Record turn out as CVFR girls take team honours

150478_341472312619694_1752592314_nCalder Valley’s women salvaged local pride at Sunday’s Heptonstall Fell Race, which attracted a record field of 227.

Local village runner Kate Mansell, Jackie Scarf, and Helen Buchan won the ladies’ team prize in the third running of the 15 mile event.

The race’s growing reputation meant a major influx of classy runners from regional clubs and Valley’s Tim Black was the only local club runner to make the top 10. He finished seventh behind runaway winner Adam Osborne from Leeds City AC with four Wharfedale Harriers entrants packed in the top six.

Osborne led all the way to win in 1:58:20 and he was exactly five minutes in front of Wharfedale’s Spencer Riley. Calder Valley had three more in the top 20 – Kevin Hoult (11th in 2:13:20 ), Ian Symington (14th, 2:15:24 and Steve Smithies (20th, 2:19:510).

The event was organised by the Heptonstall Hurriers, a group of Tod Harriers and Calder Valley Fell Runners based in and around the village; the Hurriers have inspired many of the local community to get involved in Fell Running, and the race received tremendous support from from village residents. In a fantastic display of community spirit seventy volunteers marshalled,  directed traffic, and dished out free soup and cakes, while the White Lion pub provided changing and registration facilities, as well as the proceeds of a keg, plus cases of real ales as prizes.

The runners received their traditional blessing from the Rev Howard Pask, who has run a London Marathon himself, before setting out in conditions which contrasted to the warmth of 12 months earlier. While it was again bright overhead, this time it was cold and boggy underfoot after snow earlier in the weekend. The adverse conditions meant organisers were unable to use their usual field for parking. However, highways officials allowed them to use the closed-off Lee Mill Road and Draper Corner as an ironic, make-shift, car park for the 150 vehicles that flooded into the hill top village.

One new feature was a knee-deep crossing of Hebden Water after the wooden bridge at Hardcastle Crags had been swept away during the July floods.

The event raised more than £1000 for charity; Mytholmroyd Scouts and Calder Valley Search and Rescue, who helped out on Sunday, were among the beneficiaries.

Calder Valley finishers: 32, Ben Frechette 2:23:23; 38, Martin Huddlestone 2:24:45;  41, Robert Paradise 2:25:37; 52, Jonathan Emberton 2:31:44; 53, Lee Shimwell 2:31:53; 54 Toby Cotterill 2:32:18; 61, Chris Standish 2:34:00; 62, Mark Wharton 2:34:03; 63, Giles Simon 2:34:07; 73, Paul Biddulph 2:36:11; 74, Richard Sunderland 2:36:55; 85, Ashley Sharp 2:39:34; 89, Graham Hill 2:40:29; 104, Michael Fryer 2:45:28; 106, Martin Mason 2:45:40; 110, Jeff Winder 2:46:48; 112, Kate Mansell 2:47:35; 113, Nick Murphy 2:48:11; 114, Brian Horsley 2:48:22; 116, Andy B Thorpe 2:48:40; 117, Jackie Scarf 2:48:44; 118, Michael Dean 2:49:11; 144, Helen Buchan 2:55:56 ; 147, Simon Fisher 2:56:57; 148, Mike Wardle 2:57:19; 154, Nathan Kennaugh 2:59:08; 160, Jimmy Oldfield 3:01:51; 171, Tony Steward 3:06:50; 173, Louise Marix Evans 3:07:42; 180, Sharon Godsman 3:09:09; 182 John Nunn 3:09:34; 193, Gillian Wisbey 3:19:40; 200, Sally Chesworth 3:22:03; 209, Andrew Meek 3:26:17; 210, Dave Culpan 3:27:23 .

Kevin not “Houlted’ in 1st Ultra Champs

Haworth Hobble or Wuthering Hike, whichever name preferred, there’s no mistaking that it’s a 50km slog traversing the gritstone moors around Haworth, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.

The start is from the Main Street, Haworth and goes straight up the cobbled road, out along Cemetery Road and then onto the moorland footpath to Bronte Bridge. Cross the Bridge and head for Top Withens, along the Pennine Way to Widdop Road. Run up the road to Widdop Reservoir and here, after your first 7 miles, you will find the first refreshment station.

The race then goes around the reservoir and joins the Limersgate track which takes you past the Yorkshire/Lancashire boundary then continuing on the bridleway to Hurstwood Reservoir dam wall. From here it’s good footpath running via Cant Clough dam wall and into Sheddon Clough before climbing up to the road checkpoint at the Long Causeway car park. Almost half way now but most of the climb still to come!

From the car park it’s a short run up the road then onto the footpath past Stiperden House Farm to Stoney Lane checkpoint. Where strong stomached runners can help themselves to a hotdog or two! Go down Stoney Lane to the Cross Stone Inn and take the steep, narrow, walled footpath past the back of the church, to Halifax Road. Cross the road and head towards Lumbutts taking the footpath which zig zags steeply up the hill to Mankinholes. Another re-fuelling opportunity at this checkpoint, with whiskey and jam doughnuts on offer and with the climb upto Stoodley Pike imminent it’s worth stopping for a moment.

After reaching Stoodley Pike, descend down the Pennine Way, then along the track above Callis Wood and down a steep lane to Hebble End. Another climb now upto Heptonstall but by now there’s less than 10 miles to the finish. On reaching Heptonstall head down the lane and steep path to the penultimate checkpoint and refreshment opportunity at Horse Bridge. From here it’s up the bridleway past Hollin Hall and onto the packhorse track which leads down to cross Crimsworth Dene and this is the final checkpoint. With only four miles to go the route climbs the tarmac lane which eventually leads to Top O’t Stairs before following the track that drops down to Leeshaw Reservoir. Run, hike or hobble along Moorside Lane and up the road to Penistone Hill and then it’s 1 mile along the Bronte Way back to the start at Haworth Primary School.

There was a strong turn-out of runners and first Calder Valley finisher was Kevin Hoult in an outstanding 3rd place, a real breakthrough result against some of the country’s leading ultra-runners. Kevin started off steady, then pulled through to the lead group and led the middle section of the race before being over-taken by eventual winner Duncan Harris from Chester over the last few miles. Amazingly, Duncan’s winning time was just two secionds quicker than second placed toby Evans from Rossendale. Next Calder Valley finisher in 7th place was Simon Bourne from Heptonstall, who used his local knowledge to pull through the field on the tricky middle section through Todmorden. In a very fine position of 23rd was lady race winner Cath Wood from Bridlington.


Girl power in the Lakes and Dales

Waites on her way to an impressive 3rd place (photo courtesy of Woodheads)

Waites on her way to an impressive 3rd place (photo courtesy of Woodheads)

Near to the village of Silecroft in the south-west corner of the Lake District National Park, stands Black Combe. 2000 feet above sea level, 10 miles away from any higher ground, the isolated peak makes a daunting location for a fell race. Clearly visible from below is the immense, dark-coloured glacial corrie, known as Black Combe, from which the mountain derived its name. The Black Combe Fell Race makes 2 epic ascents of this fearsome fell, resulting in a total of 3400 punishing feet of climbing, in only 8 miles. The race attracts some of the best fell runners in the country, many of whom live and train on the local Lakeland Fells.

Demonstrating her credentials as one of the UK’s strongest female fell runners Calder Valley’s Helen Fines produced another magnificent performance, conquering Black Combe’s crags, to win the ladies race in a top class field, with the elite Lakeland pair of Lizzie Adams and Anna Lupton hot on her heels in second and third place. Fines was first lady (1:23:27) and finished in 24th place overall in a field of 161.

Fines was fortunate not to be disqualified however, as it later emerged that the Calder runner had been so focused on her race strategy that she had left the vital timing chip in her car, and was consequently unable to check-in at the various control points. Race organisers took sympathy on the distraught Calder runner having confirmed that she had correctly followed the route and was not guilty of any under-hand tactics. Helen’s face matched the red hoops of her shirt as she was warned to be better organised in future.

Fines had to give the race itself her full concentration; she was made to fight hard for her victory, finding herself in second place on the first climb, as Black Combe Runner Lizzie Adams took an early lead. Adams used her speed to pull away from Fines on Black Combe’s summit plateau, but Helen exploited her technical expertise to fly past Adams on the plunging descent from White Combe to Whitecombe Beck, with elite international, Anna Lupton pushing Adams into third place.

