It was a successful weekend for Calder Valley Fell Runners. Despite the terrible weather conditions, they mounted up a rack of wins, including individual and team prizes for some tough races.
The Wadsworth Trog, organised by Calder Valley’s Simon Fisher and is a local classic. Named after the moorland bogs and trods that provide the route, it is a hard 19 mile fell race, often dubbed the ‘Beast’. In something of a tradition, after a similar finish at the Hebden 22 last month, the race was won jointly by Valley’s Karl Gray, currently the course record holder, and Ben Mounsey, who has had an incredible start to another season. They came in together in just under 2 hrs and 40 minutes.
Ben said he felt strong throughout the route and the pair had a big lead on the rest of the field from early on. “Any signs of worry quickly disappeared as I skipped up effortlessly” he said. “10,000ft+ of hill climbing every week has obviously served me well.” But, he added, the conditions made it a hard race.
“Karl and I had already signed a gentleman’s agreement to share the win so we tried to enjoy the race. We did to a point but the last few miles were tough. Not because of the climbs or terrain but purely because of the weather. I’d lost all feeling in my hands and face from mile 7. Even so I never let the pace drop, Karl clung on for the final 4 miles and we finished together. It was a great day and the beast was finally tamed.”
Two of Calder’s ultra runners were next in the for the club. Ian Symington took 5th place in just over 3 hours, making up the team prize for Calder Valley alongside Ben and Karl. Seven minutes later was Kevin Hoult.
In the women’s race, Calder Valley was also victorious. Holly Page, who has recently joined the club after time away, beat off stiff competition from one of the UK’s leading fell runners, Nicky Spinks, to come in as first lady, and an impressive 13th place overall, in just under 3 hours and 15 minutes. In total, 159 runners, 15 of them from CVFR’s, took part in this tough race.
Over in the Peak District, 17 Calder Valley runners competed in the 14 mile Mickleden Straddle fell race. The women’s team had a fantastic run. Jo Buckley and Gayle Sugden took 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the women’s race, finishing just 15 seconds apart in just over 2 hours. Nicki Latham, racing for Calder Valley for the first time, took the team prize despite suffering an injury to the forehead after a fall.
John Smith, who won Calder Valley’s club championships last year, looked to be out to defend his title, taking 6th place, and Mark O’Connor, back from an injury that plagued him most of last year, was 9th. Mark Wharton was the first V50 finishing in just over 2:07.
Other notable runs came from John Minta who, not content to run just one of the epic races this weekend, did both the Trog and the Mickleden Straddle, whilst Jim Cooke, relatively new to fell running, finished his first long race, completing the Mickleden Straddle in 2:42.