Calderdale Hike 2019 – updated 25 April (twice!)

The results are now out, and you can find them on the Hike website.  Rory Harris was first home in 5:09, Kevin Hoult second in 5:22 and David Chetta and Martin Wilson both came in nearly an hour later in 6:19.  Sabrina Verjee was 6th overall in 6:24, our own Karen Nash was 13th in 6:57, and 3rd woman was Fiona Lynch in 8:24.   I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.

It’s early days for the championship, but some clear front runners are appearing.  Ed Gamble, Simon Ford and Sarah Smith have the most points, but they’ve run all three races.  The runners to keep an eye on this year are, firstly, Rory Harris and Sabrina Verjee, who each have maximum points from each of their races.  Kevin Hoult, Hayley Evans and Karen Nash are hot on their heels, but my money’s on Rory and Sabrina for this year.  Astley and Tyldesley RR, Team Krypton and Valley Striders AC appear to be going for it in the team competition.

Anyway, Karen’s written a race report and you can read that below or on her blog.  And Nick Ham took some photos – not as many as usual because his camera packed up during the race (as you can see from the photo above).  You can find what he managed to salvage on his Flickr site.

…and it’s the Fellsman this weekend, so good luck to everyone who’s running that one!

Karen’s race report

3rd race in the Runfurther series this year and the 41st Hike for the organisers. After the birthday special last year the Hike has now reverted to its traditional 3 year cycle. for 2019 this meant a route similar to the last cycle but in reverse and with a few relatively minor changes. For veterans this was a huge advantage as we knew many of the paths and what we consider to be optimum routes. Could we find our way without running backwards to check the views? Would the minor variations and changes to a  couple of CPs lead to any new lines being run?

Flags and banners up, Mountain Fuel hidden by people

Interestingly the Hike had 78 runners on the long course and well over 30 were Runfurther members- they need our support, although there were some others on Long Walk and Short run and walk. It of course also meant that I knew loads of people today. Some were local like Elise and the Scarfes but others had travelled some distance. For Alwyn it was his first visit to the area and he was mighty relieved to find it should be the same route for the next two years so he could put his new knowledge to good use and improve on his time. He was not alone in this.

Bob waiting for the Long Walk start

The forecast was good and we have had barely any significant rain so the ground would be as a dry as it is ever going to get over the whole area.
The forecast might be good as in dry but it was a very frosty start when we moved the van at 5.30am and started putting up flags and banners. Even by 7am when the long walkers set off it was very chilly. The sun was up before our 9am start but once exposed to the biting easterly wind it was cold.

Will miss the super organised ladies next year

The crazy early start meant I had masses of time to chat with friends, hand out spot prizes, catch up with people due ‘rewards’ from last years races and discuss the best route options for several sections of the course. We all have our favourites and stick to some of these regardless. I always opt to climb from Coolam and go via the turbines as I dislike the steep tarmac of the drop to the NE. The run along the canal is possibly slightly quicker but for me it is less inspiring.

Runners debating route choices

I knew to start slowly as this had worked well for me in LM42. Fortunately the gradual road and track climb to Nab End made this easy and I was happy to let Ian C and Ed G go. Sabrina was off chasing the lead men- Rory, Kevin and David but struggled to hold onto their pace. She had never been to the area and was trying to navigate using the ‘suggested route’ on a rather fuzzy print out and not an ideal scale. From Nab End I suddenly changed my mind. I didn’t revert to the old climb as the sunken lane is not nice but neither did I do the lanes I had receed down to Mytholmroyd. I opted for a middle way and once down at the Mill with Ice Cream vans in Cragg Vale I started to climb Hoo Hole. I knew Ian had followed me but when I glanced round I found so had about 9 others. I hoped I could remember the way. It worked and part way up we dinked right to Daisy Bank and then the contouring track to London Road. It was the correct choice as approaching Errington Grange we spotted Sabrina and a small group still climbing from the valley floor. I knew I couldn’t keep up so tried my best to give instructions.

Don’t need to climb up there today

It was nice to look up to Stoodley Pike but not have to climb the moor and even nice to look across to Heptonstall but know we wouldn’t drop to Hebden for the monster climb. I caught Sabs again at Lumbutts church and was able to guide he through the slightly confusing paths before the drop to the valley. Even there I was close enough to shout instructions at the car wash and then again as we climbing to the church and you appear to go through private garden and up some not very obvious steps.  Here I passed my name sake doing the Long Walk (yep another Karen Nash also born on 29.5.1961! what are the chances?)Then inevitably Sabs pulled away but was still in sight. By now the same runners were around me- sometimes ahead and sometimes behind. I was lucky to know the way and to the bemusement of at least 4 men kept ending up ahead of them.

It’s dry!

The path below Bridestones was as dry as it is ever going to be and it was a joy to run along the worn flagstones and along to the Mount Cross CP.

No mud this year

One way I seem to gain minutes here and there is barely stopping at CPs so a group of us set off racing down the tarmac to Cornholme. I used my local knowledge and switched to the footpaths but there was nothing in it. Climbing up Flower Scar was a different matter though. The suggested route avoided the mountain bike woods but went across the fellside to the old chimney. Ed and I knew to stick to the lane for as long as possible. I could see Sabs flogging up through tussocks and a group of 5 men that had been ahead of me. I beat them all to the road side CP of Horden Stoops. Sadly they then showed their better fitness and ran off on the track heading for Trough End.

I had been taking my mind off the growing pain in my foot by doing maths. If I run twice as fast as Bob but he has a two hour head start when and where would I overtake him? I guessed around 4 hours in and I was spot on 4hrs 4 mins just before the trig point. Climbing up the Bridestones Moor had got me warm and I had shed layers but now I was freezing. I shot off down to Coolam wondering if the CP would be in the published place this year. It was and Linden greeted me cheerfully. From here there is a big route choice and I learned that about 1/3 had opted for NE and then the canal. Ah well, not me despite the cold up here.

The track is now very runable, no mud

I chased Ian up to the turbines. I was concerned to see Simon head off towards Littleborough but he was too far away to shout in the fierce wind. Despite the gradual climb I reeled in a few runners and we arrived at Turbine 9 together.

