THE London Marathon was as exhilarating as ever last weekend, and seven Ilkley Harriers had the privilege of running in the same race as world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Sir Mo Farah among others.

More than 40,000 enjoyed the cheers and applause from huge crowds in what had been a record-breaking year for applications.

For all runners, it had meant months of training over winter to be ready for the big day.

And all the Harriers relished the occasion, registering significant personal achievements along the way. Matt Cox made the top 1,000 in two hours, 45 minutes and 51 seconds while Dave Reynier and Mike Abrams-Cohen were understandably delighted with their times of 3:23:50 and 3:36:58 respectively.

Jill Ezard, Emma O’Looney, Jacqui Weston and Steph Fox - the latter two who have trained together around Burley and Ilkley as they’ve built up to the 26.2-mile distance - all saw their efforts pay dividends as they clocked superb times of between four and five hours.

And if watching the London Marathon has inspired you to give running a go then now’s the perfect time as Wednesday, May 8, sees the start of the Harriers’ six-week 'zero to 5k' course.

It’s specifically designed for those who have never run before, or very little. You’ll start off gently and build up gradually in a friendly group, under the guidance of a qualified coach and experienced run leaders.

It costs just £10 in total (which will be donated to the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association) for all six sessions, which each last around an hour and start from Ilkley Tennis Club - full details and a registration form are on the Harriers website.

As well as the London Marathon, last weekend also saw the iconic Three Peaks Fell Race.

The 65th event staging of the Yorkshire Dales event threw testing conditions at the runners with a mixture of torrential rain, hailstones, sleet, changing visibility and strong winds but a total of 670 competitors completed the 23.3-mile course over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, including 11 Harriers.

Jack Wood, sixth, fifth and fourth in the previous three years, couldn’t quite keep that sequence going as he returned from injury but he nonetheless produced another fine run to lead the Ilkley contingent home in 44th place.

There were great performances all round, notably from Kate Archer who used her excellent form this year and previous experience to great effect as she paced the gruelling event perfectly and powered through the field on the final descent off Ingleborough to finish as the fifth lady and 121st overall in 3:55:11, right alongside fellow Harrier Dan McKeown.

Debutant Paul Castle finished in 4:25:05 while Alison Weston is closing in on 20 Three Peaks completions after crossing the line in 4:51:09.

Keswick AC’s Brennan Townshend was the overall winner on what was his first attempt, beating previous winner Ricky Lightfoot into second place while Victoria Wilkinson again won the women’s race.

Not content with ‘just’ running a marathon distance at the weekend, four Harriers took on The Fellsman, a high-level traverse covering a staggering 61 miles over very hard rugged moorland from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales.

Wet and windy weather added an extra dimension but ultra-running guru Ben Sheppard took it all in his stride as he registered a personal best time for a share of 10th place, describing the experience as “wonderfully challenging”.

Colin Williams, Steve Turland and Brian Melia were the other Harriers in action and all completed despite the conditions.

And earlier in the week the latest Evensplits race took place at the Brownlee Centre in Leeds, Dan McKeown using it as a warm-up for the Three Peaks as he led the Harriers home in a rapid 17 minutes and 27 seconds for the 5k.


London Marathon, Sunday

(1 2:02:37 Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya)

768 2:45:51 Matt Cox

5403 3:23:50 Dave Reynier

8286 3:36:58 Michael Abrams-Cohen

22045 4:27:41 Jill Ezard

22098 4:27:52 Emma O'Looney

23825 4:34:28 Jacqui Weston

28478 4:52:39 Stephanie Fox

42,549 finished

Three Peaks fell race, Saturday

(1 2:50:22 Brennan Townshend, Keswick)

44 3:34:16 Jack Wood

121 3:55:11 Kate Archer

122 3:55:12 Dan McKeown

128 3:56:05 Paul Carman

198 4:07:32 Will Buckton

310 4:25:05 Paul Castle

327 4:28:53 Michael Lomas

462 4:46:32 Dick Waddington

487 4:49:51 Paddy Sturman

426 4:43:26 Paul Calderbank

499 4:51:09 Alison Weston

670 finished

Evensplits Leeds 5k, Wednesday

(1 15:52 Joe Sagar, Spenborough)

16 17:27 Daniel McKeown

36 18:22 Stephen Coy

41 18:30 Nathan Coy

42 18:43 David Foyston

45 18:54 David Westhead

57 19:14 Jonathan Turner

65 19:26 Steve Murray

68 19:31 Colin Williams

100 21:22 Steve Newell

104 21:29 James Greenlay

166 25:32 Hilda Coulsey

205 completed