Calderdale Way Relay

It’s 7am on Sunday 19th May, and registration for leg 1 of the 39th Calderdale-Way-Relay is a frenzy of activity as 100 teams have their kit checked and collect their numbers and batons. This year’s event was held in memory of its founder Pete White who, 40 years ago, decided that he was going to be the first person to complete a newly planned 50-mile footpath that circumnavigates Calderdale across moorland, through woodland and follows scenic trails. He then proceeded to run its entire length on the opening day and decided it would make a fantastic relay race. He wasn’t wrong!
 
Originally, this was a winter race held on the first Sunday in December, and poor conditions were the norm. That didn’t prevent all the leg records being set during that period as top fell runners descended on Calderdale to battle for the title of this blue-ribbon event. However, after a couple of weather cancellations, increasing risk assessment criteria, and an ageing marshalling pool meant a move to a more ‘friendly’ time of year was inevitable.
 
As 8am approaches, 100 pairs of runners nervously wait on the start line each with their own goals. Whether that be to compete for honours, get the baton round, get the baton further than last year, or just finish, the fist bumps are visible, words of encouragement abound and there’s a unique camaraderie that the ‘CWR’ brings.
 
At exactly 8am the race gets underway from Clay House in West Vale, on the outskirts of Halifax. The battle for position at the front starts immediately as the path narrows to single file within the first half mile and no one wants to have to make up ground once they hit Norland Moor.
On leg 1 it was Ilkley Harriers that opened a gap and as they descended into Cragg Vale for the leg 2 changeover they commanded a 4-minute lead ahead of Calder Valley Fell Runners (CVFR) and Barlick Runners 3rd. In the ladies’ race Wharfedale Harriers opened an impressive leg 1 lead of 17 minutes on their closest rival Holmfirth Harriers.
 
Leg 2 saw Barlick overhaul Ilkley’s lead and arrive in Todmorden ahead of them by just 12 seconds. Rossendale Harriers made up ground cutting the third-place deficit to less than 2 minutes. Wharfedale ladies led Rossendale by almost 10 minutes, with Holmfirth Harriers ladies now in 3rd a further 6 minutes behind.
 
On the short but ascending leg 3, Ilkley Harriers re-took first place, but it was Rossendale who were really making the moves by handing the baton over in second place, albeit with a 2-minute deficit. Barlick in 3rd were falling back and were now 4 minutes adrift. Wharfedale ladies still led here but Holmfirth had moved into 2nd although still 15 minutes adrift.
 
Leg 4 and on a leg with a couple of steep climbs and open moorland this clearly suited the Rossendale pair as they not only took the lead for the first time but opened up a lead of more than 5 minutes over CVFR who had wrestled their way into second place. Wharfedale Harriers, who hadn’t featured in the top 3 for the first half, were now 5 minutes ahead of Barlick who had fallen back into 4th. Wharfedale ladies lead was being challenged now with Holmfirth just 10 minutes behind.
 
There were no podium changes on leg 5, but the top 3 were closer together with Rossendale’s lead cut to less than 2 minutes over CVFR, and Wharfedale less than 3 mins behind them. In the ladies’ race Wharfedale managed to maintain their 10-minute lead over Holmfirth.
 
Leg 6 and its all to play for as CVFR go hell for leather chasing down Rossendale in an attempt to retain their title. But for the first time since 1986, it’s Rossendale’s year and they cross the finish line in 6hrs 10 min 24 seconds. Calder Valley put up a brave fight in the second half but finished two and a half minutes behind in 6hrs 12 min 46 seconds. Wharfedale Harriers maintained 3rd place in 6hrs 15min 39 seconds, well ahead of the early leaders Ilkley Harriers in 4th. A big change in the ladies race though as Holmfirth Harriers not only overhauled a 10-minute deficit but finished 5 minutes ahead of Wharfedale to take the title in 8hrs 14min 05sec, Wharfedale recorded 8hrs 19min 46 sec and Barlick finished 3rd in 8hrs 36min 43sec.
 
As the trophy headed back over the Pennines it was good to see a certain Ian Holmes from Bingley Harriers back at the CWR running leg 1. Ian still holds the records for leg 1 and leg 4 from those winter races in the 80’s.
A big shout out to Northowram Pumas Running Club who fielded an amazing 6 teams, and Sowerby Bridge Snails who competed for the first-time fielding 3 teams. We can’t wait to see you back next year.
 
Thanks go to the CWR organising committee who spend almost a full year planning the event (there’s always something new). Calder Valley Search & Rescue Team who had a busier day than usual due to the hot weather. RAYNET-UK for their invaluable communications and for the army of helpers, marshals and officials who made it a success.
 
When social media posts include comments such as ‘best day of the year’ and ‘this event gives me goosebumps’ you know it’s something special.
 
Results
Open Category
1st  Rossendale Harriers & A.C
2nd  Calder Valley Fell Runners
3rd  Wharfedale Harriers
 
Ladies
1st Holmfirth Harriers AC Public Page
2nd Wharfedale Harriers
3rd Barlick Runners 
 
Mixed
1st  Sale Harriers Manchester
 
Open Vets
1st Calder Valley Fell Runners
 
Ladies Vets
1st  Todmorden Harriers
 
The Pete White Trophy (First to reach Stoodley Pike)
Men’s –  Ilkley Harriers
Ladies – Wharfedale Harriers

Simon Sets A New Club Record

Last night was the Christleton 5k, a fast flat course near Chester, attracting some of the fastest runners in the country. The competition was hot, with the first 150 finishing in under 18 minutes! 

Simon Johnson set a new club record for his age cat, finishing in 18:01. Harry Johnson was the overall winner in the field of 500 and bagging another sub 15, coming in at 14:59 - wow! You’re both running so well.

Harriers Make Trip To Leeds

Two Harriers made the short trip to Leeds on Sunday to compete. Marc Rocheteau ran the second Rob Burrow Marathon, completing the tough 26.2 mile course in 3:57:37. Regarding the conditions, Marc said, "First half cloudy then it got hotter."

Rachel Standish ran the Jane Tomlinson Run for All Half Marathon, finishing in 1:49:32. Rachel commented, "Nice course and amazing support."

Fantastic running by both!

In multi-sport, Simon Gelsthorpe took part in Saturday's XTerra UK off-road triathlon at Weston Park in Staffordshire. The event comprised a 1.5k swim, 27k bike leg, rounded-off by an 11k run, all set in 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland. Simon completed the course in 3:32:40 and came third in the 65-69 age group. Well done, Simon!