Bill bows out …

Calder Valley Fell Runners paid tribute to Bill Johnson, who stepped down as Chairperson after 13 years at the helm. Bill’s contribution to the club, which has gone from strength to strength under his stewardship, was recognised at the club AGM this month.

Bill Johnson presented with CVFR gifts from new Chair, Jocasta Fletcher (credit: Eileen McDonach)

CVFR’s committee secretary Mike Wardle summed up Bill’s unwavering commitment to the club:

Bill Johnson in the Montane Spine Race, a 268 mile winter mountain marathon (Credit: Montane Spine Race)

“His leadership has been inspiring to all members and helped the club establish itself as a well regarded club in the fell running world. Bill’s ambition  and organisational skills have enabled the club to host prestigious national events in the fell running calendar. Bill has completed many challenges as an individual runner and as a member of club teams. Calder Valley Fell Runners are indebted to Bill for his enormous contribution to the club and he has been made an honorary member.”

Calder Valley will still benefit from Bill’s expertise as organiser of the Castle Carr Fell Race. Some club members have questioned how such a lovely man could conceive of such a beast of a race!

Its a bumper weekend of racing for the Hoops

This week was a bumper one in the local fell running calendar – both on & off the hills & fells.

In terms of racing, highlights include the Tour of Pendle on Saturday 16th November – a 27km (16.8m) race , boasting an eye-watering 4833ft (1473m). CVFR legend Karl Gray stormed to victory in the men’s vet 50 category (beating all other MV40 & MV45 runners in the process) to finish in an impressive 3rd overall. His time of 2h26:47 saw him beat the existing the course V50 record by nearly 3.5 minutes. Grandson of previous record holder, Calvin Ferguson, whose granddad had previously run the fastest MV50 race 28 years ago, commented how it was ‘a delight to witness such a great performance by a top-class fell runner today … Karl Gray made the record his own … well done mate!’

Karl Gray coming coming down Geronimos – credit to David Belshaw.

Whilst results from this race have yet to be published at time of press, there were strong runs from Calder Valley’s ladies Vet 40s, who won the team prize, & for the men from Darren Earnshaw (who beat his previous personal best by five minutes). In addition & of particular note was CVFR’s Toby Cotterill, who for his birthday not only ran the race in the number 40 vest, but also ran all the way there! This feat involved setting off from home well before dawn & running through to morning to cross the finish line at exactly 40 miles for his 40th birthday. On the race itself, Toby commented the challenge ‘actually made the Tour of Pendle quite enjoyable’ as he ‘wasn’t racing/pushing it as much!’

Toby on his 40 mile run for his fortieth birthday


Saturday 16th November also saw great results from CVFR & Todmorden Harriers at Penmaenmawr Fell race, near Conwy (10.5 miles). This was a tricky race, with low cloud over the bogs making visibility poor & giving those with local knowledge a distinct edge. However, despite this disadvantage, Calder Valley’s Jackie Scarf ran exceptionally well to finish 8th lady overall, & winning the LV55 category. Team mates Jonathan Emberton & Phil Scarf took 2nd & 4th MV55, respectively. For Todmorden Harriers, Jane Leonard won the LV60 race and Phil Hodgson was 3rd MV60.

Closer to home, Saturday, 16th November was also the date for the 2019 infamous Harriers vs Cyclists, which as the name suggests is a race that pits those on bikes against runners. This year’s competition was convincingly dominated by the runners, with 10 of the firsts 13 finishers on two legs rather than two wheels.  Vetran runners Tim Brooks & Steven Cavell flew the flag for CVFR at the race, finishing 199th & 205th respectively overall, with Brooks commenting that it was not only ‘harder to drag’ his bike around the course than it would have been running it, but also how it took longer to clean his bicycle afterwards than it took to complete the race!

Sunday, 16th November saw CVFR were out in force for club race the Wadsworth Half Trog. This local classic packs a punch: with 9.3 miles (15km), 1400ft (420m) of ascent, & a varied tough terrain, including plenty of mud & bogs to contend with – to quote Ricky Parish of Todmorden Harriers, it is the ‘boggiest, muddiest race ‘ he has ever experienced!

Martin leading the way on his local turf. Photo Credit Jonathan Moon

As a partially flagged route, runners need to pick their own lines for much of the race, & local knowledge comes to the fore. CVFR’s Martin Howard added another strong result to his collection for the year, finishing not only first under 21 but first overall by quite a margin, in 1h13 minutes & 51 seconds – an impressive time, given conditions under foot. For the ladies, Calder Valley’s Natasha Butterfield ran another strong race to finish second only to Todmorden Harriers legend Annie Roberts – & with good results from Cass Chisholm & Rachel Johnson – the CVFR ladies took the team prize for the red & white hoops (with the men narrowly missing out to Todmorden Harriers).

The first 3 over the line at Half Trog

Away from the actual running on the fells, the BOFRA championship awards ceremony (the best 8 results of 16 set races) saw CVFR’s Charlie Ing lifting the trophy for second place (462 points) & Stephen Smithies coming 9th (404 points) in the men’s senior competition. In the Vet50 category, Stephen Smithies took first overall with 477 points. In the ladies competition, despite only running three races, Jo Buckley came 20th in the senior ladies & 5th in the Vet40 category (165 & 180 points respectively). For the juniors, Charlie Pickens’ results saw him win the second-place trophy in the U15 boys’ category (460 points), with red & white stripped teammate Euan Loge coming 4th (422 points) & in the U12, Ollie Pickens placed 12th place (386 points).

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones

Superb Vertical Kilometre for Ben

Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey continued his international running exploits in the French Pyrenees this weekend. Despite being a late entrant to the VK Belmaig race in Arles-Sur-Tech, Ben describes how his efforts on this brutally steep course paid off:

“I entered the race only last week as I was training over in Spain, just at the other side of the Pyrenees. I thought it would be a great race/training session because VK races are very tough challenges. As it turned out, I’d entered the last race of the French National VK Skyrunning Championships by accident! Obviously, the field was a little more stacked than I’d first anticipated and the route extremely steep and technical – 1000m of climb in 2.9km!!! Most ran with poles, but I don’t own a pair so ran it as I normally would. It was a time trial format, with competitors setting off in 30 second intervals. There were just over 150 athletes and surprisingly I managed to finish 3rd senior and 6th overall, the standard extremely high, so I was very pleased. I also managed to post a new PB time of 41’05” for a VK, so even happier.

It was super-tough and I was on my limit for the entire race, but worth it for the unbelievable views at the finish, overlooking the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees mountains

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Eileen McDonach

Soggy Shepherds doesn’t stop them

Shepherd’s Skyline

Always a fiercely competitive end of season race, the Shepherd’s Skyline fell race was run from the Shepherd’s Rest Inn, Lumbutts last Saturday, the 7 mile route heads up to Langfield Common before heading to Stoodly Pike. A rapid drop to London Road is followed by a steep climb back up to Withens gate before returning across the moors to the Shepherds Rest.

Alex working hard to maintain an excellent 5th place

Heavy rain was falling as the runners set off, and it continued to fall throughout the race.  This led to muddy conditions underfoot and times were a little down on previous years.  Alex Whittem was first back for Calder in 46:45 and 5th place, which he was probably a little disappointed with.  However he was beaten by two former national champions, Simon Bailey of Mercia (1st in 43:40) and Ian Holmes, Bingley (1st V50 in 3rd place).

Calder men did take the team prize with Whittem supported by Lee Shimwell (19th), Dan Marsden (24th) and Rob Rowlinson (35th).

Natasha loving the wet muddy conditions

Calder Valley’s Natasha Butterfield was 3rd woman home in 56:06.  Annie Roberts of Todmorden was 1st in 52:43 and Claire Green of Pudsey and Bramley was 2nd.

Calder Valley Seniors Results
5th Alex Whittem 46.45
19th Lee Shimwell 52.23
24th Dan Marsden 53.42
30th Rob Rawlinson 55.33
35th Natasha Butterfield 56.06
54th Dan Jones 59.19
55th Ben Cliff 59.25
81st Tim Brooks 64.26
91st Jackie Scarf 65.36
109th Gillian Wisbey 70.05
152nd Dean Dickinson 77.20
179th Di Wright 82.53

Fell Runners Association: National Championships Presentation

The FRA ‘Do’ was held last Saturday in Grange-over-Sands  after the Dunnerdale Fell Race.  Calder Valley men were presented with the British V40 silver medals with Adam Osborne winning individual bronze in this category.

In the English Championship Calder’s V40 men’s team went one better and won gold.  Team counters were Karl Gray, Darren Kay, Adam Osborne, Mark Taylor, Mark Burton, Shaun Godsman (capt.) and Gavin Mulhollland 

Karl Gray won individual gold in the V45 and Darren Kay won silver.  Gray also was joint silver in the V40.

At the younger end Calder’s Martin Howard won bronze in the Under 23 championship.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Tim Brooks