PERFECT running conditions described the weather at the 2019 Hawkswick Dash fell race.

It was overcast with a variable breeze, in stark contrast to the previous day where the sun had baked the south facing fell side, making the course dry, dusty and hard underfoot.

To add further challenge, former rabbit holes on the return route had collapsed making the steep descent much more technical.

Despite numerous other races on the day, this corner of Yorkshire attracted a happy band of 60 senior and 86 junior runners to take on the delights of this short, sharp, lung inverter of a race.

As the name implies, the race begins with a dash from the start field and across the bridge before a seemingly endless drag up a track to the fell base.

The route up the fell side is a hand over fist, lung-busting climb to a cairn atop Hawkswick Moor.

From here, runners negotiate a wall climb and an undulating skyline run across tussocky heather before another sharp right turn to the steep descent and dash back across the bridge to the finish funnel.

The senior men’s race was marked by last year’s winner, Mercia’s Simon Bailey, leading from the start and only widening his lead throughout the race.

In seemingly gravity defying style, he “bounced” up the steep sided fell and appeared to sprint across the top before a fearless descent to romp home and win (11.22) from Calder Valley’s Charlie Ing (12.06), second, and Wharfedale Harriers’ Mark McGoldrick (12.32), third.

After the race, Ing described Bailey as “a machine” for the way he ascended the fell, pulling away from him with every step.

The ladies race was a reversal of 2018 fortunes as Pudsey and Bramley’s Rachel Pilling sped round the course to come home in 14th place overall and win in 14.46, taking over a minute from her 2018 time, knocking last year’s winner, Ribble Valley Harriers’ Kirsty Hall, into second place (15.53). Third lady home was Pippa Barrett (16.23).

As with many of the shorter races, the under-17s follow the same route as the seniors allowing for some interesting comparisons.

Keighley and Craven’s Eric Beaumont returned to improve on his second place last year by winning in fine style in 12.10, taking 22 seconds from his 2018 time, in a time that would have placed him third in the senior race.

Second and third boys were Chesterfield’s Finlay Grant (12.59) and Barlick’s Jack Villiers (13.36).

All three boys had competed for their respective counties the day before, making their appearance and performances all the more impressive.

In the girls race, Harrogate Harriers’ Alexandra Whitaker won (16.14) from Clayton-le-Moors Hannah Eccles (18.31).

The under-14 race turns at the cairn, giving these runners the treat of the hand over fist climb to the top.

Despite being shorter, this race was no less adrenaline soaked as it was a real battle of the sexes with the first two girls taking second and third place, respectively.

Race winner Calder Valley’s Charlie Pickens romped home to win (11.46) and couldn’t quite believe what he had done.

Second and third boys were Bingley Harriers’ Theo Clay (12.29) and Telford’s Charlie Preece (13.17).

Keeping winning in the family, Harrogate’s Eve Whitaker won the girls’ race (11.50) from Wharfedale’s Amelie Lane (11.53), second. Lane was first to the summit, but Whitaker proved she is not to be underestimated as she overtook Lane during the descent. Third girl was Wharfedale’s Olivia Aldham (15.09).

Turning at the fell base, the under-12 race is spared the lung-busting climb to the cairn and was again won by Barlick’s Jacob Reeday (8.16), ahead of Keighley’s Archie Peaker (8.19), second, and Ambleside’s Harvey Shaw (8.59), third.

Barlick’s Lucille Pickles (9.36) won the girls' race, improving on her third placed position in 2018, from Keighley’s Millie Timbers (10.17) and Settle Harriers’ Lucy Bagot, (10.33), third.

The shortest race of the day, the under-9 race, gives young runners a taste of things to come as it turns part way up the relentless track to the fell base.

Bagging himself a second win in two weeks, Josh Dent dashed home in first place (6.18) ahead of Barlick’s Isaac Reeday (6.19) in a real battle to the bitter end, pushing Settle’s Carl Sanderson (6.43) into third place.

Wharfedale’s Mia McGoldrick (7.30) scored a decisive and determined win in the girls’ race from Wigan Harriers’ Holly Nicholls (7.37), second, and Settle’s Francesca Bagot (7.55), third.