Battling the blizzards at Pendle

When the snow came down on Saturday most sensible people were tucked up in front of a fire. Not the fell running community, which took to the hills for the Tour of Pendle, a classic 17 mile fell race with 5,000 feet of climbing. It’s a hard race at the best of times, but with thick snow, blizzards and ice water under foot, this was not the best of times.

More than 400 runners braved the conditions with 20 from Calder Valley Fell Runners turning out, despite the weather, because it was the final long race in the club’s championships series.

Andrew Meek at the Tour of Pendle

Andrew Meek at the Tour of Pendle

With the route taking competitors up and down Pendle Hill four times, each time steeper than the last, it’s a race requiring endurance and consistent pacing.

Karl Gray, fresh from winning joint first in the English Fell Running Championships V45 category, had an excellent run. He took the conditions in his stride, battling as always with some of the county’s fastest runners all the way around. Gray finished in second place, just 10 seconds behind the winner, Ilkley Harriers’s Jack Wood – and one place down on his win at the Tour of Pendle two years ago.

Tim Ellis of Calder Valley was also looking strong early on in the race and in contention for a win, but was retired from the race before the finish.

The front runner hurtling down Germino Hill on the Tour of Pendle

The front runners hurtling down geronimo hill on the Tour of Pendle

Andy Wright, who was supporting Calder Valley runners on the day, said: “Other than the front runners there wasn’t too much racing for places going on; it was more of a battle against the conditions, everyone competing against the hill and the wind.”

Tim Brooks taking the direct "vertical" route

Tim Brooks taking the direct “vertical” route

With this the final long race in Calder Valley’s championship there were, nevertheless, a number of notable runs.

Tamsin Cooke, running at times with her husband Jim, kept the pace needed to beat the cut-offs and got the 6th counter she needed to win the club ladies championships. Mark O’Connor ran well across the course, finishing in an impressive 32nd. Ian Powell and Mark Wharton, who have been fighting for the club’s V40 championship win all season, were able to relax with their race positions confirming they will be crowned joint winners.

2 Karl Gray 158 M45 02:39:40
32 Mark O’Connor 395 M 03:06:17
73 Iain Powell 336 M40 03:17:18
139 Mark Wharton 227 M50 03:31:57
180 Jake Ackroyd 387 M 03:42:14
182 Garry Hodgkinson 279 M45 03:42:49
202 Anthony Costello 419 M50 03:48:42
204 Tim Brooks 280 M45 03:48:49
221 Toby Sydes 123 M45 03:54:10
237 Simon Fisher 126 M40 03:59:07
271 Calvin Ferguson 374 M 04:10:44
286 Andrew Meek 12 M50 04:20:18
288 Rod Sutcliffe 407 M65 04:21:58
328 Tamsin Cooke 382 W 05:10:25
329 James Cooke 52 M 05:10:25

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –