The Classic Rivington Pike

Calder Valley FR’s biggest guns were not in evidence at the historic Rivington Pike but as it was a club championship counter 20 runners took part in the red and white hooped vests.

Andrew Davies Rivington Pike

Andy Davies going well at Rivington

The race is just short of 700ft of climbing in 3.2 miles and it is a brutally fast race. It has been held on the Saturday before Easter Sunday since 1892 and originally started from the Horwich railway works, but since 1930 runners have set out from the park entrance at Lever Park Avenue. The Pike, at 1,191 feet (363 metres) high, is the most westerly high point of Winter Hill in the West Pennine Moors.

John Smith Rivington Pike

1st Calder Valley Jon Smith

Jon Smith was a respectable 22nd place in a field of 264 runners with Mark O’Connor (26th), Simon Giles (32nd) and Iain Powell (35th) formed the third-placed team behind Horwick Harriers and Bolton United Harriers. Valley were also third amongst the veterans men’s teams through Powell, Stephen Smithies (50th) and Richard Ingram (91st). Horwich and Burnden Road Runners took the top two places.

Calder were fourth among the ladies teams through Rachael Crossland (174th), Gillian Wisbey (205th) and Carolyn Shimwell (218th).


The winner was Horwich’s Chris Farrell in 17.36. There was a 13 second gap back to  Pudsey and Bramley’s Rob Hope. Lindsey Brindle was the first female home in 34th overall in 21.28.  She helped make it a clean sweep for the local club who not only had both main winners but also comfortably won the three team prizes.

Iain Powell Rivington Pike

Man Down – Iain Powel at Rivington Pike

22. Jon Smith 20.32
29. Mark O’Connor 21.15
37. Simon Giles 21.37
40. Iain Powell 21.52
42. Lee Shimwell 22.00
50. Stephen Smithies 22.28
53. Martin Howard 22.33
78. Ben Frechette 23.18
91. Richard Ingram 23.50
95. Andrew Davies 23.56
109. Anthony Costello 24.39
111. Darren Sargent 24.45
118. Tim Brooks 25.00
136. Blair Garrett 25.51
169. Nathan Kennaugh 27.51
174. Rachael Crossland 28.03
195. Graham Davy 28.56
205. Gillian Wisby 29.22
212. John Nunn 29.45
218. Carolyn Shimwell 30.20

Ben Mounsey’s 1st at the English Championship

Black Combe, English Championship Victory for Mounsey.

Ben Mounsey’s trooper legs don’t disappoint at Black Combe

At the south western tip of the Lake District is Black Combe, a little climbed, 600 metre high hill. It was also the venue of the first race in the English Fell Running Championship for 2016.

The weather promised an eventful race as the clag was down with visibility less the 100m on the higher parts of the course. In the run up to the race the money was on Ben Mounsey to take the win.  He had reccied the route a couple of weeks earlier.  You can be as fast a runner as possible but if you don’t know the course inside out and the fog comes down, you’d better hope your navigation is up to the job.

BM BC DescentBen went out hard and broke away early with Sam Tosh of Rossendale. They opened up a good lead at the top of Black Combe before taking a poor line off together on the way to White Combe. They re-joined the race in 4th and 5th behind Rhys Findlay-Robinson and Kris Jones of Dark Peak. Their calm heads and navigation saved the day. The four of them broke away as a group and worked together till the final climb when Ben used his leg strength, built up on reps of Trooper Lane, to pull away on the ascent. His final mile run in, with 1000ft descent, was clocked at 4 minutes 38 seconds.

Ben said “There was some serious pressure and weight of expectation on me before the race and I am absolutely chuffed to bits that I didn’t disappoint and managed to deliver the win! I can’t describe the feeling of winning at the end – unreal. Thanks to everyone for their support and kind words.  I’ve achieved a career dream of winning a Championship race against the very best competition in the country, and on unfamiliar Lakeland soil. This is a big deal. I now have a realistic chance of becoming English Champion 2016. Whether it will happen I don’t know but I’ll certainly give it my best shot!”

Gayle Sugden, Lucy Collins, Lindsey Oldfield, Jo Buckley and Rachael Crossland made a strong challenge in the team competition to pick up third women’s team prize. Captain Helen Buchan was disappointed not to be running, having recently picked up a neck injury. The women’s race was won by Victoria Wilkinson of Bingley in 33rd place.

