It was a blustery day that greeted the 81 senior and 133 junior runners at this year’s Cracoe Fell Races. The weather men had promised early rain with sunshine to follow. The rain never really materialised and the sunshine came in patches. Whatever the weather, though, there were some excellent results in all categories as competitors battled with each other and the very mixed conditions underfoot, to complete this “mostly runnable” course. The race began on firm grass and bounded over fields before runners had to launch themselves onto a strategically placed trailer in order to mount the first of two walls. The second wall, at the end of a long drag up a gradual gradient, requires sheer thigh power to climb over and drop into the first of the energy sapping peaty bogs that were knee deep in parts. Now on the fell proper, the terrain gets much more technical with hidden rocks and thinly covered rabbit holes to trip all but the most observant of runners. There were more delights in store for the seniors and U17s as high winds buffeted them over Cracoe Fell to the War Memorial at Watt Cragg. That same wind took your breath away, and blew you back, as runners negotiated the crags at the foot of the memorial to reach, and descend from, the summit. The course now returns the way it came, over walls, bogs, fields and trailer, back to the finish funnel. The rain might not have fallen from the sky but records certainly did fall as 4 new course records were made across the race set.
In the senior race, 1st place and new course record, went to Simon Bailey of Mercia Runners in 19.38 mins. 2nd man home was Wharfedale Harriers’ Ted Mason (20.53), taking a slightly different route to descend the fell. 3rd man was Wharfedale’s Jack Smith (21.27). The 1st lady was Helm Hill’s Hannah Russell (27.26). 2nd lady was Wharfedale’s Emma Hopkinson (28.30) and 3rd lady was Barlick Fell Runners’ Angela Donlan.
The U17s ran the same course as the seniors but in their own race. Winner, and new course record setter, was to Blackburn Harriers’ Joshua Boyle in 22.11 mins. 2nd boy was Wharfedale’s Thomas Nelson (22.18) and 3rd boy was Bingley Harriers’ Matthew Merrick (22.54). Keeping fell running success in the family, 1st girl was Bingley Harriers’ Victoria Merrick (27.33), with club mate Eliza Findlay in 2nd place (29.13). 3rd girl across the line was Wharfedale’s Ellie Lambert (29.21).
The U14 race ventures on to the base of the fell before returning the way it came to the finish field. 1st boy was Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson (16.46) with Wharfedale’s Logan Hargreaves-Madhas in 2nd place (17.32). Keighley club mate and younger brother, Louis Hudson was 3rd boy home (17.43). 1st girl was Clayton-le-Moors’ Briony Holt (18.26), repeating her win of 2014. It was a battle to the bitter end for 2nd and 3rd place with Rossendale Harriers’ Lauryn Gregg just pipping Helm Hill’s Katie Thurlow, both with a time of 20.05.
The U12 race saw another new record being set by winner Alexander Thompson (Wharfedale Harriers) in 7.47 mins. Club mate Sam Smith was 2nd boy (8.09) and Clayton-le-Moors’ Jackson McKay was 3rd (8.17). There was another battle to the finish in the girls’ race as Wharfedale’s Charlotte Barrett just beat Broughton Runners’ Emily Swarbrick into 2nd place, both in a time of 9.03. 3rd girl was Hoad Hill Runners’ Olesia Winder (9.08).
U9 race winner and 1st girl was Wharfedale’s Helena Roberts (3.14), setting a new record for the U9 girls’ race. 2nd girl was Hoad Hill’s Bethan Saunders (3.24) and 3rd girl was Keighley and Craven’s Hannah Robinson (3.30). 1st boy and 2nd overall was Clayton-le-Moors Jenson Bentham (3.15). 2nd boy was Broughton Runners’ Alex Graham (3.20) and 3rd boy was Charlie Dawson 1 second later.