Wadsworth Trog

Wadsworth Trog 7 February ‘15

20m with 1220m/4003ft climb

The first proper long race of the 2015 calendar drew a good field, including several Rossendale Harriers. The race has a reputation of being a bit tough. Mainly due to the time of year, I suppose. Conditions on the day however seemed pretty good to me. The recent heavy snow had started to clear but with still enough ice about to keep the infamous bogs, well some of them at least, at bay.

The course changed slightly this year to avoid some sensitive land issues with Natural England. Most of the original navigation section, across large sections of pathless moor, was to be avoided. This was a shame because that was a big part of the character of the Trog. This has been replaced with, what I have to admit, is a nicer route and nicer to run on, but is fell running supposed to be nice? Either way, it’s still a cracking route and one of my favourite races.

Michael Higgins on the heels of Davina Raidy

Michael Higgins on the heels of Davina Raidy

156 runners assembled at the new start (you don’t have to do that silly loop through the woods now). The fast Calder lads Grey, Logue and Crossfield set their stall out early doors. Flying up the lane towards Wadsworth Moor. I managed to join a pack of half a dozen runners or so runners behind the front three.

Jon Tinman striding out

Jon Tinman striding out

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The return of Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ Turner

Following the man made drain to CP 3, I shouted out my number and did the usual “Thank yous”. I was determined to stick with the pack, so cracked on, but was distracted by the marshals’ repeatedly shouting something. I turned round to see the numpty behind me had headphones in. Totally oblivious he was. So I stopped and shouted at him whilst pointing back at the marshals. They must have missed his number. Now I’m not 100% on the FRA ruling on this, but for a start he is obviously making the marshal’s life more difficult than it needs to be. Not only that but It got me thinking as my stride tried to find the more solid bits of ice. He is really putting his own safety and others at risk. Say the clag was down and a runner became stranded. He isn’t going to hear them blowing their whistle while he listens to Taylor Swift or whatever other shite he’s got in his ears. Safety aside, why would you want to? Is fell running not about taking in the surroundings? This definitley includes sound. The crunch of the snow under foot must be up there with the best of them.

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Patrick Brennan sticking with the pack

By the time I reached Top o Stairs I was still hanging on to Ian Symington (Calder Valley). Which was a good thing, I thought. As a new bit of the course is coming up. It’ll be interesting to see which way he goes. I’d recce’d it twice over Christmas, but still not being hundred per cent sure, I’d planned to aim off, slightly up stream of checkpoint 6. Then I couldn’t miss it by following the stream down. To our surprise this section was fully flagged and went nowhere near the checkpoint that we had been given. Glad I recce’d it twice then eh.

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Jason Craven running for his life at the moment because….

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Richy Campbells’ gonna get him

From Withins the pack begun to get away from me. I managed to pick off one runner but ran the majority of the remainder of the race without seeing a soul, apart from the hardy Marshall’s at checkpoints and Mr & Mrs of Yorkshire fell running – Dave and Eileen Woodhead.

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Scott Sadler. Tough at the top.

After a quick chat and drink at the finish. I remembered that there is the rare luxury of showers available for finishers. They spoil fell runners rotten in Calder Valley you know. It’s no wonder they attract runners from further afield to their flock. After nearly Three hours out on the wintery Pennine hills, that warm shower I had at the cricket club was the best shower I’ve had so far this year. You wouldn’t believe me if you saw them but it was superb at the time, trust me.

Race report by Patrick Brennan

Full results

More Photos Huge thank you to Woodentops for use of their photos.

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Lee Mill Relay 14 December ’14

Lee Mill Relay. 4 legs . 4 runners.

Report by Richard Stott, Race organizer

Well, that seemed to go OK. The inaugural Lee Mill Relay was held on 14th December as Rossendale’s new 4 runner fell relay event, and hopefully to become an established fixture on the Fell Race Calendar.

I thought it might be interesting for runners to take a look at a race from the organizers point of view. Perhaps providing them with a better understanding of what is involved in organizing a race, rather than just competing in one.

