Easter Eggstravaganza

­­Calder Valley Fell Runners – 18 April 2022

A record-breaking mid-week for the red and white hoops

On Tuesday, 12th April, Calder Valley’s Karl Gray and Math Roberts took to the Welsh hills for Eryri Harriers’ Foel Lus fell race at ‘Fairy Glen’ in Dwygyfylchi, near Penmaenmawr. Part of the mid-week series, this A/S category race boasts a good mixture of terrain with some fast track/trail descents, including and some tricky technical sections. Starting in the picturesque village of Capelulo nestled in the hills, runners battle it out over the 3.2-mile (5.1km) course, with just shy of 900ft (273m) of ascent – most of which is concentrated in the lung-busting, incredibly steep first mile.

International and Eryi Harriers’ runner Tom Wood won the race comfortably in 22:05, an impressive feat given he was racing on tired legs. Calder Valley’s Math Roberts came in third and first MV40, finishing only 10 seconds behind second-placed runner, his cousin, Merionydd’s Rhodri Owen. Clocking up a finish time of only 22:52 – Roberts also established a new MV40 record time for the course. This impressive feat was subsequently repeated in the MV50 category, when CVFR team-mate Karl Gray crossed the line in fifth place overall, taking first place in the MV50 race and also setting a new record for this age category (23:25).

A day later, and in England this time, Darren Kay flew the flag for CVFR at the Loughrigg Fell Race in Ambleside. Being on home turf clearly gave the advantage, with Ambleside taking all three podium places. Kay ran a strong and consistent race over the four miles (6.4km) – complete with its 1080ft (330m) of climb – finishing an impressive 6th overall in 28:45. With this excellent result, Kay also took first MV50 (over 40 places ahead of the second placed MV50 runner). Only ten seconds separated 4th, 5th and 6th placed finishers, and Kay’s result saw him cross the line only two places behind 4th place (and first MV40) veteran fell-racing legend Rob Jebb.

Fell runner

Darren Kay at Loughrigg Fell Race


Easter weekend

Easter Saturday saw two CVFR runners – George Kettlewell and U17 racer Charlie Pickens – competing in the Horwich Harriers’ Rivington Pike fell race at Horwich near Bolton. This short 3.3-mile (5.2km) course, with its 8000ft of climb really packs a punch. Runners race up to the iconic pike and down again, over a real mix of terrain, including about half a mile of road.

George Kettlewell at Rivington Pike with his grandpa and girlfriend

Such were the weather conditions, that the route was unusually dry and infinitely runnable, causing some racers to even ditch traditional trail and fell shoes in favour of the more comfortable (but usually completely unsuitable) road shoes.

Pickens ran a storming race to finish an amazing 19th overall and 5th in the U17 race in just under 20 minutes and 30 seconds. Fellow red and white striped relatively new fell runner, Kettlewell, was ‘chuffed’ to see his racing tactics evolve and improve with experience. He finished the race in his desired sub-25-minute time, crossing the line in 23:46 – taking a respectable 62nd place overall, and seeing him finish in the first 20 senior runners.

Also on Saturday, 16th April, but much further from home, Valley runners from both CVFR Fell and Todmorden Harriers were among the 167 runners to take on 50km and 8000ft of climb that is the Manx mountain marathon. Calder Valley’s Jackie Scarf described the MMM event as ‘tough’ but ‘good fun’ and how, despite being in the clouds most of the day, it offered a real ‘chance to explore the island’. Scarf finished 104th overall and an amazing second in the FV50 age category, finishing the punishing route in just over eight hours. Teammate and MV50 runner, Jon Underwood, crossed the line 79th overall and in the top 20 MV50 runners, in only 7:39:09.

Jackie Scarf at the Manx Marathon

Fell racing doesn’t even stop for Easter Sunday … and red and white hooped runner, Mark Burton, took on the 9.6-mile (15.4-km) Kinder Downfall fell race with its 1969ft (600m) of climb. The day offered perfect conditions for this classic race – clear and sunny, with a nice cool breeze on the tops.

Mark Burton at Kindle Downfall. Photo courtesy of Steve Taylor

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Pendle Hills, Bingley Bikes and Calder Trophies

Calder Valley Fell Runners – 22nd November 2021

Two major events and a prize giving dinner dominated the fell racing calendar last weekend: The punishing route that is the Tour of Pendle, the infamous Harriers vs. Cyclists and the BOFRA (British Open Fell Runners’ Association) Presentation Dinner 2021.

Bingley’s Harriers vs. Cyclists is a great – if somewhat crazy – event, steeped in history. This race sees fell runners take on cyclists on the same course. Runners watch cyclists whizz past them on the flats, & then overtake them on the ascent on the fells. Then the descent off the moor is something of a free-for-all, with spills aplenty – for the film aficionados, Calder Valley’s George Kettlewell describes it as something akin to the Raptor chase scene from Jurassic Park 3G.

For the 2021 race, 167 competitors lined up on the start line on two feet or two wheels to take on the 8.3km (5.3-mile) course, complete with its 288m/945ft of climb. Ilkey Harriers runners won first & second place in the men’s race – a bare half a minute slower than the course record set by famous fell runner Robb Jeb in 2018. This year, the first cyclist had to be content with third place, although the top 20 places were equally divided between runners & cyclists.

Victoria Peel of Hope Factory Racing was the first female over the line, in 35th place overall, winning the women’s race on a bike. Peel fared much better than one of her teammates who snapped his bike clean in two on the way down off the moor!

First over the line for CVFR was Mark Wharton, who decided against competing in the Tour of Pendle at the last minute & opted to go to Bingley instead. Wharton ran a cracking race, finishing the punishing route in 46:49 to take 62nd overall and third in the MV50 category. Reflecting back on a ‘brilliant’ race, which Wharton describes as ‘a proper fell race with the added jeopardy of a load of cyclocross riders careering through’, he highlighted how ‘brutal’ the ‘45-degree uphill start’ & the front-loaded nature of the ascent was, but how this allows for some ‘crazy descents’ on the return.

Mark Wharton Climbing Baildon Moor – photo courtesy of Dave Woodhead

Wharton’s ‘tactic’ was to ‘go all out on the climbs’, hoping to stay in front of the cyclists who typically end up carrying their bikes on the descents (& some on the tricky technical parts of the ascent too). This paid dividends, & he was delighted to survive the descent & finish third MV50, ‘but more importantly’ to also ‘beat about half of the cyclists’, which is what the race is about, after all!

Two further runners donned their red & white stripes in Bingley. Next over the line was George Kettlewell, who despite describing it as ‘a tough day out’, still found the juice to race the nearest runner all the way, edging him out, to finish a respectable 76th in 48:45. Third CVFR over the line was MV60 runner Steven Cavell, who ran strongly to finish second in his age category in 1:08:11.

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Cakes, BG and a whole lot more

Cake Race

Holly Page came in fourth overall in a strong field and was the first woman home completing the race in a time of 1hr 9mins. The Cake Race, organised by Saddleworth Runners, is a 10 mile blast over the rugged Saddleworth terrain taking in Marsden Moor along the way. Despite spending most of the race working out how to pass other runners on the narrow paths as the ‘wave’ format meant there were 160
plus runners ahead of her at the start, Holly really got her race legs moving and toppled the ladies course record which had stood for 15 years. Traditionally, the Cake Race is
accompanied by a ‘bake off’ at the end but current restrictions prevented this and
competitors had to tuck into the array of baked goods provided by the race organisers
instead. Another record and stunning run by Holly showing once again that women are
increasingly competing on equal terms with men on the fells.

Bob Graham Round

Another weekend and another Calder Valley member taking on a tough
endurance run. The Bob Graham Round is one of the three classic fell running ‘Rounds’ with members of the Bob Graham Club limited to anyone who can complete the classic round within 24 hours. Paul Haigh trained for 6 months for his Bob Graham attempt. Supported by a brilliant crew of runners and a food and drink team, he set off in near perfect conditions completing his round in an extraordinary 20 hours and 10 minutes qualifying for membership of the exclusive club. Paul’s BG is dedicated to a young woman, Phoebe, and he and his team did her memory proud completing the 66 miles, 42 peaks and 27,000 ft of climbing well within the 24-hour target set for the Bob Graham. Paul’s support team really pushed the envelope as they paced him over the Round. A great achievement and part of the brilliant club spirit at CVFR.

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It’s a “PB” for the Legend

Another day to log in the history of Calder Valley Fell Runners as the legend Karl
Gray set the second fastest Paddy Buckley time. In doing so he made it a CVFR 1st
and 2nd in the all time list with teammate Math Roberts holding the fastest time.

The Paddy Buckley Round, also known as the “Welsh Classical Round” is a long
distance fell running challenge in Snowdonia in Wales. The route is a circuit of just
over 100km long taking in some 47 summits. It has the reputation of being
somewhat tough with very varied and hard terrain to encounter. Karl started his
challenge in Llanberis at 4am on Sunday morning in near perfect weather conditions.

The going was good with fairly dry conditions underfoot after last week’s settled
weather. Moving well at his own pace he tackled The Glyders and then onto the very
rocky and steep Tryfan mountain. Losing a little bit of time on his schedule he was
soon on his way from Lyn Ogwen to Capel Curig and held a consistent pace over
Moelywyns to Betsw y Coed. A master at pacing he picked up time on the next
grassier section to the bottom of the ranger path before tackling the highest summit
Snowdon. With lots of climbing still to do and darkness setting in on this last tough
leg he was only 10 minutes behind schedule. Karl tackled Moel Eilio and had a
strong run back to Llanberis to completed his PB in a time of 17 hours 28

– CALDER VALLEY NEWS REPORTER: THIRZA HYDE. With thanks to lee Shimwell for photos and information