Calder Valley Fell Runners’ Tim Ellis and Holly Page put in spellbinding performances at the Bronte Way Fell Race.
There was a spine chilling feel of Halloween in the late October air as wicked weather hexed Sunday’s race, which started at Wycoller in the dark heart of Pendle Witch country.
The eight mile contest attracted a host of Calder Valley hopefuls keen to score points in the hotly-contested club championship.
The 180 runners had to cope with torrential rain, gale force winds and horizontal hail but Ellis and Page made light of conditions across the Bronte Moors to Haworth.
Ellis took the men’s race in 53.11, a full minute ahead of Wharfedale’s Sam Watson, whilst Page led the ladies race from start to finish, finishing five minutes clear. There was a memorable battle between Valley trio of Wharton, Smithies, and Paradise. Wharton led the way from the satanic storm-lashed moors of Lancashire into the sunbathed valleys of “God’s own county”, to the final 300 yards up Haworth’s cobbled high street.
With the finish line in sight, Smithies surged past his rival to finish in 1.02.14 for 21st place, taking pole position in the club vets’ table with one race left. Rob Paradise completed another heroic two-race weekend, finishing a minute behind in 27th.
The previous day, Valley’s Joe Crossfield had made a bold bid to win the Great Whernside fell race, a four mile category A Yorkshire Dales classic featuring 1555 feet of ascent.
Crossfield led 113 rivals from Kettlewell up to the moorland plateau with Ian Holmes in close pursuit. He maintained his advantage across the open fells to the final ascent before the wily Bingley veterans seized his chance, overtaking Crossfield on possibly the most exhilarating descent in the Dales.
Crossfield threw himself down the slope but Holmes won by 10 seconds in 31.49.
The true heroics, however, came at the Original Mountain Marathon in the Brecon Beacons. Teams of two have to carry their own food and tent in a two-day event.
Valley’s hard woman Linda Murgatroyd entered the OMM Long Score class with Stef French from Keighley & Craven. The pair ran across open fells and through horizontal rain for seven hours on day one, followed by a sleepless night in a freezing tent, before trekking five hours on day two, only for atrocious weather which threatened safety to end the event. The pair finish as third females.
Mike Wardle and Rod Sutcliffe came 30th in the same event, but performance of the day went to the father and son team of Phil and Ben Scarf in third. Ben’s mum Jackie completed the family weekend away with a 32nd place in the medium score event.
Toby Cotterill and ex-squaddie Jake Roy deserved bravery medals for the 39 miles and 10,000 ft they ran to come 44th in the C Class event.
In the Elite event, Bill Johnson and Helen Fines were second on day one in the mixed pairs before disaster struck. After almost burning their tent down, they then pitched it on a slope, which flooded and forced their retirement due to despair/lack of hope.
Valley results - Bronte Way: 1,Tim Ellis; 16, Tim Black; 17, Holly Page; 18, Andy Thorpe; 21, Stephen Smithies; 22, Mark Wharton; 27, Robert Paradise; 35, Graham Hil; 47, James Kershaw; 62, Richard Sunderland; 74, Barbara Lonsdale; 79, Andrew Wright; 80, Steve Grimley; 82, Brian Horsley; 83, Andrew Thorpe; 92, Kate Mansell; 96, Toby Sydes; 102, Michael Dean; 115, Helen Buchan; 134, Gillian Wibsey; 146, Mark Cullett. Whernside: 2, Joe Crossfield 32-00; 31; Robert Paradise 38-55; 39, James Kershaw 39-52; 68 Trevor Murgatroyd 44-30.