THE weather forecast over the preceding days to this year’s Embsay Fell race led one to believe that if it was raining on the morning of the race, the sun would come out in time for the race. For once the forecasters were right!

So, what could have been a dank, dreary trudge over wet fields and slippery rocks and mist shrouded moorland, turned into a bright, sunny yomp over Embsay fell, attracting 91 senior and 106 junior racers, eager to get going.

The start of the race was described as cruel by one senior, as its uphill! From here, the first half mile or so gives the distinct impression that this is a cross country race masquerading as a fell race, as it traverses lush undulating pastures. This deception continues until runners have passed through the grounds of Grouse Cottage.

From here the terrain changes to one of a much more gnarly nature. Indeed, the climb to the summit of Embsay Fell is more of a rock climb than a run as hand over fist and large steps are required to mount the fell side.

Pausing to look at the scenery from the summit is definitely a bonus as much of the southern Dales can be seen from here.

Having quickly got their breath back, racers are now treated to a downhill run across the moor towards the final turn point and descent.

The initial descent is a steep, peaty roll back to the lush pastures and undulating cross country charge back to the finish line.

The senior men’s race had all the hallmarks of a rerun of the 2016 race as Staffordshire Moorland’s Simon Bailey and Ilkley Harriers’ Jack Wood locked horns again and battled all the way round. Again, as in 2016, Bailey won (19.09) from Wood, 2nd, (19.38) although the lead was less than in 2016. 3rd man home was Howgill Harriers’ Brian Pennington (19.43).

In the ladies race, Howgill’s Elsie Butler again showed her extreme supremacy by finishing 10th overall and winning the ladies race by a huge margin (20.59) from Wharfedale Harriers’ Kirsty Hall, 2nd, (24.55) and Ilkley’s Rachel Carter, 3rd, (26.04).

At two and three quarter miles, Embsay is a relatively short race meaning that the U17 runners compete over the same course as the seniors. The boys race was won by Clayton-le-Moors’ William Walker in a time that would have placed him 6th in the senior race (20.27). 2nd and 3rd boys were Lincoln Wellington’s Jasper Humphries (20.58) and Settle Harriers’ Dougie Segger-Staveley (21.02). Leven Valley’s Georgia Bell won the girls race (26.01) in a time that would have placed her 3rd in the senior ladies race, from Wharfedale’s Olivia Aldham, 2nd (27.02).

Turning at the fell base of the senior return route, the U14 race has a definite sting in the tail as it reaches the turn point.

However, this did not upset boys winner, Settle’s Jack Sanderson as he romped home to score another win (12.21) from friendly rivals, Otley’s Ned Gallagher-Thompson, 2nd, (12.44) and Keighley and Craven’s Ewen Wilkinson, 3rd, (12.47). Nor were the girls upset by the terrain as Keighley’s Charlotte Chambers won (15.04) from Sedbergh School’s Daisy Fielding, 2nd, (15.14) and Wharfedale’s Izzy Wright, 3rd, (15.24).

Enjoying another big win, Helm Hill’s Joseff Tancrel stormed home in 1st place in the U12 race (8.55) a full 10 seconds ahead of 2nd placed Ilkley’s Robert Carter (9.05) and 3rd boy Ambleside’s Zeke Sumner (9.11).

Upsetting the balance, and proving that girls are as good as if not better than the boys, Keighley’s Bethan Buckley romped home in 3rd place overall to win the girls’ race (9.09) from Bingley’s Isabelle Jebb, 2nd, (9.40) and Skipton’s Rita Box, 3rd (9.49).

The youngest runners chase each other as far as the track before turning and charging back to the finish line. The boys’ race was won by Helm Hill’s Harri Tancrel (4.11) from Settle’s Callum McGoldrick, 2nd, (4.51) and Wharfedale’s Bhodi Dillon, 3rd, (5.01).

Again proving that girls are as good as boys, the winner of the girls race came home 2nd overall in the form of Ilkley’s Harriet Carter (4.26), from 3rd placed overall Staffordshire Moorland’s Bleu Bailey, 2nd, (4.37) and Keighley’s Annabel Farrell, 3rd, (5.03).