Unfortunately some of Calder’s other runners were ‘navigationally challenged’. Karl Grey headed east in search of checkpoint 4 coming off White Combe, essentially ending his race.  Steve Smithies was really pleased to finish and see Karl along with Rob Hope and Simon Bailey come in behind him.

Calder Valley Full Results

1 Ben Mounsey 1:10:28
27 Darren Kay 1:17:40
92 Math Roberts 1:24:19
164 Steve Smithies 1:33:16
167 Gayle Sugden 1:33:19
194 Lucy Collins 1:34:35
208 Tim Ellis 1:35:22
217 Lindsey Oldfield 1:36:30
228 Alex Whittam 1:38:28
233 Mark Wharton 1:38:45
257 Gillian Wibsey 1:41:45
315 Jo Buckley 1:49:31
334 Darren Sargent 1:53:50
336 Rachel Crossland 1:54:03
357 Toby Sydes 1:55:36
374 Dave Culpan 1:58:01
383 Rod Sutcliffe 1:59:50
399 Dan Biggs 2:03:24
410 Graham Lloyd 2:05:04

Haworth Hobble

Ian and Ken win the Hobble 2016

Ian and Ken win the Hobble 2016

The Howarth Hobble is a 33m ultra distance race that is rightly a classic in the fell running calendar. Starting in Howarth the route heads over Top Withens, past Widdop to Lancashire before heading to Stoodley Pike and returning to Haworth via Heptonstall.

Calder Valley’s ultra experts, Ian Symington and Kevin Hoult stamped their mark on the race, gaining 1st and 2nd places respectively.  Ian, the reigning Runfurther Ultra champion, ran with Ken Sutor who will surely be challenging Ian for his crown this year.  They came home in 4 hours 16 minutes.

Kevin Hoult at the Howarth Hobble

Kevin Hoult at the Howarth Hobble

Ken and Ian had decided to run together towards the end of 2015. They are in the 2016 Goretex Transalpine running as a team and needed to check their compatibility. During the Trog in February,  they ended up racing together and were pretty much step for step the whole way until Ken broke free on the final climb over the muddy fields.  Ken has been Ian’s regular Ultra rival for the past two years.

Ian said “He always starts faster than me so it is quite a nerve wracking experience waiting until about the 30 mile mark to see if I’ve paced it better than him. I’m convinced he is a better runner, he just runs Ultras like a greyhound out of the trap”

“I think we may have been a bit faster if we were racing each other. I made Ken run conservatively and I thought the biggest threat was from Kevin Hoult storming through at the end if we faded. With Kevin in mind I just knew we had to keep going at a reasonable pace on the 2nd half and we would be OK.

“We whittled it down to a pack of three on the climb out of Widdop and were on our own as we dropped down into Tod.  We took it really easy going up the pike but none seemed to close in so I was fairly confident we had it.

“I like the Hobble but I always get cramp on it. It is the amount of fast runnable climbs that do it. I felt the twinges as I was passing Tod golf course then had it fully lock out coming off the pike. I’ve had this often enough to know you keep going it can go away (don’t stop and try and stretch it out, keep running). I stamped it out on the way down into Hebden and it wasn’t so bad for the rest of the run home.”

Simon Bourne made a pleasing return to racing after a calf injury side-lined him earlier in the year. Starting off in about 30th place at the first checkpoint he worked his way thought the field to finish 8th overall.  The women’s race was won by Lucy Colquhoun in 5hrs 10mins.  John Minta, not content with the 33 mile Hobble on Saturday also completed the 16 mile Edale Skyline race in the Peak District on Sunday.

Full Calder Results

1 4:16:01  Ian Symington (& Ken Sutor)
2 4:22:38  Kevin Hoult
8 4:48:26  Simon Bourne
48 5:30:57  Bill Johnson
56 5:35:03  John Minta
161 6:24:00  Phillip Beecroft
218 6:58:25  Linda Hayles
267 8:00:14  Philip Jones
288 8:53:18  John Nunn


Calder Valley Fell Runners carve their way through snow

Ben Mounsey Ian Roberts 2016

Ben Mounsey Ian Roberts 2016

With the start of the fell running season almost upon us, Calder Valley’s fell runners were warming up – despite the icy weather – with two nearby race.

Over in Marsden, a hardy band of Calder Valley runners took part in the Ian Roberts fell race organised by Holmfirth Harriers, a fast six miler that takes the competitors across bogs, around reservoirs, along some of the Pennine way and up, then down, Pule Hill.

The race was easily won by Calder’s Ben Mounsey, adding another victory to an incredible list of wins already this year. In characteristic style, he set off at a pace that no other runners could match and maintained his lead from there.

As Ben put it, “my trademark sprint start gave me a fifty metre lead in the first couple of minutes and I never looked back. My task at the front was made more difficult by the fact that I had to carve my way through the snow, which was knee deep for a huge part of the race! It then made it easier for the runners behind as I’d already created a much more runnable trail for them to follow.”

He adds that “before the race I had grand designs on trying to smash the record to bits and really lay down an impressive result that might stand the test of time. Unfortunately the weather conditions of late prevented me from ever going close – it was an impossible task. By the finish the gap to second was 3 and a half minutes and I was only within 2 minutes of the record. Next year I intend to return and really leave my mark.”

Gay Sugden at the Ian Roberts 2016

Gay Sugden at the Ian Roberts 2016

Gayle Sugden, one of Calder Valley’s fastest women also had a flying start, taking second place, just behind first woman, and local Holmfirth Harrier runner, Helen Berry.

Toby Sydes Stan Brandshaw 2016

Toby Sydes Stan Brandshaw 2016

In Pendle was the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round, a hard 10 mile route with plenty of climbing. Ten Calder Valley runners lined up for the race, with some excellent results in a high quality field. Darren Kay was 8th overall and second V40 – behind the legendary Robb Jebb – finishing in 1 hour 17 minutes. Helen Buchan finished as 5th lady in 1 hour 38 minutes. Other notable runs saw Toby Sydes, John Minta and Anthony Costello finishing within forty seconds of one another.

Helen Buchan Stan Bradshaw 2016

Helen Buchan Stan Bradshaw 2016

Who’s Who at Nick Fell

High Cup Nick Fell Race

A handful of Calder Valley fell runners, including fast-man Karl Gray, headed up to join some of the country’s fell running elite in Cumbria for the High Cup Nick, who were apparently using it as a warm up for the start of the English Championships in two weeks’ time.

Known for its stunning views, the High Cup Nick is a beast of a race. At less than six miles, the runners start by climbing up the sheer side of the fell before enjoying a long, fast four mile descent over some characteristically difficult and rocky terrain. Five Calder Valley runners took part, with Karl Gray putting in another fantastic performance to finish fifth, amongst some of the UK’s fastest runners. Only Ricky Lightfoot, who won by breaking his own course record, previous English champions, Tom Addison and Rob Hope, and local legend Carl Bell managed to beat Karl.

Karl Gray HighCup

Who’s who Legend, Karl Gray at High Cup Nick Fell

Also running for Calder Valley were the women’s team captain Helen Buchan, John Minta and Gary Hodgkinson who all put in strong races.

Karl Gray said:  “The race promised to be the perfect test, two weeks before the first championship race. I wasn’t disappointed! In fact, it felt like a championship race on the start line, with the who’s who of fell running with the same idea.

During the run up to the summit, ‘high cup nick’, I was having a great tussle for 5th place. I reached the top in 6th and we then had a 4 mile run down the skyline back to the finish. Having gone through a bad patch running up the valley head my legs suddenly came alive again and I managed to work through to 4th place, despite a couple of knee scrapping falls.

Carl Bell had matched my descent and just piped me in the last 100 yards to the finish, but I was very happy with my run. I can’t wait to get the championship season underway.”

Midgley Moor Fell Race

Martin Howard Midgley Moor

Martin Howard passing “Churn milk Joan” on Midgley Moor Fell Race

Closer to home, the Midgley Moor Fell Race always attracts a good turn out, and this year’s dry conditions saw 103 runners head up from Booth on to the moor before dropping them down 5 miles later. The race was won by Harry Holmes of York Knavesmire in just under 40 minutes, with with Calder Valley putting in a good showing. First back for Calder Valley , and first under 23 in the race, was Martin Howard in 45 minutes and 9th place overall. Bill Johnson was second for the club, in 14th, and the first in the V50 category.

Jackie Scarf Midgley Moor

Jackie Scarf at Midgley Moor

A further 12 Calder Valley runners took part in the race, with a close tussle between 3 clubs members, Anthony Costello, Andy Davies and Tim Brooks, who all finished within 3 seconds of one another.

Midgley Moor Fell Race raised £584 for Cancer Research UK.