A golden year

A gap in the racing calendar allowed fell running’s great and good to gather at the FRA annual presentation at The Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere, hosted by Ambleside AC.

Men's English and British Gold 2015

Men’s English and British Gold 2015

SHIRTS FRA Presentation 2015Calder Valley’s glitterati were out in force as the club’s men celebrated in style, picking up trophies for a clean sweep of the national 2015 FRA team titles.

An amazing year has shown that the club’s strength in depth is second to none.

CVFR were recognised for their magnificent achievement of winning gold medals in both the English and British Championship, with further gold in the English Vets and British Vets Championship.

This was the result of around 10 runners each contributing in some way in a multitude of counting races across the UK’s hills and mountains.

The women won bronze team medals in the English vets championship.

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

There were also individual successes to celebrate.  Karl Gray won joint-gold in the English V45 championship and Bronze V40, Gavin Mulholland won bronze in the British vets and Sally Newman won gold in the English FV50 and silver V45.

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

The Tour of Pendle

A hardy group of Calder Valley Fell Runners struggled across flooded Pennine Valleys to Lancashire on the 14th November, to take on the daunting Tour of Pendle, an early winter classic that packs in a mighty 5000 feet of climbing over 17 painful miles that criss-cross Pendle Hill with several immense ascents.

400 runners arrived at Barley Village Hall to the news that famous course was to be shortened by 3 miles to avoid the risk of exposing marshals to long periods of potentially dangerous weather. In practice this meant missing out the last two torturous climbs of Pendle Hill, reducing the course to 14 miles and 2700 feet of ascent.

The race began as usual with first big climb from Barley to Check Point 1, at Pendle Hill’s summit cairn. There followed the enjoyable descent over open moor and into a valley following a fast flowing stream to

Check Point 2, before a sharp drop to Churn Clough reservoir and a relative rest as runners ran along the access track by the water to Check Point 3.

By this time the race had settled down, with the leaders off ahead and a long column behind, containing most of the Calder Valley mid-pack runners.

The leg to Check Point 4 was a short but nasty climb up a steep sodden hillside covered in bracken and peat making for inefficient motion. This big effort was immediately rewarded by the massive, adrenalin-inducing descent to Ogden Clough. The kamikaze-style running that typifies this section of the race has led to the infamous descent being branded ‘Geronimo’. This seemed about right, as many runners resorted to slithering down on their backsides at great speed to Check Point 4 in the valley bottom.

The race then turned sharply through a water crossing, to follow a stream for a few hundred yards before climbing sharply to Check Point 5, only to turn 90′ and drop back to Ashendean Clough, and the foot of the last big climb on the shortened route, back to the top of Pendle Hill (again!) where the race dropped rapidly, back to Ogden Clough for a relatively easy half mile downhill to the road, where the Calder Valley contingent put in a 1 mile sprint finish to arrive back in Barley.

Pudsey & Bramley’s Rob Hope was first home followed by Chris Holdsworth of Clayton Le Moor in second, just ahead of Bingley’s living legend, Ian Holmes. Calder Valley’s A team were noticeable in their absence, which gave Kevin Hoult the honour of being the first Calder runner over the line in 2.05.24, in 36th place overall.

Ladies Captain Helen Buchan was having the race of her life until the sole came off her fell shoes. She still limped home to finish but was obviously disappointed. That’s fell running for you  … you just never know whats round the corner.

