IT was almost a Bob Champion scenario in repeat as one of Upper Wharfedale’s favourite sons, Ted Mason, highlighted his complete return from potentially life-changing injuries, to record his third and most iconic triumph in the historic Kilnsey Crag Race on August 31.

Bob Champion had previously fought his way back from death’s door with cancer to ride the winner of the Grand National, Aldaniti, in 1981.

Meanwhile, Ted Mason himself had fought back from the brink of paralysis as a result of a serious cycling accident, to record his own remarkable feat in the event which is widely regarded as Britain’s most spectacular of fell races.

Indeed, since his accident, the Appletreewick battler had endured many weeks clamped in an iron frame supporting his upper body prior to him eventually managing some freer movement. And, as a mark of tribute to the wonderful work which paramedics and fell rescue associations carry out across the land, an impromptu call for two such representatives to share in the subsequent trophy presentation photo as show president Robert Lambert officiated, seemed to be wholly appropriate.

As for the race itself, it was a case of ‘move over Tokyo’ ...skateboarding, trampolining, the lot, for there is arguably no greater sporting attraction than this homespun traditional Dales event.

Sent off to the accompaniment of a huge roar from the crown, the lead fluctuated between previous winners Simon Bailey, Nick Swinburn and the former Kilnsey under 17 champion and record holder, Joe Hudson, midst the scramble up the scree slops and rocky outcrops to the first sky-line flat where all three were in close contention, with Mason no higher than fourth at this point. A familiar huge gathering was also in attendance at the top to cheer on the runners. And their encouragement was instrumental, certainly for ‘tenacious Ted’ who simply flew past the leading trio on the precarious cliff-edge descent after rounding the third summit flag. A sporting spectacle to behold in any code.

Once in the lead Mason negotiated Kilnsey’s notorious chimney with typical aplomb and finally arrived back in the showfield to a predictable, tumultuous reception as he crossed the finishing line in a personal best time of 7.51.

The rising young star, Hudson, (8.01) who had won at his local Malham Show on the previous Saturday, ran well to finish second. Tynesider Swinburn (8.04), the defending champion, produced another fine effort for third. New kid on the block, Tom Wood, (8.09) from the Snowdonia region, finished fourth and Cheshire sheep farmer Simon Bailey (8.25) twice a previous winner could mange no nearer than fifth in a field which was brimming with international talent.

Buxton’s Finley Grant (8.48) finished sixth, Sedbergh’s Darren Kay finished seventh in a new over 50s record time (8.52) and Ingleton’s Matty Fretwell (9.05) finished eighth.

Meanwhile Ted Mason’s virtuoso accomplishment also earned him the top veteran over 40 award in a new age group record time and the top local award for good measure.

Talent also abounded in the incorporated ladies race inclusive of Ailish Graham of South Lakeland roots but now of Menston who set the showfield alight with a new female record-creaking run (9.35) to triumph ahead of Upper Wharfedale exile and former world youth champion Victoria Wilkinson (9.47), now of Sedbergh who added the veteran’s over 40 trophy to her burgeoning collection.

Also from the Howgill Fells region, Elsie Butler (10.01) who has won plenty elsewhere this summer finished third. Cowling’s former England junior champion Emma Hopkinson (10.53) finished fourth; Harrogate’s Lexi Whitaker (11.06) finished fifth, Eve Hutchinson (11.50) from Grindleton was sixth. Threshfield’s Jean Powell (12.40) in seventh place completed a memorable week by winning both the first local and first over 50 awards to add to her recently accomplished British title for that same age group.

Appraisal of the open crag race, however, would not be complete without special reference to the long time competitor Norman Bush, of Pateley Bridge, who at 8- years young and completing the course in a remarkable 14.20 must figure him as arguably the best for his age group on the planet.

The junior crag races also provided much to savour. In the Under 17 event it was William Hall (8.38) from Mytholmroyd who emerged as ‘William the Conqueror’ at the main expense of Hetton’s Jacob Reeday (9.02) who was first local. Douglas Segger-Staveley (9.28) of Settle in third and Will Caygill, of Rylstone (10.21) in fourth. And it was a particularly poetic occasion in the Under 17 Girls event as victory in a new record time went to Ilkley’s Amelie Lane (9.12) whose grandmother, June Robinson, has championed the Manorlands Sue Ryder cause for many a long year, had been almost able to watch the race from her own bedroom window. Next down the order after ‘Hurricane Lane’ cane Eve Whitaker (9.25) from Harrogate; Maggie Preece (11.43) from Telford and Olivia Aldham (12.02) from Glusburn.

Another runner enjoying a particularly fine year was the recently crowned Inter-Counties Champion, Jack Sanderson (8.48) from Settle who stormed to a record-breaking victory in the Under 14 crag race ahead of Tom Hooper (8.53) from Skipton, Daniel Ridhalgh (9.34) from Bradley and Ewen Wilkinson (9.57) from Cononley.

In the corresponding event for girls, Millie Jebb (11.08) from Staveley triumphed ahead of Millie Timbers (11.19) from Keighley; Izzy Wright (12.19) from Bradley and Charlotte Peart (12.46) from Settle.

Fortunes fluctuated both on the way up and down in the Under 12 crag race where victory was finally achieved by Jamie Dent (6.45) of Carlton in Coverdale ahead of Robert Carter (6.51) of Ilkley and the winner’s brother, Josh Dent (6.57) filling the other podium spot. Fifth placed Isaac Reeday (7.09) was first local.

Isla Jebb’s conquest in the Under 12 Girls’ event in (7.22) was the prelude to a Jebb family winning double as she triumphed at the main expense of Izzy Patefield (7.53) from Silsden and Cara Bradley (7.57) from Ambleside.

The track events provided a pleasing forerunner to the crag races. Oxford Blue San Nelson won Kilnsey gold in the 100 metres handicap, marginally ahead of Alex Thompson, from Steeton and Steven Smithies, from Rochdale. English national cross country champion for his age group, Thompson, then showed his mettle in the 1500 metres handicap as he romped home first ahead of Giggleswickian Jack Hutchinson - a fine sporting all-rounder, and Thomas Keen from Cambridge University who both came through the field from the back to take second and third.

As always the harness racing provided a grand finale to an immensely entertaining day of traditional Dales culture and sport. A change on the mic this year after more than forty terrific years of vocal fervour from Peter ‘O’Sullivan’ Deighton saw Jo Jefferson take on the leading role in the commentary box.

The principle contest, the Open one-and-a-quarter-mile handicap once more saw the victory spoils plundered by a County Durham stable as Jack Sparrow owned, trained and drive by West Auckland’s Jack Foody, sprouted wings to head off the Scottish raider, Some Fantasy, trained by Mark Quinn and driven by Brian Gilvear, of Stirling, with American Mistress driven by her family trained Vicky Gill, from York, grabbing third in a thrilling finish.

Hardly ever out of the winning reckonings at any venue, the former rugby league star turned harness racing star, James Haythornthwaite, from the irrepressible Barlick family, drove Heart of Fire, owned and trained by Neil Holgate, of Austwick, to victory in the Ratings Race 18-26 over one mile. James then added another winner as he drove Mayfire trained by Mark Eltingham, of Staindrop, to victory in the Maiden Race, also over one mile.

As with Ted Mason’s glowing achievement in the open crag race, there was also a poetic story behind that of the aptly named Heart of Fire. For Neil Holgate and family had to spend innumerable painstaking hours in tubing the horse as a foal in order ensure survival.

Survival is what Kilnsey Show has now managed in similar format since 1897 and despite the odd hiccup in an event traditionally run by volunteers, there will be precious few amongst the thousands of attenders who will have left the arena disappointed. Long may it continue.