For me, when racing, a winter fell relay was always a great way of ending the year. I’ve done the Calderdale Relay, probably over 20 times, and always enjoyed the relay format and atmosphere of all the club members being involved, but especially the added challenge that winter brings. I have to admit I was quite critical on the Fell Running forum when the event was moved to a summer slot, but its done now, and I realize some of the reasoning behind it. It’s just a shame.

After thinking about the big winter relays, and the logistical nightmare of miles of footpaths to marshal, bad weather possibilities, car parking and land access problems, I thought why not a fell event based on the Cross-Keys four stage format staged by Saddleworth Runners? Logically, a race where all runners run the same route makes sense. Far less marshals. Same start/finish area with the entire event run in probably, 3 square miles of terrain.

The first question I asked myself was where? Earlier on I’d had thoughts of a mountain bike/fell race relay at Lee Mill Stacksteads. So why not just a fell event? I went over one day and had a look, plenty of tracks but nothing that thrilling. I had a chat to Scott Hitchen (Rossendale Harriers) and asked him to have a look. The result is more or less what we have as our race route, far more radical than I came up with! A true fell race was on.

Next step was getting permission for land access, which as it turned out was no problem thanks to Lancashire Council who approved our route and use of quarry area. I set a date of Sun 14th Dec and registered at Sportident for entries.

A nagging voice in the back of my mind told me this was all going a bit to well, and sure enough obstacles started to appear, or not as the case may be. The hoped for ‘Trail Head’ centre, that we were to use as a venue, just wasn’t going to be built. Plus, on- site portaloos were being removed because of vandalism. So, Phil Taylor (Rossendale Harriers) suggested I have a word with Rossendale Council, who the offices on the site belong to. The council guy was great, agreeing to the use of a room on the Sunday for registration and results, as well as some portaloos!

So, after weeks of worrying and sorting out the bitty things that make up for the whole, race day was upon us. Then the ice hit (what do you expect in December? Yeah, thanks, I know). When we went to flag the course the previous day, the lane up to the quarry was treacherous, but fellow course flagger Max Cole (Rossendale Harriers) was confident that there was sunshine forecast and much warmer weather was on it’s way. Err….OK then.

Race Day. Sunday. Up at 5am to pick-up Scott Hitchen to double check and finish off the flagging. Registration opened at 8.30 and with another 6 entries on the day we have 25 teams. Brilliant.

With a bit of a talk to the first leg runners and they were off. Bang on 10am, as planned. Then came a massive fright, straight after, when we thought the leaders had set off on the loop in the wrong direction! Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case.

After what felt like a bloody long day Calder Valley Fell Runners men came home first, along with Clayton ladies. Both victorious teams walked away with unique stone trophy’s cut from the quarry (again thanks to Scott and Daltons printers). All the post race, feedback seemed really positive. With teams saying that it was great for a relay to be that straight forward logistically. As for the route itself, everyone thought it was a great challenge. Ask Darren Fishwick (Chorley) he did it four times, he liked it that much, but then again…

I’d like to thank all the Harriers for help. Rossendale council for office space and portaloos. Pete Bland for race numbers and Dalton Printers for help with the flyers and trophy.

I’ve changed the race date for 2015 to last weekend in November. The 29thh to be exact. So hopefully the event can grow. It’s a much quieter weekend, fixture wise and hopefully weather as well. The race route is also to be first in the Rossendale Harriers Mid-week series, along with Whittle Pike, Pilgrims Cross and Golf Ball, best 3 out of 4 format.

Thanks,

Richard

Results can be found here

Gorillas in the Mist (Tour of Pendle)

Tour of Pendle / Saturday 15 November ’14
AL – 27km (16.8m)/1473m (4833ft)
Report by Scott Hitchen

 

A great deal of trepidation was met on the morning of the race as every excuse known to man had been used by myself, to avoid it for the last two years.

This eased with the banter on the journey over, car-sharing with Max Cole, Jon Tinman and Davina Raidy. With what looked to be a strong expected turn-out for Rossendale’s Team Racing, an anticipated fifteen members on the entry list, spirits were high.

