Was it silver or was it gold!!! It certainly wasn’t BOTH!!!

Calder Valley’s men took relay honours at the highest level on Sunday 19th October as their veterans won their class and beat everyone apart from Dark Peak.

The 2014 British Fell and Hill Relay Championship took place on the seldom visited Middleton Fells between the Dales and the Howgills.

The area provided great, fast, grassy running, but with gale force winds, and long stretches of unmarked route, the seven Calder Valley teams needed all their accumulated race strategy acumen and mountain craft. More than 1200 runners gathered for this blue ribbon event, 200 teams of six battling it out with the best of British fell running. Calder Valley’s tactic was to capitalise on the club’s wealth of mature talent to enter the veteran category with team of seasoned race winners. Shaun Godsman, Karl Gray, Darren Kay, James Logue, Richard Pattinson,  and Gavin Mullholland certainly stepped up to the mark, providing a dazzling combination of experience and speed.

Calder Valley were third behind Dark Peak and the legendary Borrowdale club after three of the four legs but Gavin Mulholland took the baton on the final leg to push the team into first among the veterans and second overall. It was the first time  Calder Valley had made it into the top three and perhaps the first time an over 40s team had come second overall in the event. It is also believed to be the first time they have beaten their friends and great rivals Borrowdale at the British Relays.

Needless to say, vigorous celebrations ensued at a post-race party organised by host clubs Howgill Harriers and Dallam Running Club. Calder Valley other six teams were a second veterans over 40 side, two ladies teams, two teams in the open section and an over 50 team.

The open A team finished 15th aided by a fine run from Max Wharton, who had the seventh fastest time on the final leg.

Valley came seventh among the women’s teams in 90th position. They had two under 18s running the first leg and Molly Traviss nearly got blown off her feet. Gayle Sugden and Sally Newman had a storming run and posted the second fastest time on leg two, only three seconds slower than that clocked by the pair from the winning Ambleside team.

Other Calder Valley positions: 15: Calder Valley A 4.08.20 (Jason Williams, Ben Mounsey, Alex Whittem, Tim Ellis, Johnny Helliwell, Max Wharton);  67: Calder Valley Vets 40B 4.46.40 (Mark Goldie, Gary Hodgkinson, John Minta, Simon Bourne, Mark Wharton, Steve Smithies). 75: Calder Valley B 4.49.54 (John Lloyd, Richard Sunderland, Ben Frechette, Ian Glendenning, Ian Powell, Mark O’Connor);  90: Calder Valley Ladies A 4.56.47 (Issy Wharton, Gayle Sugden, Sally Newman, Jo Buckley, Lindsey Oldfield, Helen Buchan).130:  Calder Valley Vets 50 5.26.06 (Dave Culpan, Mike Wardle, Rod Sutcliffe, Gary Travis, Phil Scarf, Tony Steward); 138: Calder Valley Ladies B 5.32.01 (Molly Traviss, Barbara Lonsdale, Trudi Entwistle, Jackie Scarf, Karon Foster, Sharon Godsman).

Withens Womens Team Win & Double Strength”Minta”

John on his double up racing weekend

John on his double up racing weekend

With long summer days now behind us fell races are now limited to the weekend and in this season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ last weekend saw two races dominate the fell racing calendar.
 First off was Saturday’s Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race, a true test of Lakeland mountain craft amidst the spectacular scenery that inspired Wordsworth and Coleridge. Checkpoints in this half marathon distance race include the Langdale peaks of Bowfell and Crinkle Crags and the splendid isolation of Pike O’Blisco.  Reaching them all requires over 4000 feet of climbing and descending, including the infamous down-climb of the ‘bad step’ if your route choice takes you that way. It was Dark Peak’s Rhys Findlay-Robinson who continued with his most successful year of racing yet to win outright in a time of 2 hours 16 minutes and just 1 second in front of fast finishing George Crayston of Borrowdale. Crayston will be one to watch next year and he is renowned for his audacious descending, finishing the race with typical bravura and blood flowing from one of his knees.  In fact, it was quite a busy day for the local hospital as runners returned battered and bruised from their epic encounters with the poetic landscape’s rugged features. Wily Jim Davies, also of Borrowdale, finished intact and in third. Calder’s ace navigator James Logue used all his skills in the low cloud to find himself in 1st place at Bowfell. He finally finished in a fantastic 5th position in what was a very strong field. 
In the Women’s race it was a much more elegant although no less determined finish from Judith Jepson, making it a double victory for the Peak District’s premier fell running club.  For Calder Valley Steve Smithies (who didn’t get lost), Rod Sutcliffe, John Minta, Mike Wardle, John Nunn, Tony Steward all ran well in this beguiling landscape.

Gayle battling hard for 3rd lady. www.woodentops.org.uk

Gayle battling hard for 3rd lady. www.woodentops.org.uk

Sunday saw the staging of the Withins Skyline fell race in the bleak, withering Bronte moorland.  The race sets out from Penistone Hill Country Park and visits Withins Ruin, the alleged inspiration for Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights.  Simon Bailey was the day’s Heathcliff; Mercia’s main man once again putting in a heroic performance to win the race by a comfortable three minute margin from Wharfedale veteran Nicholas Charlesworth.

