A BEAUTIFUL spring day, with views of some of the best scenery in town sounds idyllic, but for more than 300 runners taking on the Rivington Pike Trail Race it was anything but a stroll in the hills.

The annual 10-mile event is one of the most eagerly-anticipated for athletes, many of whom travel from far and wide, and this year’s race was no different.

As well as the athletes turning out in great numbers there was excellent support from the watching public, who lined the course to cheer on the competitors.

First to complete the race was Blackburn Road Runners’ Joshua Crowther, who crossed the finish line in 1hr 7mins 1 sec.

In second place, 26 seconds behind, came Spectrum Sliders athlete Charlie Sharpe and Tony Pfaff from Willowfield Harriers completed the top three, clocking 1:09:18.

The first woman home was Accrington Road Runner Sarah Ridehalgh, 19th overall in a time of 1:19:45. Wirral runner Sophie Hunt was second, 23rd overall, in 1:20:36.

The third woman to complete the course was a local runner, Burnden Road Runners’ Paul Pilling, in a time of 1:24:08.

Burnden had numerous impressive performances, led home by Paul Duke, who was 14th overall in a time of 1:16:50. Clubmates Mark Jackson (16th in 1:18:27), Lee White (18th in 1:19:17) and Ed Ashton (21st in 1:20:23) were not far behind.

Stewart Jones from organisers Mad Bull Events, is no stranger to the Rivington Pike race, having run it several times himself. This year, however, he completed the course the previous day, placing the markers in preparation for the race.

“This is a very big challenge, it is an undulating course which goes high up before going through Wheelton Plantation,” he said. “If you have never done it, take it from me, it is quite a challenge.

“We had more than 300 entries on the day, with 255 of those finishing.

“We had to cap it at that number, after having around 250 online entries, so we knew there would be a good local turnout, and that it would be well supported in general, and a lot stayed behind afterwards, which was good to see.

“There were a few scraped knees at the end but nothing untoward – we’d booked the sun as well to make sure we had an absolutely gorgeous day for it!”