Going through the usual OCD race prep on arrival, Davina kept us entertained with anecdotes from the previous weeks trip to Coniston. Far from me to say she’s an open book, it was just what was needed, calming any pre-race nerves. Met Ritchie Campbell looking like he was dealing organic race nutrition from his boot with enough provision for the entire field and singlehandedly responsible for a sudden stock rush at Wing Yip’s. Jason Craven and William Lowe later joined the chat whilst milling around the bustling village hall and car park. This would be Will’s first tour and a precursor in his preparation for his debut Three Peaks attempt next year – good luck with that.

Testament to the efficiency of the race organisers, registration was slick and without hiccup with a cracking t-shirt to boot and having barely chance to pass on nav pointers to our very own England international orienteer (a pointless exercise that was lost on me at the time but didn’t go unnoticed) we headed to the start. Joining the huddle, stalwart Allan Yeomans completed the Rossy contingent and with a to-the-point briefing from Kieran it was game-on!
Fuelled by Chia and Goji Ritchie made a break up the Tarmac track that was difficult to close at such an early stage. Jon the tactful took a more relaxed approach with time to chat; learning when unsure of someone’s age guessing their vet category, better to give the benefit of the doubt aiming ten years younger rather than older in future, as it doesn’t bode well for cheery banter!
Richard Campbell in about 12th at this point. No really.

Richard Campbell in about 12th at this point. No really. (Photo by Steve Bateson, RunningPix)

The field begins to spread out on reaching the fell and the slog up to the trig point. It was obvious the clag wasn’t shifting which could only add to the fun. The climb felt steady and on pulling alongside Max I tapped him on the shoulder for luck – schoolboy error, triggering a hidden ‘beast’ mode switch which saw him immediately bounding off. I wouldn’t see him again till checkpoint 5 (the point I told him the race really starts) defying all logical laws of smaller steps/steeper inclines, picking his way past the field and well on his way up Mearley Moor – aren’t hills great!
Don't worry Max. Yes there is lots more big hills. (SB)

Don’t worry Max. Yes there is lots more big hills. Yes Max, I promise. (Photo by Steve Bateson, RunningPix)

A surprisingly good line off Geronimo through the mist to checkpoint 4, only found me going back to retrieve someone’s lost tag I’d passed floating in the stream, on the off-chance it went unnoticed by the marshals. It’d be hard to stomach disqualification for anyone and didn’t want the outcome of someone’s efforts playing on my conscience for the rest of the race.
Jason Craven had an audition for Bacup Coconutters after the race. Photo by Andrew Mattison

Jason Craven  had an audition for Bacup Coconutters after the race.  Hope it went well JC. (Photo by Andrew Mattison, Andyspixels)

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Geronimo! How steep does that look? (Photo by Andrew Mattison, Andyspixels)

The race began to take its toll climbing from Mearley Clough to checkpoint 8 and the ‘big end’ was and always will be the ‘big end’ but on reaching the trig for the second time the clag, as anticipated, added that ‘spot the checkpoint’ fun element. I’d done reccies but could only go off instinct and a bearing that wasn’t concrete so was reluctant to commit to the descent, until being passed that is by first lady Caitlyn Rice (enjoying an excellent season) and in a curious case of mistaken identity thought I was Jon Tinman, whom she had earlier mistook for Patrick Brennan; from behind! Obviously the legendary Irish craic but more to point, who’ll be the more offended?
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Scott Hitchen? No. Pat Brennan? No. Dog whisperer Jon Tinman. Yes! (Photo by Andrew Mattison, Andyspixels)

This was to be the crux for many (the clag not Jon’s craic), with stories of runners veering too far left down onto the concrete track and having to double-back to checkpoint 11, or too far right and having to follow the path along Ogden Clough. With luck we nailed it and thankfully tossed our bread tags to the ever patient marshals holding out their bags like buskers.
Davina Raidy enjoying herself (SB)

Davina Raidy enjoying herself (Photo by Steve Bateson RunningPix)

William Lowe also enjoying himself (SB)

William Lowe also enjoying himself (Photo by Steve Bateson, RunningPix)

Thats more like it from Alan Yeomans (SB)

Thats a bit more like it from Alan Yeomans (Photo by Steve Bateson, RunningPix)

