Yorkshire Marathon,

York, Sunday 8 October, 2017.

Sunday’s Yorkshire Marathon at York saw a real conglomerate of events which attracted several Pumas. Besides the full marathon – 26 miles and all – there was a ten-mile race, and six club members teamed up to take part in the corporate marathon relay to run on behalf of the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund, with which we are closely associated.


The Marathon route is one of the most welcoming around, mainly because of its relatively flat nature, with the only climbs being more of the gentle incline-type. Starting out the University of York’s Heslington campus, the route travels through the historic city centre, passing the medieval walls before taking the runners north eastwards out of the city. The route travels through, or close by, Stockton-on- the-Forest, Grange Wood, Upper Helmsley, Stamford Bridge, Gate Helmsley, Turkers Wood, Murton and Osbaldwick before heading back towards the finish at the Heslington campus.

So it’s only natural that in this round-up, the first shout-out must go to Alison Shooter and Paul Hopkinson who set themselves up ready to tackle the full 26 miles and 385 yards. Alison has much experience at these longer distances; half-marathons, or the full Monty, she’ll happily give them a go. But today, by her own admission, things didn’t go as well as planned. That despite the pair setting off in near perfect conditions at 9.30am. Running well inside her own personal targets, Alison suffered a setback in the latter stages. Twice she felt compelled to drop to her knees by the roadside in order to ‘throw-up’ down the drains, first at 18.5 miles, then again at 24. And that despite the earlier divine intervention of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who was encouraging runners on Stamford Bridge Road at Dunnington. Some might want to draw parallels here with the famous Biblical-inspired story of the footprints in the sand, but any immediate help for Alison came via the way of not only Paul Hopkinson, who ran alongside her, but also Jenny Hopkinson, who urged her on from roadside. After stopping the second time, Alison felt her legs turn to jelly, though she gamely soldiered on. Despite giving up all hope of reaching her target time, and with plenty of encouragement from Paul and Jenny, Alison managed to reach the finish line in what was still a credible 5 hours 10:11, a time that proved not only to be her second fastest in a marathon, but also her course PB, as well as having clocking her fastest half-marathon time run over the first half of the course. Paul was with her all the way and they crossed the line together.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has some words of wisdom for Alison at Dunnington. Not sure what was said, but shortly after this, Alison began to feel unwell!

Positions and finishing times;

3,446 Paul Hopkinson 5hr 10:11 (chip position 3,432)

3,447 Alison Shooter 5hr 10:11 (3,433)

4,139 runners.

Yes, they did it! Paul Hopkinson and Alison Shooter proudly show off their medals.


Not quite a full marathon, but certainly more than a run to the off-license, was the ten-mile event which saw the inclusion of Laura Fairbank, Paul Bottomley and Glenn Ackroyd among the starters. This event set off forty-five minutes after the Marathon and covered the same route for the first five miles before turning off right, picking up the marathon route once more near Turkers Wood for the last four-and half miles.

Any event like this wouldn’t be complete without the pre-race selfie. Here, Paul Bottomley and Glenn Ackroyd happily oblige.

All three of our runners enjoyed the run immensely. Laura, in fact, was so excited before she’d even reached the start line that she left her headphone adapter for her phone back at the Yorkshire Air Museum ‘park and run’ at Elvington!

Laura Fairbank clearly has regained her mojo.

It was good to see Laura enjoying herself once more; by her own admission, several months ago she’d really lost the running bug. But with the encouragement from fellow Pumas, not least the aforementioned Alison Shooter, she’s got back into the swing of things. Taking in the sites of the city centre, Laura found the course really enjoyable, and even after they’d gone out beyond the walls she found the support from the crowds a great help. Seeing Lizzie Jones’ smile at her relay changeover point at seven miles gave Laura a lift, and she found the toughest part being the gradual climb just before the downhill stretch to the finish. Having crossed the line and composed herself, Laura said of the race, “An enjoyable route and friendly atmosphere makes it a good middle ground for 10k runners looking to build on their distance, maybe to a half?” then added, “But yeah, it were [sic] really good!”

Sentiments no doubt echoed by both Paul Bottomley and Glenn Ackroyd, who found themselves running ahead of Alison, but as a pair, with Paul helping Glenn complete the course at a steady pace. “I’ve never done this distance and I just wanted to finish,” gasped Glenn, whilst trying to enjoy his complimentary bottle of Erdinger Alkoholfrei alcohol-free beer, the official recovery drink of the Yorkshire Marathon. Glenn and Paul could become something of a double-act. “I couldn’t run for a minute a couple of years ago. Now I can run to Leeds from Bradford,” Glenn said. Paul, in turn, praised Glenn’s achievement, saying, “You did great today, pal,” before adding whimsically, “Although I’m not sure why you’d want to run to Leeds!”

Paul and Glenn are all smiles as they find a nice pink tractor to pose with. Nice.
Laura meets up with Alison Shooter to compare Yorkshire bling.

Positions and finishing times;

1,762 Glenn Ackroyd 1hr 35:43 (chip position 1,683)

1,765 Paul Bottomley 1hr 35:43 (1,686)

2,797 Laura Fairbank 1hr 54:43 (2,795)

3,172 runners.


One way to experience the atmosphere of the Yorkshire Marathon without actually having to run the whole thing is to take part in the corporate relay. Open to business professionals, sports clubs, groups of friends or associations, the contest is a great way of boosting morale, promoting teamwork, networking, or just rewarding yourselves, and with relay distances varying, the run is both accessible and – they say – fun for runners of all abilities.

Six Pumas made up the team running on behalf of the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund; Claire Ramsbottom, Johnny Meynell, Rachael Hawkins, Matt Newton, Neil Coupe and Lizzie Jones, who was entrusted with the baton for the last leg.

Two of the relay runners, Lizzie Jones and her friend Rachael Hawkins

Setting off at the same time as the marathon itself, Claire ran the first leg which covered the 4.8 miles and had the thrill of the sight-seeing. After crossing over the bridge over the A64, she handed over to Johnny who then ran the longest leg of 6.1 miles, passing through the picturesque village of Stockton on the Forest and continuing along Common Lane, into Northgate Lane, and then through the suburbs of York to Sand Hutton, where he handed over to Rachael.

Rachael had the shortest leg of 3.2 miles, but she went at a fair pace, enjoying the rural run through Buttercrambe Moor Wood before heading left towards Stamford Bridge, where Matt was waiting to take over. Matt’s leg was 4.1 miles, and he headed towards Murton along the A166, through Gate Helmsley and beyond Dunnington, where he handed over to Neil for the penultimate leg of five miles.

Neil hands over the baton to Lizzie and the last leg is under way.

Neil headed back towards Dunnington on the A166 before turning into Holtby, then continued onto Holtby Lane and left down Bad Bargain Lane and onto Murton Lane. Waiting there was Lizzie, chomping at the bit and ready to run the last three miles and bring the baton home, although this wasn’t your conventional stick, more a pink armband. Neil elected to carry on his run and encourage Lizzie to the finish, and together they bore west towards the city and followed the road along the beck through Osbaldwick Village. They turned left on Tang Hall Lane and re-joined the Hull Road before making the climb back towards campus. Reaching the top of the ridge, the finish line was in sight, and Lizzie charged towards it while the crowds cheered her, Neil and all the other runners home. What an atmosphere! What a finish! What a day!

The relay team; Lizzie Jones, Neil Coupe, Matt Newton, Rachael Hawkins, Johnny Meynell and Claire Ramsbottom. The only indication that this photo was taken after the event are the medals. I mean, the runners looks so fresh.

The running leg times were;

Claire Ramsbottom 40:30

Johnny Meynell 01:32:17

Rachael Hawkins 01:57:32

Matt Newton 02:26:08

Neil Coupe 03:06:18

Lizzie Jones 03:32:01

There were 83 teams taking part in the relay; the four Pumas making up Team Danny Jones could be rightly proud of their efforts. Claire Ramsbottom is never one to contain her excitement and she was quick to let everyone know. “Fab day today doing the Yorkshire Marathon Relay for the Danny Jones Fund with a great bunch,” she said. But where did the team finish, I can hear you ask? “We only went and came 10th out of 83. Whooppppp!!” Claire exclaimed.

A really well organised event, from the ‘park and run’ scheme where the competitors were bussed into the campus – and out again once they’d finished – the friendly and helpful marshals, and, as far as the relay was concerned, where the runners were taken out to the changeover spots, then ferried back to base, everyone was really looked after. It truly was a fantastic experience.

When: 9 October 2016

Where: Good ol’ Yorkshire (York)

Who: Alison ‘crazy marathon runner’ Shooter

Why: Just for the sheer fun of it!

Alison tells us all about her Yorkshire marathon experience. So if you’ve got a ‘No’ from London why not see if Yorkshire could be the 2017 marathon for you!

Marathon Morning

6am alarm calls in my house can only mean that it’s race day, this morning , it is because it is the Yorkshire Marathon.

This isn’t my first Marathon, but there were a couple of firsts for this race; first time a friend (Erica) had flown in from the USA to run this race and the first time I had a running partner at this race.

There was also a non first; not the first time I have run a Marathon without sufficient long run training (not recommended – see later)

Prior to getting a foot injury – which contributed to the lack of long run training, I had hoped to break 5 hours for the Marathon. Paul Hopkinson had offered to pace me to a sub 5 hour. Which considering his usual pace was probably more like a steady Sunday morning stroll for him.

Anyway, to reduce the stress on the morning of the race, Erica and I went to the Park and Ride facility at Elvington Airfield.

Early morning, at an airfield , somewhere outside York
Early morning, at an airfield , somewhere outside York

Once we parked up, we ate our porridge and bananas and headed for the bus. Erica was hoping we would get on the double-decker bus but it didn’t happen. The journey to the race village at York University was short and the weather was fine .We went to the Macmillan Charity tent and met Paul, then moved along to the start zones.

At the start line

We started in zone 5

Alison, Paul and Erica at the start line
Alison, Paul and Erica at the start line

with so many runners it took a while  to actually cross the start line, then there was a brief downhill towards the City of York.

After a mile or so we entered the city walls

Still all smiles at this point...
Still all smiles at this point…

across the cobbles and passed Betty’s Tea Rooms . Erica wanted to stop for a scone but we managed to convince her to carry on towards the Minster . The crowds here are usually large and vocal and the approach to the Minster always makes me proud to be a Yorkshire lass. We soaked up the atmosphere and managed to find a friend in the crowd who took our photo.We moved on and then the team from channel 4 who were making a documentary about the race stopped Erica to interview her. Not long after that Paul and I said bye to Erica to follow our own agreed race plans. The course is pretty flat and we headed out into the countryside . At about mile 5 you pass through the village of Stockton on Tees , where the Vicar stands in the road and high fives the runners if you need any spiritual support.

In the Countryside

The countryside is beautiful but in some parts support is scarce so it is good to have a running partner to help stay motivated .At half way  we clocked 2 h 31m and were feeling good. At 14 mile there is an out and back and I hate those. There is then a long straight stretch to a turnaround at mile 18 with a 2 mile out and back. I kept motivated by trying to run away from the guy in a Minion suit , which rustled as he ran and by cheering all the other Macmillan Runners as they came towards us.

Just before we turned off to the 20 mile mark we saw Erica, she was doing ok, enjoying herself and making friends on the way round. Paul  and I hit mile 20 around 3h 55m, so if I could pull a 65 minute 10km then the dream time would be mine. Unfortunately, by the time I got to mile 22 the “wall” that you hear people talk about came to meet me, the next 2 miles were very tough and I was wandering across the course at times (this is what you get for the lack of long run training). By the time mile 24 appeared I was getting it together but the pace had dropped massively. At around mile 25.5 there was a hill and it was a battle to get up there but then it was a steady downhill to the finish.

Happy that there's a downhill and also a finish line in sight
Happy that there’s a downhill and also a finish line in sight

The Finish

Paul and I finished in 5h 25m. I was very relieved and thankful for Paul’s support.

We collected our medals and bags and then went to get coffee and biscuits at Macmillan tent before returning to meet Erica.

A well deserved finishers medal....and foil blanket
A well deserved finishers medal….and foil blanket

Erica finished in 6 h 30m which was a massive achievement  given that due to issues with her Transatlantic flight  she only arrived on Friday morning.

On the return to the Park and Ride, Erica got her wish, as we winced our way upstairs onto the top deck of the bus, followed by much laughter from all the other marathoners on the lower deck!

So, would I do run this race again….you bet your life I would.

Next time I hope that I will be able to prepare better and that I can achieve that sub 5 hour target, but If I don’t, it doesn’t matter. Running a Marathon is a huge accomplishment and that make me a member of an elite group and you could be too!

If Alison has inspired you to take on 26.2 countryside miles, sign up for next years Yorkshire Marathon

Entering the Race

After the 2015 London Marathon I decided to enter in 2016, unfortunately I didn’t get in through the ballot, although my friend and fellow Puma Adam Standeven did. He kindly declared that if I entered through a charity place, he would also raise money for the same charity and make raising the minimum £1,800 easier. This is what we did, and through friends, family and one or two events including setting up and organising a Puma’s New Years Day Fun Run with fellow Pumas Adam Standeven, Andrew Tudor, Deke Banks and Ian Marshall we eventually raised £2,800.


Unfortunately my training didn’t go quite as well as the fund raising and in fact was completely derailed after an 18 miler in February that ended with a bad injury, before the marathon this was the longest distance I had ever run! Unfortunately I now know that I should have stopped running, gone to see a doctor to be referred to a specialist, it turns out keeping on running and simply decreasing milage as the pain increases isn’t actually that good a way of getting rid of an injury!

After many weeks of pain, physio and hateful gym work (to keep up my fitness) I finally managed to get back to running properly at the beginning of April, only to be thwarted almost immediatly by the insoles that the pediatrist sold me (to fix the cause of the problem), these gave me blisters and stopped me running almost entirely for the 10 days prior to the race in the hope that I could get them to clear up.

Throughout all my training and no matter how hard it got, and however unlikely it seemed that I would be able to run the marathon I managed to smile and keep a positive out look on the whole situation. Actually that’s a lie, I became totally obsessed with completing the run, wouldn’t take any advice and was generally a right pain in the arse to be around, plus I spent a small fortune on anything that I thought might fix my ailments!

The Big Day

In the end though it all came good, and on the day, up until the last couple of miles, it was looking like I was going to achieve my target of completing the marathon in under 4 hours. Unfortunately the last 2 miles were hell with both legs cramping up so badly that I could barely walk, let alone run. I have never wanted to stop running so much whilst at the same time having hundreds of people yelling my name, telling me I could do it and basically making it impossible for me to actually stop! I did eventually finish in 4 hours and 5 minutes, which considering my lack of long runs I feel was better than I could possibly have hoped for, particularly as 3 weeks earlier I didn’t think I would be running at all!

Along the way my friends, family, running partner (Adam), and Puma’s running group have given me great support, I even had a prototype massage strap Fedex’d from New Zealand by Steve to help aid my recovery. On the day of the marathon the number of messages by text or through Facebook was incredible, I later found out that many of my friends and family were watching my progress on the Marathon website and cheering me on from their living rooms. In London I had support from family and friends, racing around London to see me in as many spots as possible and this certainly helped take my mind off the blisters and lack of long run training, oh and stopped me thinking about needing to have a pee for at least a few miles!

Future plans

People keep asking me will I do it again, and straight after the race it was a definite no, but its amazing how a few days can make the memory of the pain merge into a memory of  cheering spectators, crossing the finishing line and a general feeling of well-being, and yes there is still that small matter of completing it in under 4 hrs to consider…

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