Golden Oldies

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 18th October 2021

British Fell Running Relay Championships 2021

This weekend saw one of the most exciting dates in the fell running calendar with the British Fell Running Relay Championships hosted by Helm Hill Runners and British Athletics on the fells around Tebay just north of Kendal. And what a day it was. With 220 teams each represented by 6 runners the event brought together 1,320 runners chasing glory in eight categories.

Calder Valley Fell Runners again showed their strength in depth and despite some sore legs after the heroics of the Three Peaks the week before, put out three men’s and two women’s teams – Men’s and Women’s Open, Men’s and Women’s V40 and Men’s V50.

The relays are ultra-competitive and the course is designed to test teams to the limit. Run over four legs, with each starting and finishing in the event field, teams run in a mix of solo and pairs. Leg 1 is the short, sharp 5.9km loosener for a solo runner taking on 490m of climbing after ducking under the M6 Motorway and climbing up towards Grayrigg Pike and back. Leg 2 follows and is probably the most challenging of the day. Run in pairs over 10km, this is the navigation leg with each team using their map reading skills to navigate between checkpoints. The pairs theme continues into Leg 3 with a flagged 10.3km route, a gruelling 940m of ascent that takes in Blease Fell, Uldale Head, Linghaw and Blease Fell again before dropping back down. And finally, the Leg 4 solo runner is off to bring back glory for the team, maintain a position, overhaul a close competitor, try to keep a small advantage over the chasing pack. A swift 5.3km and the race ends in the to the Event Field.

The Golden Boys

CVFR teams put on a great display. The Men’s Open team finished a creditable 6th overall whilst the Women’s V40 outpaced the Women’s Open team pulling off 6th place in their category. Not to be outdone, the Men’s V50 team put in a fantastic team effort but missed out on a category podium place by 15 seconds earning a 4th place spot. The club’s glory team on the day was the Men’s V40. Taking 15th place overall in the competition, they claimed top spot in their category as British MV40 Champions 2021 in a brilliant time of 3:29:16.

Layla making her club debut

A real credit to the teams and to CVFR’s Women’s Captain Carolyn Shimwell, as, despite last minute injury and illness, the club put out two committed women’s teams at short notice. In the words of Gill Dickson, “What a brilliant day”.

And a final word from Shaun Godsman, Men’s Captain and anchor leg runner for the new British Fell Relays MV40 Champions. Asked by a reporter how much you have to train for the relays. “Enough. Just Enough!”

CVFR Teams

Men’s Open: Time 3:16:14. Position 6th Overall

Team: 1. Martin Howard 2. Darren Kay/Matty Roberts 3. Andy Worster/Chris Holdsworth
4. Ben Mounsey

Women’s Open: Time 5:41:28. Position 33rd in Category
Team: 1. Ambi Swindells 2. Lindsay McMillan/Rebecca Alathoor 3. Gill Dickson/Charlotte Wetton 4. Layla Hirst

Men’s V40: Time 3:29:16. Position 15th Overall – 1st in Category

Team: 1 Adam Osborne 2. James Logue/Dougie Zinis 3. Karl Gray/Gav Mulholland
4. Shaun Godsman

Women’s V40: Time 5:08:00. Position 6th in Category

Team: 1. Jocasta Fletcher 2. Helen Buchan/Helen Curtis 3. Rachael Beaumont/Suzanna Richardson 4. Fiona Lynch

Men’s V50: Time 4:28:23. Position 96th Overall – 4th in Category

Team: 1. Toby Sydes 2. Steve Smithies/Simon Bourne 3. Mark Wharton/Jonathan Emberton
4. Andrew Davies


Chocolates Galore

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 11th October 

Closer to home and in far more pleasant conditions, Sunday 8th October, saw a group of red & white hooped runners enjoying the Autumnal sunshine around Brontë Country at the well-organised Within’s Skyline fell race. The 6.2-mile race, with its 820ft of ascent, takes in a steep climb and plenty of bogs, as racers slog up to Top Withins, before enjoying some fast downhill trails back to Penistone Hill, via the famous Brontë Bridge.

Whilst provisional results had yet to be published on going to press, this year, Phil Wells was the first CVFR over the line in 22nd place overall. He was followed Tristan Watson in 52nd place, with veteran runners Andrew Davies & Anthony Costello respectively 63rd & 74th overall, & Andy Smith the fifth CVFR to complete the course in 120th place overall.

