“Paradise” found in Lancashire

photoAshurst Beacon, perhaps the most famous landmark of Skelmersdale is the Beacon at the top of Ashurst Hill and stands at 173m above sea level. One of a chain of Lancashire beacons which stretched from Liverpool to Lancaster Castle, it was built in the 16th Century by Sir William Ashurst to serve as an early warning system against invaders. Now it commands a magnificent view point over many counties and on a clear day visitors can see the mountains of Snowdonia, the Cheshire Plain, Blackpool Tower, the Lake District Mountains and the panorama of Liverpool and the Mersey.

Getting Calder Valley Fell Runners over the border is not easy but with no other races on it was a case of get over there, show them Lancashire folk how to run and and get back quick! With a couple of CVFRs elite men, Tim Ellis and Shaun Godsman, on the start line, the team prize was almost certainly in the bag with Robert Paradise and Stephen Smithies hoping to join them.

Although bright and sunny it was bitterly cold but with a fast and furious downhill start the majority of runners were happy to run in vest and shorts. This race is unusual as it starts with a fast and furious descent and finishes, for those not in the know, with a sting in the tail climb. The descent from the pub adjacent to the Beacon is probably as fast paced as you can ever run and there will be plenty of aching calf muscles in 40 or 50 minutes time! The descent takes you down to the Leeds/Liverpool Canal before climbing up towards Parbold Hill. A short stretch of road precedes the descent through Delf House Wood and then it’s across muddy fields before crossing the canal again and starting the climb up to the Beacon.

Tim and Shaun immediately hit the front and with Tim looking stronger he eventually won the race by almost a minute and a half. Shaun eased home in second place almost a minute clear of local runner John Hunt. Stephen in thirteenth place edged out Robert to secure the team prize. Ironically, Tim, Shaun and Stephen are all Lancashire lads!

159 runners completed the race and the lady winner was Amanda Crook of Southport Waterloo in an excellent twelfth place overall. Ladies team prize was won by the superbly named local club, Parbold Pink Panthers, in their equally superb pink vests. Rumour has it that Robert ‘Catbeast’ Paradise has put in for a transfer.

Red and white success

Club doClub champion: Karl Gray. This is Karl’s 8th title – more than anyone else in the history of the club (he was joint with Gary Webb on 7 titles each before this year). I can’t see anyone overtaking that record for a long time.

2nd: Martin Whitehead. Martin receives 4 trophies – another record, no-one else has ever won 4 trophies in a year

3rd: Dave Culpan. Dave receives 3 trophies, also very impressive!

womens champion: Gillian Wisbey. The first time Gillian has won this

vets champion: Karl Gray. His first vets title. Probably not the last!

V50 champion: Martin Whitehead. Just 1 point off a perfect 300 points.

Handicap champion: Martin Whitehead. NB: the handicap competition could be won by anyone – at the start of the year you have a handicap based on your previous race results, so everyone starts on a level footing. Martin was outscored in the handicap by several people at most of his races, but he was consistent over all the distances and deservedly achieved the highest overall total score.

(The kings & queens: alongside the main club championships, we have these additional competitions. Some people prefer shorter races, so the Short Race King or Queen is the man or woman who scores most points over all five of the short races; likewise for those who do best at the long races, the Long Race King/Queen counts your scores over all five of the long races – and the Medium Race King/Queen over the medium races)

short race king: Dave Culpan. The only person to complete all five short races

short race queen: Gillian Wisbey

medium race king: jointly Dave Culpan and Karl Gray (does this mean Dave can claim to be just as good as Karl on medium races???!!)

medium race queen: Helen Fines

long race king: Martin Whitehead. NB: This year’s long races were serious, tough classics and whoever won the 2012 long race titles would thoroughly deserve the Long Race King title. Martin completed 4 of the 5 longs, including two of the all-time toughest classics (Wasdale and Peris Horseshoe) to win the title by a country mile

long race queen: no woman completed more than a single long championship race this year – it’s not in the spirit of the title to award a Long Race Queen for only doing a single race

most improved: Bill (stats and spreadsheet wizard) feed everyone’s results over the last two years into a big machine with whirring cogs, large levers and flashing lights. It chugs loudly, belching out lots of steam and then finally out pops a card showing whose race results have improved the most over the last 12 to 24 months. This year the machine said that it was a close run thing. It was almost Iain Glendinning, who got impressively quicker in the second half of the year; but the winner of the title is Rob White, whose improvement from last year to this (especially at Widdop and Crowhill this year) was better than anyone else. Rob just about fell off his chair when this award was announced!

Out of interest, other people who registered big improvements in their ratings included: Heidi Rushton, Catherine Plane, Graham Davy, Robert Paradise, Claire Hanson and Chris Godridge.

Runners’ runner of the year: this gets voted on at the Do and is for the person who has made the biggest contribution to the club over the past year. This could be by bringing prestige to the club by performing at a high level, or for helping out with the running of the club. Thirza Hyde was nominated – it’s not the first time she has won this award – and it’s good to see that so many club members recognise the time and effort that she gives to the club. A well deserved award.

navigational cock of the year, and wally of the year: ‘acts of stupidity’ are logged throughout the year, master orienteer James Logue collates them all and awards points according to levels of stupidity, then reveals the results on the night. Navigational cock up of the year was won by James Williams, for managing to go the wrong way in a heavily sign posted relay event and losing over a hundred places in the process. Wally of the year was awarded to Alex Whittem, for numerous acts of stupidity throughout the year, including injuring himself while training for a road race – it was the training for a road race that earnt him the points, why would anyone want to run on a road when there’s miles of moorland to be enjoyed?? Alex Whittem wasn’t present to receive his ‘award’ so Steve Smithies accepted it on his behalf, having only just escaped being awarded the prize himself – Smithies becoming almost notorious for being lost (before and during races!) and late.

In recognition to their founding of CVFR 6 of the original members, who have been members of the club since the start in 1986, were presented with framed commemorative certificate. All of them are still active in the sport of fellrunning.

Happy, healthy 2013 to you all

shutterstock_122094757 [Converted] copyWishing you all the best for the coming year. Here’s to some good running and fun on the fells. If you are thinking that you would like to have a go at running on some lovely footpaths in the Calder Valley and beyond please come don’t hesitate to come along to Calder Valley Fell Runners. You will find details of our training sessions published here.