Meanders, Landscapes, Verticals and Crosses

Wicken HillEpic routes demanding navigational expertise over remote and hilly terrain are growing in popularity for fell runners.  As a result, events organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association are rapidly turning into unofficial fell races. And so it was that Calder Valley’s Dave Culpan and Mike Dean signed themselves up for the LDWA’s Marsden Moor Meander.
Starting at Marsden Parish Church in the Colne Valley, the route heads off on a grand tour of the hills either side of the M62’s loftiest stretch, visiting four checkpoints over 22 miles, with a respectable 3000 feet of climbing. The Valley duo set off with 30 others  on the initial big ascent north over Slaithwaite Moor.
The route then dropped down and under the M62 at Boothwood  to the first checkpoint, then progressed onto checkpoint two at Windy Hill. A tough section over fell running terrain gave Calder Valley’s men the edge on the gruelling slog over Dog Hill and Ripponden Moor.
They then crossed back to the south side of the M62 to tackle the empty expanses of Denshaw and Castlegate Moor on their way to checkpoint three.
Checkpoint four was on Standedge Moor, above the historic canal tunnel, before a fast and furious descent took its toll on tired legs with a hard track run back into Marsden.
Mike and Dave’s strategy of running and navigating together clearly paid off.
The Calder Valley pair came in with impressive times, Dean in sixth on 4 hours 16 mins and Culpan a couple of seconds behind in seventh.
For those inspired to have a go at one of the many LDWA events then the first port of call should be
Four Calder Valley FR runers took part in the  10.6 mile Turner Landscape Fell Race in the Lake District.
Result: 54, John Minta 2.11:53; 59, Helen Buchan 2.13:21; 70, Simon Fisher 2.23:08; 73, Phillip Beecroft  2.25:08.
CoinersJoe Crossfield flew Calder Valley colours on the continent this week as he swapped the Yorkshire Moors for Alpine Italy, taking on 200 international  mountain runners at the Morgex Vertical 2000 metre race.
He obviously took some Yorkshire weather him as the mountains near Cuneo were hit by torrential rain, forcing organisers to halve the ascent as a safety measure. Joe took advantage of the wet conditions to storm up the1000m ascent, leaving experienced locals in his wake.  Calder Valley’s up and coming star finished fourth in an amazing 44.54.
2015-07-15 20.48.39An inform Darren Kay won the Pilgrims Cross race for Calder Valley at Rossendale in 38 mins 20 secs for the six miler, which has 1,000 feet of climbing. Valley took the team prize in a bumper field of 202.
Calder Valley results: 1, Darren Kay 38.20; 12, Steve Smithies 44.07; 22, Lee Shimwell  46.21; 66, Mike Dean  51.34; 85, John Minta 53.19; 97, Phil Beecroft  55.30; 102, Simon Fisher  56.28; 108, Tony Steward  57.06; 120, Carole Fryer  58.41; 152, Dave Culpan  63.26; 162, Martin Millard  64.34.

Crow hill king Joe Crossfield and Joe Buckley’s 1st at Boulsworth

Calder Valley's Joe Crossfield King and 1st at Crow Hill Reverse

Calder Valley’s Joe Crossfield, King and 1st at Crow Hill Reverse

Crow Hill Reverse

Fell runners are straight forward people. When the route of the Crow Hill Fell Race was reversed, as it was a better route, rather than rename it, it just became the Crow Hill Reverse Fell Race. All the proceeds from the race go to the Ovarian Cancer Charity.

The race itself is fairly straightforward too, from Mytholmroyd, through Redacre Woods, up to the moors via Churn Milk Joan to Crow Hill before returning to Mytholmroyd. Only a 1000ft up and back down again. Traditionally held on the first Tuesday of August, this year was no different. All the proceeds from the race go to the Ovarian Cancer Charity.

So last Tuesday night, the 4th August, 168 runners lined up, the fastest ones hoping to win the king and queen of the mountain, the prize for which is to wear the crown on the descent.

Three Calder Valley runners challenged for the King of the Mountain, Joe Crossfield, Alex Whittam and young Jack Denton, with Joe Crossfield getting to the top of Crow Hill first and claiming the crown.  He was also first back to Mytholmroyd to win the race overall.

Lynne Clough of Chorley was Queen of the Mountain beating Calder’s Lindsay Oldfield to the top.