As the race then made the stream crossing, Fines had a slight advantage over Lupton, but the 3 runners were still locked together, only separated by 20 seconds. Adams then made a bid for pole position, using her up-hill strength to move ahead of Lupton on the final climb. Adams was gaining on Fines as the runners made their torturous return to Black Combe’s summit, and it seemed that she might be destined to steal the lead. Fortunately the Calder Valley runner held off the Adam’s surge, to reach the Black Combe summit cairn 15 seconds ahead of her rival. Fines was then able to throw herself down the 1500 feet descent to the finish line, with another display of high speed courage and skill, leaving the chasing Adams and Lupton to fight it out for 2nd and 3rd place, surely wondering how Calder Valley’s Fines managed to steal the glory in their Lakeland backyard.

Equally impressive was Calder Valley’s Tim Ellis who finished in a tremendous third place (1:11:08 ) behind the international, and national champions Ricky Lightfoot (Ellenborough AC) and Rob Jebb (Bingley Harriers). Ellis finished only 3 minutes behind the winner and was within 2 minutes of Jebb, whilst beating off the formidable Borrowdale quartet of seasoned race winners; Ben Bardsley, Jim Davies, Gavin Bland, and Simon Booth. Ellis must now be due a series of race wins particularly if he returns to events with less star-studded fields.

The delighted Fines said “My race plan is always the same, I’m one-paced so I run at threshold capacity throughout short and medium races, and hope my legs don’t give way if there’s a lot of uphill. They were getting a bit knackered by the top of the last climb, but I glanced behind and saw Lizzie so I had to find a bit extra!”

Jo Waites made it 2 wins in one weekend for the unstoppable girls of Calder Valley. Jo travelled to the Yorkshire Dales to take on the Trollers Trot long distance challenge. The 25 mile race is a true test of endurance with 3750 ft of ascent across some of the finest scenery in the Yorkshire Dales . Blassed with glorious spring sunshine, the event started at Bolton Abbey, and visited Simons Seat, Trollers Ghyll, Burnsall, Linton Falls, Winterburn Reservoir, and Rylestone Church, before returning to Bolton Abbey over Rylestone Fell. Jo Waites not only won the ladies race in 3 hours 11 minutes, but was an incredible 3rd overall in a field of 230. The Blackshawhead runner has now won 3 races in recent weeks having made an immediate return to form following her 2012 injury woes. Jo’s partner Paul Bidulph was not far behind in 10th place (3.29). The race was won by Richard Pattinson in 2.50.

How many “Shades of Gray”

Flower Scar 1, 2, 3 (photo courtesy of Dave Woodhead)

Flower Scar 1, 2, 3 (photo courtesy of Dave Woodhead)

Calder Valley fell runners were in the ascendency on Saturday with an impressive 1-2-3 at the Flower Scar Fell Race in Todmorden.

The 6.5 mile race centres on Todmorden Cricket Club and takes in over 700m of gruelling climb, a fair old chunk for a race of this length. The route takes you steeply out of Centre Vale to Todmorden Edge, passing close by the old Sourhall Pub that older readers may well remember fondly – if somewhat hazily, then onward out toward Flower Scar Hill. You then descend to Roundfield, then contour along Barewise Wood and Robinwood, followed by a sanity-testing climb back up to Todmorden Edge before the eyeballs-out descent back to the cricket field.

The race has taken on a different guise this year, being slightly longer in route, and also moving from its former midweek summer slot. It now sits in the calendar in the weekend of the old favourite race, the much missed beast ‘Noonstone’, and is expertly staged by John Wright and his fellow Todmorden Harriers.

But it was Calder Valley that upstaged their local rivals with Karl Gray again showing why he is one of the country’s best fell runners with a virtuoso display. There is only one shade for Gray these days and that is victory, but he had to be at his high speed best to hold off the valiant challenge from club mate Tim Ellis, who pushed him very hard to the tape. A mark of how well these two ran is that Alex Whittem – no slouch himself – was a distant third, a hefty three and half minutes behind.

First lady was Todmorden’s Lauren Jeska who finished in an outstanding tenth place, with first Calder Valley lady home being Sally Newman, still as sprightly as ever, in an impressive 61st place. Special mention must also go to Middleton’s legendary Roy Lee, a one-man Vet 80 category, who came in in 239th place. Not bad at all for a guy of 82, and a shining example to us all.

Nearly 250 runners competed demonstrating the increasingly popular nature of local fell running, especially over this sort of distance, and many stayed on afterwards to enjoy the fine hospitality laid on by Tod CC & Tod Harriers in the clubhouse.