Last weekend fully kicked off the fell racing season with 2 key Champ events- Edale Skyline, an English Championships counter and the Haworth Hobble, a counter for CV’s own Ultra Championships. Keeping to tradition, red and whites featured, and achieved notable success, in both events.
Undeterred by the wet and dreary weather, more than 300 Wuthering Hike runners were at the start line of the Ultra friendly Haworth Hobble last Saturday. Organised by Kieghley & Craven, this race guarantees a good turn out for its 32 miles of Yorkshire Pennine paths and tracks from Haworth over the moors to Calderdale, up to Stoodley and back to Haworth via Heptonstall and Crimsworth Dean. The views are great, and terrain runnable (apart from the steep climb up the Pike!). It’s reputed to be a good introduction to long distance running and is the only race that offers tired runners whisky half way round!
The first in Calder Valley’s Ultra Club Champs, the event drew 16 CV runners all keen to prove their worth as ultra kings or queens. First CV home was club and ultra newbie Jonny Croston, who came an impressive 25th in 05:17:28. Andrea Blanshard was first CV woman home in 06:41:47. Kevin Hoult and Ben Ayres were the third pair home just seconds after Jonny in 05:18:00 Ken Sutor of Cheshire Hash was overall winner in an incredible 04:33:18 and Amy Freeman (Darwen Dashers) first woman in 05:17:53
“I was a bit apprehensive about the distance as I’d not done it before. I suffered badly between Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall and not sure the whiskey at the YHA checkpoint really helped! But some Kendal mint cake at Hardcastle Crags and constant encouragement and directions from Kevin Hoult who was yo yoing just in front of me with his partner kept me going to the end”
“Good to meet a few other members too for the first time. Not sure whether I’ll be back for more ultras. Ask me in a few days!”
The 2018 English Championship battle has commenced and already CV is off to a flying start.
Conditions on the Sunday were a stark contrast to those endured by the Hobblers on the Saturday. A glorious, crisp Spring day awaited the runners at Eddale Skyline race. Another long one, this is a category A race held on an unmarked course covering high and exposed fell terrain. The 21 mile route with 4505 ft of ascent requires suitable experience and isn’t for the faint hearted. And to add to the pressure, this year the race is a counter for the English Fell Running Championships.
Demonstrating the calibre of the club, 17 experienced CV athletes, including the likes of Karl Gray, Andy Swift and Jo Buckley, were among the 400 + runners raring to go at the start line. CV’s Jo Buckley was 5th woman home (03:42:40) and 2nd in her category (W40).
Karl Gray (02:45:36), Andy Swift (02:46:38) and Matthew Roberts (02:50:40) all finished in the top 10, securing the men’s Team Prize for the race. However, the English Champs men’s Team Prize was hotly contested between CVFR and Keswick. Both scored equally for the English Champs senior team points but it was awarded to Keswick by virtue of them getting their 5 home first (only just!).
However, the men’s Vets were victorious as first in English Champs thanks to Karl Gray, Gavin Mulholland, Shaun Godsman and club newbie Mark Burton.
Renowned Keswick runner, Carl Bell, was overall winner (02:37:13) and the infamous Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) first woman home in 02:59:34.
Earlier in the week, the club’s orienteering whiz, Jonathan Emberton, put on the club’s annual winter night score event. Clusters of control points were distributed strategically across 3 high points last Tuesday evening, challenging runners to conquer Mytholmroyd’s 3 peaks in less than 90 minutes. Talented youngster and overall winner, Martin Howard, beat off his older rivals coming in first with 36 points. Jo Stevens was first woman with 28 points. Other winners included Kate Pope (LV40), Richaard Sunderland (MV40) and Nicki Latham (WV50). Participant Andy Wright summed it up well:
“That was a fun challenge. I was thrown when I saw the maps had the high pointers nearby not at the perimeters, but then I twigged this was to try and get you to try 3 hills. I thought it was a great twist”
“I planned to try for a third hill myself, but with negative 59 seconds spare after doing the first 2, I think I was maybe pushing it!”
Thanks to Dave and Eileen Woodhead from www.woodentops.org.uk & Frank Golden Photography for the fell racing photos
– Calder Valley News Reporter:Gill Dickson
“If you can get to the start, the race is on”
This last-minute decision by the organiser to hold the 2018 Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round on Saturday March 3rd, despite the ground underfoot being frozen solid and up to three-feet of snow in places, saw 156 hardy souls travel to Barley in Lancashire to race. In recognition of the extreme weather & notably the huge snow drift on Pendle hill, the usual 16km was replaced with a shortened 12km course, as much for the safety of the marshals as the runners, given the bitterly cold temperatures and biting wind.
