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.
“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:
“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.
|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 –