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West Nab Fell Race – English Junior Fell Championship 29/5/2021

Holmfirth Harriers did a fantastic job of hosting one of the four English Junior Fell Championship races that will go ahead in 2021 with competitions at U9 level increasing in two-yearly increments up to U19s. Race distances go up by age category with U9s running over 800m increasing to 8.1km for the U19s.

Calder Valley has a burgeoning junior section and despite limitations of the current pandemic was represented at U9, U11, U13, U15 and U17 age categories

West Nab was a great start to the year for the CVFR Juniors with some fast times and great finish positions for many of the young runners. The weather was superb – hot but manageable – and the terrain on and around Marsden Moor was dry in general but rocky in places.

The junior races were staggered with boys setting off first and girls three minutes later. All races had a good steady climb on the track up to Nab, across fields and down into Clough. Older age groups with extended race distances crossed the river to end with a steep, tough climb. The online registration process, staggered starts and orderly departure away from the finish line made for a well organised, safe event that went very smoothly.

There were some exceptional results amongst the juniors with Ishbel Symington and Lottie Cliff coming in 3rd and 4th respectively in the U9s. Harry Cliff won the U11s boys race against a strong field and led pretty much from the start. Clara McKee had it all to do in the u13s girls race having to pick past the back markers in the boys wave to claim victory in her age category.

At U13 level, Joseph Stone, Leo Hackett and Ted Parker all had good runs and at U15 level, CVFR was represented by Olivia Falkingbridge, Charlie Pickens, Thomas McKee and Ollie Pickens. The club was well represented at U17 level by Tom Owen, Euan Logue and James Aitken.

Thomas, Trudi and Clara modelling the new club vest

The Seniors were also in action on the day. James Logue came in overall 6th position with both Trudi Entwhistle and Helen Flage having good runs.

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Orca 100 by feet and bike

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Emelia, Di, Gill and Kate ready for the off

Last Saturday several Calder Valley Fell Runners set off on The Orca 100. It’s an off-road ultra-run aimed at raising funds and awareness towards Whale and Dolphin Conservation.  

The challenge was a team attempt to run 100 continuous miles in 24hrs, whereby recreating the distance an orca might swim in a day.  The route is split into 3 legs of just over 33 miles, all of them starting from Stubbs Field in Mytholmroyd.  Each running pod was made up of mixed ability runners who completed a full leg or half a leg each.  Several cyclists also joined in forming two pods who both cycled 100 miles from Hebden Bridge marina towards the west coast and back again.

Helen in the blue who’s idea that run came from with her support Catherine

The Orca 100 was inspired after pod member Helen Curtis watched the documentary ‘Blackfish’, which highlights the plight of Orca’s in captivity. Deeply moved by what she had seen, Helen decided she had to help these beautiful marine mammals.
After discovering that Orca whales can swim up to 100 miles in a day, she hatched the idea of running 100 miles as a human ‘pod’ and approached fellow runners in her local fell running club. Whales, marine life and the ocean environment fall deep into people’s psyche, and the response was swift and enthusiastic. Within hours a 13 person running pod was complete.  

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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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Bogs and Gullies

Blackstone Edge

Bethan taking 2nd lady

Local fell runners were keen to get back to racing last Wednesday evening at the Blackstone Edge race.  It is a classic short fell race, the shortness of the 3.5 mile route belies the toughness of the terrain.  After a short climb from Lydgate to the Roman Road the race takes a sharp turn onto a pathless section of moor and bog.  Runners then battle the mud and tussocks on the steep 1200ft climb to the summit of Blackstone Edge. A short run along the ridge path leads to a pathless decent back to the finish.

Ed bouncing through the bogs to take a top 10 spot

Calder Valley Fell Runners were out in force.  Bethan Gay was second woman back and Ed Hyland was ninth man, both recent signings for the club.  Bethan said ‘I wasn’t feeling it to begin with but it was so good to get the buzz of a mass start again.  The climb was a killer but I was happy to keep my place towards the end.  Overall I was super pleased with how it went.’

The bog took its toll on Calder’s runners, with Toby Sydes ending up waist deep and Rachel Beaumont losing a shoe.  Tom Adams of Ilkley comfortably won the race in 28.47, over two minutes ahead of the second placed Edward Corden of Stockport.  The womens race was won by Katie Walshaw of Holmfirth in 34.48.

Full Calder Results

9th Ed Hyland – 32.37 – 41st Mark Wharton – 37.31 – 43rd Stuart Russel – 37.45
48th Michael Clayton – 38.12 – 53rd Bethan Gay – 38.35 – 60th Kieran O’Prey – 38.54
79th Phil Scarf – 40.47 – 83rd Jon Wilson – 40.57 – 89th Tristan Watson – 41.29
90th Toby Sydes – 41.32 – 94th Jon Underwood – 42.10
99th Tim Brooks – 42.30 – 101st Ambi Swindells – 42.33 – 104th Fiona Lynch – 42.51
117th Jackie Scarf – 44.47 – 131st Rachael Beaumont – 47.10 – 176th Andrew Smith – 56.52
183 finishers

Coniston Gullies

A race less than half the distance of Blackstone Edge, Coniston Gullies is another classic fell race organised under BOFRA.  Only 1 mile long but with over 900ft climbing up Long Crag north of the Lake District town of Coniston. The descent includes an infamous, scree filled gully described as ‘a sheer drop’.

Alex Whittem and Dave Hammond ran for Calder Valley Fell Runners last Sunday’s race.  Whittem climbed rapidly but was overtaken on the descent to come in 4th place (15.34) behind the winner, Simon Bailey of Staffordshire (14.29).

Calder Valley juniors turned out too.  Charlie Pickens was 11th in the under 17s race and James Aitken was 19th.  Ollie Pickens was 8th in the under 14s.

– CALDER VALLEY NEWS REPORTER: tim brooks

It’s great to be back racing

Races feel a bit like buses this month … after nothing much for nearly a year, in just a few short weeks May has so far seen a bumper crop of results for local runners.

A very happy Jason taking 1st place

This week, it was CVFR’s ‘away’ contingent who led the charge, with Leicester-based Jason Williams flying the red & white-striped flag for the club at Windmill Hill fell race on Sunday 16th May. One of only two fell races in the not-so-hilly Leicestershire, despite its location, this course really packs a punch. Thanks to repeated lung-busting & leg-testing ascents of Windmill Hill over its five-mile route, the race counts as a category B fell race (at least 70% off-road & a minimum of 25m of climb for every 1km in distance).

This was Williams’ first race in a couple of years, but it didn’t show. With COVID safety measures in force, runners set off in waves of 25 based on predicted speed, which made it hard to gauge exactly how your performance squared up to other racers, but Williams know he had run well. He led the pack right from the initial multiple ascents & kept that lead over the fields & into the second lap of the course.

Williams was delighted to claim his first racing victory of 2021, although this ‘great little race’ had proven ‘a lot harder’ than he remembered. He was also quick to give credit to organisers – West End runners – for making the event possible in the current climate. Williams now can’t wait to get back to regular fell racing with his CVFR ‘family’. 

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