TWO Ilkley Harriers made the trip to Todmorden on Saturday for the Flower Scar fell race.

This was the first English fell championship race of the year and as such attracted a large and high-quality field.

Taking place in the Upper Calder Valley, the landscape is characterised by death defying steep valley sides near the river level and vast swathes of open moorland higher up, also featuring the Havoc downhill mountain biking course which is in a scenic hillside pine forest; there is over 2,000 ft of climbing overall.

As is the case almost everywhere at the moment this race also offered the bonus of almost wall to wall deep mud. All this made for a challenging eight and a half miles. Hill specialist Jane McCarthy managed the conditions brilliantly to finish 1st in the W50 category in a time of 1:24:40. Fellow Harrier Kate Archer also put her extensive off-road experience to good use to finish 2nd W45 in a time of 1:30:55. The overall race was won by Tim Lamont of Helm Hill in a time of just over an hour while Eve Pannone of Ambleside took the women’s prize in 1:08:10.

On very different terrain there were two more fine performances from Ilkley athletes at the Thirsk 10 mile road race which took part on Sunday. A fast flat road race based at Thirsk racecourse, this event also includes a wheelchair category and is a good opportunity for competitors to register a quick 10 mile time. Young Harrier Ed Hobbs capitalised and put in a storming performance to finish in 4th place with a PB and a time of 52:47. This was only a minute behind winner, the aptly named Graham Rush of Leeds AC. Fellow Harrier Jaysson Sawyer also took part in the event organised by Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers, registering another excellent time of 1:04:37 and finishing 56th of the 531 total finishers.

Not too far away on the same day another pair of Ilkley runners tackled the Vale of York 10 mile race. Similar to Thirsk, this was a flat route starting at Rufforth Air Field to the west of York. Speedy times were posted in wet conditions by Forrest Hamilton who was 11th overall in a time of 1:02:04; he was followed by Harry Brook-Dobson who finished in 1:04:16 and was 16th of the 333 total finishers.

A little further south but also in the flatter eastern part of the country was the North Lincolnshire Half Marathon. With almost 1,500 finishers and based in Scunthorpe this is a popular event in the area in it’s own right and also with many competitors using it as a warm up for one of the upcoming spring marathons. This included the sole Ilkley Harrier taking part Tony Pye, who smashed his previous half marathon PB by 5 minutes, raising hopes for a strong performance in Manchester next month. With a time of 1:30:47, Pye was the 257th finisher and came 28th in the M45 category.

Once again Ilkley Harriers where well represented at the nation’s 5K parkruns with nine attending Roberts park alone. Some impressive performances were had at this particular event with PB’s from Harry Sime, Vince Gibbons and Peter Roll. While Nigel Illingworth and Alex Hyde reaped the rewards of some dedicated training to post their best times since returning from injury.

Elsewhere James Horrex finished 2nd in a time of 18:12 which was presumably an exciting finish at Chevin Forest as this was the exact same time as the first finisher. The prolific Paula Reynier was the 20th female finisher among 352 participants at Lister Park. Meanwhile Robert Cunningham was 8th of 392 at Fountains Abbey and Stephen Coy finished 5th from 227 at Skipton. Finally Geoff Howard topped the age grading with a superb 85.87% for a time of 24:29, also at Skipton.