Flowerscar 2017

The Flowerscar Fell Race was run last Saturday. Organised by Todmorden Harriers, the senior’s race reaches the windswept hill of Flowerscar on the moorland between the Burnley and Bacup Roads.  The runners then head across Todmorden Moor towards Sharneyford before heading back to Todmorden via Tower Clough Several Calder Valley Seniors ran the race, notably Helen Roberts fifth woman and Mark Wharton third V50, but the real stars this weekend were the Calder Valley Juniors.

Andy Thorpe 1st back for Calder at Flowerscar

25 Andy Thorpe 1:18:30
36 Mark Wharton 1:20:59
41 Matt Ray 1:22:12
48 Dan Marsden 1:26:18
73 Helen Roberts 1:30:26
119 Helen Buchan 1:41:00
139 Jeremy Wilkinson 1:46:17

Bionic Buchan at Flowerscar

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks –

Battling the weather at Windy Hill

Sunday’s Windy Hill Fell Race certainly lived up to its name. 210 runners lined up to compete in the nine-mile race from Littleborough and battled more than one another, as they struggled against snow, sleet, rain and of course wind.

It was also the first in the Calder Valley Fell Runners’ championships, drawing a big turnout of 23 from the club despite the tough conditions. Rob Allen had an excellent run, finishing first for the club and 13th overall in just under 1 hour and 11 minutes. Not far behind was Bill Johnson in 18th place, and second V50, in just over 1 hour 12 minutes , and just behind Bill was Andy Thorpe who in 22nd place.

Calder Valley’s women’s team had a strong race, with Lindsey Oldfield finishing as second lady in 1 hour 18 minutes. Together with Jackie Scarf and Gill Dickson, they took the team prize.

Winning Ladies team at Windyhill 2017 (From the left: Lindsey Oldfield, Gill Dickinson, Jackie Scarf)

Lindsey said:

“The conditions were horrific. Horizontal snow and wind made running in a straight line almost impossible. The start was deceptively mild, I even considered racing in a vest. Thankfully I was convinced this wouldn’t be wise.

“I set off typically fast and managed to hold off an in-form Bill Johnson for the first mile. I knew from the ease with which he passed me that I wouldn’t be catching him. The next Calder Valley runner to pass me was Ben Frechette, I managed to keep him in my sights as we headed towards the climb to Blackstone Edge and was right on his heels at the summit, but I hadn’t bargained for mother nature – the higher we climbed the worse the conditions became.  As we turned to cross the moor Ben disappeared into the distance, closely followed by Steve Smithies who both showed fantastic finesse across the icy rocks.

“I was glad when the descent arrived and for once managed to take a couple of places as we descended back to the finish, but the first lady was too far ahead to catch. We were all pleased to get back into the club house for bacon butties and tea to celebrate another team victory for the Calder Valley ladies.”

Bill Johnson said he battled with Andy Thorpe much of way around:

Calders men battle for top spot. (From the left: Bill Johnnson, Rob Allen & Andy Thorpe

“A group of half a dozen had formed and were running close together, including Andy and me. The runners ahead had disappeared into the clag. I made a surge from the top of Blackstone Edge and the rest of the group followed. Andy was dropped and had to work hard over the next couple of miles to get back into contact with the group. After crossing the M62 again on the high bridge, and passing the radio mast – which I couldn’t see in the falling snow! – the pace picked up and places kept changing as we all pelted over the Windy Hills.

“I was very pleased with my run. The first V50 was Malcolm Fowler just 50 seconds ahead of me. When I first started fell running 20 years ago he used to win races or be close to the front. So it’s good that we’re both still doing fell races, and even better that my time is a lot closer to his than it used to be.

The race, organised by Cannonball events, was won by Tom Adams of Ilkley Harriers in 58 minutes with Rachel Jones of Blackburn Harriers the fastest woman, finishing in 1 hour 16 minutes. 

