Category Archives: 5k

Littleborough 5k Road Race


Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

As a promise to myself to cover any event that a Northowram Puma may take part in, and for consistency purposes, you understand, do I run the risk of appearing self-indulgent. Not that I’ve much to be self-indulgent about, although I did happen to be the only Puma who took part in Tuesday evening’s Littleborough 5k Road Race, organised by the Littleborough Lions.

Back in June, I ran a similar course over the same distance with Alan Sykes, finishing in 24:14 in what was the last of the Littleborough 5k Road Race Series. This time the route differed somewhat as we headed down Peel Street (instead of up it), turned right at the bottom into Winton Street, then picked up the main road A58 Church Street up to the junction with Smithy Bridge Road. There was then the arduous climb up through Smithy Bridge itself, crossing the railway line and pulling ourselves up to Hollingworth Lake. We then had something of decent flattish – even downhill – run over the last mile or so, finishing by passing under the subway near the railway station.

The starter set us all off at 7pm prompt, a relatively small number of 66 runners which included a couple of Sowerby Bridge Snails in Jonathan Moon and Kieran Heaton. The field had thinned out by the time we reached Church Street, but this busy main road proved deceptive, a gentle climb of nearly a mile up to the traffic lights. By the time we’d reached this point we’d covered about a third of the race, but my legs were already feeling tired. We got brief respite on a nice downhill stretch towards the railway line, only to find the level crossing gates closed and a marshal directing us down the steps under the subway, and therefore the climb of the steps up the other side. This was a first, and though it was the same for everyone, for me it did break my stride somewhat. Then there was the climb up Smithy Bridge Road, never too steep but enough to sap even more energy from your legs. With the junction reached and the left turn along Lake Bank, there was just a mile to go. Hollingworth Lake cut a scenic picture on my right but I had too many other things on my mind to enjoy it.

I drove myself along Lake Bank with the sound of footsteps behind me; someone was closing me down. We veered off left down Hollingworth Road, a pleasant descent, the footsteps behind me still a bit too close for comfort. I pushed on, got into my stride and soon enough I could see the entrance to the subway by the station ahead. A quick glance over my shoulder reassured me that I’d pulled away from the runner chasing me, and having turned under the subway, the finish line was but yards ahead, but only reached after we’d had to negotiate a cycle barrier. A quick body swerve and I was through, and in the blinking of an eye, I was careering across the finish line, almost in a state of near exhaustion, but home all the same.

The only pictorial evidence showing that I competed in the race.

My finishing time was 24:22, eight seconds slower than my previous outing to Littleborough, but as I said, on a slightly harder course. The next runner home (Andy O’Sullivan of Rochdale Harriers) was eleven seconds behind and I finished 24th, no great achievement there, but happy to have taken part. The Snails’ Jonathan Moon came an impressive fourth, but later, over a drink back at HQ, the Littleborough Conservative Club, he was rewarded with a bottle of lambrini for his efforts! The race winner was Darren Shackleton of Todmorden Harriers and he received a cup on which the European Champions’ League Trophy looks to have been modelled.

All the runners were presented with participation certificates (another first) and I clutched mine with pride. Something to show the grandchildren in future years, eh? “Have I told you about the time I ran in the Littleborough 5k Road Race….?”

Todmorden Park Summer 5k Series, Race 4


Thursday 3 August, 2017.

Just twenty-four hours after the Dewsbury Flat Cap 5, Neil Coupe found himself on the starting line at Centre Vale Park, Todmorden, for the last in the four-race series. This was something of a minor miracle, really, for he was nursing a nasty ankle injury sustained at Dewsbury, but not something many of you might have known about. Joining him on the starting line was Johnny Meynell, ready to complete a full-set of the four races, though sadly, watching from the sidelines, was Alan Sykes, who, having run the first three, now forced to rule himself out having pulled a leg muscle at Dewsbury the night before. The curse of Flat Cap, eh? Also adding support to the two-man team was Matt Newton, and it’ll be a pleasure to see him up and racing in the not too distant future.

Neil Coupe chasing down the familiar Paul Hopkinson, running for his ‘other’ team

The bigger than average field was swelled to 103 competitors, helped in no small by way by the large contingent of Halifax Harriers who were using the event as part of their own club championship, and as such there were a few familiar faces on show. Neither Neil or Johnny troubled the leaders, it has to be said, and the event was won by Michael Gaughan, who many will recognise at our local parkruns The course takes in five laps of the park, and with it being as flat as anywhere you’re likely to come across (perhaps only Wellholme Park at Brighouse beats it around here) it can be tough going at times, with no chance of a downhill stretch for a breather.

Those are the excuses out of the way. And while winner Gaughan floated around in 16 mins 41secs, Neil Coupe finished 37th in 21:27, way down on his previous time of 20:53 set in his first race (the second of the series). Johnny was hoping to crack 24 minutes, but having run the first three races in times of 24:09, 24:03 and 24:06, agonisingly just failed, coming home in 64th place in 24:01, still his fastest time over the series event and certainly showing consistency.

The clock’s ticking down, but will Johnny beat the magical 24-minute barrier? Maybe next year…

With Alan Sykes not running, there were no prize-winning Pumas in any age category, but there was some consolation as Neil treated us all to a round of chips, onion rings and cheesy garlic bread in the welcoming Hare and Hounds over the road. He certainly knows how to look after his Pumas.

Participants need to run a minimum three races of the four to qualify for the final standings league table (best three results counting), and here, Johnny Meynell finished 24th in a combined total of 1hr 12:21, with Alan Sykes 28th in 1hr 15:13 out of a total of forty-seven runners.



Todmorden Park 5K Summer Series




The third round of the four-race series at Todmorden saw three Pumas take part. Alan Sykes and Johnny Meynell had taken part in the first two races, whilst Paula Snee was making her first appearance in the event which sees the competitors working their way through five laps of Centre Vale Park.

Paula, in fact, had an enjoyable evening, for not only was she #FPH, but she also set herself her fastest-ever time of 23:30 for the distance, bettering her Brighouse parkrun PB by twenty seconds. Johnny Meynell finished in 24:09, whilst Alan Sykes finished in 25:13, his slowest time at the event so far. Nevertheless, as he did in his last outing, the old stager cleaned up in his age category and helped himself to a fine selection of bottled beers.

In a field of 68 runners, the winner was Jason Parker of Preston Harriers, who completed the course in 16:40.

Runners must complete a minimum of three races to qualify for a final position in the league table, and with Johnny and Alan having run all three races, their current standings at present are 17th and 21st respectively from a listed field of thirty-four.

Alan Sykes once again drank the barrel dry, finishing top performer in his Over 65 age category.