A BUMPER crowd cheered on over 1,000 runners in the 40th running of the Chevin Chase on Boxing Day.

The race welcomed competitors from France, Germany, Ireland, Texas, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia, who had flown half way around the world just to take part in the 11km run.

It was a mild, calm morning as the 1,165 runners took their places at the start line – many bringing the festive spirit to life and delighting spectators by running dressed as elves, fairies, Father Christmases, a turkey, Christmas pudding and even a cow.

There was also a memorable appearance by the magnificent ‘Iron Man’ – aka Gavin Birkett, who ran the entire Chevin Chase manfully carrying a full-size ironing board.

The new Chevin Chase race director Ewen Pearson, of Airecentre Pacers, said: "I was very pleased to see so many happy people finish the race – and very relieved there weren’t any major incidents.

"All the competitors had massive smiles at the finish and there were lots of very complimentary comments from the runners like ‘this is my favourite race of the year – so well organised and such a great atmosphere’.

"The course was quite muddy, which the runners expect and enjoy. It was a warm, dry day and a couple of thousand spectators came along to watch the spectacle."

With marshals prepped and water stations at the ready, the plucky runners made their way up, across, round and down the Chevin, braving the hills, squelching through thick mud and enjoying the scenery as they wound their way through the woods and up out over the ridge overlooking the town of Otley, before dropping steeply down again to Guiseley Primary School and the hotly contested sprint to the finish.

The first man across the finish line was Jack Wood of Ilkley Harriers in a lightning quick time of 38 minutes, 50 seconds – within two minutes of the men’s course record, which is held by Olympian Alistair Brownlee.

Wood swooped past Pudsey’s Joe Baxter soon after the final climb to win decisively by over half a minute, and Wood's Ilkley teammates Jack Cummings, Will Simmons and Nathan Edmondson filled fourth to sixth places respectively.

The first woman home was the in-form Helen Thurston, also of Ilkley Harriers, in a superb time of 46 minutes and four seconds – again, within two minutes of the women’s course record, which is held by Georgia Malir.

It was Thurston's first big-race victory after some tremendous efforts in recent few weeks. She beat Horsforth’s Aisling Wall by 36 seconds.

It was a great day all round for Ilkley Harriers, as in addition to having four out of the first six men they also had four of the first seven women finishers.

Thurston's teammate Pauline Munro was the fourth lady and first in her V50 category, with a time of 47:30, while another Ilkley Harrier, Kate Archer, took full advantage of recently turning 40 by winning that age category by over four minutes.

The Airecentre Pacers’ very own ‘Iron Man’ completed the course in a crease-free one hour, 23 minutes and 48 seconds.

Andrew Humphries was the first Airecentre Pacer man to finish, coming in at 36th overall position in a time of 45 minutes, 39 seconds.

The first Airecentre Pacer woman was Kate Macfarlane; who was the 38th female, achieving a time of 57 minutes and 41 seconds.

The local athletics clubs were well represented at the Chevin Chase, as in addition to Airecentre Pacers and the Ilkley Harriers, who had 40 race participants, Otley AC also had 38 runners take part.

Richard Smith was the first Otley AC runner home, finishing the seven-mile course in 48 minutes and one second.

Carol Morgan was the top woman's finisher for Otley AC, as she crossed the finish line and clocked a time of 55 minutes and 17 seconds.