Eric North, a titanic figure in the history of Halifax Harriers, had last weekend’s Calderdale Way Relay race run in his memory following his death last year.
North helped make the race the important fixture it is and he would have been pleased that nearly 1200 runners experienced the area’s magnificent scenery on a perfect day for fell running.
The story of the race was set on leg one, where Andy Swift and international mountain running star Ben Mounsey established a significant lead over the pack between Clay House and Cragg Vale.
It was a lead that was never relinquished over the 50 mile long route, though Barlick (from Barnoldswick) pushed them pretty hard to come in a brilliant second again.
Amazingly, Mounsey also ran the third leg for Calder Valley, with Shaun Godsman, after his club had been unable to find a replacement at short notice for injured Darren Kay.
Mounsey had admitted it had been a gamble to run two legs and it could have “paid dividends or failed spectacularly.”
Pudsey and Bramley took the mixed team prize, finishing ninth overall, with a mixed Stainland team of Paul Hiley, Paul Senior, Tanya Blake, Craig Miller, A Laird-Boldy, Andy Baird, Jon Collins, Jonny Cartwright, Derek Parrington, Sean Thompson, Jamie Westwood and Jason Westwood taking the veterans’ prize in 11th place overall.
Holmfirth took the ladies prize with a £100 bonus claimed by Lucy and Erica Byram for smashing the target time for leg three’s brutal climb from Todmorden to Blackshaw Head.
Halifax Harriers’ A team came an excellent 15th after Joe Crossfield and Mike Gaughan had the eighth quickest time on leg one, a feat matched by Steve Sladdin and Carl Smith on leg five.
Queensbury’s A team finished a creditable 18th but perhaps the best local performance of the day came from Brooksbank School’s team of teachers, who managed to finish 62nd of the 96 starters.
Northowram Pumas fielded three teams for the first time and had their best results yet with the men 31st, the ladies 69th and the mixed team 84th.
The prizes were presented by Eric North’s son Paul down at Heath Rugby Club, where Halifax Harriers’ John Williams, the race starter, delivered a moving speech in Eric’s honour.