FELL runners received an unexpected treat at the weekend with the successful running of the Yorkshireman Off Road Half and Full Marathons.

This year’s race, the 27th, was touch and go as to whether it would go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But it all went ahead without a hitch. Bingley Harriers athlete Jo Buckley won the women's marathon by over half an hour, an incredible effort, while Wharfedale Harriers' Ali Burns finished a close second in the men's race.

The Yorkshireman, a Keighley and Craven Athletics Club race, starts in Haworth and makes its way via Oxenhope Moor to the windmills across Ovenden Moor and then snakes through the countryside on to Denholme, Cullingworth, Harden and finally back to Haworth for the finish at Haworth Primary School.

Gary Chapman, the organiser and race director, said: "Delivering the Yorkshireman this year has been hugely demanding due to the coronavirus restrictions and regulations.

"Ensuring everyone’s safety has been the top priority and complying with social distancing rules has meant running the race in a completely different way, using a time trial format with staggered starting times over four hours.

"Despite all these difficulties, seeing all the smiling faces at the finish line showed that all the hard work was worthwhile.

"So many people have commented about how beneficial it has been for their physical and mental wellbeing and how it gave them something to aim for while so many other races and events were cancelled or postponed until next year.

"The messages of support we have received from competitors both before and after the race have been overwhelming and Haworth Primary School have been amazing in allowing the use of some of their outdoor space to host the event.

"Without this, the event just couldn’t go ahead."

Money collected from the car parking at the school, along with a donation from Keighley and Craven Athletics Club, has raised over £1,000, which will go towards a special treat for the children of Haworth Primary School, being organised by headteacher Paula Howe.

In addition, further donations will be made to another local charity.

With over 300 competitors, many who had travelled some considerable distance, the local economy received a boost, with some staying overnight and many visiting local Haworth businesses and pubs after the race, as well as bringing family and friends.

As for the race itself, Jonathan Cleaver of Rossendale Harriers came in first place in the marathon with a time of 3hrs 31mins, followed by Burns of Wharfedale Harriers in 3hrs 39mins and Nick Hopley in third with a time of 3hrs 51mins.

Local Haworth doctor Buckley, of Bingley Harriers, came first in the women’s race with a time of 4hrs 12mins, Lynn Murphy of Keighley and Craven AC finished second with a time of 4hrs 45mins and Claire Hanson of Calder Valley Fell Runners ended up third with a time of 4hrs 50mins.

The half marathon was won by Ed Hyland of Calder Valley Fell Runners in 1hr 43mins and Josie Lloyd of Mercia Fell Runners won the women’s race in 2hrs 6mins.

The full marathon pairs event was won by Dave Motley and Andy Laycock of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers in 3hrs 52 mins.

A special mention should go to local headteacher, Dick Ballantine from Haworth, Dave Arnold from Riddlesden and Catherine Hill from Silsden.

If one event was not enough, they ran the half marathon then, after a five minute break, they ran the full marathon. All three of them completed the challenge in under 10 hours.

Keighley & Craven AC does an enormous amount for the local community, with the junior section being one of the most successful in the country with its highly organised coaching structure.

The adult section welcomes people from those running at high levels to new members who have never run before and simply want to be able to build up to a 5k event such as a Park Run.

Details can be found at www.kcac.co.uk although of course, in pandemic times, not all aspects of club are able to operate as normal.