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 –