The Dragon Slayers

Two local running club members took part in the famous Dragons Back Race, billed as the world’s toughest mountain race, last week.

CVFR John Minta – Dragons Back 2017 (Photo Credit: NAV4 Adventures)

John Minta (Calder Valley FR) and Darren Graham (Todmorden Harriers) were among those who set off from Conwy Castle in North Wales heading for Llandelio in the south.
It takes the runners five days and the 315k route has more than 15000m of ascent and crosses wild, trackless and mountainous terrain. The milage and ascent is based on optimal route choice and runners have to self navigate to each checkpoint so they could run further and climb higher! By modern ultra running standards, an average of 63k a day isn’t high but competitiors can be out for 13 hours each day and cumulative effect of five days of testing running tests mental and physical ability.

Only 127 of the 232 starters managed to slay the dragon but Minta (71st in 61.44.40) and Graham (86th in 64.44.42) were among them. The first two home were Marcus Scotney (37.58.37) and Carl Morgan (48.41.47).

Foe Edge

Last Wednesday 6 Calder Valley runners headed over to Rossendale to take part in the Foe Edge fell race, which is proving itself in becoming a classic mid-week South Pennine race. 142 runners entered the short race, which took in two extremely steep climbs as well as open moorland terrain. Rob Allen had a blistering start and really set the pace of the race on fire, leading the way for a good length of time. However, it proved too much and in the end he was not able to hold the lead and was passed accordingly. Gareth Clarke chose a different tactic and paced himself well. This paid off and he finished in 12th, with Rob in 16th. Carole Fryer was 1st V50 woman and Calvin Ferguson also had a strong race with a new personal best time.

12th Gareth Clarke 36:11
16th Rob Allen 36:20
41st Paul Gilbert 39:55
52nd Jon Underwood 41:05
55th Calvin Ferguson 41:13
95th Carole Fryer 45:50

Foes edge is over – CVFR Heading Home (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

Weets – English Championship

The 2nd race in the English Fell Running Championship series took us into Darkest Lancashire last Saturday for a short sharp shock of a race; 6 miles and 1500 feet of climb.

The Calder Valley caravan was a man or three down but still managed to get some top teams out. The ladies set off first, in heat wave conditions. Bionic women, Karen farah fawcett Forster saw her come 2nd in her age category. 2 ladies suffered heat stroke and visited A&E but were reported to be OK.

Calders Karon Foster (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

The Calder men were led by trio and Alex (endangered species) Whittem, Timbo ‘Baggins’ Ellis and Old Man Mulholland with the 2 youths striving on to finish 18th and 20th. Vet 45 Mulholland hung in to finish 27th and 1st vet, strengthening his lead in the individual champs tables. Not far behind came Jason ‘Wilf’ Williams, who had a stormer and classed 2nd v40 on the day.

falling at his feet… (Gav Mulholland) (Photo Credits Mick Fryer)

The vets may have clinched 1st team with contributions from Mancunian Stephen Edwards, hop a long Mark Taylor who is actually injured and Mark ‘The Wart’ Wharton. Unlike the women, the men were offered thunder, lightning and mega hail stones by the fell running Gods.


Of all the islands in the west of Scotland, the Isle of Jura, though one of the most beautiful, remains one of the most mysterious and least known. The spectacular Paps of Jura, rising from sea-level to over 2,500 feet are visible from the Argyll mainland some 16 miles away. These three spectacular lumps of hard Scottish quartzite are traversed by the Jura Fell Race. It is a great classic and a test in rough terrain, fitness and fell running technique, not to mention navigation. It is one of the toughest challenges in British hill races at this distance. 9000ft of climbing all within the first 12 miles of the 16 mile race.

Jake Ackroyd at Jura 2017

Several Calder Valley Fell runners took the opportunity to race there this year. Karl Grey was first back for the club in a fantastic 4th place 3 hours 27 mins and 12 seconds and gaining a coveted Jura Race whisky glass. Findlay Wild of Lochaber won in 3 hours 5 mins and 14 secs. Ian Symington was an excellent 26th taking just over four hours, in what is a short race for him.

4th Karl Gray 3:27:12
26th Ian Symington 4:06:08
89th Mark O’Connor 4:51:42
95th Dougie Zinnis 4:59:32
108th Lee Shimwell 5:07:03
127th Jake Ackroyd 5:20:42

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks –

Members Summer Solstice Run

I am arranging a Tuesday club away run to coincide with the Summer Solstice on June 20th (day before, I know…). The run would head from the Robin Hood pub in Cragg Vale up to Great Manshead and back down – leaving at 6:45pm. Please do not turn up at the Robin Hood pub in Pecket Well. 

Two routes are attached – both anti-clockwise. A long version, primarily aimed at a faster group (14km) and a short version, aimed at a steadier group (11km). With the plan to meet at the trig point on the hill at around the same time for some sun and good views. Both routes return the same way. 

I can lead the faster group and James Cooke said he would lead the steadier group.

Roger at the pub said he can put food on after. Probably chip butties. So… if you want some food, please email me at by Thursday 15th June. Please don’t tell me in person, as I will forget.   

There will be a strict ‘no Strava art’ policy in place and will be enforced on the night. Sorry Ian. 

Cheers Paul Gilbert

Calder Men take the CWR Top Spot

Firstly, in England, Halifax Harriers hosted the 33rd Eric North Memorial Calderdale Way Relay, with 96 teams entering. Covering a total distance of 50 miles, each team of 12 runners share the duties as each of the 6 legs are run in pairs throughout the day. CVFR men’s Team A took home 1st place in a combined time 05:59:55, beating their closest rivals, Barlick Fell Runners by just over 4 minutes.

The men’s B team also had a very strong and consistent run thanks to a superb start by Iain Powell and Iain Glendinning, finishing in 25th place and beating many other clubs A teams.

Ben Mounsey, who was drafted in at the last second to run Leg 3, in addition to Leg 1 had this to say “Unfortunately for the CVFR A team, Darren Kay pulled out of the race with an injury less than 36 hours before the event. After frantically trying to find an adequate replacement over the weekend, we finally made a decision (literally a few hours before the relay!) that we would move Richard Pattinson to Leg 6 and I would run both Leg 1 and Leg 3. A very risky and bold strategy that would either pay dividends or fail quite spectacularly. When the race began, I knew that we would need a remarkable run on leg 1 to give us a healthy lead, especially as we expected to lose time on leg 3. Thankfully, both myself and Andy represented Yorkshire last weekend, so I knew we were in excellent form. By the time we approached Norland Moor we had a sizeable lead over the chasing pack and a good 45 second advantage. Over the first few miles I really pushed the pace to try and extend our lead and seconds quickly turned into minutes. Behind us there was a real tussle for 2nd place as Wharfedale, Harrogate and Clayton fought it out between themselves. I knew that once we reached Mill Bank our tactics had worked and it was just a case of how many minutes advantage we would have going into the second leg. We finished with a real flourish on the final descent, in a time of 01:09:47 and gained a 4 minute lead over the next teams, Harrogate Harriers and Wharfedale Harriers in 2nd & 3rd respectively.”

The men’s Team A were then able to hold onto the lead for the remainder of the race, with Shaun Godsman putting in a really strong push on Leg 3, having recently returned from a serious back operation. Jon Smith and Mark O’Connor also put in an excellent Leg 5, as Barlick were chasing and closing the gap. Lastly Karl Gray and Richard Pattinson, as two of the most experienced fell runners in the country proved, there was no catching these legends, finishing comfortably in 1st place.

Jon Smith – CWR 2017 – Leg5 – Mens A Team

Jon Smith leading the way on Leg 5.

In Scotland, Holly Page took first place at the Goatfell race on the Isle of Arran. The 9.6 mile race heads out from Brodick, taking the competitors 2,800 ft up the Tourist route, before descending and heading back into Brodick for a fast finish. Likewise in Wales, Math Roberts came home first for CV in the Cader Idris Mountain Race in a time of 01:24:08, beating his closest rival by 6 minutes. The race is one of the toughest in Wales and is considered one of the ‘must do’ races on a lot of folk’s calendars.

1st. Holy Page – Goatfell 2017

Holly Page descending Goat Fell, Isle of Arran.

At 37 miles and incorporating 10,000 ft of ascent and descent, the Old County Tops race is a classic test of mountain running endurance that has been held annually for 29 years. From Langdale the competitors must visit the highest points in each of the three counties that used to incorporate the Lake District before the county of Cumbria was formed – Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. The highest points being the summits of Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Old Man of Coniston respectively. This year the test was made considerably harder by heavy rain, wind and cold conditions all morning. The 30% dropout rate during the race, even from the hardy mountain folk who toe the start line of an event like this, was indication of the severity.

Elite ultra runners Kevin Hoult and Simon Bourne were targeting a win in their vets category. They set a fast time of just over 8 hours for 7th place overall, but were pipped for the vets win by just two minutes. Further back, there was a good tussle between two more CVFR pairs: Johnnie Watson and Simon Fisher stayed just a few minutes ahead of Helen Buchan and Bill Johnson for almost the whole route, until a navigation error led to Johnnie and Simon heading to Dow Crag instead of Coniston Old Man, allowing Helen and Bill to emerge at the final summit in front – a position they held to the finish. Those two pairs both finished in just over 10 hours.They were followed by CVFR’s Tim Brooks who had paired up with Todmorden Harrier’s Andy McFie.

The race was won by Rob Jebb (Bingley) and Josh Jardine (Helm Hill) in under 7 hours, while Nicky Spinks (Dark Peak) and Jean Brown (Clayton) impressively lowered their own women’s record to 8:15 despite the conditions.

Duo, Kevin Hoult & Simon Bourne on the Old county tops 2017

Lastly, just over the border in Lancashire, a group of hardy CVFR entered the Blackstone Edge fell race, as part of the clubs Championship series. From the old Roman road, the race heads down through a boggy track before climbing very steeply over rough tussocks – 1,200 ft in total – to the Trig point at Blackstone edge. It then drops down a technical decent and once more through the bogs, for a fast finish. Lindsey Oldfield took first ladies prize for the club and Bill Johnson took 1st Vet 50, as well as being first back for CV. This result extends his lead even further in the men’s Club Champs – come on lads, he needs a challenger!

CVFRs Stephen Edwards took part in the Jurassic Coast ultra on Saturday 20th May and won the race. It was 46 miles with 6112’ of climbing visiting the famous site of Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert –