Calderdale Way Relays 2014 & The Rest of the Weekends Action

ByChristopher Holdsworth

Calderdale Way Relays 2014 & The Rest of the Weekends Action

Calderdale Way Relay 2014

‘My only goal was to keep up with Spencer, a goal which was becoming a little unattainable towards the ruins overlooked by Stoodly Pike. He announced ‘I’m ‘avin one of these lads, the rest is up to you…’

As leg 1s cars pulled into The Ram Inn car park, each occupants gaze was met with the same knowing look. What were we doing at 6am in the morning outside a sodding pub – It could only mean one thing…  It’s relay time!

With the members of leg 1 all cursing the captain for choosing us to take the fall for the 8am start, in reality, we were all excited by the race ahead. Arriving at the venue brought us the news that Russell had chosen not to bring his Clayton-le-Moors Harriers top, instead he rummaged through Lee’s Sports Wears ©, modelling his latest range in baseball gloves and helmets. Once bum bags were fixed, supplements supped, we were out on the start line ready to begin.

10344780_10152459073715879_842234122282767177_nPhoto Courtesy of Christopher Holdsworth

The sound of a whistle brought the race to a start, signalling a mass sprint up the embankment. The noise in the air ceased, deafness dropped and the only sound to be heard was the rustle of race numbers complimenting the passing flow of the river.  Once we ushered ourselves around the early bend, the pairs from each club began to filter into the bottleneck through the woods. Only being able to achieve the same speed as the runner ahead gave the 10 mile leg a nice and steady introduction, from which we were able to build on. Reaching the field at the top of the trail was where Spencer and I began to deploy our game plan. Take it easy, real ‘em in, move on to the next. The pairs began to fall behind with only a few remaining ahead, with one in particular becoming the source for our own particular personal battle.

Having only recce’d the leg once, we were still a little unsure as to which route was correct. Not wanting to rely on the runners behind, Spencer made it our objective to stay with the runners from Tring. Eventually we caught up with them on our decent through Ripponden where the back and forth battle begun. Having just been fed a glucose sweet or two, I was on a sugar enduced high. I’m not quite sure if I sprinted the next few hills or teleported. Once we’d passed Ripponden, Spencer and I hit our stride up the continuous road to the moorland. Steadily, we began to gain a comfortable lead on the boys from Tring.

Again, navigation issues arose which allowed for our competition to retake the lead. We were around 7 miles in and my energy was now spent. My only goal was to keep up with Spencer, a goal which was becoming a little unattainable towards the ruins overlooked by Stoodly Pike. He announced ‘I’m ‘avin one of these lads, the rest is up to you’. Not wanting to be the disappointment that would take Spencer’s trademark smile, I pushed on through the hip pains and kept my place just in front of the other lagging Tring member.

All of a sudden it hit me, we had only half a mile to go and we were neck and neck. Adrenaline the like I had never felt before kicked in and I stormed past all three runners, tackling one of the most treacherous and slippy path ways I’d ever experienced. The danger didn’t matter, broken ankles didn’t matter – After this 7 mile solitary battle, we simply had to prevail. At one point I even managed to cuff my hand on barbed wire, taking my glove clean off. That glove was good and gone, I was in the zone and I wasn’t stopping for anything.


Photo Courtesy of Garry Wilkinson

Thankfully, Spencer retrieved my glove straight away, reminding me after that I might have needed it for an end of race kit check. My legs now not working properly meant I could no longer turn around bends. This made it very difficult when there was s-bend after s-bend. However, Spencer’s ‘gentle’ roar for me to go in the right direction made me do exactly that.  In the end, we managed to finish our leg in 01:18:17, less than a minute and a half behind 3rd placed Barlick.

We were greeted well by the Clayton-le-Moors welcome party. The air was warm yet the monsoon-esque weather set in. Here, we sent Dave Motley and Andrew Stubbs on their way…

‘9am and Me & Mr Stubbs are waiting for the A team to finish their leg, would they be in 1st, 2nd, 3rd? had they got lost? The suspense is all too much. Warm ups continue in the lashing rain and the leg 1 boys come through in 4th. We set off hard up the hill to the reservoir hoping to chase down or make some time up on 3rd place, but that soon went out of the window when we took a wrong turn and ended up just off course probably losing 1min or so. Next we had a strong climb up and over Stoodley Pike with me taking advantage of the descent knowing full well that Mr Stubbs flat speed would allow him to catch up.



