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).
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.
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’.