Despite the awful weather, Bradley Family Day fell race was a huge success. There was a massive field of 109 junior runners and 60 seniors making it the biggest turnout in the history of the race. It's a pity that those attending could not benefit from the planned entertainment, after the poor weather prevented pitching tents on the playing fields and forced the show into the village hall. In the end, the sun shone for most of the afternoon and everyone had a great time
The races started with the under 9's. Thirty nine runners trudged through the long wet grass of their course in a race where the first two places were separated by just a second. Charlie Lowrie of Silsden and Wharfedale Harriers got the upper hand to take 1st place ahead of Charles Smith of Ilkley. Wharfedale's Robbie Johnstone finished in 3rd and the first local home was Alex Ridehalgh in 6th place, to add another Ridehalgh name to the shield. Georgia Gray from Keighley and Craven, is really on form and put in a storming run to finish 4th overall and 1st girl. Lucy Horrocks from Wharfedale Harriers hasn't been racing much this season, but there was no evidence of this as she finished in 8th place as 2nd girl, with another Keighley & Craven runner, Tegan Knappy in 3rd. The Bradley Brownies' trophy for first local girl went to Lucy Hutchinson who finished in 13th place overall, just a whisker behind Tegan as 4th girl. In total 10 locals competed.
It was intended to run the under 12's and under 14's together, to fit in with show schedules, but the large numbers warranted separate races, starting with the under 12's. Forty one runners thundered down the playing fields to gain pole position at the narrow bridge which takes them out of the show ground, led by two Keighley & Craven runners; Josh Ferguson and Bradley local Phil Done. The two led the way through to the turn, with Josh getting the upper hand and returning in first place. Phil Done sprinted back in 2nd place closely followed by another club mate, Oliver Keating who took 3rd. Ellamae Gibson was dominant in the under 9's last season but has been finding her feet as she moved up to the next age group. She appears to have found her form, returning in 15th place and 1st girl, whilst Sally Handford of Keighley & Craven was 2nd girl, followed by Sarah Pickering of Ilkley Harriers in 3rd. Local Brownie, Grace Waller finished as 6th girl to receive the local girls' trophy. 14 locals competed.
After a short wait, the under 14's set off through the now trodden down fields, crossing Skipton Road and making their way across the fells towards High Bradley and back. Ben Johnstone of Wharfedale Harriers has put on some outstanding performances in the BOFRA series and once again he showed his class. Racing in the older age group due to show rules, he once again came home in the lead, ahead of James Hall from Bingley Harriers. These two have shared honours in recent races, but on this occasion, Ben got the upper hand. Skipton runner Jack Beetham was a short distance behind in 3rd place. Another runner who has been on top form this season is Keighley and Craven's Pippa Barrett, who carried on her winning ways with another victory, ahead of Nicole Narey of Bingley Harriers and Annie Roberts of Todmorden Harriers. Local lad Sammy Simmonite showed he had the nerve to tackle the fast course to take the first local shield.
The senior race continues past the under 14's turn, along a walled track to High Bradley, along a farm track and up to the top of the fell, with the under 17's turn a few hundred metres below the summit. Under normal circumstances this is a fast runnable race, but the recent weather had turned much of the track into a shallow river and runners had to negotiate becks and bogs along the way to slow them down. This made for an interesting route choice on the fell between the established path and the direct but slower route.
The under 17's and seniors set off together, however, the race included a number of under 17 runners who compete at the highest level and could have challenged well on the full course. Billy Pinder from Skipton AC hasn't been doing too much fell running this season, but the course suited his strong cross country skills and he had a good lead after the turning point. However he was pursued by two Silsden athletes; Thomas Sessford of Keighley & Craven and Johnny Bradshaw of Wharfedale, who have been performing at the highest standard this season and look favourable for an England call-up. In the end, Thomas Sessford put in a fine sprint to take victory by just 4 seconds. Johnny Bradshaw finished a short distance behind in 3rd. Bradley's Robbie Swift has been steadily improving over this season and put in a sound performance to finish in 6th place as first local. Emma Spencer from Pendle AC is always up in the reckoning and had a strong run to finish as 1st under 17 girl, ahead of Becky Lambson from Skipton AC. 3rd place went to another Pendle athlete; Holly Crabtree.
The seniors saw a strong performance from Ilkley Harrier Tom Adams, who seems to be in the form of his life, having recently won at Hebden Sports. Despite the conditions Tom finished in 1st place, a minute and a half off the course record in 25:41 and over a minute ahead of second placed senior, John Convery. John has been racing on the roads for many years, but this was his first attempt at a fell race, making his position all the more impressive. Third place went to Sam Tosh of Rossendale, just four seconds ahead of Skipton's Richard Barrett who had to settle for the first veteran prize after his second place last year. In what is becoming an irritating habit to some of us...Neil Pate from Skipton AC once again claimed the Bob Marchant trophy for first local, with a great run that saw him finish in 8th place overall. First Lady was Ruth Whitehead from Bingley Harriers who finished well up the field in 32:15. Catherine Gibbons of Ilkley Harriers arrived expecting to run in the under 17's, but as she had recently had her birthday, she fell into the senior age category for this race. However, undeterred she tackled the longer course in style, finishing in 2nd place. Wharfedale's Lynn Whittaker and Local Lady Val Done have had a number of battles this season and on this occasion, Lynn got the upper hand to take 3rd place, with Val finishing in 4th place to take the first lady vet prize and the Girlguiding UK trophy for first local lady. The event has been well supported by the local guides, who also provided the trophy for the first lady.
Sadly all of the planning that went into the family day was lost for another year, however the fell race was a resounding success. This could not have happened without the support of everyone who helped in their individual way. You all know who you are, so thank you once again. Hopefully next year the weather will be kinder to us.