A stacked race calendar and success for both Calder and Yorkshire

The infamous Calderdale Relay happened last Sunday, attracting a field of over 1000 competitors. Comprising of 6 sections totalling 51 miles, the race takes in all the hills, moors and valleys of Calderdale. It is an ‘up and down’ journey with few level sections in and around Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden and is run in pairs. Following old packhorse ways across the open gritstone hillsides with sections of traditional stone causeway, passing through hillside villages and old mill towns on the banks of the River Calder, the appeal of the route is obvious, particularly on a fine, sunny Sunday in May. 

Leg 3 finishers and starters: Rachel Johnson, Jackie Scarf, Charlotte Wetton, Jo Marshal, Ellie Eady, Eileen MacDonach (Photo: Angela Richards)

Always a popular club event, this year CV fielded 6 teams of 12, enabling 72 of its runners to join in the fun. And, keeping with tradition, CV emerged victorious with its Men’s A Team (Ben Mounsey & Andy Swift, Shaun Godsman & Alex Whittem, Mark O’Connor & Martin Howard, Ian Symmington & Tim Ellis,  Mark Taylor & Steve Edwards,  Tom Collinge & Gav Mullholland) the clear winner by over 8 minutes, completing the 51 miles circuit between them in 06:07:30. This was despite a number of them running on weary legs after  competing in the inter-counties champs the previous day!

CV Mens A Team (L-R Mark O’Connor, Mark Taylor, Shaun Godsman, Martin Howard, Ben Mounsey, Tom Collinge, Gav Mullholland, Stephen Edwards

Said CV’s top fell runner Ben Mounsey, who ran leg 1 with County winner, Andy Swift:

“I’m currently nursing a torn hamstring…but despite that, I’m absolutely delighted to win the Calderdale Way Relay with Calder Valley for the 5th time in 8 years – an amazing team effort! Big congrats and respect to Wharfedale and Barlick, for finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. It was a very competitive race and entertaining to watch from start to finish. And of course, a HUGE thanks to Nick Small and his Halifax Harrier team, for organising another fantastic event. Please can you book the weather again for next year!?!”

And the prizes didn’t stop there. CV’s Mixed A Team bagged the 2nd mixed team prize (James Carter & Lee Shimwell, Jo Buckley & Jo Waites, Joanne Stevens & Catherine Holden, Mark Goldie & Bill Johnson, Lucy Collins & Gayle Sugden, Johny Croston & Luke Meleschko) with an impressive overall time of 07:19:58.

The 2 Captains did an excellent job of organising the teams and matching the pairs, many of whom uncannily ran their predicted times as calculated by club stats guru, Andy Wright. Outstanding performances were noted across all the CV teams. But some pairs exceeded their predictions significantly, such as Eileen MacDonach and Ellie Eady of the mixed C Team who smashed their anticipated time by 5 minutes when they ran leg 3 from Todmorden to Blackshawhead. 

Said Carolyn Shimwell, ladies captain who shared the huge task of co-ordinating 72 CV runners with Men’s captain, Shaun Godsman:

“Shaun and I are really proud of how the club came together to allow 6 teams to get out and run at the relay.  Everyone showed amazing team spirit and we all had a great day! We are extra proud of the men’s A team who came first overall and our mixed A team who came second in their category!

Shaun Godsman & Alex Whittem (Men’s A Team, Leg 2) (photo: Mick Fryer)

CV runners featured prominently in the inter-counties competition last Saturday at the Lads Leap race in the Peak District (3 of them then ran in the relay the next day!). Top athletes Andy Swift, Gav Mullholland, Helen Buchan and Jason Williams all took part, representing their home counties. Helen swapped her white rose for red, Jason Wiliams represented Leicestershire and Gav Mulholland Northern Ireland. But Andy Swift proved White Rose county is the one to run for, with him and his fellow Yorkshiremen effortlessly winning gold.  

Catherine Holden Kildwick V40 Winner

With the Club Champs in full swing, numerous CV descended on Keighley last Wednesday for the Kildwick race. A short but steep route of 3.7 miles and 800ft of climbing saw 114 runners gather at the start line, 13 of which were CV runners. CV’s young Martin Howard had an excellent run, easily securing 2nd place, in 26:19, 10 seconds behind winner Neal Crampton from Pudsey and Bramley.  And CV also claimed the LV40 prize with the speedy Catherine Holden making it look so easy in 34:03.  

Martin Howard Kildwick 18

Saturday saw 18 eager CV youngsters having a go at a Club Champ race, the 5th in this year’s series. Malham Kirby Fell Race is a typically steep and short Dales route on hard dry ground at Malham Kirkby. All routes were out and back and up and down. All CV juniors did brilliantly, and did the club proud. CV’s mini athlete, Clara McKee did her usual outstanding performance and won the U9 race outright, with Harry Cliffe second and first boy.

Harry and Clara Malham Kirkby

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Fell season in full flow

CVFR has seen its members surpass themselves in recent weeks, including notable runs from both Holly Page and Ben Mounsey, representing Queen & country internationally.

Ben Mounsey came in overall second to fellow GBR runner Ross Golan at the amazing Vesuvio Sky Marathon Race– a trail race of 42km on the world-famous Italian volcano on 6th May.  

Ben Mounsey with Roberto Palladino & Giovanni Tower Torre in Italy.

Fellow CVFR club & GBR trail runner Holly Page had the kind of fortnight most athletes can only dream of – with two cracking races.

Holly Page World Series Sky Running

First, on 30th April she took the Sky Classic women’s throne, finishing first in the 55-mile Yading Sky Run in the Migu Run Summer World Series in China – and this despite food poisoning & travel nightmares. Initially lacking in confidence about the largely uphill (16000ft climb) course, Holly ‘went out hard from the gun’, giving it her all in freezing blizzard conditions to finish in an astounding 3h 32 minutes & four seconds (only 1.5 minutes in front of fellow GBR runner Ruthie Crofty).

Next, & less than two weeks later, despite admitting feeling ‘petrified’ when first called up to wear GB colours in January, Holly stormed the 2018 Trail World Championships Penyagolosa ultra trail race to finish ninth after the eye-watering 85km (25km longer than she had ever run before), and 5,000m/ of hills in the Spanish heat.

Holly was quick to express gratitude to those who came out to support the ultra runners, who she reported helped her through some of the toughest moments on the course. She is now starting to accept that rather than a ‘jolly jogger’, she really can ‘mix it with some of the fastest women in the world’, who until recently she would ‘never in a million years’ have thought she would be swapping positions with throughout the race. With only weeks before the Zegama trail race at the end of May, Holly is definitely one to watch.

Holly (centre) & photo 3 the Skyrunner World Series Photo in China

Rising to the Challenge:

Closer to home, & ‘in homage to Holly’, CVFR Club President, Bill Johnson ran his own trail race from Sedbergh on Sunday 13th May. The Howgills 26 goes from the most southerly point of the Howgills on a high-level route over Winder and The Calf to the very north of the Howgills, then returns south on lower-level, across undulating trails.

At the start of this marathon, on the initial, hilliest section, despite the heat, Bill was in touch with the leaders, in 6th place at the top of the first peak Winder out of 212 runners. However, as the going got faster, the top runners pulled away and by the halfway point, Bill had dropped back to a nonetheless respectable 13th place. He subsequently fought hard to retain this position all the way back south and to cross the finish line, not only 13th overall but second in the V50 category at 4 hours and 29 minutes.

Fellow V50 CVFR club member, Jonathan Emberton completed a solo Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge on Saturday 12th May. The route from Ullswater to Wastwater was set by fell legend Joss Naylor as a challenge for Vet 50+ runners, coving 70km, 30 summits, 5000m of climbing. Jonathan was ‘really chuffed’ that the hard work he had put into learning the route really well allowed him to run strongly all day, to stay on schedule & to finish the course within the 15-hour target for his age group.

Jon looking good on his Joss Naylor

CVFR club members also completed two further major challenges in recent weeks. Six red & white hoops – Fellsman regular, Simon Bourne, and fellow CV runners Mike Clayton, Lee Shimwell, Stuart Russell, John Nunn and John Minta – took part in the 56th ‘Fellsman’, with its 61 miles & 11,000ft of climb, on an untypical sunny day weekend at the end of April. This overnight race, superbly organised by local scouts who man the checkpoints and put on hot food, starts in ingleton and finishes in Threshfield (near Grassington), covering some of the Dales best scenery. Lee Shimwell recalls that it was ‘looking forward to what was on offer next’ from the Scouts that got him round the route, especially into the night ‘when it got very cold and misty making navigation a real challenge’.

More recently, CVFR’s Jason ‘Wilf Williams, having run at a high level in fell running for several years, felt it was time ‘to try something different’, so took part in the National Duathlon championships at Clumber park in Mansfield this last weekend. Finishing an impressive 3rd in the 40-44 age group, in only his second Dualthon this year, Williams is delighted to have achieved his aim of securing qualification to represent GB for his age group in the World champs in Denmark in July.

Jason ‘Wilf’ Williams on the Podium (in the cap)

And not forgetting the fells!

Alongside the more unusual races and challenges, this last week has also seen CVFR runners take part in several more traditional fell and trail races.

Saturday, 12th May saw 21 red & white hoops head out to compete in Fairfield Horseshoe – a 14.5km / 914m route, The classic Lakeland horseshoe race is one of the oldest in the fell running calendar, Starting and finishing at Rydal Hall, just north of Ambleside, the clockwise 9 mile route goes over Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Greatrigg Man, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike, taking in 3000 feet of climb, in the searing heat.

Darren Kay was the first CVFR home, finishing the x miles in 1:24:59, to take overall 7th place & third in the M40 category. The next closest CVFR runner was Mark Burton (39th overall & 14th M40). For the ladies, a strong race by Catherine Holden saw her the first red & white hoop over the line, finishing in the first 15 women (& 6th V40), to take, with fellow V40 runner Christina Turner & V50 Karon Foster the team prize for third ladies. Particular mention should go to Christina Turner who ran her best fell race ever & Stella Chrisanthou for her best race this year. 

Team CVFR @ Fairfield

Former ladies’ captain Helen Buchan showed she is definitely back to winning form again, as she & Carole Fryer competed in the Pinhaw fell race on the evening of Friday 11th May. This five mile route with 700ft of ascent, is the second race in the 33rd Pendle + Burnley Grand Prix. Both CVFR ladies ran strongly, with Helen Buchan finishing 13th woman overall & claiming 3rd place in the W40 category & Carole Fryer winning 1st place in the W50 category, placing 17th woman overall.

Helen @ Pinhaw

With so many club members racing in the Lakes, it was down to Calvin Fergerson to fly the flag for CVFR at the Pendle Clough fell race on Saturday 12th. This challenging 14-mile course, starts flagged across fields, but once on the moor, leaves runners free to navigate their own route to the nine check-points they must visit in order, running through 7 of Pendle’s Cloughs, across high, rough and, on occasion trackless, moorland terrain, and includes steep ascents and descents with loose stones, mud, peat and rough grass and dead bracken thrown in for good measure, before the final two-mile downhill race to the finish. Calvin finished his race in 3h 17 minutes & 29 seconds, coming a respectable 52nd overall and in the top 10 in the men’s open age category.

Finally, Sunday, 13th was the day of the Kirklee’s 10km Challenge – a friendly, well-organised event run by the church, which featured chip timing for the first time this year and the beautiful weather saw competitors in high spirits. Calder Valley’s Blair Garrett was pleased to finish 29th out of 239 runners in a respectable 46 minutes & 22 seconds.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

Clough – Cake – Coins

Clough Head line up

It’s looks like Calder Valley got their cake and ate most of it on the fells this weekend as they had a belter in da melter.

It’s started with a Cake Fest fell race on Saturday at Saddleworth where you climb out of Diggle where the route then takes you up and over the mosses to the reservoirs above Marsden before returning home having run 16k with 518m of climb.

Calder were out with the Sun with Kevin Hoult 5th and first vet, Stephen Smithies 9th and first vet 50 with Paul Haigh, Jonathan Moon and Jonny Croston all in the top 20.

Amongst the ladies Catherine Holden came 5th and 2nd vet with Jo Stevens 9th.

On Sunday, at Clough Head, there was more action as Calder Valley continued their assault of the English National Championships from Threlkeld, Keswick. The temperature was certainly up to full wick as hundreds of competitors climbed the 580m in one blast before crossing to White Pike and then rapidly descending in a variety of ways depending on your knowledge, skill or luck.

Front of house for CVFR was Andy (I shall not burn) Swift in 6th place securing a Yorkshire vest for his troubles.

Old man Gray graced his way to 18th and 3rd vet 40 closely followed by Daz Kaye, with Shaun Godsman and Gavin Mulholland completing the open team in 31st and 32nd. Karl, Daz, Shaun and Gavin made up the winning vet team.  The open hope to be back to full strength next time to improve on their 3rd place.  Respectable results were also placed by 3 Marks, Taylor, Burton and O’Connor with Stephen Edwards and young MARTIN Howard not far behind.

The ladies, who ran in their own sweat and guts had Helen Buchan come back 7th vet 40 with Karon Forster bringing up the rear.

On the bank holiday a record number of runners turned up to seek their fortune at the Coiners fell race hosted by Calder Valley and race organisers Rob Rawlinson and Al Whitelaw. This was also chosen as a slection race for the under 17 and 19s.

