Calder Valley Fell Runners – 6th September
Two big events featured in many local runners calendars this last weekend. Saturday, 11th September saw many runners take on local challenge ‘The Lost Shepherd fell race’, from Good Shepherd Church in Mytholmroyd. Then on Sunday, 12th September, hundreds of runners flocked to Howarth to compete in the various races that make up the annual Yorkshire Off-Road Marathon.
Expertly organised by Craggrunner, the Lost Shepherd is a challenging 24km (14.9-mile) fell race over open moor and footpaths, complete with an eye-watering 820m (2690ft) ascent, which sees runners treated to not just one, but two climbs up to local landmark, Stoodley Pike. This year, 60 runners finished the punishing course, with Todmorden Harriers’ Donni Clarke running a cracking race to cross the line in 1 hour 46:44 – a mere three seconds ahead of second-placed (non-attached) runner Joe Stewart. First home for the red & white hoops was Ed Hyland, in 1:54:47. Although disappointed to finish fourth, Hyland acknowledges he ‘put in a good shift’, not least as he found himself alone on the moors for most of the route. Whilst he could see Illkey’s Oli Murphy in 3rd most of way round, Hyland just ‘couldn’t close the gap’ – but he’s already looking forward to running it again next year!
Coming in fifth overall, was CVFR’s James Logue, who finished in just a shave over two hours taking first in the MV50 category, & beating his nearest age category rival by over 25 minutes! With Calder Valley’s Kieran O’Prey crossing the line in 14th place in the open race, CVFR clocked up the first three male finishers for any club.
In the ladies’ race, Calder Valley’s Rachel Beaumont was delighted to finish third (second in the FV50 age category) in 2:40:32. Competing in her longest fell race to date, Beaumont was delighted with a podium finish, having slowed right down after falling over one of the many rocks on the course. Despite this, she was quick to praise the race’s ‘perfect conditions & organisation’, & most happy not to get lost (the race is only partially flagged) & glad of the can of beer at the end!
Other noticeable red & white results include Mark Wharton’s first place in the MV55 age category in 2:46:33 & Mike Wardle’s second place in the MV65 race in 3:04:14. Just ahead of Wardle, & a smidgen over 3h a piece, both Ian Sparks and Lindsay McMillan ran well to finish in the top ten MV60 & fifth lady overall respectively.Read More
The famous Yorkshire Offroad Marathon (YORM) comprises several races run over half and full marathon distances: For the CVFR contingent, Iain Conley was the first runner to finish the full marathon, in 17th place overall in 4h 12:38. This also saw him take an impressive fifth in the MV50 age category. Regular racer, Andy Smith, who finished 21st in the MV50 age category, reported how this was ‘one of the toughest’ races he has experienced thus far. The first 15 miles or so are a hard slog, with their multiple climbs, but it doesn’t let up much after that, as runners are kept at a steady pace over the trails before facing ‘the killer finish on the cobbles’. But even if his legs are ‘killing him’, Smith still feels it was all worth it to have completed the challenge.
In the women’s marathon, Clare Hanson ran well to take second place in the FV40 age category in 4h47:23, & in a competitive female open age race, Rebecca Alathoor took eighth place in 5h13:28. This was Alathoor’s first marathon & she found it ‘awesome’, not just for the ‘normality’ of once again having mass starts, but also for the ‘very supportive and positive morale amongst runners’, the ‘beautiful’ weather, & ‘the much appreciated volunteers & marshalls at stations all around the course’.
In the full marathon pairs race, ladies captain Carolyn Shimwell & teammate, Liz Lloyd ran well to finish fifth in their category in just under six hours. Shimwell described it as a ‘great day out’ in ‘perfect conditions: not too warm, but dry’, & was quick to praise not only the organization but also ‘the fabulous food & drinks at the end!’
In the half-marathon, Darren Earnshaw came in 19th out of 235 runners & seventh in the MV40 race, beating his previous personal best by an incredible three minutes, to finish the course in 2h 4:21. In the MV40 category, there were also strong runs from Ben Cliffe (12th) & Matthew Bott (36th) who summed up most runners’ experiences by commenting how great it was to race again. In the MV60 age category, CVFR’s Andrew Davies finished second in 2h18:13 and in the MV70 category, CVFR’s Brian Horsley took an emphatic win in 2h31:12.
In the ladies’ half marathon, Sonia Pascal ran impressively to finish third in the FV50 age category in 2h25:51. Fellow red & white hoops runners Gloria Ayuso & Gillian Wisbey finishsed in 8th & 11th respectively, giving CVFR the first three FV50 runners over the line. In the MV40, Christina Turner ran well to finish 24th in 2h 50:37.
Whilst most runners were busy at the Lost Shepherd & the YORM, a few flew the red & white flag elsewhere this week, including on Friday, 10th September at Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF). This event, like the YORM, included a range of different races, over various distances. CVFR’s Chris Holdsworth took the win in the 25km race, despite a navigation error which saw him follow the 5km route for a while, & a nasty ‘whack from a tree to the ribs’. The latter ‘almost blew it’ for Holdsworth, with only two miles to go & meant he was only able to jog to the finish – but in spite of this, he still finished the course a staggering 6+ minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Thankfully, although it hurt like fury at the time, Holdsworth’s injury turned out to be nothing more than some deep bruises & he is happy to be back competing again & ‘getting some racing in the legs’.
Calder Valley’s Di Wright took part in the Festival’s longest (50km) race, finishing this marathon distance event in just over 9h, in 33rd place. Wright commented how ‘It had been a lovely race’ – but admitted getting ‘a bit distracting around Buttermere on seeing Tom Cruise chucking himself out of a sleek helicopter (attached to a parachute)!’
CVFR’s George Grassington competed in the Helvellyn Tri on Sunday 12th September, with an impressive set of results. Grassington, who had the race on his bucklet list for his 30th birthday, was delighted to finish more than 20 minutes ahead of his target time in only 4 hours 39:27 (Swim – 20:08 Bike – 2:06:54 Run – 2:03:32). Reflecting back over the event, Grassington described it as the ‘best’ he has ever done, not only for the ‘spectacular views’ & ‘perfect conditions’, but also ‘for the friendliness of the other competitors & marshalls’.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, 6th Sept, Calder Valley’s Dominic Camponi ran the last Trunce fell race of the summer – dressed as Darth Vader! Camponi was delighted to finish in 5th place overall, & also when the following Saturday, he took third place with a sub-21-minute run at the Dewsbury parkrun. This was Camponi’s first ever podium finish, but his 20:09 time saw him take 30 seconds off his course PB. This feat is all the more impressive in the context of Camponi having more than halved his park run time in since January 2020 (from 48:37 to 20:09) – & a real encouragement to all those newer runners out there.
For the Junior Calder Valley runners, nine-year old Tom Burton also ran exceptionally well at the Marple Parkrun. Burton finished his third parkrun with a personal best of 26:40. Next weekend the young runner is taking on a duathlon & plans to wear his ‘lucky CVFR vest!’
Away from racing, CVFR legend, Dougie Zinis, took on the eye-watering challenge of a Double Bob Graham round. The infamous BGR involves running 66 miles (106km) & scaling 42 peaks (26,900 feet/8,200m) in the Lake District in just 24h. The double, as the name suggests, sees a runner completing this twice in only 48h – a feat that very few runners contemplate, let alone successfully complete.
After an injury on a previous Bob Graham attempt, Zinis decided to make it double or nothing. He reports how he spent the summer training, building fitness for this mammoth 132-mile run. He assembled a ‘fantastic support crew’, with great mountain experience, & his plan was to make up time on the daylight parts of the route, to allow for the inevitably slower night-time segments.
Starting out on Friday, 10th September, the first day of running was claggy, but with navigation help from his fabulous team, Zinis was able to stay on track. However, on the Friday night, the weather turned & Zinis & his team found themselves contending with some serious wind & rain – but he was still ‘moving well’ & ‘being pampered at road crossings’, so ‘not overly concerned’.
Having completed the first ‘loop’ (the standard BG round) in an impressive 21 hours & 44 minutes, Zinis knew that, as long as he could do the second loop in 23 hours, he could manage the herculean challenge he had set himself. He concentrated on the company of his support crew & on keeping a sensible pace. The weather also picked up enough for the stars to shine at night which made things easier.
Reaching the final leg, Zinis knew he had 3 hours left to get the record, so he focused on eating well & getting his head down for the final push to the finish line at Moot Hall. He reached this after running for 45 hours and 3 minutes straight – only the seventh person ever to complete this the double Bob Graham Round. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed on going to press, Zinis’ unofficial time is 27 minutes faster than the current recordholder, the famous Nicky Spinks, who completed the double in May 2016 in 45 hours & 30 minutes.
One of his ‘crew’, Tristan Watson, who ran road support but also helped at the back end of leg 8 commented that ‘having seen Dougie throughout most of the round, what struck me was his persistent calmness. Nothing phased him & he had a clear determination to get the job done. It was really never in doubt! It was so fun to be out in the fells with such an awesome group to help Dougie get the record.
He also recalled having met Zinis for breakfast in Keswick on the following morning & how the runner not only ate two breakfasts, but also made the most of the free refills – downing an impressive seven cups of coffee. ‘Maybe he was tired, or maybe he’s just a Yorkshireman wanting to get the best value out of his breakfast!’ Watson joked.