The revised 7.5-mile route gave those racing a tough winter challenge, and in line with the fabled fell-running camaraderie, at the starting line, with the -5 degrees feeling more like -15 with the 30-mph wind, the many-layered runners were encouraged to treat this year’s race more as a run, and above all else, to look out for each other.
However, a race is still a race, and for ladies CVFR’s Holly Page won emphatically – clearly demonstrating why she has been chosen for the British squad this summer. Holly stormed home in an outstanding 1:03:22 – placing 19th overall & beating all the other ladies by a country mile (with her nearest female competitor finishing over 30 runners and 6+ minutes behind her).
Calvin Ferguson was next over the line in red and white, finishing 66th in a highly respectable 1:12. Not too far behind was Stuart Russell, who finished 86th in 1:15 and completing the Calder finishers was Daniel Baron in 102nd place at 1:18.
All the runners were particularly thankful to the organiser & marshals for making the event possible, despite the adverse weather conditions that saw so many other races cancelled over the weekend, and to the volunteers who provided great soup & cake afterwards!
Holly Page storming it up to the top of Pendle hill (photo courtesy of David Belshaw) in what she described as a ‘wild’ uphill run, before heading out of the wind the other side into ‘the fun of negotiating up to three-foot snowdrifts’.
In a race that was perhaps most easily summed up as ‘cold & long’, CVFR’s Phill Beecroft was one of only 73 ultra runners of 200 registered to turn up to brave the 39 miles of Otley’s Welcome Way Ultra on Saturday, 3rd March. The first in the Punk Panther2018 ultra series was definitely a baptism of fire for any runner expecting what was billed as ‘a nice easy trail race’ and consequently, achieving a fantastic 7th place in epically tough conditions including waist deep snow and frozen exposed moors was impressive enough, without taking into account that Phill chose not to take advantage of the option of taking various shortcuts afforded to runners, due to the truly artic conditions. Instead, he ran the full 50k in order to gain the UTMB points towards the series.
Phill goes into the next race (A Bridge Too Far) in mid-May in a strong position (and hopefully more clement weather conditions!)
S-O-S (Save our Sheep):
Not to be out done by the juniors, as the younger members returned, a number of CVFR’s seniors were just setting out, braving plummeting temperatures & icy conditions under foot to slog up to Stoodley Pike and back as part of the usual club night pack runs. However, this Tuesday had an added twist, when the intermediate group of off-roaders came across a sheep, half-frozen, with her foot stuck in a wire fence. Once they had untangled it, quick-thinking Roman Shouhstov gave the poor animal’s leg an impromptu sports massage to warm it back up, whilst Catherine Holden called the farmer to come & take over, before the group could then continue to hoof it up (pun intended) to the Pike and back down again in an adventure that will no doubt be told & retold in the pub on many a snowy-day to come.
Sheep rescue & the club members later up at Stoodley Pike in sub-zero temperatures
– Calder Valley News Reporter:Catherine Jones
Grandmaster Race organiser Graham Davy unleashed Calder Valleys 5mile Midgely Moor Fell race on Saturday, famous for its heather bashing on the lower legs with many folk going home with unwanted souvenirs.
Cold and bright, with conditions underfoot good to atrocious Karl Gray, the Earl and vet legend, led the field on a course he knows well (he holds the record) and came home in 38 mins with Martin Howard in a new age category of m23, second in 41 mins, building on his recent successes with the men securing the team prize witch Jonny CRoston in 9th place.
For the ladies Gayle Sugden and Jo Buckley came back 1st and 2nd in 51.31 and 51.35 as they ran the moors in tandem. Matching the lads they also collected the team prize with Barbara Lonsdale finishing 7th.
In the Cumbrian North Pennines super vet45 Darren Kay had a great performance in 11th and 1st vet40 tho Darren had to rush off for a recovery drink or two. Stephen Smithies was 2nd placed vet 50 at the 9 mile inov8 High cup Nick
Thanks to Dave and Eileen Woodhead from www.woodentops.org.uk for the photos
– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gavin Mulholland