Godsman and Burton a perfect storm

Saturday 8th February – a beautiful day (& quite unlike what was to follow on Sunday) – was also a busy one in the racing calendar for CVFR locally, with both Windy Hill Fell race & Todmorden Harriers Mini-Mountain Marathon Score popular with red & white hooped runners.

Windy Hill is a tough technical nine-mile race, which starts at Littleborough RUFC & continues onto the surrounding hills of Hollingworth Lake – taking in fast trails, fells & one all-mighty, memorable climb up the race’s namesake. Windy Hill, before the second half sees runners race down a fast trail to the finish. This year, Calder Valley’s men raced strongly to secure an impressive half of the first eight places in the male vet 40 category.

Shaun Godsman was the first Calder Valley runner over the line, finishing 7th overall (2nd MV40) in 1:02:14. Mark Burton came in 2.5 minutes later in 10th place (3rd MV40) & Michael Hyde placed 18th overall (6th MV40) to see the men clinch the team prize. There were also strong runs by Lee Shimwell (21st – 8th MV40), Iain Illstone (24th overall & 12th in the open age category), Jonny Croston (27th & 11th MV40) & Dan Marsden (28th & 14th in the open age category). For the women, two of the CVFR ladies ran extremely well their very first fell race: Helen Curtis, who placed 6th FV40 in a shade over 90 minutes, & Heather Pritchard who finished 13th in the women’s open age category. There were also strong runs from Calder Valley’s Gill Dickinson & Elena Eady (14th & 18th respectively in the FV40 category).

Shaun Godsman at Windy HIll – credit Dave Woodhead

Helen Curtis at Windy HIll – credit Dave Woodhead

Todmorden Harrier’s Mountain Marathon – also firm favourite – always attracts aa good number of competitors from the club. This year was no exception, with several red & white hoops racing well in this event that requires orienteering & strategic thinking skills as runners determine the route that will allow them to score the most from the different placed & valued ‘controls’ in the three hours allotted (& seeking to avoid the considerable time penalties for returning  late to the finish line).

In the solo races, CVFR’s Simon Bourne finished 3rd (again) behind local legends James Logue & Chris Goddard. Despite a six-minute penalty, Bourne racked up an impressive score of 625 (from a possible 700). Karl Grey also competed well to finish within the three hours & in 4th place overall with 530 points. For the ladies, Tamsin Cooke ran an extremely savvy race to finish 3rd with only a three-minute time penalty & a score of 325.  In the pair’s race Calder Valley’s Jonathan Emerbton & Gavin Mullhound secured first place with no time penalty & a score of 565.

This year’s event took place in beautiful sunshine, offered lots of interesting route choices & a good mix of terrains, including what Bourne described as ‘tussock hell’. However, it will enter into local runners’ lore, for the one high-scoring control which involved the choice of wading (or swimming for the smaller runners) 10m through a deep channel of water or running 700m around it. Racers are still debating which was the more sensible route choice.

Sunday’s races were further afield. Husband & wife pairs Jackie & Phil Scarf & Ben & Rachel Cliff competed in the latest Open5 series adventure race – a mixture of mountain biking, running & navigation skills  – near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. Despite epic weather conditions, Phil & Jackie Scarf raced strongly to finish in 3rd place in the mixed pairs in 5h 8 minutes & 11 seconds with 262 points. Whilst Ben & Rachel competed well to finish in 5 hours 14 minutes & 20 seconds with 220 points in a solid 7th place.

Open5 Yorkshire Dales Mixed Pair podium – credit Jumpy James

Open5 Yorkshire Dales – Ben & Rachel Clifff – credit Jumpy James

Internationally, & in very different weather conditions, Calder Valley’s Ben Mounsey continued to shine this weekend, chalking up a further first place to make it three victories in four races in Spain (after his 2nd place at Montserrat last week). This Sunday’s 22.5lm Trail Les Creus race – complete with 1250m of climb – from Tavernes de la Valldigna in Valencia & was extremely technical in sections, with much of the first descent including roped sections. However, undaunted, Mounsey ran brilliantly, finishing the race in 2h 9 minutes & 14 seconds – nearly 5 minutes in front of the second placed runner & only just shy of an astounding 15 minutes ahead of the third finisher – setting a new course record. He credits this to being able to run ‘really strongly’ from the off & then throughout – ‘opening up a big lead on the first steep climb’, & then maintaining for the rest of the course, He reports how the last month of training has put him in ‘fantastic form’ & he feels ‘really happy to be running so well at the moment’.