Lindsay Oldfield & Martin Howard crossing paths at Crowhill

Lindsay Oldfield & Martin Howard crossing paths at Crowhill

1 29.14 Joseph Crossfield 48 39.39 Andy Davies
2 29.32 Alex Whittem 70 41.25 Mike Dean
3 31.45 Jack Denton 71 41.25 Nathan Kennaugh
5 32.14 Martin Howard 75 41.49 Rachael Crossland
12 33.38 Tristan Sheard 92 44.11 Dave Culpan
15 34.09 Stephen Smithies 93 44.17 Brian Horsley
20 34.52 Iain Powell 99 44.50 Steve Woodhead
21 34.59 Mark Goldie 108 46.00 James Cooke
22 35.24 Giles Simon 135 49.46 Rod Sutcliffe
27 35.58 Toby Cotterill 154 55.01 Harley Beecroft
31 36.14 Chris Standish 165 1.03.04 Tamsin Cooke
43 39.08 Lindsey Oldfield

Boulsworth Fell Race

The latest race in the Calder Valley Club Championship took place last Sunday.  The Boulsworth Fell Race is part of the Trawden Agricultural Show, so plenty of entertainment was laid on for runners once they finished.

A race for those who prefer more even ground, the majority of the route is on tracks and across hayfields before a sharp climb up Boulsworth Hill to Great Saucer Stones, along the ridge to Weather Stones before dropping back down to reverse the run out, finishing in the Show Ground.  It still packs in 1000ft of climbing in six miles.

Many of the frontrunners didn’t think the route was long enough so they took an unscheduled detour on the run in.  At least it gave slower runners a chance to catch up.

Boulsworth Jon Smith

Jon Smith claims maximum champ points

The race was won by Andrew Newton of Preston Harriers.  First back for Calder Valley was Jon Smith in 5th place who gained maximum club points, followed by John Killerby in 19th.  John just pipped Richard Sunderland before the line leaving Richard to come in 22nd.  Jo Buckley was 27th overall and first woman back.  The improving Jack Bridger was 39th.  Mike Dean had a good run in 57th just beating Richard Ingram to the line.

In the junior races there were notable performances from Joseph Hobbs, 2nd in boys under 10s junior race and Fearne Hanson 2nd in the girls under 8s.

Team Calder Valley at Boulsworth

Team Calder Valley at Boulsworth

5 00:46:46 Jon Smith 58 00:54:48 Richard Ingram
19 00:49:00 John Killerby 65 00:55:33 Gavin Roper
22 00:49:12 Richard Sunderland 82 00:57:37 Tim Brooks
27 00:49:44 Jo Buckley 89 00:59:46 Mike Wardle
39 00:51:50 Jack Bridger 110 01:05:27 Rod Sutcliffe
57 00:54:23 Mike Dean 117 01:07:17 Carolyn Shimwell
Boulsworth Joseph Hobbs

Joseph working hard to claim 2nd

Boulsworth Fearne Hanson

Fearne’s form continues

Lee Mill fell race witness the ‘comet’ in action.

It was a mixed bag this week for Calder Valley’s intrepid flock, with a Lancastrian flavour casting its shadow across proceedings.

Wednesday’s Lee Mill fell race in Rossendale is a popular midweek event that attracts many from both counties. It is run out of the Lee Mill Quarry site, and although hardly the Eden Project, the quarry provides an imaginative test for the local runners with the 6 mile route squeezing in over a thousand feet of climb.

However, once Calder’s intergalactic comet Ben Mounsey was spotted alighting from his car, the local bookmakers could close their doors, collect in the small red pens and announce ‘There’s your winner’ to all who fancied a flutter. The inevitable came to pass 42 mins and 19 seconds later as Ben yet again dismantled a strong field to win by over four minutes – a vast margin over a six mile race. Barely out of breath, the rampant England international explained, “I wasn’t going to race so quickly after Snowdon, the blisters on my feet have only just healed and are still a bit tender for hard fast running. However Lee Mill is in our club champs this year and I needed the points, plus it’s a great race and I know the organiser Richard. My plan tonight was to go out hard from the start and establish a big lead early on. Fortunately no-one seemed interested in my Usain Bolt start and I was able to cruise round the rest of the course comfortably after the first climb, although to be honest I didn’t feel at my best at all (think I ate too much tea!) but I’m sure a sub-40 time is doable round there.”

Richard Sunderland showed good form in 16th and looked in good nick after his recent race in the Dolomites. Former Red Star pin up Richard Ingram ran a splendid race in 32nd and can finally close the door on an injury plagued 12 months. A succession of ailments has held ‘Bert’ back, but he is back to something like his best now. Moreover, he pipped his fireman pal Jake Ackroyd into 33rd, Jake being another one who has had an excellent few months, somehow finding time in his hectic firefighting schedule to improve as a fell runner.

