The last week of May & first week of June may include a school & a bank holiday, but there’s no break in the fell running calendar – with plenty of races to choose from.
For Calder Valley runners, the most epic of this week’s races was without a doubt the Paddy Buckely. Along with the famous Bob Graham in the Lakes and Charlie Ramsay in Highlands, the PB in Wales makes up the third of the UK fells three ‘big rounds’ – & is recognised the hardest, due to its terrain. On 1st & 2nd June, CVFR’s Lee Shimwell & Karl Grey took on the this 100km & 47-summit run, looking to finish in the arbitrary 24-hour time challenge.
Thankfully given the atrocious weather for the first 14 hour of their attempt at this monster round, unlike the Bob Graham, runners do not have to finish in one full day & night. In the gusting gales, sliding over wet rocks with zero visibility & persistent rain, Shimwell described how his he almost gave up half way round, but his ‘fantastic CVFR support team wouldn’t allow it’, partly he suspects due to having camped all night in a deserted quarry high in Snowdonia. They kept him going, finishing the full route in a very respectable 26h & 39 minutes. Less that one day later, Shimwell commented that he was just ‘extremely pleased to have got round’, although having not met the time challenge he ‘might have to try again!’ However, he was also quick to observe that he could not have even got around the full round without the fantastic support he received from all involved.
With many Calder runners in Wales offering support on the Paddy Buckley round, only eight CVFR runners braved the early morning drive over to Rossendale, where the Edenfield residents’ association sponsor a fell race with a great prize haul.
The 10.3km race begins its 477 miles of ascent from the off, with a quick climb at the start up to the moors. This year’s weather made running across the moors a challenge in itself for the 136 competitors – between cold showers & baking heat, without even taking the steep technical descents and vicious sting in the tail of 200m climbing in about 200m of the course just 2km from the end.
Paul Haigh was the first red & white hooped runner home finishing 18th overall (& 4th in the MV40 category) at 52 :25. Completing the first three home & just pipped the men’s team prize by Rossendale, Andy Wright & Rob Rawlinson (third in the MV45 category) had a real sprint finish to the line, with only six seconds between them as they crossed it, in just under 55 minutes a-piece.
Fellow MV45 runners Jonathan Lees & Tim Brooks also ran strong races – both finishing in the top ten in their age category. In the women’s, another strong race from Carole Fryer say her finish 5th woman overall & 1st in the LV50 category. Elina Eady also finished first in the LV40 category & Eileen McDonach ran strongly to finish in the top 5 LV45.
On bank holiday Monday, 27th May, the Austwick Amble attracted 169 runners, including 10 CVFR. In a fast race, where the course record was broken by Tim Stratton (City of York), Calder Valley’s Jonny Croston ran brilliantly, to finish in just a shave over 55 minutes, finishing 10th overall & 5th in the MV40 age category. With good runs from red & white-hopped MV40 runners Luke Meleschko & Rob Rawlinson (13th & 16th in their age category), CVFR men took first team prize. Toby Sydes also ran strongly, finishing 9th in the MV50 age category. For the ladies, Catherine Holden ran strongly to finish in 1:10 the top 5 women’s vet 40 & Carole Fryer had another strong outing, finishing 4th in the MV50 age category.
On Thursday, 30th May, the popular local race That’s So Hebden Bridge took place with 120 runners overall – over 1/5th of whom (24 competitors) wore red & white hoops. CVFR’s Alasair Pedley ran an outstanding race to finish 3rd overall (only two seconds behind the second placed runner), taking 2nd in the men’s under 23 category behind winner Wharfdale’s Robin Howie, who also beat the existing course record. Luke Meleschko ran a second strong race in as many days to finish 14th overall & second in the MV40 category, with Liam Williams finishing 7th in the open male category (16th overall) to see CVFR win the men’s team prize again.
There was also a slew of 2nd & 5th places in a number of categories for the red & white hoops: Taking second place in their respective age categories were Mark Wharton (M50), Natasha Butterfield (W35), & Jonathan Emberton (MV55), Carole Fryer (W50) & Stella Chrisanthou (W45). In fifth place were CVFR’s Rob Rawlinson (M45), Darrren Earnshaw (M45) & Toby Sydes (M50).
Other note-worthy finishes included Johnie Watson (9th MV45); Anthony Costello (8th MV50), Graham Lloyd (8th M55) & Lawerence Fenelly (10th M50), Jocasta Fletcher (4th W45), Gill Dickinson (5th W45), Tamsin Cooke (7th in the women’s open category) & new recruit James Halliday – running his first fell race – who crossed the line in the top 25 in the men’s open category.
On Sunday, 2nd June, saw a couple of hardy CVFR runners travel up to Coniston Gullies – a BOFRA championship race. Dreadful weather and an unforgiving short, steep course with a very difficult sheer-drop descent including a scree section, meant lots of slips and trips. Charlie Ing & Stephen Smithies flew the flag for Calder Valley senior runners, finishing 4th & 17th overall – 1st MV50 for Smithies. Given the conditions & the technical difficulty of the course, CVFR’s junior runners also raced exceptionally well. In the U12s race, Ollie Pickens finished 32nd overall (23rd boy) & Fearne Hanson crossed the line in 41st place (12th girl) & were just happy to come home in one piece!
Further from home, CVFR’s international runner Holly Page, on the mend from the broken foot that saw her have to forfeit running for her country earlier this year, is back to racing again. With three outings in just over a week, on Sunday 26th May, Page competed in the prestigious Gamperrney Berglauf in Germany. At 1,000+ meters of climb for just 9km, this race packs a serious punch – not least for only the second week back running after a serious injury. Page finished an outstanding 3rd in a very competitive women’s field (the trial for the Germany national team) – in a time that would have won the race the previous year. Then on Saturday 1st June, this time in Switzerland, Page took on the half-marathon trail race Cuors da Flims, which she likewise stormed round – finishing the 21km in under 1h45 minutes, taking not only first place but also the women’s record for this distance.
– Calder Valley News Reporter: Catherine Jones