THERE were elements of Groundhog Day at this year’s Ambleside Sports and Guides races.

The weather was similar to last year in that the day started out wet. However, unlike last year, the clouds lifted and the sun braved an appearance for the senior race although some of the juniors did get a little damp.

The rain had the additional effect of making the course soft to the point of mud in parts, so that many runners returned from their venture to Sweden crag with a “Fell runners’ tan.”

The senior men’s race was a battle all the way with places changing as they went.

Half way to the summit, Helm Hill’s Josh Jardine was just holding off Pudsey and Bramley’s Rob Hope and Bingley Harriers’ Matt Merrick.

However, by the time they returned the order had been shuffled so that Hope crossed the finish line in first place (14.15) from Jardine (14.24) and Wharfedale Harriers’ Ted Mason (14.57) who made up time and places on his spectacular descent.

The ladies race was no less eventful as at half way to the summit Helm Hills’ Sharon Taylor was merely a step in front of Keswick’s Hannah Horsburgh and relatively closely followed by Wharfedale’s Pippa Barrett.

However, as with the men’s race, it was all change at the finish line as Horsburgh stormed home in 19th place overall (17.57) to win, well ahead of Taylor (19.06) and Ambleside’s Kelli Roberts (19.09). Roberts proved her supreme running prowess as she won the much longer and tougher Rydal Round race earlier in the day.

The under-17 race covers the same route as the senior race and this year gave rise to some interesting comparisons.

The boys’ race was a family affair as Keighley and Craven brothers Joe and Louis Hudson, who live in Skipton, finished first (14.55) and second (15.37) respectively, followed by Ambleside’s Oliver Gajdowski(15.54). Had Joe run with the seniors he would have been third.

The girls’ race was won by Dallam’s Rosie Woodhams (17.43), from Clayton-le-Moor’s Briony Holt (18.12) and Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg (19.24).

Woodhams would have won the senior ladies race and Holt would have been third.

The under-14 race saw the return of a familiar face as Kendal’s Fraser Sproul won in 11.47 from Rossendale’s Joel Taylor (12.09) and Wharfedale’s Sam Smith (12.26).

The girls’ race was won in style by Wharfedale’s Alice Jones (13.57) from Ambleside’s Chloe Rylance (14.21) and Ilkley Harriers’ Bernadette Raven (14.49).

Blackburn Harriers’ Dexta Thompson won the under-12 boys race (8.36) from Ambleside duo Charlie Almond (9.05) and Jack Dixon (9.08).

Leven Valley’s Olesia Winder notched up another win (9.39) this season, ahead of Otley’s Charlotte Rawstron (9.49) and Ambleside’s Sophie Rylance (9.58).

As if to prove that junior fell runners are a versatile bunch, a good number of our local runners took up the challenge of the handicapped track races on an undulating grass track.

Wharfedale’s Alex Thompson won the 800m race, repeating his performance of 2016, from Ilkley’s Lewis Carr and Keighley’s Arthur Peel.