Fell Race Report

Heptonstall Festival Fell Race turned into a fabulous battle between a string of worthy contenders with the ladies’ race being one by the village’s own Holly Page. 

On a perfect summer’s day, it was hard to imagine a better venue for a short fell race with freshly mown fields, glorious azure skies, breathtaking views and the faint sound of a German oompah-band in the background. 

Organiser Stephen Grimley said: “We raised around £400 for the Festival (through the race) whilst Jan raised a further £300 through catering.

“Big thanks to the 30 marshals (mostly from the village), we hope they enjoyed their free pints. A massive thanks to Lynn at The White Lion for hosting the HQ and providing all the prizes, and to Anthony Holt for letting us use his field for parking/ race route.

“Hazel Noble and Penny and Mark Wharton also kindly allowed the race to pass through their fields. We were really grateful to the Methodist Church for the use of benches and tables for the post race party in Weaver’s Square, and to the residents in the square for putting up with the all the commotion. Mark Wigg and Mark Holman gave up a huge amount of there time helping us to set up and organise the race. And how could forget Alan Nethercott dressing up in Lederhosen to srat the race – Wunderbar! What a community! Well done everyone!”

The six mile race, with 1647 ft of climb and very hot conditions, made it a lung-busting test of stamina and resolve.

The descent into Midgehole, past the Blue Pig, is followed by a gruelling climb from the valley.

Tod Harriers’ Nick Barber crested Pecket Well road crossing in the lead with Wharfedale’s Dave Kirkham and Mark Sennett hot on his heels. 

Calder Valley’s Joe Washington – fresh from his maiden victory on Wednesday at Cragg Vale – and new boy Jonny Helliwell were close up.

In the absence of some of Calder’s bigger names, veteran Mark Goldie reached High Brown Knoll trig point in sixth  and the scene was set for a rip-roaring return to Heptonstall. 

As the group rattled past Little Stoodley and back down into Midgehole, Kirkham had nipped ahead of the rapidly fading Barber, with Washington and Helliwell pushing hard to stay in contention. 

Back past the Blue Pig again, the final, withering climb back up to the finish line bore its teeth.

Step forward Helliwell,  who crushed the leading pack with a masterful ascent and powered to the finish line to claim his maiden victory.

Kirkham and Sennet took second and third while Barber somehow hauled himself over the line in fourth place, only to collapse with exhaustion, requiring the local ambulance to navigate the tricky streets.

 Helliwell, Goldie and Washington helped Calder Valley claim the men’s prize. 

In the ladies’ race, local lass Holly Page secured a comfortable victory and 15th place overall, and helped Calder to the ladies team prize along with Jackie Scarfe and new girl Sarah Tait. 

Post-race fun was provided in the main square with fine German lager, frankfurters and bratwurst, and delicious strudel. 

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