Mournes and “Mixed” success

Calder Valley Fell Runners took a strong team across the Irish sea for the club’s perennial pilgramage to the Mourne Mountains, which has been the destination for the Irish part of the annual British Fell Running championships in recent years.  This year’s race was the very tough Slieve Bearnagh race in the stunning Mournes, a severely undulating race with 2,700 feet of climbing in less than five miles, featuring the ascents of Slieve Meelbeg, Slieve Bearnagh and Meelmore.

As in previous years there were great team successes as well as some notable individual performances from the Calder club.  Karl Gray continues to improve from the very high standards he has set in recent years with yet another top ten in a major race, this time in sixth.

But the performance of the day was surely from Calder’s Gavin Mulholland who really broke into the big league with a marvellous 11th place, just seconds ahead of club captain Ben Mounsey in 12th.  With Calder’s Tim Ellis and James Logue in 25th and 26th place only the Borrowdale fell running machine was able to outstrip Calder Valley with the Calder men finishing second team.  In the individual men’s race recent Three Peaks winner Joe Symonds led the way, just seconds ahead of Bingley Harrier’s Rob Jebb, who then went on to win the Fred Whitton bike race a day later in the Lake District!  Borrowdale’s Morgan Donnelly was third as Borrowdale scooped both the men’s and Veteran Men’s first team prizes.  Dark Peak were second Veteran Men’s team, just edging Calder’s Vets into third.  Gary Travis also had a great run, to edge past Mark Goldie in the last few yards of the raceto claim the last place in the Veteran’s team alongside Gray, Mulholland and Logue. Gary’s son Bradley Travis ran well for the Calder team, especially considering the severity of the terrain, with Trevor Murgatroyd the final Calder man to finish. Oh and Fleeter had a cracking run n’all!

Living mountain running legend Angela Mudge was not to be defeated, the terrain really suiting the seasoned campaigner, but Women’s captain Helen Fines had a great run to finish second, descending like a demented demon.  Northern Ireland’s Ciara Largey was third.  With Linda’s Crabtree and Murgatroyd running well, Calder ladies were fifth team.

The annual Calderdale Way Relay used to a be winter fixture and one of the biggest off-road running days in Britain, but the move to the summer means that it is now a lower priority for many of fell running’s top performers and a reduced number of teams and runners battled it out on Sunday than in previous years.  Wharfedale Harriers were winners of the competition for the first time, an indicator of their burgeoning status, with Holmfirth equally dominant as first Ladies team.  With many of Calder’s first choice men in Ireland, Calder Valley concentrated on fielding a strong ‘Mixed’ team and a fantastic run from Jason Westwood and Andy Thorpe on the last leg helped the team cross the line in first place [Mixed Team runners: Alex Whittem & Graham Brown, Sally Newman & Naomi Sharratt, Jo Stevens & Jackie Scarf, Tim Black & Adam Breaks, Trudi Entwistle & Carole Fryer, Jason Westwood & Andy Thorpe]

Gray and Waites win at Ovenden

A record turnout of 193 runners assembled at Ogden Reservoir for the annual running of the Ovenden Fell Race, one of the first races of the year and a good chance to burn off some of the Christmas excesses. This eight mile race follows the track alongside the golf course, before turning on to the moor towards Oxenhope. After a quick tour of the moor, runners retrace their steps back to the track for a fast downhill finish. With a strong wind and in very wet and muddy underfoot conditions the course record set by current English champion Lloyd Taggart was never going to be challenged, but it didn’t stop Calder Valley’s Karl Gray from winning the race with a comfortable margin of victory in 57 minutes or so. Equally impressive was the winner of the women’s race Jo Waites, who, like club mate Gray, is also a V40. It was great to see Waites back racing in a ‘proper’ fell race again after frustrating injuries have kept the Blackshaw Head based teacher away from the fells for some time.
Pudsey and Bramley pair Colin Walker and a remarkable run from 49 year old Paul Stephenson saw them just beat Calder’s Alex Whittem into the podium positions, with Darren Holloway of Pennine continuing in the form that has seen him finish highly in races all last year, in fifth. Wharfedale Harriers went home with the team prizes, but only because one of the Calder runners was accidentally registered as ‘unattached’. In the ladies race, a very strong Calder ladies contingent won the team prizes with women’s club captain Helen Fines, a minute or so behind Waites, with Anne Johnson in fourth. Lynne Clough of Chorley was third.

Tour of Pendle Completes 2011 Club Championships

photo by Hannah Dobson

Calder Valley Fell Runners were out in force on Saturday at the Full Tour of Pendle Fell Race in Barley, Lancashire as the race was the final counter in the club’s annual championships. With a few categories still to be resolved, there were a number of runners in the hunt for silverware. The men’s club championship had already been won by Ben Mounsey, so attention turned to the ladies and it was Joanna Stevens who prevailed, claiming a well deserved first championship title. There was a double success in the Stevens household with Jo’s husband Jason winning the Vet 40s category, a title claimed by Linda Hayles in the lady vets. Mike Wardle ran out as Men’s V50 championship winner, but Rob Dobson who was poised to win the handicap championship could see Mark Wharton wrestle that trophy out of his hands if Mark ran well enough, final calculations still pending. Other prize winners confirmed on the day were Kevin Hoult and Anne Johnson, who picked up the ‘Long Race King and Queen’ trophies.

The Tour of Pendle is the last long fell race of the fell running calendar and has been run in horizontal hail and sleet in recent years, so runners were happy to only have to contend with the race’s seventeen miles and nearly 5000 feet of ups and downs in unseasonal sunshine. Detractors of this classic race complain that the race is ‘contrived’ as it criss-crosses Pendle summit and runners find themselves visiting parts of the course twice, but this has its advantages for spectators and supporters, like Helen Lambert and Hannah Dobson, who plied their club mates with water and jelly babies and plenty of encouragement. Also, on a day as good as Saturday, it’s a privilege to be able to see the hill from all angles, even if it doesn’t feel like it on the fourth climb up to the summit.  What is certain is that the race continues to be one of the biggest pulls of the racing calendar, with a record number of 380 competitors racing on Saturday.

Calder’s James Logue, who won the race last year, was tracked by the in-form Carl Bell of Howgill Harriers for much of the route, with the conditions too good for Logue to be able to find a covert line that Bell wasn’t able to follow. With the end in sight, Bell made the decisive move, with Logue finishing in a superb second place. Third was Andy Brown from host club Clayton-le-Moors, who is also becoming a regular podium finisher in local races. Jason Stevens enjoyed the day in the sun and ran in second Calder counter in tenth place. Calder’s Tim Black, Kevin Hoult and Steve Smithies all finished in the top fifty.

Like Carl Bell, Lindsey Brindle of Horwich is another runner who has really hit the heights this year and she posted one of the quickest tours ever run and finished a full fifteen minutes clear of Calder’s Anne Johnson, who was first veteran. Renee Saxton of Otley was third.

No results are currently available but they should be published at this link first:

Photo (of wife and mate's bird!) courtesy of Andy Holden (Wharefeego)