Donard Commedagh Horseshoe

The first round of the British Fell Running Championship 2016 was held in Northern Ireland last Saturday and saw some of Calder Valley’s elite runners head over the Irish Sea. The Donard Commedagh Horseshoe starts from Newcastle in County Down. A fourteen kilometre race with 1200 metres of climbing visiting the two highest peaks in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard (850m) and Slieve Commedagh (767m).

Sam Tosh of Rossendale was first to the summit of Donard with Rob Hope of Pudsey and Bramley only two seconds behind him. By then the first four runners had pulled away from the rest of the pack. Sam and Rob battled all the way round with only a couple of seconds separating them at most checkpoints but Hope eventually triumphed by six second in 1:17:21.

Calder’s Karl Gray and Tim Ellis were 6th and 7th respectively just less than two minutes behind the winner. Gray was 2nd V40. With Math Robers, Darren Kay and James Louge all in the top 50, the men have made a solid start to the season taking second team on the day.

Karl and Tim Sprint Finish at Donard

Karl and Tim Sprint Finish at Donard

In the women’s race, won by Heidi Dent of Howgill Harriers, Holly Page equalled Karl Gray by finishing 6th despite suffering from a bad cold.

Calder Results

6 Karl Gray 1:19:05
7 Tim Ellis 1:19:08
12 Math Roberts 1:23:15
17 Darren Kay 1:25:05
41 James Logue 1:30:58
71 Holly Page 1:36:18
199 Helen Buchan 2:08:41

Closer to home the Calderdale Hike is a regular fixture in the Ultra Running scene. Starting from Sowerby Cricket Club, competitors can chose either the short (26 miles) or long (37 miles) course. Ben Frechette scored an excellent victory in the short race, with Kevin Hoult coming 3rd in the long race. Club Chairman, Bill Johnson, also competed in the long race.

Ben Frechette heading for victory on the Calderdale hike

Ben Frechette heading for victory on the Calderdale hike

Calder Valley members were also in action at several other races this weekend. Calvin Ferguson ran at the Coledale Horseshoe (8 miles and 3000ft) from Braithwaite in the Lake District. Andrew Davis and Graham Davey were seen at the Wardle Skyline (7 miles and 1250ft) around the Watergrove valley north of Rochdale. Adventure Racers Phil and Jackie Scarf completed a 6 day adventure race in New Zealand.

Tuesday’s Legendary Bunny Runs and more ….

Calder Valley Fell Runners have been spread across the counties, competing in a series of short, tough races

Jack Denton Bunny1 2016

Jack Denton Bunny1 2016

Yorkshire saw the first in the legendary ‘Bunny Run’ series of fast races on the Haworth moors. With some high level athletes taking part, Jack Denton recorded a fantastic result, finishing the three mile course in 17.55 and in 13th place.

Close behind were Mark Goldie and Mark O’Connor who battled one another through the race, finishing with just six seconds between them in 24th and 26th respectively. Under 30 seconds later, in 31st, was Martin Howard, with Tristan Sheard in 34th in 19.34 seconds. Lindsey Oldfield place 73rd In a time of 21.15 and 8th lady while team mate Rachael Crossland ran well in a time of 24.06. 13 Calder Valley runners competed in a field of 210.

Mark Goldie Bunny Run1 2016

Mark Goldie Bunny Run1 2016

Just two Calder Valley runners made it over the border to Lancashire to compete in the Pendle Fell Race, another short, hard race. New recruit Calvin Ferguson put in his first race for Calder Valley, finishing in 92nd place in just under 51 minutes, whilst Gillian Wisby finished in 135th in 56 minutes. In Derbyshire, a clutch of Calder Valley runners took part in the Lad’s Leap, a tough tough race named after the stream crossing half way round the route. The sun was out, and so were the guns. Of the field of 125, one of the few runners to ‘leap’ the stream was Mark O’ Connor (pictured), who finished an impressive 9th place in just over 54 minutes. Calder Valley’s orienteering pro Dick Spendlove MV65 was out for his first race this year, finishing in 1:12:26

Mark O'Connor Lads Leap 2016

Mark O’Connor Lads Leap 2016

Tim Brooks, meanwhile, headed over to North Wales for some hardcore fell running in the Fron Four, with heavy rain, mist and gales – not to mention massive climbs – battering the hardy 22 runners who braved the conditions.

Do you want to try fell running?

Calder Valley Fell Runners is running an introduction to fell running for those who’ve never run on the hills & fells. A series of six sessions, take place on Tuesday evenings meeting in Mytholmroyd. See the website for full details.

