Skyrac's Derek Emsley Memorial Trophy returned to its favourite opening race last Sunday at the Ilkley Moor Fell Race, magnificently organised by Ilkley Harriers.

Last year there were 210 finishers. Last Sunday 328 started; will we see 500 turning up in future for this classic race?

Recently melted snow meant there was plenty of mud underfoot but one of the charming aspects of the February date is that the race can be run in snow, rain or even sunshine.

It is also a triumph of route design. The section of moor used by the race is relatively small yet the five miles and 1260 feet of climb produces new challenges at every turn.

The race hosted the Yorkshire Championships so some of the big guns were present and Ian Holmes (Bingley), now running as a V40, duly cantered to victory in 36.37. Surprisingly Ian has never before won the race which dates from 1990.

Second was Ilkley man Gary Devine (Pudsey and Bramley) in 37.39. Gary is a triple winner with wins in 1990, 1991 and 1995. Gary, an ex-Skyrac runner, is 40 later this year and there are those who think he has never achieved the recognition he deserves as a consistent top finisher and a previous English (1989) and British (1990) Fell Champion. The bronze medal went to Tim Austin.

First lady was England International Natalie White (Bingley), 31st overall (43.53) and easily clear of her clubmate Sharon Taylor 43rd in 45.33. Jo Waites took the bronze medal. The first men's team were Pudsey and Bramley with the women's award going to Calder Valley. The Yorkshire Championships were sponsored by local sports retailer Crosstrax.

Skyrac's Graham Breeze was First V60. A decade ago he won his first fell race prize (2nd V50) at this event and he was absolutely delighted that ten years later he won the V60 category in his favourite race run over the moors over which he trains.

The main race was preceded by junior races which again were an example of good organisation.

Otley Athletic Club

AT the English National Cross-Country Championships at Parliament Hill, London, Otley AC's Ian Fisher gained an excellent 27th in 41 mins 15 secs for the 12K course. He finished ahead of all bar one of the strong Leeds City team which won the team championship.

Andrew Robertshaw spurned the Ilkley Moor Fell Race to compete in London and did well to finish 256th in 46.31. Neil Cayton was 303rd place in 47.20.

James Kennedy, returning to the club after some years away, performed creditably to achieve 692nd place in 54.01.

Dale Foster was reluctant to race due to injury but aided the club cause by finishing 961st in 58.49 and bringing up the rear was Tom Hannah, also recovering from injury, placed exactly 1000th in 59.36 but taking consolation in that there were 289 runners behind him. Otley's overall team placing was 51st out of 86 competing teams.

On Sunday four members travelled to Pocklington for the Snake Lane Ten Mile Race. The race was won by Dave Watson of Holmfirth in 50.58. The Otley quartet was led home by Howard Jeffery in a superb 64.38 considering his injury problems,

He was followed by Hugh Pearson, well into his London Marathon training, in 64.59 while Phil Robinson achieved his best performance over this course in 68.32 and earned a well-deserved first vet 60 prize. Tom Hannah followed up his exertions at the National by finishing in 72.25. There was a total of 645 finishers.

Otley AC welcome runners of all abilities to their training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.15 pm from Otley RUFC. Contact the club secretary on 01943 468109 or visit the club website for further details.

Skyrac AC

On Sunday Skyrac's girls travelled to Barton-on-Humber for the cross-country races which the club has attended for everyone of the 26 years they have been running.

In the U-11 girls' race Holly Medley led the team home in seventh place and they won the bronze medals with Jay Riley 9th, Emily Jeavons 18th, Liz Ritchens 21st and Emily Middleborough 26th.

The U-13 girls team was fourth with Harriet Middleborough 10th, Alicia Jeavons 15th and Daisy Agar 28th.

The U-15 girls took the bronze team medals with Rebecca Harrison 7th, Jemima Edwards 10th and Bethany Harrison 18th.

The girls were accompanied by some senior men who also won the bronze team medals. Returning to competition 20 years after winning this race Simon Fielding, now a vet, was sixth overall and first veteran. Guy Good finished 19th and Peter Jeavons 24th.

The final Leeds Schools' Cross-Country races will be staged by Skyrac at Nunroyd Park on Saturday from 10am. Alicia Jeavons is currently leading the U-11 girls' section while Rebecca Harrison is leading the U-14 girls' section.

Ilkley Harriers

In Sunday's Snake Lane Ten Road Race Ilkley Harrier Lawrence Basham ran 58.55 to finish 22nd, a PB by five minutes. Jamie Hutchinson, not feeling on top form, still finished 64th in 62.38, with Paul Wood 76th in 63.13 (PB by a few seconds) and John Atkinson 83rd in 63.22 (PB by over 2.30 minutes).

Amanda Oddie, was 102nd in 64.34 (1st LV35) and Sally Malir, 110th in 65.06 (4th LV40) running this at the end of a 60 mile training week. Ewan Welsh finished 135th in 66.46, with Terry Lonergan 157th (8th V55) in 67.56, Keith Wood 251st in 72.59, Andy Wolfenden 260th in 73.31, and Pete Bedwell 337th in 77.54, a PB by more than 4.30 minutes.

Jemma Lawrence finished 348th in 78.33, a PB by 13 minutes. Pat Lonergan, who was putting a weeks training mileage into one race finished 522nd in 89.09 (7th LV55). The ladies team finished joint third out of 43 teams and the men's teams 8th, 26th and 59th out of 88 teams.

Amanda Parnaby did the muddy 25 mile Myrtle Meander in 6h57. Peter Cook finished 69th in 55.23 in the Bleasdale Circle Fell Race, five miles with 1250ft of climb.