Pendle results:-

36 Kevin Hoult 485 M40 02:05:24
53 Ian Symington 118 M 02:10:01
78 Bill Johnson 477 M50 02:15:55
101 Mark Wharton 247 M50 02:19:16
191 Helen Buchan 164 W 02:32:40
215 Michael Wardle 152 M55 02:36:12
254 Mike Dean 23 M50 02:42:22
325 Linda Murgatroyd 290 W45 02:52:03
350 Craig Hall 445 M 02:58:28
357 Dave Culpan 180 M50 02:59:08
383 Philip Jones 463 M55 03:05:01
390 Rod Sutcliffe 206 M60 03:11:46
393 Daniel Biggs 70 M 03:14:22


Awarded for the best season ever …

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

Calder Valley had a stellar 12 months on the fells so it was no surprise that they were nominated in a few categories at the recent Halifax Courier Sports Awards. They were nominated and went on to win the Amateur Team of The Year prize. This was jointly awarded for both the seniors and V40s men after their best season ever by mopping up English and British team titles before adding the British Relay Crown recently.. This was followed by Ben Mounsey being voted the Amateur Male Sports Person of the Year much to his surprise!!! Ben has stepped up a level in his sport this year being honoured with both English and Great British vests and he was GBs top runner at an event in Italy recently. He revealed the secret of his success to the audience – a 70 mile per week training schedule. Co host Pete Emmet had the audience laughing when he said that was a far as he did in his car!!!

Here’s what Ben had to say  …

A couple of weeks ago I’d been contacted by our local newspaper, The Halifax Evening Courier, to tell me that I’d been shortlisted for ‘Amateur Sportsman of the Year’ at the annual Calderdale Sports Awards. Obviously I was both extremely flattered and excited about attending the event. What made the news even sweeter was that my good friend and training partner, Karl Gray, had also been shortlisted. In addition to this both the Calder Valley Open and V40 teams were in the running for ‘Best Amateur Sports Team 2015’.

Karl was crowned the World Mountain Running V45 champion in September, capping yet another fantastic season and cementing his name at the top of the Calder Valley ‘Legends’ list. I’d like to think I’m close to climbing up to those dizzy heights myself but I’ve still a way to go before I match Karl’s great achievements over the last decade.

The club nomination for ‘Best Team’ was no great surprise to me, both the Open and V40’s were crowned English and British fell running champions a couple of months ago and of course we managed the ‘Grand Slam’ by also winning the British Fell Relays last month at Pendle. A fine season indeed. I was hopeful of us walking away with at least one trophy at the awards ceremony.

The presentation was once again held at The Venue, Greetland and as ever it was a well organised affair. Huge thanks to both the Evening Courier and all the sponsors for organising and funding the event. I also need to praise all of the hard work and genius that goes into writing the sports reports. Jim Mosley, Tim Brooks, Steve Grimley (CVFR) and of course Ian Rushworth (Sports Editor at the Courier) and his team. I think it’s fantastic that Calderdale’s finest sports stars are recognised for all their hard work and commitment.

Martin Howard (Calder Valley Junior Fell Runner) was also nominated so Kudos to him for a great season, one to watch in the future I’m sure.

What did cross my mind was that if the top female award had gone to a runner then perhaps it would lessen the chances of a male equivalant doing the same. At least we were up for the team prize I thought. Also strange to think that our Calder Valley Open team were competing against the vets too, I suppose it doubled our chances of winning!

Team trophyWhen they announced the nominees for ‘Best Team’ I was really nervous, I realised then how much I wanted us to win. I joined Calder Valley about 8 years ago and during this time I’ve seen the club grow in stature and watched the men’s team slowly transform into the best team in Britain. I’d like to think I’ve played a significant role in making this happen. I remember running for Stainland Lions in 2006 at Thieveley Pike when it was an English Championship counter that year. It was my first champs race and I came 10th, beating Karl who was competing for Calder Valley. After the race he and Jo Waites both asked me to join the club. Karl is one of my fell running heroes so naturally the thought of racing in the same team as him was very appealing. I laid my cards on the table and negotiated a contract that was to massively change the fortunes of both great clubs. I agreed to join Calder Valley in a record breaking deal…2 pints of Guinness and a packet of Big D peanuts. Sky Sports got hold of the news and it was all over the telly for a couple of weeks, I’m pretty sure most of you reading this will remember it well, ground breaking stuff 😉 Also as part of the deal both Jo and Karl signed 2nd claim for Stainland and the rest as they say is history! Stainland Lions began smashing the local Cross Country league and Calder Valley went from strength to strength as many others at Stainland followed my lead. Since then the club have signed Gav ‘Mad Legs’ Mulholland, Shaun ‘Lardy Lancs Lad’ Godsman, Alex ‘The Flying Postman’ Whittem, James ‘Logie Bear’ Logue, Tim ‘Timbo Baggins’ Ellis, Richard ‘Ironman’ Pattinson, Math ‘The Welsh Whizzard’ Roberts, Jason ‘Benjamin Button’ Williams and Daz ‘Special K’ Kay, to name but a few! Success breeds success. As well as being team mates we’re also great mates so I wanted to win the team award just as much as the individual.