It was nearly over, one final push on the road took back some lost places and then there was Kieron, standing in the middle of the finish tunnel, his arms waving, shouting “it’s over” bringing each racer round from out of their trance. Finish time 2:49:29, shortly followed by Jon in 2:52:08 and a commendable performance from Jason, considering his struggle with injury (see earlier blog entry), in a time of 2:56:44. Max finished as first Rossy with an excellent debut time of 2:39:50 and let it be recorded that it took all of 9 minutes 40 seconds for him to get from the finish all the way down the road to his car; wash; wash the car; change into clothing and get back to the finish to meet his team mates – like we needed the finishing margin making any clearer. A superb effort from Ritchie saw him smash his PB by an incredible 30 mins from the previous year with a time of 2:58:20 – samples of his coconut water have been submitted to WADA for testing. Shout-outs also to Will, Allan and Davina finishing in 3:35:02, 3:47:24 and 3:57:22 respectively.
Enjoying some excellent hospitality and refreshments at the village hall, a quick change, then it was off to the pub to exchange stories, oblivious to Rossendale’s third team placement and unassumingly missing the presentation; that’ll teach us!
Of the fifteen potential Rossy entries only eight completed the race. Racing legend Michael Toman was dearly missed being on sabbatical writing his gourmet’s guide to fell running ‘The race’s I’ve run and the cake’s I’ve loved’. Putting his encyclopaedic knowledge of catering offered at various races throughout the UK to good use and following the success of his recent bestseller ‘My Story – The truth about David Bradley; what really happened at The Ben’.
This is a tough, demanding race and with more oldies in the top 10 placings than a Tony Blackburn playlist, requiring a certain level of maturity and respect to get the better of. Saying that, it seemed to be over in no time, with something for everyone it’s one of the more enjoyable races of the year. We all go through a phase of putting races off through for one reason or another but ultimately we only end up missing out. I certainly won’t be waiting another two years to revisit this gem.
Scott Hitchen
Many thanks to Steve Bateson (Running Pix) and Andrew Mattison (Andy’s Pixels), for the kind permission to use their cracking photos. Please do not reproduce these images, but do check out their websites with the above links.

Grin ‘N’ Bear it

Grin ‘N’ Bear it / 15.9m, 1939ft / Race Report by Richard Campbell

While the bulk of the Rossendale Harriers troops were holding the fort over on North eastern front with a big turn out at the Shepherds Skyline fell race, I went on a solo mission deep behind enemy lines, on the eastern front at Langsett, South Yorkshire. For the 16 mile Grin ’N’ Bear it Fell Race in the Peak District National Park.

Fact of the day & touristy bit for the road fairies! The Peak District is the second most visited National Park in the world after Mount Fuji in Japan.

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Without a mega early start and the usual drive up to the lakes to endure Jason Craven’s M6 Farleton Knot Fell Race tourettes. It was just a shorter drive over Woodhead Pass to Langsett Barn. Getting there nice & early for race registration & kit check. While donning my mudclaws, which I used as my weapon of choice, due to previous experience of the soft underfoot running in the peak district, with it’s infamous peat bogs.

The buzz went around that the race was delayed to 1030hrs. Time for one extra kit faff then. Looking around I didn’t recognise many faces but there was plenty of Dark Peak vests knocking about. The weather was dry and windy with the unusually warm temperatures for this time of year.

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Richy on the shoulder of fell running giant Nicky Spinks.

We made our way over to the start and it looked like, from a distance, that Flava flav was going to be the day’s race starter, but as i got closer I released it was just the Mayor of Sheffield.  We got our final race brief & with the tame blow of the whistle the race was under way. With an unusually flat first mile for a fell race we passed through Langsett woods then turned left over a stone bridge  onto the first and only true climb of the race. The runnable rocky path climb wound up onto open moor & across Hingcliff Common till the track started running parallel with Mickleden Beck.  Along Mickleden Edge & Cut Gate, south west to checkpoint A at Cut Gate End, manned by the excellent Woodhead Mountain rescue. From here onto the exposed edge with the warm winds blowing directly into our faces. Then turning onto Featherbed Moss along the first section of open moor, full of bogs & tussocks. Following the flag markers to the trig at Outer Edge I found myself at checkpoint B, near Cat Clough. Then heading due West along more boggy paths to Harden Moss. By now there was a lack of fellow runners to assist with navigation, but by keeping my eyes peeled on the leaders & learning from their mistakes of sinking up to there knees & sometimes waists, I managed to avoid any serious bog incidents.

