Holly wins but Alex’s race takes a turn for the worse

Heptonstall Festival Race start
Heptonstall Festival Race start

Holly Page provided a popular local success at the second Heptonstall Festival fell race, which went ahead in spite of late fears that it would have to be cancelled due to poor weather.

The Calder Valley Fell Runners member, who lives in the village, was the first female home in a 100-plus field last Saturday.

Page, who has won several races in recent weeks, was 15th overall in 59 minutes 29 seconds.

There was drama in the men’s race. Alex Whittem looked like making it a double for Calder Valley but the clear leader took a wrong turn after five and a half miles and finished seventh.

The honours went to Bingley Harriers’ Christopher Smale in a new race best of 52 minutes and nine seconds.

The fact that the race went ahead at all was testament to the hard work of the race organisers and the co-operation and generosity of landowners Anthony Holt, Hazel Noble, Tony Ingram, and David Lumb.

Heavy rain throughout June had meant that the fields used for the final stages of the race and finishing tunnel had not been mown. Further torrential rain on Friday added to the problems.

Local resident Mark Wigg used a 1948 agricultural grass cutter to create a track through the waist high grass on Friday evening, race organisers having agreed with landowners that the runners would keep to the track to protect the rest of the field.

Plans to safely park around 100 cars on nearby roads outside the village were also put in place with the usual field for parking out of use.

The six-mile contest was started by a sharp blast from the whistle of traction engine “Ciffy” who was raising money for Cystic Fibrosis and is likely to return for next year’s race.

Runners set out from outside the White Lion Pub at 11am and headed across the fields before crossing Draper’s Lane and descending 500 feet on a slippery footpath to the Blue Pig.

After a brief respite over the Horse Bridge and across the road, runners were taken on the 1000 feet ascent past the Pecket Well War Memorial and on to High Brown Knoll.

After a loop around the boggy moor following the well established path, runners retraced their steps to the final climb from Midgehole to Lee Bank.

Smale was also the first over 40s runner while Peter Hughes (over 50s, 60:23), Jeff Hignett (over 60s, 61:44) and Bryan Pycroft (over 70s, 100:02) took the other male veterans prizes.

The women’s veterans prizes went to Jackie Scarfe (over 40s, 71:12) and Aileen Baldwin (over 50s and over 60s, 71:47).

Calder Valley took the men’s team prize through Andy Thorpe (second), Whittem (seventh) and Romain Pierrel (11th overall) and made it a double through Page, Jackie Scarfe (third) and Louise Marix-Evans (seventh).

Smale and Page received cut glass trophies and all the winners got bottles of Copper Dragon beer.

Calder Valley: 2, Andy Thorpe 52:43; 7, Alex Whittem 54:51; 11, Romain Pierrel 57:32; 14, Roy Dobson 59:13; 15, Holly Page 59:29; 16, James Williams 59:57; 21, Graham Hill 60:59; 28, Phil Scarf 64:07; 31, Ben Frechette 64:20; 40, Richard Sunderland 67:15; 41, Steve Grimley 67:45; 42, Tim Brooke 68:12; 49, Charlie Boyce 69:32; 51, Martin Whitehead 69:48; 57, Jackie Scarf 71:12; 60, Dave Culpan 71:52; 62, Paul Taylor 72:24; 63, Graham Lloyd 72:47; 67, Andy Thorpe 74:49; 71, Blair Garrett 74:58; 72, Louise Marix Evans 75:02; 75, Gillian Wisbey 76:22; 105, Toby Sydes 88:03.

Todmorden: 5, Andrew Wrench 54:03; 23, Dave Collins 61:20; 32, Joe Daniels 64:33; 34, Clive Greatorex 64:59; 56, Garry Ouested 71:09; 65, Kath Brierley 72:59; 85, Paul Cruthers 78:37; 109, Reg Czudek 98:18.