A PHENOMENAL weekend for Bedale and Aiskew Runners started at the Round Ripon Ultra.

A fresh autumnal morning saw some 105 runners from all over the country gather in Studley Roger to take on the challenge, and the elements, over a 35-mile circular route following much of the Ripon Rowel Long Distance Path.

The route starts in the centre of the village, turning south to Ripon, then along the River Ure leaving Ripon to North Stainley, through check point one at Sleningford Water Mill. Carrying on along the river bank to West Tanfield and Winksley, the trail turned muddy through Hackfall Woods before the runners start the persistent climb through Masham and on up to Druids Temple.

For many, Masham also saw a transition in the weather, as in came the rain. The Druids Temple and check point three signalled the most undulating section of the route, a steep decent across fields followed by a steeper ascent on road, before the most open sections of the route across moorland, digging deep in the wind and rain to check point four.

Now knowing much of the hard work is done, leg five comes away from moorland on tracks and through the shelter of woodland before making the last long mile decent home across the Studley Park to the finish. There was a great show of support from Bedale and Aiskew Runners with both solo runners, relay teams and support crew getting everyone round safe. The solo runners did amazingly, David Adams finishing in 7:51:52, Ann Harrington on her first ultra completing in 9:02:49 and Lena Colin in 8:12:05.

In the relay teams there was one team of Tom Hoare, Julie Giblin, Kat MaCann, Karen Alford, and Louise Baker, who finished in a time of 6:46:10, and another of Ben Gray, James Glover, Paul Ellis, Paul Berry, and Nick Wilson, who came home in a time of 5:04:23, finishing third team.

Sunday brought bright sunshine and a breezy day to the first event of the North Yorkshire South Durham (NYSD) Cross Country league meeting at Acklam Grange School. Bedale and Aiskew Runners are new to the league this year, a few have competed as guests in previous years and brought a little bit of knowledge of what to expect. For BAR, the first to race were the women, joined by the V65+ men, a course of two large laps making 3.5 miles. The ground was dry, fairly hard on the grass areas, a little greasy through the wooded area but generally pretty clean for cross country.

There was strong, consistent running from the women, who finished almost within one minute of each other. Karen Alford finished in 29:43 (seventh V35F), Louise Baker in 30:11 (12th V40F), adn Helen Adams in 30:51 (4th V55F). Running the same two lap route were Rab Hastie in 27:49 (44th V65M), Paul Bainbridge in 29:25 (third V70M), and Raymond Lightle in 30:07 (fourth V40M). Next it was the turn of the men on a longer route of six miles – three large laps and one small. There was more strong running with grit and determination to get home, with Will Retchless crossing the line in 41:59 (16th senior), James Wigglesworth in 45:55 (16th V50M), Tom Jones in 46:13 (21st senior) and James Glover in 48:27 (31st senior).

This was all topped off with Alison and Paul Grayson completing their first London Marathon in just over five hours, a fantastic achievement given the delays in eventually running the marathon.