“Tour” Triumph for Gray

IMG_0165Calder Valley’s Karl Gray continued his fine run of form with a high profile victory at Saturday’s Tour of Pendle Fell Race. Even by fell-running standards this famous race across Pendle Hill and its surrounding moors is classed in the hardest of the hard, “Category  /Long” class, due to its extreme proportion of climbing over a seemingly endless 17 mile route.  Despite the summit of Pendle Hill itself being 1000 feet above the start line, the  ‘tour’ takes in a gruelling 5000 feet ascent arranged in five progressively sharper climbs separated by easier gradient boggy tracks. Some of Calder Valley’s toughest characters were out in force amongst the 372 finishers, including Ladies Captain Helen Buchan who was forced to drop out at Check Point 2 having been taken ill. Thick fog and rain added to the challenge, making for difficult navigation over the empty, and featureless moors. One runner in particular knows his way around Pendle blind-folded; Karl Gray emerged from the mist at the foot of the last and most severe climb in pole position with several runners hot on his heels. Pendle Hill’s “Big End” certainly creates a big and spectacular end to a relentless series of difficult ascents. Competitors are forced to scramble like beasts on all fours, so that only the strongest can keep a steady upward momentum; and so it proved for Gray, as he showed his class to press ahead of his nearest rivals, Wharfedale’s Ted Mason and Spencer Riley, before injecting devastating pace on the helter skelter descent back to the finish line in Barley to seize victory in 2.21.31. Richard Pattison had a superb run and is looking good for competing in V50s champs next year after his big birthday in January.

Pos Name Club Time
1 Karl Gray Calder Valley FR 2:21:31
2 Ted Mason Wharfedale H 2:23:15
3 Spencer Riley Wharfedale H 2:25:15
6 Richard Pattinson Calder Valley FR 2:31:38
53 Stephen Smithies Calder Valley FR 2:55:19
113 Iain Powell Calder Valley FR 3:09:37
148 John Minta Calder Valley FR 3:16:23
152 Toby Cotterill Calder Valley FR 3:17:23
166 Mike Wardle Calder Valley FR 3:20:09
241 Nick Murphy Calder Valley FR 3:38:10
253 Rod Sutcliffe Calder Valley FR 3:40:59
269 Tim Brooks Calder Valley FR 3:44:12
315 Dave Culpan Calder Valley FR 3:59:27
368 Daniel Biggs Calder Valley FR 4:58:36

“Bullet” gets the record in sodden conditions & it’s all smiles for Linda in Spain

The Happy Trogloydytes - Ben & Gayle

The Happy Trogloydytes – Ben & Gayle

Another weekend, another consummate victory for Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey. This time it was The Wadsworth Half Trog race, staged out of Lane Ends at Old Town above Hebden Bridge. Ben continued his blistering purple patch of recent weeks and smashed the record in the process, taking over three minutes off James Logue’s already swift time set last year.

One hundred and nine runners took the chance to enjoy the expert organisation of Calder’s Thirza Hyde, a club stalwart and dynamo, who was organising her last race after a long and worthy contribution to local fell running. In tandem with the excellent Hare & Hounds pub who hosted in style and generosity, the runners were treated to a peerless day’s racing set in perfect weather, the only drawback was the fact they had to slog across the mighty Midgley Moor for 9.5miles and 1500ft of climb.

Suitably sodden by two days of heavy rain, the Moor was in no mood to make life easy, but if anyone can make light work of such conditions its Ben ‘The Bullet’ Mounsey. However, with club mate and expert navigator James Logue in no mood to relinquish his crown, we were set fair for a keenly fought race. Ben was up to his usual tricks and blasted away in trademark style, up toward High Brown Knoll and beyond. It soon became clear that he was unstoppable. Combined with some canny midweek reconnaissance with local sat nav Mike Wardle, this ensured that Ben took the best lines from Ferney Lee Farm to the recently vandalised Sheepstones Trig point above Mount Skip, and then hit the afterburners for home.

The Trog is aptly named, with waterlogged ground, tactile tussocks and heather that grips your legs like a bull mastiff. What it lacks in climb it makes up for in tough underfoot running; throw in some deceptive nav choices and the changing complexion of the moor each year, then you have one of the calendar’s classic races.

In the ladies race, Gayle Sugden danced over the moor like a balletic pond skater to claim first place a superb 21st place overall, and along with Sally Newman (for whom it’s fair to say The Half Trog isn’t her favourite race!) and Gillian Wibsey ensured Calder ladies took the team prize. It was a clean sweep for the club as Mounsey, Logue and Royd Rocket Mark O’Connor combined to give the men the spoils.

Other notable runs came from local V60 Dave Beels, who can probably negotiate Midgley Moor blindfolded, carding a sound 22nd place, new Dad Jim Mosley in 36th , John Minta ran a superb 41st having flagged the full route the day before and Blair Garret and Andy Thorpe who had a right old tussle to finish 65th and 66th respectively. Similarly Andrew Meek and Tony Steward were only a place apart in 78th and 79th, and Dan Biggs knocked an amazing twenty-five minutes off his time from last year.

Well done to Calder Valley, Thirza and all her well drilled team of marshals and helpers for a splendid days’ running.

A Happy Podium place for Linda

A Happy Podium place for Linda

Slightly further afield Calder’s globetrotting super woman Linda Murgatroyd took part in the Aitana-Puig Campana, a mountain endurance race staged from Finestrat near Alicante in Southern Spain. The Ultra race route is a vertiginous 85km and 5500m of climb (yes, you read that right). Linda, a ferrous-femme of remarkable fortitude loves this sort of stuff and despite an early setback, she girded her loins to finish 3rd female V40 in a mind boggling 15 hrs and 16 minutes and can be seen here astride the podium on the right.

Linda picks up the story for us, “I fell very early on in the race coming off the first hill at about 3 miles in and cut my knee, scraped my chin, nose and cheek bone. My knee was bleeding quite a lot but it didn’t hold me back. We then had a vertical kilometre climb to do which was a killer. After that the weather closed in and it rained and was overcast with some clag which was a God send as the previous day it had been nearly 20 degrees. Anyway I felt strong the whole way round and just kept going.” (…..and going).

If you want to get fit, enjoy the local countryside or just merely be inspired by ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things, then why not join us at www.cvfr.co.uk. We meet every Tuesday evening at 6:30pm at Mytholmroyd Community Centre, enjoy and good laugh and a beer and generally have a spiffing time. It really is good fun.

Bouncey “Bullet” & Smiley Sugden strike again

The bullet strikes again - www.woodentops.org.uk

The bullet strikes again – www.woodentops.org.uk

Each year the Shepherd’s Skyline fell race takes place on the Saturday before bonfire night and it starts and finishes near the Shepherd’s Rest pub on Lumbutts Road, high above Todmorden.  It’s one of the best local races in the fell running calendar and always attracts a large field of runners eager to test their speed and skill on this gruelling 10K course, so ‘parkin’ can often be a problem on the narrow roads around race HQ!

The race features a long undulating climb to Stoodley Pike following which runners endure a steep descent to London Road, before a long climb back up to the skyline precedes a fast breakneck descent to the finishing funnel.  The terrain is varied along the route with rocks as big as pumpkins to negotiate as well as bogs as sticky as toffee.

Calder Valley’s very own Ben Mounsey has been banging in the training miles recently and reaping the rewards with a number of sparkling performances.  With the recently crowned Yorkshire champion lining up against the in-form Alex Whittem and the never out-of-form James Logue, fireworks were definitely expected.

Ben set off like a rocket on the rocky footpath that works its way up to Stoodley Pike, leaving the other runners in his vapour trails.  Once Ben reached the imposing edifice of Stoodley Pike only misfortune could possibly stand in the way of another race victory… and so it proved with the Brooksbank bullet running away from the field to take the win.

James and Alex do battle for 2nd place. www.woodentops.org.uk

James and Alex do battle for 2nd place – www.woodentops.org.uk

James Logue, who teaches at Ryburn School in Sowerby, has excelled in this race in the past and the Ryburn rocket has an unerring ability to maintain a high cadence over the uneven ground, a skill which was good enough to secure Logue first veteran and second place overall.  Calder Valley made it a clean sweep in the team competition with local man Alex Whittem finishing third to record a Calder 1-2-3.

If Ben was the top Guy, then it was his Calder team mate Gayle Sugden who finished top of the pile in the women’s race to make this November fixture one to ‘remember, remember’.

