THERE are ultra marathons, and then there are epic ultra marathons.

And there was little doubt that last Saturday's Dales High Way, run by the popular Punk Panther organisers from Otley, belonged in the latter category.

As if the 90 and 100-mile challenges weren't enough, the three Ilkley Harriers who took part were drenched by torrential rain from the moment they set off in Saltaire, bound for Appleby.

As the name suggests, the route was packed with climbs and the section overnight included the whole length of the Howgills.

But the Ilkley trio excelled - getting to the finish was an accomplishment itself and Ritchie Williamson was third home in the 90-mile version, which he covered in almost exactly 24 hours.

Fellow Harriers Jane McCarthy and Andrew Merrick opted for the extra 10-mile loop after Appleby to bring up the century!

Only Daniel Hendriksen bettered their 27-hours time, and the stats were mind-boggling with over 5,000 metres of climbing. To put that into context, it's more elevation than the summit of Mont Blanc.

It all rewarded months of dedicated training and McCarthy, the only lady to complete the 100-mile event, reflected afterwards: "We were lucky the awful morning weather gave way to a more pleasant evening.

"It was an amazing experience and really did showcase our beautiful Dales."

There was another remarkable endurance feat last week from an Ilkley favourite in Brian Melia.

He's thrived in many of ultra running's iconic races in the past, including the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and the Dragon's Back but his latest accomplishment was a first for anyone.

For he ticked off a continuous run of 'A Pennine Journey', a 247-mile route up and down the Pennines, based on Alfred Wainwright's 1938 walk.

He too was blasted by rain and wind, but that didn't stop him from setting a super-tough target for anyone else who attempts the route - three days and 16 hours.

Sticking with the long-distance theme, the Harriers' Jill Ezard notched a superb top-10 finish in the 50km Chiltern Ridge Ultra Trail.

Nearly 1,000 metres of climbing were involved, and she stopped the clock in five hours, 39 minutes and 18 seconds - one of 39 women to finish the arduous course.

Last week we highlighted the staggering new Ilkley Skyline record registered by Tom Adams and he added to his achievements at Lakeland Trails' 18km Kentmere Trail Race.

His time of 1:05:44 meant a breathtaking average pace of 3:40/km despite the boggy underfoot conditions and tricky up-and-down terrain.