THIS year, a record 142 runners lined up to take on the challenge of Dick Hudson’s Fell Race.

Being one of the first evening races of the season, speed is of the essence as light is still precious in late April.

As if to add that extra challenge, cloud darkened the skies above Ilkley Moor and did threaten rain.

Setting off near White Wells, it is a challenging chase across Ilkley moor to Dick Hudson’s public house and back again. The route is not flagged so local knowledge and navigation skills are a must if you are to return in daylight.

The best route follows the Dales Way and the Dales High Way as they meander across the moor to Eldwick Cragg and turn point at Dick Hudson’s.

Despite following the two recognised routes, competitors can use any path to the turn point and back.

However, well known navigation aids along the best route from Ilkley include White Wells, the Twelve Apostles stone circle and White Stones before the drop down over Bingley Moor to Dick Hudson’s itself.

Just to add extra challenge to the race, Ilkley Moor is littered with a whole network of paths, new mountain bike tracks and trods that criss-cross the terrain to confuse even those familiar with the race route.

For the return route, it is well worth remembering the location of the stream at Gill Head.

Here, the wise take a left turn and the fast route back to the finish, while the unwary carry straight on to pick out a much more circuitous return route and possibly lose places, if not time.

On the evening itself, runners reach the finish from a variety of directions and it is a spectacle to watch as they spot each other and try to gain lost time in sprint finishes down the well-maintained track to the finish line.

Many finishers reported that despite being cold and windy across the moor, the man eating bogs that litter the moor top were surprisingly dry making it an easier run than in previous years.

No doubt this contributed to the record-breaking run by Ribble Valley Harriers’ Katie Walshaw who took five minutes from the existing ladies record to finish in 50.07 mins and a stunning eighth place overall.

Overall race winner and first man was Ilkley Harriers Jack Cummings (46.51)

Local knowledge was clearly key as Jack had a good lead over the second and third men, Pudsey and Bramley’s Neil Crampton (48.39) and John Navis (48.52).

Horsforth Harriers’ Aisling Wall (55.26) was second lady followed by Otley’s Victoria Stainburn (58.22).