Nice soft ground

The cairn was missing but I knew the trods and was soon dropping to Sladen Fold. Ian confessed here that he had set off too fast and was now struggling. The suggested route from the canal is confusing so I stuck to the ‘reverse’ of what I knew from the White House. I was not surprised to see faster runners dotted around in surrounding fields. ‘Cap man’ was one and we played leap from from here all the way to the end. ‘Headband man’ was another and he opted to use my knowledge to climb to the CP. It was very cold here and the marshalls were offering hot tea. I peered into the tent to see another runner who had over cooked the start and was now struggling. Ah well. Most runners seemed to go up and over Blackstone Edge, which might not have been so bad since it was so dry. I stuck to the wide grassy path by the goyt and nipped over the end of the ridge to join the main path. Again I gained some time and places. Windy Hill was aptly named today and not a place to loiter. I don’t like running along the main road and across the motorway slip roads but even with dry ground it proved faster and I overtook Cap man again. It didn’t last long and he soon shot off along the track and up onto the ridge leading to Pike End. I ate my marmite sandwiches on this section and although it slowed me a little it was worth the energy I gained. I passed Dick on his Short run and also lots of walkers.  The ridge was longer than I remembered but I found the path by the cottage and was soon heading for the CP by the dam. After this the next CP was very close, just before we met the main Ripponden Road. I saved headband man from another error.

The next section along the valley was quite nice but the climb then up to the final CP at the Moorcok Inn by Norden Moor was a struggle.I opted for the road which was ‘easy’ and would have been OK if I had the energy to run it all. Sabs went by the fields and said it was awful. I had forgotten my garmin but was asking runners how many miles we had done. By Ripponden I knew sub 7 hours was possible. From the pub it was a steep drop to the mills and then what seemed like a monster climb up steps and a steep slope all the way to the cricket ground. I scraped in at 6 hours 57. I was pleased with that despite the amount I had walked. Sabs was first woman in 6 hours 24 and would have been much faster if she had known the best routes. I am pleased she is hoping to do four Runfurther races and we will have a young fast woman winner this year.

Not warm enough for this today (pic from last year)

Rory had won in I think 5hours 9 mins and Kevin was about 10 mins behind this and then David.  Nick arrived just over an hour after me and was very pleased with his run.
It’s a lovely venue to socialise in after your run and I spent a long time eating and drinking before our meeting and then taking all the flags and banners down. The spot prizes from our sponsors went down a treat with lots of happy winners so thank you Mountain Fuel, Tent Meals, Injinji, Ultimate Direction and Romneys.

Calderdale Hike 2018 – updated with results

The race results are now out, and you can find them on the Calderdale Hike website.  There were 45 finishers in the long run: 6 didn’t finish including Dick Scroop and John Vernon, who couldn’t make the cutoffs.  Rory Harris finished first in 5:54, and Ken Sutor was 2nd just behind him. Christopher Goddard was 3rd in 6:38.  Karen Nash was 7th and first woman in 7:58.  2nd woman was Beverley Holmes in 8:09, with Kim Ashworth 3rd in 8:56.

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  8 runners have finished all 3 races – I’ve no idea whether any of them are aiming for the Grand Slam this year.  Ken Sutor already appears to have pencilled his name on the men’s trophy for 2018.  Horwich RMI Harriers are currently leading the team competition, which is the first time that’s happened, as far as I know.

Karen has written up her race, and put it on her blog here.  I’ve copied Karen’s blog entry below as well, and the photos in her report are her own except where she credits Nick.  Nick has posted his photos to Flickr, and you can find them here.  As usual I’ve borrowed some for here too.

Karen’s race report

Kick starting the NT training – or too little too late perhaps

I knew I was going into the Calderdale Hike badly under-prepared. My legs would at least be well rested and perhaps I would be haring to go (perhaps). We had been abroad for the whole block of time since the Haworth Hobble. I had been active with over a week of hard skiing and then over a fortnight of rock climbing in Spain. Hours on my feet but not the same as running. I was climbing harder (for me) this year and was too shattered mentally and physically to run on those days. I did manage a long run on a day we did a via feratta, plus a long run/walk that evening and then a 2 hour run as we broke our journey up through France. Not enough.
The Calderdale Hike is 40 this year and to celebrate they devised a 40 mile route that went back to some of the very original sections.  They were a few options to reduce the distance by using roads and an awful lot of route choice options. I decided The Hike would just have to count as some hours on my feet and to tough it out. I had been over some of the route but it was months ago and I was struggling even to remember it. The other bits I would just have to sort out on the day, or hope that I had company.
Before bed on Friday evening we had met up with Kevin and put up all the flags and banners. The penalty for parking on the start line was being disturbed by the organisers arriving from 5.30am onwards. By 6am Bob had given up and got dressed to go and switch to the short route (sore knee and not fit enough) and by 6.30 I was up and erecting display boards and handing over mint cake. Interestingly all the walkers on the early start left down the driveway whereas we knew we were heading out the back gate. There was plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast, several toilet trips and a chance to catch up with friends and mull over the route options. The forecast was good with only a breeze, no rain and not too warm (actually it got rather hot).

Walkers on the early start

Linden couldn’t quite stretch his speech to wait for the church bells at 9am so we set off a couple of minutes early. The men running the short course blasted off at something like my 10K pace or faster.

Didn’t need the long sleeves for long- Thanks Nick Ham

After a mile of rather steep and slippery descent we arrived at CP1 on the canal bank and settled into easy running to Sowerby Bridge and then Copley.

Runners on the long route were now settling into a pace and I was with guys that I would spend a fair bit of the day with on and off. I fortunately found a better route up through the woods than on my recee and was soon in Greetland. I left the CP with Chris and was pleased to know the route through a couple of muddy fields and onto the path to Sonoco Mill. We arrived at the CP to find we had been overtaken by Daz, John T, Linda and others who had taken the road option.Distance and time was passing fairly comfortably at this point and we stuck together for a while. At Ringstone Reservoir the group broke up again. I decided that as a local Daz would know the best route and so abandoned my planned route.

