THE 31st Great Hameldon Hill Race on Sunday marked the start of the Pendle and Burnley Grand Prix, a series of 15 races taking place around East Lancashire between May and August.
Despite a less than good weather forecast, it was a very pleasant sunny day for the largest field of competitors since 1998, with 205 senior runners on the starting line.
In the junior races there were 44 in the various age groups under 16 years of age, the best turnout since 2003.
Brendan Taylor (pictured left) of Rossendale took the honours in the senior event in 38 minutes and 14 seconds, just over two minutes slower than the record set by Rob Hope in 2004.
Taylor was followed by two Wharfedale runners Stephen Chew in 39 minutes 34 seconds and Christian Holmes 40 minutes 9 seconds.
Andy Stubbs of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers was first veteran over 40 years of age in 40 minutes and 51 seconds.
Local runner Keiran Horrigan was first over 50 years in 42 minutes and 17 seconds.
In the ladies’ race, Amy Green of Keighley and Craven was first to finish in 24th place overall in a time of 44 minutes 14 seconds, just 33 seconds outside the record she set in 2007.
Second place was taken by Laura Hesketh of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers in 48 minutes and 24 seconds, closely followed by 17-year-old Helena Leathley of Clayton 10 seconds later.
Molly Ralphson of Trawden took the veterans’ class in 48 minutes 53 seconds.
Kaye Callaghan of Accrington Road Runners took the over 40s prize in 53.59 and Irene Roche of Clayton took the over 50s in 54.07.
In the over 60 class, Tony Hesketh of Horwich won in 48.41 whilst Karin Goss took the ladies’ prize in 66.05.
John Minton of Chorley was first over 70 years in 63.38 and Dawn Lock of Lytham St.Anne’s was first lady over 65 years in 82.07.
Clayton’s Samuel Hardisty was first man in the Under 18s in a time of 54.56.
In the Under 8s race 12 runners took part and ran an 800 metre route around the school field, led home by seven-year-old Jack Smith of Rossendale.
Christopher Brown of Clayton was the first six-year-old to finish.
In the girls, Ella Dorrington-Levy was first seven-year-old and Alanya Irvine first six-year-old.
In the Under 10s, eight youngsters had a go at the 1,600 metre course, with Eric Beaumont of Keighley and Craven first home and also first eight-year-old, whilst Ciaran Crabtree of Wharfedale was first nine-year-old.
The Under 16s, 14s, and 12s all did a route around the Coppice of around two miles.
Twenty four youngsters lined up.
First home was 12-year-old James Lund of Keighley and Craven in 11 minutes and 50 seconds.
Wharfedale took the next two places with 11-year-old Thomas Nelson 12.49 and 11-year-old Logan Hargreaves-Madhas 27 seconds later.
Natalya Irvine of Clayton Harriers, aged 11 years, was the first girl home in 13 minutes 49 seconds.
Fourteen-year-old George Pier of Clayton took his age group in 14.04 closely followed by Kelsey Rutherford of Blackburn Harriers who was first 13-year-old girl.
Sophie Murphy of Rossendale was first 12-year-old girl and Eleanor Root of Clayton first 10-year-old girl.
Interestingly, in the senior race, the percentage of ladies taking part is increasing year on year – 45 took part this year.
However, on the other hand, the number of men under 40 years of age is in decline with only 43 in this year’s race.
Perhaps with the Olympics coming up shortly this may help in this area!