In the women’s race Lindsay Brindle continues to show race-on-race improvement, the Horwich lass running two minutes clear of Belper’s Rachel Chambers. Haworth and its surrounding moorland are made famous by the literary sisters of Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, and it was a triumvirate of local ladies that dominated the team contest.  First Calder lady was Gayle Sugden who is in the form of her life as she notched up a third placed finish and a notable victory over club mate Jo Buckley, who finished fifth.  For the club to be successful in both championships as well as at the forthcoming national relays it needs strength in depth and the signing of Lindsey Oldfield is a coup for the Calder club as she continues to finish well up the field in her first year of running for Calderdale’s finest. Lindsey was not far too adrift of Jo Buckley, coming home in eighth place.

Graham Hill ran a fine race to finish just in front of Gayle, although he was just beaten by local V50 rival Dave Collins of Todmorden. Carl Coughlan has had a good year for Calder Valley and he was perilously close to claiming bragging rights over club colleague Ben Frechette. Richard Sunderland and John Killerby were neck and neck all the way to the finish line with just the mud on the front of his vest separating the veteran man from his younger club mate.  And to make sure his legs would work for 2 days on the up and coming OMM John Minta raced here after the tough Langdale Horseshoe the day before. He said his legs felt a little bit heavy but he still ran well. On what proved to be a glorious day in the Yorkshire countryside, winter clothing was definitely not required, but there were a couple of Scarfs in evidence as ace orienteering couple Phil and Jackie took to the hills, although their route finding skills were not tested on this oversubscribed autumn event.

Calder’s best push Borrowdale all the way & team satisfaction at Saddleworth

photo-4Calder Valley’s elite runners put in a brilliant performance at the weekend’s Ian Hodgson Mountain relay held out of Patterdale in the Lake District. The event, held in memory of Ian Hodgson, an elite fell runner who was tragically killed in a cycling accident in 1985, the day after he’d won the illustrious Karrimor Mountain marathon.

As such, the event presents a particularly stern test of fell and mountain craft, in a team relay format, and is widely regarded as one the plumb fixtures on the fell calendar. It has been a goal of Calder Valley for some time to excel at this event and break the hegemony of some of the larger, more established clubs. The race unfolded into a spellbinding duel between Calder and local giants Borrowdale. Borrowdale, blessed with some of the country’s finest runners and the huge advantage of local knowledge, were not going be budged off their perch without a fight.

A heroic first lephoto-3g run by Alex Whittem and young Max Wharton saw them tie with Chris Steele and Ben Bardsley, steaming over the handover point neck and neck at breakneck speed. Captain Shaun Godsman and new arrival Darren Kay kept the hammer down to stay in contention in second place then Tim Ellis and James Logue carded an excellent navigation leg, made especially tough by the heavy mist that had come down. Going into the final leg, star pairing of Karl Gray and Ben Mounsey ran the leg of their lives to post the fastest time of the day, but were unable to haul in Borrowdale’s old hands, Jim and Phil Davies.

In the mixed event, it was second place again for the crack team of red and white. Special mention must go to lead off pair, the femme fatales of Gayle Sugden and Jo Buckley who were comfortably fastest ladies. 29th place overall and second place mixed team is a superb result.

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Iain, Chris, Joe and Graham looking happy with their team win

More mundane proceedings took place closer to home at the Saddleworth Edges race, an 8 miler run out of Greenfield. A fabulous race and route organised by Saddleworth Runners, it was Calder Valley exile Andy Fleet who took the honours with an excellent run. The diminutive speedster held off a valiant challenge from local physio Joe Washington. Joe collected another second place, but can take solace that there were no costly navigational errors this week, only the vapour trails coming from Andy to deal with. Pint-sized Andy, five foot nothing of sheer class, loves running so much that he recently entered himself into a four man relay event, and ran all four legs himself, coming 5th out eighty teams overall in the process.

Calder took the team prize with excellent runs from Graham Hill, the debonair Chris Standish and golf ace Iain Powell securing the spoils. Other fine runs came from Michael Dean, Super Dave Culpan, Blair ‘Getting Faster” Garrett and Calder’s Lakeland warrior Dan Biggs, who continues to shed weight at a rate of knots. He’s living proof that the fell running diet is second to none!

Scarfs Score Success

Phil & Jackie with their well earned vouchers

Phil & Jackie with their well earned vouchers

Having won the Isle of Man adventure race the week before, Jackie and Phil Scarf followed their success with a win in the Rab Mountain Marathon. The event was based in the SE Lakes with the overnight camp being in Longsleddle. [For the uninitiated this involves carrying very lightweight kit including sleeping bag, tent, stove, food, while navigating over the fells visiting as many controls as possible].

Although they’ve won the Mixed Vets before, this time they managed to come 1st overall on the Short Score [6 hrs Saturday/5 hours Sunday] Not bad for 2 Calder Valley vets!