It probably made little difference as by Ripponden Chris who had gone ‘my way’ met up with us again. I grabbed food here knowing I could eat on the climb out of town. Again I decided to stick with Daz, although this time I am not sure his route was better.

What did work was being with Daz and Chris and so keeping up the pace. On one narrow path suddenly there were two runners flying back down? They had got confused and decided they had missed Ripponden or were making a 180 error. They hadn’t and weren’t. Simon quickly accepted this and ran with Chris and I for much of the day. The other guy must have run many more miles than me because he kept popping up behind us, overtaking at some speed etc. I would be very interested to see his garmin trace.

As we hit the moor I started to struggle and lost contact with the group. I wasn’t too bothered and I knew several ways to get to Cragg Vale and the next CP. I arrived there and topped up my water and Mountain Fuel.

There were no other runners about but as I neared the top of the climb up to the reservoir and Stoodley Moor I spotted Daz up ahead. Again we went different ways and I lost him again.

I had a short break at Lumbutts and even stole a quick sit down to eat my sandwich and then left with a banana.

Spot the photos from my recee when the weather was rather different

I did though forget to top up my water and it was getting very warm. There were several route options here but I stuck with what I knew. It was safer and allowed some fields and soft ground to give my feet some rest from the hard surfaces. I was on my own over Old Royd and down into Todd. I made a slight error here but was soon on my way up to the Edge and the next CP.  Luckily they had water.  On my recee I had not liked the steep, muddy path with slimy rocks so although it was a little longer I took a dog leg and down to the sports centre. Heading up the main road I saw Chris, Simon, John and another cross the road just ahead of me. I hoped to catch them on the steady climb and even though I stopped to fill up with more water and Mountain Fuel as I passed a stream  I did it. Having company again was good. We were all starting to wilt a little in the heat. There was more food and water at Keb Cote but I didn’t stop long.

I jogged slowly down the road eating chocolate flapjack and banana. I knew the others would catch me but it was good to keep moving.

The road section to Great Rock and then on to Jack’s Bridge went on for longer than I liked. There were a couple of very short non road options but only one seemed sensible. We reminisced about starting a relay leg up at Blackshaw Edge and sheltering in a runners garage to avoid the rain. The marshalls at Jack’s Bridge had beer which seemed cruel. Chris, Simon and I were now very much a group and we set off onto territory that between us we sort of knew at least a bit. Unfortunately we were so busy nattering that we forgot we needed to be on the north side of the valley. As it happened we ended up on a much better track although we did have some unnecessary climb up to Heptonstall. We found the little cliff edge path and suddenly the errant runner from above Ripponden appeared again. Arriving from our direction we found the CP near the church spot on and were soon on the Hobble route down to Horse Bridge. A caffeine gel had perked me up a little and we made quite good time up the hill to Pecket Well. We were a little unsure about the CP location but found it without too much fuss. After a false start up a private farm driveway we were headed up onto the final moor. It is a few years since I have run here and I should have receed this bit. We didn’t get it right and couldn’t find the nice trod that would take us across the top at the low point. The ‘extra miles man’ headed off on a contouring route and we did not see him again until we were finished and eating. It seemed daft to waste time and we knew roughly where we needed to be. Chris got his compass out and we searched out as many strips of burnt ground and short grass as we could. There were a few stretched of deep heather and more tussocks than Simon liked. The path along the fence on the northern side of the moor was awful and being impatient to leave it caused our next mistake. We headed off one footpath too early. Our error was soon obvious but it didn’t seem worth going back up. It added 500m and some climb but we were now on tracks that would lead us to Jerusalem Farm. The only food on offer was flapjack and I was done with sweet stuff. I could have murdered a hot pie but that wasn’t on the menu. The next two miles were mostly downhill but the tarmac and long day were taking their toll so we all took turns to walk a short section. We nattered a bit and Chris especially stayed very positive. We were lucky to get a break in traffic as we met the valley floor and found the canal tow path again. One mile would see us back at CP1. Chris now had the bit between his teeth and was starting to pull ahead. Simon stopped to walk when ever I did, but then found he had to jog to keep up with my walk pace. It made us laugh.  Him stopping also made me run and we reached the CP with Chris. One last mile up hill. We had been able to see the final climb for the last 4 miles as St Peter’s church is such a landmark. Chris was now about a minute ahead and I was getting my ‘I can see the finish’ last minute effort. I was determined to try to break 8 hours. I slowed very slightly in case Simon was not sure of the route to the back gate.

By my garmin it was 8:00:20 but the official time on my certificate says 7:58 so I will take that. Bob had finished the short route and was there ready to take a picture. I was very lucky that no fast ladies had entered the long route and so got 1000 Runfurther points as an unexpected bonus.

You can only beat those who turn up

What a great day out. Lovely scenery, great weather, well organised and fantastic company. I owe thanks to Chris and Simon for their company- it really made a difference especially in those last few miles and also to Daz for the middle section.
It was a good half and hour before I could face food but Bob plied me with cups of tea and then I was ready for my wonderful jacket potato and chilli. It was good to sit with a pint of shandy and cheer other runners in. A number of Runfurther members made it round… Nick, Mick, John T, Kevin, Elise, Jamie and more. Rory Harris won in an amazing 5 hrs 54 closely followed by Ken Sutor. David Chetta was 4th I think. Kevin Hoult was nursing an injury and so did the short route which he won with Mike Sellors in 2 hrs 40. It was good to see Mike and Barney again- they are the future and they have persuaded their girl friends to have a go. Sadly Dick and John V retired realising they would not make the cut-off and were probably just not fit enough to finish.

