Calder Valley’s Gayle Sugden was the star performer at the Good Shepherd Fell Race on Saturday, setting a new ladies course record as the race celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Todmorden Harriers’ Nick Barber was second in the men’s race ahead of a clutch of Calder Valley runners, whose men took the team prize.
Fine autumn sunshine blessed this year’s race ,rewarding the efforts of Calder Valley’s Steve Woodhead, who has helped secure the future of the event since taking over the organisation of the race.
The best entry since 2007 saw 106 runners make their way to Mytholmroyd on Saturday morning for this local classic.
The race has reputation for leaving the badly prepared to wander lost and bewildered across empty hill sides.
Covering a lung-busting 14 miles of moorland, including two tough ascents of Stoodley Pike, this year’s race once again turned on navigation errors at the front of the field.
Starting out from Dauber Bridge in Cragg Vale, the Shepherd’s flock made the first big ascent towards Stoodley Pike, Withins Reservoir, and the un-flagged, navigational sections across Withins Moor.
A three man group quickly pulled away from the pursuing pack, led by Barber and Calder Valley’s Joe Washington and Graeme Brown.
The turning point proved to be the tussock fields above Withen’s Reservoir where the lead runners lost vital time, allowing unattached Oliver James to enter the fray.
In a dramatic finale, James seized victory in 1:50:43 from Barber (1.51.27) with Calder Valley’s Ian Symington, Mark O’Conner, and Joe Washington taking the team prizes in fifth, sixth, and ninth respectively.
Sugden was only one minute behind in 13th place, setting a new ladies course record in 1.58.55.
For Harriers, Chris Goddard was sixth in 1.55.01 and Paul Hobbs 11th in 1.58.27 to give Tod second in the men’s team event, with just one point fewer than Valley.
Harriers’ Dan Taylor was 19th (2.02.53) and Dave Collins 21st (2.02.53) while Tom Barker, competing in his first event over six miles, was 37th (2.10.08) and V60 Reginald Czudek 106th ( (3.28.16).
The rest of field filtered back having enjoyed yet another great day out on the South Pennine moors, to be greeted by volunteers offering warm soup and drinks.