ILKLEY came alive on Sunday, July 11 with the return of the Ilkley Half Marathon, organised by Ilkley and District Round Table.

Covid-19 had forced a one-year hiatus but its return in 2021 saw the road-closed event draw 2,000 runners from as far afield as Japan to Ilkley’s picturesque surrounds.

The event was established by Ilkley Round Table in 2019 to raise funds for the local community; this year’s race expects to raise more than £40,000 for good causes.

Delivered entirely by volunteers, the true spirit of community was on display with enthusiastic crowds lining The Grove in Ilkley, Addingham’s Main Street and the finish straight on Denton Road.

As the largest UK Athletics endorsed participation event nationally since the pandemic struck in March 2019, it was a welcome boost to morale for keen runners who have been desperate to test themselves in race conditions.

Race Director, Matthew Ward, said: “We’ve waited a long time to stage this event for the community. We were delighted to raise funds for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund via the Ilkley Virtual Half last summer, and we were desperate to bring the running community together in our beautiful town.

“We want to thank our generous sponsors, High Speed Training, Ison Harrison, Harrogate Spring Water, Aceso and Biffa.

“Secondly, thank you to our astonishing volunteers, without whom we could not stage this event.

“Last but not least, thank you to the residents of Ilkley and further afield for their support, goodwill and enthusiasm in what has been an incredibly challenging 18 months for everyone.”

Victorious in 2019, Caroline Turner returned to retain the women’s title, representing Lonely Goat RC and finishing the undulating course in a time of one hour, 21 minutes and 56 seconds.

“The men’s title belonged to Scott Harrington, representing Otley AC and finishing in one hour, 11 minutes and 10 seconds.

“Ilkley Harriers retained both the men’s and women’s team trophy with three placings in the top ten from the home town club.”

Speaking on behalf of the organisers was Trevor Yong, Chairman of Ilkley and District Round Table, who said: “We believe that this event is all about community; the runners, the spectators, the families and friends supporting the athletes and the people that we hope to help with the money raised.

“Whether you’re completing your first long-distance race or completing your 90th, like Anastasia Lincoln, we hope every participant had a great day.”

Among those taking part were West Yorkshire Firefighters from Ilkley and Otley. Three of the team even completed the 13.1 mile course running in full fire kit. They raised over £1,400 for the Fire Fighters Charity who provide invaluable support to the UK’s fire service community.

And Team Penguin donned their flippers and beaks once to take on the challenge. The runners from Bingley and Ilkley were raising money for Yorkshire Cancer Research and The Dog’s Trust.

The Ilkley Half Marathon plans to return at the same time next year with an increase in the number of entrants and the return of the event village.