Layla toughs it out for the win

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 29th November 2021

Last weekend should have been a bumper one for our runners but Storm Arwen swept in to spoil the party and force cancellations. However, we do have some triumphs to report.

But first, back to 14 November when James Logue came 2nd – a brilliant run – in the Anglesey Trail Half Marathon at Newborough Forest. Many congratulations to James, and thanks to Gail Tombs for reporting his success, as James is apparently too modest to do so!

On the evening of 27 November (yes, in the dark!) Layla Wray won (yes, won!) the 13.5 mile Peak District Tough Trails Starlit Race, an unflagged course on the fells above Settle, with 2346 feet of climbing. Layla says, ‘In the second half of the race, Storm Arwen made an appearance – snow and wind blasting me sideways, and a spooked cow bolting’. Layla’s time of 2hours 19 minutes beat all-comers, including the men, a sterling performance!

The glamour of fell running – Layla receiving her trophy in her socks

On 27 November, Jason Wilf Williams ran in the Betws-y-coed Trail Challenge – a tough 10k, particularly in the severe weather conditions. Jason says the race starts with a half mile of rough track at 13.3% gradient and, with the cold air, that really tested the lungs and legs. Jason took 2nd place overall with a time of 42.48 minutes, and 1st place in the Veterans 40 age group category. Great stuff, Jason!

Sunday was supposed to see many runners competing in the Lee Mills relays, but the organizers cancelled this event due to impassable snowdrifts. However, CVFR members have been out and about, braving the weather, on their training runs, in preparation for the Mytholmroyd race scheduled for 5 December. More news on this event next week!

Keep warm, keep running!


Pendle Hills, Bingley Bikes and Calder Trophies

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 22nd November 2021

Two major events and a prize giving dinner dominated the fell racing calendar last weekend: The punishing route that is the Tour of Pendle, the infamous Harriers vs. Cyclists and the BOFRA (British Open Fell Runners’ Association) Presentation Dinner 2021.

Bingley’s Harriers vs. Cyclists is a great – if somewhat crazy – event, steeped in history. This race sees fell runners take on cyclists on the same course. Runners watch cyclists whizz past them on the flats, & then overtake them on the ascent on the fells. Then the descent off the moor is something of a free-for-all, with spills aplenty – for the film aficionados, Calder Valley’s George Kettlewell describes it as something akin to the Raptor chase scene from Jurassic Park 3G.

For the 2021 race, 167 competitors lined up on the start line on two feet or two wheels to take on the 8.3km (5.3-mile) course, complete with its 288m/945ft of climb. Ilkey Harriers runners won first & second place in the men’s race – a bare half a minute slower than the course record set by famous fell runner Robb Jeb in 2018. This year, the first cyclist had to be content with third place, although the top 20 places were equally divided between runners & cyclists.

Victoria Peel of Hope Factory Racing was the first female over the line, in 35th place overall, winning the women’s race on a bike. Peel fared much better than one of her teammates who snapped his bike clean in two on the way down off the moor!

First over the line for CVFR was Mark Wharton, who decided against competing in the Tour of Pendle at the last minute & opted to go to Bingley instead. Wharton ran a cracking race, finishing the punishing route in 46:49 to take 62nd overall and third in the MV50 category. Reflecting back on a ‘brilliant’ race, which Wharton describes as ‘a proper fell race with the added jeopardy of a load of cyclocross riders careering through’, he highlighted how ‘brutal’ the ‘45-degree uphill start’ & the front-loaded nature of the ascent was, but how this allows for some ‘crazy descents’ on the return.

Mark Wharton Climbing Baildon Moor – photo courtesy of Dave Woodhead

Wharton’s ‘tactic’ was to ‘go all out on the climbs’, hoping to stay in front of the cyclists who typically end up carrying their bikes on the descents (& some on the tricky technical parts of the ascent too). This paid dividends, & he was delighted to survive the descent & finish third MV50, ‘but more importantly’ to also ‘beat about half of the cyclists’, which is what the race is about, after all!

Two further runners donned their red & white stripes in Bingley. Next over the line was George Kettlewell, who despite describing it as ‘a tough day out’, still found the juice to race the nearest runner all the way, edging him out, to finish a respectable 76th in 48:45. Third CVFR over the line was MV60 runner Steven Cavell, who ran strongly to finish second in his age category in 1:08:11.

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Bog Trog

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 15th November 2021

The big event for Calder Valley this weekend was undoubtably the Wadsworth Half Trog on Sunday 14th November. A tough yomp aver 15km of open moorland, a mad descent to Castle Carr reservoirs followed by an even tougher climb out of that particular valley back to the moors with the blessing of a long, straight run along one of Midgley Moor’s drainage channels before setting off again through the tussocks and bogs that are always a feature of the race. Leg sapping stuff.

Martin slip sliding his way to take the win – photo courtesy of Matt Kaye

The Half Trog is more than a warm up to the beast that is the Wadsworth Trog in February. It is less of an endurance and more of a sprint and this is clearly the approach taken by Calder Valley’s Martin Howard, winner of this event for the second time. From the off, up Popples Lane towards Bogs Eggs Edge, Martin led the field of 98 men and women – 1:09:41s later, he raced back down the lane to the finish line just above the Hare & Hounds pub. Agonisingly close to Karl Gray’s record, he will be looking to improve on that time by at least 13 seconds next year to get his name into the record books.

Andy Ford skipping across the bogs

Sunday was a great day for fell racing. Starting out clear and bright with a crispness in the air that stops runners over-heating and with vistas across the moors and valleys of the Upper Calder Valley. Sun soon gave way to mist making for a moody atmosphere as runners navigated the far reaches of the moor past the Winny Stone, then passing High Brown Knoll for a second time before dropping down to Dimmin Dale and Ferney Lee. Then up to Crow Hill and over to Sheep Stones Edge before a tough descent to the finish.

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Shepherds and Soyland

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 9th November

The ever popular Shepherd’s Skyline was run last Saturday from the Shepherds Rest at Lumbutts.  A fast 7 mile run to Stoodley Pike and back along the paths of Langfield Common in the wind and rain that you would expect in November.  It was a solid win for Calder Valley Fell Runner’s Andrew Worster who was nearly 2 minutes ahead of 2nd place Matthew Athersmith of Wharfedale.  Worster, who won bronze in this years’ FRA English Championships, had to show his turn of speed after the race as he had to head up to Penrith to collect his FRA medals that evening. CVFR ladies placed second team behind Wharfedale Harriers.

Andy in the middle of his team mates collecting their FRA medals

CVFR senior results

Pos Time   Name Cat  
1 45.05   Andrew Worster M  
27 56.18   Mark Wharton V55  
51 61.42   Stella Chrisanthou FV45  
53 61.47   Ben Cliff V40  
60 64.19   Toby Sydes V50  
87 75.59   Jocasta Fletcher FV45  
96 78.35   Charlotte Whetton    
115 90.36   Tamsin Cooke    

121 runners

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