Smithies leads Valley charge in local event

Steve Smithies
Steve Smithies

STEVE Smithies and Jackie Scarf were the toast of the Calder Valley Fell Runners who participated in the annual Halifax Harriers-backed Mytholmroyd Fell Race.

Difficult conditons met the hardy runners with sheet ice along large stretches of the route meaning the event was at risk right up until Saturday evening.

It was only through a dramtic improvement - and the efforts of members of the Harriers, that the event went ahead with the course declared fit after many of the competitors had gathered for the event.

Smithies finished in an impressive 55.07 to take second place, just five seconds behind winner Chris Williams (55:02). Joe Washington and Rob Paradise completed a Calder Valley trio, securing the men’s team prize.

Not to be outdone, Scarf finished as first lady in 70.34, ahead of Burnden’s Lesley Fisher, and third-placed team-mate Helen Buchan.

As the ice melted, frozen moors and valleys turned to deep bog and mud, whilst a bracing wind added to the strength-sapping conditions.

Undeterred, Smithies battled through the elements to put in a strong performance, but as the race wore on the Calder Valley runner had to fight hard to beat off a last minute challenge from third placed Chris Greeenwood of Kent AC.

Greenwood had initially looked certain to win having broken away from the main pack, along with Bill Stewart of Holmfirth Harriers and Welsh runner Martin Cliffe of Eryi Runners.

However, events were soon to take a turn for the worse for the front runners as they inexplicably disappeared from the race somewhere along Luddenden Dene, just as the race reached its halfway point.

This dramatic turnaround left Smithies and the chasing group unaware that they had suddenly taken control of the top three positions.

“I only realised what had happened as I crossed the moor on the last mile of the route, when a guy suddenly came hurtling past out of nowhere,” said Smithies.

This turned out to be Chris Greenwood, battling to make up for his naviagtion error.

Despite managing to regain the lead, Greenwood unsure of his bearings, hesitated once again just yards from the finish.

This vital slip cost Greenwood first place as Chris Williams shot past on the last steep descent to steal the race.

full CVFR Results: 2. Steve Smithies (55.07), 5. Joe Washington (55.38), 6. Robert Paradise (55.41), 9. Rob Dobson (56.29), 15. Lee Shimwell (58.55), 17. Bill Johnson (59.54), 18. Ben Frenchette (60.09), 23. Richard Sunderland (61.17), 24. Phil Scarf (61.25), 31. Graham Hill (62.56), 42. Steve Grimley (66.05), 48. Brian Horsley (68.13), 50. Andy Thorpe (69.15), 55. Jackie Scarf (70.34), 56. Dick Spendlove (70.57), 59. Rod Sutcliffe (71.27), 67. Helen Buchan (73.43), 74. John Nunn (75.58).