Calder Valley FR’s Ben Mounsey was crowned Yorkshire champion for the second year running when the season got going in earnest on Saturday.
Todmorden Harriers hosted the Flower Scar race, the first English Championship counter as well as the annual Yorkshire Championship race.
Mounsey finished fifth in a star-studded field to add to his victory at Great Whernside last Autumn.
Calder packed nine runners in the top 25 to take the team prize - one of the club men’s finest achievements - while the women came second with Gayle Sugden showing the way in 16th.
The event was staged in the usual expert fashion by Harriers, out of the splendid Todmorden Cricket Club. The race is a ‘Class A - Short race’, of 5.5miles and 1400ft.
The women got events underway on a fine morning.
Ambleside pair Annie Conway and Sarah McCormack again demonstrated the calibre of Lakeland clubs with a brilliant 1-2, beating favourite Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley) into a distant third place.
Sugden showed that the mantle of top Calder lady now sits snugly atop her head while not far behind were bouncing bombshell Sally Newman and super steady Jo Buckley in 21st and 22nd respectively.
Pocket rocket Lindsey Oldfield was 26th.Iron lady Jackie Scarf, was barely out of breath in 58th, and further back Carolyn Shimwell and Sharon Godsman kept each other company all the way round.
It’s difficult to do the quality of the men’s field justice. In stark contrast, the quality of the field at Centre Vale continues to be a disgrace. The consistency of the main area of this once majestic park is now somewhere between the Somme, a bowl of cold porridge and Derby County’s Baseball Ground inthe early 70s.
It was not the best surface for local gun Ben Mounsey to execute his trademark bullet start but he duly led the race out past the band stand like a scene from Benny Hill, round the field and to the foot of the big climb up to Todmorden Edge and Flower Scar.
This ‘eyeballs out’ strategy usually brings victory but it soon became clear that among this calibre of runner, plan B might be needed.
“Trying to hang onto the coat tails of Simon Bailey was too tough a task, so I switched my aim of first to a top five finish and winning the Yorkshire Championship,” he said.
He tagged onto the back of Tom Addison to the top of the main climb and passed him on the descent.
Simon Bailey of Mercia powered to victory in 38.39. Rob Hope (Bingley) and Morgan Donnelly (Borrowdale) completed the top three.
Mounsey took fifth, reward for the 65 miles training he puts in per week alongside Gav Mulholland and Karl Gray, who were ninth and 11th. Welsh galactico Math Roberts debuted for the club in a brilliant seventh place.
Jason Wilf Williams was a dazzling 15th, Shaun Godsman 19th, Darren Kay 21st, Tim Ellis 23rd and Tod postie Alex Whittem 25th.
The magic dust wore off on the rest of Calder with excellent runs from club champ Mark O’Connor in 86th, Lee Shimwell in 122nd and Mark Wharton in 152nd.
The upper-midfield men were vying for honours too with only a couple of minutes between TobyCotterill, Iain Glendinning, Iain Powell, John Killerby, Ben Frechette and Jim Mosley.
The red and white just kept on coming with excellent runs from older hands Andy Clarke, Phil Scarf, John Minta, Tim Brooks and Brian ‘Horsepower’ Horsley; new boy Phil Beecroft, Darren Sugden and Dave Culpan.