At a time when schoolchildren are being encouraged to be more active, there has been a record entry for this year’s Neiley Races.
A total of 1,120 children aged seven to 11 have entered the series of three races, held at Honley High School playing fields.
This record number of youngsters from 33 schools makes this year’s event one of the biggest in the country for junior school children.
The first race was held in April, the second on May 20 and the final event will take place on June 17.
Neiley Races has been held for 27 years and involves months of planning and organising by Holmfirth Harriers, but their president John McFadzean believes that it is well worth the effort.
Ten years ago the races outgrew their original home at The Sands next to Holmfirth Swimming Pool and the noise from the youngsters and their enthusiastic supporters of grandparents, parents and teachers at each of the race meetings was deafening.
Excitement levels were at fever pitch among the young competitors, with many of them having burnt off most of their energy before their race had even started.
The races are divided into events for girls and boys in Years 3 and 4 and those in Years 5 and 6. As well as individual trophies and shields, there are prizes for the best large, middle-sized and small schools.
Courses vary from around 1,200 metres to 1,800 metres, and this year a diversion had to be made due to a large puddle on the track.
John said: “The children really enjoy it. Of course it is nice to win a prize, but this is about everybody taking part.
“Anybody can enter and they all feel really proud of running for their school, whether they are a the front or the back. At the end each child gets a certificate with his or her time on and position.
“The atmosphere is really good, there is a lot of excitement. A lot of children set off like Usain Bolt rather than Paula Radcliffe and the one leading at 100 metres is rarely the winner at the finish.
“We had one boy who is in his teens now who used to come every year for four years and was last in every race, but he enjoyed it so much.
It’s all about taking part.”
The leading schools after two of the three races are: Boys Years 3 and 4: 1 Netherthong, 2 Wooldale; Gilrs Years 3 and 4 - 1 Skelmanthorpe, 2 Meltham; Boys Years 5 and 6 - 1 Kirkheaton, 2 Netherthong; Girls Years 5 and 6 - 1 Scissett Middle, 2 Kirkburton Middle.