Photo Courtesy of Christopher Holdsworth

Twists & turns through the farms, into Todmorden centre, over the train tracks and back up the hill before the long descent into the sports centre. Overall the leg went well; however I ran 4mins slower than last year with the combination of wrong turns (ensure recce next time), slight injury problems and poor boggy condition under foot possibly to blame. We came back in 4th but lost a few minutes on 3rd’ – Dave Motley



Photo Courtesy of Ryan Wilkinson

Losing ground on 3rd meant Clayton-le-Moors Harriers would have to focus their efforts on solidating 4th place. It was over to Garry Wilkinson and Jacob Boyle on the 3rd leg…

‘Jacob and I set off in forth place with a chasing gap of seven and a half minutes to third. Although the young pretender Jacob (32 years his junior) forced the early pace my experience showed as we ran quicker than the 2nd and 3rd team and gained 7th fastest leg of the day. I Think this was my swan song with the seniors … but what a way to finish. Cheers Jacob’ – Garry Wilkinson



Photo Courtesy of Ryan Wilkinson

With Jacob and Garry making good pace, it was a swift hand over to Tom Brewster and Ryan Belshaw for the 4th leg…

We set off on leg 4 in high spirits having handed off from Garry and Jacob in 4th place, after a mile or so the mood sobered as we came to terms with the task ahead of us; 10miles of boggy moor and heavy rain showers to contend with while attempting to chase down 3rd place Barlick Fell runners and keeping 5th place Todmorden far enough behind so as not to worry us!


The relentless climbing strength of the ex-marine Ryan coupled with the flat-terrain speed of Road Captain Tom proved to be a good mix as we matched each other along the entire route, maintaining 4th place after the gruelling hilly leg. Elation at the end of the leg momentarily turned to concern as blood was discovered on Toms vest, however this swiftly turned to amusement when it was revealed to be caused by improper lubrication of certain areas of the chest’ – Tom Brewster



Photo Courtesy of Ryan Wilkinson

Things were getting quite tense now. Lungs burning, nipples raw; we were on for a pivotal battle with Todmorden. Paul Shackleton and David Walker took the reigns in leg 5…

‘It was cold, wet and bleak at Wainstalls and we didn’t want to get out of the car. One of the lads said ‘you wouldn’t want to live up here would you’. No. Barlick fell runners came and went and about ten minutes later we were off in 4th place with me still wearing my jacket (You feel the cold more at my age) and with about ninety seconds lead on Todmorden Harriers and Calder Valley’s B team. We set off steadily; we didn’t have much choice as we slopped through the first couple of miles. Tod’ and CV closed in but I don’t like being passed in a relay and neither does David. We dug in and on the climbs pulled away, only to be caught again on the better ground.


With a mile to go Calder Valley dropped back and at a busy road crossing with half a mile to go Tod’ got away. We didn’t exactly do ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ but we didn’t want to get run over either and the Tod’ lads got a few yards advantage which they kept to the finish. We handed over in 5th place. 60.22, 8th fastest on the leg. Somewhere in first few miles, my car key fell out of my bumbag, which almost spoiled a great day, but not quite’ – Paul Shackleton

Hearts were now in mouths. With Todmorden now leading the way, it was up to our speedy duo Breton Holdsworth and Jonny McKenna to save the day in leg 6. The race was on…


Photo Courtesy of Christopher Holdsworth

After what seemed like forever stood there dithering in my vest, we were off chasing down Todmorden Harriers A team who had a very slight lead, we soon caught them in the woods and over took them, then Jonny took a nice sliding dive on a right hander over a bridge. Exactly the same place that Matt Lalor slipped on the same leg with me last year (I’m becoming a bit of an omen)


We were still in front and opening up a comfortable lead, then we came to a road crossing where we lost some ground waiting for an opening in the traffic. Not to worry we shot off again still in the lead, upon where we came out onto the road in Bailiff Bridge, out of nowhere Todmorden Harriers appeared on our shoulders, which then spurred us on again up the hill onto Birkhouse lane as we followed it round (as per CWR instructions) the Todmorden Harriers duo then appeared right on our shoulders again, via an unmade track? As most people know I’m not bitter about shortcuts, not that I’m accusing anyone of course. We were still keeping the lead by this point and after we turned into the field past the bungalow we didn’t see them again until, Boom they were right behind us on the canal path going through Brighouse.


It was then neck and neck all the way through the next couple of miles of climbing, which to be fair if I could’ve matched Jonny we would have been able to open up another comfortable lead. They started to pull away once we hit the tarmac, though I was pretty confident we would be able to drag some distance back. For people that aren’t accustomed to this leg, we had just spent the last couple of miles gaining just over 500ft of elevation, which then means the next mile and a half was nearly 500ft of descent down tarmac and cobbles which fairly trashed my quads resulting in jelly legs for the final flat. We still had them in our sites going along the canal and then back onto the final stretch along the road to the finish line. We put in another couple of pushes but ran out of ground (if only we had a few more miles) So we started the leg in 5th overall and finished in 5th overall just gutted we couldn’t secure 4th’     – Breton Holdsworth




Photo Courtesy of Christopher Holdsworth

And so, 4th place wasn’t to be. Unfortunately the underdog story goes to Todmorden for their plucky effort to turn around a 15 minute deficit. Nevertheless, the effort shown from all runners across the 6 legs was monumental.

Just as it was for team 2 and the ladies. Clayton-le-Moors B finished brilliantly with an improved position on last year. Coming 26th overall, the day started with the duo of Lee Smith and Russell Clarke. Although they managed a half time extra lap, they finished their leg with a respectable time of 01:37:03. Next up were Michael O’Donnell and Paul Wale for leg 2. Quick of the blocks, they also had a fine run with a time of 01:22:00. They passed the baton to promising young superstars Jordan McDonald and George Pier. They achieved an excellent time of 00:45:44, well done boys! On the 4th leg was the top pairing of David Bagot and Neil Hardiman. Their run lasted for only 01:22:54 before they passed on to John Wilcock and Adam Shaw in the 5th leg. They managed a storming 18th position for their leg, handing over to 6th in a time of 01:06:15. The last leg consisted of the battlers Dominic Car and Richard Briscoe, bringing us home in 26th posting a time of 01:21:32, rounding of an excellent day for Clayton-le-Moors B.

But we didn’t stop there…

Our ladies were out in force too, and boy did they deliver! They managed a 61st placed finish over all and they started the day with Captain Jean Brown and Barbara Savage. They got us off to a solid start with a time of 01:52:39. They transferred the racing duties to Vicky Heys and Angela Shian, who managed a brilliant time of 01:30:24. A superb effort for this notoriously hilly leg. On the 3rd leg was Julia Rushton and Linda Lord, keeping us steady recording a time of 00:56:40. The baton was passed on to Alison Dugdale and Anna Kelly for the 4th leg. Racing home in 01:33:02, they handed over to Lisa Richardson and Rebecca Rawcliffe for the penultimate leg. Their leg ended in 01:24:45 where they handed over to Lorraine Slater and Nic McNamara for the final leg. The ladies wrapped up the day in 09:00:51 with the final duo posting a time of 01:43:21. Brilliant stuff!!

I think it is safe to say that the day can be perfectly summed up in this final shot. Take it away, Richard and Dom!



Race report by Christopher Holdsworth, with contributions from Dave Motley, Garry Wilkinson, Tom Brewster, Paul Shackleton and Breton Holdsworth. Thanks for your help! Full results can be found here.


The Rest of the Weekends Action

You’ve had a lot to read so far, 2400 words in fact.. ‘it’s a bloody essay!’ I hear you cry. I know, I’m deeply sorry. Readjust, take a break and we’ll get through this together..


Firstly! Friday night saw the second race in the Burnley & Pendle Grand Prix Calendar. The race was Pinhaw, and it happened to feature two heavy weights of the running world turn up in Tom and Mark Addison. With first and second place out of contention, the race was on for 3rd place. Sadly, a Harrier couldn’t claim it and it fell to Barlick runner Jimmy Craig. We did however manage to secure team prize through 4th place Christopher Holdsworth, 6th placed Matt Perry and 7th placed Andrew Stubbs. There were thirty of us competing overall, well done team!


On Saturday, Jean Brown decided to warm up for the Calderdale Way Relays by tackling the monster Buttermere Fell Race. I find my self writing about Jean often, as the fell captain is always out and about. No matter how many times I see here name, she still manages to surprise me with another outstanding time. She tamed the beast in just over the 2 hour mark, finishing in 45th place. I’d like to also congratulate former Clayton-le-Moors Harrier Wayne McIntosh for also having a good crack at this race. Well done both of you!

For a change of pace, we had Clayton-le-Moor Harriers compete in a 10k road race. Overall there were six Harriers competing at Blacksticks, with Dave Nuttall the first round finishing in 7thMicheal Hogan finished in 27th, whilst Steve Biscomb finished in 33rd. There was also stellar efforts from Alan ClarksonBrian Wildman and Ron Chappel.

Lastly, I was sent in this report from Sam Root, reporting on the Deva Junior Aquathlon Race..

‘On Sunday 27th April, Eleanor Root traveled to Christleton near Chester to compete in the Deva Junior Aquathlon. There was a mixed field of 41 competitors taking part in the Tristars 3 category. After a solid swim and transition Eleanor put in a strong performance during the run and claimed an overall position of 15th, taking 9th place in the girl’s competition.  Not to be outdone, younger sister Grace competed in the Blackpool Junior Triathlon on Sunday 11th April in the Supersrpint category. Again, Grace had a solid swim then gave a strong performance on the bike and really came into her own on the run.  In a mixed race of 12 competitors Grace came 4th overall but managed to get 1st place girl’- Sam Root


Thanks Sam and well done Grace! If I have missed any results I do apologise. Between racing, meetings, work and compiling the reports I’ve had little time this week. If I have missed any results out, please email me here and I’ll add them quick sharp!!

This weekend see’s Ron Hill make an appearance at the 100th Park Run, so please come and join us and run in the early morning sun!

About the author

Christopher Holdsworth