VARIETY is definitely the spice of life as another year heralded another course route change at the 2019 Beamsley Beacon fell race.

As in 2018, the race started in a field adjoining Addingham Parish Church, the route change being as the course leaves the road at Badger’s gate.

A more direct route through bogs and tall grass pleased many, as it was shorter than in previous years and was variously described as “proper fell running” by others.

The summit remains the same being the trig and cairn at Beamsley Beacon.

This is where the defined route ends and competitors are on their own as the race is “any route home.”

The only rule of return is that public footpaths and/or roads must be used.

Local knowledge is at a premium to find the best route, with an easily missed sharp right and left turn, back to the wobbly bridge and eventual finish at the parish church.

This best route is not without its hazards, though, as it involves a narrow, nettle-lined snicket before the freedom of open fields.

Navigation fails are common and can lead to places being won and lost by those with or without vital local knowledge.

However, if runners prefer, they can take the longer outward route back to the finish line. At around five miles in length it is long and varied enough to challenge runners of all abilities.

Route changes and choices did not daunt Pudsey and Bramley’s Joe Baxter as he led for the start and never relented, taking the win (32.17) from local rival, Ilkley Harriers’ Jack Cummins (32.40), second and Wharfedale Harriers’ Robin Howie (33.02), third.

In the ladies race, it was local knowledge that both won the day and the race as Ilkley Harriers’ Lucy Williamson (41.35) won from Harrogate Harriers’ Claire Jones (42.00) and Ilkley’s Helen Wood (42.40).

Wharfedale’s Logan Hargreaves-Madhas flew the flag for younger runners to finish in 44.58.