A GRITTY band of runners gathered in the menacing shadow of Roseberry Topping for the second Hardmoors Night Race – with Pickering Running Club aces coming out on top.

The Hardmoors series has a reputation for toughness and this last challenge was just that.

Ferocious winds dropped and horizontal rain slowed slightly for the start of the event but the bitter temperature remained and the 10.8-mile route began with a brutal climb up Roseberry Topping.

It then plummeted down the other side, only to climb up again, this time to Captain Cook’s Monument, before a muddy run across the moor to Highcliff Nab.

Competitors then faced Roseberry Topping one more time.

With approximately 3,000 feet of ascent, the race climbed almost the equivalent of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak.

And it all took place in the dark, lit only by runners’ headlamps and glow sticks to mark the way.

Five Pickering runners faced up to the trial, and ace in the pack Jayson Cavill took first place in one hour 33 minutes 15 seconds, almost 10 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

Cavill’s outstanding performance has partly been helped by stepping up his hill training as he sets his sights on competitive ultra races this year.

Pickering also took first prize in the ladies’ race, through Kim England, who was 11th overall in 1-59-33.

Steep, technical descents are not England’s favourite terrain, so she will take a lot of confidence from this convincing win, in which she finished almost 25 minutes ahead of the second woman.

The second runner back for PRC was Bob Horsman, in fifth place overall, in 1-52-45.

He has also been upping his training to take on more distance this year.

Pushing himself further and higher than before, Russ Grayson was pleased to finish in eighth place overall, in 1-57-43.

In training for the London Marathon, Ian Farrer completed the team effort, finishing in 2-05-05.

Farrer’s renewed enthusiasm for trail and fell running will only strengthen his attempt at the marathon.