spotlight this week thanks to Jasmine Paris and her incredible, superhuman feat at the Montane Spine race. This race is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance races. A truly epic challenge that tests both physical resilience and mental fortitude, competitors race non-stop along the most iconic trail in the UK. It involves completing the length of the Pennine Way, all 268 miles of it. Starting in Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, competitors run 24/7 with limited rest and sleep, unsupported and exposed to the wintry elements as they snake their way up the backbone of Britain. Nursing mum, Jasmine Paris, smashed 12 hours off the record, completing the race in an incredible 83 hours!

The next competitor came in 15 hours after Jasmine. And amongst the competitors were CV’s very own superheros, John Minta and Bill Johnson, both accomplished and experienced Ultra runners.

Unfortunately, Bill ruptured his Achilles after 200 miles and had to retire. But John was able to keep going and crossed the finishing line last Thursday after a gruelling 112 hours on his feet, impressively taking 6th position overall.

Said a tired but elated John: ‘I reckon I had 9 hours sleep altogether in the 112 hours it took me, so hallucinations were a regular occurrence. Plus I was struggling with a chest infection after day one. I’m so very happy to have finished!’ 

John Minta at the finish (Photo courtesy of Will Roberts and the Montane Spine Race)

The more sedate runners, after avidly dot watching the Montane Spine race, opted for the Hebden on the Saturday. A long distance walking event that takes in all sides of the valley, it’s renowned for delicious cakes at each of the Checkpoints. As with previous years, the event is hugely popular with runners.

A gaggle of red and white stripes gathered at the start line, some completing the 15 miles route, others going for the longer 22 mile option. CV’s Ben Mounsey was the overall winner of the 22 in an impressive 3:08. Helen Buchan was first CV lady home, coming 5th lady overall, completing 22 miles in 03:59.

Said Ben: ‘There were plenty of miles and smiles at ‘The Hebden’ today, one of my favourite events of the year. It’s the only race I’ve ever done where you can eat as much food as you like on the way round. Beef dripping sandwiches were once again on offer, although I figured the cheese sarnies might sit a little prettier in my stomach, especially on the climb up to Stoodley Pike. The first 18 miles were fantastic! However, unfortunately the last 3 miles were the closest thing I’ve experienced to hell (i.e. since the last time my wheels completely fell off!). Not exactly sure what happened, but I sat down for a bit, walked for a while and if I’d have had my phone, I would’ve probably phoned my mum and asked her to come and pick me up. But like the true survivor that I am, I somehow made it safely back in 1st place to the finish (just!).’

CV’s Ben Mounsey, winner of the Hebden 22 (photo courtesy of Laura Bradshaw)

Not without incident, some drama unfolded 13 miles into the course. Several CV women witnessed a mighty fall and were part of a rescue operation for a fellow runner who sustained head injuries after tumbling 30ft down a ravine in Broadhead Clough. Fortunately, his injuries didn’t weren’t too serious and the CV women were able to escort him to the nearest checkpoint for further medical assistance.

CV women at the start line of the Hebden 22 (L-R Gloria Ayuso, Stella Chrisanthou (birthday girl), Eileen McDonach, Kate Pope, Ellie Eady, Nicki Latham, Gill Dickson)

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Gill Dickson

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