Those pesky Dark Peakerse

Those pesky Dark Peakers (photo by Accelerate)

Then picking up the small stone cairn at Loftshaw Clough Head and following the indistinct passing the ‘1894’ stone. Over the stile at checkpoint C at Swains Head. I Checked in with the Woodhead Mountain rescue race marshall and turned North. Picked up a small trod on the bank of Far Small Clough which provided smoothing running & kept me out of the rocky stream bed. Over a stile to checkpoint D at Salter’s Brook Bridge. Here I was accompanied by a few local runners from Dark Peak, but as they departed from Salter’s Brook Bridge checkpoint they slowed down & appeared to not be that confident on knowing the route and stuck to my side. What they failed to realise however, was that  I didn’t have a clue of the route on this last section of the race either. Luckily, although the field was well & truly spread out, it was a crystal clear day and the land was low and reasonably flat. This ment that I could make out home – Langsett woods. None of the leading pack were visible. So up the old road past the remains of Lady Cross to arrive at Lasche. Then onto open moor again to Checkpoint E at Cabin Hill.

Nowt doin without these lads. Big thannks to http://woodheadmrt.org/

Nowt doin without these lads. Big thannks to http://woodheadmrt.org/

With the Dark Peak limpets sticking with me it was confirmed they weren’t confident of the route even in there own back yard bogs. We then picked up the Grouse butts at Wicken Hill & followed them to Checkpoint F at Upper Hordron Barn.  I remembered from the race instructions that this also contained the last food & drink checkpoint, but the refreshments were no where to be seen. Tiredness fueled self doubt and I wasn’t too sure I was at the correct checkpoint. Not to worry, I told myself. I had enough left in the tank.

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Now I don’t know who this bloke is but it’s fair to say he did a better job than Richy at finding the feed station (photo by Accelerate)

Continuing along a Landrover track via Hordron & Little Moor on Hordron road to the ford crossing at Long Moor Clough. At this point the Dark Peakers, utilised a bit of local knowledge and made their move. Picking up racing lines during the final few miles of the race. I wasn’t having that.  I was determined  to stick with them to the finish. Down the final stretch of Hordron Road. Across the ford at Fox Clough & picking up Swinden lane till going through gate after gate, and finally through Langsett woods to the finish.

I even managed to break away from the Dark Peakers on the last flat mile & even put a few minutes on them. This made the finishing time of 2:35:13 & finishing 20th place even sweeter.

Now was the time time get some clean gear on, some warm food and a brew in the gorgeous setting of Langsett Barn itself.

Thanks,

Richard

Photos kindly supplied by Accelerate running store in Sheffield.

Shepherd’s Skyline

Shepherd’s Skyline, Lumbutts (nr Tod), 10km / 6.2m, 350m / 1148ft

Thanks to Scott Hitchen for photo

Thanks to Scott Hitchen for photo

Late Autumn sunshine and warm Westerly winds provided perfect conditions for the Shepherd’s Skyline Fell Race. A seasoned (i.e. mature) group of Rossendale Harriers lined up among the 234 starters for this fabulous, well organised race.nOnly 10 km with 350m of ascent – a fast moorland route with a steep descent off Stoodley Pike for the “flying squad” immediately followed by a stiff climb back up the hill.

It was a clean sweep for Calder Valley (1st Ben Mounsey; 2nd James Logue; 3rd Alex Whitten). Best placed Rossy was Rick Solman who barely touched the ground to finish 14th in a seemingly effortless 47.55. The incomparable Ken Taylor was first V65 in 57.33 and young Andrew Corbishley first V60 in 59.35.

