Report on from OAC’s Ben Cousen:
Nine runners from OAC travelled over to the bleakness of the upper Calderdale Valley where Todmorden Harriers hosted the 26th Shepherds Skyline Fell Race (6 miles /1,150′).
There was a record entry of 357 runners in the gradually improving conditions of the day. It is a stunning race over varied terrain starting with a long narrow drag up onto the ridge followed by a technical crossing of the tops to the Stoodley Pike monument. Thence a very steep and fast descent onto something almost like a road before the second major climb back. From the top one’s footsteps are retraced or fallen into back to the finish which is very fast, quite dangerous and hotly contested throughout the field.
Demonstrating that the head that wears the crown is not always heavy, October’s Runner of the Month Sam Stell set off at an astounding pace up the first climb. This had the effect of momentarily unsettling Matt John (sporting his white with black stripes for the first time) who faced the prospect of seeing Sam run away from him, borne on the wave of his recent success and recognition. Regrouping, Matt caught Sam across the top and unceremoniously elbowed past him in a manouevre borrowed from a well known local runner for whom it is a trademark. Eventually Matt finished in a brilliant seventh (45.09) behind Ian Holmes (Bingley) who won the event for something like the twelfth time in 42.24. Sam figured in 20th in 47.41.
I was pleased to finish in 43rd after some really exciting battles in a time of 51.31. This was in time to watch the end of a race long tussle between Sharron Smith and Matt Podd. Endurance Podd, unusually gracing a race of less than 20 miles, came out on top this time in 165th place (62.09) just ahead of Sharron in 166th (62.11) and in the prizes for the women’s race which was won by Anne Johnson (Calder Valley) in 53.10.
Like Matt Podd, Sarah Fuller is usually found in events of outrageous proportions but sizing down to the skyline brought her 298th in a time of 72.51. Fell stalwart Don Buffham completed the OAC line-up in 314th (76.02).
Results and photos from Todmorden Harriers.
Photos also from Andrew Thrippleton.