Gray earns GB selection

Mounsey (Left) then Gray and Swift – Three Peaks 2017 (Thanks: Woodentops)

The week saw a packed and busy itinerary for CVFR with a catalogue of races ranging from 3.3 miles to 61 miles. In the offing was a mid week run in Todmorden (the Orchan Rocks), two classic fell races (the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the epic ultra Fellsman), and a popular club event, the Coiners, hosted by the club itself. And, as ever, the red and white stripes scooped up a range of prizes along their way.

Orchan Rocks, a short 3.3 mile race, was first run in 2014. Starting a couple of miles outside Todmorden, it’s a short sharp blast of a race on some fast, grassy paths. Going up the Knotts Cliffs, the route does a quick loop around the Orchan Rocks before descending back the same way. Calder Valley’s Alex Whittem was the overall winner with a time of 22.30. Calder Valley men took the Team prize and Sue Martin claimed the WV50.

Sue Martin WV50 Orchan Rocks

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is an iconic event, popular with runners and spectators alike. Richly steeped in history, it’s a race where many great athletes have made their mark. Billed as the “Marathon with Mountains”, this 23 miles fell route, which has 5,279ft of ascent, features on the bucket list of many fell runners with its steep climbs, challenging descents, fast runnable sections, a variety of all terrain, and of course unpredictable Yorkshire weather! It attracts the very best fell and mountain runners in the land with fierce competition, especially this year as it was a selection event for the Great Britain Team for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. The race starts from Horton-in-Ribblesdale and snakes it way up, round and down the iconic peaks of Pen-y-gent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. And if that’s not challenging enough, the strict cut off times, means there’s always significant number of runners who are unable to complete the race.

The 2017 event, held last Saturday, attracted a field of 760 runners. Conditions were favourable as 22 hardy Calder Valley runners gathered at the starting line, including the club’s finest athletes, to take on this gruelling challenge. All 22 CV runners accomplished the mission of making the cut off times and completing the race.

The overall winner was Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters in Edinburgh completing in 2:49:38- 3mins 35secs outside the men’s record for the current course, which Andy Peace, of Bingley Harriers established 21-years-ago in 1996. Calder Valley’s Karl Gray came in 4th overall at 2:56:37, winning the MV40 category and breaking his own record. With his team mates Ben Mounsey and Andy Swift, CVFR secured 2nd men’s team prize.

Karl said ‘I had amazing run at the 3 peaks. I’d prepared really well leading up to the race but you never really know how you’re going to run as it’s such a tough race to get right. I’d told myself that a top 10 would be a great result. My plan was to run my own race aiming for a sub 3 hours and see what happens.

‘I’d stayed in the top 10 at Penyghent and was 7th on Whernside and was starting to feel more confident on the way to Ingleborough as the run off Ingleborough to the finish is the strongest part of the race for me. As others start to fade I feel good there. I just needed to survive the run down to the Hill Inn and keep a good rhythm on the long climb up Ingleborough. My plan worked out perfectly and I manage to pick off the 3 runners that I could see ahead of me finishing in 4th place in a new personal best time and veteran 40 record of 2.56.32. Being overjoyed is an understatement – I’d amazed myself! ‘

Victoria Wilkinson, of Bingley Harriers, claimed a £500 bonus prize for breaking the ladies’ record. She finished 13th overall at 03:09:19. Helen Buchan, the lone Calder Valley female runner, completed it in 4:41:11

Among the 22 CV crew was Paul Haigh. Determined to put his running efforts to good use, he completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks as the first of 4 Mountain Marathons this year to raise money for Mental Health UK. His marathons will be part of his quest to run 1000 miles and climb 100,000ft of ascent in 2017.  

Paul said ‘I’m still buzzing from an absolutely fantastic day. My aim was just to finish. To do it in just over 4 hours, making new friends along the way, and receiving some brilliant support both on and off the course has made this a day I’ll never forget. Thanks everyone who’s donated so far to my ‘Mental’ Health challenge. On course for at least £1.5k so far with only a quarter of the Mountain Marathons completed!’

The Fellsman 2017, Joint 2nd, Calders Simon Bourne(Left) and Kevin Hoult (Right)

This year’s 55th Fellsman is another Yorkshire classic. A high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland, the event climbs12,000 feet in its path from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales. Conditions this year were kind – remarkably dry underfoot and no rain The overall winner was Chris Perry from Dark Peak in 11h 21m. As a counter for CVFR’s 2017 Ultra Club Championships, Calder Valley’s Simon Bourne and Kevin Hoult were determined to undertake the challenge and in doing so, finished joint 2nd  along Stewart Bellamy from Mercia  in 11h 56m. Not only that, CV won the men’s Team prize.

Simon said ‘The three of us started running together early on and we pulled through the field from 20th to 3rd place at half way. I’m a Fellsman veteran (was my 7th top 10 position and was also 2nd last year) so know the route well and the other guys were happy to follow me. Early on, Kevin and myself agreed to run together to the finish like we did in 2015.’

‘We were in sight of the guy in 2nd place (Lawrence Eccles from Liverpool) for all the second half of the race, but he held us off until the final 8 mile descent off Great Whernside to the finish which we ran really hard as we were hugely motivated to break 12 hours. We kept pushing hard all the way and were delighted to finish a few minutes under 12, having passed Lawrence with 6 miles to go’

Finally, on Bank Holiday Monday, CVFR hosted the popular Coiners race for both juniors and seniors. This year, the race was an English Juniors Championships counter and Yorkshire Championship race, thus attracting large numbers of youngsters from all over the country, with over 400 juniors racing. The pressure was on for CVFR to pull off a super, successful junior event and they did just that with club members coming out in force to support and marshal the races, superbly organised and coordinated by junior coach, Alastair Whitelaw. The testing junior routes each started with a tough uphill, with the older the age group the wilder the route. The older runners take in large chunks of open moorland before a long fast downhill descent with a bit of everything – moor, tracks, woodland and fast grassy slopes.

Holly Page is 1st and sets a new course record on the Coiners 2017

Smiles and mud were abundant as the juniors zipped their way round their respective course (U9, U11, U13, U15, U17 and U19). U9 overall winner was Tom Ashworth (Ambleside) with Samuel Annison first CV home followed 2 seconds later by CV’s Clara McKee who was first girl. CV’s Charlie Pickins (7th) and George McFie (10th) were within the first 10 back of the U11, with CV’s Thomas McKee, Ben Hodgkinson, Ollie Pickins, Fearne Hanson Finley Canning , Kenton Jones McCalla ,Wynn Standish all showing great determination and effort.

In the U13, CV’s William Hall came in 3rd with James Duffy (8th) and Patrick Casey (9th) also in the top ten.  Great performances from CV were also seen by Alex Duffield, Farrell Brown, Tom Owen, Elijah Peers-Webb, Matilda Baldero, Evelyn Illstone, Sylvie Smith and Hattie Pope.

Charlie Pickins Coiner junior

Frazer Sproul (Kendal) was the overall winner for the U15, with promising performances from CV’s Erik Powell, Eilo Beesley,  Maya Brunt and Ruby McFie. U17 winner was Alex Ediker (Buxton AC) and first girl Rosie Woodhams (Dallam running club) with CV’s Lucas Greenwood running well.

With this being a Junior Yorkshire championship race William Hall was crowned under 13s boys champion. A fantastic result for the William who’s running fantastically this season.

The well organised seniors race later that day, coordinated by CV’s Rob Rawlinson, also had a strong CVFR turn out both as participants and marshals. The scenic 6 mile loop with 967ft of climb takes in Coiner’s country on paths, tracks moorland. It goes over Erringden Moor, Stoodley Pike and Bell House Moor, offering spectacular views of Cragg Vale and passing by the old coiners cottages of Bell House and Keelam.

The overall winner was Tom McGuiness (East Cheshire) in 45:33 with Holly Page the first CV home and first lady (5th overall) in 49:47. Holly broke the previous record held by Katie Walshaw, an international runner from Holmfirth Harriers. Not only that, but the red and whites also successfully scooped both the 1st Ladies Team prize (Holly Page, Jo Buckley, Lindsey Oldfield) AND the 1st Men’s Team prize (Romans Sustovs, Matt Ray and Steve Smithies).

Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson