Snowdon International

Top effort – Gav Mulholland – over and out after Snowdon

The main event in the Calder Valley Fell Runners calendar this week for many in the team was the Snowdon Mountain Race – or Ras-yr-Wyddfa in Welsh. This 10 mile race is a straight up and straight down affair, starting in Llanberis and climbing 3,300 ft to the top of Snowdon and then back down the way you came. The weather was pretty grim with wet conditions under foot and very misty. Alex Whittem led the red ‘n’ whites for the first phase, with Gav Mulholland, Math Roberts and Jason Williams close behind. The Northern Irish vet then took over, with Math, Jason and Alex not far behind. Gav was 12th to the summit and ended up in 11th place overall in a time of 01:12:59. Representing Northern Ireland for this race he was the first runner back for his country. Math had a great run in his Welsh vest to take 16th place and only just under a minute behind his team mate. Alex Whittem was next back for the club in 26th place in 1:16:34 with 35th place for Jason in just over 1 hour 18 minutes.

Helen Roberts on her way to 2nd lady

Also on Saturday was the Oxenhope fell race, held as part of the village gala. This year the 3.3 mile race attracted a record number of entries, with 58 runners taking part. The race takes runners around the beautiful scenery of Oxenhope and Leeming reservoir. Three runners from CV entered, with Rob Allen finishing 4th overall and 2nd lady for Helen Roberts only a few seconds off taking top spot.

Mark Taylor running hard @ Cracoe

On Sunday there was another race in the BOFRA Championship counter at Cracoe, Yorkshire Dales. This was another short and testing race at 2.6 miles in total with 900 ft of ascent. Only one senior CV men entered, Mark Taylor, finishing 8th overall. In the juniors U12 event, Will Hall had a cracking race, finishing 2nd overall; James Duffy was not too far behind in 6th place too. 

Finally, Jon Smith, Iain Powell and Gail Tombs entered the Kentmere Horseshoe race in the South Lakes, finishing 39th, 145th and 307th respectively out of 346 runners. This popular race, run in very hot conditions this year, takes the runners on a 12 mile outing from Kentmere up to High Street and back down.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Paul Gilbert

The long and the short of it … its brilliant results all the way


The mighty Wasdale fell race was held last Saturday. The race is a counter in this year’s fiercely contested English Fell Running Championship as well as Calder Valley Fell Runners Club Championship. So there were a good few red and white hoops on the start line with the 273 strong field.

Considered to be possibly the toughest fell race in the calendar, Wasdale packs over 9,000 feet of climb into its 21 mile route and includes England’s highest peak. Starting at the northern end of Wastwater, the route heads over the hill that stands over the famous screes, Whin Rigg, before crossing the valley to head up Seatallen, Pillar, skirting Kirkfell, and climbing over Great Gable before heading up Scafell Pike. The race then finishes with a leg pulping 3,000 foot drop down Lingmell.

Karl climbing hard with Bingley’s Rob Jebb

Calder’s Karl Gray played a sensible race keeping pace with Bingley’s Rob Jebb over much of the route. They were neck and neck at Beck Head in 6th and 7th place, before the climb up Great Gable, sharing foot and water offered by spectators. Karl then pulled though the front runners finishing in a spectacular 2nd place taking 3 hours 50 minutes and 5 seconds. Not bad for a 47 year old and one of his best results ever! The race was won by a Carl Bell of Keswick who was over 9 minutes clear of Gray in the fastest time since Andy Styan in 1990. Andy Swift was second Calder runner in 27th place, shortly followed by Ian Symington in 32nd.

The women’s race was much tighter. Anna Lupton of Black Combe was first woman in 4 hours 41 minutes and 26 seconds, closely followed by Nicola Jackson of Preston only 2 seconds later. Helen Buchan was first woman back for Calder, followed by Jackie Scarf.

