Category Archives: Competitive Running

Farsley Flyer 2017

FARSLEY FLYER

Wednesday 9 August, 2017.

It was only last April that relatively new Puma Cathy Heptinstall ran her first 10k race. To prove she’s making great strides, last Wednesday, she decided to do another, solo, in the Farsley Flyer Trail Race. And all hats off to her for giving it a go. But for those of you who know her well, they weren’t seriously worried whether Cathy would manage the multi-terrain six-and-a-half mile route, but more concerned as to whether she’d actually manage to find the venue. She seriously was concerned about that.

The Farsley Flyer Trail Race is a little known event that’s worked its way onto the running circuit for the first time; the organisers are trying to seek more publicity so that it gains popularity. Most of this is being done by word of mouth but on the evidence of the number of local clubs who were represented, the word is certainly getting out there.

The Farsley Flyers who organise this race have introduced a concept previously unknown to this scribe; no mass start meaning those who may be ‘running late’ can turn up anytime between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. As everyone is ‘chipped’ times and positions will later be ironed out. A further incentive to enter this race are the cakes and biscuits awaiting the finishers, as well as £2 off a drink in the local hostelry The Fleece, on Town Street.

Some of the runners pre-race looking relaxed. What’s the rush, anyway?

The route consists of mainly country lanes, trails and fields. A few of the trail sections were slightly overgrown, and just for good measure, there was a section that was muddy due to the recent rain. Though on the evening, the weather was kind and the sun stayed out.

Having navigated her way to Farsley, Cathy found herself near the front at the start, crossing the start line at 18:30.15 once the runners had been given the green light to go. I hasten to add at this point that Cathy wasn’t being stalked; these ‘out’ and ‘in’ times are recorded on the results sheet.

Cathy in recent action at Brighouse.

The route, hitherto kept a secret from all competitors except those who had reccied the course during the week, had a climb of 200 metres, but Cathy negotiated it well and finished just after five past eight, 107th out of 153 runners in a time of 1hr 35:20. The winner of the event was Ben Coldwell in 53:36, whilst the honour of the first Farsley Flyer home fell to James Crabtree, who finished sixteenth.

Evidently, from the feedback from runners who took part, there is a good chance that we’ll see more competitors next year. “A great event – well organised, great route and delicious cakes. Would definitely run future races,” was one typical glowing review. Oliver Gregory of the Flyers responded by saying, “Farsley Flyers loved every minute of hosting their first race, hope you all enjoyed the challenging route.” Their first race, maybe, but I’d say definitely not their last. Next year, I expect Cathy to be accompanied by several of her Puma friends.

Isle of Skye Highland Games Hill Race

ISLE OF SKYE HIGHLAND GAMES HILL RACE

Wednesday 9 August, 2017.

What to do when you’re far away from home on your holidays. Why not sign up for the local hill race at the Isle of Skye Highland Games? “Don’t mind if I do,” reckoned Tim McBrook, holidaying with the lovely Lisa and Mei-Lyn, and just short of donning a kilt, he lined up for the race which has been a feature of the Games since, well, forever.

Tim McBrook, braced and ready to tackle that Hill.

The Games were inaugurated in 1877 by the Skye Gathering Committee, and except during the World Wars, have taken place annually in the natural amphitheatre at Portree, known locally as The Meall (translated as ‘the lump’). However, the tradition which they represent goes back hundreds of years before that, with clan celebrations that included fiercely-contested feats of strength and endurance, together with piping and other forms of entertainment similar to those that can be enjoyed at the games today.

Tim, therefore, had a nice array of events from which to choose in a programme which included piping, dancing, sailing and tossing the caber. Tempted or not by the thought of humping a nineteen-feet tapered pole, Tim decided to play safe and pitched himself – Pumas top and all – into the Hill Race, though by all accounts, this 2.7 mile event isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Here’s a course description just to set the scene: “Once you leave the games field you must choose which route to take to the foot of the hill. Longer and safer via the road, or an obstacle course via the foreshore. Most people take the shorter route. This goes over a low wall with an 8 foot drop into a cemetery, through a graveyard, over barbed wire fence, down grassy bank avoiding the nets drying, over a gate and onto the beach, then across seaweed, mud, stones, a couple of paddles through burn outlets, then back up to the road beside the petrol station. There are several ways up the hill, either following a narrow winding path or by cutting through the grounds of the Viewfield Hotel. Both end up on a narrow path to the right of a fence heading up to Suidh Fhinn. You do not go to the top of this hill. At about 170m you turn right and contour a couple of hundred metres to a prominent white flag, where the marshal hands you a token. At the road you again have the choice, longer and drier or shorter and wet.”

The size of the task. Tim’s probably about seventh here.

Fortunately, the event was held in warm sunshine, and Tim, being the natural athlete that he is and never one to shirk a challenge, chose….the longer and drier. Bearing in mind, if you hadn’t heard, he had sustained a nasty ankle injury the day before clambering over rocks and stones, so fair’s fair.

With cash prizes on offer to the first three competitors home (£100 for the winner is something not to be sniffed at) Tim had every incentive, particularly as, word has it, it was his round next. The runners began with a lap and a half of the field before making their way out through the town and towards the hill, with Tim at this early stage lying third and giving hope to his family that he really could bring home the readies. Out of sight they went and just went on out there is anyone’s guess. But Tim gave it his all, climbed the hill via the road, collected said token and made his descent. Alas, he found himself out of the money-placings as the runners re-entered the field, but over the final lap and a half, Tim showed a clean pair of heels to his nearest rival and made a dart for the line. Cheered on by literally thousands of spectators, Tim finished a more than creditable sixth out of a field of thirty-three runners, beating many of the locals, and he must have been happy with his time of 21:18, though having never run this race before, to what could he compare it?

Tim makes a dart for line in front of literally thousands of spectators.

The event itself was won by Chris Edis of Keswick, whilst the Ladies’ section was won, for the eleventh time, by Christina Rankin of Uig. And while Tim isn’t the first Yorkshireman to have run this race – indeed, last year, the event was won by Leeds’ Noah Hurton – I’m pretty confident in saying that he is the first Puma to have entered it, so how lucky was he that he happened to be on the Scottish island when he was, with the Games nicely coinciding with his holiday. It’s not as if he actually planned it.

Is it?

Todmorden Park Summer 5k Series, Race 4

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.

 

 

Dewsbury Flat Cap 5

DEWSBURY FLAT CAP 5,

Wednesday 2 August 2017.

On Wednesday, the Pumas On Tour Express was on hire once more, cram-packed with ready runners, Dewsbury-bound for the annual Flat Cap 5 trail run. Other Pumas made their own way there, and all-told, there were twenty-seven club members who helped swell the throng at the starting line to 256 runners.

As usual, it was all smiles before the event.

Hosted by Dewsbury Road Runners, their website described the course as “multi-terrain, slightly undulating, finishing at the picturesque Leggers Inn pub and canal boat yard close to Dewsbury town centre”, taking in “the Dewsbury-Ossett greenway, off road paths and the canal towpath.” Depending on who you spoke to after the event, the course was either “very hard” or “not too bad”, though nobody I conversed with described it as easy.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the runners was that there were stretches where it became very difficult to overtake, and hence for long stages, runners were seen to be making their way in single file, almost like, back in the day, walking down the school corridor.

Adding some spice as far as Northowram Pumas were concerned was the fact that this event was the latest in the club championships. So,how relieved must Andy Haslam have been to be granted a last minute slot to further improve his standing in the league tables?

The race was won by Stadium Runners’ Simon Courtney in 27 mins 55 seconds, almost a full minute before second-placed Ed Hyland of Stainland Lions. But of more interest to Northowarm Pumas was the question of who would take the honour of being #FPH. It appeared to be an all-out dual between Luke Cranfield and Tim Brook, and in the end, it was Tim who edged out his rival, finishing an impressive sixth in 31 mins 12 secs, seven seconds faster than Luke who followed him in. Third home for the Pumas was the aforementioned Andy Haslam in twentieth position, Rick Ralph (30th) was fourth home, whilst the ever-improving Peter Reason was fifth Puma home, beating Chris Ellis by two places and three seconds.

Jane Cole trying to keep tabs on Simon Wilkinson.
Shana Emmerson felt the need to remove her cap for fear it might make a mess of her hair.

Elsewhere, Andrew Tudor seemingly summoned up all his energies to catch Kirsty Edwards – she was the first female Puma home in 83rd position – right on the line, Simon Wilkinson enjoyed a sub-forty-one-minute run, as did Jane Cole, who evidently had deliberated over taking part. Veteran Alan Sykes had taken the place of Liz McDonnell, but was hampered by a pulled leg muscle for the last mile or so. Further down the list, it was great to see Demelza Bottomley pushing herself all the way, here a runner who a year ago might have scoffed at the thought of running a competitive five-miler, whilst bringing up the rear for the Pumas was Sharon Reason, someone who, like Demelza, continues to impress with her endeavour.

#FPH Tim Brook, with Luke Cranfield not too far behind.

Full list of Pumas’ finishing positions and times;

6 Tim Brook 31:12

7 Luke Cranfield 31:19

20 Andy Haslam 33:43

30 Rick Ralph 34:06

54 Peter Reason 36:59

56 Chris Ellis 37:02

64 Neil Coupe 37:33

71 Shaun Casey 37:53

83 Kirsty Edwards 39:07

84 Andrew Tudor 39:07

100 Simon Wilkinson 40:48

102 Jane Cole 40:56

106 Paul Bottomley 41:34

112 Vicky Owen 42:20

116 Alan Sykes 42:32

129 Debbie Fox 43:58

151 Andrew Mellor 45:59

162 Sharon Wilson 46:45

164 Helen Jackson 46:58

188 Anna Ralph 48:37

192 Jodie Knowles 49:05

198 Shana Emmerson 49:34

201 Charlotte Reason 50:15

204 Jo Allen 50:28

206 Carolyn Brearley 50:43

221 Demelza Bottomley 53:13

235 Sharon Reason 55:19

Bingley Show Trail Race

BINGLEY SHOW TRAIL RACE,

SATURDAY 22 JULY 2017.

The Bingley Show Trail Race isn’t for the faint-hearted. Predominately off-road, as the name suggests, it also takes in several steep climbs which ask much of the nimblest of runners. Northowram Pumas were represented by just two competitors; Tiffany Lewis and Karen Matos, and all credit must go to them for daring to give the 10k course a go. Not only was the route treacherous in places, the event got under way in torrential rain which made the going all the more heavier.

Karen and Tiffany brace themselves. Apparently, they were banned from using the umbrella whilst tackling the course on Heath & Safety grounds.

There were 132 runners who braved the elements and the event was won by  Michael Malyon of Baildon Runners in 42:33. Tiffany was #FPH in 123rd position in a time of 1hr 19:06, whilst Karen was just one place behind in a time of  1hr 21:26. Upon completion of the race both bemoaned the conditions, the course, their positions and their times, but when asked by an official later if they’d enjoyed themselves, both were heard to reply, “We loved it!”

Tiffany either waving or trying to keep her balance.

 

Karen had pre-supposed that the sun might come out, and when it did, her glasses stood her in good stead.

 

Todmorden Park 5K Summer Series

 

TODMORDEN PARK 5K SUMMER SERIES, RACE 3,

THURSDAY JULY 20, 2017.

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.

Widdop Fell Race

WIDDOP FELL RACE,

WEDNESDAY 19 JULY 2017.

The latest event in the club championship was this daunting seven-miler up the fells around Widdop, near Hebden Bridge. Advertised as a “classic high moorland route…good and interesting paths with a few tussocks and chest high bracken thrown in!”, this enticed only four Pumas, Luke Cranfield, Tim Brook, Andrew Tudor and Peter Reason.

In total, there were 146 starters, two of whom failed to finish. First Puma home (#FPH), officially for the first time, was Tim Brook, whilst the event itself was won by Wharfedale Harriers’ Sam Watson in 52:13. Tim finished eighteenth in 1 hr 1:04. Full Pumas’ results here;

18 Tim Brook 1 hr 1:04

37 Luke Cranfield 1 hr 04:39

103 Peter Reason 1 hr 19:07

111 Andrew Tudor 1 hr 21:19.

Northowram Pumas were eligible for the team event, and with the first three runners home counting for points, the team totalled 158 and finished eighth from ten in the Men’s event.

 

Northowram Burner 2017

A Tail Runner’s Story

Sunday the 11th June 2017, a date in our diaries that we had been preparing for and looking forward to for many weeks. It was the day of the 2nd Northowram Burner – a 2.5k, 10k and summer fayre hosted by Northowram Primary School and Northowram Pumas Running Club. Following the success of the 2016 Northowram Burner, it was anticipated that this year’s event would be even bigger and even better. The 10k race with 200 places had sold out just a few days before and the 2.5k race had sold an unbelievable 500 places with more signing up on the day.

Walking to the school for the Marshal’s briefing at 9am there was a real buzz in the air, a feeling of excitement around the village as children, parents and friends eagerly swarmed to the school in their running gear.

Simon Wilkinson was busy delivering the briefing to a full room of tired but happy volunteers. With his professional and forever calm approach the marshal’s positions were quickly allocated and ready to go.

The Pumas racing the burner

At 10.30am it was time for the 10k to start. The 200 runners lined up by the arch on the school field ready to count down and run. Victoria Owen and I were tail runners for the race. We took our positions at the back of the group and steadily set off around the field. The support and cheers from the crowds as we ran through the school and onto Northowram Green was amazing and quite overwhelming.

As we approached the first challenging part of the course – Tan House Lane (mega hill), the main pack of runners disappeared into the distance. A group of runners from the newly formed running club Sowerby Snails were proudly holding up the rear of the race. The group had entered the 10k not to race and win but to take part and enjoy themselves. Vicky and I supported the group of Snails as we went through the first set of muddy tracks, over styles, through a field and up the long journey towards Queensbury.

Some of the Snails were struggling and found the course tough, but the unconditional support from their team members kept them going and we made it to the woods by Shibden Brook – where the running ended and the fun began!

Being at the back of the race we were met by very trampled and muddy, sloping tracks. Parts were pretty impossible to get down without a few screams and muddy bums. It was great to have encouragement from The Mountain Rescue Team and the marshals as we went through the woods. Everyone was smiling and laughing as a human chain of Snails was formed. Vicky showed no fear of the mud and dug in deep to support the group down the hills.

We then made it up Whiskers Lane and stopped for some selfies and some pictures of the beautiful views of the Shibden Valley.

Wendy at the top of Whiskers

Further on we were pleasantly met by some other Snail members that had either completed the race or had dropped out due to injury but had returned to support their fellow team mates through the final part of the course. Momentum increased as we reached the school. The group of Snails held hands in unison as they proudly crossed the finishing line.

The 10k Burner route was successfully completed by runners of all abilities, all with their own personal goals and reasons for completing the course. Well done to everyone that completed the course and thank you to all of the brilliant volunteers that helped to make the event a successful and inspirational day.

Thanks to Wendy Hewitt for her tail running and blogging!

Northowram burner 2.5k run 2017

The 2.5k run started at Northowram primary school.

Around 625 people took part in this event including adults, teenagers, dogs, buggies, people with young children and children from age 5 to 12.  Personally I really enjoyed the run and I would love to do it again. Northowram Primary school hosted the burner last year and I also took part in that. This year I found it easier because I have joined the Northowram Pumas running club and I have really improved.

The start of the 2.5k

The run started with a countdown from 10 and then the horn was blown. We all set off quite quickly, but soon people slowed down as they approached the short but steep hill up Baxter lane.

When we got to Upper Lane we began to spread out from each other. A while later we reached a steady downhill, which was closely followed by another small incline and downhill. Then there was a long flat run back to the school. As we approached the school there were many spectators clapping and cheering as we arrived back.

Jessica crossing the finish line

Afterwards we were given a goody bag and a medal. The annual school summer Fayre

was full of runners who had completed the race. The Fayre and Burner was organised by a group of Calderdale Primary school’s Parents,Teachers and friends association (PTFA). The stalls are shared out between the schools that take part. Originally the burner was set up by Bolton Brow primary school in 2014 to raise money for schools involved. The preparation for this event started in September 2016 and monthly meetings have taken place place to ensure that the day went smoothly.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed into making the Northowram Burner and School Fayre a enjoyable and interesting day.

By Jessica Cameron (age 10)

My First 10k

Charlotte Reason tells us about her first 10k

Northowram Burner My first 10k ….. off road and everyone kept saying all those hills. What am I doing?

The day has arrived I’m stood on the start line surrounded by other runners lots more experienced than me. I have butterflies in my stomach but I have on my puma top and I’m surrounded by friends and as the race started I knew I could do it. Having not recce’d the route I had no idea where I was going or what expect.

When we came up towards tan house I thought oh no I hope we aren’t going to the top luckily I spotted the marshal turning everyone off onto the first off road section. There were a few tough sections and a lot of mud. I enjoyed the woods section in the shade and downhill to the river crossing. I had a drink just before then and ended up with more down me than in my mouth maybe this is the part of running I need to master.

At whiskers I thought that I would never reach the top but eventually I saw Luke and he said I was nearly back so I picked up the speed as I headed back towards Northowram school.

Charlotte at the top of Whiskers Lane

When I eventually got back there was a great welcome as I could see fellow puma members stood outside the school gates and eventually see my fellow club runners at the finish line. With a great big grin on my face I crossed the finish line – I felt great. Overall I really enjoyed taking part in this race and I thought the support from all the marshalls and the public was phenomenal it really gave you the boost you needed to get round the course. For my first 10k I thought it was brilliant and would definitely do it again.

A Steel City runner

Jeni Harvey also competed in this years Burner, you can read about what she though on her ace running blog.

CWR 2017

The month of May can only mean one thing in every runners race calendar, The Calderdale Way Relay.

Last year, we managed to enter two teams (a male and a female team) and we did well, considering it was the first time we’d entered it.

But in 2017, we went bigger and better, entering 3 teams and totally smashing last years positions out of the park!

Massive thanks go out to Andrew ‘Sarge’ Tudor for organising three teams of injury prone, map-phobic runners!

Find out more about the day, from runners of each leg below!

Leg one

We’re still waiting to hear from our leg one runners….they enjoyed it that much, they obviously can’t put it into words! Either that or they still haven’t managed to navigate their way to a computer!

Leg two – Johnny Vs Stoodley Pike, round 2

The only saving grace about running Leg 2 was that the six ‘designated’ runners didn’t have to rise from our beds before the dawn chorus. Yet, in the back of our minds was the nagging thought of having to scale 1,300 feet and run a course of 8.4 miles. They say runners must be mad, and as singer/songwriter Joe Jackson might have said, there goes your proof!

My own personal journey began when I left home at 7.05 to drive to Todmorden, arriving in good time, well before, it would appear, other club runners. I ran this leg last year – further evidence perhaps that I truly do need certifying – but unlike twelve months previously, there was no parking at Todmorden High School (nor, as it transpired, was there where the finish line was). I managed to park up on Ewood Lane, then watched as cars drove up and around the corner to use the Leisure Centre car park, only then to see the same said cars making a hasty retreat. Apparently, there was a notice at the car park entrance that read something to the effect of ‘Runners not welcome’.

At 7.56, Neil Coupe turned up in his passenger transporter carrying Andy Haslam and Deke Banks, who were running in the Pumas Men’s team (as opposed to me and Neil who were representing the Mixed Team, though with pride, I hasten to add). I duly jumped in and we made our way back to Cragg Vale where registration and kit checks were being made. Last year, we had use of the Hinchliffe Arms, where pre-race coffee was served. A change of hands and it appears a change of attitude, though the new owners were obliging enough to let hosts Halifax Harriers the use of the car park. There, we met Kirsty Edwards and Lucy Oxley, who were running in the Ladies team.

Leg two runners

Kit check and registration duly complete, we were then left with the long wait until the first runners came in. We were joined by Jo Allen, Tiffany Lewis and Carolyn Brearley, and they kept us company whilst taking the obligatory team photos. Our mass start was scheduled for 9.45, and there was the hope that the first leg Men and Ladies teams would be in by then. The first arrivals were Ben Mounsey and Andy Swift, running for the Calder Valley Fell Runners, though Ben didn’t hang around; no sooner had he finished then he was making his way back up the road heading for Blackshaw Head in order to run his team’s third leg (though there’s no suggestion he ran there – he probably took the car).

Luke Cranfield and Tim Brook easily made the cut, finishing their leg in 1hr 25.52 and handing over the baton to Andy and Deke. Of course, we knew we wouldn’t see them again until we’d finished. As other teams arrived, Kirsty and Lucy waited anxiously in the hope that Liz McDonnell and Diane Cooper would appear; alas, it wasn’t to be. Like myself and Neil, they were pulled in for the mass start and without any hesitation, we were off. Liz and Diane may have just arrived to see the dust settle; they missed the cut-off point by an agonising forty seconds. Matt Newton and Alan Sykes of the Mixed Team, were, of course, still out there, and wouldn’t finish their leg until 23 minutes after the mass start.

Meantime, myself, Neil, Kirsty and Lucy had begun the arduous gradual ascent up Rudd Lane heading towards Withens Clough Reservoir, and way beyond that, Stoodley Pike. It might be an age thing, but having run the course twice last year (including the recce) I’d somehow forgotten just how tough the route was. The climb, though not steep, seemed to take an age, and I was soon feeling it in the back of my legs. Having overtaken Kirsty and Lucy early on (although I didn’t think we were particularly racing) they swapped places with us just before the reservoir, and whilst for long enough they remained in our sights, soon enough the gap between us became insurmountable. At some point above the reservoir, a group of us seemingly missed a stile through which we would have picked up a track; instead we ended up ploughing across the adjacent field, not a problem in itself, but the stile further along proved a handicap. Whilst I could easily slip through it, not so my bum-bag. I became wedged in, and it wasn’t until I applied excessive force to free myself that I managed to pass through. But one of the safety pins holding my race number in place had come undone, and Neil had to fasten it for me, and valuable seconds were lost.

Kirsty and Lucy, the female team runners

We turned right, picking up the Pennine Way track, and headed across the moors towards Stoodley Pike. Again, not steep, but treacherous in places and with the odd bog thrown in for good measure, this was no idea of fun. Stoodley Pike, a monument built to commemorate victory in the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, rebuilt in 1856, appeared in view. We reached it but had no time to survey it; on the other side was the steep drop towards Mankinholes, a descent certainly not for the faint-hearted. Throwing caution to the wind, I flew down the precipice in the manner of a Marvel superhero; Neil stepped more gingerly, not so much Superman as Couperman (he hates this kind of thing anyway, don’t you know?), and at the bottom, for the only time, did I find myself having to wait for him to catch me up. We then had the long but gentle run along the bridle path towards Mankinholes, bearing right on the tarmacked road, then taking a left down a track which took us in front of the Top Brink pub.

Ahead of us lay the energy-sapping climb towards another local hostelry, the Shepherd’s Rest. Long and undulating, I recall last year running all of this stretch; this time, my legs must have been feeling heavier as I found myself having to walk. Still, we were spurred on by Kirsty’s husband Mark and daughter Jessica, and further along, Tracey Ann en famile, somehow, just by chance, happening to be out for a stroll.

There’s been many a sporting mishap over the years that have long had folk chewing the cud; Devon Loch’s legs giving way as the horse was about to win the 1956 Grand National, Cambridge sinking in the Boat Race in 1978, and Michael Schumacher taking out Damon Hill in 1994 to prevent him taking the Formula One world championship, to name but just three. I’m not sure where myself and Neil would fit into all this, but getting lost on Long Hey Road, at the beginning of the drop into Todmorden, was as bad as it would get for us. Long Hey Road actually sweeps around to the left; we carried straight forward towards Longfield Equestrian Centre and then bore left. We were joined by Hazel Ives and Angela Donaggin of Skipton B, who tried to put us right by taking the entrance into the equestrian centre itself (strange, as they’d reccied the course recently). Realising we were all wrong, we returned up Long Hey Road and picked up the correct route. In the distance behind us, Paul Corns and Steve Hallam of Stainland Lions F must have breathed a collective sigh of relief as they watched the drama; they now couldn’t make the same mistake. Not only that, they’d made up much ground. I despaired; any hope of making up time on Kirsty and Lucy all now vanished.

The drop into Todmorden, via Honey Hole Road, was a sharp as it could get, asking further questions of the legs. Eventually we hit Rochdale Road, turned left and headed for Dobroyd Road which crosses the railway line. We were then faced with the toughest part of the course; the hellish climb up and beyond Dobroyd Castle. Even the elitist of runners would find this tough, especially after six miles. Speaking to Andy Haslam afterwards, he admitted to having to power-walk much of it. I did what I could, but it was while negotiating this section that Messrs Corns and Hallam passed us, although we stuck close to them for much of the rest of the course. In time (and that depends how fast you were going) we took a farm track, then climbed into a field (still rising), crossing diagonally and over the tops before picking up the tarmacked Parkin Lane. Thankfully, after bearing left, this was the last of the climbing – and not much of it – as we then dropped down towards a farm house, picking up the bridle way, crossing fields and then carefully winding our way through the steep path through the woods towards Ewood Lane. The end was in sight.

Right Said Fred finishing

I’d hoped we could make a race of it with the Stainland Lions pair, but they hit Ewood Lane first and made a dash for the finish. I’d wondered what had happened to Hazel and Angela, never too far behind us following the Long Hey incident. Actually, they’d long since given up the ghost on myself and Neil. We reached the road, turned left and headed for the finishing line which, as opposed to the previous year when we finished at Tod High School itself, was just around the bend above the Leisure Centre. It was perhaps too little too late, but the nearer the finishing line the better, at least for this runner. Greeting us in were Andy and Deke, who’d finished an age before us, having completed the course in 1:11.53 and managing to hand over the baton to Tom O’Reilly and Peter Reason.

Deke and Andy getting the baton to leg three

Kirsty and Lucy, who’d finished in 1:22.58, along with Jo, Tiffany and Carolyn, were also there. Our time of 1:31.13 was disappointing (and slower than the time I clocked with Robert Shirlaw last year), but there were, as you’ve seen above, mitigating circumstances.

As my old Geography teacher might have screamed: “Read your damn map!”

Leg three, Peter Von Reason gives us the low down

  • Open – Peter Reason & Thomas O’Reilly
  • Ladies – Victoria Owen & Alison Pearce
  • Mixed – Nicola Pennington & Melissa Hall

On an overcast morning our 6 Pumas congregated in Todmorden for the start of leg 3. With all kit checked, numbers collected and team photos taken, we were all set for a mid morning run up to Blackshaw Head.

Leg 3 runners raring to go

As the first runners came down the hill with their batons we moved in to position. By 10:30 all 3 Puma teams were on the road ready for the off. I was now clock watching and at 10:36 leg 2 team (Andy H & Deke) came down the hill with baton in hand. By 10:38 the baton was firmly in Tom’s hand and we were off on our leg leaving our fellow Pumas to a mass start at 11am.

At a steady pace we made our way past the Hare & Hounds, with the sun now shining a pint would be very tempting, but a 1,111 ft climb was to be tackled.

With the temperature rising as we progressed up the hill we were getting hotter and we tried to keep to Sgt. Tudors 8 minute pace (unsuccessfully). Tom took pace up the big hill with me following, as that incline became steeper our pace slowed right down to a quick walk. Now at the half way point on the hill, Tom and I started jogging up to the top when we were passed by the team behind us.

Once up top we increased our pace to give Shaun and Adam some extra time for leg 4. As Tom increased his pace, I decided to take a dive just to slow Tom down. Tom’s attempts to alert mountain rescue by blowing his whistle proved futile, I did suggest firing a flare gun might be a better idea, but alas that was missing from the kit list and Tom’s impressive £36 tech back pack. With blood pouring from my knee’s Tom applied what he considered to be excellent first aid a squirt of water and words of comfort. Once back on my feet we set off at Bolt pace, but with those magnificent views across the valley to Stoodley pike we had to slow down and Tom asking me for directions slowed us down further. The run now turned into a nice undulating jaunt across the moors, before we dropped down a Tarmac road and then taking left up towards Todmorden golf course with thoughts of stopping for a round of golf as we were now ahead of schedule.

Over 3/4 of the way round taking a left running past the squealing pigs and the farmer directing the ramblers back on to the Calderdale way, we continued at pace. Through forest, marshy fields and walled paths we made our way back to the road. Taking a slight up hill then down to what Tom called Brimham rocks we ran. At the rocks we took a left past the goats and fellow leg 3 runners running back to Tod. Finally we hit a technical decent down to Hippins bridge, being very careful not to go too fast and end up hanging on the barbed wire. Over the bridge and up the final climb with my kit bag slipping, Tom started to slow so I tightened my belt and took the opportunity to pass Tom and lead him onto the final straight. As we turned the corner with a shout for the Pumas from Paul H we sprinted towards the end of our leg, and just to slow Tom further I threw another water bottle. As Tom picked up the water bottle & I slowed to make sure we handed the baton over at 11:30am together.

 

Tom getting the baton to the start of leg 4

After mopping up the blood from my knees, we enjoyed a tea and cake, but how we’d have preferred a pint and bag of pork scratchings. I’m sure Tom only volunteered for the run to get out of wedding arrangements.

The morning was completed by watching Alison and Vicky complete a fantastic leg to get Ally and Jane off just before the mass start, only for Jane to go sprinting beyond their first stile crossing to screams of stop you missed the gate. After seeing Ally and Jane off Richard and Conor departed on the mass start and minutes later we cheered Nicola and Melissa into the finish.

Mel and Nicola Finishing leg 3

Leg 3 completed by all 3 Puma teams successfully, happy in the knowledge we’d achieved something big.

As for Tom’s technical back pack, it can now be borrowed for the odd trip to collect alcohol from the Off Licence….

#ProudtobeaPuma

Thanks to everyone who supported us on the day. A real team effort, as always from the Pumas.

Leg four – Blackshaw Head to Wainstalls, Adam gives us the lowdown 

Herbie Rides Again… thoughts of this movie came in to my head as I pinned our team number 53 to the front of my Pumas top at the start of leg 4.

Leg 4 runners….after eating all the cake

This movie sequel featuring the Beetle with racing number 53 was out the year I was born. Now sequels are rarely as good as the original film, with the exception of The Godfather Part 2 and The Bourne Supremacy… oh and of course, Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel!

In my nervous (‘squeakquel’ pants time) pre-race thoughts I pondered this film-based analogy…

Shaun and I were about to do our very own follow-up to this leg of the Calderdale Way Relay – our sequel would be more of a remake of the original episode we made in 2016. This time with a bigger budget (this year we forked out on a taxi to travel to the event and get back) and a bigger cast (three pairs of leading stars instead of two in 2016).

We had to put in a much better performance this time round to keep director Andrew Tarantino-Tudor happy with the final cut!

According to our script, the basic plot was to pass the baton on to our fellow Pumas Men’s team waiting at the start of leg 5. Shaun and I worked out that the running time – in movie speak and literally our time running – would have to be edited down to 1 hour 30 mins from the overlong performance we produced last year.

Enough with the movie metaphors though… this meant we had to be 8 minutes quicker than last year.

We had calculated this was the absolute best time we could feasibly achieve – if the wind was blowing the right way, we didn’t talk to each other so as to reserve all our strength, and under no circumstances attempted to waste any energy using facial muscles to smile for any photographers on route!

It meant we needed our team 53 leg 3 Puma pals to hand the baton to us no later than half past 11, to give us any chance at all to reach the start of leg 5 before the cut-off time of 1pm.

The six of us leg 4 Pumas – Ally, Jane, Richard, Conor, Shaun and me – rapturously kept track of how the rest of the Pumas were performing using the messenger update service Andrew had set up. Seeing the baton being handed over at the earlier legs certainly built up the excitement.

We were gutted for Liz and Diane when they reported they’d missed out by mere seconds in passing on their Women’s team baton. We knew how agonising this must have felt and this spurred us on to pull everything out of the bag. And what a meticulously packed bag it was I must say – containing all the obligatory items from the kit list, from whistle to kitchen sink!

To be on the safe side, Conor has brought along a World Atlas rather than the stipulated OS map of our specific leg!

Peter and Tom managed to make it to us more or less bang on 11:30am with a fantastic performance from them and the two earlier legs gaining valuable minutes. So it was now feasible, but we set off with trepidation knowing it was going to be down to the wire (Mission Impossible comes to mind… sorry I said no more cinematic references!).

This would be less a blockbuster, but more a bonebuster as we stuck to Shaun’s strategy of tearing down the steep slippery slopes where we knew we had a chance to save vital seconds, risking falling head over heels, while making sure we didn’t burn out on those arduous uphill sections.

Ally discovered just how hazardous those rough paths can be, taking a tumble – in her own words ‘a face plant’ – during her race with partner Jane. In summer Blockbuster movie speak perhaps this moment was more Blackshaw Head Down, than Black Hawk Down… Thankfully she was able to get back to her feet and crack on. It’s amazing our inspirational run leader was able to complete the leg at all starting with a pre-race foot injury – never mind in the super time this pair achieved, smashing our club Women’s record to bits.

Ally recalls: “My highlight for the day was thinking that me and Jane would be in the mass start and then hearing our number being called because Alison and Vix were coming in before the cut off time… that and Jane missing the gate and going in the wrong direction within the first 10 seconds!”.

The final hill in leg 4

Getting lost was a constant fear for all of us (except Conor of course with his on-board luggage weighted down with the maps of Great Britain and beyond). Even me and Shaun were not averse to almost taking wrong turns on our 4th bid at this leg!

Our audacious, if may be overly ambitious plan, was to sprint across the couple of miles of level moorland across to Hebden Bridge Golf Course. This is where the previous week on our recce, we had sighted a Fokker in the valley below us on our recce. No I’m not talking disparagingly about a rival team’s runner – there was a huge, low flying military aircraft passing by when we had checked out the route the previous week.

No time for any such distractions today though as we ploughed along, remaining focused on our gargantuan task of maintaining the necessary average pace of 9:34 minute miles. Before the race, my online pace calculator had confirmed this was the required target we must hit.

So my job was to monitor this while Shaun would keep his eye on counting down the time to 1pm. Unfortunately in the nervous excitement to set off when we were handed the baton, I’d neglected to start my Garmin timer, so missed the first third of a mile. I therefore had to do some strategic mental calculations (words ‘finger’ and ‘air’ come to mind) to keep us on track, which basically amounted to our hastily revised strategy – just chuffin’ run as fast as we can without collapsing in a heap!

With the last couple of miles to go as we descended to Jerusalem farm, I could see our overall average pace was 9:14 which seemed ‘pretty, pretty good’ as Larry David would say – but like his TV show, we needed to curb our enthusiasm as we still had to factor in the rather repugnant ramp up to Wainstalls.

As we hobbled up that last incline – that seemed to go on forever – I managed to find enough breath to ask Shaun the time. And the response was like a cross between the speaking clock from the Eighties and a heavy breathing nuisance call as my running buddy panted his response, confirming we had just minutes until our 1pm deadline. We still had about half a mile to run/crawl to where we could see the crowd of runners gathered for the mass start.

Spotting the friendly faces of our Puma pals Luke, Tim and Lisa gave us the boost we needed to keep going, and there was a huge, uplifting cheer as we ran through the pack of runners.

It was now like a slow motion replay in my head as Shaun handed over the baton to Andrew and Richard (watch that momentous highlight here). We watched as they set off across the field – just 10 seconds later the mass start was called and the field was filled with swarming runners chasing down the Pumas pair.

Tim summed up the moment best in his update to the messenger group:

We barely had time to get our breaths back before we spotted Richard and Conor heading up the valley, with Jane and Ally not far behind.

Richard has fond memories of plenty of overtaking fellow runners, once the pair had navigated through the bottlenecks at the early stiles and managed to pull away from the mass start. He does say their egos took a serious battering on the last mile climb to the finish “where several greying pensioner-aged women were getting the better of us hardly out of breath” – and these senior citizens weren’t even runners Richard, they were just out for a Sunday stroll (haha only kidding).

They needn’t feel any disappointment though as they recorded an incredible performance to be proud of, as did each and every Puma this day – so many individual achievements contributing to our overall team success.

It was fantastic to cheer them on and head to the pub to catch up on how our fellow team members were doing and – to quote one final film reference – like Herbie, go bananas about the overall phenomenal Pumas performance that was unveiling as we supped our pints in the sunny beer garden at Wainstalls.

Upon checking our pace after uploading the leg to Strava, we were amazed to find it recorded the exact pace the calculator has forecast we needed – 9:34 minute/miles!

Tudor takes on leg five

When I was asked to organise the Northowram Pumas 2017 Calderdale Way Relay team I had a few mixed feelings but once I got the go ahead to make it public the overwhelming response from the brilliant members set me at ease. We had more than enough volunteers for 4 teams but we felt that entering 3 was the best option following the amount of withdrawals we had in 2016, this proved to be a wise choice. This did however make picking the teams extremely difficult, I tried to apply some logic to the situation, take peoples requests into account and get the pairs matched equally using West Yorkshire Winter League performance where possible. After the initial pass, I leant on Andy Haslam and Ally Canning to bounce some ideas about and discuss which mix of teams would give us the best opportunity of a strong performance. It was a close call between 3 Strong Mixed Teams or Men’s, Women’s and a Mixed Team. When I put the possible teams on paper we decided on the latter so we could also compare to the 2016 performance. The teams were picked everyone was happy with their partners and choice of legs and despite a few injury worries we only had to bring in one replacement (who would have probably have made the team if she wasn’t injured to start with).

Leg 5 runners at the start line

On Race day, I was still up early despite not leaving for the start until 11:00, I was straight onto Facebook to track the early runners and see the pictures being posted by our wonderful Puma spectators. This was clearly helping all the other runners build up to their Legs and one by one each Leg were adding pictures of the 3 pairs waiting at the start of each race. After taking my car to the finish and having a quick run back to test my own injury it was time to start getting ready for the taxi picking Gabby Kenny, Paula Snee and I up at 11:00, then on to pick Richard Ogden, Helen Jackson and Carine Baker up and onto the Delvers Pub at Wainstalls. A steady walk to the registration point and a quick catch up on the other runners we realised the ladies team had got into the end of Leg 2 at 11:08 only 8 minutes after the cut off and we knew the Men were already on their way setting off around 10:45. Once registered and following the very informal kit inspection we posed for the Leg 5 Team photo and heard that Leg 4 Men’s team were off at around 11:30, this give them the 1:30 minutes they were aiming for to try and get the baton to the start of Leg 5, we were a bit behind where we had hoped but it was still a brilliant effort seeing as though we didn’t get it past Leg 1 in 2016. Richard and I decided to have a bit of a warm up and set off on the reverse of Leg 4, we didn’t do much warming up as we started seeing the 1st of the Leg 4 finishers. We were joined at the start by Luke, Tim, and Lisa to cheer us off and welcome the Leg 4 finishers. We were all watching the runners in the distance and every top looked yellow and we were hopeful one of the pairs would be the men.

Richard puffing up the hill

The whistle sounded for the Mass start so we all made our way over the stile onto the moor, I was edging to the front of the pack while keeping an eye out and keeping hopeful that we would still see Adam and Shaun appearing over the horizon. Then the unbelievable happened 2 yellow shirts appeared, I shouted it was them and to our delight the marshals shouted out number 53 and told us to go but we wanted that Baton and we shouted them onto the fence (sorry you had to do an extra few yards) and took the baton. The excitement of that moment and everyone cheering us, spurred us on and we set off too quick, we passed a couple of spectators who were heading onto the moor shouted you’re at the front but they’re after you, how long can you stay there? This was also a question we were asking ourselves, I could hear Richard breathing heavily behind me and he was saying he needed to slow down. I was still running on adrenalin at that point from the high of the baton and couldn’t slow down. We went across the moor over a few bridges, over a wall and then turned through a farm and some more muddy areas with narrow passages and gates, this made it difficult for the chasing pack to overtake us. We managed to hold all the other teams off until we entered the field below the climb to Withens Road, this is where Richard overtook me for the 1st time having gained his breath back and my eager start catching up on me. Somehow, I managed to go past Richard again on the 1st of the tough climbs but not for long he went passed me again as we crossed Withens Road and into the best descent of the leg, the final bit of which finishes with Hunter Hill descent, I passed Richard again at this point but once again exhausted myself with the fast pace. Richard passed me again in the next field crossing over towards Lane Head Lane along with a few of the other teams, I could still see Richard and was waving him to push on. Richard was flying up Lane Head Lane climb and I was passed by a couple more teams. Richard stopped a couple of times and I kept telling him to push on as it was keeping me going and I didn’t want to slow down and there were no other teams passing me.

We continued through Bradshaw through fields, roads and even a rather large back garden with its own lake all the time Richard was in the distance just in sight. As I came through some snickets and houses Richard was out of sight but I knew he wouldn’t be far as we were turning left onto the Overgate course on Holdsworth Road just up from the school, as I turned the corner I saw Richard waiting, I once again waved him on and he set off running but I could tell something was wrong. I asked if he was OK but he had popped his calf and was unable to put any pressure on it. We stopped a minute and tried stretching but it wasn’t helping, I asked him if he wanted to stop but he was not going to be beat and we carried on. The climb up Brow Lane to Crooked Lane was difficult for both of us and we had to walk in parts as the pain was too much, we were beating ourselves up at this point as we had blown the chance of getting the baton before the mass start which was still possible up until the injury struck. We were passed again by some people who were still able to run but we carried pushing on running for a bit walking a bit and managed to take over a few of the teams that had passed us.

At the top, we crossed over into home territory and a couple of spectators who had been driving to different parts of the course gave us some words of encouragement as they realised we were both not at our best. We dropped down from Swales Moor Road down towards Simm Carr Lane, this is one of Richard’s favourite segments and he commented he had never ran it as slow, we were passed here for the final time by a couple of vets from Stainland who congratulated us on having the baton and commented it was the 1st one they had seen. Heading down towards Simm Carr Lane and we were telling the gentlemen to be careful on the slippery stones and then, crash! Both feet from under me straight onto my backside.

The girls in action

Once up onto Simm Carr Lane we overtook the pair from Stainland and were cheered on by a group of walkers coming the opposite way, we passed another pair and turned left up a field towards Fall Lane and overtook another couple of pairs including an all-female pair who had were the penultimate baton carriers on Leg 5 around 10-15 minutes before us. We passed up Fall Lane and onto Addersgate Lane and onto Paddock Road, about half way down here I noticed it is 13:00 and the Mass start would be under way and we still had over a mile to go. I realised that we could still beat 2016 Leg 5 time if we could run around 9 minute miles. We climbed up the field at the bottom of Cowling Lane and up onto Teal Lane and out onto Tan House Lane where we crossed the Farmers Fields towards Score Hill. At the end of Score Hill was Jude, Orlagh and Mr Kenny cheering us on with some other spectators. We crossed down Hud Hill and onto the A644, there was a car coming towards me but I waved it to stop and to my surprise it did along with cars coming the other direction. Richard had fallen behind me again at this stage having led from Simm Carr to Tan House and the last push up Shelf Hall Lane I told him we had 2 minutes to beat 2016 time, we pushed on once more and saw Amelie, Freddie and Mr Baker cheering us on, we turned the corner down the footpath and shouted our number as we reached the end, I handed the baton over and stopped at my watch at somewhere around 1:14:30 (actual time 1:14:08) so we had beaten the previous club record. We were welcomed by Jenny Hopkinson, Kelly Smith, Chris Crabtree and Simon Wilkinson along with many other spectators.

I updated the chat to let people know we had finished and to my surprise Carine commented they were at Robinsons Farm Shop (talk about multi-tasking). We didn’t have that long to wait to cheer on Gabby Kenny and Paula Snee in 1:26:00 again breaking the previous year’s record (which was their own) again we didn’t have to wait long for Carine Baker and Helen Jackson (who didn’t know the route) to finish in 1:32:00. We all posed together again for a finishing photo before heading home to soak our aching bodies.

Bring on 2018 and more record breaking performances from all our teams….

Leg six

coming soon to a blog post near you….

Leeds Half Marathon

Hot on the heels of the Leeds Half Marathon, Simon tells us more…

Some had it booked for over a year (on the back of last year), some only signed up this week, some entered for their first half marathon challenge and one even had it bought as a Christmas present by fellow Pumas! 

Race Day

To start the day, there were some rain showers so there were a few bin liner fashion statements out from the early birds but the sun soon came out and it turned into a lovely sunny and hot day. We travelled over to Leeds in a few cars – Gabriella, Paula and Carine in one and Andrea, Tiff, Andrew and me with Andrea’s Simon in another. Simon (Warrington) had the most important (and maybe hardest?) job of the day – getting us to Leeds safely (parking in the secret underground car park), taking the official publicity photos, holding the hoodies, seeing us all out and then checking us all back in again plus the most challenging chore, inspecting the local Leeds hostelries for some breakfast and a coffee. 

We all congregated outside the Town Hall for the obligatory toilets and Pumas photo shoot before making our way to the starting areas. We all separated into our respective colours and then after a quick sneaky dive under some rope, moved into the same pen for the start. 

Everyone raring to go

The Route

Carine ‘I can go out partying the night before my first half marathon’ set the pace off at the start and a brisk one it was too! I tried to keep up with her and we stormed out of Leeds city centre (clearly running away from the assembled crowds basking in the sun) before approaching Meanwood Road. Knowing Leeds from a previous life (and with warnings before we started from the announcer to take it steady) we embraced ourselves for the ascent. Ironically, Ascension (sung by Holly Johnson) came on my phone at that point. We were joined by Paula and Gabriella (#sistersledge) and Andrea ‘I can’t run this far’ and after exchanging frivolities saved our energy for the hill. ‘If you’re talking, you’re not running hard enough’ as Coach Canning says (yes Tracey!)

Looking VERY excited for a Sunday morning

Once up Meanwood Road and the dog leg corner (part of my patch when I looked after a section of the route and a number of marshals in the earlier referred to previous life), we kept ascending up Stonegate Road to meet the ring road. As we approached the top of Stonegate Road and the roundabout, it reminded me of scenes from the recent Tour de Yorkshire as crowds lined both sides of the road, several people deep, angling themselves off the pavement to get a view of the top of the climb as we peaked the hill. 

Jelly Babies!!!

The quiet couple of miles on the ring road eventually passed by and we were soon seeing spectators and hearing the familiar sound of cheering again. Once in the leafy suburbs of West Park we were met by oranges galore and more jelly babies by the bucket load! 

As we went round the route we passed partner charities and their volunteers and running clubs with their branded gazebos and flags all keeping us going. 

Obligatory start line selfie

We soon dropped on to Abbey Road (the top of Kirkstall Road) and for those of you familiar with the Abbey Dash route, then joined the familiar trek back to the city centre for the last and probably most gruelling four miles. As we ended the end of Kirkstall Road the feared slip road towards the Headrow became a reality before turning towards the finishing straight. 

Those who’d run this race before warned me that the finish wasn’t where the start was (as is often the case) and the start gantry had now been rebranded to say ‘almost there’. Not a good sight when you’re so close but also so far, but I was glad someone had warned me where the finish actually was! I turned the corner and attempted a sprint finish (not much happened) only to be overtaken by a very speedy sprint finisher. Even though my trusty Strava app has been chatting away in my ears all the way around and knowing, I spotted the (gun time) clock approaching 2hrs (it was 1:59:50) and so bust my fat gut to get in just under it (think it was 1:59:59!) to be met by a smiley #firstpumahome Gabriella and pocket rocket Paula. Andrea soon appeared while we were collecting our medals, goody bags and non-alcoholic beer (but it tasted pretty good after 13 miles) and then we spotted half marathon first timer Carine. We congregated with our Puma support crew (Junior Pumas Jude and Orlagh and Mark Kirkby) along with friends and families before Tiff and Andrew soon joined us.

The gang post 13.1 miles

Throughout the route, the Leeds crowds were fantastic. We were fortunate that the weather brought people out – from people who took their morning coffee and a chair and sat outside their house to the spectators that had bowls of jelly babies (I could have eaten my weight in jelly babies that morning – yes that’s how many there were!), hose pipes to keep the runners refreshed and even orange segments (a new sight for me!).

Simon and his finishers grin

There was plenty of encouragement, cheering and clapping as we trucked around including plenty of opportunities for high fives (Andrea tried to do most of these!). Here’s to the next one (and yes, there is already talk of signing up again!) and thanks to the wonderful Puma family who kept everyone going in training and on the day! 

Scores on the Doors

Full times below:

Gabriella Kenny 1:54:56

Paula Snee 1:55:53

Simon Wilkinson 1:56:45

Andrea Warrington 1:58:47

Carine Baker 1:59:55*

Tiffany Lewis 2:11:10*

Andrew Mellor 2:19:18*

Paul Pickering 2:20:03

Alison Shooter 2:22:34

*denotes first half marathon 

The finishers’ medal