Calder Valley Fell Runners – 13th December 2021
At first glance this looks like the 2021 version of Moors the Merrier. Don’t be fooled; 21 isn’t a year, it’s the number of miles to go from start to finish of what is a challenging but enjoyable event on the moors, valleys, and trails of the Upper Calder Valley. Entrants can opt to complete the event as a long distance walk or non-competitive runner with an early start time to give everyone a chance of finishing in the light or as a fell race with a slightly later start time and with all the fun of catching the walkers along the way.
Held on Saturday 11th December Moors the Merrier 21 is one of a series of good quality events put on by Craggrunners. Coming in the lead-up to Christmas, there is a definite festive theme to the event and this weekend there was a full complement of 124 walkers and runners with 47 opting for the early 8.00am start and 77 for the full fell race at 9.00am. There were three retirements along the way.
As well as carrying full waterproof gear to account for the range of weather that can be experienced on open moorland, entrants had to bring two other items – a santa hat and a present for the bran barrel at the finish.
The event starts and finishes at Hebden Bridge Golf Course with the anti-clockwise route taking in Midgley, Wadsworth, Heptonstall and Erringden Moors through four checkpoints with a final big climb out of the valley bottom back to the Golf Club.Read More
Times vary enormously for Moors the Merrier 21 with the fastest runner this year, Calder Valley’s Ed Hyland, completing the course in just over three hours and the more leisurely walkers taking close to eight and a half hours to complete the unflagged course. Ed was a late entrant to the event having taken a transfer place from Alison Walker in the week leading up to Moors the Merrier so hadn’t had a chance to recce the course.
The race does take place in CVFR’s back yard so much of this is familiar territory to him but for double measure Ed ran much of the course in a threesome with Todmorden Harrier’s Duncan Cannon and Chorlton’s Matt Owens – helping each other along the way and taking turns to share the lead. Ed pulled away over Erringden Moor and down Daisy Bank to claim victory in a time of 3.03.50. CVFR’s John Allan came in 5th in a time of 3.30.16 with the club’s first woman finisher, Emily Ledder completing the race in 35th position in 4.38.38.
The weather conditions and saturated moors meant a slowish time for even the most experienced fell runners and Ed is convinced he can return next year and improve on his time.
Another Calder Valley runner, Anthony Costello, put in a good time of 4.44.54 as the first MV55 with the club’s other MV55 entrant, Douglas Gurr finishing in 5.09.30. Anthony described the course as ‘a delight and a challenge. The scenery is spectacular but the terrain is varied and tough, with much of the tougher elements of the course coming after the last checkpoint at Jumble Hole’.
Calder Valley had five club members in the early start including Tamsin Cooke, James Cooke, Gill Dickson, Emilia Wright and Di Wright. For Tamsin, starting at 8.00am meant setting off before dawn with the dark giving way to murky drizzly fog around Sheepstones. This began to lift at CP1 and luckily the promised rain stayed away until mid-afternoon and visibility improved along the way.
A striking feature of this unflagged race is the camaraderie of the competitors, running in packs or groups and helping each other with navigation. Saturday’s race wasn’t without its quirks with Will Stiegler fast becoming a legend on the fell-running scene for completing races whilst carrying a 2-metre log on his shoulder. Needless to say, Will wasn’t entered in the competitive race and finished in 6.42.45.