Ben Mounsey first place podium – official race photograph

Trail Les Creus first three runners – official race photograph


Red & White start for 2020

Seconds Count at Giant’s Tooth 2020

Calder Valley were out in force on the first day of 2020, with thirteen racing at Giants Tooth Fell Race. This short 3 mile course with almost 400 feet of climb helps to get the fell racing year off to a good start.

CVFR team L-R Dan Marsden, Paul Haigh, Matt Kay, Jonny Croston, James Williams, Matt Ray, Anthony Costello, Trudi Entwhistle.


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World Mountain Running Champs

The torrential downpours did not deter the hardened CV fell runners this weekend, splashing their way to victory and revealing some healthy inter club rivalryas the club champs season comes to a close.

First up was the local 4.6 mile Thieveley Pike Fell race in Cliviger which follows much of  the Mary Towneley Loop and which saw CV’s young Martin Howard taking the U23 prize.

Also on the Saturday, a dozen CV runners made their way to Snowdonia for the Peris race. Peris Half (8.5 mikes, 4500 ft) and Full Peris(18.5 miles and 8500ft) both counted for club champs points this year so many runners had to choose the course wisely depending on which other events they had done earlier in the year.

The race starts out with a long climb through the quarries to the first 3000 footer on the course, ElidirFawr. With the clag down and poor visibility on the tops, runners were keen not to lose sight of the local navigators. But it wasn’t long into the race when runners had to rely on their own navigational skills to get round as the nearby runners disappeared into the fog.  Said a proud Andy Wright, who secured 3rd prize in the half:

‘The final summit for the half runners was GlyderFawr (1001 metres with a 300m ferocious ascent from Llyn y Cwn). I recall paddling here to cool off last year, but today there was no time for such luxuries.  I knew the race was still in contention despite not seeing anyone else from the half, so ran up what should have been a walk to the summit.  From here it is a fairly vague line back down to the finish at Pen Y Pas.

As we dropped below the cloud the car park came into sight and I was able to view the first full course runner in front of me, along with the rather welcome sight of Phil Wells in the distance ahead of me.

I did not realise it at this stage, but most of the Eryri runners in front of me had taken a wrong turn down towards Nant Peris, so I did not realise how far up the field I was right now, but I did know that this descent was where I could make up some time.

I switched off the safety guard and flung myself down the hillside in the general direction of the car park.  The lines proved exciting at times as I went through the boulder fields but I successfully made it past team mate Phil Wells about 500 metres from the end to learn to my surprise that I was 3rd overall.

Having spent some time in Wales for recces and races of UTS50 earlier in the year I think I had an idea of what the day had held in store, so I knew what to expect and felt my training for this race had gone well, but to get my first podium in a Welsh mountain race was a very proud moment’

Eryri Harriers hosted the event and provided excellent live tracking at race HQ along with great post race food.  Some very welcoming hosts, who seemed genuinely happy to have so many red and white vests out on their race.

Other achievements in the half included Phil Wells who was 2nd MV40 and Rob Rawlinson, 3rd MV40.

Peris Half Rob Andy Phil

In the Full Peris, a gruelling 18.5 miles of over 8500ft of climbing, CV’s Jonny Croston was 9th and Dougie Zinnis 13th. Not content with completing 18.5miles, James Cooke ran an extra lap round Llanberis after unwittingly following an old route map he’d recently purchased on-line.