Calderdale Hike 2017

First a photo from Nick:


The Calderdale Hike results are here.  I’ve added them in to the Runfurther leaderboard already, and you can find that here.  Let me know if you spot any problems with it – I’ve already had to change it twice!  I’ll be updating it again once the Lakes 42 results are out, but as I’m away for a week from Monday 10 April, if I haven’t got the results by the end of Sunday you’ll have to wait for the Runfurther update.  Nick has posted his race report and his photos  and you can find them here and here  respectively.  I’m still not running so I wasn’t at the Hike.  Karen’s posted her blog though, and I’ve repeated it here.  The photos in Karen’s report are Karen’s, the others are Nick’s, including this cheeky one:


Kevin Hoult was first home in 5:04, with Ian Symington four minutes behind him.  There was then a long wait for John Bottomley who finished in 5:47.  First woman was Nicky Spinks, 9th overall in 6:27, with Karen Nash 19th in 7:14 and Carol Morgan 24th in 7:45.  Early days yet, but last year’s overall winners Kevin Hoult and Karen Nash are leaders at the moment.

Just got this done in time before the next race…

Karen’s race report

This race might be unique? Every three years the route changes. This adds some navigational challenge and for those of us living close enough it also gives some wonderful opportunities for scouring maps, searching out best routes and then putting them to the test. providing you arrive at each CP and stick to legal rights of way then the route is your choice. This has provided hours of fun.
In some ways the event is like a LDWA event with walkers, long cut offs and masses of food (especially at the end).

An easy place for flags, banners etc

We arrived the evening before as usual to be ready very early to put up flags, banners etc for the first walkers registering at 6am. The long runners were not due off until 9am so this gave me lots of time for breakfast, chats and general faffing. The forecast was mixed with the possibility of some heavy showers. I had woken with an upset stomach but felt fine now. I knew where I was going; I thought. Then after a chat with Kevin I found there was an alternative route between CP1 and CP2. I now know there was an alternative between the last two CPs too. April is going to be busy but I wasn’t worried and was happy to race. It started well and the ‘new’ section from Kevin was good and runnable but as it was further and had a bit of climb I made myself run hard to get the benefit. Before CP 3 at Ryeburn Reservoir I knew it was too fast for me and I would not sustain 6mph. I did not run hard on Blackwood Edge and should have been able to go faster here. I promised myself that once I cut down to the goyt I would try harder. I opted for the main road and M62 junction next and although this isn’t very pleasant it did gain me several places. Turning back north from Windy Hill the promised rain arrived. I tried to pretend it wasn’t much but by the time I had crossed the M62 footbridge it was quite heavy. Time to stop and put a cag on. I cut up to the south end of Blackstone Edge and then dropped down to the ‘drain’. This saves some climb and is a nice flat running path unlike the rocks, mud and jumble along the top. Again I gained time and places on the way to the CP at The White House. Trail shoes were good on the lanes and rough tracks but they made me a bit cautious on the mud. The next bit is confusing if you have not run it before and one fence makes it look impossible. I met Carol and friend at the mill and showed them the way by the side of the fence and down to Sladen Fold. I had already decided that this year I would not visit the wind turbines (although the new road is now quite good) and instead I was sticking to the canal and heading north. I wasn’t running fast but three guys on the road running parallel to me spurred me on. As I turned up Ramsden Wood Road I lost sight of them until I emerged from the short steep woods and could see them heading up the valley. My route was now all on track and lane. I would have liked to have run  it faster but I plodded on and reached the CP before the team of three. Then heading up to Trough Edge End I spotted Bob up ahead almost on the skyline. This gave me another reason to push harder. I caught him before the Limers Gate track and we had a brief chat. My right glute, hip and quad were now suffering from the pace but at least this section was easy running. The team of three and I arrived at the Slate Pit Hill CP together. I grabbed food and walked on. They got ahead in the muddy mountain bike area but we climbed from Cornholme to Mount Cross together. The rain had now cleared for good so cags were stowed. They then powered off and I hit a low point. Oh dear, only 25 miles in and I was struggling. I watched them pull ahead and pottered on to Cross Stones and the golf course. I was now alone and found it hard to make myself run harder. I was eating plenty I thought but just couldn’t do better. It was a slow flog up to the church at Lumbutts where I filled my water bottle and had a sandwich. At Mankinholes I realised that my right foot was becoming and issue. Sitting in the middle of a muddy path and taking off my dry sock got some funny looks from passing walkers. Fortunately nobody was around when massaging my foot in the belief it would help brought on massive cramps in my toes and arch! Along London Road (a big track) I was able to pick off walkers from the shorter route and this gave me mini targets to aim for. Plus my foot recovered now it had a bit more room in the shoe. After Errington Grange only about 5 miles remains but there is a big valley in the way. I set off for Hoo Hole and the road to Cragg Vale.

The winners strava not mine- same til the end, just slower

This is where, I later found out, the leading men dropped to better running. I was totally alone as I climbed steeply to Nab End quarries and the last CP. I forced a gel down, ignored the fact that two years ago I had finished by now and made a determined effort to run (albeit slowly) all the way to the finish. With just a minor altercation with a bus on a narrow lane I was back in Sowerby and soon passing the church and heading up the path to the cricket club door.

Thanks to our sponsors

7hrs 14 was a PW for this route and for all 9 runs I had done here but I was surprisingly still second lady. Nicky was an hour or so ahead of me. Chris  had been back long enough to get clean, change and put a Runfurther postcard on every car in the car park. Kevin had won in 5hrs 10 with Ian not far behind in second.

Nick and Nigel chatting in the late afternoon sun

No results up yet but Nick, Bob and Dick all finished OK.

I might add more photos from Nick later

Next year of course it will all change again; in fact rumour has it that there are special plans for next year as it is the 40th anniversary. I hope to be back as I love the event, organisers/ volunteers and the challenge of a new route.

Calderdale Hike 2016


I’ve now got the Calderdale Hike results, and they’re now included in the Runfurther leaderboard here.  The race results are now up on the race website.

To everyone’s amazement there was a window of good weather just long enough for us all to have a good run.  The slower runners and the walkers will have got caught by the rain, sleet and snow that followed, but most of the runners got away with it, dry from the knees up.  Yes, it was a bit muddy!

