Gayle shows the way as Valley runners enjoy life on Edge

Single file: a spectacular shot of runners  in the Blackstone Edge fell race
Single file: a spectacular shot of runners in the Blackstone Edge fell race

Calder Valley FR had 47 runners and Todmorden Harriers 20 on the start line at Lydgate village near Littleborough last Wednesday for the Blackstone Edge Fell Race.

The race brought particular success for Valley with Gayle Sugden leading home a 1-2-3 for them in the ladies race and the club taking both team prizes.

The race is a classic Category A race and has been organised by local fell running legend Kev Shand for more years than anyone can remember.

Famed for his sense of humour and surreal prizes ranged from toilet rolls to pineapples.

The sun was shining as 135 runners set off for the steep climb to the Trig Point.

Horwich’s Danny Hope started steadily and slowly made his way to the front of the field. He started to forge ahead once over the drain en route to his seventh victory in the contest.

Hope finished 16 seconds ahead of Valley’s Alex Whittem (30.40).

Unsurprisingly Calder Valley then packed the top 10 to easily take the men’s team prize.

Notably, it was the young guns that clocked the next best times.

Joe Crossfield (third in 31.37 ) and Jack Denton (fourth in 32.31 ) demonstrated that the future is bright for the red white hoops.

Mark O’Connor (sixth), Jon Smith (eighth in 33.18) and Martin Howard (10th in 33.46) all had fine runs to give Valley six of the top 10.

Not a bad result considering the majority of the A team were resting following their exploits on the Stretton Hills and the Calderdale Way.

Calder Valley’s ladies went one better as Gayle Sugden’s impressive 36.27 was enough to see off all her rivals.

Anne Johnson (38.18) and Lindsey Oldfield (40.15) chased her home.

First for Tod was Paul Hobbs in ninth place. He held off Nick Barber (11th), who took a tumble in the mud on the way back down.

Rebecca Patrick was fourth lady (also first FV45) and Mel Blackhurst fifth lady (also second FV50).

Todmorden results: 9, Paul Hobbs 33:44; 11, Nick Barber 33:52; 16, Andy Mcfie 34:57 ; 28, Darren Graham 36:37; 30, Matt Flanagan 37:11; 47, Andy Forbes 39:32; 53, Duncan Ritchie 39:47; 54, Stuart Wolstenholme 39:52; 61, Matthew Annison 40:40 ; 67, Rebecca Patrick 41:12; 71, Melanie Blackhurst 50 42:02; 86, Guy Whitmore 43:31; 87, David Leslie 43:32; 100, Clare Harris 45:28; 106, Paul Cruthers 46:41; 120, Kevin Coughlan 52:41; 123, Moyra Parfitt 53:21; 126, Peter Ehrhardt 54:15; 132, Rachel Whitaker 1:08:26; 135, Ian Campbell 1:42:00

Veteran 60 runner Tony Steward was Calder Valley’s representative at Helvellyn and the Dodds on Sunday.

He finished 148th out of 168 finishers over 15 miles, with 4400 feet of climbing, starting from Threlkeld Cricket Club. He set a PB of 3hrs 47mins in his third attempt at the race.

Simon Booth (Borrowdale) won in 2hr 18mins and Hannah Horsburgh (Keswick AC) smashed the women’s record by 15 minutes and finished 10th overall in 2hrs 32mins.

Heptonstall’s Holly Page, not currently attached to a club, and Calder Valley’s Jo Buckley finished first and second in the women’s race at the Austwick Amble, which is part of a traditional Dales gala.

Page set a course record for the 8.1 miles and 1197 ft of climbing with 56.03 while Buckley finished in 58.07.

Wharfedale’s Nick Charlesworth won the men’s race with Calver Valley pair Steve Smithies and Dave Culpan 12th and 107th respectively in 55.11 and 71.29.

Calder Valley’s Barbara Lonsdale was seventh lady finisher in the 19 mile Trincea Trail race in the Italian Alps, 37 miles north west of Milan.

She was 79th overall out of 423 in a contest which had 5,200 feet of climbing.

Lonsdale said: “The race was tough. It was really hot and I struggled with cramp for the last few kilometres.

“The route weaved its way through and up the mountain via the tunnels built in the first world war.

“In true fell running style I cycled 50km home afterwards - very slowly!”