A golden year

A gap in the racing calendar allowed fell running’s great and good to gather at the FRA annual presentation at The Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere, hosted by Ambleside AC.

Men's English and British Gold 2015

Men’s English and British Gold 2015

SHIRTS FRA Presentation 2015Calder Valley’s glitterati were out in force as the club’s men celebrated in style, picking up trophies for a clean sweep of the national 2015 FRA team titles.

An amazing year has shown that the club’s strength in depth is second to none.

CVFR were recognised for their magnificent achievement of winning gold medals in both the English and British Championship, with further gold in the English Vets and British Vets Championship.

This was the result of around 10 runners each contributing in some way in a multitude of counting races across the UK’s hills and mountains.

The women won bronze team medals in the English vets championship.

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

Ladies Team, English Championship Medals 2015

There were also individual successes to celebrate.  Karl Gray won joint-gold in the English V45 championship and Bronze V40, Gavin Mulholland won bronze in the British vets and Sally Newman won gold in the English FV50 and silver V45.

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

Gavin Mulholland & Karl Grey

The Tour of Pendle

A hardy group of Calder Valley Fell Runners struggled across flooded Pennine Valleys to Lancashire on the 14th November, to take on the daunting Tour of Pendle, an early winter classic that packs in a mighty 5000 feet of climbing over 17 painful miles that criss-cross Pendle Hill with several immense ascents.

400 runners arrived at Barley Village Hall to the news that famous course was to be shortened by 3 miles to avoid the risk of exposing marshals to long periods of potentially dangerous weather. In practice this meant missing out the last two torturous climbs of Pendle Hill, reducing the course to 14 miles and 2700 feet of ascent.

The race began as usual with first big climb from Barley to Check Point 1, at Pendle Hill’s summit cairn. There followed the enjoyable descent over open moor and into a valley following a fast flowing stream to

Check Point 2, before a sharp drop to Churn Clough reservoir and a relative rest as runners ran along the access track by the water to Check Point 3.

By this time the race had settled down, with the leaders off ahead and a long column behind, containing most of the Calder Valley mid-pack runners.

The leg to Check Point 4 was a short but nasty climb up a steep sodden hillside covered in bracken and peat making for inefficient motion. This big effort was immediately rewarded by the massive, adrenalin-inducing descent to Ogden Clough. The kamikaze-style running that typifies this section of the race has led to the infamous descent being branded ‘Geronimo’. This seemed about right, as many runners resorted to slithering down on their backsides at great speed to Check Point 4 in the valley bottom.

The race then turned sharply through a water crossing, to follow a stream for a few hundred yards before climbing sharply to Check Point 5, only to turn 90′ and drop back to Ashendean Clough, and the foot of the last big climb on the shortened route, back to the top of Pendle Hill (again!) where the race dropped rapidly, back to Ogden Clough for a relatively easy half mile downhill to the road, where the Calder Valley contingent put in a 1 mile sprint finish to arrive back in Barley.

Pudsey & Bramley’s Rob Hope was first home followed by Chris Holdsworth of Clayton Le Moor in second, just ahead of Bingley’s living legend, Ian Holmes. Calder Valley’s A team were noticeable in their absence, which gave Kevin Hoult the honour of being the first Calder runner over the line in 2.05.24, in 36th place overall.

Ladies Captain Helen Buchan was having the race of her life until the sole came off her fell shoes. She still limped home to finish but was obviously disappointed. That’s fell running for you  … you just never know whats round the corner.

Pendle results:-

36 Kevin Hoult 485 M40 02:05:24
53 Ian Symington 118 M 02:10:01
78 Bill Johnson 477 M50 02:15:55
101 Mark Wharton 247 M50 02:19:16
191 Helen Buchan 164 W 02:32:40
215 Michael Wardle 152 M55 02:36:12
254 Mike Dean 23 M50 02:42:22
325 Linda Murgatroyd 290 W45 02:52:03
350 Craig Hall 445 M 02:58:28
357 Dave Culpan 180 M50 02:59:08
383 Philip Jones 463 M55 03:05:01
390 Rod Sutcliffe 206 M60 03:11:46
393 Daniel Biggs 70 M 03:14:22


Awarded for the best season ever …

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

winners of the Amateur Male Team of the Year, Calder Valley Fell Runners Mens over 40s and Senior Team, Shaun Godsman, James Logue, Ben Mounsey and Karl Gray with Halifax Courier Sports Editor Ian Rushworth.

Calder Valley had a stellar 12 months on the fells so it was no surprise that they were nominated in a few categories at the recent Halifax Courier Sports Awards. They were nominated and went on to win the Amateur Team of The Year prize. This was jointly awarded for both the seniors and V40s men after their best season ever by mopping up English and British team titles before adding the British Relay Crown recently.. This was followed by Ben Mounsey being voted the Amateur Male Sports Person of the Year much to his surprise!!! Ben has stepped up a level in his sport this year being honoured with both English and Great British vests and he was GBs top runner at an event in Italy recently. He revealed the secret of his success to the audience – a 70 mile per week training schedule. Co host Pete Emmet had the audience laughing when he said that was a far as he did in his car!!!

Here’s what Ben had to say  …

A couple of weeks ago I’d been contacted by our local newspaper, The Halifax Evening Courier, to tell me that I’d been shortlisted for ‘Amateur Sportsman of the Year’ at the annual Calderdale Sports Awards. Obviously I was both extremely flattered and excited about attending the event. What made the news even sweeter was that my good friend and training partner, Karl Gray, had also been shortlisted. In addition to this both the Calder Valley Open and V40 teams were in the running for ‘Best Amateur Sports Team 2015’.

Karl was crowned the World Mountain Running V45 champion in September, capping yet another fantastic season and cementing his name at the top of the Calder Valley ‘Legends’ list. I’d like to think I’m close to climbing up to those dizzy heights myself but I’ve still a way to go before I match Karl’s great achievements over the last decade.

The club nomination for ‘Best Team’ was no great surprise to me, both the Open and V40’s were crowned English and British fell running champions a couple of months ago and of course we managed the ‘Grand Slam’ by also winning the British Fell Relays last month at Pendle. A fine season indeed. I was hopeful of us walking away with at least one trophy at the awards ceremony.

The presentation was once again held at The Venue, Greetland and as ever it was a well organised affair. Huge thanks to both the Evening Courier and all the sponsors for organising and funding the event. I also need to praise all of the hard work and genius that goes into writing the sports reports. Jim Mosley, Tim Brooks, Steve Grimley (CVFR) and of course Ian Rushworth (Sports Editor at the Courier) and his team. I think it’s fantastic that Calderdale’s finest sports stars are recognised for all their hard work and commitment.

Martin Howard (Calder Valley Junior Fell Runner) was also nominated so Kudos to him for a great season, one to watch in the future I’m sure.

What did cross my mind was that if the top female award had gone to a runner then perhaps it would lessen the chances of a male equivalant doing the same. At least we were up for the team prize I thought. Also strange to think that our Calder Valley Open team were competing against the vets too, I suppose it doubled our chances of winning!

Team trophyWhen they announced the nominees for ‘Best Team’ I was really nervous, I realised then how much I wanted us to win. I joined Calder Valley about 8 years ago and during this time I’ve seen the club grow in stature and watched the men’s team slowly transform into the best team in Britain. I’d like to think I’ve played a significant role in making this happen. I remember running for Stainland Lions in 2006 at Thieveley Pike when it was an English Championship counter that year. It was my first champs race and I came 10th, beating Karl who was competing for Calder Valley. After the race he and Jo Waites both asked me to join the club. Karl is one of my fell running heroes so naturally the thought of racing in the same team as him was very appealing. I laid my cards on the table and negotiated a contract that was to massively change the fortunes of both great clubs. I agreed to join Calder Valley in a record breaking deal…2 pints of Guinness and a packet of Big D peanuts. Sky Sports got hold of the news and it was all over the telly for a couple of weeks, I’m pretty sure most of you reading this will remember it well, ground breaking stuff 😉 Also as part of the deal both Jo and Karl signed 2nd claim for Stainland and the rest as they say is history! Stainland Lions began smashing the local Cross Country league and Calder Valley went from strength to strength as many others at Stainland followed my lead. Since then the club have signed Gav ‘Mad Legs’ Mulholland, Shaun ‘Lardy Lancs Lad’ Godsman, Alex ‘The Flying Postman’ Whittem, James ‘Logie Bear’ Logue, Tim ‘Timbo Baggins’ Ellis, Richard ‘Ironman’ Pattinson, Math ‘The Welsh Whizzard’ Roberts, Jason ‘Benjamin Button’ Williams and Daz ‘Special K’ Kay, to name but a few! Success breeds success. As well as being team mates we’re also great mates so I wanted to win the team award just as much as the individual.

When they announced the winner I was chuffed to bits…Calder Valley Open….AND V40 team! We’d all been honoured! A brilliant decision and one that celebrates our 10 year journey of becoming the best in the country.