Rob Allen’s first back for Calder at Windy Hill 2017

13.  Rob Allen   01:10:59 125.  Nathan Kennaugh   01:29:08
18.  Bill Johnson   01:12:13 139.  Anthony Costello   01:32:43
21.  Andy Thorpe   01:13:08 148.  Gill Dickson   01:35:35
32.  Ben Frechette   01:15:14 154.  Gloria Ayuso   01:37:25
34.  Stephen Smithies   01:15:45 155.  Emma Smyth   01:38:11
36.  Paul Haigh   01:15:58 159.  Manhar Patel   01:38:55
51.  Lindsey Oldfield   01:18:00 166.  Carolyn Shimwell   01:42:08
67.  Martin Howard   01:20:04 169.  Linda Hayles   01:43:16
71.  Philip Wells   01:20:17 173.  Kate Pope   01:44:38
72.  Phil Scarf   01:20:20 187.  Harley Beecroft   01:52:46
89.  Calvin Ferguson   01:23:15 197.  Graham Davy   02:00:54
122.  Jackie Scarf   01:29:01 198.  Ruth T-Davies   02:01:18

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon –

The Trog

Trog trios take team prizes

Last Saturday, on a glorious, crisp morning, 186 hardy runners gathered to conquer the Wadsworth Trog, otherwise known as ‘The Beast’. This race, hosted by Calder Valley, is a gruelling 19 mile and 3650ft of climbing over rugged moorland and fells. Challenging terrain dominated by bogs and tussocks makes this race demanding even for the seasoned fell runner.

Rob Jebb of Bingley Harriers was the overall winner at 2:37:26 with Calder Valley’s champion Ben Mounsey just a few seconds behind

Ben Mounsey and Rob Jebb on the Trog 2017

The event was well organised with participants commenting on the friendly, welcoming atmosphere made possible by the army of marshals and volunteers who helped dispel any trepidation of ‘The Beast’

Race organiser Jake Akroyd said ‘With favourable weather conditions we had a record turn out of 186 runners for the race. Stand out performance of the day came from Nichola Jackson of Preston Harriers, completing the route in 2 hours 51 minutes and taking 18 minutes off the ladies course record. Host club Calder Valley won both team prizes with the men just edging out local rivals Tod Harriers.’

The trio for the winning men’s team were Ben Mounsey (2nd), Gavin Mulholland (4th) and Andy Thorpe (23rd) and for the women, Helen Roberts (5th w), Jackie Scarf (11th w) , Helen Buchan (14th w).

Helen Roberts, a newcomer to fell racing in the UK and used to dry trails back in Australia, said ‘This was my first experience of a fell race and I started out really nervous about the navigating and the hills. The hills were hard as expected, the navigation went well thanks to Ben Mounsey. But it was the bogs that got me, all that mud, wow that mud is a real game changer! The race was so well organised and everyone was so friendly and made me feel so welcome.’

Helen Roberts at the Wadsworth Trog 2017

Ben Mounsey, Calder Valley’s national fell racing champion said ‘ I entered the Trog as part of my training for this year’s 3 Peaks so for me it was more about getting in the tough miles rather than breaking any records. Rob Jebb had the same plan in mind and we ended up running together for the entire race. Gav joined us but dropped off the pace at halfway and then he ran with Andy Swift and they finished together. Both myself and Rob ran strongly and I was really happy with my run over that distance (I’m not an endurance bunny!). I navigated us safely over the sections of the race that weren’t flagged and we agreed to finish the race together and share 1st place. Unfortunately my legs literally died about 800 metres from the finish and Rob pushed on to take the victory and I jogged in about 15 seconds behind. All in all it was a fab run and I’m pleased with how my prep for the important races is going. ‘The Beast’ lived up to its name. Although the weather was brilliant, it was extremely heavy underfoot and conditions weren’t brilliant because of the bogs and mud.’

Overall, it proved a great event which, as one runner put it ‘has given me very happy (and painful!) memories’. The Beast will be back!

Photos courtesy of Woodheads: Photos: Ben Mounsey (left) and Rob Jebb

And elsewhere…at the Kong MMM

3 Calder Valley runners went up to the Lake District to do round 1 of the Kong Mini Mountain Marathon in Borrowdale. Runners have 4 hours to visit as many control points as possible, collecting points for each one they visit and be back in the allocated time.

Frechette and Ingram on the Kong MMM 2017

A fresh morning in the Lakes gave way to harsher weather higher up with snow underfoot and thick fog making navigation tough at the highest points. Some precarious controls saw Ben Frechette and Richard Ingram getting a scare trying to reach a control on the side of Ullscarf under a ravine. But after a few bites of Kendal mint cake, they regained composure, having a good climb up to High Raise and taking some good lines back down to Langstrath beck to take a few controls on route, pushing up their point tally and leaving them with a sprint back to the finish at Borrowdale YHA. Linda Hayles had a great day and leads the FV60 Cat with 250 points putting her in 1st place, followed by Richard Ingram in the MV40 cat who held 3rd place until the eventual winner and Lake District legend Steve Birkenshaw carded 501 points putting him straight into 1st place and pushing Richard into 4th. Ben Frechette also scored 330points putting him into 3rd place in his category M. Round 2 will be held on Sunday 2nd April in the Lakes.

Four Calder Valley Runners make the Prizes at the Reeth Open 5

Reeth – The Scarfs and Al Morris

Held in the Yorkshire Dales, this adventure race is not for the faint-hearted: 3 hours of MTB orienteering + 2 hours of foot orienteering, really tested navigation skills. Several of Calder Valleys finest were in with the prizes, having collected over 500 points each. Jonathan Emberton came 2nd in the Male solos, Alistair Morris came a stunning 1st in the Male pairs and Cragg Vale’s Jackie and Phil Scarf won the Mixed Pairs by a whisker or 47 seconds to be precise. This is a series of 4 adventure races, usually held in the north of England.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickinson –

Winter Handicap and Hoofstones clash

Last Saturday saw Calder Valley fell runners take part in their annual Winter Handicap race from Stubbs field Mytholmroyd to Stoodley Pike and back. The race was 5.5 miles in length and had 1,000 foot of ascent. In a handicap race, staggered start times are crafted based on the performance of the runners in recent races, to ensure that everyone theoretically crosses the finish line together. Anyone who puts in an extra effort on the day would therefore finish before their club mates; except those club mates are doing the same. Whoever puts in the biggest effort on the day would walk away with the trophy!

Eric Powell just holding off ‘Young’ Mark Wharton

Marc Collet, the race organiser added “usual Winter Handicap weather – fog at the pike, intermittent rain at the start, wet and boggy underfoot – made for an exciting race with staggered start times giving anyone in the club the chance of winning. Thirty seven runners started and all thirty seven made it back down with just 12 minutes separating the first and last places. With two time handicap champ Dan Biggs staying away, it meant a different name on the trophy this year with new club member Stephanie Vanderhaegen first to the pike and first to the winning line on Stubbs Field, followed closely by Gill Dickson and Ruth Thompson-Davies.”

Jon Smith – quickest time on the Winter Handicap

Jake Ackroyd ran a brilliant race as the first male runner home, followed closely by Club Champion Jon Smith, who broke the 40 minute mark. There were plenty of notable runs with Rachel Johnston winning the female veteran category and coming in as fastest woman in the field. Junior, Erik Powell, ran one of the best races pipping joint veteran champion Mark Wharton to the post – the irony of which won’t be lost on his dad Iain!

Stephanie, Gill and Ruth

A big thanks to resident statistician Andy Wright for devising this year’s start times and to the Shoulder of Mutton in Mytholmroyd for their after race hospitality.

Further up the valley on the road to Burnley, a second fell race was also held on the same day – Hoofstones. The 8 mile race is a navigational challenge, which takes you to the highest point around Todmorden – Hoofstones Heights Trig Point. The Trig is situated on the East/West Watershed above the old Sportsman Arms. The race initially starts on good tracks leading away from the Staff of Life pub, but after crossing the Long Causeway, the conditions get a lot worse, with knee-deep bogs and giant tussocks to contend with. One CV runner entered – James Logue – and had a cracking race, finishing in 2nd place with a time of 01:04:35. Andrew Worster of Todmorden Harriers was the eventual winner.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert –