English Champs Penultimate

Calder Valley “Olympians” looking strong for English championships

Pendle hill Karl Gray, Alex Whittem & Gavin Mulholland

Pendle Hill Karl Gray, Alex Whittem & Gavin Mulholland

With just one more race to go in the English Fell Running Championships, Team Calder Valley are looking in a good position across a range of categories.

The result comes after solid performances at the penultimate race in the series, the Pendle 3 Peaks, which takes the runners up 2,500 feet of ascent over 10 miles. A field of 307 lined up for the race, despite the horrendous August weather, with 13 Calder Valley runners among them.

In the women’s race, Calder Valley took the first women’s team, with Gayle Sugden continuing her excellent season to finish in 9th place, followed by Lucy Collins in 12th and Jo Buckley in 16th. They are currently looking at a bronze in the championships, and with just one race to go are set for success. Sugden is racing hard to secure an individual medal in the Lady Vet 40s category. She currently lies in Bronze medal place.

In the men’s race, the V40 team took the top spot, with Karl Gray finishing 10th (2nd V40), Gav Mulholland 32nd (4th V40),  James Logue 44th (6th V40) and Jason Williams, who’s been injured but turned out and did his very best for the team 99th and top 40 vets spot. Alex Whittem also had a good race, finishing 25th in this all-star field.

Karl Gray, who took altitude training to a new level, when he flew back from his holiday in Italy then returned a few hours later post race, is now set to take the top spot in the V45 category of the English champs, and may medal in the V40s too.

Dick Spendlove, one of the club’s navigational masters, meanwhile, finished the Pendle 3 Peaks as second M70. With no more races in the English Championships for Dick’s age category, the result puts him first in the country for his age category.

Six intrepid Calder Valley members travelled to the Matterhorn Ultraks race in Switzerland. Starting and finishing in Zermatt the Ultraks is an 11 mile race with 3,900 ft of climb around the spectacular slopes of the Matterhorn. With over 700 runners from around the world and challenging running the whole way, this is a fiercely competitive race. Crossing the finish line together, to the rapturous applause of the locals, were Mark O’Connor and Iain Powell in joint 31st position. They were chased hard down the final descent by Ben Frechette who couldn’t quite catch the front two despite clocking the fastest split of the day. Frechette finished 34th. Raining long king champion Jake Ackroyd was next home, weaving his way through the field to finish 76th, close behind was the strong finishing Richard Ingram in 96th. Despite issues with his footwear Gavin Roper battled hard to complete in 169th. With 674 finishes the lads showed our European cousins the true strength of Calder Valley’s runners.

Richard Ingram, Mark O'Connor, Jake Ackroyd, Iain Powell, Ben Frechette & Gavin Roper. Ultrak-Zermatt,

RiIchard Ingram, Mark O’Connor, Jake Ackroyd, Iain Powell, Ben Frechette and Gavin Roper. Ultrak-Zermatt

Calder Valley’s International runner, Ben Mounsey, meanwhile, was part of the Great Britain team, running leg three of the European mountain running relay up the Sentiero Spinotti on the border of Austria and Italy. The course itself involved such steep climbs and descents that the runners wore helmets. The team put in another strong performance, finishing in 6th place, with Ben putting playing a vital role in their success by putting the British team in front of The Czech Republic.

Italy BM

Ben Mounsey Scaling the vertical cliff face without a crash helmet!

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –

Turner Landscape Club Champs

Turner Landscape

Named after Turner Hall Farm rather than one of Britain’s most famous painters, the Turner Landscape Fell Race is a fundraiser for Alzheimer Research.  Essentially a high level, 11 mile, ridge run the route climbs from the Duddon Valley taking in the Lakeland tops of Grey Friar, Swirl How, Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag and White Pike.  All in all about 3000ft of climbing.

Thirteen Calder valley Fell Runners headed to Seathwaite on Saturday as the race was a counter for this year’s Club Championship.  Unfortunately only eleven arrived in time for the race as Ben Frechette and Richard ‘Burt’ Ingram headed for the other Seathwaite in Borrowdale.

Turner Landscape, From the left Toby, Tim, Mark, Jake, Jon, James and Minta down below

Turner Landscape, From the left, Toby, Tim, Mark, Jake, Jon, James and Minta down below

As the mist was down the navigational errors continued as six runners, out of a field of 61, missed the highest checkpoint on the Old Man.  Simon Fisher reached Brim Fell before realising he had missed Swirl How.  In true determined fashion, and costing him about 30 minutes, he turned round and reached the checkpoint before continuing the race.

Jon Smith was first back for Calder in 6th place in a time of 1.41.48.  He had been in second place at Swirl How but the local experience of the group he was with shone through the mist. Charlotte Wetton was 3rd woman and Calder’s first woman back in 2.40:45.  Tamsin Cooke had a storming run with a 6% improvement on her previous race.  The race was won by Carl Bell of Keswick in 1.29:36 for the men and Amelia Hunt of Goyt Velley Striders in 2.27:31 for the women.

Full Calder Results
6 Jon Smith 1.41:48
10 Mark Wharton 1.56:23
15 Jake Ackroyd 2.04:07
21 John Minta 2.05:48
23 Toby Sydes 2.08:07
27 Tim Brooks 2.09:01
30 James Cooke 2.12:07
41 Graham Lloyd 2.35:54
43 Simon Fisher 2.37:37
45 Charlotte Wetton 2.40:45
52 Tamsin Cooke 3.01:41

James Cooke recovering after the beastly Turner Landscape 2016

James Cooke recovering after the beastly Turner Landscape 2016


14063919_697237300424936_4754625050110063258_nRacing locally at the Trawden Show, Boulsworth Hill Fell Race Paul Haigh was 31st and Carole Fryer 14th Woman.  With this result Carole took the Pendle & Burnley Grand Prix FV50 champions title.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks –

Calder Valley Fell Runners on tour

Members of Calder Valley Fell Runners have been ripping it up around the world this week, turning up in races in Italy, Africa and Norway, as well as a host of Lake District and local runs.

After a gruelling month of racing, Ben Mounsey, who runs for Calder Valley and England, took a well earned holiday in Italy. But within the first 24 hours had entered a hill race! Over seven miles with around 1,000 metres of climbing up steps and trails, the race on the Amalfi coast was right up his street – and Ben won the race by over 6 minutes, leaving the Italian competitors stunned.

Ben Mounsey cruises home for the win at Crowhill Fell Race 2016

Ben Mounsey cruising home for the win at Crowhill Fell Race (Photo by Mick Fryer)

Ben’s experience was echoed by Calder Valley’s Holly Page in South Africa, where she has recently started work. She took part in the Clemengold Wolkberg Skymarathon, a two day race in the Wolkberg mountain range that included a climb to Iron Crown, the highest point at 2,126 metres. Holly came first in the race that covered 35 kilometres on day one and 25 kilometres on day two.

As Holly explains:

“I questioned whether I should do this race as I’d badly injured my leg the week before, but I taped it up and, looking rather like bionic woman, everything seemed to come together. It was a great feeling to run effortlessly up the first 1000m of climb and then extend my lead over the remainder of the race. Needless to say there were a lot of South Africans wondering where I’d popped up from!

Holy Page is No1

Holly Page is No1 at Clemengold Wolkberg Skymarathon

“I’ve never done a race where I can’t feel my fingers or toes on the startline because of the cold, yet feel like I’ll collapse from the heat on the finish line – winter isn’t quite the same here as in the Pennines!”

In Norway meanwhile, Joe Washington took part in the famous Tromso Skyrace, an epic international taking in huge climbs and scrambles along mountain tops. Joe, who went away with the lads came an impressive 25th in a hugely competitive field.

Joe Washington on the Tromoso sky race

Joe Washington on the Tromoso sky race (Photo by Dominik Briselat)

A little closer to home, 12 runners from Calder Valley took part in the classic Borrowdale Fell Race, among the hardest in the calendar and a counter for the English Fell Championships, with more than 6,000 feet of climbing over its 17 miles.

Valley’s Karl Gray was 8th overall and first V45 in 3 hours 5 minutes, demonstrating the consistently high level he is running at. Karl is doing well in the English championships and is among the favourites to take a top three position in his category.

Karl Gray at the base Bessy boot in Borrowdale

Karl Gray at the base Bessy Boot in Borrowdale

In the women’s race the in-form Gayle Sugden once again put in another fine performance, finishing the tough race as 8th lady and second F40 in 3 hours 53 minutes. With Lucy Collins in 15th and Jo Buckley in 18th, Calder Valley took the third team prize. Calder Valley’s women’s team is now the second place team in the English Fell Running Championships.

Closer to home was the local Crow Hill Reverse fell race that takes runners from Mytholmroyd, straight up the field and moorland above and back down in a fast 4 mile blast. Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey – before he headed over to destroy the competition in Italy -led the field from the start, completing the race with a smile in just 29:10. Behind him were 21 Calder Valley runners. Next for the club was Tristan Sheard in 35:03, followed by Ian Powell – together they took the team prize.

Romas, enjoying the reverse on the crow hill fell race.

Romans, enjoying the reverse on the Crow Hill fell race.

Six Calder Valley runners also lined up for Whittle Pike, a tough local fell race with over 1,200 feet of climbing in just 5 miles. With three hard ascents, this is the hardest of the Rossendale Harriers’ midweek series.  There were some fast runners competing in the field of 133, but Calder Valley did well, with Giles Simon and Lee Shimwell battling it out and finishing with less than 30 seconds between them. Romans Sustovs meanwhile came an impressive 34th, having done the Crow Hill Reverse fell race the previous evening.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –

Up Skiddaw for International Man Mounsey

International Championship, with England and Scotland the two favourites to take the title. It was the third time in as many weeks that Ben has competed for either Great Britain or England and is clearly enjoying his finest ever season as an elite mountain runner.

Ben was part of a super strong England team all looking to make the cut for the 6 man Great Britain team at this year’s World Mountan Running Championships in Bulgaria. It was an extremely tough ask given the standard of competition, plus the fact that it was an uphill only course, with Mounsey a renowned downhill specialist. Nevertheless, the Brooksbank School teacher gave it his all and used his vast experience to run a well paced and very tactical race.

It began with a double lap of Latrigg before heading across to the slopes of Skiddaw where the real action began. It was here that he made his move, punishing those that had started the race too fast as they struggled to ascend the infamous Jenkin hill at any kind of pace. At the top of the climb he had moved into the top 12, passing many of his main rivals on the steepest section of the course. It was a valiant effort from Mounsey as he eventually finished in 10th position overall and the 9th Great Britain counter. Although it wasn’t quite enough to make the team for Bulgaria, it was enough however to help England to team gold as they repeated their success of 2015. The race was won by Scotland’s Andy Douglas who led the field from start to finish.

Mounsey is now looking forward to a short but well earned break as he next heads to Italy to compete for Great Britain in the Tre-Refugi relay and then the World Mountain Running Masters event in Susa.

Photo courtesy of http://www.granddayoutphotography.co.uk/

Mounsey working hard on the climb to the summit of Skiddaw

Mounsey working hard on the climb to the summit of Skiddaw

Calder Valley Fell Runners have had some great results this past week showing they can mix it with the best from the short to the ultra long races.

At last week’s Lee Mills Race held in Rossendale Lucy Collins took a great win for the women placing 13th overall in a time of in 53mins 46secs and was 10 minutes clear of the next female from the local host club of Rossendale Harriers.

Lucy Collins 1st at Lee Mill

Lucy Collins 1st at Lee Mill

The mens race was won in just over 48 mins by unattached runner James Titmuss with the ever smiling Lee Shimwell placing 6th just 3 minutes later. Romans Sustove just pipped Lucy for 12th spot with Jake Ackroyd 18th, Richard Ingram 31st and Calving Ferguson a fine 54nth place.

On Friday night while most of us were getting ready for bed competitor in the Lakeland 100 miles would be getting into their stride as they tackled this one of the best Ultras in the country. Starting at 6pm the circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston. The event requires competitors to be experienced ultra distance runners with excellent navigation skills and this is just what Simon Bourne showed as he completed the route in 18 hours 38 mins and earned himself a top finish in 36th position from 345 starters.

Club Championship points were at stake as Calder members took to the fells in the Turnslack race. In a breezy but dry day, where if you had time you could see North Wales, the runners set off from Calderbrook Church, Littleborough running on good tracks and footpaths along the way to Watergrove Reservoir. The race then branched off to head up and over the moor to Hades Hill. A traverse along the long ridge to Trough Edge End and down the descent towards Ramsden Clough Reservoir followed. The hardest part of the race was the next 2 tough climbs with the first climb up from the reservoir being steep with reasonably dense undergrowth. Another traverse here along to a very steep descent down to Cranberry Dam. The last climb was up a path where it was tough going due to the dense foliage. The descent from here was through very, very high bracken to the finish.

Mark O’Connor lead the race out and battled all the way with the eventual winner from the local Rossendale club young Marcus Preedy, With Ali Burns from Valley Striders taking 2nd a very happy O’Connor, who ran with a very sore knee,  placed a well earned 3rd spot.  Maximum championship points were his and with his team mates Gareth Clarke in 11th, Ben Frechette 16th had a stormer and Iain Powell 19th the red and whites claimed 1st male team.

Turnslack means team, from the left, Ben Frechette, Mark O'Connor, Gareth Clarke and Iain Powell

Turnslack means team, from the left, Ben Frechette, Mark O’Connor, Gareth Clarke and Iain Powell

Good runs and points scored for Jake Ackroyd 21st, John Killerby 22nd, Richard Ingram 27th, Paul Gilbert 28th, Gavin Roper 37th , producing his best performance smashing last years time, Toby Sydes 45th who was chased down to the finish by 1st vet 70 and in fine racing Dick Spendlove in 46th. 51st place for James Cooke, 63rd Nathan Kennagh. 73rd Rod Sutliffe, 76 Charlotte Wetton and a Helen Flage who placed 83rd in this one of her toughest races to date.

3 Mark O’Connor 01:12:43 45 Toby Sydes 01:30:04
11 Gareth Clarke 01:17:27 46 Dick Spendlove 01:31:00
16 Ben Frechette 01:18:56 51 James Cooke 01:32:15
19 Iain Powell 01:20:51 63 Nathan Kennaugh 01:40:24
21 Jake Ackroyd 01:21:17 73 Rod Sutcliffe 01:46:28
22 John Killerby 01:21:25 76 Charlotte Wetton 01:48:39
27 Richard Ingram 01:23:41 80 Graham Lloyd 01:51:16
28 Paul Gilbert 01:24:09 83 Helen Flage 02:01:58
37 Gavin Roper 01:27:11

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Thirza Hyde –