If fell running were an Olympic Sport, China and the USA would have no chance against Yorkshire in Rio 2016. Calder Valley Fell Runners filled the void left after the closing ceremony by delivering a bonanza of fantastic results. On the domestic front, with a cross country like flat start and finish and three runnable climbs in between, there was no let up in the battle for English Championship places at the Weasdale Horseshoe (8.7miles, 2001ft climbing). Having previously never quite managed to get into the medals in either the British or English Fell Running Championships, the men’s team is now assured of a bronze in both this year. All five counters in this English Championship race – Jason Williams, Shaun Godsman, Tim Ellis, Karl Gray and Ben Mounsey – finished within 10 places of one another, in a formidable show of strength on a course which proved to be fast and furious.
With the prospect of medals in the offing, Team Captain Mounsey had ensured that there were plenty of Calder Valley runners in the field, and there were notable performances from Tim Black who also recorded a stunning Championship finish only a few places behind Mounsey. The flying postman Alex Whittem had a solid run back after a long injury lay off and Joe Washington dug deep to finish in a very respectable position on his Championship debut.
In the women’s race Holly Page was 4th, putting her in gold medal position in the U23 category, and silver medal position in the open category. Watch this space for the final rankings after the last Championship races in September.
Internationally, Helen Fines represented Great Britain in the 50th anniversary race of the Staffeta Tre Rifugi, which is a 3-stage mountain relay in the Dolomites, uphill, traverse and downhill. For the 4th time, Fines was running the downhill leg, 3000′ of descent over 6.5km of terrain over very steep grass slopes, a bit of rock, some steep woodland and finishing with 2.1k of ‘hideous’ tarmac with the last 400m up a slight incline. Fines has said before that doing this downhill leg of the relay she tries to switch the self preservation part of her brain off. Apparently she was successful and the energy saved by reducing brain function was in redirected to her legs, as Fines charged down the mountainside in pursuit of the Slovenian team who had gained a 7 minute advantage over GB at the second handover, who were now in 4th. Fines stayed strong to the end and overcame the harsh tarmac finish to narrow the gap to just 2 minutes and in doing so smashed the leg record and helped her team to a silver medal finish.