First to finish was Edward Davies in 5:36 (2nd last year), second Steven Radcliffe 4 minutes behind him, and third was Keven Hoult in 5:51.  Nicky Spinks was first woman in 6:18.  Chris Davies kept Nicky in sight for most of the way but lost sight of her in the end to finish first V50 & V60 in 6:27.  Karen Nash was 2nd woman in 7:04, with Beverley Holmes 3rd in 8:43.  Numbers overall were down on 2015, although there were a lot of Runfurther members there.

Karen Nash has written up her run, and you can find that on her blog here.  Sport Sunday were there taking photos, and you can find them here.  Nick Ham was taking photos too, as he ran, and they are here.  He took the photo above, which is on the first climb out of the valley.

See you at the Fellsman!

Andy’s run

A week before the Calderdale Hike I came down with a cold.  Leading up to the race I was feeling pretty awful, coughing and spluttering, and the last thing I felt like doing was running 36 miles.  The only reason I was on that starting line was that I’d entered all the other Runfurther races already, and there was no way my Grand Slam attempt was going to be abandoned without a fight.  If not for the Slam I’d have stayed at home in bed.  So at 8am I dosed myself up with paracetamol and codeine, the objective being to suppress the coughing enough to get through the Hike without doing so much damage to myself that I wasn’t in a fit state to start the Fellsman.

At 9am I tottered off along with everybody else, and to be honest didn’t feel too bad.  Left out of the gates and down the greasy path and steps to cross the valley.  It was as soon as we started up the slippery cobbles that I started to feel the state of my body, so I slowed up a bit.  To be honest I didn’t have much choice.  I knew I was going to be much slower than last year.  On the way over the moors heading south to the M62 we didn’t get last year’s sleet, and I was enjoying the run out.  I fell in with a loose group of runners, including Carmine and Andy and a team of 4 from Bolton wearing red spots, and we kept more or less in touch all the way to Lumbutts.  I took the main road option to Windy Hill, as it does save a few minutes, and then the sneaky cut across the Blackstone Edge ridge to follow the Broad Head Drain path, which is much faster than the Pennine Way.  I overtook Nick Ham here, as he cut off left earlier on a slower route to the Drain.  I then led a group of about 8 on the Hey Head Lane route up to the Stubley Cross Hill turbines, rather than the recommended route – I don’t think it’s quicker, but it’s the route I know.

Down to the “stepping stones” footbridge, and then we had to find the new checkpoint location below Coolam, but that turned out to be straightforward enough.  Andy and I then headed up to the top of Trough Edge End to follow the footpath down, while the spotty boys contoured round to the right.  They’d have probably got away from us here if they’d got the line spot-on, but they dropped a bit too low and had to climb back up a bit to join us.  By the time we got to the Slate Pit Hill checkpoint I was starting to feel pretty tired.  My legs were OK, but my head wasn’t.  Bob Nash was at the checkpoint, having decided to retire after falling and hitting his head – he also had a cold and had the Fellsman ahead of him, so it seemed the right decision to me, although he seemed unsure later whether he’d done the right thing.

Andy and I headed off across the moor and down to Cornholme, with the Bolton lads sometimes in front and sometimes behind.  They were running faster than us but didn’t know the route and were frequently checking their GPS, so we kept coming past them again.  We all flogged up to Mount Cross together, then Andy and I pushed off ahead of them on the track down to Cross Stone.  I was still able to run OK, but I was starting to feel more wobbly all the time, concerned I might pass out while I was running.  We crossed the valley and headed up to the Lumbutts Church checkpoint, and here I made the decision to take the safest option and walk the rest of the way.  Andy, Carmine and the Bolton runners disappeared into the distance as I ambled along under Stoodley Pike, chatting to the walkers.  Nick Ham and Mick Cottam came by shortly after as well.  Somehow I managed to overtake all the walkers I saw without actually walking faster than most of them.  I think it was just that I wasn’t stopping and wasn’t hesitating over the route.  The climb up out of Cragg Vale was really hard, and then the rain started as I walked the last couple miles along the road to the finish.  I was trashed.

So, the only sensible thing to do was to go home and take it easy until the Fellsman.  Instead I headed over to Scarborough for my brother’s 60th birthday bash on the Sunday, then home for dental work on the Monday, then into Manchester on the Tuesday which is why I haven’t been able to write this until today (Wednesday).  I’ve still got every intention of running the Fellsman – although I’m still coughing a bit, and I’m still feeling pretty wiped out.

Calderdale Hike 2015 (updated)

Nick CH 2015 02

I’ve now added the Calderdale Hike results to the Runfurther leaderboard (with a couple of corrections made a few days later), and put the team results up too.  Nick Ham’s photos can be found here.  Karen went off to Scotland to bag Munros straight from the race, but she sent a race report when she got back, and that’s now at the bottom of this post, after my race write-up.  Anyone else fancy writing up races ot taking photos?  If so, just send them in, or send me a link!

First home was Ian Symington (last year’s Runfurther winner) in 5:31, with Edward Davies 12 minutes behind him.  First woman (and first FV50) was Karen Nash, in 6:43, and Chris Davies finished with Karen to take first MV50 and first MV60 as well.  I was pleased to finish joint 11th with my time of 6:55 (2nd MV50 and 2nd MV60), and Carol Morgan was 2nd woman, finishing in 7:20.  In general those who’d recced the route (which included Karen and I) were at a significant advantage so got good placings.  And a good day for those of us of advancing years too!  We now have our first MV70 on the leaderboard as well – good effort Bob Nash!  And yes, he is related to Karen (her husband in fact).

The Calderdale Hike has a new route every 3 years, and 2015 was a new route year.  The complexity of the terrain and footpaths around the Calder Valley means a new CH route can pose significant navigational challenges, and that was certainly the case this year.  Luckily for the navigationally challenged, visibility was good all day yesterday, but it still meant that anyone who hadn’t done comprehensive recces of the route was at a considerable disadvantage.  Although there’s a “suggested route” on the event website, it doesn’t always show the fastest route, so those of us after a good time needed to research beforehand to get a faster finish time.  So, (1) people lost time deciding where to go, (2) people lost time going the wrong way, and (3) people lost time taking a slower option.

