The Spine

Cliff wins Winter Handicap

Calder Valley Fell Runners held their Winter Handicap race last Saturday, a great warm up to the clubs’ annual presentation awards held that evening.  Runners start times vary depending on how well they have raced over the previous year, with the aim that everyone crosses the finish line at the same time.  The slowest runner starts first, and the fastest runner starts last.  The race heads from Mytholmroyd to Stoodley Pike and back, just over five miles and about 1000ft of boggy climbing.

First to the Pike was Kate Pope however she couldn’t keep ahead of Ben Cliff who came in to win 23 seconds ahead of Kate.  Having only taken up running this summer after years of cycling, Ben is really enjoying himself, and is pretty fast too, completing the course in 45 mins and 31 seconds.  Jocaster Fletcher was 3rd.

Two of the Club’s juniors, Patrick Casey and Charlie Pickens, took part and really enjoyed racing against the adults. Patrick’s Dad, Rob said, “The pair had a fab time, great that they ran the course together. When kids do adult stuff, it ramps up the thrill factor for them, and I knew the pre-race concerns would have added to that. They’ll not forget Saturday – precious moments”

Martin Howard was the fastest overall in 40 minutes and 3 seconds with Catherine Holden fastest woman in 51 minutes and 2 seconds

Spine Challenger

The Spine Race is touted as Britain’s most Brutal, covering the full 268 miles of the Pennine Way from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It’s also held in the middle of winter so competitors have 16 hours of darkness to cope with too.

Simon Bourne (waving) with Wouter Heitzing


Calder Valley Club Chairman, Bill Johnson set off on Sunday morning with over 100 other of the best ultra runners in the world.  Full report of his exploits next week when he’s finished!

There is also the Spine Challenger also known as the ‘fun run’, which takes in the first 108 miles of the Pennine Way, Edale to Hawes.  Calder Valley’s Simon Bourne took part in this race setting out to win.  He set off like a rocket and soon he and Wouter Huitzing of the Netherlands had taken an unassailable lead.  They ran together from Bleaklow all the way to Malham village, 86 miles into the race, when in Simons words “my legs dropped off and he powered away”.

Hutzing won in 25 hours 44mins, smashing the previous record, with Bourne 2nd in 28:42:17.  A weary Simon said, “It was really nice to see so many familiar faces along the way, thanks all for coming out to support. Definitely an early night tonight.”


Going in the other direction from Marsden to Edale, the Trigger is no easy run in itself, a 20 mile one way trip with over 5000ft of climbing.  Two CVFR members ran in fairly benign conditions on Sunday, John Allen was 32nd in 4 hours and 25 mins with Steward Russell 97th in 5 hours and 18 minutes.  The race was won by Pennine’s Nicholas Barber.

Stanbury Splash

A bitterly cold morning saw a collection of hardy juniors take on the Stanbury Spash at Haworth on Sunday, gathering in the forsaken quarry at Penistone Hill for the off.
A gritty performance from Ted Parker was rewarded with a top 10 finish in the U9s. Sam Annison, in his first U11s race, came in at 11th with Ollie Pickens at a hard fought for 12th. In the U13s Fearne Hanson got a well-deserved 9th in her first year in this age group whilst Patrick Casey stormed to 2nd, despite his run at the Winter Handicap the day before.

305  Seniors ran the 7.5 mile race that ranges across the Bronte Moors.  Calder’s Jo Buckley and Stephen Morran had excellent runs; Buckley as 1st FV40 and 3rd woman in 58:06 and Morran was first V60 (84th overall) in 1:00:07.  Mark Wharton was first CFVR back in 52nd place and Steve Smithies was 86th despite celebrating Most Improved Runner at the Club Awards the night before.  John Nunn and John Tayler also represented Calder; Tayler, like Casey, running in the Handicap the previous day.

The men’s race was won by Jack Wood in 45:44 with Ian Holmes (V50) just 20 seconds behind in 2nd.  Ruby Sykes of Holmfirth was first woman in 54:38 with Annie Roberts of Todmorden in 2nd, 56:03.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks

No hangovers for runners kicking off 2018

Giants Tooth Fell Race

While most of us were nursing a hangover or curled-up in front of a film, 154 hardy souls were toeing the start line of the New Year’s Day fell race, the Giants Tooth. Just 5 kilometres long and with around 400 feet of climbing, it’s a short, sharp shock of a race around Ogden reservoir near Halifax. Kill or cure for most people.

Luke Meleschko Giants tooth 2018 – Photo Credits: Nick Small

There was a high quality field, and as always Calder Valley were up there with the front runners. Jo Buckley had an excellent run, finishing second woman, just 1 minute behind the female winner Annie Roberts – this despite having had a tough run at the New Year’s Eve Auld Lang Syne fell race near Haworth just the day before. Not to mention the night itself!

“What a sprint start, and then a bottleneck at the first stile” said Jo. “I started catching Annie up the first climb, Spice Cake Hill, but then I lost touch on the steep descent and never caught up again. She is an ace skier so flies downhill – I’m not! The legs were a bit tired from Auld Lang Syne. A great blast out to shake away the cobwebs!”

There was a strong turnout from Calder Valley men, with Mark O’Connor first back for the club, finishing in 10th place in 20:03. Hot on his heels were Luke Meleschko and Dougie Zinis who finished just two seconds apart, in 20:21 and 20:23 respectively. Just 4 seconds after was Paul Haigh. Anthony Costello had another satisfyingly good run as his racing continues to improve, finishing in 23.23.

Calders Men at the Giants tooth 2018

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Giles Simon

Christmas Racing Round up.

Donald Trump, superheroes, Stormtroopers and Santas were just some of the characters seen dashing over the moors over the festive period. Such sightings were witnessed on the moors above Rossendale on Boxing Day for the annual Whinberry Naze Dash. A well established Boxing Day fell race organised by Rossendale Harriers, it’s often ran in fancy dress, with prizes for the best outfit as well as the usual fell racing categories.  Described as a 6.2km mudfest with just a little over 229m of ascent, it’s a short and aggressive race, ideal for running off excess festive fodder.

Stephen Smithies MV50 Whinberry Naze Dash Photo: Mick Fryer

Some 235 runners took part on Boxing Day with Donald and Melania Trump winning the fancy dress prizes.

The race was won by 16-year-old Mathew Mackay from the host club, while Nicola Jackson, of the Ribble Valley Harriers, was the first woman home. And for Calder Valley, Stephen Smithies took the MV50 prize.

A few days later on the Saturday, Northowram Pumas hosted the 2nd Coley Canter, an 8 mile trail race taking in the best trails, footpaths and hills in Pumas territory.  With its legacy as a mud fest, the race was a sell out with 128 competitors, 6 of whom were CV runners.  CVFR featured prominently in the prize giving with Gavin Mulholland 2nd overall and scoping the MV45 prize. And CV Gayle Sugden was first woman home.

Said Gavin: ‘It was a muddy mud skipper with extra lashings of black ice to keep you  on your toes,or not. With local vet legend Karl Gray side lined, I was determined to take on the winner, Owen Bielby of Wharfedale. Despite an early fall, Owen slipped into the lead and never looked back, unless he was lost or fancied a chat, or maybe he was just teasing me. Thanks to all the Pumas for their efforts and the scrummy soup’

Owen was first with Gavin just seconds behind the winning time of 56:26. For the ladies Gayle came out for only her 2nd race of the year to obliterate the rest of the field.  She finished in 01:08:33.

Said Gayle: ‘It was definitely a mud fest out there at the Coley Canter, at one point after jumping over a stile, the only option was to jump into a big bog! I sat behind Margaret Beever (Stainland Lions) for a while unsure of my race fitness but felt strong so decided to push on, happy to see the hills as I knew that was my advantage. A great race route put on by Northowram Pumas, I’ll be back next year to see if I can get near the speedy whippet Lucy Collins. I echo Gavin’s thanks to all the Pumas for their efforts, especially the marshals who stood out there in wet and cold conditions’ 

New Years Eve saw the farewell to the legendary Woodentops Auld Lang Syne fell race, organised by the infamous Dave and Eileen Woodhead. It’s been going for 30 years and is always a highlight in the fell runners’ calendar, falling on the last day of every year. A popular, fun event with fancy dress thrown in, 2017 was no exception with almost 500 competitors ranging from superheroes, elves, vicars, lobsters and Donald Trump, all determined to mark the historic occasion.  

And again CV featured in the prize giving with young Max Wharton, securing third place, coming in just 40 seconds after the winner, double Olympic champion, Alistair Brownlee of Bingley. Nicola Jackson of Ribble Valley was first woman home after her victory at Whinberry Naze the week before.

Max Wharton (3rd), Alistair Brownlee (1st) and Carl Bell (2nd, Keswick) Photo: Woodentops

An increasing number of Calder Valley Fell Runners are enjoying navigation challenges and members competed in two Christmas events at Ogden Water staged by local orienteering club East Pennine Orienteering Club. The first was a night event and the second, a mass start score event where runners try to visit as many controls from a maximum of 29 in an hour.

Said CV’s Jonathan Emberton, also an EPOC member and organiser of the 2 events: ‘The orienteering maps were very detailed at a large scale and the navigation fast and furious. We had two roving Santas both carrying a control box. Upon seeing them, participants could dib the box to get extra points’

A dozen CV runners took part in the Christmas Eve event, with CV’s Phil Scarf securing the MV50 with an impressive 310 points in time of 55:41. More information on local and

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Christmas Run

Calder Valley Club Christmas Run:

13 of the older, quicker juniors joined the adult run to Stoodley Pike, through clagg deep enough to lose your average adult giraffe in and mud that would immobilise even a medium-sized tank. Hopefully the same number of kids returned! Various coaches/parents/helpers tried to keep up. These juniors just love going out with the seniors.

On this occasion, there were 30+ seniors, wearing Christmas hats, who joined the Calder Valley Christmas Club run to Stoodley Pike and back, followed by Veggie Chilli, chips & drink in the Shoulder of Mutton in Mytholmroyd.

Group Photo from this year’s CVFR Senior Club Christmas Run

Saturday girls enjoy their Christmas run….

A group of 15 Calder Valley ladies meet every Saturday morning for a social run over the gorgeous moors of Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. They end the year by having a Christmas run to Stoodley Pike followed with festive food and drink back at the Shoulder of Mutton in Mytholmroyd.

Photograph Credit Mark Rosser

Photograph Credit Mark Rosser

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones