"I'm going to run 80 races this year."

That was Bob Payne's ambitious announcement on January 4, 2023 on his 80th birthday.

After a year of consistently turning out week in, week out, in all weathers, brilliant Bob achieved this amazing year of running by completing the gruelling Chevin Chase on Boxing Day.

A spokesperson for Otley Athletic Club said: "Bob's not only 80, he has had two knee replacement surgeries, recovered and resumed his running. He's also just a lovely man, has many friends in Otley Athletic Club, welcomes all the new runners to the club and supports people brand new or returning to running by volunteering to support the Coach to 5k groups. When he's not running parkrun, he's up there volunteering and cheering others along.

Ilkley Gazette: Bob PayneBob Payne (Image: submitted)

"And Bob hasn't chosen an easy route to achieving his 80 races. He's counted 43 parkruns, 29 of them at Chevin Forest parkrun which is a toughy. He's run all of Otley Athletic Club's Handicap races and has won the Eric Smith Handicap Trophy this year. Throughout the summer Bob competed for Otley Athletic Club in the local inter-club competition where we all go along and have a bit of very friendly rivalry and fun. Not only this but the local races Bob enters are not for the faint hearted and include The Guiseley Gallop, Up The Odda, The Baildon Boundary Way and of course the infamous Chevin Chase, his grand finale.

"The Chevin Chase on Boxing Day is always special, but this year we made it extra special for Bob. There was an announcement celebrating his final race at the start and supporters and banners along the whole route with a warm welcome at the finish, where many of the Otley Athletic Club athletes had waited to cheer him home.

"It was also the 40th anniversary for Otley Athletic Club this year. We've had a marvellous year and Bob's achievement was the icing on the cake.

Ilkley Gazette: Members of Otley Athletic ClubMembers of Otley Athletic Club (Image: submitted)

"Speaking of cake. Have you over indulged slightly this Christmas? Has Bob's running year inspired you. Otley Athletic Club is a really inclusive and friendly running community. It has a thriving juniors section and over 250 senior members. There's something for everyone no matter what your level. There are road, trail and fell runners. If you just want to dip your toe in you can come along for a couple of taster sessions and we'll match you to a group. If you're new to running or just returning and a little low on confidence we offer our Coach to 5k group. No matter what - you never regret a run! So look on the website, get in touch and get the running bug in 2024.

"Let's give the final cheer to Bob - now for heavens sake, put your feet up and have a rest.... we all know that's not going to happen."