Grays not “SCAR’ed” as he makes a welcome return to racing

Gray does battle with Bailey and Watson (photo courtesy of Tod Harriers)

Gray does battle with Bailey and Watson (photo courtesy of Tod Harriers)

The Flower Scar fell race has long been one of the best races in the Pennines incorporating steep climbs, rough moor and fast paths. So it was welcome news when Todmorden Harriers extended the distance and climb of the race and made it a possible contender for inclusion as a medium counter in the national championships and successor to the defunct Noonstone race. Perhaps it was this that lured six times and current English champion Simon Bailey of Mercia Fell Runners to line up against some of the best local fell runners.

The race was a close contest with the cream of fell running, Bailey, only just beating Calder Valley’s super veteran Karl Gray. Gray continues to be Calderdale’s most enduring endurance athlete and this race proves he’s in great form for the 2014 championships. Another man who seems to get better each year is Wharfedale’s Sam Watson who was only twenty seconds adrift of Gray in third. CVFR’s Alex Whittem had a solid run to finish 4th.

The race climbs to the highest point in Todmorden from which the race takes its name. The Flower Scar summit is less well known than the ubiquitous edifice of Stoodley Pike, with only a loose collection of stones marking its highest point. As well as the thousand metres of undulations the race includes additional challenges of route choice as well as some very boggy sections. Both proved to be the undoing of CVFR’s Graeme Brown who managed to lose his shoe in a bog and his way with an ill-advised route choice. CVFR’s Jim Mosley also found the navigational aspects of the race a rchallenge with a wrong turn near Eagle Crag. No such problems for Race entrepreneur John Lloyd who had a good run out for CVFR to finish in eighth place.

Sally Newman had a cracking run. She was second lady behind the very swift Lindsay Brindle of Horwich, but she was over five minutes ahead of current WV50 national champion Gill Myers of Wharfedale Harriers. As long as Newman can steer clear of injury and if she fancies a tilt at the title, then on this form she’d be hard to beat in the national championships.

1 SIMON BAILEY MERCIA FELL RUNNERS 47.11; 2 KARL GRAY CVFR 47.33; 3 SAM WATSON WHARFEDALE 47.52; 4 ALEX WHITTEM CVFR 48.56; 8 JOHN LLOYD CVFR 54.23; 9 GRAEME BROWN CVFR 54.4; 16 LINDSEY BRINDLE HORWICH RMI 56.44; 19 BEN FRECHETTE CVFR 57.05; 21 ALEXANDER BOWDEN CVFR 57.12; 28 LEE SHIMWELL CVFR 58.45; 29 SALLY NEWMAN CVFR 58.53; 43 JIM MOSLEY CVFR 63.22; 48 GILL MYERS WHARFEDALE 63.58; 52 RICHARD INGRAM CVFR 64.41; 83 NATHAN KENNAUGH CVFR 71.56; 90 TREVOR MURGATROYD CVFR 72.32

Allan Greenwood of Calder Valley Fell Runners organises the Ovenden Fell Race, which was traditionally run in January in previous years. The race starts near Ogden reservoir and follows the side of the golf course up a stoney track for a mile before heading right and across the moor towards the old road to Oxenhope. There are a couple of energy sapping climbs including the drag up Nab Scar, but most of the route is flattish leading to fast running. However, the record rainfall of the past month or so did make for sticky conditions across the peat hags of Thornton Moor.

Winner of the race was Calder Valley’s Gavin Mulholland, with the Northern Irish international able to show a clean pair of heels to lofty Tom Brunt of Dark Peak. Run of the day came from Johny Helliwell, however, who ran the race of his life to finish third with only a second separating him from Brunt. Helliwell was new to fell running last year, but he trains like a seasoned athlete and will surely be one to watch as the year unfolds. It was also good to see Adam Breaks back running for the Calder club again, with fatherhood putting the breaks on his running ambitions over the past year or so.

There was clear blue water between Keighley’s Amy Green and second placed Rachel Pilling of Pudsey and Bramley, but CVFR Women’s captain Helen Buchan has been piling on the training recently and finished in a well deserved third place.

1 GAVIN MULLHOLLAND 56:53; 2 TOM BRUNT (DARK PEAK) 57:32; 3 JOHNY HELLIWELL 57:33; 9 ADAM BREAKS 01:03:14; 25 GRAHAM HILL 01:09:15; 28 AMY GREEN (KEIGHLEY & CRAVEN AC) 01:09:07; 32 RICHARD SUNDERLAND 01:10:03; 40 JOHN MINTA 01:13:32; 41 IAN GLENDINNING 01:13:36; 42 RACHEL PILLING (PUDSEY & BRAMLEY) 01:13:59; 43 DAVID WEBB 01:14:51; 50 ANDY THORPE 01:16:51; 51 TIM BROOKS 01:17:10; 52 NICK MURPHY 01:17:32; 54 HELEN BUCHAN 01:17:42; 58 JEREMY WILKINSON 01:18:36; 63 GRAHAM LLOYD 01:20:23; 65 MIKE WARDLE 01:21:17; 67 DAVE CULPAN 01:22:03; 83 JOHN NUNN 01:27:09; 85 GILLIAN WISBY 01:28:14; 102 GRAHAM DAVY 01:41:21

Shaun Godsman was the solo CVFR runner at the Bleasdale Circle and with a small field of only 64 runners the Todmorden based fireman must have felt a win would be in the bag. But his hopes of another race victory were dashed by the presence of elite man Rob Hope who will be making another strong challenge for a national title this year. It was still a good show from the burger-loving fireman, who although second man overall, was also first Veteran.

1 ROB HOPE Pudsey & Bramley AC 37:01; 2 SHAUN GODSMAN CVFR 38:13

Lindas Lakeland 10 Peaks

The race is called the 10 Peaks Challenge and it’s 73k (45 mile) with 5200m of ascent (18,000ft). They drop you off at the bottom of Helvellyn at 5am so you do Helvellyn then head off up Wythburn to Bowfell, Great End, Ill Cragg, Broad Cragg, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Great Gable, Pillar and Skiddaw – the 10 highest peaks in the Lake District. Although it’s a set route and you have to visit them in order, you can do an alternative route from Scafell. Either back track down Lord’s Rake to the corridor route and do Great Gable then Pillar or drop down into Wasdale and up Wind Gap or Black Sail and do Pillar first, we chose the latter via Black Sail. It gave us an excuse to pop in the pub for some light refreshment. After Great Gable you head to Honister where there was some much needed food and water as the streams were pretty dry en route. At Honister checkpoint you still have 17 miles to go which if the race finished in Keswick, it would’ve been a nice sensible distance but the ascent up Skiddaw certainly sorted the men from the boys. We went up an unconventional way via Applethwaite Gill and Howgill Tongue. Carl Side was too steep and the tourist path too far out of our way. Once we’d dibbed in the freezing cold at the top we took the tourist path down to finish at the football club in Fitz Park. It seemed to take us forever to get off Skiddaw via the tourist path but once we reached the end we found out that we were the 1st pair (not just mixed but first overall) in a time of 19 hours and 7 mins. Ian my partner was ill for the first 4 hours although he failed to tell me this and we lost quite a bit of time early on but once he’d perked up we made good ground. The weather was overcast and cool thank goodness otherwise we’d have been frazzled to a crisp.