Saturday saw the smooth delivery of yet another event arranged by LDWA organiser Alan Greenwood, however as a Long Distance Walkers Association event, the Hebden Challenge is not strictly a race, but instead more of a social event combined with a personal challenge. Those undertaking the 22 mile route, or the shorter 15 mile option, round the moors above Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge, were rewarded with a fine array of refreshments around the route and at the finish. Comments from many participants suggest it’s the prospect of pie, peas and mulled wine that gets them round the course and back on the entry list the following year.
Not all participants found time to enjoy this fine fayre, with fell runners aiming to run the route as quickly as possible. By the first check point, Calder’s on form Ben Mounsey and last year’s first man home Gavin Mulholland had established a strong lead of 10 minutes. The pair continued to run together until mile 20 ‘to make it more social’ explained Ben. Mortals among us may wonder how anyone finds the energy to talk at such a speed, but in a role reversal to last year, it was Ben who had saved enough breath to push on ahead for the finish, with Gavin urging him on to break the 3 hour mark.
Finishing well within 3 hours in a new record time of 2 hours 53 minutes, Ben looks to have already completed his new year’s resolution to do better over long distances. With high winds and mud underfoot to contend with this is a fantastic achievement and bodes well for the fell running season ahead of him at home and internationally.
Gavin finished 2 minutes behind Ben, still a 9 minute improvement on last year’s finishing time, and Adam Breaks came in third in 3hours 11minutes, making it a Calder Valley 1, 2, 3 in the long route finishers. First woman home on the long route was Calder’s Jo Waites, continuing her return to form finishing in twelfth place overall in 3 hours 31 minutes.
On the shorter route, relative newcomers Vicky Butcher and Melanie Nicholson had a great run, finishing substantially closer to the front than the back of the field – an impressive achievement which shows that they have definitely graduated from the beginners’ group they started with just a year ago.
If you think this sounds like fun, why not do as Vicky and Melanie did and come along to Calder Valley’s next ‘have a go day’ this Saturday, 28th January. See ‘New Years Resolution’ on this home page for details.