Ilkley Moor Fell Race is a cracking little local number which has been run for over 25 years. It crams as much as it can into its modest 5 miles: a narrow, sharp-elbowed start; steep climbs; technical descents; more climbs; treacherous wooden footbridges; a bit more climbing; and then treats you to a lovely grassy/muddy descent at the end.
Did I mention the climbs? As a cat A race, with about 1300 ft of ascent, it’s also a bit of a bugger.
Quite appropriate then that P&B have managed to leave its muddy footprints on the race’s history – with Gary Devine dominating the early 90’s with 3 wins, and Rob Hope claiming 4, including 3-on-the-trot in the 00’s. There’s a great little write-up of the race’s history taken from Fellrunner which you can read here.
This year was made memorable by half the field wearing dazzling orange Inov8 X-Talons – eyewateringly bright and fresh out of the box. Anyone would have thought the Pete Bland van had a sale on. What’s that? Pete’s got a sale on? Hang on, let me get me wallet! Fell runners trampled over themselves to get a bargain. If you see two strangers at a race, both wearing sickeningly bright inov8s, give one another an almost imperceptable nod – you’ll know why. They were there at the Great Ilkley Inov8 Sale of 2015… (the wife and I both got a pair actually, they’re quite comfy.) Anyway, I digress…
We had a great turnout this year, with ten maroon-and-gold vests shivering on the cramped start line. Despite it being his first time running the race, Joe Baxter had a smashing run, so I asked him for a few words:
For such a local race it certainly attracts a strong field of runners with many a ‘Big Gun’ on the start line. The start was even quicker than I’d originally anticipated. Although, I had been told ahead of the race to go off like the clappers to get a good position before the path narrowed before the first climb. This was a good tactic but of course made the initial looooong climb that bit harder.
In fact, the whole race was harder than I’d anticipated with lots of climbs and my initial plan of ‘stay on Mr Pearce’s heels!’ soon fading after the second long climb. I also found the race a bit of a ‘mental tester’ in that any precious height gained at the start was soon lost, with the route taking us steeply downhill to a footbridge only to cruelly take us back up the same climb but on the other side of the beck! That must have been the ‘sting in the tail’ people told me about… and there was more than one.“
The tow-rope between Joe and Graham must have snagged on the Cow & Calf and snapped, as Mr Pearce gradually pulled away ahead. Here’s his summary:
Good solid racing around a testy Ilkley Moor course. Good conditions underfoot but a bit blowy on top. Tom Adams and Simon Bailey quickly established a commanding lead so it was left to the P&B crew to battle it out for third place along with ex-member Danny and a few Wharfedalers. Ted Mason and I got away on the descent to Backstone Beck and then we were tit for tat all the way round until Ted launched himself off from Badgerstone and I stopped to tie my shoelaces up, at least, that’s my excuse.”
In the end, Graham finished 4th, with Joe in 6th place, and Neal Crampton close behind in 7th – ensuring plenty of maroon-and-gold flying in the top ten.
Good to see former member Danny Hope fully recovered from his nasty ankle injury and running well (even if it’s now for Horwich). He finished 5th, sandwiched in-between P&B, proving that he is clearly missing us all terribly.
Neil Armitage and David Alcock were next home, both finishing strong in the top 20. Newer member John Navis had a most impressive ‘first fell race’ debut for us by finishing 24th, and I had an enjoyable run, pottering round in 52nd place. (I am improving, honestly lads.) Mike Rees, despite some inital reservations about the cold, also tackled the tough Ilkley course with his usual tenacity.
As for the ladies, well we only had Rachel Pilling and Claire Green out but they both had storming runs. Rachel nipped past a Leeds City girl early on and remained strong in 2nd place for the duration of the race. Claire had been battling a cold and set off undecided as to whether she was racing or just out for a jog, but half-way through put the pedal down to finish in 3rd. Nobody was close to catching Caitlin Rice, however, who had an impressive run and repeated her win from last year.
Though we were one runner short of contending the ladies team prize, the chaps had the numbers to bag 1st Mens Team. However in true P&B fashion, most of us missed the prize presentation due to losing track of time and enjoying the comforts of Neil’s warm camper van and plenty of coffee and cake. Mr Pearce was fortunately on hand to dutifully collect the winning beers on the team’s behalf.
Some grand efforts across the board and once again plenty of muddy P&B footprints left on Ilkley top. Thanks to Sarah R and Adam S for support on the course, as well as Ilkley Harriers for organising the whole shebang – and of course to all the marshals, spectators, and photographers who braved the cold and wind.
Aye, it’s considered quite a tough little race is Ilkley Moor but nowhere near as tough as Joe is going to find it trying to prise a victory beer out of Graham Pearce’s grasp…
Well run all! Photos and results follow.
Graham Pearce 4th 40:04.
Joe Baxter 6th 41:05.
Neal Crampton 7th 41:32.
Neil Armitage 16th 44:46.
David Alcock 18th 44:52.
John Navis 24th 45:28.
Graham Pilling 52nd 49:43.
Rachel Pilling 69th (2nd Lady) 51:23.
Claire Green 72nd (3rd Lady) 51:41.
Mike Rees 165th 62:28.
— First Men’s Team Prize