THE sun shone brightly on this year’s Soreen Stanbury Splash fell race, with every runner receiving one of the sponsoring company's famous malt loaves.

And it was Bradford's Nathan Lawson, racing for his native Dark Peak Fell Runners, who was left to pose with two of them, after he stormed to victory in 45 minutes and 37 seconds, just over two minutes ahead of the runner-up, Ilkley Harriers' Oli Murphy.

Oxenhope’s Helen Smith, running for Ribble Valley Harriers, was superb in winning the ladies' race in 56 minutes and 37 seconds, beating second-placed Pudsey and Bramley runner Rachel Pilling by almost five minutes.

In a break from the relentless rain of the previous few days, the clouds lifted and revealed a glorious blue sky.

The appearance of the warming sun clearly influenced runners from near and far as 212 fearless and intrepid seniors toed the start line for the 2023 incarnation of this well-established race.

However, to maintain at least some tradition of the local micro-climatic variety, the ubiquitous wind blew across the moor.

Indeed, this made the outgoing trek along the Pennine Way towards Bronte Bridge hard going.

All the previous rain also guaranteed a lot of mud, commencing with a very soggy quarry bottom at the start of all the races.

So, having negotiated the initial shock to the system of cold, wet feet, runners had to deal with the particularly sloppy mud and head wind along Enfield Side Road.

From here, runners bounded and slid down the fields towards the first water crossing at Sladen Beck.

More of a torrent than a beck, it was at least knee deep and took more care than usual to cross.

Runners then had to climb the muddy hillside towards Bully Trees farm before getting a brief respite as they climbed the track towards Near and Far Slack farms.

The relief was brief as more soggy fell beckoned on the way to Ponden Clough, with the beck full.

Freshly-washed shoes and legs now trudged their way to the turn point on Bracken Hill and the return portion of the loop, through Middle Moor Clough and then back across the moor to the track above Bully Trees farm.

From there, the return route follows the outgoing one, including another splash through Sladen Beck, before an energy-draining last pull up the steep incline to Enfield Side Road.

All local fell races have a sting in the tail and this one features an uphill grind to the finish line.

The junior quarry runs also had the joy of experiencing the muddy quarry bottom at the start of their races before running various distances around Penistone Hill.

The youngest and smallest runners went first and completed a loop of the quarry top before descending back into the quarry, only to climb out again and head for the finish.

Embsay’s Billy White was completely undaunted by the mud and romped home to win the Under-9 race from Felix Schofield and Thomas Akers.

The girls' race had one brave runner in the form of Bingley’s Elsie Henry, who finished in sixth place overall.

The main junior races take in one loop of Penistone Hill, going round the trig and back into the quarry, before the final thigh-sapping climb out of the quarry and sprint to the finish.

Overall race winner and U15 boys’ winner was Skyrac’s Jacob Palme, who edged out Ilkley’s Oliver Holder and Wharfedale’s George Adams.

The U15 girls’ race was won by Wharfedale Harriers’ Holly Fitch from Leeds-Bradford Triathlon’s Ruth Friend.

The U11 race was won overall by Ilkley Harriers’ Harriet Carter, and she was well ahead of the second and third-placed girls, Keighley and Craven’s Esmae Yeadon and club mate Robyn Cooper.

The boys' race was won by Keighley’s Raffy Schofield from club mate Joseph Preston, while Settle Harriers’ Calum McGoldrick came third.

Ilkley’s Robert Carter continued the family trait of race winning by triumphing in the U13 boys' race, beating off the challenge of Bingley’s Charlie Porteous and Keighley’s Charlie Headley.

Keighley’s Alice White won the U13 girls’ race from Settle’s Mia McGoldrick and Wharfedale Harriers’ Maisie Oddy.

The U17 and 19 race takes in two loops of Penistone Hill and was won by Halifax Harriers’ Will Cattermole, from Ilkley’s Oscar Shinn and clubmate Alex Wolfenden.

Lone U17 girl Jade McGregor of Halifax Harriers flew the flag to take the girls’ prize.