Records were smashed when more than 1,300 runners turned up to take part in the biggest Keighley BigK 10k race yet.
And delighted organisers were also expecting to top £50,000 for Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope – beating totals from the past five years.
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A cloudy start to the day failed to put off the hoardes of enthusiastic entrants who went under starters orders in Victoria Park, cheered on by supporters.
The race, organised by the Sue Ryder charity and held every Mother’s Day, always attracts a mix of both serious runners and people who just wanted to raise money as a thank you for the charity – and this year was no different.
Keighley Gala queen Samantha Hudson, 19, said starting off the race was her proudest and most emotional official engagement of her reigning year so far.
She said: “I lost a grandma and grandad to cancer so I was thinking of them when I was at the starting line and saw so many people coming to run in memory of their own family and friends. It was quite an emotional moment but I felt very proud.”
Jean Jones, of Sandy Lane, was there to cheer on her Bingley hairdresser daughter Katie Bache, 27, who was running in memory of her dad Tony Jones after he died two years ago from a brain tumour and spent the last three weeks of his life at Manorlands.
Mrs Jones, who was clutching a photo of her late husband, said: “He would be very proud of what Katie is doing. I am. She’s raised about £9,000 so far having a charity ball and running raffles. It keeps her going and Manorlands were so wonderful with us, they felt like family.”
Others taking part included young brothers Charley and McCauley Smith.
Charley, 13, was entering for the second time, while 11-year-old McCauley was making his debut.
The boys, who attend Oakbank School in Keighley, aimed to raise about £250 between them.
The money was being split between Manorlands and Phoenix Special School, Keighley, where their foster brother is a pupil.
Their mum, Michelle, said: “We had family who’ve died from cancer so the cause means a lot to us.”
Manorlands regional fundraiser and event organiser Andrew Wood said the event had been a tremendous record-breaking success and added: “We get a few good runners doing it for the prize and prestige of trying to win but a lot of people are local and are here for even more special reasons.
“Many have photos of loved ones on their T-shirts because they are doing this in memory of people they miss. They have turned out to support us which we are so grateful for and hope they have enjoyed the experience to come back and do it all over again next year.
“We’ve got more entrants than ever before and we’ve had great sponsorship so it would be nice to break the £50,000 mark, fingers-crossed it’s looking good.”
Airedale Shopping Centre was one of the sponsors backing the race. Centre manager Steve Seymour was taking a break from running in the race this year so he could lend a hand with the organisation.
He said: “We were here very early on getting this ready, there’s a lot of work that has to go on behind the scenes. The run is a cake-walk compared to that!”
First past the finishing line was clear-cut winner 38-year-old Will Smith, of Haworth, who is a member of Keighley & Craven Athletics Club.
With a time of 34 minutes and 28 seconds it was his third time of winning the race out of four. He said: “Last year I was well and truly beaten but I’m back with a vengeance!”
Next in was Julian Hood, 36, of Skipton, a member of Barlick & Skipton Athletics Club, with a time of 35 minutes and 25 seconds. And in third place was 25-year-old Craig Shearer, of Silsden, also a runner with Keighley & Craven Athletics Club making an impressive comeback after being off training for more than seven months after damaging tendon and ligaments in his foot.
The first junior, under 17s, to cross the finishing line was 14-year-old James Lund, a pupil at Ermysted’s Grammar School, Skipton, who clocked 39 minutes and six seconds.
“It feels great. Mum and dad were out there somewhere to cheer me on,” he said.
And the first female to complete the race was also the first junior and first time Keighley 10k entrant, 15-year-old Liz Greenwood, who runs with the Blackburn Harriers.
Among other runners supporting the Manorlands cause was 31-year-old Keighley police officer Sam Newnham, who was pounding a different beat in the run which followed a multi-terrain route around the town, starting and finishing in Victoria Park and taking in the town’s other parks.
Staff at Townend Close Care Home in Cross Hills had also put on their running shoes to compete and Steeton firm Acorn Stairlifts entered 19 teams.
Last year’s Keighley BigK 10K had attracted more than 1,000 entrants and raised £49,000.
Corporate sponsorship this year included White Rose Volkswagen, Convenience Hire and the Airedale Shopping Centre with every penny from fees and sponsorship going towards caring for patients at Manorlands and in the community.
Yorkshire Water was there providing sports water bottles to all participants and there was a T-shirt and goody bag for all finishers.
More than 80 marshals and stewards helped along the route and a samba band played the entrants in and out of Victoria Park bringing a bit of musical sunshine to the occasion.