AS COVID restrictions begin to ease, several running races have started to take place, providing the opportunity for Ilkley Harriers to get back into competitive action.

Spurred on by their triumph in last month's 'virtual' Lockdown League, it's been a welcome return to actual racing.

The events have had to be adapted to adhere to the latest guidelines, which they've managed in various ways.

The Podium 5k series at Barrowford was split into small heats depending on personal best times, and the sole Harrier representation came from Dave Foyston.

It marked a significant milestone in his comeback from a serious back injury he suffered in 2020.

He'd already shown he was recapturing his best form with an overall fifth place in the Lockdown League series in February and March and he underlined that at Barrowford with an impressive time of 17 minutes and 46 seconds, very close to his pre-injury PB.

Sporting headlines were made that evening by Beth Potter, who set what would have been a British and world record time of 14 minutes and 41 seconds.

The Scottish athlete, who has concentrated on triathlon since racing in the 10,000m final at the Rio Olympics, was wearing the new Asics Metaspeed Sky 'super shoes'.

However, it appears her time won't be ratified as a world best as there were no drug testers present.

At the other end of the distance spectrum was the Punk Panther-organised 'The Welcome Ultra'.

Starting and finishing in Otley, social distancing occurred naturally given the epic 42-mile test.

And Ilkley's Dave Reynier was an excellent 12th of the 48 runners in eight hours and 10 minutes.

The route featured Askwith, Ben Rhydding, Burley and Baildon Moors, the Chevin and a bonus Bingley and Shipley Glen circuit.

A sharper, though equally up-and-down challenge faced the field in the David Bell Memorial Hoppits Hill Races near Dewsbury Golf Club.

Dan Dry led home the Harriers with a superb second place in 19:07, just 11 seconds behind winner Euan Patton (Dark Peak).

And club colleagues Justin Pierce (25:58), on his Harriers debut, and Mary Jeal (37:02) also enjoyed the return to action.

Sunday also saw the Swainby Sweep on the edge of the North Yorks Moors.

The planned 16-mile race was unfortunately cancelled because of heavy snowfall.

Instead, two lower-level seven-mile trail circuits were used, and Ilkley's Mark Judkowski was the winner of his MV60 age category in a time of 2:03:40, which also placed him 31st overall.

And another notable achievement over the last couple of weeks was a new Ilkley Skyline record set by the Harriers' Tom Adams despite less-than-ideal conditions for the scenic 22-mile loop on the tops of the moors.