No handicaps at Hoofstones

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Calder Valley Fell Runner – 24 January 2022

At Hoofstones Fell Race it was an excellent day for fell running in the South Pennines on Saturday 22nd January. Light cloud, bit of a breeze, no rain and the ground drying out in places after a few weeks of glorious mud. There are still plenty of bogs to navigate on the course at this time of year but somehow, a perfect for day breaking records.

The podium leading from the start – photo courtesy of Stuart Wolstenholme

Hoofstones is a January favourite for many Calder Valley club members but often clashes with the club’s own Winter Handicap as was the case this weekend. CVFR’s contribution to the 2022 running of the race was small in numbers but big on results with the Calder Valley men’s team bringing home the team prize in emphatic style and taking all three podium places with a one, two, three. Bingley won the women’s team prize headed up by first lady, Jo Buckley.

The race is organised by Dan Taylor and Claire Shaw headquartered in the Staff of Life Inn, Todmorden. The eight-mile route starts on Knot’s Road with a 2-mile flagged section on the way out. The real challenge starts here with 4 miles of navigation over rough moorland taking in a number of checkpoints including Hoof Stones Height at 480m before picking up the flagged route from Sportsmans back to the finish.

Calder Valley’s men’s team took up the running early on with a proper battle taking place between Shaun Godsman, Math Roberts and Karl Grey. After the early part of the course, Roberts had a good lead over Gray and Godsman and maintained the lead up to the Hoof Stones trig point.

Capt’n Godsman taking the win and course record

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Spine and Splashing

Calder Valley Fell Runner – 17 January 2022

The Spine

The Spine Race is touted as Britain’s most Brutal race, covering the full 268 miles of the Pennine Way from Edale in the Peak District, passing through Charlestown, Blackshawhead and Colden to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It’s also held in the middle of winter so competitors have 16 hours of darkness to cope with too.  Tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation and exposure to the extremes of winter weather are all to be expected.

Many top ultra-runners had entered this year’s race along with Calder Valley’s, Bill Johnson, Doug Gurr, and hotly tipped Dougie Zinis.  Dougie is building a reputation as an up and coming ultra-runner after winning the 108 mile Spine Challenger race in 2020 and gaining the record for a double Bob Graham, a mountainous 132 mile Lake District route.

Starting a week last Sunday, after a couple of days many of the favourites started to succumb to the energy sapping route.  Kim Collinson, previous winner of the Lakeland 100 and Sabrina Verjee, holder of the Wainwrights record both dropped out, while in the lead, at Malham.  Damian Hall, previous record holder for the Pennine Way and current holder of the Coast to Coast record, then took the lead only to drop out at Alston.  Previous Spine winner, Spaniard Eugeni Rosello Sole was then in 1st place, before dropping out himself after trying to recover by resting at a farm near Bellingham.  This left Eoin Keith to take the win in 92 hours 40 minutes and 30 seconds; bear in mind this time includes sleeping and eating.

Dougie tucking in for the long road ahead

All this time, self-reliant Dougie Zinis had kept on moving, running his own race.  With Eugeni dropping out, he moved up to joint second place with James Leavesley, winner of the summer version of the Spine.  This pair joined forces at Middleham, and ran together to the end, crossing the line in joint second place after 96 hours 06 minutes and 30 seconds.  Dougie had aimed to finish in less than 100 hours so was pleased with his time.

He said afterwards “I’m over the moon with my race, getting a podium finish was beyond my dreams but also the whole Spine experience, the Spine family, who really treat you like royalty. I’ve met some wonderful people and learned some massive lessons and sure I’ll be back for more.”

Bill at the end of the Spine

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Trigger happy

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 10 January 2022

This week saw a couple of the club’s hardiest ultra-runners finish preparations and set off on the Montane Spine race – one of the world’s toughest endurance races. This epic challenge sees racers run along the full Pennine Way, running non-stop from Edale to Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border. Many of the club ran up on Sunday to cheer ‘Spiners’ on or even keep them company for a few miles, as they passed through or near our Valley.

With so much attention turned towards supporting club members on the Spine and settling into ‘dot watching’ for the rest of the week (as trackers mark racers progress along this iconic and tough route), racing was largely on the back burner for the club. However, five brave club members – Ed Hyland, Fiona Lynch, Emily Ledder, Stuart Russell and Jonny Croston completed the redoubtable Trigger Race on Sunday 9th January.

For the Trigger Race, competitors run in the opposite direction to Spine runners – towards Edale – this time all the way from Marsden, over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder. Whilst the linear route measures 21 miles with an eye-watering 1650m feet climb, the race includes quite a lot of navigation. Runners have to run a few set points and ways around landmarks such as Butterley Reservoir, but they are free to choose their own routes or ‘lines’ across the moors. Consequently, some racers are likely to run further and ascend a lot more – depending on their navigation skills and  the ‘lines’ they choose, as they run between the three trig points that give this race its name: Black Hill, Higher Shelf and Kinder North Sandy Heys.

The 2022 event marked the 10th year of this race, after the 2021 edition had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, 162 runners signed up and set off in rain, wind, snow and clag, but only 143 crossing the finish line. 19 had to abandon the race en route, struggling with the tough course and baltic conditions.  One competitor needed to be helicoptered off the moors.

Jonny concentrating so as not to fall in the cold water

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Happy New Running Year

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 3 January 2022

Happy New Year! A lot of Calder Valley Fell Runners 2022 news to report already!

But let’s start with congratulations to one of our Juniors, Euan Logue who, at the Whinberry Naze Boxing day event, competed in his first Seniors race. Whinberry Naze is a tough 4 mile event, with 750 ft of climbing. In Euan’s own words, ‘this was my first Senior race, and I ran it dressed as an elf. It was a steep start, which led to a snowy scramble to the highest point on Cowpe Lowe, where Santa gave all the runners Smarties. Then it was a fast and furious downhill to the finish’. Euan was in 7th place before the descent, and he finished 8th overall, (3rd in the under-18 category) a remarkable debut, ‘only beaten by a Christmas tree out of those in fancy dress’. Great stuff, Euan Super-Elf Logue.

Euan ‘Super-Elf’ Logue coming 8th

On 28 December, 3 CVFR runners (Luke Melescko, Barney Horne, Dominic Camponi) ran the Coley Canter. This is a 7.7 mile muddy slog on the fells above Northowram, with a tricky river-crossing just to add to the effort and wetness! Luke stormed home in 01.03.06, to take 1st place in his M45 category, and a fine 8th place overall. Barry Horne was not far behind in 13th place, 01.04.31, and Dominic completed this excellent CVFR showing, in 25th place, 01.09.51. 122 runners took part.

Luke enjoying the mud

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