Ken Taylor 1st V65

Ken Taylor 1st V65  (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

Andrew Corbishly 1st V60 (photo courtesy of www.woodentops.org)

Andrew Corbishley 1st V60 (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

Rick Solman

Rick Solman 14th (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

Andy Preston returned after a long lay-off through injury; cycling 22 miles to the race; finishing 31st in 52.04; before cycling home again – presumably just in time for a few miles open water swimming. Patrick Brennan ran an impressive 50.53 for 26th place and gave a master-class in the art of suicidal downhill speed as he hurtled off Stoodley Pike oblivious to rocks and rutted ground beneath his flying feet. A competitor from Sale Harriers made the schoolboy error of trying to keep pace with Pat only to hit the ground in a tangle of twisted limbs and an ignominious DNF.

Andy 'Marine Machine' Preston

Andy ‘Marine Machine’ Preston (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

Scott Hitchen ran a determined, well judged race, reining in Patrick and Jon Tinman on the tough, final climb to finish in 50.31 for 24th place (2nd V40). Michael Toman was able to run without the distraction of Dave Bradley at his heels to 75th in 57.09 and Dave Murphy came back in 57.28 for 82nd. David Greenwood completed the Rossy contingent in 71.42.

The Author

The Author (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

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Dave Greenwood (photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org)

Next year is the 30th Shepherd’s Skyline race. No doubt our friends at Tod Harriers will be extending legendary Yorkshire generosity with commemorative race t-shirts and other goodies. Don’t miss it   – this is a great race with a pub at the finish. What more do you want?

Jon Tinman

Full Results

Photos – www.woodentops.org 

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.

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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 www.woodentops.org.uk

Sam Tosh
photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org.uk

Grant Cunliffe and Joe Johnstone Photo courtesy of www.woodentops.org.uk

Grant Cunliffe and Joe Johnston
Photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org.uk

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 www.woodentops.org.uk

Ashley Holt
Photo courtesy of http://www.woodentops.org.uk

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

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Richard Campbell must of been told the Utd result

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

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

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Michael Flatley

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

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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 http://www.racemaps.org.uk/ 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 http://woodentops.org.uk/

The laughing man Jason Craven at Stoodley Pike. Photo Courtesy of http://woodentops.org.uk/

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 http://www.westyorkshiremoors.co.uk/the-book.html 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 http://woodentops.org.uk/

Richard Campbell dancing down towards London Road. Photo courtesy of http://woodentops.org.uk/

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 http://woodentops.org.uk/

Patrick Brennan. Photo courtesy of http://woodentops.org.uk/

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

http://www.cvfr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Good-Shepherd-20142.pdf

 

The Ben

6 September 2014 – 8.7m / 4419ft.

Mr Miyagi used to be Scott Hitchen's coach apparantley

Mr Miyagi used to be Scott Hitchen’s coach apparantley

A dozen Rossendale Harriers huddled together at the start line of 2014 Ben Nevis Fell race. I don’t know who was more apprehensive; those of us who hadn’t done the race before, with the fear of the unknown. Or those with past experience, who knew exactly what they were in for.

The main topic of pre-race talk was the unavoidable ‘Yes or No’ debate. Yes – I do think I can do it in less than two hours. Or No I can’t. Apart from Joe Johnston of course who would’ve had to have worn clown shoes to come in over that time. As the runners gathered behind the bag pipers I asked Andy Lee (he’d done it once or twice) if he had any advise for a first timer – “Never look up.”

The grassy bank with Red Burn to the left

The grassy bank with Red Burn to the left

All talk of taking it easy on the first mile long road section was adhered to (yeah right). The mass of 500 runners soon stretched out, so I guess the dreaded road section serves a purpose at least. By the time we passed our digs www.bennevis-inn.co.uk we were onto the pony path and the start of the climb up Britain’s highest mountain.

A bunch consisting of myself, the two Scotts (forenames not natives: Sadler and Hitchen), the Tinman and Dave Bradley swapped places towards Red Burn, the mountain beck that roughly signifies halfway up but also where the climb goes from steep to stupid steep. I gulped a handful of the cool water in hope that it’d somehow help prepare for the hands on knees push that faced us. By now Scott Sadler’s pre-Ben Alpine training seemed to be paying off as he stormed up the grassy bank and into the clouds, leaving “Go’on Rossy” shouts of support echoing behind us.

The green of the grass turned to grey, as we scrambled over loose rock and scree. It was just a case of head down and get on with it. All of sudden the first of the fast lads came into view; Rob Jebb (Bingley) and Martin Mikkleson-Barron (Borrowdale) hurtling towards us and back down the mountain. It was sort of reassuring – confirming the climb doesn’t go on forever. As it flattened out a bit, attempts at actual running were being made. It was a great relief to to pick up the pace and I felt surprisingly good, managing to gain a few places.

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Patrick Brennan

By now the clag was thick and it started to play tricks with my mind. But no, it wasn’t a mirage; the cluster of figures surrounding that cairn was the summit! The top of Britain’s highest mountain. I’d done it. It all went a bit weird at this point. Everything seemed to slow down including myself to a triumphant couple of strides as I thanked the marshalls. Dazed and disorientated, I almost felt like sitting down for a bit to admire the view (if there had been one) but I soon snapped out of it thanks to a reassuringly recognisable Mancunian voice coming mysteriously out of the clag (they do say God is Manc. Well Mike Garry does, but I’m not sure) “Halfway there now Pat. Keep goin lad”. Eh? Hang on. Oh yeah it’s Richy Campbell – Rossendale’s official summit support crew, and he’s bloody right! I’ve got to get back down now…

The Tinman

The Tinman

I set off like a mad man attacking the boulders and trying to go with the looser stuff. I latched onto the back of a small group of four runners containing at least one white vest of a local Lochaber runner and we veered off to the right. It sort of felt wrong but I went with it. A brief traffic jam slowed us to a halt thanks to a minor boulder avalanche. Our little group quickly checked up on each other with shouts of “Alright?” in various accents and we were off again. Considering this near miss we must’ve been going well because I spotted another Rossy vest to the left. It was Scott Sadler again, picking his way down through the grey boulders.The Scree soon turned into the infamous grassy bank. A succession of big loose grassy steps which would normally be fine, but after all the climbing, plus hundreds of meters of scree decent – my legs disagreed. This is when the wheels fell off.

All of a sudden someone injected concrete into my legs and the ballet skips from the scree became a distant memory. I stumbled back over the Red Burn and just hung on by trying to stay up right. Get back into a rhythm and legs will recover soon enough, right? Wrong.

Dave Bradley

Dave Bradley

 

 

 

My weak legs did manage to get me down without any major incident and onto the final mile of road before getting back to the playing fields and the finish funnel in 2:03. Nearly but not quite under that 2 hr mark. I can’t say that I wasn’t a touch disappointed but no meither. I don’t think that I could of tried any harder or gone much faster. Well, not today anyway. There is always next year.

Scott Sadler

Scott Sadler

What a race. Stripped back it’s only a straight up and down fell race. There is races with more interesting routes. Less intense and more varied terrain. It’s so technical from start to finish that I doubt you could ever get your head up to really do the views justice, even on a good day.But there is something about the Ben. Perhaps it’s the history. William Swan, a barber from Fort William, is the first recorded person to run up and down in 1895. Maybe it’s because for that brief moment at the summit you are the highest person on this whole island. But more than anything it’s the feeling that it’s little you verses that bloody big hill.

Joe Jonston was the first Rossendale Harrier back in 10th with a cracking run of 1:44:55. Which was a great effort only narrowly missing out on first U23 in his first do at The Ben. More to come there I’d say. I think that makes 22 Ben Nevis Races for Andy Lee which is some effort. With Alan and Helen Yeoman notching up another Ben each. Ian Barnes also did really well coming back from a long time out with a nasty injury. Mick Toman was just out run at the finish by an eager Dave Bradley (reports, in the pub later that evening, of a push are yet to be confirmed at the time of writing) who dipped at the finish to beat Mick and his PB by 10 minutes. As for the sub two hour wannabees? Well you could say that they failed but they tried.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)

Full Results – http://www.bennevisrace.co.uk/pdf/Results_List2014.pdf

God is a Manc – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L61okbUrdg0

http://godisamanc.wordpress.com/

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The unlikely (to get under two hour) lads

The unlikely (to get under two hour) lads

Post race scran

Post race scran

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