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