Karl tames the “New” Beast in record fashion

One happy "Earl"Gray on his way to a great win

One happy “Earl”Gray on his way to a great win. www.woodentops.org.uk

It was all change at the Wadsworth Trog as Calder Valley’s Simon Fisher swapped his running vest for a hi viz bib and timer, to take over as the new race organiser of the club’s most prestigious event. In a baptism of fire, Fisher’s first challenge was to save the event from an untimely demise, having discovered that moorland conservation projects meant that the traditional route was no longer accessible in certain sensitive areas

Having studied the OS Maps for a myriad of alternative routes, Fisher worked with landowners and runners to agree a new route, protecting the event for the future years, whilst preserving the Trog’s reputation as the “Beast of the South Pennines”. 19 miles and 3600 feet of climbing across some of the areas bleakest and wildest hills awaited.

And so it was that 156 runners lined up once again at Old Town Cricket Club, before setting off onto the snow covered tussocks with the Calder Valley duo of Joe Crossfield and Karl Gray setting the pace across Midgely Moor, High Brown Knoll, Dean Head Dam and Cock Hill.

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Jackie Scarf (1st LV50) with Trog newbie Richard Sunderland. www.woodentops.org.uk

In unusually benign conditions the Trog then ascended the steep, and aptly named, Top of the Stairs, before descending further North onto a new section around Haworth Moor, to pick up the old route at the Bronte ruins of Top Withens, to a backdrop of blue skies and sunshine.

Cheered on by a coach party of American tourists, Gray began to edge out his youthful Calder Valley team mate and pulled ahead through Walshaw Dean, before the fatiguing climbs first over Wadsworth Moor, then Shackleton Knoll.

After the brief respite of the descent to Lumb Falls, Crossfield was still clinging on to 2nd place as this new section of route climbed relentlessly back to High Brown Knoll via Limers Gate, before the tricky business of navigating over to Sheepstones Edge on the way back to the Old Town finish line.

1st placed Gray extended his lead to end up 8 minutes ahead of his pursuers, finishing in 2.27.24, setting a high bar for the new-look Trog course. Gray’s name will also be permanently etched to the trophy as his 2008 record will never be beaten across the old route.

Top 3 with Karl looking vertically challenged beside these young guns!!! www.woodentops.org.uk

Top 3 with Karl looking vertically challenged beside these young guns!!! www.woodentops.org.uk

Crossfield can take some pride in an excellent 2nd place in 2.35, and at 20 years his junior, young Joe will surely hold out hope of turning the tables on vetran Gray at some point in the future.

In the battle for 3rd place Calder Valley’s James Logue (2.40.55) was pipped at the post by Ilkley Harrier’s Jack Wood (2.39.35), but still helped the Calder Men to secure the team prize. The women’s trophies went to more distant homes as Emma Bain of Northumberland Fell Runners dominated to finish first lady in 3.09.15, whilst Dark Peak Ladies took the women’s team prize. Calder ladies secured 2nd team with Helen Buchan, Jackie Scarf (1st FV50) and Rachel Johnson completing the team.