Gayle concentrating hard for the win. www.woodentops.org.uk

Gayle concentrating hard for the win – www.woodentops.org.uk

With a resurgent Anne Johnson in third and local lass Lindsey Oldfield in sixth the Calder club were able to plot their way to the team prizes.  Chorley’s Lynne Clough was second with the unattached Ali Keates and Pudsey’s Karen Pickles in fourth and fifth respectively.

There were great performances throughout with some notable pyrotechnics between Calder’s young stars Jack Denton and Martin Howard and the slightly older Stephen Smithies.  They finished high up the field in the low 20s, in consecutive positions and with less than a minute between them.

Its Yorkshire Gold for “Ben the Bullet”

The Bullet in action as he climbs away to a health lead - www.woodentops.org.uk

The Bullet in action as he climbs away to a health lead – www.woodentops.org.uk

As the fell running year approaches its final months, the keenly fought Yorkshire Championship is a title very much worth gunning for. ‘God’s Own County’ is often guilty of overbearing self-aggrandisement: world’s best fish and chips, best cup of tea, best cricket team, best pint of bitter, fastest ferret etc, but the county can lay claim to some of the country’s best fell runners. To bag the crown of Yorkshire Champion is very much a feather in one’s flat cap.

This year, Great Whernside was chosen as the deciding race, a winner takes all, four mile showdown up and down one third of the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks. Whereas Compo, Clegg & Foggy may have tackled this in a customised iron bath on wheels, with Bill Owen perhaps decked out in an antique diver’s suit for reasons based on nothing more than comedic effect, Saturday’s protagonists were more suitably attired.

Calder Valley sent three of their top guns, Ben Mounsey, Karl Gray and Gavin Mulholland in pursuit of the team prize, with a candid agreement between the three to go all out for the individual title. No F1-style team orders here, just all out racing, and boy what a race we had.

As the wind and rain set in for a gloriously bracing Yorkshire afternoon it was Ben Mounsey who got his tactics spot on. Not one to clutter his mind with complex race strategies, Ben settled on a simple policy of “go as fast as I chuffin’ can and hope nobody catches me” and he blasted out of the blocks in such incongruous fashion that he seemed like a 200m sprinter who’d wrongly turned up for a 1500m race. They don’t call him ‘Ben the ‘Bullet’ for nothing and he blazed toward the peak like a comet, the others vainly trailing in his wake.

its bronze between Yorkshire gold - www.woodentops.org.uk

its bronze between Yorkshire gold – www.woodentops.org.uk

Ben, an Alpha-Stravarian who typically runs over 250km every month, has recently won the Half Yorkshireman marathon, set the fastest leg time at the Ian Hodgson Relay with chum Karl Gray and performed heroics at the British Relays. He is running as well as he ever has. Ben picks up the story, “My plan was to set off in trademark ‘bullet’ style and try to blow everyone away in the first mile. I did wonder if I’d gone too hard at the start but no one chased me down so I pressed on and kept stretching out a lead on the climb. I knew if I got to the top first then no one would beat me on the descent but I still didn’t want to get in a battle with Karl and Ted Mason (Wharfedale Harriers) as they are both renowned for their descending ability.”

Ben needn’t worry as he actually extended the gap between himself and the field during the descent, and romped home in 30:48 to be a comfortable winner by almost a minute – a tidy margin over such a short distance. Ben was understandably delighted with the win and joins an illustrious list of Yorkshiremen who have won the crown. Gav Mulholland and Karl Gray finished 3rd and 4th respectively to ensure the team prize.

Molly Traviss also had a super race and finished 3rd overall U23 female to claim a bronze medal. She can take great heart form this excellent result proving that the Traviss running genes are not exclusive to Garry and Brad. Molly looks set to go on to big things.

Lancashire Lightning Sally Newman was first placed FV50, but as all Lancastrians know when visiting Yorkshire, they don’t give you owt for nowt round here, and it was Bingley’s Ally Raw who claimed the crown.

Elsewhere in the field, Calder’s Blair Garrett put in another excellent run to come in 119th as he continues the good form he showed at Saddleworth, new signing John Killerby a solid 77th , and old pro Allan Greenwood and ladies’ skip Helen Buchan came in neck and neck to finish 102nd and 103rd respectively. Super Dave Culpan added another venue to his fell running global tour and has again run over thirty races this season.