Calder Results

2nd Karl Gray – 3:50:05
27th Andy Swift – 4:29:14
32nd Ian Symington – 4:33:58
70th Stephen Edwards – 4:59:00
94th Phil Scarf – 5:19:04
114th Dougie Zinis – 5:30:06
127th Iain Illstone – 5:41:07
131st Paul Haigh – 5:45:08
138th Johnnie Watson – 5:47:35
209th Helen Buchan – 6:25:10
225th Jackie Scarf – 6:39:22

Alva Games

Will & James on the podium @ Alva

Calder Valley Juniors, Will Hall was 1st and James Duffy 3rd at the Alva Games held near Sterling, Scotland as part of the British Open Fell Runners Association. They are both doing really well in the BOFRA under 13 champs (Will 1st and James 4th). Will is on course for winning both the FRA English championship and BOFRA championship this year. In the senior race an injured Ben Mounsey kept his senior title hopes alive by placing a fantastic second place behind Wharfedales Ted Mason who’s won this race on numerous occasions. Mounsey, who is an excellent descender, had to take it steadier than he would have like to protect an already painful knee.

1st for Mounsey & Oldfield at the Craggs Reverse

Calder Valley Fell Runners had another week of quality running, with some fantastic results in local short and long distance races.

Lindsey Oldfield (no 17) – Cragg Vale reverse 2017

One of the valley’s classic mid-week fell races, Cragg Vale is a short and fast route, taking runners from the Hinchcliffe Arms up to Erringden moor through the bogs of Sunderland pastures and back down again in just four miles. For the first time this year it was run in reverse, meaning the final section is run through the tricky, thin woodland track that leads runners home.

An impressive 37 of the 83 runners were from Calder Valley. Among them was Paul Gilbert, who had an excellent race, taking several places in the last 100 metres of the race, to finish 17th. He said: “It was a great turnout for the club from the elite level down to newer members that recently started on the back to the fells courses in Spring. Andy Worster of Todmorden Harriers had a great start, leading Ben Mounsey and Alex Whittem up the initial steep climb on the tarmac.” Ben, one of the fastest runners in the sport, went on to win the race in just over 28 minutes, with a single second separating Alex and Andy in second and third respectively.

Calder Valley’s women also ran well, with Lindsey Oldfield having a strong run as second woman back in 36 minutes behind Bingley Harriers under 18 Emily Field.

Paul added: “There were lots of tussles for places throughout the race. Rob Allen, Mark O’Connor and Iain Illstone all had a great race with Rob leading them up the hill and Mark leading them down.”

A few days later, over in Heptsonstall, another large turnout of Calder Valley runners put in great runs at the Heptonstall Festival Fell race, a tough 6 mile that drops down to Hardcastle Craggs, climbs to High Brown Knoll and then turns and heads furiously back down and up to the village again. There were 89 runners in total, with some excellent runners travelling to this event – encouraged perhaps by the reward of beer and music at the festival afterwards!

Ian Symington – Heptonstall Festive 2017

The overall winner was Christopher Holdsworth of Clayton-le-Moors and the first lady Pudsey & Bramley’s Rachel Pilling. First back for Calder Valley was ultra-distance supremo Ian Symington, who finished in 10th place in 55 minutes, despite the race being about 30 miles shorter than his usual. He was closely followed by a clutch of Calder Valley runners: Mark Wharton and Simon Bourne battled much of the way round, finishing in 14th and 15th respectively, just 7 seconds between them. Martin Howard was 19th and Paul Haigh 20th.

“It was perfect running conditions for the race” said Ian Symington, in typically modest fashion. “I started off like an idiot and effectively ruined my race by getting carried away and chasing my usual Tuesday night downhill rival Martin to the bottom of the first hill. Thirty seconds up the first climb it was clear I had overcooked it with the fast Toddies swiftly disappearing into the distance. Though I managed to get a personal best, I spent the rest of the race just trying to keep moving, aware that there were a few club members behind who would welcome the chance to give me a good kicking.”