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

A very happy Ben with his award (photo courtesy of Halifax Courier)

Bens Trophy

Shortly after we returned to our seats it was straight onto the main award for the night…’Amateur Sportsman of the Year 2015’. They announced the four nominees, including Karl and then me. I genuinely would have been happy if either of us had won, I honestly believe we’ve both earned it this year.

There was a long pause as the sponsor announcing the award fumbled with the envelope. At first I didn’t recognise the winner, his name wasn’t familiar. In fact I couldn’t even remember him being announced as a nominee. Then I realised it was me! The guy reading my name was obviously a ‘back page courier virgin’ because he couldn’t even vaguely pronounce ‘Mounsey’ . Still I didn’t care as I walked up to the stage because I was proud as punch.

For me this award represents the 2,700 miles, the 395 hours and the 380,000 ft of climbing that I’ve done so far this year. I’ve trained hard, raced hard and earnt every bit of success that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. It’s not come easy and I’ve not taken my fitness for granted. So when I say it’s one of the finest achievements of my career I really mean it.

Scarf’s win OMM while Mounsey’s Class in Italy #TeamGB

Jackie & Phil Scarf, Cragg Vale’s formidable adventure racing couple, added the prestigious OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) prize to their bulging trophy cabinet at the weekend. The duo won the mixed prize on the ‘Long Score’, which consists of two days of running [7 + 6 hours] while trying to visit as many controls as possible.

Jackie and Phil Scarf the OMM 2015

Jackie and Phil Scarf the OMM 2015

The event was held in the beautiful Tweedsmuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, where the terrain consisted of steep grassy slopes with swathes of heather, plus the usual imponderable of the Scottish weather.

While there is a kit list to adhere to everything has to be as light as possible: this means sleeping on bubblewrap, eating dehydrated food and eschewing all suggestion of luxury.

Whereas in the BBC’s Apprentice, the sleepy candidates are woken by Alan Sugar’s early morning phone call, the protagonists in the OMM were woken by a lone bagpiper, shattering the Caledonian calm. He was swiftly followed by a booming loud haler to signify there was an hour to the first starts. A drone camera hovered overhead filming the apprehension below, capturing all the head torches switching on in tents and the frantic gathering in of camping equipment – quite surreal according to Jackie. However, there was no fear of boardroom reprisals for Team Scarfe as they comfortably won the task in hand, and they remain one of the country’s finest pairings at this elite level.

Friday wouldn’t be Friday without a mention of Ben Mounsey. It didn’t seem possible but he has gone one better and somehow seems to be getting faster. Due to the merit of his brilliant run at Snowdon recently, he was selected to represent Great Britain at the Trofeo Vanoni relay in Morbegno, Italy.

Ben Mounsey 2nd in Italy #TeamGB

Ben Mounsey 2nd in Italy #TeamGB

Ben was selected to team up with established stars Rob Hope and Tom Adams. The race is a prestigious 3 lap relay which climbs steeply up almost 2000ft above the town before a madcap descent back to the finish. France, GB and some of the Italian teams began as favourites. Each member does a leg each before handing over to their partner. The race was televised, with over 10,000 people spectating en route. GB have previously only ever won the relay once. This year 155 teams took part.

By the time of Ben’s handover, Rob Hope had expertly guided GB up to 2nd place. Ben, on the finishing leg, had the unenviable task of racing course record holder Alex Baldaccini (Italy) and Juliet Rancon of France. Rancon had a comfortable lead and couldn’t be caught. He ran 30:49 and the 4th fastest leg. There was a battle of epic proportions between Ben and Baldaccini. The Italian closed in on the long climb but Ben out-descended him on crazy downhill section recording a time going down which was only 11 seconds away from the descent record.

Alex then caught Ben on the flat run in to the finish before Mounsey hit the afterburners and outsprinted him in the final 100m to take 2nd place! Ben, understandably elated by the result exclaimed, “It was unreal! Baldaccini ran 28:48 and the quickest time of the day and I ran an unbelievable 30:21 which was the 2nd quickest of the day! It was also the 3rd EVER quickest time by a GB athlete in the history of the competition. My greatest result to date given the fact Janu and Baldaccini are ranked 10th and 11th in the world.”

~TeamGB Rob Hope, Ben Mounsey & Tom Adams

~TeamGB Rob Hope, Ben Mounsey & Tom Adams







Red White & Gold

The Best Fell Runners in the Country

Gold for the CVFR Mens team at the British Fell Relay 2015

Gold for the CVFR Mens team at the British Fell Relay 2015

Not content with winning the British and English fell running championships this year, Calder Valley Men’s team wanted to prove they were undoubtedly the best in the country by winning the British Athletics Fell Relays.  Run this year on Pendle Hill and organised by Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, the relays are made up four legs, a short 7km fast first leg, a longer 15km paired second leg, a paired navigation third leg and a fast short 8km glory leg.

Tim Ellis on Leg 1

Tim Ellis Leg1 BFR 2015

The recent loss at the hands of Borrowdale in the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay did not hold the team back despite having the added pressure of starting as favourites with South Yorkshire neighbours, Dark Peak.

The mighty hobbit, Timbo ‘Baggins’ Ellis started leg 1 as the team wanted a strong start. Tim has been running well on the short stuff recently so it made perfect sense. As expected, the legend that is Rob Hope romped home in 1st place for Pudsey & Bramley despite struggling with a serious cold.  However when Tim followed him home in 2nd place and just 6 seconds behind, with Helm Hill’s Mark Addison in 3rd, it was the perfect start.

The start of leg 2 looked like a 400m race and it was all Ben Mounsey’s fault who dragged Wales’ best export Math Roberts in his wake.  By the top of the first field they had managed to wrestle the lead from Pudsey’s Graham Pearce and Joe Baxter.  They kept their lead over the rest of the leg to bring Calder back in a strong position for the navigation leg.

Ben Mounsey Leg 2

Ben Mounsey Leg2 BFR 2015

Matthew Roberts Leg 2

Math Roberts Leg2 BFR 2015

The team were hopeful James Louge and Darren Kay would do the business on Leg 3 but equally there was also a good chance they might murder each other halfway round. Logie Bear likes to take charge and let others follow his lead. Daz also likes to take charge and isn’t afraid of saying what he thinks. Pairing them together was a bold and daring move.

The lead changed more times than Daz changes his sunglasses. There were tears of joy, tears of frustration and for everyone watching tears of relief as the runners approached the changeover. In one of the closest fought relays in years, no fewer than 4 teams sprinted in together with Pudsey and Bramley leading the charge. Thankfully the red and white vests were just behind Horwich and Keswick which meant Karl Gray on Leg 4 was still within touching distance of the lead. That bad news was it would take an unbelievable effort for him to win.

John Heneghan (P&B) led the race out, followed by Sam Stead (Keswick), Jonathan Bruton (Horwich) and Karl Gray (CVFR).  There was much debate over who would take the win once these first 4 runners set off on the first climb. There was also much doubt as to whether Karl could do the business; he was chasing the first 3 right from the start. His team mates never doubted him for a minute. He’s in superb form and no one can match his speed on the descents.

Eventually a figure emerged in the distance. It wasn’t clear at first but then another appeared and another behind them. They quickly disappeared behind the line of trees in front of us and when they finally emerged it was Karl who was now leading the race.

Karl Gray British Fell Relay 2015 Leg 4

Karl Gray British Fell Relay 2015 Leg 4

Team gold in the relays now proves Calder Valley Fell Runners are officially the best team in Britain! It was close and it could’ve easily been a very different result had something gone wrong.  Worth all the training and certainly worth the wait.

However the women’s team probably put in the performance of the day.  Anne Johnson ran leg 1 and got the team off to a perfect start despite hating the descent. It really is amazing to have an athlete of her calibre & experience in the team.

British Fell Relay 2015 Ladies Team

British Fell Relay 2015 Ladies Team

Gayle Sugden and Sally Newman both had an amazing run on Leg 2 bringing the women in 4th at the end of their leg. All this despite Sally being full of a cold and thinking she might not be fit enough to run at all.

Leg 3 was definitely the run of the day.  Jo Buckley was in charge of the navigation,

Lindsey Oldfield just did what she was told! Their split to CP1 was faster than Calder Valley’s v40 men’s team time. Lindsey was absolutely destroyed at the end of the leg couldn’t speak for a good 30 minutes.  Lindsey and Jo brought the team up to 2nd at the end of leg 3. Cue massive excitement.

Lucy Collins Leg4 BFR 2015

Lucy Collins Leg4 BFR 2015

Leg 4 was run brilliantly by new signing Lucy Collins. She gave her absolute all, kept her cool & held on to 2nd place, meaning Calder Valley has won the silver medal.

Anne commented that she didn’t expect to ever win a British Relay medal ever again, so she really was chuffed to bits! Calder Valley are extremely proud of them all.