Clag Happy

Black Combe
AM – 13km (8m)/1000m (3281ft)
Sat 12th March 2016


You’ve got to love racing! It’s not only one of the few times I’m allowed out with a responsible adult present, but often it’s the banter and surprises that make the day unforgettable.

Responsible adult duties were taken on by Mr Tinman, who it was revealed does lots of very grown-up stuff and is often called upon as double act to high profile politicians; not sure if he’s Ant or Dec though – but who is?

Filling a two hour drive of pre-race chat is not as difficult as it sounds and with a packed car of five fell runners and kit, banter soon turns to recent race performances and the explanation of the the not so politically correct term ‘chicked’. Obviously used by the yoof, I had no idea, a description of the superior prowess of a female athlete compared to your own sloppy effort and an opening debate that the hard working organisers of Women’s Week would have been proud.

First hints of what the day had in store came passing a street sign named ‘Black Combe View’ the blanket of opaque white clag that loomed above was ironic; like a work of modern art complete with cryptic message – the only thing clear was it was going to be an interesting race.

Race organisers had done a fantastic job of hiding the parking, tricking everyone into thinking they’d arrived too early, until turning down the lane to the line of cars that disappeared in the distance and off into the sea.

Cosy changing facilities meant you were hit with just how cold it actually was out of the marquee and in the field but between running in and out, changing from vest to base layer, to long sleeve base layer, buff then gloves, it wasn’t long before the split start saw the ladies disappearing into the unknown with the men setting off not much after.

As a championship race there was a very strong field in both the female and male categories. Athletes you hold in awe, amazed by the hours spent dedicated honing their skills and able to hold their own at the front of the field without the advantage of the dancing conga line that we all benefit from further down the pack. Or that’s the idea!
I made a mental note from earlier advice of not going hard off the start and save something for the second climb. Having done the race in 2014 it soon became all too familiar. The first climb didn’t seem as bad as I remembered but then the visibility started to be a problem and all you could do was try desperately to keep sight of those in front.

Sam and Pat got off well and myself, Andy and Jon seemed to jockey for position but they got away on the drag to White Combe which went on forever. I caught up with them at the Fodder Rack. In fact I caught up with about the last 30 people that had passed me as they loomed out of the mist on top of the marshals from all directions. Big thanks to the marshals here, they really had their work cut out. You could hear the panic in the frantic shouts trying to recognise each race number for the other to scribble furiously. This worked in my favour and got me back within my group.
Then the second climb! Exactly as I remembered and it took no prisoners. I caught up with Jon and we had a moan, as only grumpy old men can – not of the climb but how we should have settled with vest only and how ridiculously hot it was!

Andy had powered off and as the climb levelled so did Jon (powered off, not levelled). I won’t see them again. A cheeky look at my compass on reaching the checkpoint and off over the heather to the descent path. This really paid off as I hit the path further down and it was a while before Jon came hurtling past. Expecting Andy any time I looked over to my right to…Rob Hope!!!


Now I’ve done quite a few fell races and we’ve all looked for that photo online where you can clearly remember majestically bounding gazelle-like over the tussocks with a huge grin, loving life but the harsh reality, closer to the truth, is you realise the years haven’t been kind, the painful expression suggests maybe taking things a bit easier at your time of life and you know there’s a thriving bridge club at the community centre. So where’s a photographer when you need one, your tripping over them normally and yet the one chance of recording for all time, me battling down a descent for a whole 5 seconds with one of fell runnings elite and a photographer… nowhere to be seen! I was going to ask if he’d not taken the advice to pace himself till the second climb but it looked like he’d had a bad day at the office. I’m sure any reply would’ve been in good humour.

Well there were some big surprises at the finish. A mixture of elated and bemused faces, as stories were swapped. The fell sage Fishwick often says ‘only in fell running’ a never more apt line and why I’ve come to love our sport. No matter how much regard we have for our fell running greats, it’s reassuring to know that they are just human and are faced with and have to deal with the same issues we all do in each race. The ability to take it all with a pinch of salt then get back to their goals is what matters.


The results made very interesting reading and it turns out the coordinates penned on Toshy’s arm must have in fact been fell groupie mobiles! Pat’s 7th fastest descent is incredible amongst such a strong field, with top efforts from Sophie (our only lady) and the usual suspects that turned out from Rossendale.

Now I doubt Rob will be dining out on his tale of the day he battled for his place down the descent from Black Combe with a Rossy Harrier, only just managing to break away, anytime soon. It’s an image I’d rather not spoil with the truth of a photograph to be honest but I think we’ll all take something away from the day, be it a lesson learnt, a string of extraordinary scalps or just the one shoe!


Not taking anything away from Calders poster boy Ben’s achievement. I think the day belongs to Victoria Wilkinson. Incredible, establishing such a dominant lead in those conditions and truly out in front on her own. Not only that but breaking a long established course record, a fine ambassador for Women in Sport, Sport England take note. In that respect I don’t think anyone could disagree – we’ve all been ‘chicked’!

Well done Victoria ‘this girl can’.

Race Report by Scott Hitchen

Full Results and Splits

Classic Win

Different races are great for different reasons. Everyone has their favourites. It could be the landscape, maybe the long history of legends who have won it. It might be the pie & pint in the pub at the end. It could be that they’re just really bloody hard. Then there are a few special races that are all of these things rolled into one, and therefore romantically referred to as The Lakeland Classics. An elite series of races. All tough, all long (or super long) and all on every fellrunner’s wish list. Originally set up to save a collection of races from extinction, due to runner numbers being on a steep decline, a time based (not position) scoring system was set up as a series and The Lakeland Classics Trophy was formed.

Most people just love having a go and being part of these great races, perhaps dreaming of a top fifty. Imagine a top ten? But then, somebody has to win them…

So when Sam Tosh was the first Rossendale Harrier to do so in as long as anyone at the club can remember, I thought I’d ask him about his best season to date.

You’ve had some good results in recent years but it seemed like you went up a notch last season. What was different about 2015?

First and foremost I’d say consistency, both in training and racing. From May through to October I was able to race regularly whilst keeping up some decent volume/quality in training. It was the first time in a number of years that I’d managed this, with 2014 being a virtual write off in racing terms. Of course the five months of winter I spent in New Zealand, working and travelling, did no harm either!

Apart from your time spent travelling. Did anything else get in the way of achieving consistency? And how did you overcome this?

Returning to the UK I started full time work again in June. As almost everyone can appreciate, this in itself provides a challenge. Whilst the average day leaves me with plenty of time to train, a busy period or bad traffic soon sees me squeezing training in at all hours. Further to this being based in Birmingham half the week did my climbing legs no favours! Other than that it was mostly a case of trying to stay healthy and injury free. Whilst I had to manage some ongoing niggles during the season I was still able to train throughout with certain adaptations i.e. No downhill running / more cycling. Anyone who trained with me will have definitely noticed the contrived routes and sessions.
You must of been feeling pretty confident going into Langdale, but did you think that you could actually win the race?

With it being towards the end of the season I knew what sort of shape I was in, I was confident even with it being my longest race of the year. After managing wins at a few shorter races earlier in the season. I was standing on the start line of all my races aiming to win.

The only small doubt I had was route choice. Being between both the Ian Hodgson & FRA Relays I didn’t get chance for a recce. Whilst I’ve run most of the course before, it was 7 years ago! This was the main influence on my tactics as I knew there were some experienced runners likely to be at the sharp end.


Photo by Andy Jackson


Onto the race itself. How did that pan out? Did route choice play apart in the end and how did you get on with the infamous Bad Step? 

A front group of 5 formed early on including local and past winner Ben Abdelnoor. Up to Esk Hause a pattern emerged of me leading the climbs whilst he would pick up the pace on the descents and rougher ground. It was a clear day so there were no difficulties with nav and his route choice seemed sound. I stole a few meters on the stepped path to Esk Hause so waited for the others, making sure I got the right trod under Esk Pike. I was surprised here when Ben and Morgan Donnelly decided to go up and over, I stuck to my guns with Tom Brunt and Andy Fallas, trying to keep pace on the race trod below. It paid dividends as we opened a 30 ~ 60 sec gap on the other two. Although it was short lived and a slight error contouring from Three Tarns saw us all re-group on the final climb to Crinkles high point.  Here I was happy to follow as we stuck left, tip toeing above a big drop before swinging back in below the Bad Step. Having not been down it before I was more of a beached whale than mountain goat; substance over style! No real time gaps opened but Ben managed to gain a small amount by avoiding it to the right. Following the short (but agonising) kick up Blisco the final descent was tactical. I picked a good line off the top and dropped the others. Not knowing the lower half meant I was reluctant to go it alone so slowed to re-join the train. Finally crossing Blea Tarn road, the pace went from steady to eyeballs-out in a matter of seconds. It was after negotiating the endless gates I managed a cramp filled sprint to pip Morgan and the others by one second.


Langdale is one of the true classic races of the sport. You must’ve been over the moon?

Together with my win at Burnsall and getting my local race record at Knowl Hill it was a real highlight of the year. I’ve been racing on the fells 10+ yrs now and even as a junior I aspired to win a Lakeland Classic. Over the moon would’ve been an understatement!
With it being a fairly long and close fought race I was knackered immediately after but I soon recovered with a pint and pie, after which I was able to appreciate it a bit more. Adding more significance was that I’d started the race 7 yrs ago, that wasn’t such a good day and ended with my first DNF after a fall coming off Bowfell. As such to finally come back and win the race made it even better.


Beating Dave Lewis’s record at Knowl Hill (photo by Steve Bateson)

Moving onto 2016. How do you plan to build on from what you achieved last year?

When I look back on my training I think there are some significant improvements that can be made. 2015 was far from perfect in this regard so if I’m able to learn from mistakes I’d like to think I can see better results. From racing in 2015 I’m also well aware of where my strengths & weaknesses lie, hopefully over winter I’ve been able to work on the later whilst not diminishing and of my fortes. Likewise at 24 I’m relatively young (especially in fell running terms!) so each year I’m still seeing improvements in strength regardless.

If you look at the men’s championships over the last decade, the top end of Fell running has been dominated by a the same three or four names (Jebb, Bailey, Hope, Taggert etc). As they get a little older (but not much slower as yet), do you think it’s time for a fresh group to emerge? 

Yes, their consistency is what I probably find most impressive, churning out results year after year! I think there are now some younger runners starting to challenge, Tom Addison’s 2014 English Championship win was good to see. There are a number of others who are becoming increasingly competitive and at the same time it’s good to see Rossendale’s own improving, in both relays our average age must have been in the mid 20’s. From a personal perspective yes I’m definitely aiming to be in and amongst the group of names mentioned, to have their longevity would be great but first and foremost I’m focussed on enjoying and making the most of 2016.


Many thanks to the following photographers for the use of their photos. Please check out their sites here.

Stephen Wilson at Grand Day Out Photography

Steve Bateson at Running Pix

Andy Jackson





Rochdale Three Day Event

Event report by Jon Tinman

Ever wondered what it would feel like to run 3 races – road,  trail and fell – in 3 days?

First race – Friday 12th June 7.30 pm – 6 miles on the road from Norden up Edenfield Road and back through Ashworth Valley. There was a good turnout from Rossendale Harriers: 6 women and 5 men for all 3 races. It was hot and humid and it kept threatening rain. I prayed for rain but none came before we set off at a daft pace up Edenfield Road.  Ashley Holt played a waiting game and strolled home in 4th. Lorraine Hopley made her intentions clear from the off, finishing first woman home. For me, not having done any road races, the pace and intensity was a bit of an eye opener, to say the least. I had managed, just about, to keep pace with John Ealing. I had no idea how it would feel to try and race the following day, but at least I wouldn’t have much time to worry about it.

Knowl Hill Fell race Norden Rochdale

Lorraine Hopley winner of Rochdale 3 day Event

Second race – Saturday 13th June 11.00 am – 6 mile trail race. After a leisurely 14 hours recovery we were all back in Norden.  My legs felt like they had been injected with concrete. Naden Valley appeared to have its own micro climate – sub- tropical. It was hotter and even more humid than the night before.  It felt as if all the oxygen had been removed from the air. I had to remind myself that Michael Toman ran 2 or 3 races back to back all the time.

Everyone who had done the event before said that the trail race was the hardest of the 3, because there was so little time to recover from the first race.

Apparently it was hotter last year. If so, it must have been tough. The climb in each lap was not as bad as I had been
led to believe but it played on your mind as you headed back round for the second and third time. The route is a great trail run and kinder on the joints than charging on tarmac down Ashworth Valley.

After the second race Ash had eased himself into first place but Lorraine had dropped to second. In my own race John Ealing had taken over a minute’s lead from me and I couldn’t see any chance of making that up in the third race. In fact I couldn’t see myself getting out of bed the following morning.

Sam Tosh - Winner and owner of new record at Knowl Hill

Sam Tosh – Winner and owner of new record at Knowl Hill

Third race – Sunday 14th June 11.00 am – Knowl Hill Fell Race  Whether it was relief that the end would soon be here or the comfort of the familiarity of a fell race, I felt quite good as I made my to the start; at least I did until I realised there were over a hundred additional runners, all on fresh legs.

It turned out to be a cracking race in superb running conditions. I didn’t manage to make up the time on John Ealing but at least restored some honour by reducing the difference by a few seconds.

Knowl Hill Fell race Norden Rochdale

Anthony Dalton 2nd beating old Dave Lewis record at Knowl Hill

In what turned out to be a good day for Rossendale Harriers, Sam Tosh took first place in a new record time; Anthony Dalton was second; Ashley Holt fourth and first overall in the three day event; Lorriane Hopley was first woman in the 3 day event and Rossendale Harriers took first team prizes in the both Knowl Hill fell race and the Three Day Event.

Knowl Hill Fell race Norden Rochdale

Ash Holt Men’s winner of Rochdale 3 day event

We all owe a huge debt to everyone at Rochdale Harriers for the superb organisation of the races. Thanks for a great 3 days.

All photos used with kind permission of Steve Bateson at . Please contact Steve for prints via website.

Midgley Moor

Midgley Moor (BS)

28 February ’15

5mile/1250ft climb`


Thornton Taylor and Michael Toman battling

A record number of entries registered at the pretty setting of Booth cricket club for the Midgley Moor race. This was thanks in part, to the race being the first counter in the Run the Moors Grand Prix which acts as a joint club championship for several clubs from the South West Pennine area.


Jeff Hignett on the way out

Pre race chat was dominated by route choice. A rarity in shorter races but this would surely have a part to play. Although the majority of the race is unflagged, I think you’d struggle to get properly lost, unless it was really claggy. However, vital seconds, minutes even, could be gained by picking the best lines.


Janet Howarth looking far  happier than her brother Will (below) at this point.

The race starts with a stiff climb that typifies the steep sided valleys of Calderdale. Once things start to level off a little farm fields are swapped for wilder, heather moor. This is where the fun starts. A follow my leader fashion was quickly replaced with a pebble dash of runners scattered all over Midgley Moor, taking several different trods. Or even opting for the more kamikaze style of out and out heather bashing to cut crucial corners.

Keith Walmsley following Will Lowe (it's safer in a club vest Keith)

Keith Walmsley following Will Lowe (it’s safer in a club vest Keith)

The finish is a bounding decent, where you can really let go, all the way back down to the farmer’s field. Finishers were rewarded by the local farmer, who was handing out the newest post race recovery drink to hit the market “RegoMoo” but it reminded me of a pint bottle of semi skimmed, if I’m being honest.


Emma Smith all smiles

First place for the Men went to Shaun Godsman of Calder Valley Fell. With the local club also picking up the men’s team prize. Helen Berry of Holmfirth took the Women’s honours, with Clayton taking the women’s team prize. Ken Taylor of Rossendale won his category yet again, being the first vet 60 male.


1st Male Vet60 Ken Taylor

A healthy number Rossendale Harriers turned out, which is great to see. In previous (recent) years you could count them on one hand at these sort of local races. So the club is definatley going in the right direction on the fells. A special mention goes out to Rossendale Harrier Keith Walmsley for completing his first fell race. He seemed to of had a good do, but was reportedly heard afterwards saying “it’s a bit dangerous. Isn’t it?” Only if you let yourself believe it Keith.

Full results found here.

Thanks again to Woodentops for the use of their excellent photos.

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.



Results can be found here

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.


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.


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

Nowt doin without these lads. Big thannks to

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.


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.



Photos kindly supplied by Accelerate running store in Sheffield.

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 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 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.


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 –

God is a Manc –


The unlikely (to get under two hour) lads

The unlikely (to get under two hour) lads

Post race scran

Post race scran