FRA Relays

A 4 leg relay. Leg 1 single. Leg 2 pair. Leg 3 pair (navigation). leg 4 single.

Middleton Fells (nr Kirby Lonsdale)

19 October 2014

If you’re walking your dog passed Marl Pits car park in the dead of night around this time next year and you see flashing headlights in the car park and you also hear raised voices talking of ‘pairing up’ and ‘a good leg’. If you can make out several people getting in and out of several vehicle’s at the same time. Then please do not ring the Police. Davina has enough on her plate organising the British Fell Running Relays relays as it is. At this rate we’ll have to start meeting at a quieter car park like Crown Point or something. Oh wait, Hang on….

We arrived at Middleton Fell to quite an odd sight with each of the 200 or so teams setting up their club tent in a hurry to form a temporary fell side metropolis. Amongst which your entire consumer needs where taken care of. By this I mean a tent where you could get bacon butties, a brew and of course, Pete Bland’s van. We even had the witty jibes of resident compare Jon Richards to keep everyone’s spirits up.


New Bacup Boy Band with Bez on the left

The Rossendale Harrier abode for the day was swarming with sky blue vests as it sheltered five teams (six runners in each, that’s a lot) from blustery autumn weather. Before long the leg 1 runners had gathered in the starting pen and they were off. Looking up, the fell side was awash with runners. This soon developed into a single file that snaked it’s way up and up towards the horizon.

The off

The off

Sam Tosh was the first Rossendale Harrier to be seen hurtling back down the hill. Laying a solid foundation coming in on 8th spot. This was followed up with another extremely strong leg from Joe Jonston and Grant Cunliffe. By now I think they were still in or around the top ten. This was going all right you know.

Sam Tosh  photo courtesy of

Sam Tosh
photo courtesy of

Grant Cunliffe and Joe Johnstone Photo courtesy of

Grant Cunliffe and Joe Johnston
Photo courtesy of

Onto the Navigation leg, so no pressure for Max and Rick then? Well they must thrive on the stuff because it was bloody fast (7th on their specific leg time). Just Ashley Holt on the Anchor leg. What could possibly go wrong? He won’t get lost will he? Oh don’t worry, it’s ok, It’s flagged. Well, yeah, but It’s Ash. He gets lost on his Mum’s drive. Oh dear.

Ashley Holt  photo courtesy of

Ashley Holt
Photo courtesy of

A few nervy looks were exchanged as we waited for Ashley, but fear not. The Bacup warrior come home in fine form to put the Rossendale A team into 6th position for the day, and from the look on his face for the rest of the afternoon I’d say he was more than a bit pleased (especially with the not getting lost bit).

Rossendale Harriers A team

Rossendale Harriers A team

Now I don’t want to bore you anymore than I have to but if you take a look at some of the names of the top ten finishing teams. It’s rammed full of past and present National Fell Champions, and not to forget a certain medal winning Olympic Tri athlete. Hopefully this should put this fantastic result into some sort of context. Well done lads.

Full Results

All in all was a great day for the club and I think everyone in all 6 teams deserve a mention, as I’m sure they all give it all they had and that’s all you can do, but especially Davina ‘Mourinho’ Raidy who played a fantastic managerial juggling act. Thanks Davina. The teams on the day were as follows.

Rossendale A – Sam Tosh/Joe Johnston/Grant Cunliffe/Max Cole/Rick Solman/Ashley Holt

Rossendale v40 – Sean Molloy/ Gareth Jackson/ Scott Hitchen/Andy Preedy/Jon Tinman/ Richard Campbell




Richard Campbell must of been told the Utd result

Rossendale B – Marcus Preedy/Jason Craven/Joe Waller/Patrick Brennan/Scott Sadler/Dave Murphy





Rossendale Mixed – Abbie Thompson/ Dave Bradley/Mick Toman/Judith Wood/Sharon McGuire/ Nick Harris



Michael Flatley


Rossendale Female – Shona Monks/ Sam Crofts/ Natalie Murphy/ Helen Yeomans/ Caroline Smith/ Louise Waller


The Good Shepherd

BL – 15 miles (24.14km) / 2000ft (609.6m)
27th September 2014, 10:30am

We were treated to warm autumnal sunshine for the drive over to the dark side for the Good Shepherd race from Mytholmroyd in Calderdale. After several races, with what some might say a higher profile in more ways than one, it was a relief to get back to this type of low key fell race. No early rise. No M6. No problems parking or queuing for safety pins. Just proper Pennine moorland racing.

