This past week got off to a cracking start with two local, midweek opportunities for racing for the Ilkley Harriers, with Matthew Thackwray making his mark in both.

Wednesday saw the staging of the Hyde Park Summer Mile, a one mile, two lap race on tarmac paths around Woodhouse Moor in Leeds.

Participants are organised into one of fourteen heats based on their predicted finish time with the fastest runners going off last.

Two Harriers tried their hand at the event with Thackwray the first home in an impressive fifth place in 4:36:01, achieving the gold standard level.

Jane McCarthy came over the line in a blistering time of 06:01.10, taking first place in her age category and securing a silver medal standard. 

This was clearly a warm-up race for Thackwray, who lined up on Thursday evening for another Ilkley Harriers’ hosted event, the fourth race in the Harrogate and District Summer Race league. 

It was a challenging 5.1 mile course for the more than 300 runners who turned out in great conditions.

Starting and ending at the rugby club,  it was a great turnout for the Harriers, with 28 of them taking to the start line with some excellent results.

Thackwray had a tremendous run on home turf taking first place in the race in 26:57.

Michael Odell was the next over the line in sixth place in 29:18, managing second place in his age category.

There were some other excellent placings on the night, with Philippa Rawling the first Ilkley lady home, taking fifth place in her age category in 38:41.

Peter Shelley and John Hayes battled in their category taking third and fourth place in 32:11 and 32:56 respectively.

Nicky Liptrot took fourth place in her category in 40:03, continuing her consistent run of results in the league, while Diane Kitchen took first place in her category in 44:30.

The weekend’s race action took Harriers off road and on to trail and fell.

Gawain Moore was the only Harrier to take on the challenge of the Eldwick and Gilstead Gala Fell race on Saturday.

This three-mile route, starting on tarmac, follows a well-worn footpath up to the ‘summit’ of Baildon Moor, plunging back down the hillside before an energy zapping uphill finish.

Moore had a great run, completing the race in 18.41 to come seventh, taking second place in his age category.

Perhaps Moore was the sole participant in the event as several Harriers were up the valley competing in the annual Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge.

Raising much needed funds for the service the event sees participants completing a 17-mile race across Wharfedale, taking in Birks Fell, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside.

The Harriers who took part flew around the course, dominating the podium.

Oli Murphy was the first Harrier home in a course record breaking time of 2:09:36.

In a fantastic clean sweep, the Harriers men took all top five places, with Dan McKeown in second in 2:40:01, Gavin Lamb in third 2:43:05, Dave Robson in fourth in 2:46:10 and James Batterley in fifth in 2:46:40.

The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association Wharfedale Three Peak challenge top five, including runaway winner Oli Murphy (centre).The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association Wharfedale Three Peak challenge top five, including runaway winner Oli Murphy (centre). (Image: Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.)

And it was a first and third for the Harrier women, with Rachel Carter winning the race in 3:05 and Katie Poulter taking third place in 3:23.

Robin Moffat was the final Harrier over the line in the event, with a time of 4:04.

On Sunday, Alex Stanley-Hyde continued his return from injury to take on the Harrogate Harmony Energy 10k. 

An undulating course on tarmac and bridleways, Stanley-Hyde had a great run, completing the course in 1:09:36.

And finally, Ilkley’s 17 park runners were travelling far and wide achieving personal bests (PB) and finishing in top tens.

Hitting the triumvirate of a PB, a top three finish and an eye-watering age grading this week, Alison Bennett had a superb outing at the Morecambe event, finishing in second position with an age grading of 91.91 per cent.

Other top ten finishers were Jacqui Foster in seventh at the same event, Helen Thurston in second at the University Parks event in Oxford, Sally Malir at the Cinder Track in Whitby in seventh, Samesh Chotai in fourth and James Horrex in sixth at the Skipton event, and Michael Odell taking first in a PB time at the Watermeadows event in Towcester.

Nigel Illingworth was also in PB form at the Lister Park event and Hilda Coulsey and Diane Kitchen were pushing the age gradings with results both over 80 per cent. 

Harriers wanted to pass on their thanks to all the park runners who have been taking part in the interclub parkrun challenge with Saltaire Striders and Baildon Runners. 

With her amazing run in Morecambe, Bennett was the clear overall winner, with Mark Hall taking the plate prize to make it an Ilkley double.

By Jill Ezard