The inaugural Ilkley Half Marathon
The inaugural SportsShoes.com Ilkley Half Marathon, organised by Ilkley and District Round Table, was a “resounding success” according to the event’s Race Director, Nick Helliwell.
Almost 2,000 runners from as far afield as the USA, Spain and Japan descended upon Ilkley to attempt a brand new route on the UK running calendar. The 13.1 mile course granted runners a unique view of Wharfedale, coursing through the very heart of Ilkley town centre and out to the scenic surroundings of Addingham and Nesfield near Bolton Abbey.
The event was the brainchild of Nick Helliwell, a Round Table member and keen runner himself. Established with the purpose of raising funds for local good causes, Ilkley Round Table estimate that the event raised over £40,000. Nick explained, “We set out to create an event that runners would appreciate and enjoy. Ilkley has a great relationship with sporting events and we set out on a mission to add to that. Our first step, nearly 12 months ago, was to calculate and agree a route for the race and since that point we have worked tirelessly to deliver a road race that not only pleases the runners but meets the approval of UK Athletics, the local councils and other interested bodies.”
Ilkley and District Round Table organises the annual Ilkley Beer Festival but the Ilkley Half Marathon was a completely different challenge. Trevor Yong, Operations Director for the event, shared, “This event has required the input, support and hard work of every member of Ilkley Round Table. Planning and executing an event of this size has involved countless hours of meetings. We have enjoyed working with other half marathon organisers such as Colchester Half Marathon, organised by Colchester Round Table, Humber Half Marathon, organised by the Rotary Club of Barton-upon Humber, the Public Safety Liaison Group and the event’s runners to ensure the day runs smoothly.”
The event would not have been possible without the support of over 200 volunteers. Nick Winterbottom, Vice Chairman of Ilkley Round Table and Volunteers Manager, was quick to thank them. “We are overwhelmed with the public support for this event. To see so many people volunteer their time to marshal our course, manage water stations and support the runners is a fantastic example of Ilkley’s heart. We have already received amazing feedback from our entrants who particularly loved the enthusiasm, friendliness and encouragement provided by all the volunteers.”
Course Director, Guy Weston, took time out to praise the volunteers also. “Without all of these volunteers we would not have been able to put on the event. Every road junction on the route was superbly managed by our volunteers to keep our runners safe. Some marshals were stood out on the course for hours! We hope that we can count on their support next year and for many years to come.”
Whilst the race took place, spectators were treated to live music from the Ilkley Half Marathon Event Village, dubbed the “Ilkley Half Festival”. With a range of food, drink and children’s entertainment on offer, Ilkley Round Table aimed to make the event as inclusive and family-friendly as possible. Matthew Ward, Event Village Manager, was delighted with the turn out. “We know from previous community events that Ilkley residents love to support good causes, especially when that’s combined with having fun. First and foremost in our minds was to give spectators and local residents a great place to relax, meet their friends and entertain their children before cheering home their heroes on the home straight. We would like to thank every organisation that came together in the Event Village to put on our Ilkley Half Festival.”
After the prizes were awarded to the various race winners, Nick Helliwell, took time to reflect upon the event. “Our Front Runner Sponsor, SportsShoes.com, and our Elite Sponsors, Ison Harrison and High Speed Training, have been magnificent supporters of our event from start to today’s finish. Their contribution has ensured that many local good causes will benefit. We would love to hear from any organisations that need financial support and we look forward to staging an even bigger and better Ilkley Half Marathon next year.”
The 2019 individual race winners of this year’s event were Jack Cummings of Ilkley Harriers, completing the gruelling course in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 24 seconds and Caroline Turner, in 1 hours 25 minutes and 4 seconds. Caroline, who normally focuses on ultra marathons, stated via Instagram, “I’ll be honest, that took me by surprise! This result and my recent win at the Dartford Marathon might suggest I’m a better road runner than trail runner!”
The winners of the male and female team trophies, The Olicana Trophy, were both Ilkley Harriers AC rounding off a fantastic weekend for the local running club.
Ilkley Round Table Chairman, Kingsley Johnson, stated, “I am very proud of our members who have put so much time and effort into this event. With families and full time jobs to balance, to deliver an event of this scale is quite phenomenal.”
Photo courtesy of Col Morley
L-R 2nd Lucy Williamson of Ilkley Harriers 1.26.15, 1st Caroline Turner 1.25.08 & 3rd Rachel Carter of Ilkley Harriers 1.29.59
Male and overall winner Jack Cummings crosses the finish line