CARL Bell found the soft going to his liking in the Lakeland Trails season opener at Cartmel on Saturday when he broke the course record in the 18km Cartmel Sticky Toffee Trail Race.

Bell, who recently joined Keswick AC, reigned supreme in a new record time of 67.33, finishing six minutes ahead of GB International John Brown from Ambleside AC - a runner-up in 73.30.

Christine Holmes, from Trentham Running Club, also dominated the women's 18km race, winning by more than seven minutes in a time of 85.01.

Heavy rain in the previous 48 hours made the trail distinctly sticky and soft in places, making the going especially hard work for all the competitors who braved the elements to take part in the various events during the day.

More than 1,000 competitors from all over the UK, along with overseas visitors from Germany, Holland, France, Belgium and Ireland took part in the event, providing a welcome boost to the regional economy at this quiet time of year.

Brazilian samba drumming band Batala Lancaster played live throughout the day, and singer/songwriter Pete Lashley performed songs from his recent Lakeland Trails album before the prize giving.

The oldest competitor was 79-year-old Malcolm Ball, from North Norfolk Beach Runners who finished the 18km trail in fine style only days before his 80th birthday.

Every finisher was rewarded with a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, along with a specially designed event finisher's technical T shirt and ASICS goody bag.

The event was supporting the local Allithwaite Playing Fields Committee charity, with many competitors running for regional and national charities.

The next event in the Lakeland Trails series is at Hawkshead on April 27, and there are only 62 places left.

Online entry is available via