Chocolate and more chocolate prizes

However, the day belonged to the CVFR juniors, who put in a cracking show of force in the day’s earlier ‘rat run’ races around the Penistone Hill quarry. The younger Calder Valley runners won a slew of podium places. Third place spots went to Ishbel Symington in the U9’s girls’ race & to Thomas McKee in the U15’s boys’ race. Second place went to Noah de Wit in the U13’s race. However, it was the pocket rocket, Clara McKee, who once again smashed expectations. McKee topped an amazing ‘squeezed’ season of races by not only finishing first girl in the U15’s (& U13’s races) but crossing the line fourth overall in the U15’s race & shredding the previous girls’ race record time in the process. There were also strong runs from Leo Illstone (2nd Under 17) & his sister Georgie – all in all, an incredibly successful morning’s work for our juniors.


Big miles bring big smiles

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 11th October 2021

This weekend’s senior races were dominated by the big hitters, the go-big-or-go-home races: The ultras. Two of the most anticipated events in the fell runner’s diary fell on Saturday 9th October: The infamous ‘Lakes in a Day’ & the Three Peaks – with neither race name leaving any shadow of doubt as to what runners should expect.

All smiles at the start – photo courtesy of Woodentops

416 runners finished the 66th Three Peaks Fell Race (sponsored by Inov8), completing the 37.4-kilometre rugged course (with its 1608 metres ascent – including a climb up to 723m above sea level). One of the oldest & most famous fell races in Britain, the Three Peaks traverses the famous Yorkshire Dales mountains of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Whilst this is not the toughest of races technically, it remains challenging due to the sections of fast running, broken up by three tough climbs & descents which make it difficult to pace & judge when to push and when to hold back.

An amazing day of running for CVFR culminated with a V50 record for Karl Gray, who finished the race in a staggering 3 hours, 7 minutes & 34 seconds – an amazing feat, especially given the anything but clement weather. Gray finished not only in 4th place overall but outright won the MV50 race by the proverbial country mile – crossing the line 30 minutes ahead of any other MV50 runner.

Karl on the final climb of Ingleborough – photo courtesy of Andy Jackson

Gray’s outstanding result, coupled with excellent runs from team mates Adam Osborne (12th overall, 5th in the MV40 race), Ed Hyland (17th – 9th in the men’s open age category) and Jon Smith (60th – 15th MV40), saw the red & white stripes also take the men’s team prize. In addition, there were good performances from Jonny Croston (66th overall – 17th in MV40), Mark Smith (73rd & 23rd MV40), Mark O’Connor (131st), Darren Earnshaw (155th), Barney Horne (192nd), Iain Conley (242nd), & Gavin Roper (259th).

Reflecting back on the race, Gray, in typically self-depreciating style, highlighted how this ‘superbly organised’ event, with its ‘amazing atmosphere & spectators’ – spurring runners on at various points in the course, really seems to suit him. He reported that on setting off he’d not known what to expect, mindful of his lack of targeted training due to COVID & this year’s condensed championships series. He’d been aware he’d not only not put the usual mileage into preparing for this kind of event, but also not raced anything comparable since June, he is not surprisingly ‘super proud’ at having broken the previous V50 record.

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Tough conditions in Lakeland events

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 4th October 2021

Hodgson Brothers Relay.

Held in Patterdale every year the Hodgson Brothers Relay is one of the most prestigious relays in the Fell Running year.  As it is also a couple of weeks before the British Fell And Hill Running relays, it’s a good preview to see which teams are running well and gives the captains a chance to fine tune their teams.  It is a four leg, paired relay running out of Patterdale at the head of Ullswater visiting Angle Tarn, High Street, Kirkstone Pass, Red Screes, Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag before returning to Patterdale.

Giant Chris and tiny Andy at Hodgson relay

Calder Valley Fell Runners entered a men’s and women’s team, the first time in a few years a women’s team has been gathered.  The men’s pair of Martin Howard and Alex Whittam were in 4th place after the first leg, with Chris Holdsworth and Andy Worster gaining a place to put them in third by Kirkstone Pass.  However, by the finish CVRF were in 4th place, nine minutes behind winners, Keswick, Ambleside and Carnethy.

A very happy ladies team after completing a tough Hodgson Relay

The CVFR women’s team were 8th with Helm Hill taking the win, Natasha Butterfield and Jill Convey putting in a good time on the first leg for Calder.

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