I thought the route was a good one, with plenty of fast easy sections, but also some challenging routefinding across the moors.  Overall it was quite a fast route if you knew where to go, with most of the more difficult stuff in the first half, where you want it.  And no horrible climb up from Luddenden Foot at the end this time!

The organisation of the event was immaculate as always.  Linden and his team do a terrific job, with food laid on at all the checkpoints, and at the finish as well of course.  The checkpoints worked like clockwork when I was there.  After the hot weather of the past few days, Saturday morning was a bit of a shock, or it would have been if I hadn’t checked the weather forecast in advance.  My plans for running in t-shirt and shorts went out of the window, and it was back to thermal top, tracksters and gloves.  It was raining when I got up, rained all the way to Sowerby, and didn’t stop until just before we set off.

As well as providing Clif Bars for all starters, and prizes for the winners, we also had a Spot Prize Draw for Runfurther members.  To be eligible you had to have completed both the Haworth Hobble and the Calderdale Hike.  The winners were:

  • Jenny Garside (Ultimate Direction bumbag)
  • Ian Sanderson (Injinji Kit Bag)
  • Carol Morgan (RaidLight top)
  • Dave Ralphs (Injinji cap)

We couldn’t find Ian Sanderson on the day, and he’s told me to put his prize back in the pot for next time – thanks Ian!

My race report

So we all ran out of the gate, and immediately the first route split started.   Most runners went right on the road route to CP1, but some of us turned left to head down the more direct route, down the slippery steps, and up the slippery setts on the other side of the valley.  Just before CP1 the two routes met, confirming our suspicions: the runners we met coming up the road route were much faster runners than us, so we must have picked the faster route.  After that steep climb it was fairly easy running all the way to CP2 at the Ryburn Reservoir dam.  We’d started catching short route walkers up by this time, and as we started up Blackwood Edge Road towards Dog Hill we could see a line of them, following the wrong line too high up the hillside.  At this point the hail started.  Coats on, hoods up, fingers crossed.  Luckily it didn’t get so hard as to be painful, and it sooned eased off to rain, then stopped after 15 minutes or so, and that was it for the day – no more rain.  It was a bit of a procession most of the way to the Windy Hill CP, although there were some possible chances to gain a few places.  I tried two: one made no difference, but the other one got me past a few people.  There were options on the next section too, over to the White House, and a number of ways down to Sladen Fold.  I think the one I took was as fast as any, and it must have been faster than some, as I passed 1 or 2 more runners here.

The next couple of sections are the “interesting bits” navigationally.  The route crosses the moors between the Sladen Fold and Stepping Stones checkpoints, and there are many footpaths marked on the map, not all of which exist on the ground.  There are also many paths and trods that aren’t marked on the map.  There is extensive wind turbine construction going on, none of which is marked on the map.  Add to this that the moorland is generally pretty featureless, and you’ve got the makings of a lot of confused runners going round in circles – it was lucky we could see where we were going.  I headed up from Sladen Fold on a different route from most, with a couple of other runners following me.  I still don’t know whether it was the fastest option, but at least I knew where I was going.  We joined the construction road on Stubley Cross Hill, and followed it until we could cut across to the path round Rough Hill.  At least the road wasn’t the quagmire it had been when I’d first recced it in November.

The next section, to Slate Pit Hill, is a bit more straighforward navigationally, but there were still a few opportunities for going the wrong way (just ask Nick Ham about his recce!)  I was starting to tire a bit, but still able to run properly.  The next bit across Todmorden Moor and down to Cornholme was easy enough, and the plod up to Mount Cross was as horrible as I expected.  And now we were on the Haworth Hobble route, slanting across the valley side on good tracks, descending almost imperceptibly.  On the Hobble, this is where I find out whether I’m going well or not.  If this feels OK, I’ll finish in style.  If it feels difficult, I’ll be struggling well before the end.  On this year’s Hobble I struggled.  Yesterday, with more miles under my belt, I was going a lot better, and that really put heart into me, particularly when I considered I wouldn’t have to climb Stoodley Pike or Crimsworth Dean.

So we plugged up the hill to Lumbutts, and we were just leaving the checkpoint when Chris Davies passed me on his way in, for the second time.  I did a double take: Chris is much faster than I am, and I don’t generally see him except before the start of a race.  He hadn’t recced the route, and so had lost a lot of time.  Five minutes later, as I was struggling up the stony track where I’d broken my wrist 5 weeks earlier on a recce, Chris jogged past at twice my speed, looking like he’d only just put his running shoes on.  Oh well, at least I didn’t have to worry about him coming up behind me any more.  We dropped down into the valley, picked up two more lost-looking runners on the main road, and headed up the last climb to Nab End.  I don’t usually mind the last climb of a race, and this felt OK, and it was soon over.  We got to the checkpoint at 3:35 – we had 25 minutes to finish in under 7 hours, so we scooted off down the track and made it with 5 minutes to spare.  I felt knackered but very happy with my time.  How I’m going to manage an extra 25 miles on top of that on the Fellsman in a fortnight I really don’t know.

One of the two runners who’d followed me up from Sladen Fold was Dave Orbinson, and he stuck with me for the rest of the Hike: he was faster that me but didn’t know the way.  Without me, or someone else to show him the way, I suspect he’d have been a lot slower.  If he’d known the way he’d certainly have been a lot faster than me.  As it was, we stuck together to the end, and although he could have gone away from me on the last road section he didn’t, and we finished together – thanks Dave!

Andy Robinson

Karen Nash’s race report

This event seems to have been a regular fixture as race No2 in Runfurther for the last few years. One thing that I like is that the route changes every 3 years. So despite knowing the area fairly well this was the year for recces, especially as it was all new to Bob. Andy shared his notes from explorations and then we added ours. The middle section would be tricky even without the wind turbine construction site. Fortunately we live fairly close as it took several visits. By race day I knew what all the options were and where I was going.