The cvfr ladies, Gayle Sugden Jo Buckley and Trudy Entwistle struck gold as the winning team with Gayle taking first female and Jo Buckley hot on her heels for 2nd.

The juniors were the sun cream of the crop

It’s always a well attended race but the fact that this was an England trial for the U17s and U19s coupled with the glorious weather saw over 200 juniors test themselves on our local moors.

The U9s race saw 15 of our youngest juniors set off in a field of over 40 runners with many racing for the first time. Clara McKee proved her class yet again coming first overall and beating the course record whilst she was at it.  Harry Cliff came 2nd boy continuing his medal winning streak. Award for the biggest smile whilst racing must surely go to first timer Elizabeth Dole-Ayuso who clearly enjoyed every minute of her debut.

The Mckee family had a double celebration as older brother Thomas won the U11s in a nail biting finish.

Charlie Pickens came in 5th in the U13s with George McFie and Tom Owen hot on his heels as always.

Will Hall comfortably won the U15s with James Duffy at 5th and Alex Duffield at 6th boy.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gav Mulholland

Fellmans, Sky running and 3 Peaks

Three Peaks

The Three Peaks is advertised as the marathon with mountains and starts at Horton-in -Ribblesdale.  It is a little short of marathon distance at 23.3 miles long but it does have a vertical mile of climbing, as runners take in the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. 

The conditions were near perfect on Saturday, cool, high cloud and lights winds.  With it also being the selection race for the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships there was discussion if Andy Peace’s 22 year old record of 2 Hours 46 minutes and 3 seconds would be broken the year after Victoria Wilkinson smashed the women’s record by 5 minutes.

The initial running was made by Tom Owens of Shettleston and Ricky Lightfoot of Ellenborough, both previous winners, who looked to be pacing each other for a possible record.  However Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters, another previous winner, overtook Lightfoot on the climb to the last peak, Ingleborough.  Ultimately Owens was victorious in 2:49:08 over 3 minutes outside the record time.

Victoria Wilkinson scored her third three peaks victory in a row coming in 3:22:17, and 33rd overall.  She was using this race as a training run with her eyes on bigger prizes later in the year,

Calder’s run of the day was from the consistent Karl Gray, coming in 7th place and 1st V40 in 3:03:05.  Mark Burton was 34th and ultra expert Kevin Hoult was the Calder runner in 68th.  These three took the V40 team prize for CVFR.  Stella Chrisanthou was very pleased to finish in 5:19:35, she’s put in a lot of training this winter and it certainly payed off on Saturday.

Karl Gray – Three Peaks 2018 – photo by Andy Jackson

7th Karl Gray 3:03:05
34th Mark Burton 3:23:23
68th Kevin Hoult 3:37:44
104th Jonny Croston 3:46:03
111th Jon Smith 3:47:05
221st Steven Morran 4:06:38
249th Matt Ray 4:10:45
276th Calvin Ferguson 4:14:35
379th Steve Grimley 4:31:07
572nd Darren Earnshaw 4:56:59
664th Stella Chrisanthou 5:19:35

701 finishers



The Fellsman is a sixty-one mile race from Ingleton to Threshfield that shares Ingleborough and Whernside with the Three Peaks. However this monster of a race then takes in Gragareth, Great Coum, Blea Moor, Great Knoutberry, Snaizeholme, Dodd Fell, Fleet Moss, Buckden Pike, and Great Whernside: 11,000ft of climbing in total.  Also run last Saturday, 341 hardy souls set off with only the fastest runners finishing before nightfall.

Calder’s ultra bunny, Simon Bourne, who says the Fellsman is his favourite race, was equal 5th in 12 hours and 22 minutes, with the winner Neil Talbot completing in 11:16.  Lee Shimwell was 47th in 16:40.  Lee said he was the coldest he’d ever been.  John Nunn was 187th in 23:54.  John Minta, who has been struggling with injury this year, pulled out at Dent after 20 miles.

Skyrunner World Series

Calder’s own globetrotter, Holly Page, was in Yading in the Sichuan province of China competing in the Skyrunner Wold Series.  Not far from the border with Tibet the race was run in blizzard conditions.  Starting at an altitude of 2,900metres the 29km race goes up to a high point of 4664 metres with a total of 2345 metres climbing, before finishing at the ancient Chonggu Temple.

1st Place for Holly Page in the world Skyrunning series (China)

Holly had a fantastic run to win in 3 hours 32:04, a minute and a half ahead of New Zealander Ruth Croft.  Holly lead from the start before Ruth took the lead on a road section.  Holly then pushed on, over the more technical terrain, to take the win.