Sunday saw some some welcome relief from the weather for fell runners and organisers alike at the first 2019 English Championships outing, Stretton Hills Fell Race.
Snow was forecast but Sunday brought a glimmer of sunshine after the deluge of rain and flood sirens in the Calder Valley on Saturday.
Nine Calder Valley runners made the journey to Shropshire to battle navigational wits with 339 finishers in this season’s first English Champs race.
With only map and compass allowed, they had to find their own route on this mostly unmarked 9.5k, Category A course to visit all five checkpoints in order, avoiding out of bounds areas, and making sure they completed the few mandatory sections. Experience and pre-race recces would likely have paid off in this challenging route.
With 2,198 ft of climb and some tough options of either shorter, brutal climbs or longer more runnable routes, Mathew Roberts was first back for Calder Valley in 11th place in 47:06 mins. Within seconds Karl Gray showed class to make it back in 47:21 and take 1st Male Vet spot (13th overall). Darren Kay also did well finishing 2nd Male Vet (37th overall). Calder Valley took the men’s Vets team prize with Gray and Kay joined by Adam Osbourne (45th) and Mark Burton (87th). CVFR’s Mark Taylor was just four seconds behind (88th).
Martin Howard continued his good run of form to finish 3rd U23 (51st overall), but narrowly missed out on 2nd U23 prize by just 2 seconds to Adam Fieldhouse!
Stephen Smithies (134th) and Toby Sydes (267th) showed their navigational skills and also put in good runs for Calder Valley.
Keswick took 1st and 2nd men’s prize with Carl Bell (45:04) and Mark Lamb (45:19) back within seconds of each other. They also took Men’s team senior prize. First woman back was Nicola Jackson from Ribble Valley Harriers (54th overall). Mercia Fell runners scooped Women’s Senior’s and Vet’s team prizes.
The February heat wave was firmly extinguished as the weather decided to give the 300+ competitors (solos and pairs) an even greater challenge at the Haworth Hobble on Saturday, as if 32 miles off road wasn’t sufficient.
Calder Valley was well represented and first back, 15 mins off the winning time was Kevin Hoult in a time of 4hrs 37 mins, 5th overall. Kevin has completed the hobble several times and has been awarded the keys to the city for his efforts.
Next to return, just under 5 hours was John Allen who said the course was a bit flat for his liking. And only 3 mins later, Michael Hyde returned to the fold.
The first Calder females to complete was Jackie Scarf as part of a F50 winning pair. First solo back was Elina Eady, out sprinting her rivals to finish in 7hrs 17 mins. The final CVFR home, and still drying out, was Carolyn Shimwell, and Diane Wright in a time of 8.31, with no coffee breaks permitted.
Calders map men were showing the rest of the country how to orienteer with Welsh champion (m55) Phil Scarf taking the honours at the Northern championships, with his fellow cartographer, Jonathan Emberton taking 2nd place in their age category
A six mile race with 1700ft of climbing Lad’s Leap is run from the Crowden Campsite just off the Woodhead pass. The race visits the rock formation of the same name that looks over the Peak District’s Longdendale.
Calder’s Holly Page was first Lady and 4th place in 53:47. Mark Buton was 2nd and first vet less than a minute ahead in 52:53
Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round
A healthy turn out of 252 runners ran in great conditions with some blistering fast record breaking by the record holder Rob Hope, 1:05:03 although 2nd & 3rd beat the previous record too. The Ladies were chasing record breaking pace as well, with Lindsey Brindle smashing the previous best by 9 minutes in 1:15:22 with 2nd & 3rd also coming under the previous record.
The race is a sensible 11 mile circuit of Pendle Hill with no gratuitous descents, just one big climb to the trig point on Big End followed by a tour of the moor. Calder’s Darren Kay was 6thin 1:08:22. Toby Sydes, enticed to race by the free bottle of beer promised to all finishers, was 124thin 1:33:24, Calvin Ferguson 139thin 1:34:28 and Steve Smithies was 199thin 1:45:46.
High Peak Marathon
The High Peak Marathon is an over-night mountain marathon for teams of four which follows a route based on the Derwent Watershed over the high moors of Derbyshire. This classic 40 mile bog-trot around the wildest part of the Peak District was first completed in 1918 by Eustace Thomas of Manchester’s Rucksack Club. The High Peak Marathon was first organised in 1972 by students from Sheffield University. This was their idea of a challenge – to take one of the Peak’s longest, toughest routes and see who could complete it, at night, in winter. A unique feature of the event is being greeted by a couple of cheerful students at every checkpoint.
Several members of Calder Valley Fell Runners took part this year. Simon Fisher, John Allan, Dougie Zinnis and Jack Rose took 11hours 37 minutes and 33 seconds to get round in 18thplace, despite some navigational hiccups. They were just three hours behind the winning team that included this year’s Spine race winner, Jasmin Paris.
Doug Gurr and Phil Scarf were in a non-competitive team that finished in 12:19:26 and Jackie Scarf’s team completed in 13:53:58 and 37thplace.
Last weekend on the Spring like Sunday saw a gaggle of fell runners gather at Booth cricket club for the annual Midgley Moor fell race. Organised by Calder Valley’s Graham Davy it’s a fundraiser for Springhill Hospice, Rochdale. It’s a challenging race involving route choice on paths and moor covering 5 miles with 1250ft of ascent.
Calder Valley didn’t go home empty handed with Rachel Johnson scooping first female prize and young Martin Howard came second overall in an impressive 40:56. The overall winner was Harry Holmes from Matlock in 39:58.
The Juniors were out in full force at the weekend, making the most of the unusual Feb conditions. Luckily the mist cleared to provide perfect running conditions at the very popular Ilkley Moor Fell Race with these races providing excellent tough courses for all ages groups. Fondly known as the “racing snakes” group this was the first championship race for Calder Valleys junior who enjoy going to races. Have a go Dads also took part in the fun with Iain Illstone and Ben Cliffe both racing in the seniors Ilkley Moor fell race, a 5 mile circuit staged by Ilkley Harriers. Renowned as a tough winter race, it consists of steep, slippery and rocky descents. With over 260 runners, Ian finished 21st in 44:18, and Ben 105th. Jon Smith was first CV home in 15th place in an impressive 43:22.