Airedale Athletics narrowly missed out on their attempt to retain the Washburn Valley Relay trophy last Friday, as Otley AC’s Ian Fisher proved the crucial difference.

Their time of 59min 12sec was a minute better than their winning time last year. Otley were victorious in 58:24.

The race takes in three scenic legs of between three and four miles around Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs but was run in humid, drizzly conditions.

The invitational event, organised by Otley AC, had a record turnout of 65 local teams.

Eccleshill Road Runners entered ten teams, each named after a bird of prey.

Shirley Oldale’s last leg effort of 23min 4sec took the “Peregrines” to 30th spot.

Baildon Runners’ three teams were headed by their over-40s outfit (Steve Pickard, Dean Williams and Chris Burke) who finished a fine sixth overall.

Burke set the third fastest leg time as anchor, with his clubmate Steve Watkins (competing for the Airedale composite team) ahead of him.

Ilkley Harriers and Keighley & Craven both had five teams out, while Skipton AC and Saltaire Striders had three each.

Newcomer Simon Pass, for Saltaire’s first team, was an impressive sixth fastest on the second leg, as experienced Jack Verity brought them home in 11th.

Quentin Lewis broke the first-leg record to obtain a 42-second advantage for Airedale but Fisher was able to turn the tables during leg two as his time of 21:23 over four miles gave Otley an unassailable lead.

Watkins closed the gap but could not prevent Sam Stell hanging on for an Otley win.

The home club had an impressive eight teams out and were also rewarded as Rachael Bamford set a new female record of 18min 34sec over leg one’s undulating three-mile route. But she was unable to prevent Pudsey Pacers taking the mixed team title as the Pacers’ trio of Nigel Armitage, Paul Gaile and Karen Pickles prevailed by 26 seconds.

Skipton were victorious in the ladies’ team category as Karen Chown, Jayne Butterworth and Clare Pearson finished two minutes clear of Otley.