ON a wet and dim evening in early May, 123 runners lined up to take on the deceptively challenging Dick Hudson’s Fell Race.

As it is an evening race, light is at a premium so anything that dulls the skies is not welcome.

Scarring from recent moor fires were clearly visible from the start line, but it was hard to believe the moor had been dry enough to burn on this soggy occasion

Setting off near White Wells in Ilkley, it is a challenging chase across Ilkley Moor to Dick Hudson’s public house and back again.

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.

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 sheep trods that criss-cross the terrain to confuse even those familiar with the race route.

The course is not flagged making local knowledge and navigation skills a must if you are to return in daylight or not add miles to your race.

Indeed, this year, the outbound lead runner took a wrong left turn near The Twelve Apostles and those behind blithely followed resulting in an extended route out to the gate and turn point at Dick Hudson’s.

It wasn’t until they approached the gate that they finally caught the slower runners, who had obviously reconnoitred the route prior to the race and knew where they were going.

Adding extra challenge to this year’s race heavy bursts of rain during the day, and a downpour prior to the race meant the ground was wet in places which made the stone path surfaces a tad slippery for running.

For the return route, it is well worth remembering the location of the stream at Gill Head/Poetry Corner. 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 both the outward and return journey the chase up/down the fell by White Wells is interesting to watch as runners choose their own best line using a variety of directions. In particular, the finish is a spectacle to see as racers spot each other and try to gain lost time in sprint finishes down the well-maintained track to the finish line.

Despite its challenges and route variations, the race clearly has a lasting appeal as the event founder, Robert Hamilton, competed to finish in 62.11 mins and take the vet 60 prize.

The race winner, Wharfedale Harriers’ Adam Stirk clearly knew the best route across the moor as he finished in 48.45 over two minutes ahead of the second man, Pudsey and Bramley’s Neil Armitage (51.09). Local man Ilkley Harriers' Paul Carmen took third place in 51.16 minutes.

Ladies winner Helen Thornhill of Ribble Valley Harriers won in 53.20 minutes and a stunning sixth place overall. Afterwards, she said it was an excellent race but that she didn’t have a clue where she was going!

Second and third ladies were Ilkley Harriers’ Helen Wood (60.21) and Chapel Allerton’s Jen Whiteman (31.12).