Report by Roger Ingham.

AMIDST another glorious Kilnsey Sports occasion, it was “Geordieland greats” who once again plundered the two top prizes as the Tyneside forester, Nicky Swinburn, from Whickham, once more felled the opposition in the historic Kilnsey Crag Race, and the Spennymoor supremo, Rocker Laidler again triumphed in the exhilarating harness racing show-closer, the Open Final.

In concert with the heatwave weather, the senior crag-race which is arguably the most spectacular and explosive of any in the land, attracted red-hot competition with a galaxy of serious contenders on the starting line. Amongst them the former thrice previous crag-race winner, Simon Bailey who has been on fire in all this summer’s premier short-course classics, and unsurprisingly it was the Macclesfield sheep-farmer, Bailey, who spearheaded the hundred-strong charge from the showfield.

However as soon as the runners reached the crag, it was the rising teenage Malhamdale star, and Under 17 record holder of 2017, Joe Hudson, who hit the front, before Swinburn made his move up the shifting treadmill of scree to lead from Hudson and Bailey at the summit where a familiar vociferous gathering was also in attendance. And, despite the bold efforts of his closest rivals on the precarious descent, there was to be no stopping the tenacious Tynesider who maintained both his balance and momentum and finally stormed up the home straight accompanied by a tumultuous reception. Swinburn finally crossing the line in a speedy 7 minutes 53 seconds. The winner also complimented the aurora of the Kilnsey classic. For despite its considerable injury risk – he had made the event a prime late-summer target, despite already having been selected to lead England’s challenge in the forthcoming World Mountain Race Championship in Argentina.

Meanwhile chasing him home at Kilnsey came Hudson (8.04) in second and first local; the seven times England champion Bailey (8.07) in third, and a history-maker in the form of fourth placed Joe Baxter (8.11) from Leigh-on-Sea, he being the first South of England invader for more than eighty years to make such a telling impact.

Fifth came the previous Saturday’s Burnsall Sports fell-race winner, Robin Howie (8.30) from Haworth, and the high-quality up front was also augmented by way of the next three down the order Jack Wood (8.40) of Silsden; Ben Mounsey of Threshfield, and the former England junior fell champion, Luke Maude (9.02) of Hebden having all achieved England International honours.

The battle for the top veterans honours also provided some sterling competition with Bacup’s Ashley Holt (10.10) just edging out Rylstone’s Rob Carr (10.12) to win the top over 40s accolade; Paul Sheard (10.36) from the Isle of Man, won the over 50, and long-time campaigner Dave Allen (12.31) from Garsdale, the over 60 award.

Another close finish came in the concurrent women’s race, and it was another special moment for the former England junior champion Emma Hopkinson (10.59) of Cowling Pinnacle. Her Kilnsey conquest being achieved only three days after accomplishing the Bob Graham 42 Lakeland Peaks within twenty-four hours challenge.

Hopkinson marginally denied Threshfield’s Kirsty Hall (11.01) on the final sprint for the line. Much consolation for the latter though, came as a result of the Threshfield athlete winning both the top local and top Veteran’s over 40 awards.

Third female overall was Josie Lloyd (12.31) of Shrewsbury and top female over 50s was Helene Whitaker (12.45) of Harrogate.

Leading lights amid some similarly absorbing younger age-group crag-races comprised Louis Hudson (8.35) of Malham who won both open and local awards in style in the Under 17 event. These being at the main expense, open-wise, of Finlay Grant (8.44) of Buxton and Sam Headley (8.57) of Grassington. And playing their parts in a memorable Whitaker family day, Eve Whitaker (9.34) of Harrogate was top female Under 17 ahead of her sister, Lexi Whitaker (10.07) with Holmforth’s Olivia Dyson (11.54) finishing third. And, there seems to be no stopping the Under 14 champion moving up from his Under 12 dominance of last year, Jacob Reeday (9.27) from Hetton who won both open and local awards as he finished well clear of runner-up William Hall (9.49) of Keighley and Telford’s Charlie Preece (11.18) in third. Also on a winning roll was Amelie Lane (10.25) from Ilkley who won the corresponding age-group race for girls ahead of Martha Jackson (10.058) of Bingley, second, and Olivia Aldham (12.21) of Glusburn in third.

Similarly spirited competition also prevailed in the shorter Under 12 Crag races where the summer’s form-book was franked as victory honours were achieved by Keighley’s Archie Peaker (6.14) – ahead of closest rivals, Tom Hooper (6.44) of Haworth and Jamie Dent (7.09) of Carleton in the boy’s; and Lucille Pickles (7.28) of Barlick who galloped home clear of Betsy Willis (9.31) from Sutton and Isobelle Teal (11.05) of Barlick.

There was also a poetic touch in this event as the top local award was achieved by Rylstone’s Charlie Caygill (7.59), he being the grandson of long-time Kilnsey stalwart, Jim Caygill, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

An entertaining forerunner to the crag races were the handicap track events, where sporting all-rounders in the form of Kirkby Malham’s Tom Darwin – victorious ahead of England hockey international, Tony Bowman from Guiseley in a photo-finish 100 metres, and Arthur Peel, chased home by Grindleton’s Jack Hutchinson in the one mile handicap – led the way.

Third places in both these events were filled by the Thompson lads from Steeton with England cross-country champion, Alex, showing his dash in the sprint and brother Will, grabbing third in the mile.

As always, the harness racing provided another terrific attraction to round off an action-packed day. And following some rip roaring heats, it would be County Durham’s day once more in the principle event and show-closer, the Open Final over one and a quarter miles. But, there was a moment to savour in the interim one mile novice race when the Haythornthwaite family-trained Brywins Overbeach and driven by the ‘Barlick Express’ himself, Alan Haythornthwaite, triumphed, remarkably forty-three years on from Alan’s first victory at Kilnsey.

And, so to the grand finale, the Open Final where excitement and incident were both plentiful and certainly no easy company as the horse by that name, Easy Company trained by the Spennymoor – Laidler family – and driven by the irrepressible Rocker Laidler – just held on for victory in a thrilling heads and neck finish.

Rock on Rocker……and rock on Kilnsey Show!

A wonderful spectacle assured!


Kilnsey Show Fell Race - 27th August 2019
SENIOR Results
Pos    No.    First Name    Surname     Cat    Time    Club    L    Notes
1    11    Nick    Swinburn    M    07:53    Northumberland FR    N    1st Man
2    83    Joe    Hudson    M    08:04    Keighley and Craven    Y    2nd Man/1st Local
3    38    Simon    Bailey    M    08:07    Mercia FR    N    3rd Man
4    88    Joe    Baxter    M    08:11    Pudsey and Bramley    N
5    100    Robin    Howie    M    08:30    Wharfedale Harriers    N
6    97    Jack    Wood    M    08:40    Ilkley Harriers    N
7    80    Ben    Mounsey    M    08:55    Calder Valley    Y    2nd Local
8    69    Luke    Maude    M    09:02    Barlick Fell Runners    Y
9    71    Tom    Millard    M    09:11    Wharfedale Harriers    Y
10    62    Martin    Mikkelsen-Barron    M    09:12    Borrowdale    N
11    116    Joe    Woodley    M    09:26    Skyrac AC    N
12    70    William    Weatherill    M    09:28    Cambridge University    Y
13    55    Thomas    Stapleton    M    09:29    Unaffiliated    N
14    94    Ethan    Hassell    M    09:35    Wharfedale Harriers    N
15    21    Harry    Muir    M    09:39    Wharfedale Harriers    N
16    103    Michael    Malyon    M    09:44    Baildon    N
17    107    Tom    Addison    M    09:46    Helm Hill    N
18    50    Stuart    Hunn    M    10:03    Wharfedale Harriers    N
19    46    Jack    Walton    M    10:05    Keighley and Craven    N
20    73    Declan    Bulmer    M    10:07    Wharfedale Harriers    N
21    67    Adam    Gibson    M    10:08    Wharfedale Harriers    Y
22    54    Patrick    Wardle    M    10:08    Wharfedale Harriers    N
23    77    Ashley    Holt    MV40    10:10    Rossendale    N    1st MV40
24    28    Tim    Chadwick    M    10:11    Barlick Fell Runners    N
25    86    Robert    Carr    MV40    10:12    Wharfedale Harriers    Y
26    32    Joe    Parsons    M    10:18    Unaffiliated    N
27    2    Ian    Willis    MV40    10:22    Keighley and Craven    N
28    99    Paul    Sheard    MV50    10:36    Manx Fell Runners    N    1st MV50
29    6    Fred    Bosomworth    M    10:48    Wharfedale Harriers    Y
30    44    Jim    Roberts    MV50    10:53    Keighley and Craven    N
31    101    Emma    Hopkinson    L    10:59    Wharfedale Harriers    N    1st Lady
32    17    Graham    Pilling    MV40    11:00    Pudsey and Bramley    N
33    79    Kirsty    Hall    LV40    11:01    Ribble Valley Harriers    Y    2nd Lady/1st LV40
34    102    Ben    Potter    M    11:04    Unaffiliated    N
35    98    Josie    Lloyd    L    11:21    Mercia FR    N    3rd Lady
36    18    Rachel     Pilling    L    11:24    Pudsey and Bramley    N
37    49    Victoria    Peel    L    11:33    Barlick Fell Runners    N
38    81    Stephen    Nicholls    M    11:34    Wigan Harriers    N
39    90    Jason    Feeney    MV50    11:37    Bingley Harriers    N
40    23    Mark    Richmond    M    11:42    Settle Harriers    N
41    115    Antonia    Fan    L    11:43    Skyrac AC    N
42    117    Helen    Wood    L    11:48    Ilkley Harriers    N
43    84    Robert    Hudson    MV50    11:56    Keighley and Craven    Y
44    14    Jonathan    Whitaker    MV50    11:57    Harrogate Harriers    N
45    96    Gareth    Hird    MV40    11:59    Wharfedale Harriers    N
46    3    John    Boothman    MV50    12:01    Barlick Fell Runners    N
47    30    Pete    Lloyd    M    12:03    KCAC    N
48    56    Bruce    Elsworth    MV40    12:06    Wharfedale Harriers    N
49    8    Tom    Marsh    M    12:06    Wharfedale Harriers    N
50    27    Ronnie    Haddow    MV40    12:16    Furness Fell Runners    N
51    92    Andy    Holden    MV50    12:24    Wharfedale Harriers    N
52    34    Andrew    Smith    MV50    12:25    Barlick Fell Runners    N
53    35    Roy    Ruddle    MV50    12:26    Ilkley Harriers    N