Gray and Ellis break away at Heptonstall

Calder Valley’s Karl Gray battled to victory from a fearsomely talented field at Sunday’s much anticipated Heptonstall Fell Race.

Karl Gray and Tim Ellis at Heptonstall

He shared the glory with Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson, one of the finest female mountain runners of her generation, who smashed the ladies course record.

There were 30 Calder Valley Runners of 254 runners in total, who enjoyed clear blue skies and warm sunshine.

The field gathered on Heptonstall’s cobbles to take on 15 miles and 3200 feet of ascent over the hills and valleys of Colden Clough, Heptonstall Moor, Hebden Dale, Greave Height, Hardcastle Crags, Shackleton Knoll and Crimsworth Dean. Now in its sixth year, runners received their traditional start-line blessing from the Rev Howard Pask.


Calder Valley Search and Rescue team and Mytholmroyd Scouts, along with 50 volunteers from the village, were stationed around the route as a large crowd cheered the runners out of the hill top village.

It was obvious from the outset that the 2016 race was going to be another classic, as Valley’s Karl Gray, Tim Ellis, Kevin Hoult, Darren Kay and James Logue jostled for pole position with Wharfedale’s Sam Watson, Ilkley’s Jack Wood, Pudsey and Bramley’s Joe Baxter and twice winner Adam Osbourne of Leeds AC.

Karl Gray and Tim Ellis at Heptonstall2Nine miles in, there was still only a few seconds between the first 10 runners.
As they crossed Walshaw Dean, climbed White Hill and dropped down to Walshaw Lodge, Ellis led from Bowland’s Chris Arthur, followed by Gray, Osbourne, and Gary Priestley of Salford Harriers.

FRA English Champion and twice British champion Victoria Wilkinson matched Watson stride for stride. Wilkinson took a nasty fall on the steep descent down to Hebden water, sustaining cuts and bruises, but the 2014 Three Peaks winner pushed herself back into contention on the climbs up to Turn Hill, and Shackleton.

All the lead runners were then led astray as they charged down Crimsworth Dean towards the Blue Pig. Race flags had been moved, sending many runners on a confusing detour. All seemed to use their good sense to quickly reach Midge Hole, and the final 500 feet climb to the finish.

Gray edged out Ellis with Osbourne third while Wilkinson was ninth in spite of her fall. Hannah Jarvis of Dorking and Mole Valley AC also broke the old ladies record and last year’s winner, Calder Valley’s Jo Buckley, was third.

Jo Buckley Heptonstall2

Jo Buckley 1st Calder Valley Lady

James Logue finished 10th in 2.05.09 to help Calder Valley to the team prize while Tod Harriers’ Rebecca Patrick, Mel Blackhurst and Kath Brierley were the first ladies team.

The event was organised by runners from Calder Valley and Todmorden Harriers, based in and around Heptonstall, with tremendous support from village residents. Seventy volunteers helped to marshal, provided free refreshments, and organised parking. The main sponsors were and Slightly Foxed Brewing Company. The Cross Inn acted as race HQ whilst The Bakehouse donated to post-race catering. The event raised more than £1500 for St Thomas’s Church, Mytholmroyd Scouts and Calder Valley Search and Rescue.


1, Karl Gray 1:49:05 110, Anthony Costello 2:45:16
2, Tim Ellis 1:49:15 127, Tristan Sheard 2:47:57
10, James Logue 2:05:09 132, Richard Ingram 2:48:49
14, Kevin Hoult 2:08:08 139 (13th lady) Helen Buchan 2:50:28
25, Darren Kay 2:15:04 143, Nick Murphy 2:51:18
30, Ian Symington 2:18:46 161, Rod Sutcliffe 2:58:51
31, (third lady) Jo Buckley 2:19:04 163, Tony Steward 2:59:06
34, Mark Wharton 2:19:28 166, Bob Howard 2:59:29
43, Lee Shimwell 2:20:19 179 (28th lady) Rachael Crossland 3:01:19
54, Iain Powell 2:25:07 213, (41st lady) Charlie Wetton 3:18:30
74, Jonathan Emberton 2:30:19 224 (46th lady) Carolyn Shimwell 3:26:13
86, Darren Sargent 2:40:24 229, Toby Cotterill 3:29:08
106, Toby Sydes 2:44:44 237 (49th lady) Harley Beecroft 3:41:40
109, Jake Ackroyd 2:45:15 238, Graham Davy 3:41:54