Three Rossendale runners took their place at the start just off Cragg Road, which was part of Le Tour back in the summer. The BL category race is part flagged and part navigation. I hadn’t done the route previously but still felt pretty confident of finding my way over the relatively familiar ground.

After looking at the ever-useful site I noticed that the route has 4 main climbs. So this is how I broke it down in my mind. The first of which being a long steady slog right up over Erringdon Moor to Stoodley Pike. This allowed everyone to settle into their own pace. I looked up to the horizon and could just make out the front lads turning left at the monument, already a couple of minutes in front. I knew Jason Craven (Rossendale Harriers) wasn’t too far behind although I didn’t need to look back because that was definitely his daft laugh. Weather this was shared with a fellow runner or just to himself I can’t be sure. You’d have to ask him.

The laughing man Jason Craven. Photo Courtesy of

The laughing man Jason Craven at Stoodley Pike. Photo Courtesy of

The next section from the pike isn’t flagged but the fast decent down to Withens Clough reservoir was obvious. Then a sharp right turn along its bank. I knew the second climb was coming up but wasn’t hundred per cent sure of the best line. I could however see some front runners, in local vests, snaking up and over the open moorland. I sheepishly followed with a small pack of four including local Todmorden and Calder Valley runners, which I’d caught up with, thanks to the decent. At the second climb I was reminded that Pennine bog, tussock and ditch do not make for good running. We cursed and laughed at our predicament. There must be a better way up than this. Of course there was. Confirmed by the sight of runners making up huge amounts of ground away to our left and doing so with seemingly far more ease than us. I later realised that the pied piper of this fortunate group was Chris Goddard (Todmorden Harriers), the author of the brilliant West Yorkshire moors book So it’s safe to say he probably has more than half an idea of his way round these parts. He was telling me after the race that there is a perfectly good trod, if you know where to look that is.

Richard Campbell. Photo courtesy of

Richard Campbell dancing down towards London Road. Photo courtesy of

From checkpoint 4 there is some great fast running along the tops until you drop down (the reverse of Shepherd’s Skyline) onto London Road and back up again to Stoodley. Somehow on this third and penultimate climb I’d managed to catch up some usually quicker runners. They must of gone wrong at some point. How, exactly is beyond me as, ok its not flagged, but it’s pretty obvious and considering they must run round here week in week out (yep Tod and Calder again). I struggled to figure this one out. Anyway – passing Stoodley again and it’s more fast running over moor and track until you pop down to Cragg Vale for the last climb up to Robin Hood rocks. By this late stage the field had stretched out a fair amount and I was weary of not going wrong on the run in. My Eyes remained peeled for the next luminous flag, and then the next, right until I spotted the finish funnel with relief. I was back at the Good Shepherd community centre.

Patrick Brennan. Photo courtesy of

Patrick Brennan. Photo courtesy of

Some good runs from Rossendale with Jason Craven coming back from a summer long niggling toe injury. The injury is reportedly very similar to Gary Lineker’s famous toe injury that hampered the later stages of his career and resulted in him moving to Japan. I can’t see this happening to Jason and this is only according to his physio anyway (Jason’s, not Gary’s). A special mention to Richy ‘God is a Manc’ Campbell, who managed to knock off a whopping 18 minutes from the last time he did this race. Which is a huge 11% improvement. If you’re interested in that sort of thing.

The Good Shepherd is a cracking route with a nice mix of fast footpaths and open moorland. Without any stupidly big climbs. All with belting views over Calderdale. Finished off with homemade soup, tea & cake. Which is lovingly served up by the ladies from the community centre, and all for just a donation. What a good do.

Full Results

Click to access Good-Shepherd-20142.pdf