Full Peris CVFR results:

9 Jonny Croston MV40 03:43:51
13 Dougie Zinis MOpen 03:53:49
30 Paul Haigh MV40 04:24:56
35 Mike Clayton MOpen 04:31:39
44 Mark Wharton MV50 04:49:25
59 James Cooke MOpen 05:31:23

Half Peris CVFR results:

3 Andy Wright MV40 02:07:58
5 Phil Wells MV40 02:08:46
11 Rob Rawlinson MV40 02:11:08
26 Toby Sydes MV50 02:35:46
27 Tim Brooks MV40 02:35:59
37 Charlotte Wetton FOpen 03:08:43

On the Sunday, Holly Page, taking a rest from her international travels, and Carole Fryer flew the CV flag and scooped up 1st lady and VF50 at the Rombalds Romp fell race over on Ilkley Moor. Conditions were grim but both were still smiling as they practically swam round the 8 mile course.

Carole Fryer Rombald Romp

Holly Page Rombald Romp

Meanwhile, in sunnier, warmer climate in Italy, CV’s Adam Osborne struck MV40 gold in the World Mountain Running Championships, with team mate Ben Mousey securing silver. Said a rather elated Adam:

‘Over the moon to win the World Masters and to stand on the podium and hear the national anthem! It was a deceptively tough race, fast with some technical, steep climbs and the heat was sapping- not something a pasty Yorkshireman is used to! Has a bad patch on second of three laps but came back strongly on third.

Delighted to see Ben cross the line shortly after me and win a silver- good day for CVFR! Great event; the Italians know how to put on a race with great atmosphere and support!’

Team mate Ben said:

‘I came here with little expectation, after missing all of the racing season through illness. I’ve been nowhere near top form and this was a course that definitely did not suit me – fast and furious with lots of flat road sections. Plus it was at least 33 degrees in the heat of the midday sun. But I gave it my all and it paid off! I’m absolutely over the moon to finally make the podium after 4 years of failed attempts.

But despite my own personal success, the day really belonged to my good friend Adam Osborne, who ran the race of his life to take gold in the V40 category. We’ve been friends a long time, been part of international teams together in the past and now we’re even Calder Valley club mates. So I was so happy for him to stand at the top of the podium and see him back at his best. One of the nicest and most modest guys you’ll ever meet’

Gold and silver for CVFR’s Osborne and Mounsey

Elsewhere, CV’s Ben Cliff came 5th MV40 in the Holcombe Mountain duathalon.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

Mounsey is a blue streak while Carole Fryer continues her’s

A handful of the club’s more serious runners were focused on Sunday’s Illam Park Fell Race – a challenging Category A fell race in beautiful White Peak countryside (with all profits going to local charities). This race was also the final counter for the English Championship and saw 150 of the country’s best fell runners taking on the 7.2-km route, with its 450m of ascent.

CVFR’s Daren Kay and Gavin Mullhound were the first red & white hoops home – crossing the line only three seconds apart (in 38:40 and 38:43 respectively) to finish 1st and 2nd M45 (23rd and 24th overall). Third M45 home was another red & white runner – Karl Grey – finishing just behind his team mates in 38:59 (26th overall). There were also strong runs from Alex Whittam (30th overall, 21st in the men’s senior age category), Martin Howard (35th overall and 3rd under 23) and Mark Burton (51st overall, 7th M45). With this result, Calder Valley’s Martin Howard crowned off a fantastic season by securing an impressive 3rd place in the men’s U23s in the English Championships.

Mark Burton at Illam – credit Stephen Wilson

This Sunday was also the date for the Utterly Butterly fell race at Marsden – an unusual fell race with a scenic route that takes in five reservoirs in five miles (with 850ft of ascent).

In the men’s race, Darren Earnshaw was the CVFR runner over the line, finishing 13th of 92 runners & 4th in the MV40 age category in 38.56. He was closely followed by Rob Rawlinson (15th overall & 5th MV40 in 38:57) with Jon Underwood also running well to finish 20th overall in 39:35.

In the ladies’ race, Carole Fryer ran a brilliant race to finish 8th overall & first in the FV50 category in 44:54. Fryer described as how this unusual fell race  – comprising of one third track, one third paved footpaths and one third grassy/gravelly footpaths  – is particularly ‘good for those new to fell running’, and typically quite ‘runable after the initial climb’. However, in the somewhat inclement conditions on Sunday, it was not as sstraight forward as in previous years – not least given the number of flagstones, which are notoriously slippery when wet. Nonetheless, Fryer reports that she is convinced it is all ‘well worth it for the tea & gorgeous cake at the presentation’.

This weekend also marked Stuart Russell’s Bob Graham Round attempt – a 66-mile, 27,000-ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lake District, which needs to be completed within 24 hours to qualify as a success. Russell finished his successful round in an impressive 23h13, commenting how he ‘got lucky’ with the weather – setting off on Friday night at 10pm in beautiful conditions, although winds did pick up later.

Stuart Russell’ss BGR

By mile 60 & the final summit, Russell was reduced, rather unsurprisingly, to observing to his support team (John Allan, Helen & Kirsty) that the challenge was “just really hard!” However, having been ‘force fed with the secret weapon of mango’ in leg 4, he could keep going – and so credits his success to his support team, who kept him going throughout to become the 4th CVFR club member to successful finish the incredibly tough BG challenge this year. 

Stuart Russell’ss BGR


Further afield Scotland hosted events which saw two of CVFR’s elite runners back running again. Ben Mounsey raced in Kinlochleven at the Salomon Skyline Scotland races, taking 1st place in the 3 Mealls Trail Race. Mounsey described how this ‘very tough’ technical 18-km trail race, with its over 700m of total ascent and a high point of 560m in an astounding 1:35:08 – was a real challenge.

Ben Mounsey – credit Pete Aylward

Nonetheless, it was one he more than rose to, finishing over ten minutes before the rest of field of the 150 athletes. Mounsey is now on his way to Italy to compete in the World Masters 2019 this coming week.

Ben Mouney finishing his race – credit Pete Aylward


For the elite ladies, this Saturday (21st September) saw Calder Valley’s Holly Page competing at the Ring of Steal Sky Race – the last round of the Golden Trail World Series – a race within the Mamores that takes in a series of majestic Munros (Scottish Mountains over 3,000ft / 914m) and four summits.

Page considered not taking part in this 29km (2,500m of ascent) race at one point, as having been plagued with injuries this season, she thought it would be ‘nigh impossible to qualify for the top 10 and a trip to Nepal’. However, the Scottish hills in the sunshine worked their charm, and Page felt good right at the start. She was in second from the get-go, although the previous week’s longer mountain runs began to take their toll and towards the end – out of gels and water, she was willing herself forward.

On the last downhill, Page was unfortunate to fall in a bog – smashing her leg on a rock so badly she needed several stiches. Nonetheless, she still placed second lady – in a respectable 3:54:18 – and in so doing, qualified for the Grand Final of the Golden Trail World Series. In typical Page style, having tied for 10th place with another runner – and won thanks to the ‘higher position’ rule – she has invited the latter to join her at her guest in the Himalayans.

Holly Page – official race photo


Closer to home, this Saturday, 21st September also saw club chairman, Bill Johnson, take on the Lantern Pike fell race from Hayfield  – the fell race with the oldest record in the country (Ricky Wilde set the record in 1977 and no-one has come close to it since.) Johnson ran exceptionally well in the unseasonal heat in what was his first fell race in 12 months – having recently focused on multi-day events and torn a tendon last January. Despite feeling he ‘probably set off a bit too fast’ & consequently was almost ‘sick with effort’ by the turnaround point, Johnson still finished an impressive 17th out of 107 runners. The race was won by former English champion Lloyd Taggart.

And finally – much close to home – a number of club members took part in the Cragg Vale 15 races on Sunday 22nd – up and down the B6138 – famous for being the longest continuous gradient in England. This year, the traditional races over 10 miles, 10km and 5km were complimented by the new 1-mile dash and whilst results are yet to be published, CVFR’s Elliot Corner ran well in the 10-mile Cragg Challenge to clock in an impressive average speed of 6 minutes 50 seconds over the course. For the juniors, the trio of Lennon Wilson, Fred Slater and Cory Stewart ran exceptionally strongly to all finish the 10km race in sub-27 minutes (considerably faster than the average time for the course in 2018).  

Lennon Wilson & Fred Slater

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones