Sunday saw the second round of Calder Valley’s club championship with the medium category Ian Roberts Memorial race from Marsden Cricket Club. As such, a bumper contingent of red and white descended upon the picturesque cricket ground, which was bathed in Sunday’s glorious sunshine. The 6.4m/843ft route is not one to be underestimated as it combines a tricky combination of track, climb, mud, rapid descent and Grimley-esque knee high tussocks. The race is in memory of Holmfirth Harrier’s former star fell runner who tragically died after being struck by lightning while climbing in the Italian Alps some years ago.
Calder’s young star, Joe Crossfield, made the early running and was closely tracked by fellow colt, the whippet-like Jack Ross from Staffordshire Moorlands AC. They scrapped it out over the initial climb up to Swellands Reservoir with Joe ultimately settling into a decent lead and looking good for yet another win. Tucked in behind were Penistone’s Andy Swift, Colin Walker from Pudsey & Bramley, Calder’s pin-up Jonny Helliwell and a clutch of local Holmfirth Harriers.
But as the leading group turned to face the daunting rake up Pule Hill, a local marshall, in a rare case of an official not sticking his beak into things, gladly let Joe run thirty-odd yards or so off course, thus letting the others pass him, in turn demoting Joe down to third place. Somewhat miffed by this blatant act of local skulduggery, Joe corrected his error, stamped on the gas and hit the afterburners in a blazing ascent of Pule Hill. He had just caught the shoulder of the leader Jack Ross at the summit when disaster struck and his calf muscle went twang.
A disconsolate Joe was left to trudge back to the start, rueing his bad luck at the shoddy piece of marshalling. Jack Ross took full advantage of Joe’s misfortune to gladly take the win in an excellent time of 48:33, with Andy Swift of Penistone in second in 48:45. The Calder cause was picked up by Stainland’s version of the Sistene Chapel, super-Jonny Helliwell, who put in yet another top class run to come in third.
The ladies race was keenly fought with Helen Berry of Holmfirth Harriers taking the spoils in 56:39 and 22nd overall. In second was Calder’s super-vet Sally Newman continuing her splendid start to the year with a brilliant run to come in 36th. Sally made light work of the knee deep, trap-door tussocks on the rapid descent toward Butterly Clough and again showed why she’s one of the most consistent performers in town. Gillian Wisbey can also be pleased with an excellent 112th place as her dedicated early season training schedule continues to bear fruit.
Elsewhere, Liam Gough, Richard Sunderland, the returning Steve Smithies, Graham Hill, Jim Mosley and Spartacus himself, Garry Traviss, contested an excellent top order battle – Garry recovering from losing a shoe at one point – to see a host of Calder in the top quartile of finishers. Former Red Star legend, Richard Ingram, brushed aside the aches and pains from Pendle the day before to card and excellent run, and ever-presents Andy Thorpe and Dave Culpan once more kept the red and white flag flying in the midfield. Graham Davy, who has just about dried out from his Trog marshalling duties, came in in a splendid 122nd.
The day before at Pendle near Burnley, the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round (10m/1934ft), Richard Ingram was highest placed Calder finisher. This came after the double retirement of Royd Rocket Mark O’Connor and the swarthy pocket dynamo, Ben Frechette, who both came a cropper in the eerie mists atop Pendle Hill. Both now face a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s Howarth Hobble – no small undertaking at 32 miles. The race was won by Pudsey & Bramley’s Rob Hope, one of the country’s best at this distance, with Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson wining the ladies’ race.