When they announced the winner I was chuffed to bits…Calder Valley Open….AND V40 team! We’d all been honoured! A brilliant decision and one that celebrates our 10 year journey of becoming the best in the country.

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

Bens Trophy

Shortly after we returned to our seats it was straight onto the main award for the night…’Amateur Sportsman of the Year 2015’. They announced the four nominees, including Karl and then me. I genuinely would have been happy if either of us had won, I honestly believe we’ve both earned it this year.

There was a long pause as the sponsor announcing the award fumbled with the envelope. At first I didn’t recognise the winner, his name wasn’t familiar. In fact I couldn’t even remember him being announced as a nominee. Then I realised it was me! The guy reading my name was obviously a ‘back page courier virgin’ because he couldn’t even vaguely pronounce ‘Mounsey’ . Still I didn’t care as I walked up to the stage because I was proud as punch.

For me this award represents the 2,700 miles, the 395 hours and the 380,000 ft of climbing that I’ve done so far this year. I’ve trained hard, raced hard and earnt every bit of success that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. It’s not come easy and I’ve not taken my fitness for granted. So when I say it’s one of the finest achievements of my career I really mean it.

Shepherd’s Skyline, Half Trog and Roaches.

Another weekend and another three fell races dominated by Calder Valley Fell Runners. Four individual first places, three team first places, and four junior firsts with two new records continued the clubs winning season.

lc ss 2015

Lucy on her way to a great win

Shepherd’s Skyline

ls ss 2015

Lee Shimwell back in the mix

First up on Saturday was the Shepherd’s Skyline run from the Shepherd’s Rest Inn, Lumbutts. A fast start is recommended for this race and Ben Mounsey took heed setting off like a scalded cat to lead the race from start to finish.  Behind Ben there was an epic battle for 2nd place between 5 guys who have really hit form of late; Ian ‘The legend’ Holmes (Bingley), Daz Kay, Chris Holdsworth (Clayton-le-Moors), Joe Baxter (Pudsey and Bramley) and Alex Whittem.

All 5 exchanged positions throughout the race but ultimately it was the guile and experience of Holmes that allowed him to gain the upper hand on the final descent.  However he was nearly two minutes behind ‘Bullet’ Ben.

The 7 mile route heads up to Langfield Common before heading to Stoodly Pike. A rapid drop to London Road is followed by a climb back up to Withens gate before returning across the moors to the Shepherds Rest. Ben was supported by Darren Kay, Alex Whittam and Jon Smith to win the men’s team prize for the club.

The women of Calder Valley had an equally successful race with Lucy Collins winning and, supported by Anne Johnson in second and Jo Buckley in 4th, Calder also took the women’s team prize.

Back on form Calders Anne Johnson

Back on form Calders Anne Johnson

Several youngsters were victorious in the junior races, Fearne Hanson and James Duffy won their u10 races, Elio Beesley won the u12 race in a new record of 6.58 and Erik Powell won the u14, again with a new record of 7.06.


1 Ben Mounsey 41.20 57 Anne Johnson 55.22
4 Darren Kay 43.21 68 Jo Buckley 57.12
6 Alex Whittem 45.20 71 Lindsey Oldfield 57.37
14 Jon Smith 48.35 72 Jake Ackroyd 57.41
20 Mark O’Connor 49.55 101 Andrew Davies 60.46
31 Tristan Sheard 51.45 129 Gavin Roper 64.20
32 Lee Shimwell 51.55 164 James Cooke 68.35
37 Iain Powell 52.29 183 Charlotte Wetton 72.26
39 Lucy Collins 53.00 199 Gloria Ayuso 75.47
46 Mark Wharton 53.53 210 Gill Dickson 77.21
55 Ben Frechette 55.00 230 Tamsin Cooke 95.25


U10s U12s
1 Eilo Beesley – Record 6.58
1 James Duffy 6.54 4 Jude Baldaro 7.06
2 Patrick Casey 7.04 5 Alex Duffield 7.07
4 Charlie Pickens 8.14 7 Joseph Hobbs 7.19
5 James Willis 8.58 11 Maya Brunt 8.37
6 Tom Owen 9.12 12 Ruby McFie 8.41
7 George McFie 9.49 U14s
9 Alfie Hackett 10.04 1 Erik Powell – Record 7.06
11 Fearne Hanson 10.25 2 Lucas Greenwood 7.48
12 Matilda Baldaro 10.55 3 Jack Willis 7.56

Half Trog

Pigs are great, it’s well funny watching them scatting about in the mud, snorting and grunting! Whenever a fell race starts from the Hare and Hounds pub at Old Town, its compulsive viewing to have a look at the pigs around the back.  It puts you in mind of what the next hour or so of racing will be like.  So said Darren Fishwick, fell racer extraordinaire of Chorley after the Half Trog Race last Sunday.

The Half Trog is a nine mile slog from Old Town to High Brown Knoll, down to Dean Head Reservoirs, back up to the Whinney Stones before returning to Old Town via Sheepstones. The race has been slightly rerouted because of reseeding work on the moor near Cock Hill.

bj ht 2015

Bill Johnson working hard to earn his best result.

Sunday’s race felt like two separate races. James Logue ran his own race way out in front of the rest of the pack, winning with a very impressive 8 and a half minute margin. He took 1:12:16 to get round the new course.  Paul Hobbs of Todmorden was second.  Bill Johnson, Calder Valley’s own Chairman, had the best result of his career coming in fourth and first V50.  Along with Dave Beels (1st V60 in 20th place) Calder had a veteran winning team.  First woman was Helena Croft of Stadium Runners in 1:39:18 and Todmorden Harriers were the winning woman’s team.

Further back in the field Toby Sydes and Michael Dean were neck and neck until Toby slipped on a concrete bridge injuring his shoulder. He still finished in a respectable 33rd place.

ts ht 2015

Calders Mike Dean (Left) and Toby Syde’s battling it out for bragging writes.

Yeah it was really wet under foot with plenty of mud, but it’s often like that in these parts.

1 James Logue 1:12:16 48 Jake Ackroyd 1:47:51
4 Bill Johnson 1:24:15 50 Dan Biggs 1:50:03
20 Dave Beels 1:34:17 52 David Culpan 1:55:11
27 Michael Dean 1:37:25 53 Bob Howard 1:55:19
33 Mike Wardle 1:39:39 59 Steve Woodhead 1:57:47
38 Toby Sydes 1:41:45 60 Anthony Costello 1:58:49
45 Phillip Beecroft 1:46:26 61 Gillian Wisbey 1:59:52
46 Simon Fisher 1:46:38 65 John Nunn 2:05:20


Further afield (Leek in Staffordshire) saw Karl Grey win the Roaches Fell Race in convincing stile, beating the second place runner by over 12 minutes. He took just 2:04:54 to finish the 15 mile race which includes 1100 metres of climb.  Women’s Captain, Helen Buchan was 62nd and 5th woman in 2:56:59.  Jon Underwood was the third Calder runner to return in 3:04:02 and 86th place.  148 runners took part.

All photos courtesy of Woodentops.

Gray Grins and Bears It in Peak District Victory

KG GrinBear 2015

Karl Gray 1st at Grin & Bear It

Calder Valley’s Karl Gray got into the Halloween spirit, emerging from the bogs like a grotesque creature of the night to win in the Peak district at the weekend. Gray not only seized a mud splattered victory, but also set a new course record.  He was one of small group of Calder Valley runners to head down to Langsett for the “Grin and Bear It” Fell Race.

Ladies Captain Buckers enjoying the mud

The event was organised and marshalled by Woodhead Mountain Rescue. The gruelling 16 mile race takes in 2000 feet of climbing  over a mix of rocky paths and open exposed peat fell.  One hundred and twenty six runners set off from Langsett Barn. They headed through Langsett woods onto the first and toughest climb of the race, scaling a rocky path onto the Peak District summits. They then progressed across Hingcliff Common, parallel with Mickleden Beck, along Mickleden Edge, Cut Gate, and onto a series of exposed edges.  The race then turned onto Featherbed Moss over the first section of open moor, full of treacherous bogs and energy-sapping tussocks, presumably the inspiration for the portentous “Grin and Bear It” moniker.   Valley’s Gray led a strong break-away group, including the formidable Tom Brunt of local club Dark Peak, Chris Arthur of Bowland, and Andy Swift of Penistone, as the race reached the trig  point at Outer Edge.  Gray skillfully navigated his way over to a check point at Cat Clough, but must have had a sinking feeling as the moors added the race leader to a host of victims sucked into its boggy depths. Undeterred Valley’s “Earl Gray” extricated himself from the mire to head up to the small stone cairn at Loftshaw Clough Head. He then passed the ‘1894’ stone, to the checkpoint at Swains Head, and onto the checkpoints at  Salter’s Brook Bridge, and Cabin Hill. The leading group were still together as the race reached its nail-biting conclusion. Taking control, Gray upped the pace past Wicken Hill and Upper Hordron Barn, and held off a host of rivals on a sprint finish through Langsett woods. He steamed home in a record breaking 2:01:32. Gray was just 10 seconds ahead of Arthur, and a full minute ahead of third placed Brunt (2:02:31). Valley’s leading lady was the in-form Helen Buchan, who turned in an impressive 2:56:34 to take a top half finish in 58 place. Team mate Helen Lambert was 101st in 03:31:50.

Calder Valley took the men’s team prize and Todmorden Harriers the ladies team prize at Saturday’s historic Race You To The Summit contest.

race tosummit team

Men’s team, Left to Right – Jon Smith 2015 Club Champ, Richard Sunderland V40 Club Champ and Mark O’Connor

The 4.3 mile contest, with 831 feet of ascent, is from the Summit Inn at Littleborough to the White Horse pub at Blackstone Edge. Organised by Allan Greenwood and sponsored by Running Bear, next year’s 50th running could be the last because Greenwood is retiring.

The race came into being after a mill worker wagered that he could run to the White House, touch the wall and return within half an hour.  He reputedly won the bet so must have been quicker than this year’s winner Joshua Boyle, who clocked 30.06. The diminutive Blackburn runner, racing for Scottish club Cambuslang Harriers, beat ex- Calder Valley member Joe Crossfield, now of Halifax Harriers, by 31 seconds. Valley’s Lindsey Oldfield was second female finisher (37.07) behind Glossopdale’s Caitlyn Rice (34.26), who was completing a hat-trick of wins. Calder’s winning team was led home by Jon Smith in fifth (32.37), Richard Sunderland in 11th (34.11) and Mark O’Connor in 12th (34.16). Valley junior Martin Howard was 17th (35.30). The race was in Calder Valley’s club championship, meaning a healthy field of 101.