The second round of Calder Valley’s club championship took place last Sunday with the medium category Ian Roberts Memorial race from Marsden Cricket Club.
A bumper contingent of red and white descended upon the picturesque cricket ground, which was bathed in glorious sunshine.
The 6.4m/843ft route is not to be underestimated as it combines a tricky combination of track, climb, mud, rapid descent and Grimley-esque knee high tussocks.
The race is in memory of Holmfirth Harriers’ former star fell runner who died after being struck by lightning in the Italian Alps.
Calder’s young star Joe Crossfield made the early running and was closely tracked by fellow colt, the whippet-like Jack Ross from Staffordshire Moorlands AC.
They scrapped it out over the initial climb to Swellands Reservoir with Joe ultimately settling into a decent lead and looking good for another win.
Tucked in behind were Penistone’s Andy Swift, Colin Walker from Pudsey & Bramley, Calder’s pin-up Jonny Helliwell and a clutch of Holmfirth Harriers.
As the leading group turned to face the daunting rake up Pule Hill, a local marshall allowed Joe run 30-odd yards or so off course.
Demoted to third place and somewhat miffed, Crossfield hit the afterburners. He had just caught the shoulder of the leader Ross at the summit when disaster struck and his calf muscle went twang.
A disconsolate Crossfield was left to trudge back to the start, rueing his bad luck.
Ross took full advantage to win in an excellent time of 48:33, with Andy Swift of Penistone in second in 48:45.
Calder’s cause was picked up by Helliwell, who put in another top class run for third.
The ladies race was won by Helen Berry of Holmfirth Harriers in 56:39 and 22nd overall.
In second was Calder’s super-vet Sally Newman, continuing her splendid start to the year in 36th.
Sally made light work of the knee deep, trap-door tussocks on the rapid descent toward Butterly Clough and again showed she’s one of the most consistent performers.
Gillian Wisbey can also be pleased with an excellent 112th place as her dedicated early season training schedule continues to bear fruit.
Elsewhere, Liam Gough, Richard Sunderland, the returning Steve Smithies, Graham Hill, Jim Mosley and Spartacus himself, Garry Traviss, contested an excellent top order battle.
Traviss recovered from losing a shoe to ensure a host of Calder runners in the top quartile of the finishers.
Former Red Star football legend Richard Ingram put in an excellent run, and ever-presents Andy Thorpe and Dave Culpan once more kept the red and white flag flying in the midfield.
Graham Davy, who has just about dried out from his Trog marshalling duties, came in a splendid 122nd.
Ingram was the highest Calder finisher at the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round (10m/1934ft) near Burnley the day before.
This came after the retirements of Royd Rocket Mark O’Connor and swarthy pocket dynamo Ben Frechette.
They came a cropper in the eerie mists atop Pendle Hill but will hope to be fit for Saturday’s Howarth Hobble – no small undertaking at 32 miles.
The race was won by Pudsey & Bramley’s Rob Hope with Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson winning the ladies’ race.