AGE and experience was again challenged by youth and vitality at Cracoe Fell Race when Mercia’s Simon Bailey locked horns with the much younger local Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson.

The race is relatively short at about 2.6 miles but takes in varied and challenging terrain as it works its way towards the summit at the war memorial atop Watt Crag.

Unlike the sun-baked conditions of last year, it was cloudy with sunny intervals.

The course, which starts on grazed pasture, bounds over fields, a strategically placed trailer and walls, to become the more familiar, legendary, bog-fest as soon as the fell base is met.

To add to the delights of sneaker snatching, pace breaking, peat bogs, the fell is criss-crossed with marram grass coated ditches and rabbit holes.

However, the deceptive nature of the race becomes apparent as the serious ascent to Watt Crag begins.

The terrain is rockier and bilberry coated but the rabbit holes are still omnipresent, making the near vertical approach to the summit a lot more interesting.

The steep nature of the final ascent is not apparent from the pasture below and catches out those who are not prepared.

It can be quite a relief to reach the summit where all a runner has to do is clamber over the large rocks to circle the memorial and commence the descent.

Undaunted by the terrain, Bailey sped off at high speed and was first to the summit by a clear margin.

However, equally undaunted, Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson and Calder Valley’s Charlie Ing put up a sterling fight to chase after Bailey all the way to the finish funnel.

Bailey won by a large margin (20.34) from Hudson (22.15) and Ing (22.29).

In the ladies race, Pudsey and Bramley’s Rachel Pilling mixed it with the faster men to notch up another win (27.33) from Skyrac’s Antonia Fan (28.11) and Pippa Barrett (30.05).

The under-17 race follows the same course as the seniors, allowing for interesting and sometimes frustrating comparisons to be made.

The Keighley duo of Louis Hudson and Eric Beaumont and Chesterfield’s Finlay Grant fought hard with each other and the course throughout the race.

Grant was first to the summit and never looked back as he sped towards the finish to win (21.57) in a time that would have placed him second in the senior race.

Beaumont finished second in 22.48 ahead of Hudson (23.20).

In the girls’ race, Cumberland’s Emily Swarbrick proved her superiority over this type of terrain as she beat the competition to win in a time of 30.06 that would have placed her fourth in the senior ladies race.

Telford’s Maggie Preece was second in 30.22 from Bolton’s Molly Philbin (34.23).

The under-14 race turns before the final fell climb to include the second wall climb and the balance challenging bogs, making the race much more interesting for younger runners.

Keighley’s William Hall won the boys’ race in 15.25 from Bingley Harriers’ Theo Clay (15.42) and Calder Valley’s Charlie Pickens (15.47).

Notching up another success, the girls race was won by the indomitable Amelie Lane (16.06) of Wharfedale Harriers, who finished fifth overall despite a fall along the route. Leven Valley’s Georgia Bell was 2nd in 16.55 ahead of Bingley’s Rebecca Flaherty (17.31).

The under-12 race turns at the second wall climb but does include the popular trailer climb to provide challenge and interest for the most competitive age group. Keighley’s James Sadler-Townsend took the challenges in his stride to steal a win (8.04) from clubmate Archie Peaker (8.06) and Ambleside’s Rowan Ashworth (8.17).

Barlick’s Lucille Pickles (8.46) scored another win as she put a clear distance between herself and second placed Keighley’s Phoebe Midgley (9.10) and Otley’s Charlotte Chambers (9.27).

The shortest race, the under-9 race, turns at the trailer as many of the smaller runners would not be able to climb over.

Despite this, the race is still no walk in the park, and was won this year by Josh Dent (3.11) ahead of Barlick’s Isaac Reeday (3.14) and Bingley’s Thomas Jebb (3.18).

The girls' race again proved that girls are as good as the boys as it was won by Barlick’s Bella McCredie (3.17) in third place overall. Second girl was Wharfedale Harriers’ Elena Hooper (3.20) ahead of Chorley’s Isobel Reid (3.24).