We parked at the cricket ground on Friday night and settled down early in bed in the certainty that we would be woken as the organisers arrived. By 7.30 we were up, fed and had erected banner flags, banners and display boards. Even with registration and kit check it left plenty of time to chat to friends. The weather looked worse than the forecast so I ignored those in shorts and opted for 3/4s and my thicker cag. Seconds after Linden shouted ‘off you go’ it was chaos. The suggested route went right at the road but a dozen of us turned sharp left. Andy and I chuckled as we heard to confusion behind us. Our route was tricky with steep cobbles and steps that were treacherous in the wet – thank god for the handrail. At the top of the cobbles we met runners ascending from Triangle and I knew our route had been faster. It was now getting warmer- time to stow my cag. We seemed to be flying along and I was anxious that my pace was too fast but I felt fine and even my ribs/intercostals were fine on all but the steepest and rockiest descents.

After CP2 I thought the field might split again but we seemed to all take the suggested route to Ryburn Reservoir. By now we were catching and passing many of the walkers who had set off earlier and it is nice to slowly pick people off. The clouds though were gathering and I put my cag back on as the wind and rain started. It was a bit grim on Rishworth Moor with icy rain drilling holes in my forehead. It was a relief to drop to the drainage channel and even better the dam wall. Sadly the wall ended with a 90 degree turn into the wind- it brought me to a stop. Bob had a lucky escape here when a wave shot over the dam wall and just missed him. People were now settling into their natural pace and race place. Carmine was running well and came past with a cheery wave and we headed off to Windy Hill. I suspected the verge of the A672 would be faster but did not fancy running with the traffic. This allowed Andy to gain 200m and then add 200m. Oh well. Setting off for Blackstone Edge the wind was at a better angle and I tried to pick off runners up ahead. I saw Andy head off west early but I stuck to my plan and watched for the little cairn I had built. A trod took me up gently to the rocks and then a short easy run and I was down on the drainage channel. I was surprised nobody followed me and as I crossed the ditch it was clear I had gained 500m on Andy. We both gained time and saved energy compared to those who went over the top.

At the White House I grabbed a sandwich and dropped into Castle Clough. Most runners were sticking to the suggested route but not me. As I left the CP on the canal at Sladen Fold I met half a dozen faster runners coming back to look for the CP; Chris D and Carmen among them. Andy and I disagreed on the best route for the next bit and he had not caught me up again yet anyway. As I climbed to the moor eating I was surprised that the lost group did not catch me. Instead as I shut the fell-side gate I realised I had almost caught another group. Before I could check who they were or shout they disappeared off left whereas I climbed straight ahead and joined the wind turbine construction road. Not only had the windy and mostly dry weather dried it out they seemed to have steam-rollered it! I could see others floundering across the moor and smiled. I caught the group (Barney, Mike, Irish- but they had dropped Simon) before Rough Hill and stayed with them for miles. They were faster than me really but I was determined to keep up. Trough End quickly came and went and we picked a perfect trod to Limers Gate track. Another sandwich and we were off to yet more turbines. I decided it was dry enough to risk the mountain bike area in the woods so we descended together to Cornholme. We split a bit climbing to Mount Cross but their company was great and pulled me on faster than if I had been on my own.

The next section was familiar Haworth Hobble route but although they pulled ahead on the big descent we were back together by Lumbutts church. On London Road they pulled ahead again and I tried to imagine elastic from me to them easing me forward. At least there was no ascent of Stoodley Pike today and we were on the home straight. I was on my own as I dropped to the Cragg Vale road and climbed to Hollins Hey Farm but just as I entered the tussocky steep field Chris Davies appeared. This is not someone I expect to be ahead of in a race but despite nav errors and having no time for a recce he was in good humour. We chatted and pushed on upwards. By Nab End I suggested he push on but he was relaxed and sociable and stayed with me even when we met the final road and I was almost begging him to go on alone so I could drop the pace. We ran in to the finish together in 6 hours 43. For him this is likely a PW and he will be faster next year. For me it was a PB and I was very pleased to be first lady. Andy appeared shortly afterwards and we were able to sit eating and drinking together before the prize giving. Food is another thing the Calderdale Hike does well. I was still talking and eating when Bob finished minutes inside his self imposed 10 hour limit. A good day’s racing. It rained as Nick and I took down the flags but nothing could dampen my spirits. Thanks to those I had the fortune to run with – you were good company.


Calderdale Hike 2014

Firstly, welcome on board to RaidLight, our newest sponsor for the 2014 series!

We had a great day on Saturday apart from the rain that hit us slower participants.  The results aren’t up yet, so the leaderbard update will have to wait until next weekend, when I get back from the Lakes.  Nick Ham has returned from swanning round the world & got back to his real work of running & reporting on ultras.  His photos are here.  Here’s Nick’s race report:

Calderdale Hike 37 miles. Sat 12/04/2014

A competitive field of runners gathered in Sowerby for the 36th Calderdale Hike. Although this was the third race in the 2014 Runfurther series it would be my first on account of me working (and doing a bit of loose leg swinging) in foreign climes throughout March.

Calderdale Hike has been a long-standing firm favourite in the Runfurther series with physical and navigational challenges that seem unique to Calderdale. It was good to be back and see the familiar faces, one of the first being Ian Symington. I offered my hand by way of greeting, to which he replied: “You wouldn’t like to touch this after where it’s been”, as he tried to dissipate the Vaseline onto his other hand.

Kevin Hoult was also back to do his thing. He had to return anyway to return the winner’s trophy from last year. In addition to Ian and Kevin, Kim Collison was also there to spice up the proceedings among the men. For the women, Nicky Spinks, Helen Skelton and our very own Karen Nash were familiar names in contention.

We gathered outside the cricket pavilion for the 9am runners’ start under overcast skies with a cool breeze blowing and rain forecast before midday. At the moment the ground was uncharacteristically dry. It would be the third and final year for this route, which has been marked throughout by cool and damp conditions by the end of the day. That is in stark contrast to the previous 3-year route from 2009 to 2011, which was marked throughout by summer-like conditions of warmth, sunshine, dry ground, even moor fires one year!

With the race organiser’s send-off instructions ringing in our ears – don’t descend right from Hoof Stones Height otherwise you’ll get filled with lead like the grouse (my words, not his, but you get the gist) – we were sent off on our tour of checkpoints at Nab End, Erringden Grange, Stoodley Pike, Lumbutts, Cross Stone, Mount Cross, Hoof Stones Height, Widdop Reservoir, Top Withins, Tom Stell’s Seat (far point), Grain Water Bridge, New Bridge, Delf End, Jerusalem Farm and Luddenden Foot. The leaders slowly pulled away out of sight on the long uphill start never to be seen again, so thanks to Kevin Hoult for the following privileged information from the sharp end.

Kevin Hoult, Kim Collison and Ian Symington bounced back and forth with each other until CP5 at Cross Stones, each taking a variety of route choices. Kim was looking strong at CP5 and had probably been delayed by route choice issues. (Going via Mytholmroyd between CP1 and CP2 is definitely not optimum despite what the organiser’s suggested route might say.) Ian, on the other hand, knew the route well but may have been slowed just a little after completing the Lakes 42 race on the previous weekend, where he finished second. He also may have been under the weather after recent recovery from illness. How would the rest of the race pan out? Sadly the blow-by-blow account stops here (reason explained later) so I have to fast-forward to the results, which are:

1st Kim Collison:  5:24

2nd Ian Symington: 5:28

3rd Edward Davies: 5:38

And for the women:

1st Nicky Spinks: 6:17

2nd Karen Nash: 7:04

3rd Carol Morgan: 7:07

Well done to all for most impressive results. I know Helen Skelton’s name would have been up there in lights, but I hear she had to retire due to injury. Get well soon, Helen.

So what about Kevin? He is recovering from a foot problem and wasn’t sure he’d be fit enough to do the full 37 miles so he elected to do the ‘short’ marathon distance instead. That required him to backtrack from CP5, which is why the blow-by-blow account of the long race stopped there. He did not disgrace himself though. He won in record time of 3:48; a marathon around the Calderdale hills and bogs in 3:48? That is some going. Apparently the foot held out well, so we can look forward to even hotter competition in the Runfurther series men’s category from now on.

Here’s hoping that Helen can get herself repaired so she can raise the temperature in the women’s category as well. We’re rooting for you Helen.

Now with the important information taken care of, please forgive Ultraploddernick his indulgence:

I settled into the job of easing my way around the route as fast as possible, not blowing up too badly and not finishing too low in the bottom quarter of the field. I was expecting a PB, given that I had enjoyed a few more weeks back in the UK from business travel to get some races and fitness in the bank. Regardless of that and true to form, the inevitable slowdown occurred after more than 2 hours and the overtaking and leaving for dust commenced, especially after that slog across the bogs after Hoof Stones Height. Am I the only one who’s always wasted by the time they reach the track on the other side and has to walk? Many overtook me on that track, including the winning team, which gained just over half an hour on me from there to the finish.

Now it was time to bimble for an hour or two, down from Widdop and up towards the Walshaw Dean reservoirs. As I crossed the dam a group of walkers passed in the opposite direction. They recognised me and I recognised them as friends of old from the LDWA events. We exchanged pleasantries and they wished me good luck. A few groups of runners also passed in the opposite direction doing their own thing. One of them was heard to say: “That was a Glossopdale Harrier”. Yes, I was proudly sporting my new fell-racing colours on their longest outing yet by far.

On the climb up from the empty Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir (empty for maintenance, certainly not due to drought), I felt as though I was at the back of the pack, all alone with no-one in sight behind me. However, true to form, after a prolonged slowdown to allow the body to recover I began to reel a few runners back in on the approach to the far point at Tom Stell’s Seat and the turn back into the wind for home 13 miles away. The only other times I did the overtaking were thanks to optimum route-finding. I got it spot on this year, and we get to begin all over again next year on a new route. It’s why we keep coming back. Calderdale Hike never gets old or stale.

I thought we were going to get away with it as far as the rain was concerned. A tiny sprinkle was felt as we climbed up towards Hoof Stones Height but was soon forgotten. It was well into the afternoon before the first dense drizzle shower blew in as I descended towards New Bridge. I didn’t mind now because I was on the homeward stretch with 9 miles to go. It was never enough for waterproofs anyway.

I’d been eating well but was feeling hungry again and looking forward to a third sandwich at New Bridge. However there were none left. A “supply cockup” was mentioned and more supplies might be arriving later. I wasn’t going to wait; I wasn’t that desperate. I made do with a couple of custard creams instead, which are never a disappointment in themselves.

The final big climb took us out of the valley to Pecket Well, through the Delf End checkpoint and up onto the moor via Deer Stones Edge. The crossing after the second ventilation shaft is somewhat damp underfoot but the linear bog on the other side masquerading as a footpath is something to behold (and wade through). During the enforced walking/stumbling break I seized the opportunity to eat yet more food to keep the fire burning as the bog-slogging was making me feel somewhat drained.

I caught up with the fastest walking group (the one that wins every year) at the Jerusalem Farm checkpoint. They had started two hours earlier. After that is was a (mostly) downhill road run to the final checkpoint at Luddenden Foot, where the car occupant emerged just long enough to clip my tally and note my time and number – I was alone yet again. Then it was a final short run along the canal towpath to the next bridge, right over the river and follow the road up, down then up to the finish (via the back entrance of course). One of the staggered prize presentations was in progress as I arrived.

7:58 was more than I could have wished for considering I’d only managed 8:39 in 2013 and 8:34 in 2012. Age isn’t a barrier to speed. 😉 The post-race meal and enough tea to sink a battle ship provided the perfect refuelling. Many thanks once again to the organisers and marshals, who have to work on the runner’s and walkers’ behalf for a very long day. The organisation is slick and professional (apart from the sandwich situation at New Bridge, but I’ll let you off on that, all things considered). The Calderdale Hike is always a pleasure to return to every year.

Congratulations of relief must go to Andy Robinson who, recovering from a stress fracture of his leg, elected to walk the long route on the runners’ start. He wasn’t the last one back, he had no leg problems and he returned in time for the Runfurther committee meeting, which was not expected. Good news Andy, you’re back.

I took a few pictures during the day.

Nick Ham.