Bridestones fell race
Now in its third year, Bridestones Fell Race is a local evening race organised by Todmorden Harriers’s Dan Taylor. With its biggest turnout to date, the race saw 74 people line up at the start of a 4.7 mile dash up the steep Todmorden hillside to Orchan Rocks and Bridestones and back down again along thin winding paths through heather.
Local teams, Calder Valley and Todmorden Harriers, dominated. First back was Tod’s John Wright in 37: 18. Calder Valley’s Mark O’ Connor was just 13 seconds behind in second place, and Calder’s Andy Thorpe took 5th place, in what was his first fell race since he was injured in the 2015 Bridestones race.
Gayle Sugden from Calder Valley has spent the season so far smashing local race records – and true to form, she came in first lady, eighth overall and took an extremely impressive 4 minutes off the women’s record, finishing in 40:16.
“I set off steady and went well up the first climb, passing some of the Calder Valley boys” said Gayle, who is known for her very strong ascending. “I wanted the last climb to go on further because I knew I’d get caught on the descent, which I did by Giles and Ian. Damn! I managed to pull Ian back, but not Giles. Finished first lady – super chuffed.”
Calder Valley took the team prizes for the men (Mark O’Connnor, Andy Thorpe, Tristan Sheard) and women Gayle Sugden, Lindsay Oldfield, Molly Heitz), as well as the V50 wins for Mark Wharton and Jackie Scarf.
One of the toughest ultras out there, the 10 Peaks takes runners over the tallest and toughest fells in the Lake District. Ian Symington, Calder Valley’s ultra supremo, competed in the race, winning the 73km race in 12 hours 47 minutes – with over 16,000 feet of climbing over the likes of Hellvelyn, Scafell Pike and Skidaw this is no mean feat.
“This is a big run and I was a little bit worried, it wasn’t the distance, more the climb that was concerning me. I let everyone go off at the start knowing that I knew my way around the central fells. My line off Helvelyn was if anything a little too good and I made about 5 minutes up on the leaders and came out at Checkpoint 1 in 2nd.
“I nipped up the east face of Bowfell; this broke the chain and I was on my own for most of the rest of the race. It went really well until I came to Gable. There were only 2 significant climbs left by this point and I suddenly felt shattered.
“I crawled up the last climb. It took me over an hour and a half to get to the top (a decent fell runner would do it in 45 minutes fresh). On the out and back to the Skiddaw trip I saw Jason Milward in 2nd approach. He was about 2 minutes down. Thankfully I had better descending legs than climbing and managed to hold him off.”
Ian won by the race 13 minutes.
Snowden Twilight Uphill
A month before the Snowdon race, attended by some of the biggest names in international mountain running, is Snowdon Twilight – an uphill only race to the top of Wales’s largest mountain. A number of Calder Valley runners headed over to the Friday evening race, with the club’s Jason Williams leading the way on the night. He finished 5th overall and 1st V40, reaching the summit in just over 47 minutes.
A relatively new race, the Buttermere Horseshoe is fast becoming one of the classic Lakeland fell races – 22 miles and over 8,000 feet of climbing over sone tough mountain terrain, it’s a long hard race.
Three hardy Calder Valley runners headed up to Cumbria, putting in strong performances. The ever faster Mark O’Connor was first back for club finishing in 26th place in 5 hours 18 minutes. Bill Johnson was 34th overall and the third V50 in race. Jake Ackroyd, back racing after breaking his finger at Cader Idris, in 69th.