An upward “Spire” gives Kev the win

Kevin Hoult at the finish line – photo credit Jamie Glazebrook

Whilst many competitive sporting events have had to be cancelled, some have managed to go ahead, including the rescheduled Spire Ultra – a 34-mile ‘Maypole’ run around the Chesterfield’s crooked spire. 63 solo runners and five relay teams braved last Saturday’s (31st October) wind, rain & mud to take part in this race, which had been significantly amended to take the pandemic into account (including marshalls in PPE, & runners setting off in socially distanced ‘pods’ based on their expected finish time).

Despite challenging weather, CVFR’s ultra-runner Kevin Hoult stormed to first place for the second year in a row – shaving six seconds off his previous personal best (although he was quick to point out that the route had been slightly shortened due to COVID restrictions). The red & white hooped runner described just how tough conditions were – whilst normally, competitors can see the famous spire in the distance for much of the race, this year, no such views were possible; with runners battling seriously stormy weather and epic mud to complete the course.

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Mounsey’s International Return in the Trofeo Vanoni Relay

A “masked” start to the relay

Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey jumped at the unplanned opportunity to compete in one of his all-time favourite races, the prestigious Trofeo Vanoni mountain running Relay.

As part of the Great British team, Ben (centre of the photo) joined fellow athletes Andrew Douglas (SCO with Blue No 12) and Zak Hanna (NI with Red No. 12) in the beautiful Italian village of Morbegno for this international race. Each leg involves running a lap of 7k with over 400 metres of climb. The team finished an excellent 5th position overall, in a highly competitive field. France took first place, with the top Italian teams taking second and third.

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Plogging & Staying on Track

A sport with a difference – Ben on ‘plogging’:

Another of CVFR’s international runners is also making the most of the current situation – in Ben Mounsey’s case to shine a light on the growing problem of littering on the fells and mountains, and encourage others to do something about it. Ben, who is sponsored by Sportshoes, has written a blog on the Sportswear company’s website to raise awareness of the revolutionary movement of ‘Plogging’ – a combination of jogging, whilst picking up litter along the way – which is beginning to gather pace and momentum internationally.

Founded by leading activist Erik Ahlström, plogging derives its name from two Swedish verbs – plocka upp (pick up) and jogga (jog) and offers a much-needed response to growing concerns globally about increasing amounts of discarded waste, littering and a rise in plastic pollution. People’s poor treatment of nature has come to the fore during lockdown with local and national news outlets decrying the spoiling of sites of natural beauty with discarded rubbish.

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Holly’s BGR Adventure

International trail runner Holly Page decided, despite various small injuries and niggles, to scratch a long-term itch and attempt the infamous Bob Graham Round. Not for the faint of heart, the BGR – as it is affectionally known in the running community – is a challenge in the Lake District, starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, and taking in a staggering 42 fells, 66 miles/106km and an eye-watering 26,900ft/8,200m of climb along the way. Runners have 24 hours to attempt the route and normally organise a team of pacers to keep them on target, carry kit and help with navigation.

However, as Holly was unsure physically that she was up to it, she didn’t want to ask other people to give up of their time. Consequently, and rather unusually, she set off on with just Tom Owens – the two of them carrying all the food and clothes they might need – with the mindset that it was simply “a lovely (albeit long!) day out in the mountains”. Holly recalls how navigating in the dark, and clambering over wet rocks at night in the pouring rain & thick mist was far from easy – even with a good headtorch visibility was often. down to less than two meters. As expected, Holly’s various injuries niggled; a further fall plus an incident with a barbed wire fence compounded these. But spurred on by the promise of her mother’s sticky toffee pudding and a desire to see if she could beat her father’s time on the same round, she gritted he teeth and kept going.

There were obviously ups and downs – both metaphorical and physical – but in the end, despite a badly swollen knee, Holly (and Tom) still found it enjoyable and were glad they had taken it on. In fact, they appreciated the little glimpses of the valley and the rays of sunshine/breaks in the rain all the more for the sub-optimal conditions: “it was all the more special and felt exciting to be just Tom and I on the hill battling the elements and munching sandwiches and sipping @activelifeenergy. Holly is loving comparing notes and photos with her Dad of his successful attempt many years previously (also wearing Adidas – and only an hour slower– despite his additional challenge of running in leggings), but is sensibly taking a week’s break from running, before seeing where her legs will take her next.

– CALDER VALLEY NEWS REPORTER: catherine jones