Following their second place in 2012, Calder Valley Fell Runners men were hopeful of a bold showing in the annual Ian Hodgson Relay from Brotherswater, Patterdale in the Lake District.
However, poor weather resulted in a catalogue of navigational errors and a disappointing outcome.
This relay, held in memory of a Leeds runner killed in a road accident the day after winning the prestigious Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Cumbria, is over four legs with competitors running in pairs.
Last year another runner, Darren Holloway, died of heart failure on leg four and it was to the credit of his club Pennine Fell Runners that they finished this year’s event in a best ever fourth position.
Calder Valley were the first Calderdale team to complete the 24 mile route, finishing 14th from 70 teams. Calder Valley B were 29th and Todmorden Harriers A 30th.
The event was won by Borrowdale runners for the 17th time in 26 years.
Valley’s junior international Max Wharton and Joe Washington finished the 4.5 mile first leg from Patterdale to Hartsop in third place in 35 minutes with Washington doing well to hang on to the young Calder valley starlet.
Equally impressive was the B team’s only female, Jo Buckley, who put in a sterling performance with Rob Paradise to finish 26th.
Next up for the A team were in-form Shaun Godsman and Alex Whittem, who took up the mantle for the seven mile run to Kirkstone Pass. They got hopelessly lost in the mist, finishing 16 minutes behind many of the top teams.
The B team combination of Steve Smithies and Bill Johnson fared much better and despite a number of small errors minimised any time loss.
Next for the A came a blend of youth and experience with Crossfield pairing up with crack orienteer James Logue to carry the baton to Sykeside campsite. Logue made a poor navigational error and uncharacteristically lost even more time to rival clubs.
The B team enjoyed a very successful leg with Mark Goldie and Lee Shimwell quicker than Logue and Crossfield.
Valley’s captain Ben Mounsey and Tim Ellis took the baton for the A team on the anchor leg and overhauled a number of teams on the tough 7.5 mile leg to the finish.
A navigational error at Fairfield cost them around six minutes but they still managed the seventh quickest time of the day.
Ian Symington and Johnny Helliwell ran solidly for the final leg of the B team and beat local foes Tod by nine seconds.
Calder Valley will hope that this was just a poor dress rehearsal for the British fell relays, held in Llanberis, Snowdonia in two weeks.