THE hottest day of 2019 was no match for athletes who travelled to Ambleside Sports to compete and secure podium positions in a variety of races on offer.

Dating back to 1886, it is one of the oldest annual country sports shows in the north and offers a full programme of both traditional and more widely known sports events.

In the track events local juniors and seniors excelled. Steeton’s 15-year-old Alexander Thompson stole the show in the youths’ 800m and 400m handicap races.

Already an established traditional track and cross-country runner, he transferred his skills to this hilly grass track.

He was given the largest handicap in each race but proved his worth as he determinedly picked off the competitors one by one to convincingly win each race in style.

Gargrave’s Will Atkinson clung on to his position to finish second in the 400m race with Glusburn’s Tui Brooks finishing third.

In the senior 800m race, Oxenhope’s Matt Merrick used all his year's running experience to come from behind and win the 800m handicap race in a thrilling sprint finish.

Later in the day, he finished second in the 1,600m handicap race. In the same races, Alex’s older brother Will Thompson defied his handicap to finish third in the 800m race and fourth in the 1,600m race.

Interlaced with the track events was what many consider to be the main event of the day – the Guide’s fell races.

The course starts in the relatively flat and manicured show ring but soon begins the steep, gnarly, bracken lined ascent to Sweden Crag and back.

Despite recent rain that had created some small patches of mud, the ground was mainly hard packed and badly rutted while the bracken further intensified the heat of the day.

Consequently, even the coolest of runners felt the heat while keeping an eye on both the finish line and the ground underfoot as one wrong step and their race could be over.

The junior races were where our local athletes excelled.

The Under-17 girls’ race, which follows the same route as the seniors to the summit at Sweden Crag was won by Harrogate Harriers’ Alexandra Whitaker (18.43) in a time that would have placed her third in the senior ladies race.

Mandale’s Betty Bergstrand was second (20.15) from Houghton Harriers’ Amy Leonard, third, (21.01).

The boys’ race was won by Chesterfield’s Finlay Grant (15.48) in a time that would have placed him sixth in the senior men’s race.

Second and third boys were Leven Valley’s Noah Kidd (16.09) and Horwich’s Toby Middleton (16.32).

The U14 girls’ race saw local girls take all the podium positions as Alexandra’s younger sister, Eve Whitaker won (13.39) from Wharfedale Harriers’ Amelie Lane, second, (13.55) and Otley’s Charlotte Rawstron, third, (14.25).

The boys’ race was won by Ambleside’s Charlie Allmond (12.03) from Lincoln Wellington’s Jasper Humphries, second, (12.52) and Calder Valley’s Charlie Pickens, third (13.32).

Our local boys and girls showed considerable success in the U12 races as Barlick’s Jacob Reeday won (8.05) from Ambleside’s Rowan Ashworth, second, (8.15) and Wharfedale’s Tom Hooper, third, (8.36).

The girls’ race was won by Barlick’s Lucille Pickles (9.35) from Keighley and Craven’s Katie Buckley, second, (10.28) and Cumberland’s Zoe Brannon, third (10.44).

Keeping things in the family, Jacob’s younger brother, Isaac Reeday won the U9 race (5.54) from Eden Runners’ Matthew Hetherington, second, (6.04) and Josh Dent, third, (6.10).

Meanwhile, Katie’s younger sister, Bethan Buckley, won the girls’ race (6.32) from Ackworth’s Isla Ball (6.48) and Wharfedale’s Elena Hooper, third, (6.52).

The senior men’s race had a more far flung feel as Mercia’s Simon Bailey again defied the heat to sprint to the summit and back, winning the race in 14.00 from Ambleside’s Matthew Elkington, second (14.34) and Helm Hill’s Josh Jardine, third (15.22).

The podium in the ladies race was a strictly Cumbrian affair as Helm Hill’s Sharon Taylor won (18.23) from club-mate Kelli Roberts, second, (18.28) and Tamsin Moran, third, (21.08).