Summer Summits

Summer Summits had me a blast

It’s been an exciting summer for Calder Valley, both home and away. This week showcased our local talent again.

CVFR’s Holly Page continues to amaze us with her European exploits, winning first female in the Inferno Halbmarathon in Switzerland. This was Holly’s first vertical km race – which means it includes a 1000m vertical climb in less than 5k. The Inferno, lives up to its name and climbs 2,175m from the valley floor at Lauterbrunnen to the summit of Schilthorn/ Piz Gloria which features in a James Bond movie. It was a close run race, with top three women finishing within a minute of each other. Holly overtook her strong competitor with just 500m to go in the mist. That second bowl of muesli may have come in handy.

Martin Howard ran well in the Dales to finish 6th in the Home International U20 trials. He now has to wait to see if he’s earned an England vest – fingers crossed.

Martin Howard in the Home International U20 trials (Photo Credits Woodentops)

Closer to home, four CVFR made the brave border crossing into Lancashire for the Pendle 3 Peaks. With 865m climb over 9.4 miles, this Category AM fell race takes in the toughest 3 climbs in the area. Ribble Valley and Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers scooped up the male and female team prizes respectively. 141 runners took part. Well done to CVFR’s Mark Wharton (5th MV50, 30th overall), Stuart Russell (56th) Calvin Ferguson (57th) and Manhar Patel (96th).

CVFR gang at the Gargrave Show

With all to play for in the CVFR’s summer series, seven CVFR battled it out at the Gargrave show fell race.  With a record breaking field of 97, this short 5.6k race has 274m climb. Official results are not out yet, but it is reported in the Craven Herald that three Scots took the podium places. Well done to CVFR’s Jonny Croston who finished 6th. We will need to wait for Andy’s statistical update to confirm the Summer Series leaderboard as we go into the final race this week, the ominously named Golf Ball.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen Mcdonach

Turner Landscape Championship

The day we reached out to the Sun. 

It began in Africa, or maybe it was Pilgrims cross last Wednesday. This is a 10k course from Rossendale, with 330m. of climb to get the heart rate ascending too. 

First back for Calder was Roman Shoustov in 32nd place in 46 mins. Stuart Russell managed 52mins and Carole Fryer , first vet 50 in 56. Photos courtesy of Mick Fryer. 

First back for Calder was Roman Shoustov

Thursday evening was the two lap sapper, Dennis Stitt, from Cartworth moor hosted by Holmfirth harriers, packing 370m into 6km. Blair Garrett esq. referred to it as a nasty little blighter, with lots of random prizes to ease the pain. 

Carole Fryer recovered sufficiently to compete over in Trawden on Sunday at Boulsworth, another 10k race with 300m of ascent. Helen Buchan showed us there are still entry on the day fell races as she turned up to finish 2nd lady and 1st f40 lady, showing her strength as she lead the ladies up Lad Law. 

On Saturday Calders Doc Savage, John Allan, headed out onto the hills again after his Bob Graham success, to complete the Long Tour of Bradwell, taking in over 52 km and 2200m of the Peak District, including the Vale of Edale, Kinder, Win Hill and on over to Stanage edge. John crawled the last 15 miles home giving him plenty of time to consider entering again next year. 

Up in the lakes it was another big fight at the OK corral as the fell community merged on the Duddon Valley for the 5th race of the English champs at Turner landscape, an exhilarating route climbing up from Seathwaite tarn onto the fells of Grey Friars and Swirl How before scarpering to the Old Man of Coniston, standing at 803m. Then if you can dance across the rocky terrain you give it all you got until White Pike, to then drop, tumble, stumble and fall to finally reach the finish fields and fumble over the line. No pressure as the iron man, Joss Naylor (mbe, ocd) turned up to chat to runners and support the race, with proceeds going to Alzheimer’s research. 

Matthew Roberts , currently 8th overall (not many Welshmen can claim this) was first home in 13th in 1hr 28. He put his success down to his pre-race hydration. Next up was Tim Ellis who skipped up the climb and sailed over the rough showed a return to form 15th in 1hr 29. 

Super vet Shaun Godsman was voted man of the match as he pushed himself to finish 25th and first vet45 with compadre Gavin Mulholland in next in 30th. The open team was completed by an excellent performance from cvfr 1st year Mark Burton in 60th and the vets team too with Mark Taylor from over shelf way. If the vets were first team then they will have struck gold in the series. There were a few more red and white vests who also successfully finished, including Martin Howard, flying in the u23s, who turned his ankle and nursed it all the way home. 

Team Calder Valley Turner landscape

Next up is only the Ben Nevis, with local race Castle Carr the same weekend if you fancy navigating and waltzing the tussocks. 

And finally Holly Page continues with her success in the world sky scanners series finishing 13th from Sierre Zinal , Switzerland. At 31km and 2200m of accumulated height gain, it’s described as the fastest race of the series which I think permits the use of an exclamation mark. Holly stands 3rd overall in the rankings. Holly first raced here way back in 2007 and was glad to be back, fighting with the best runners in the world. 

