THE 2017 BOFRA season opened in fine style at Sedbergh last weekend.

In a change with tradition, there was no accompanying gala and the race took place a fortnight earlier than normal.

However, that was the end of the changes as the race still set off and finished in the “show field” and followed the familiar route up and down Winder Fell.

The weather gods saw fit to bless the race as Sedbergh and the Howgills were bathed in bright May sunshine.

A prolonged dry spell ensured that the ground was particularly hard underfoot, making it both fast and challenging in a way only fell races can be.

Familiar though the route might be, to seasoned runners, it is no less difficult. The race sets off from the well maintained sports field before it crosses Long Lane to a rubble track. The terrain again changes to lush fields and then rocky, technical footpaths. A sharp left turn through a gate marks entry to the fell at the base of Winder Fell itself. Runners are treated to a short relatively flat chase along the fell base before they commence the seemingly endless, calf burning, lung busting, hand over fist climb to the summit of Winder. To add to the joy of the ascent, there are 3 false summits lulling competitors into a false sense of security before the actual summit marked by the trig and cairn is reached. Runners round the cairn before launching themselves into a thigh wrecking long, steep descent back to the show field and welcome finish line. The descent is steep enough in parts that bum-sliding is the most efficient form of motion, and this year some runners made use of this mode of descent on the very dry, dusty grass.

Eighty-two senior and 96 juniors toed the line waiting for the starter’s gun.

Before the senior race was started Ken Shuttleworth, who gave many years of service to BOFRA, was remembered with a minute’s silence. His son in law, Alastair Dunn is a former BOFRA Champion.

This year’s senior race was won by England and GB mountain running great, Ben Mounsey (Calder Valley) in 19:48, in front of clubmate Darren Kay (19:55).

Third place went to Wharfedale Harriers’ Jack Smith (20:14).

The winner of the ladies race was also an international, Wharfedale’s Kirsty Hall.

She led the runners home in 23:25, followed by Georgina Boyd-Moss (27:01) and Wharfedale’s Pippa Barrett (27:56) who were second and third respectively.

The under-17 race follows a similar outward route but turns just before the summit to return by the same route to the finish line.

The winner was Settle Harriers’ Sebastian Segger-Staveley (20:01) ahead of club mate Thomas Marshall (20:13), and Keighley and Craven’s Eric Beaumont (20:59).

The girls’ race was won by Clayton-le-Moors Briony Holt (23:.45), ahead of Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg (26:18) and Helm Hill’s Miya Doherty (30:19).

The under-14 race is shorter and again has an out and back route.

This year’s winner was Rossendale Harriers Joel Taylor (11:57), from Wharfedale duo Sam Smith (12:11), and Alex Thompson (12:43).

The first girl was Wharfedale’s Alice Jones (13:42), followed by Keighley’s Lilli Carr (14:09), and Halifax Harriers’ Iris Palmer (14:36).

Th Under-12 race winner was Calder Valley’s William Hall (7:41), from Keighley’s Sam Conroy (7:42), and Blackburn Harriers Dexta Thompson (8.00).

Leven Valley’s Olesia Winder won the girls race with a time of 8:.17, ahead of club mate Bethan Saunders (9:23), and Keighley’s Scarlett Metcalfe (9:31).

The under-nine race winner was Helm Hill’s Simon Rigby (5:17) in front of Settle’s Jack Sanderson (5:22), and Howgill Harriers’ Charlie Cotton (6:01).

Keighley’s Millie Timbers won the girls’ race (6:04), followed by Settle’s Lucy Bagot (7:03) and Holly Nichols (7:27).