KARL GRAY was England’s highest placed runner as he finished in 11th in 3 hours 25 mins, Whilst Calder Valley’s Helen Fines, and Jo Buckley finished 6th (2.47.31) and 16th (3.04.44) respectively. Fines secured a Bronze medal together with Anna Lupton and Holly Rush. England were narrowly beaten to silver by their Scottish rivals.
The World Mountain Running Association WMRA, Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge has been held every year since 2004 when Sierre-Zinal, in the Switz Alps, hosted the event. Since then, the event has showcased races with international prestige to include Switzerland’s Jungfrau Marathon which twice hosted the event, the first in 2007 and a return last year. There have also been two visits to Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Calder Valley’s star trio joined the cream England’s fell runners, as the world’s best mountain runners gathered in Szalarska,Poland, to compete for the WMRA international honours. Located in western Poland, Szalarska is surrounded by chain of impressive mountains, including the 1362-meter high Mt. Szrenica. The 27 mile WMARA route climbs 6500 feet across the Karkonosze Mountain ridge, through rocky and technical terrain, very different to the muddy fells of the Lakes and Dales. Throw in the heat, altitude, and a host of nations used to competing in hot climates, and alpine ridges, and you have some idea what our gallant England teams were up against.
Karl Gray’s debut England performance was not enough to help England’s men to medals as Slovenia’s Mitjia Kosovelj dominated the 10th edition of the WMRA World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship. Italy took the team titles in both the men’s and women’s races, with Italy’s Antonella Confortola winning the women’s race.
Calder Valley Fell Runners can be proud of Karl Gray’s top position for England and the International success of their women. The club can boast a host of athletes with the ability to compete at the very highest level. This was Helen Fines’ 2nd long distance championships – she was 3rd in 2011 as well as being part of the gold medal winning team. Helen has also represented England at the Snowdon mountain race finishing 2nd and was also on the winning team there. Jo Buckley won the England trial at the Wharfedale Off Road Marathon with a very impressive run to also break the course record. She was 21st at last year’s World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge in Switzerland and has also run for England at the 2011 Snowdon International Mountain Race.
Calderdale probably has no other sport in which it can claim athletes that can achieve such consistent national and international success, transcending the local and regional sports scene. The only surprise is that relatively few local people understand that we have such excellence in our midst. With two of the largest fell running clubs in country and the highest number of hill running events anywherei n the world, we all have something to be proud of.