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gavin Mulholland

Page continues ripping it up.

Calder Valley’s Holly Page was back in the UK this week visiting family.  She decided to do a couple of low key fell races as a warm up to the Sierre-Zinal mountain race in Switzerland next week.  The results show she is on top form with a good chance of a podium finish in Switzerland.

First up was the Whittle Pike fell race from Cowpe in Rossendale.  A short but steep midweek race that packs 1400ft of climb (and descent) in less than 5 miles.

Holly was 3rd overall, 8 seconds ahead of Todmorden’s Graeme Brown.  The race was won by James Kevan of Horwich RMI Harriers.

Calder’s Mark Wharton and Romans Sustovs battled for 23rd and 24th  place, and Calvin Ferguson was 54th.

Sunday saw the first running of the Saddleworth Round, a 17 mile yomp around the moors east of Uppermill, taking in Broadstone Hill, Dovestones Moss, Laddow Rocks before hitting the high point of Black Hill and a 5 mile gentle moorland crossing back to Uppermill.  Holly Page went two better than Wednesday night and won the race outright, despite taking an early detour to the Obelisk on Alderman’s Hill.  She beat Holmfirth’s Mike Fanning by 7 and a half minutes, setting the course record in hot conditions – perfect preparation for Sierre Zinal.

The team at the start of Saddleworth Round

As a counter in this year’s club championship a few other CVFR members ran at Saddleworth. Luke Meleschko came 7th in a shade over 3 hours; and new member Elliot Corner surprised himself by taking 11th place in 3:04:48.  Bill Johnson and Toby Sydes were 16th and 19th respectively around the 3 hour 20 mark.  Tim Brooks was 34th just under 4 hours and John Nunn was 44 in 5:09:30.

As one runner said at the end “Proper hot; fantastic route; great marshals and more cake and chips at the end than it would be physically possible to eat.”

And In France the legend that is Karl Gray won the ‘Trail de Megeve’.  There are 2 races one of 15k and 3000 ft of climb and 27k with 5200 ft of climb. Karl won the 27k race outright. An excellent result but not a surprise to us who know the calibre of the legend.

Karl on the top spot

Saturday’s Hellifield Gala race was also a short counter in this year’s Calder Valley Championship.  Perhaps because some were saving their legs for Saddleworth and some were on holiday, only two runners from CVFR took park, Johnny Croston and Karon Foster, both gaining the maximum 100 points.  Jonny in the open and Karon in the womens.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks

100 miles anyone?

4 CV runners taking part in the epic Lakeland 50/100 mile ‘Ultra Tour of the Lake District’, renowned as the UK’s most spectacular long distance trail race. The circular route encompasses the whole of the lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here it heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston. It weaves its way through stunning valleys, coutours picturesque fells and cuts it’s own line through the amazing Lakeland topography. Some may consider that, with 40 hours available to complete this epic route, there is time to stop to admire the view but many competitors choose not to stop or sleep, challenging themselves to compete it in just over 24 hours. .

3 CV Ultra runners, Kevin Hoult, Simon Bourne and Johnnie Watson, completed the 100 mile route and Micheal Hyde and Dan Biggs opted for the 50 miler.  CV’s Ultra legend Simon Bourne is familiar with the route having completed it successfully last year and finishing 8th overall. But this year he went up the leaderboard finishing 4th overall and 3rd male in 24:11:41. And if that wasn’t enough, his running buddy Kevin finished 3rd overall (2nd male) in an impressive 23:30:01. This was out of a field of over 400 runners. Said Simon:

‘Kevin and I both started the race steadily in around 20th place then moved through the field to finish 3rd and 4th respectively. We’re both delighted to have achieved our best ever result in the UK’s toughest single day race, which involves a 105 mile loop around the Lake District fells. . Weather conditions were challenging with hail, rain and strong winds which meant only 50% of the 420 competitors finished within the 40 hour time limit’

Kevin Hoult and Simon Bourne Lakes Ultra

Johnnie Watson was 41st in 23:04:54. The 50 mile guys, Michael Hyde and Dan Biggs, came 25th and 221st respectively.

Earlier this week, Instead of the usual pack run last Tuesday, club members gathered by Overden windfarm in the blazing heat to  take part in the annual CVFR Summer handicap, keen to take on the challenge and the chance to experience that ‘winning sensation’, regardless of ability. The relentless heat had diminished the legendary waist deep bogs but the tussock ‘killing fields’ were still out in force.

CV handicap line up

Rather than the usual mass start, the handicap race has staggered start times, with each runner allocated a starting time based on their performance in recent races. In theory, everyone should finish together but this is seldom the case with all runners putting in extra effort to beat their club mates. 42 determined CV runners, including 5 juniors, took part in the 6.6 mile route across the moor to High Brown Knoll and back, encountering difficult tussock terrain as they went. Ellie Eady was first over the finishing line. Said the ever modest Ellie:

Ellie handicap winner

‘I was really surprised to have won and would like to thank my running mate Eileen for her encouragement and support’

Ian Symington was the fastest runner (52:10) with club newbie Natasha Butterfield the fastest woman (59:51). Joe Hobbs was the speediest junior finishing in an impressive 59:08.

Ellie prize giving

Runners at Saturday’s Turnslack race, this year in the club’s championships, experienced bizarre weather conditions and a very random prize haul. Renowned for it’s gruelling tussocks and fern bashing fun, the route goes from the hill from Calderbrook Church, Littleborough then off along the main path to Watergrove Reservoir, before branching off over the moor which leads to an up and down of Hades Hill. This is followed by a hard push on the long ridge to Trough Edge End with two tough climbs then approaching in quick succession.

This year, the race had hardly begun and then the heavens opened and the hail started in earnest. The racers retreated to find cover as what seemed like sniper fire attacked from above. Those hardy souls at the front continued with the winner going on to break the course record. Tim Ellis was 2nd with Gav Mulholland 1st v45 in 5th place. They were joined by Jonny Croston in 9th and Paul Haigh in 11th to win 1st male team. Catherine Holden  was 2nd woman home and claimed a prize of strawberries for her effort  whilst Steve Smithies got his Lambrini for being 2nd v50. CV’s prize haul ranged from toilet paper to wagon wheels and a pump rocket.

CV Prize haul Turnslack

Meanwhile, in Switzerland…..

6 CV lads (Mark O’Connor, Ben Frechette, Iain Powell, Jon Smith, Nathan Kennaugh, and Richard Ingram) were spotted at the start line of Trail du Velan , a 13.7 mile D+ category  race of epic proportions (6,600ft), last weekend. Iain Powell sums up the event:

After limping to the start line, hampered by his ongoing battle with the dreaded plantar fasciitis, Mark O’Connor shot away through the town of Bourg-St-Pierre. Giddy as a kid in a candy store, he led the 150 strong field into the woods to begin the first climb, an energy sapping 4600ft to the Monastery at Valsorey. O’Connor was slowly reeled in by the relentless Jon Smith. Smith, worried about overheating was benefiting from the purchase of an extra large white running cap the night before the race. It worked, he extended his lead over O’Connor to 5 minutes before topping out. 

Further down the field Ben Frechette, delighted with the way the Swiss were pronouncing his surname, was helping Iain Powell overcome some debilitating bouts of vertigo. As the climb went on the tables turned and it was Powell helping Frechette up the last scramble to the monastery, where they were met by marshalls drinking prosecco at 3000m. 

Nathan Kennaugh, fitting in wonderfully with his European cousins had invested in some some racing poles. He used these with great effect in his battle with Richard Ingram, managing to get the better of Bert as they hauled their way up to the Monastery.

Back at the front of the race, the happiest man on the mountain, Mark O’Connor set about the first decent to the glacial valley of La Gouille. Using his massive quadricep muscles O’Connor narrowed the gap to his nemesis Jon Smith only to see Smith power away up the second climb to the checkpoint at the precipitous Petite Velan. A quick refuelling stop before re-tracing his steps and starting the long descent to the finish saw Smith and O’Connor passing each other in opposite directions. Exchanging customary insults whilst passing it became clear that the gap was large and O’Connor’s chance of being first CVFR home almost gone. Cramp just 2 miles from home put an end to his very slim chance. Smith finished an impressive 15th overall in 3hrs 41mins. O’Connor 20th in 3hrs 53mins.

Meanwhile Fresshay and Powell’s temporary alliance was over and hostilities were resumed. Feeling strong on the second climb it was Powell who pushed on to Petite Velan, reaching the checkpoint two minutes ahead. He turned for home and started the long switchback downhill section hoping to hold off the now marauding Fresshay who was gradually closing the gap. Powell’s lead was down to less than a minute when cramp hit. Fresshay, struggling to stifle a grin as he check on his comrade, now had the advantage. With his Frog Graham training in his legs he slowly eased further ahead of Powell. Fresshay finishing 43rd in 4hrs 20 mins and Powell 48th in 4hrs 23.

Kennaugh and Ingram were approaching Petite Velan, engrossed in their own tussle, as the weather turned. An Alpine thunderstorm moved in, the heavens opened, thunder and lightning crashed all around the CVFR pair and Kennaugh panicked. Realising his racing poles were the perfect lightning conductors he stopped to stow them in his racing pack and Ingram made his move. Nimbly moving from boulder to boulder Ingram’s lead grew. Both remaining CVFR team members finished soaked to the skin, Bert 73rd in 5hrs 8mins and Nathan 85th in 5hrs 25mins.

Many locals commented on how magnificent the lads looked in their red and white hoops, showing their continental compatriots how to run as a team. A night out in the French ski resort of Chamonix followed, of which there will be no written report.

Trail du Velan is fairly low key as European mountain races go but is exceptionally well organised, runners receive a huge amount of support and encouragement en route, it is extremely challenging, technical and even terrifying (for some) in parts. It comes highly recommended.

Switzerland gang getting ready at the Trail De Velan 2018

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson