Ultra Spine Beast Minta

Fell running was thrown into the national spotlight this week thanks to Jasmine Paris and her incredible, superhuman feat at the Montane Spine race. This race is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance races. A truly epic challenge that tests both physical resilience and mental fortitude, competitors race non-stop along the most iconic trail in the UK. It involves completing the length of the Pennine Way, all 268 miles of it. Starting in Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, competitors run 24/7 with limited rest and sleep, unsupported and exposed to the wintry elements as they snake their way up the backbone of Britain. Nursing mum, Jasmine Paris, smashed 12 hours off the record, completing the race in an incredible 83 hours!

The next competitor came in 15 hours after Jasmine. And amongst the competitors were CV’s very own superheros, John Minta and Bill Johnson, both accomplished and experienced Ultra runners.

Unfortunately, Bill ruptured his Achilles after 200 miles and had to retire. But John was able to keep going and crossed the finishing line last Thursday after a gruelling 112 hours on his feet, impressively taking 6th position overall.

Said a tired but elated John: ‘I reckon I had 9 hours sleep altogether in the 112 hours it took me, so hallucinations were a regular occurrence. Plus I was struggling with a chest infection after day one. I’m so very happy to have finished!’ 

John Minta at the finish (Photo courtesy of Will Roberts and the Montane Spine Race)

The more sedate runners, after avidly dot watching the Montane Spine race, opted for the Hebden on the Saturday. A long distance walking event that takes in all sides of the valley, it’s renowned for delicious cakes at each of the Checkpoints. As with previous years, the event is hugely popular with runners.

A gaggle of red and white stripes gathered at the start line, some completing the 15 miles route, others going for the longer 22 mile option. CV’s Ben Mounsey was the overall winner of the 22 in an impressive 3:08. Helen Buchan was first CV lady home, coming 5th lady overall, completing 22 miles in 03:59.

Said Ben: ‘There were plenty of miles and smiles at ‘The Hebden’ today, one of my favourite events of the year. It’s the only race I’ve ever done where you can eat as much food as you like on the way round. Beef dripping sandwiches were once again on offer, although I figured the cheese sarnies might sit a little prettier in my stomach, especially on the climb up to Stoodley Pike. The first 18 miles were fantastic! However, unfortunately the last 3 miles were the closest thing I’ve experienced to hell (i.e. since the last time my wheels completely fell off!). Not exactly sure what happened, but I sat down for a bit, walked for a while and if I’d have had my phone, I would’ve probably phoned my mum and asked her to come and pick me up. But like the true survivor that I am, I somehow made it safely back in 1st place to the finish (just!).’

CV’s Ben Mounsey, winner of the Hebden 22 (photo courtesy of Laura Bradshaw)

Not without incident, some drama unfolded 13 miles into the course. Several CV women witnessed a mighty fall and were part of a rescue operation for a fellow runner who sustained head injuries after tumbling 30ft down a ravine in Broadhead Clough. Fortunately, his injuries didn’t weren’t too serious and the CV women were able to escort him to the nearest checkpoint for further medical assistance.

CV women at the start line of the Hebden 22 (L-R Gloria Ayuso, Stella Chrisanthou (birthday girl), Eileen McDonach, Kate Pope, Ellie Eady, Nicki Latham, Gill Dickson)

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Gill Dickson

Short and Long

Stanbury Splash:

On Sunday, 13th January, Wharfedale Harriers hosted 93 juniors & 254 senior runners for their annual Stanbury Splash Quarry Runs & Soreen Stanbury Splash. Given the atrocious weather conditions, all who raced should be commended – with runners struggling to stay on their feet in the driving rain & gusting winds.

Even the junior competitors’ quarry races were unusually blustery, so much so that CVFR’s rising star Harry Cliff, described how he opted to let the runner who eventually came second go in front of him, so he could shelter behind him from the wind, until the final climb (see photo 1). At that point, Harry stormed ahead to take first place in the under 9’s boys’ race. 

All of the CVFR juniors who raced ran well, especially Emilia Wright who finished first U15 girl and Ted Parker (see photo 3), who placed an impressive 11th in his first race after moving up to the U11 age category. Finally, Sam Annison, who was aiming for a top 5 finish, may have come in 7th, but this was despite losing one shoe in the false start & the race starting without him (the other runners having misheard ‘no’ for ‘go’ set off without him). Sam deserves credit for not only getting his shoe back on but battling his way back into the race to finish so well!

The Soreen Stanbury Splash senior race is never one for the faint hearted: the 6.7-mile course features 1200ft of climb & inevitably sees runners finish extremely wet & muddy after circuiting around the upper Clough & Stanbury Moor, without even taking the stormy weather and incessant rain into account.

The lady’s race once again belonged to CVFR’s Holly Page, who clearly demonstrated why she has been revealed as one of 2019’s (Facebook Fast Running click here) “Fast 10” to watch in the next 12 months (Fast Running Link Click here!). Holly finished the course in under 55 minutes – 15 places in front of second placed lady, Annie Roberts, and in the top 15 overall. Red & white hoops Jo Bukley also ran a strong race, finishing in just over an hour, to place second in the female v40 category.

Holly Page – credit Mick Fryer

Montane Spine Race

As per last year, dot watching has become this week’s CVFR obsession, with three of the club’s ultra-runners taking on the Montane Spine Race – one of the world’s toughest endurance races. A truly epic event, which really does do as billed – testing competitors’ physical resilience and mental fortitude to the limit.

Simon Bourne was the first red & white-hooped runner to compete, running in the 108-mile Spine Challenger race, from 12th-14th January, along the Pennine Way from Edale in Derbyshire to Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. Simon described how the weather probably made this year’s race into the ‘toughest’ he had ever experienced, ‘with the gale-force winds on the hills making forward progress a constant battle’. Nonetheless, this race holds a ‘special’ place in Simon’s heart, given that is goes past his home in Slack Top, meaning he can get ‘great support from family and friends’.

Simon was pleased with a 4th place this year, despite being down two from his second place in the 2018 race, given the stronger field of competitors. In fact, he credits keeping ‘speed up, in spite of the extremely inclement conditions, to the blistering pace’ of the winners’.  Some would argue just as impressively, after running over 100 miles in challenging conditions over two days, Simon even made it into work on time on Monday morning!

Simon Bourne – Official Spine Challenger photo

The Spine Challenger race is followed by the full Spine race. This latter started on Sunday 13th January & continues for a week, taking in the entire 268 miles of the Pennine Way/. Bill Johnson & John Minta are representing Calder Valley this year and were still going strong at the time of writing.

Racing in the Peaks:

Saturday, 15th January also saw CVFR runners competing at two very different races in the Peak District. First, Stuart Russell, Darren Earnshaw, Iain Illstone & Dougie Zinnis, took part in the Trigger Fell race – a 32-km (19.9-mile) race complete with 1650m / 5413ft  of climb, in what Stuart ironically described as ‘wonderful’ Peak District weather that had even experienced runner Darren acknowledging this as the ‘toughest’ race he has run to-date.

Dougie, following a remarkably quick recovery from a gruesome injury at Lee Mill Relay that saw him needing surgery, was the first red & white hooped runner over the finish line, placing 13th in the men’s open race at just a sliver over 5h. Dougie describes how the runners ‘set off in rain and it never stopped’, but despite this, the gale force winds in general & the hail on Kinder, he had great fun and a ‘cracking race with some good nav sections’. His advice to all would-be competitors is to avoid falling into the trap of following ‘the legs in front’ of you – which cost him 30 minutes at the end. He is already looking forward to next year, when he plans to ‘keep to’ his race plan and ‘make amends’ for this year.

