Calderdale Way Relay: Valley foiled

Michael King and Steve Sladdin of Halifax Harriers on the Calderdale Way relay
Michael King and Steve Sladdin of Halifax Harriers on the Calderdale Way relay

TWELVE HUNDRED runners competed in Britain’s largest club-organised off-road race, the Calderdale Way Relay, at the weekend.

They were split into 100 teams, made up of pairs of runners each covering one of six legs on a relentlessly hilly 51 mile route.

The first leg started at West Vale and headed to Cragg Vale. There were further changeovers at Todmorden, Blackshaw Head, Wainstalls and Shelf before a new finish this year along the Hebble Trail to reach Halifax Harriers HQ at Spring Hall.

Chip timing was used for the first time, meaning results were instantly available and Wharfedale Harriers A foiled local team Calder Valley A’s bid to win the open category for a fifth time in seven years.

Wharfedale completed in 6 hours and 23 seconds. Valley finished eight and a half minutes behind with Karl Gray and Gavin Mullholland unable to make up an 11 minute deficit on the final leg.

Calder’s Tim Ellis and Andy Swift had finished leg one two minutes ahead of Barlick and four minutes ahead of Wharfedale.

Shaun Godsman and young buck Martin Howard came into Todmorden still ahead but Wharfedale had closed the gap to two minutes. Both teams had dropped Barlick by this point.

The short, fast leg three to Blackshaw Head was next and the Wharfedale runner overtook Calder’s James Logue, leaving Mark O’Connor with an eight second deficit.

Wharfedale now played their joker. Top runners Sam Watson and Ted Mason pulled away from Calder’s Johny Croston and Paul Haigh to take a lead of more than seven minutes at the Wainstalls handover.

Mark Taylor and Mark Burton lost more ground on the leg to Shelf and although Gray and Mullholland put in the fastest leg six of the day it was not enough.

Ribble Valley Harriers collected the mixed team title in 6:25:15, more than 50 minutes ahead of their closest rivals.

Holmfirth Harriers provided the winning ladies team in 7:51:48, just two minutes ahead of Wharfedale Harriers B.

The veteran 40-plus male category was topped by Todmorden Harriers, with Stainland Lions taking the equivalent ladies’ vets prize.

Event hosts Halifax Harriers entered three teams, all in the open category and they finished 21st, 32nd and 49th, with a number of fell racing debutants in action for them.

Calder Valley ladies were the eighth women’s team and 71st overall; the men’s B team came 17th with Dougie Zinnis and Steve Edwards fifth on the short, fast leg three; and Calder’s mixed C team were 74th.

Todmorden’s winning MV40 line-up comprised Andi McFie and Steve Pullen, club chairman Nick Barber and partner Jon Wright on leg two, Mark Rochester and Tristan Langois, Paul Hobbs and Darren Tweed, Robin Tuddenham and Peter Kerridge and Dan Taylor and Anthony Lee on the anchor leg.

Other Tod teams finished fourth place in the women’s event (43rd overall) and 30th and 36th in the open category.

Queensbury RC had two teams. The A team finished in a club best 13th place in a time of 6:55:50. The Queensbury B team finished 54th in 8:32:27.

Northowram Pumas had the eighth mixed team (50th overall), the 42nd-placed team in the open event (66th) and the 15th ladies team (94th).