IT was perhaps fitting that a race taking in part of the Pennine Way was treated to the classic Yorkshire August weather of wind and rain. So, the scene was set for a dark and moody evening race in the heart of the Craven Countryside.

All races start and finish in Gargrave, in fields adjacent to Mark Plantation, running out and over Eshton Moor itself, to the turn at Newfield Bridge, and back the same way.

Formerly known as a cross country race, it is a tough, undulating course with many tricks up it’s sleeve in the form of alternate lines round a hill in addition to missed gates and stiles, leading to some interesting route choices by some runners. On the evening, neither the weather nor the “presents” left by the more usual residents of these fields deterred 78 senior and 64 hardy junior racers.

Bradley’s Edward Evans ran a hard race to win the senior men’s race (32.08) from Calder Valley’s Darren Kay, 2nd, (32.33) and local favourite, Appletreewick’s Ted Mason, 3rd, (32.45).

A strong performance by Wharfedale Harrier’s Ailish Graham to finish in 8th place overall won her the ladies race (36.05) in style. 2nd and 3rd ladies were the well-travelled Salford Harriers’ Ruth Jones (37.04) and Skipton’s Hannah Cairns (41.01).

A punishing turn at the bottom of a hill marks the half way point for the U17 runners who must now power their way back up the hill before enjoying the relief of a downhill sprint to the finish.

Showing the boys a very clean pair of heels to win the race was Wharfedale’s Amelie Lane (27.29) who just gets better and better as the season progresses. Finishing 3rd and 4th overall were 2nd and 3rd girls’ Ilkley Harriers’ Emily Gibbons (30.53) and Wharfedale’s Layla Kirkley (32.30). Wharfedale’s Nathan Hird led the boys home in 2nd place overall to win (29.50) from George Chambers, 2nd, (36.02) and Wharfedale’s Benji Grundy, 3rd, (36.55) who is also enjoying a very good season in 2021.

Wharfedale’s Tom Hooper won the U14 race (14.57) from Keighley and Craven’s James Sadler-Townsend, 2nd, (15.58) and Leven Valley’s Oliver Oldham, 3rd, (16.03). Leven Valley’s Graihagh Turner finished 3rd overall to win the girl’s race (16.02) from Keighley’s Charlotte Chambers, 2nd, (16.33)and Helm Hill’s Millie Jebb, 3rd, (17.16).

Keeping podium finishes in the family, Keighley’s Alex Sadler-Townsend won the U12 race (7.57) from Wharfedale’s Isaac Reeday, 2nd, (8.08) and Leven Valley’s Sam Oldham, 3rd, (8.14). Skipton’s Rita Box won the girls’ race (8.26) from Helm Hill’s Isla Jebb, 2nd, (8.36) and the consistently improving Abbey Runners’ Sophie Brady, 3rd, (8.38).

Turning at a convenient gate, the U9 race was won by Helm Hill’s Jos Jebb (3.45), making the trip from Cumbria a worthwhile journey for more than one family! 2nd and 3rd boys were Wharfedale’s Dylan Alcock (3.54) and Settle Harriers’ Calum McGoldrick (4.09). Keighley duo Elizabeth Oakden (4.46) and Robyn Cooper (4.58) were 1st and 2nd girls respectively, from 3rd placed Maple Clarke (5.00).