THE 2018 West Yorkshire Cross-Country League saw fell runners from Wharfedale Harriers’ use their off road skills to their advantage to secure personal and team wins in both the junior and senior ranks.

Comprising a series of four varied races at Spenborough, Nunroyd Park Guiseley, Thornes Park Wakefield and Cliffe Castle Keighley, each course tests athletes’ abilities to cope with varied terrain, weather and location.

This was certainly the case at the series finale as the season theme of firm dry land was replaced with deep, slippery mud.

Whatever challenges the courses presented, they proved no real match for the hardy under-15 athletes.

In the girl’s races, Alice Jones secured her individual league victory by having three clear wins from four races.

In the first race at Spenborough, she met with some stiff and determined competition who were all aiming high.

However, talent won out and Jones beat her nearest rival, Longwood’s Neve Hardcastle by nine seconds.

In the second race at Guiseley, she had a fantastic run to beat Longwood’s Holly Brewster by 17 seconds.

In her third and league winning finish, she left Harrogate’s Rose Forrest trailing 12 seconds behind her.

Jones’ older sister Emily ran some equally tough races to finish as fourth under-17 girl. In each race she was consistently fifth finisher but as not all those who beat her qualified for the league, she finished fourth overall.

The under-15 boys were no less impressive. Alexander Thompson worked hard to secure his personal league victory.

At Spenborough, he set off at his own pace and was not an early leader.

However, at a time to suit him, he pulled away and never looked back to secure a nine second win over nearest rival, Bingley Harriers’ Alex Flaherty.

In the second race at Guiseley, he ran with the pack for the first lap and pulled away in the second half to beat Flaherty by 13 seconds.

At both Wakefield and the series finale at Keighley, he set off steadily but left his rivals standing as he powered up the first hill, never looking back, to win from Flaherty by 22 and 7 seconds, respectively.

The series finale win was no less impressive as he suffered three falls on the descent in deep slippery mud. Four clear wins from four races made him the undoubted league winner.

The senior men used teamwork, patience and determination to take the series win.

After the first race they were ranked fourth but managed to come second in the race at Guiseley.

At Wakefield they were knocked into fourth place again. However, some complex calculations suggested they could win the league if they won the final race at Keighley.

A rally round of the club greats ensured a good turn-out at the league finale. On the day, they were first team which drew them level on points with City of York.

Nails were bitten and breath was held as the “count back” of individual rankings in races took place. Once the wait was over, Wharfedale’s senior men came out as clear winners, making all the effort worthwhile.

Individually, Ali Burns was second vet 35 and Christian Holmes was second vet 45, and Paul “Crabby” Crabtree was third vet 50.