EACH year, runners from all over the country descend on the village of Buckden to compete in this race up the Pike.
This year was no exception, with a group from Highland Hill Runners taking on the challenge of this tough event. However, there was a different feeling about the race this year.
In the past, some great names in the world of fell running have challenged each other in the race up to the summit of Buckden Pike and back and many have returned as veterans, to see if they still have what it takes to win this race, but this year, they were absent and their place was taken by a group of talented up and coming runners, intent on challenging the feats of the past.
This could be best illustrated by the fact that once the infamous initial steep ascent was out of the way, the race leader was 16-year-old Great Britain Junior International, Josh Boyle of Barlick Fell Runners. Behind him was Jamie Parkinson of Pudsey & Bramley, Jack Wood of Ilkley and Luke Maude of Barlick.
The oldest of these was Wood, who at 27 cannot really be described as being old, so this was a battle between a new generation of runners.
Boyle demonstrated his tremendous ability and character by leading the race to the summit, by which time, he had opened up a reasonable gap on the chasing pack. However, it was his first attempt at this race and coming off the summit, he perhaps did not take the best line, allowing the chasers to catch up with him.
On the descent, the 23 year old Jamie Parkinson took over the lead and gradually opened up a comfortable gap to win the race by over half a minute. Behind him, Jack Wood and Josh Boyle were neck and neck as they came over the car park wall. However, crossing the road, Wood just managed to edge in front and on the finish line, they were separated by a fraction of a second.
Behind this battle of the youngsters was the wily old fox and local farmer, Ted Mason. Ted was not in the leading group at the summit, but he knows the Wharfedale Fells like the back of his hand and in addition, he is one of the best descenders in the sport. It was no surprise therefore when he gate crashed this party of youngsters to finish in fourth place, pushing theMaude down into fifth.
The record for this race has been held by Colin Donnelly since 1988, but given this group of talented youngsters, maybe it will not be long before his time is challenged.
In the ladies race, perhaps some might have though that the win by local girl Kirsty Hall was a victory for age and experience over the youthful and talented Hannah Russell of Helm Hill. But they would be wrong, as it was more than that. Just over a year ago, Kirsty was hobbling about on crutches following a skiing accident and wondering if she might ever run again. But following a successful operation, she showed steely determination by sticking to her training plan and this has paid off, to the extent that she is probably now running as well as ever.
She finished the race in 12th position overall which is quite remarkable. Hannah Russell also finished in the overall top 20 and normally this would have been good enough to win the ladies' race, but that would be without coming up against the revitalised Hall. The third lady back was another local, Jean Powell.
There were the youngsters at the front of this race, but special mention has to be made at the other end of the scale.
Norman Bush of Ilkley Harriers has long been running this race and he has now moved into the Vet 75 category.
You would think that the time keepers would be waiting at the end of this race for this grand old gentleman of fell running to finish. Not a bit of it. Despite his advancing years, Norman finished just over halfway down the field, beating men of less than half his age. Norman is an inspiration to us all and it will be good to welcome him back next year.
A newcomer to the race was Gary Schofield, a farmer from Buckden. He had never taken part in any type of race before and he picked a tough one in which to make his debut.
He was running to raise money for Manorlands Hospice and finished in 72nd out of a field of 98, beating some seasoned fell runners along the way.
Men: 1 Jamie Parkinson (Pudsey & Bramley) 34:17 , 2 Jack Wood (Ilkley Harriers) 33:51, 3 Josh Boyle, (Barlick Fell Runners) 33:51, 4 Ted Mason (Wharfedale Harriers) 35:14, 5 Luke Maude (Barlick Fell Runners) 36:06.
Ladies: 1 Kirsty Hall (Wharfedale Harriers) 42:07, 2 Hannah Russell (Helm Hill) 44:43, 3 Jean Powell (Wharfedale Harriers) 48:27.