The fell races have been a feature of Bradley Family Day and in recent years, they have become increasingly popular. The fast 3.6 mile course takes in a wide range of terrain and pushes runners to their limits. This feature is one of the reasons why the under 17 race was selected as a trial race for the England Fell running team ahead of the home internationals in Aberfoyle on 21 September 2013. Publication of the race details also brought out huge numbers of runners in all age groups, making this year the biggest turn out in the history of the fell race.
Due to the small time frame in which to fit all of the races, 35 Under 17's set off 5 minutes ahead of the 99 senior, giving each age group opportunity to watch the elite runners as they passed on the main track to High Bradley.
Whilst the under 17's had a slightly shorter course to negotiate, they had no intention of being caught; indeed 24 of them made it back before the senior winner; Jack Simpson from Leeds City who beat the course record by 4 seconds in 23:17. On any other day, James Hall from Wharfedale Harriers; in his first year in the senior category, would have won this race, but the U17 record holder had to settle for 2nd place in 23:32. Third man was fellow Wharfedaler; Dave Kirkham in 25:09.
England Team selector Bashir Hussain from Stockport Harriers decided to join in the race and his time of 26:36 put him in 9th place and first Veteran 40 runner. Adrian Pickles, formerly of Settle and now running for Mercia was first MV50, whilst Maurice Smith was first MV60. John Wootton of Wharfedale Harriers was first local home in 29:06 in 30th place.
The senior field comprised 24 lady runners including an in-form Caroline Lambert from Wetherby Runners. Despite a very strong field of runners, she finished in 11th place overall in 26:50, taking 49 seconds off the ladies' record. Second Lady was Zara Knappy with a strong run in her first year as a senior in 28:38 and last year's winner Clare Pearson from Wharfedale Harriers had to settle for third.
In the veteran categories, Rebecca Mon-Williams from Ilkley Harriers was first LV40, with club mate; Diane Haggar first LV50. Local lady Claire Kearns is more familiar with Ironman Triathlons, but the Craven Energy runner finished well as first local lady in her first time in the Bradley Race.
The under 17's race was started on the road due to the numbers competing, so it was expected that they may have a few seconds advantage. However the winning runner; Jack Willis from Middlesbrough and Cleveland finished in 20:36, 18 seconds inside James Hall's record and 45 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Jack Denton of Calder Valley. Emile Cairess of Bingley Harriers was 3rd place in battle to the line, finishing just 3 seconds ahead of Sam Convery and Liam Burthem.
First under 17 girl was the reigning under 16 English Fell Champion; Elizabeth Greenwood, who really showed her form finishing the 3.4 mile race in 24:04 nearly 2 minutes faster than the girl's record. Indeed such was the quality that second girl, Rosie Dale from Lancs & Morecambe was also inside the record time. Third place went to Jenni Willison of Derby AC. With such a strong field of runners, you have to give credit to the local runners and Alex Lulak finished in 27th place to gain the fist local trophy.
The under 14 race almost had a brother and sister holding the records as Matthew Merrick from Bingley Harriers was just 3 seconds away in10:40, with record holder James Lund having to settle for second this year, 15 seconds behind. Robbie Johnstone from Wharfedale Harriers was third boy with the local prize going to Alex Blake of Keighley & Craven. Victoria Merrick followed in 4th place as first girl, knocking a further 44 seconds of her own record set last year. Second girl was Scarlet Dale from Lancs & Morecambe, with Shauna Williamson of Wharfedale Harriers in third.
The under 12 and under 9 categories are where the future champions will come from and in less than 5 years, some will be competing for that coveted England vest. Whilst 5 years is a long time, Katie Atkinson showed some remarkable promise in the under 12's, winning the race outright ahead of 42 other runners in 6:15, beating the girl's record by 49 seconds and just 7 seconds from the overall record. The first three boys followed her in, in close succession, with Alexander Thompson from Keighley & Craven taking first place ahead of Ciaren Crabtree from Wharfedale Harriers and Max Bradley from Ilkley Harriers. Second girl was Mia Walsh from Helm Hill, just two seconds ahead of Lucy Fryers from Keighley & Craven. First local boy and girl were Toby Meynell and Charlie Coughlin.
A total of 48 runners competed in the under 9's race and just 5 seconds split the first three runners; Evan Mills from Keighley and Craven led the charge, with club mate Charlie Whitehead in second. George Milner of Wharfedale Harriers was third, just one second ahead of Beth Roberts from Keighley & Craven who beat the girl's record by 17 seconds. Second girl was Hannah Jackson from Keighley & Craven, with Maddie Walsh from Helm Hill in third. First local boy was Charlie Teale.
Whilst it was an honour for Bradley to be chosen for the England trial race, it was the outstanding competition and performance which made this increasingly popular fell race a success. Thanks must go to all of the helpers, marshals, competitors and parents for making it just that.