At the other end of the scale, Calder Valley’s Jonathan Emberton took an excellent third place in the Vet category and fourth overall in the Pillar class of the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon – a very prestigious solo event that took place over two days with more than 10 hours of tough running and orienteering over the fells of Enerdale.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon

3 Peaks easy sailing

The start of the week saw an amazing result for Calder Valley’s Phil Scarf and Alistair Morris in the 3 Peaks Yacht race, the original adventure race. This unique event combines sailing, running and a little cycling and is reputed to be one of the toughest long distance events in the world. Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of the crew climbing Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, clocking up the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days. Competitors start in Barmouth sailing to fort William stopping at Caernarfon and Whitehaven for runners to ascend the 3 Peaks.

It draws competitors from all sporting backgrounds & with sailing experience from off-shore cruising to round-the-world races. A very pleased Alistair said:

“This involves 60 miles of running and 30 cycling with 500 miles of sailing. Engines are not allowed so teams take to rowing when no wind or against the strong tides. Boats sail through difficult waters such as the Menai straits and around the mulls of Kintyre

Other boats had problems such as a man overboard in the rough waters of Bardsy Sound and others ran aground on sandbanks.

We ended up rowing on and off for most the 24 hour journey from Mull of Kintyre to Oban. We competed in 4 days 11 hours in the end.”
Meanwhile, while the CVFR gang were hitting the hills at the Tebay fell race the week before for the joint championship counter, Calder Valley’s Jason Williams was chasing a dream of winning the trail half marathon at Trail marathon Wales in the beautiful Coed y Brenin forest. And he certainly fulfilled that dream, as the overall winner with 01:32:33.

Said Jason:
“ Always a tough race with lots of changes in terrain and a fair amount of elevation change. After taking the lead at after the first mile I slowly opened up a gap and didn’t look back.”

Alex Whittem leading the way at Bridstones 2017 (Photo by Mick Fryer)

And CV continued to clock up more wins throughout the week with Alex Whittem the overall winner and Lindsey Oldfield, first lady at the Bridestones race last Tuesday. A short, steep route of 4.7 miles and 1230ft, Alex completed in 34:29 and Lindsay in 43:53. Alex was joined by team mates Mark O’Conner and Iain Powell to take the Men’s Team prize with all three coming in the top 4 places. Then the following evening, CV’s Carole Fryer took the LV50 prize in the Sabden race. Carole was jovial about her win of a bottle of win, particularly given that the second prize was a pint of milk!

Lindsey Oldfield is 1st back at Bridstones 2017 (Photo by Mick Fryer)

But the week’s prizes didn’t stop there. CV’s English U13 champion, William Hall, expanded his prize collection as U12 winner at the Kirkby Gala Fell Race.
Then to round up the week, 5 CV ladies clocked up 135 miles between them in the 6 Derbyshire Dales Challenge. Sheer determination, team effort, laughter and plenty of cake aided completion of the undulating 27 mile trail which they ran together in an impressive 5 hours. They finished in the top third, despite their late arrival at the start line due to a navigational mishap. Said Gill Dickson:

“The event started at Biggin but unbeknown to us, there are 2 Biggins within 16 miles of each other in the Peak District. We were in Biggin for the 8am start- just not the right Biggin! So by the time we eventually got to the start line, we were already a good 1 hour behind everyone else. But despite this, we still managed to finish in the top third.

These Challenge events allow you to do just that- challenge yourself but not in a race setting. None of us had done anything like a marathon before but we wanted to know if we were capable of that sort of distance for some fell marathon races later this year. And after Saturday, I think we are!

For me, this event summed up what fell running is all about- fabulous views, fresh air, lots of delicious cake and great friends to help and encourage you round. We couldn’t have done it without each other. And we’re certainly up for more long distance running- we didn’t want to stop at 27 miles!”

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickinson –