Winning team results at Black Combe

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 23rd August

The last week of the school holidays has been a busy one for some of our red & white hoops, who have been in fine racing form. Showing us all that age really is just a number, veteran runner Darren Kay not only won his V50 age category in the Shipman Knotts race in Kentmere on Tuesday 24th August, but also took first place outright. This was the first time Kay had competed in this 3.7-mile/6-km race, with its 1312-feet/400m of climb, so he was understandably ‘delighted’ with the result. He also saw this A/S category race as ‘a good workout’ for the main event of the week: the 4.5-mile/7.2-km Black Combe Dash fell race on Saturday 28th.

As the penultimate race in this year’s English champs, the 2021 Black Combe fell race was made even more interesting by the absence of certain key runners, meaning more of the top spots up for grabs. The course maybe relatively short, but it still packs a punch, with an energy-sapping 600 metres (1968ff) of ascent over spongy ground in the first 3.5km and the last 4km a quick dash on trails and track to the finish.

Getting ‘somewhat carried away’, Kay led this hotly contested race out the blocks, setting off maybe a little too swiftly. He then settled in for the long climb to the summit, which he rounded in 9th place, before giving it ‘everything’ on the descent to finish in 41:47 seconds. This amazing feat saw Kay take first place in not only the MV50 & MV45 races but also second in MV40 category, only beaten to the line by fell running legend Robert Jebb.

Overall, in the open (non-veteran) men’s race, Kay finished seventh – an important result, given that this was a critical race for the CVFR men’s team. Going into the event, champs’ favourites, Keswick, led the team competition, with only Blackcombe & one further race left. To close the gap, Calder needed a win. But, as expected, Keswick did not make this task anything like a walk (or race) in the park.

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