The second Peak District race on Sunday was Hayfield Fell Races’ Lambs Longer Leg Fell Race. Whilst shorter in distance at only 5km (3.1 miles), with ‘only’ 290m (95ft) of climb, this race involves tough & varied terrain & requires considerable skills in navigation, even before adding the howling wind & driving rain into the mix. 70+ runners braved this tough little course and a storming run by Stephen Smithies, flying the flag for CVFR, saw him finish not only first in the MV50 category but also fifth overall in 31 minutes, 34 seconds. (see photo 7)

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

Happy New Year 2019

Auld Lang Syne, 31 December 2018
As 2018 closed, ten CVFRs joined a packed field of 327 for the traditional Auld Lang Syne fell race starting at Penistone Hill Country Park. With bagpipes ringing in their ears, fancy dress, and the promise of a bottle of Daleside Beer, runners set off on this 6.7 mile/1000ft course which takes in Top Withens, Ponden Clough and Stanbury Moor.

Mark Wharton (43rd) was first back for CV with Stephen Smithies (46th) and Lucy Collins (51st) finishing within a minute of each other.

Stephen Smithies and Jo Buckley at the start of Auld Lang Syne (credit Dave Woodhead)

Jo Buckley was not far behind (61st) and joined Lucy in top 10 women finishers.

Lucy and Jo among top ten women at Auld Lang Syne (credit Mick Fryer)

Gill Dickson also made a triumphant return to Auld Lang Syne, 18 years after her very first fell race! All that running has paid off as she finished well up the field (a massive improvement on joint last in her first outing in 2000).

Gill Dickson enjoying her historic return to Auld Lang Syne (credit Dave Woodhead)

Calder Valley runners appeared to forgo the fancy dress option, but it was, at times, hard to spot the familiar red and white hoops among the rival ‘Where’s Wally’ costumes.

Linda Hayles in Auld Lang Syne with rival red and white hoops (credit Dave Woodhead)

Ribble Valley completed the double with first man (Chris Holdsworth) and first woman(Nicola Jackson).

Giants Tooth 1st January 2019
It was a tense start to 2019. Calder Valley’s Martin Howard did well to regain time after getting lost in the 3 mile Giants Tooth Fell Race to finish fourth (in 17.31 minutes, just 20 seconds behind the winner). Martin was leading by a good margin before taking a wrong turn. However, he quickly made up for lost ground, to get back from 7th to 4th. He wasn’t the only one to go wrong as several other runners suffered the same fate.

It was, however, a good start to the racing year with four CVFR top 20 finishers at Giants Tooth (Howard (4th), Elliot Copper (13th), Jonny Croston (15th), and Paul Haigh (19th).

Showing tremendous resolve, having run the Auld Lang Syne the previous day, Stephen Smithies and Lucy Collins, finished 26th and 27th respectively, with Lucy taking first woman prize. CVFR’s Holly Page was 3rd woman, finishing 62nd.

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Eileen McDonach

Winter Break

‘Twas night before Xmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for le fellrunner, busy gathering it’s vest and kit bag, ready for the next big race. And over the Winter break there were two or more such events. 

Tristian Sheard – Coley Canter (Credits Woodentops)

Gales nor sprouts could stop folk attending “The Coley Canter” held by Northhowram pumas on Saturday 29th. The course uses lots of trails and paths around the woods of Shelf and Norwood green. Calders Holly Page was forced to reveal herself after winning at the previous race (whinberry naze) dressed as a Christmas present. It was a grand day out for the Page family as brother Ben took the win, with Holly next home in 56 mins (1st lady and 2nd overall) and Mum Hilary taking the f55 title. See pix. 

Holly Page – Christmas present (Credits Mick Fyrer)

Next home was Luke Meleschko in 11th with Tristan Sheard close behind in 12th and crowned v45 champ. Jon Underwood sneaked into the top 20 with Anthony Costello 31st. 

Next…the Xmas box on legs

Page Family (Credit Woodentops)

And at the Whinberry Naze race, 4 miles up and around Cowpe Lowe near Rawtenstall, held on Boxing Day, Holly did actually turn up suitably dressed, to give the competitors a festive treat as she overcame strong, air resistance, to take the win.

– Calder Valley News Reporter:Gav Mulholland