TACKLING the iconic Dales Way in one go has always been on the bucket list's of Jane McCarthy (Ilkley Harriers) and Rebecca César de Sá (Skyrac).

So when Punk Panther Events announced they were running the event again in 2021 (after the fiftieth anniversary of the route and first edition ultramarathon ran in 2019), both women jumped at the opportunity to participate.

The aim for the duo was always to finish it and enjoy it - both achieved, although they did find it challenging.

The Dales Way Challenge is run North to South, and totals an official 81 miles. The 1,570m of climbing is far gentler than the 3,770m on the alternative Dales High Way, yet the number of stiles and gates to negotiate are more apparent.

In total there is around 200 and it added difficulties for both runners. The running duo grouped up with six other runners early on and ran with them over the first 30/40 miles.

The said: "Everyone was so friendly, supportive, encouraging and positive."

The Punk Panther Crew checkpoints were positioned every 10 miles which broke the route down nicely and again runners were met with enthusiasm, cheers and kindness to get you motivated, re-fuelled and on to the next section with a smile.

McCarthy and César de Sá were lucky to have Andrew Merrick, Andrew McCarthy and Nuno César de Sá kindly supporting in the early stages, making such a difference on a long event. Entering Wharfedale above Buckden (mile 50’ish) felt like a watershed moment for the pair (their home valley).

As night fell, the head torches were on and their heads were down for a very long slog back home.

This is where the the enjoyment of the experience lessened for both the runners.

They said: "The stiles loomed every few hundred metres, the ground felt hard and the rain started, there were fields full of sleeping cows and the beautiful Wharfedale views were reduced to our two-metre head torch beam.

"Run, walk, hobble became our mantra for the last 15 miles. It was tougher then we thought but we knew that together we would make it to Ilkley. We finally got ourselves back to Ilkley, clocking in at 4am. This is a tough event, only 27 finished out of 38 starters. We have never felt so pleased and chuffed to finish a race, 10th position overall and joint second female (first place Greg Judges 17hrs 07mins). "