What a week ‘end of racing

Two intrepid Calder Valley adventurers ventured off the edge of the Yorkshire map to the land marked ‘there be dragons’ last week to take part in the legendary Dragon’s Back race. This 5 day race, from north to south Wales covering approximately 200 miles, took place only once before, twenty years ago. To mark this anniversary the race was resurrected, however this time it was decided to make it more off road and a little tougher than the original route.

Ian Symington, seasoned ultra runner, and Rod Sutcliffe (who as a Vet60 is simply seasoned), started the race with 89 other competitors. With soaring temperatures and an extremely challenging day 1 route, Sutcliffe failed to complete the route within the cut off time, along with a substantial chunk of the rest of the field. Realising that the new route might be proving a little too tough, the organisers shortened the route on subsequent days, removing some of the climb in an attempt to make things a little easier (though running 200 miles in 5 days is never going to be a walk in the park).

Having run out of food and water part way through the first day, Symington started day 2 with nothing in the tank and came a cropper as he failed to make the checkpoints in time and retired to camp to recover. Refuelled and re-energised, Symington and Sutcliffe continued to complete as much of the course as they could, with the organisers offering shortened options for those that wanted to take part on a non-competitive basis.

Symington was left wishing he could turn back the clock and get the balance on the first couple of days right as he recorded the 3rd, 2nd and 1st fastest times on the final three legs of the race. Both though were glad to have had the chance to be part of such a legendary race, and there was no shame in not finishing – only 29 of the original 91 starters completed the whole route, with many dropping out completely.

Elsewhere in the land of dragons runners competed in the last of the British Championship fixtures at Moel Wnion. In this short race of 7.5km and 540m of climbing, there was a slim chance that Calder Valley’s Helen Fines could secure the top spot in the Championship, however any such hopes slipped away as Todmorden Harriers’ Lauren Jeska described feeling ‘strong’ during the race while Fines felt ‘horrible’. Jeska’s first place in the race lands her the British Gold, while Fines finished fourth but still gets British Silver.

In the men’s race, Calder Valley’s Karl Gray, Gavin Mulholland and Tim Black finished 7th, 9th and 13th, with Shaun Godsman and Alex Whittem close behind in 15th and 16th. The impact of these strong runs on the team championships have yet to be calculated, although Calder Valley’s men are already assured of at least a bronze medal position in this Championship.

Still away from the home turf of Yorkshire, Calder Valley’s Barbara Lonsdale and partner Chris Heppenstall had a great run in the Howgills in the first of the Rab National Mini Mountain Marathon Series, finishing second overall and first mixed pair. Husband and wife pair Anne and Bill Johnson are second mixed pair having been heavily penalised for being out 15 minutes over the 4 hour time limit. No doubt the two pairs will continue to battle for points as the series continues in its best 3 of 4 format, with each round being another 4-hour score event. There are another 2 rounds to be held in the Lake District in November and a final round in the Dark Peak area in December. Linda Hayles also stormed to success and is leading the female vet50 category after this first round.

Finally, back home in Yorkshire, Calder Valley’s own men’s team Captain Ben Mounsey triumphed in the Yorkshireman Half Marathon taking first place, while Linda Murgatroyd was first FV40 in the full Yorkshireman Marathon. What a week! Anyone inspired by this active bunch of Valley dwellers can check out www.cvfr.co.uk/beginners-group/ for info on where and when to meet up to try out fell running – come on out and join us before the nights draw in!

Scotland, England and Wales!!!!

A busy weekend of racing saw club members travelling to Scotland, England and Wales and with great success. On Britians highest mountain Ben Nevis Andy Fleet had the run of his life to take the under 23s title in a time of 1hr 51mins. With his trophy overfloweth with alcohol he celebrated in style in the evening. His head was more painful than his legs in the morning!!! Steve Smithies had something to celebrated as he has at long last got under the 2hour barrier in a time of 1hr 57mins. On their first go at this race husband and wife team Bill and Anne Johnson had great runs in times of 2hrs 4mins and 2hrs 10mins respectively. Anne was 5th lady and 2nd veteran. In the Welsh hills the 40th birthday celebrations kicked off with Karl Gray taking 1st place (48min13sec) at the Moel Hebog race and not to be outdone Womens Captain Helen Fines (58min 42sec) replicated his win. With a much improved performance from Mens Captain Ben Mounsey in 3rd and team mate Alex Whittem placing 4th they had worked hard for their beers afterwards. Trevor Murgatroyd and Birthday Girl Sharon Godsman looked to have had an enjoyable day out on the fells. Closer to home at Blackshawhead Fete Race in the sunshine it was local man Ben Crowther of Halifax Harriers who took first place in 38mins 1sec just 56 seconds in front of Calder’s under 18 Max Wharton. Holly Page continued her vein of good form taking the ladies race easily in a time of 41mins 59secs

Holly takes a Burnsall Classic win

Calder Valley Fell Runner’s Holly Page continued with her fine first year of running for the Mytholmroyd club with a fantastic win in the historic Burnsall Fell Race on Saturday.  The race was inaugurated around 1870 and since that date runners have been racing from the busy Feast Sports show field up to the flag on the summit cairn and back again.  The race is a lung bursting two mile route with a very technical descent, particularly near the top of the fell, where rocks and deep divots are precariously hidden in the knee deep heather.
International orienteer and Ilkley Harrier Hector Haines was first man, with two of the best descenders in the business fighting it out for second and third, with last year’s winner Ted Mason just beating the evergreen Ian Holmes. All of the men finished in fifteen minutes, which is somewhat slower than the scarcely believable course record of 12:59 set by Ernest Dazell in 1910. Holly’s time of 18:11 put her one minute clear of international athlete Katie Walshaw, with Holmfirth club mate Lucy Needham in third place.  Only one Calder man was quicker than Holly and that was Romain Perriel who ran an eye-catching race to dip under the eighteen minute mark.  Steve Smithies also ran well to finish in a credible time of 19:05
[Calder Results: Romain Pierrel: 17:58; Holly Page: 18:11; Stephen Smithies: 19:05; Robert Paradise: 19:14; Tim Brooks: 20:37 Blair Garrett: 23:43]

It was also great to see Gayle Sugden back to winning ways on Sunday’s Norland Moor Trail Race where she ran out winner over two minutes clear of Stainland’s Julie Field. Barnsley’s Shaun Dimelow was clear winner of the Norland race, with Meltham’s Andy Whitworth in second and Tristan Sheard in third.

Finally, club captain Helen Fines was not to be outdone by Gayle and Holly when Fines posted a remarkable third place in the Pendleton fell race, putting her an astonishing twelve minutes clear of the second placed woman.   Only James Titmuss of Pudsey and Bramley and Paul Crabtree of Keighley edged ahead of the Calder club captain.

With many of Calder’s ladies running so well it’s hoped that they can still medal in both the English and British championships and emulate the men, who’ve picked up bronze in the British championships for the very first time.