First Calder lady and first lady overall was Jo Buckley, showing something like  her best form to finish in 24th, and along with pint sized Lindsey Oldfield in 45th with Rachael Crossland again showing well in 65th. The trio ensured that Calder’s ladies scooped the ladies’ prize yet again. Like Ben’s wins, this is also becoming a formality these days in local races. Rachael has improved no end this year after a busy calendar and is reaping the reward for her hard work. Another worthy of mention is Ripponden’s Running Man, Mike Dean who is no stranger to 200km training months. No surprise that then that his results has shown an impressive improvement curve this season and his 54th place here was one of his stand-out runs. Simon Fisher’s needle is also pointing upwards and an excellent 73rd place was his reward for a busy few months on the fells.

Calder Valley's Ben Mounsey and Jo Buckley at Lee Mill

Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey and Jo Buckley in action

Also in Lancashire last week was the picturesque Worsthorne Moor fell race near Burnley on Sunday morning. Just shy of 7 miles and 1000ft, the race takes in the further reaches of Widdop & Gorple Moors. Calder Valley’s Mike Dean went literally one better finishing a superb 53rd to continue his good form and Calder’s Dave Culpan ran an excellent PB to come in 78th. Dave is another whose dedication to the sport is second to none, and it is rare to find a fell race without Dave Culpan in the field, and if there were a prize for best dressed fell runner, Dave would win every week.

Elsewhere, Alistair Morris and Barbara Lonsdale have just completed the European Adventure Racing championships in Ballyhoura in Southern Ireland, coming an excellent 18th out of 50 paired teams. The race, known as ‘The Beast of Ballyhoura’ is a formidable and feared test for the endurance athlete. They raced for 72 hours including running, kayaking, coasteering (whatever that is), swimming and mountain biking. The pair only managed two hours sleep throughout, some of it in a graveyard, which according to Alistair was a little bit dead, and had to stretch even their legendary adventuring skills to finish. Alistair and Barbara continue to scour the globe for ridiculously tough events, and it’s fair to say had they been born in Victorian times, they would surely have had a mountain range or a polar island named after them.

Turnslack and the Turbines


Smithies back to good form.

17 Calder Valley ventured over the border to Lancashire to line up at the deceptively tough Turnslack Fell Race.

A healthy field of 82 runners were greeted by the legendary organiser Kevin Shand, famed for his unconventional prizes which have previously included toilet rolls and pineapples. The race is an old school classic now in its 38th year and at £4 to enter it epitomises the low profile, low cost, racing that is the back bone of the sport. Starting from Calderbrook Church near Littleborough, the 8 mile route takes in a circuit of Shore Moor, visiting Crook Hill, Rough Hill, Free House Top, and Noon Hill following feint sheep trods and pathless moorland, up and down 6 steep climbs totalling over 2000 feet of ascent and descent. 2015 has unfortunately seen the devastating impact of the monstorous Crook Hill wind farm that has recently obliterated the wild landscape that was once such a haven from the industrial landscape below. Like a towering line of aliens the turbines dwarfed the snaking line of runners making their way round Turnslack’s roller-coaster route. The views may have been marred, but the scene was set for some fantastic fell running as a quartet of calder vetrans fought it out to finish within seconds of each other to help take the men’s team prize.

First home was a resurgent Steve Smithies (7th, 1.18.54)  showing his form of old, followed by club mate Iain Powell (12th 1.20.18). Valley’s Simon Bourne is no stranger to gruelling long distance battles and was in his element as he came home 13th in  1,20.57, closely followed by John Killerby (15th 1.22.08)  and Bill Johnson (18th 1.22.20). Unfortunately Valley’s race winning hopes were dashed when young gun Joe Crossfield suffered a rare set-back, feeling unwell he was effectively out forced out of contention, but to his great credit he soldiered on to finish in 79th place.

Calder valley Turnslack results

Name Time Name Time
Stephen Smithies 01:18:54 Iain Powell 01:20:18
Simon Bourne 01:20:57 John Killerby 01:22:08
Bill Johnson 01:22:20 David Beels 01:27:30
Richard Ingram 01:28:50 Gavin Roper 01:33:30
Simon Fisher 01:37:36 Mike Dean 01:37:37
Dave Culpan 01:38:43 Tony Steward 01:42:09
Mark O’Connor 01:44:15 Ben Frechette 01:44:16
Joseph Crossfield 01:46:15 Anthony Costello 01:46:46
Rod Sutcliffe 01:58:37