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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The Welsh Wizard Breaks Paddy Buckley Record

In these difficult times, Calder Valley’s fell running stars have provided light for us mere mortals. One such star shone exceptionally bright on Saturday night, when Math Roberts took on and smashed the record of one of the UK’s top fell running challenges, The Paddy Buckley Round. Also known as the “Welsh Classical Round”, the route is a circuit of just over 100km long taking in some 47 summits and 28,000 feet of climb! The Round has the reputation of being somewhat tougher to complete than its English Lake District equivalent, the Bob Graham Round.

Math Roberts, the new Paddy Buckley record holder, with members of his support team Andrew Schofield from Borrowdale FR and Gavin Roberts from Eryri Harriers.

Math Roberts has run himself into the record books, to become the new Paddy Buckley record holder in a time of 16 hours and 37 minutes. An incredible achievement, probably made even sweeter being on home soil. This was a record previously held by international fell runner, Damian Hall in July 2019, who ran 17:31.

Math Roberts on the Paddy Buckley Round.

Karl Gray, another Calder Valley legend helped support Math, on a couple of legs said:
‘He set off on a 17.16 schedule at 4am. Perfect conditions throughout. Clear and cool temp. He was up on schedule by 18mins after leg 2 and 33 mins up after leg 3. He made more time up on leg 4 but understandably slowed a bit on the last leg! All his support were amazing and they never put a foot wrong!

Math Roberts, smashing the Paddy Buckley record.

– CALDER VALLEY NEWS REPORTER: Eileen McDonach, with thanks to Thirza Hyde and Karl Gray for photos, quotes and information

Holly’s got the call

CVFR’s highlights this week include the GB Selection, local Hoofstones race and junior cross country events, which saw great performances from a number of our juniors all competing for their schools.

Mark O’Connor, Hoofstones winner 2018 (photo courtesy of Mick Fryer)

Hoofstones is an 8 mile navigational challenge in and around the highest point around Todmorden and gets its name from Hoofstones Heights Trig Point. It’s very hard going on the final climb to Hoofstones which is then followed by a tough cut across the moor with deep heather and tussocks for about 1 mile. With a route choice from checkpoint 1 – 4, runners must take decisive action on the route that will give them their quickest time possible, a tactic that worked well for first time winner, Calder Valley’s Mark O’Connor. He, along with team mates Lee Shimwell and Richard Ingram, also claimed the men’s prize.

A proud Mark said: “I didn’t know much about the Hoofstones fell race other than it was organised by a friend, Dan Taylor and is a local race, so I was keen to support it. At the start of the week before the race I knew that it was game on so I did a midweek reccie on the navigation part which ultimately played a big part to my success on the day.

My plan was to make my mark early on, on the better running terrain which was easier said than done!  On race day I set off quick and didn’t look back until the first 1000ft of climb . To my own surprise my legs felt great and there was no one in sight behind me so I concentrated on a good but sustainable pace. I had a little wobble on the navigation across the moor but then back on the track for the final descent I was able to ease off the pace and cruise over the line with a 5 minute lead for my first fell race win.

It’s a great feeling and even more so to share the team prize with my fellow Calder Valley team mates Lee Shimwell and Richard Ingram. I’d highly recommend this race for 2019 it has a great mix of terrain and options“

Annie Roberts of Tod Harriers was first woman home.

On the international stage, Calder Valley’s Holly Page has been selected as 1 of the 12 athletes to represent Britain at the World Trail Championships in Spain later this year. A fantastic achievement, all eyes will be on Holly as she runs the 50 mile course in the Spanish region of Penyagolosa on 12 May this year.

Holly Page makes the GB Team 2018

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gill Dickson

FRA Presentation Dinner

Calder Valleys mini beasts, Karl Gray and Gavin Mulholland were on parade at the weekend, smeared in matching red and white Butlin’s red coats, to collect their National awards for jointly winning the English Championships vet 40 title, with Mulholland winning the vet 45 trophy and the Earl finishing 2nd.

Calder Valley Red Coats. (From the back left) Ben Mounsey, Mark Taylor, Daz Kay, Steven Edwards, Gavin Mulholland, Karl Gray & Andy Swift

Aged 48 and 46, both were still able to compete at the sharp end all season with Karl coming 2nd in the brutal long race at Wasdale. Their form extended to the international scene with Karl representing GB for the 2nd year in a row, and Gavin leading the Northern Ireland squad in an attempt to feel like an international as well. The lads were also accompanied by the rest of the team to collect their team awards also. The vets team on the night included Mark Taylor (bofra v45 champ), Darren Kay and Endurance specialist Stephen Edwards , who were there to collect their medals for finishing first vet team in the English champs, and 2nd in the British champs. The open team who came 3rd in the English were also represented by yorkshires finest, Ben Mounsey and Andy Swift.

Karl the legend summed up the evening saying “it gets harder every year considering my age and the standards of competition at each race. We had many an epic battle and I will be training hard over the Winter to be ready for the 2018 season. There is a lot of talent in the valley considering our team as well as Tod Harriers vets, with their success in the Brits also”.

Both clubs partied hard into the early hours. Mulholland was seen leaving the hotel watching excerpts from the six  million dollar man, to psyche himself up for next year.

In other news Richard, I like long runs, Pattinson decided to show how good a super vet he is at the tour of Pendle, coming first in his age category, v50. Other runners included Darren Earnshaw completing the course for once, Calvin Ferguson, John Allan, Simon Bourne, Ian Symington, and Helen Buchan for the ladies.

Luke Melschko decided to go chase bikers at the harriers vs cyclists event held by bingley harriers.

– Calder Valley News Reporter: Gavin Mulholland