Calder Valley Fell Runners – 1st November 2021
The weekend had weather aplenty which did limit some racing, with a number of events in the Lakes cancelled. But as most fell runners will tell you, their sport is all about running through ankle-deep if not knee-high bogs! And CVFR certainly made a muddy splash at two races this weekend.
Saturday, 30th October saw the 54th edition of the always expertly organised CraggRunner ‘Race you to the Summit’. This classic local 4.3-mile fell race, completed with over 800 punishing feet of climb, sees competitors start at the Summit Inn in Littleborough and run up to the White House pub near Blackstone Edge – where they touch the pub wall & turn around to run back to the Summit for a well-earnt pint!
A firm favourite with Calderdale clubs, organisers Craggrunner always ensures a friendly atmosphere & encourages those racing to run in fancy dress for Halloween. Moreover, with the event actually falling on the Halloween weekend this year, there was an extra push for people to get into the holiday spirit. Spectators got a real treat with many of the 133 racers turning up in full fancy dress – anyone wandering past may well have wondered if they had fallen into an alternate universe!
An event in its 54th year in Autumn in Calderdale, has seen its fair share of adverse weather conditions & the average storm was not about to stop play. There was a great turnout from the club at both junior & senior level, with wins in both the men’s & the women’s race for CVFR. The junior races were held before the seniors, with U9, U11, U13 & U15 age categories (the over 15s joined the senior race). Whilst junior results were not yet published on going to press – the race organisers commended these younger runners, who gave it their all, despite definitely drawing the short-straw when it came to the weather!IRead More
n the Senior race, CVFR’s Martin Howard describes how he came out ‘wanting a nice & easy’ run to retain his crown (& pumpkin) from the previous year (2019). But he readily admits this was ‘far from’ what he got! Instead, Howard found himself in third place on touching the pub wall at the top. Confident of his skills in descent, he held on in for the ‘out & out race’ back down – ‘all the way to the last 200m, where the many years of speed work at Mark Goldies’ Run training paid off’ – finding something left in the tank, he managed to pull free to cross the line first in 29 minutes 40 seconds – 7 seconds ahead of Todmorden Harriers’ Doni Clarke and not only a minute ahead of third place Halifax Harriers’ Alex Manchester but also a minute faster than Howard’s 2019 winning time. He was quick to praise Clarke & Manchester for their pushing him so hard & keeping it so interesting.
Second to cross the line for Calder Valley FRs was Mark O’Connor in 12th place overall (2nd in the MV40 age category), narrowly beating (by less than 15 seconds) 13th placed, junior racer, Leo Illstone, who also took a convincing first place in the MU16 age category in 35:29. In addition, these sterling performances from Howard, O’Connor & Illstone saw CVFR clinch the men’s team prize.
There was also excellent racing from Elijah Peers-Webb who finished 20th overall & an impressive second in the U18 age category. Matthew Walker & George Kettlewell both ran strong races to take 8th & 10th respectively in the men’s open age category (22nd & 24th overall). Other notable men’s performances included Mark Wharton’s 3rd & Anthony Costello’s 5th in the MV55 age category, Oliver Beaumont’s 22nd in the men’s open category, Keith Hutson’s 9th in the MV60 age category & Steven Cavell’s 5th in the MV65 category.
Running in full fancy dress did not hamper Calder Valley’ FR’s Ambi Swindells who stormed the women’s race, finishing in an astounding 39 minutes & 16 seconds. This feat saw Swindells cross the line over a minute ahead of second-placed female runner Funmi Morgan and more than two minutes in front of Maread Morony in third (both Leeds University runners). It was also first for veteran red & white hooped runner Linda Hayles in the FV65 category.
All of the CVFR runners were quick to praise CraggRunner for another friendly, well marshalled event & good fun event. For anyone new to the sport, the Race you to the Summit fell race is certainly one to get in the diary for next year!
Further afield, this Sunday marked the Bowley Blast Trail Race at the Great Harwood Showground in Lancashire – the first in a series of Sportsshoes Pinnacle Trail events. This 5.2-mile race (over a mile longer than planned, due to a farmer not granting access rights to his land) was coupled with a North Face VECTIV footwear test – a great success, with many racers opting to run in shoes they first tried on the day.
Sportsshoe athlete & Calder Valley FR , Ben Mounsey led the field of 140 runners from the off. Mounsey managed to follow his race plan, by building an early convincing lead & working the climbs. The weather was pretty appalling, with racers having to contend with mud & rain galore. But Mounsey dug on in to take the overall win (& first place in the Men’s V40 category) in 32 minutes & 30 seconds – just shy of a minute and a half ahead of both second-placed Aiden Holgate (Ribble Valley Tri Club) & third-placed Darren Shackleton of Todmorden Harriers.
Reflecting back on the event, Mounsey laughling recalls how it’s the first time he has found himself needing to open so many gates – at least 7 or 8. He felt like every time he got into a racing pace, he had to stop to open another! But joking aside, he was quick to commend a ‘great course, with a bit of everything, including plenty of technical & challenging sections’, plus highlight how much he had enjoyed taking part in this expertly organised trail run.
– CALDER VALLEY NEWS REPORTER: CATHERINE JONES