Calder Valley Fell Runners held their Winter Handicap race last Saturday. The race is traditionally accompanied by good winter weather and this year was no exception as a squall of hail and snow greeted the runners as they approached Stoodley Pike, at the furthest part of the course. Several runners were brought to a standstill or at best a slow walk as they tried to round the Monument.
Runners start times vary depending on how well they have raced over the previous year, with the aim that everyone crosses the finish line at the same time. The slowest runner starts first and can often feel like a hare being chased down. Tamsin Cooke held onto the lead all the way out and back across Erringden Moor but was overtaken by the winner, Dan “Biggernaught” Biggs as they came off the moor towards the finish. The marshals at the finish line thought Dan was on a mountain bike, the speed he came down Daisy Bank.
Tamsin approached the finish on Stubbs Field with a good lead between her and third place but the battle between James Cooke and Antony Costello meant that they were both gaining on her fast. As she neared the line she fell flat on her face in the mud and for a moment it looked like her legs had nothing left to give, but keen to keep her husband at bay she found the strength to continue. Antony gave a super burst and left James standing, and had the course been 20metres longer might have snatched second place.
So first place to Dan Biggs, second place, and first woman, to Tamsin Cooke. Ben Frechette was fastest runner in 45 mins 30s and Stella Cristanthou was fastest woman in 58 mins 59s. Dan has been improving all year after winning the handicap last year, to win it for a second time is a stunning achievement and is a reward for all the hard work he’s put in to his running.
Further up the valley, Gayle Sugden represented Calder Valley Fell Runners at the Hoofstones Fell Race. Starting from the Staff of Life at Cornholme the race is flagged up to the moor. Runners then have to find their way to three checkpoints, the highest one at Hoofstones Height 479 meters above sea level, before descending back to the valley floor. There were some interesting route choices as runners were seen coming in to the checkpoints from all directions. Gayle had a stunning run to finish the 8 mile race in fifth place overall and first woman in 1hour 18mins and 39 second.
Meanwhile, also on Saturday, was the Kinder Trial. Organised by the Rucksac Club, the race varies every year with 12 checkpoints spread out on the moor around Hayfield and Kinder Scout. Runners are set off at intervals which makes it very much a true fell running challenge. James Logue was third for Calder Valley in 1hr 42 mins 55 sec, just over four minutes behind tom Brunt of Dark Peak. Steve Smithies was 30th in a shade over two and a half hours.