I’d never tried running a trail half marathon before. So for my first, what could be better than to try than one with spectacular views in the Yorkshire Dales? If you threw in a few hills and a bottle of beer at the end, I’d be completely sold. If this, like me, sounds like your thing, continue reading and let me tell you about this year’s Burnsall Half Marathon.
It’s the first race of the 2019 Due North Race Series, set in the stunning riverside location of Burnsall. It takes in several sections of the Dales Way footpath and provides some of the most beautiful scenery the Yorkshire Dales has to offer. It’s also quite hilly.
Six hardy Pumas arrived early ahead of the 10 am start to collect numbers and prepare for the challenging race ahead. The previous year’s event had seen some soaring temperatures, but this year was different. It was cold. Layering decisions became an issue immediately whilst waiting for the start but after a brief warm up around the field, we gathered with 208 other runners and were underway.
The start eased us in gently, looping around the field and then onto the path by the river. And then the first climb up Kail Hill. The route then continued uphill for what felt like forever until we reached the first welcome downhill near Trollers Gill at mile 3 (avoiding any confrontation with the fabled Barghest). Descending for the next few miles, through Skyreholme down to the river and then up into Appletreewick.
At mile 7 we were going vertical once more, providing a welcome opportunity to take on fluids and shed layers before climbing up towards Dibbles Bridge across some open, tough moorland and then up back up Langerton Hill. After some frankly ridiculous, un-runnable last climbs, we headed down towards Hebden, following the river and across the picturesque Burnsall Bridge to the finish.
The winner of the race finished in 1:27:20 and promptly claimed his prize and ran home to continue tending to his flock of sheep. Jude Roberts led the Pumas home in 15th position in an impressive 1:48:31. A sprint finish decided the 2nd and 3rd Pumas where I somehow crossed the line in 63rd with a time of 2:06:45, a single second ahead of Matt Newton in 64th with a time of 2:06:46 knocking 14 minutes off his 2018 time.
Kirsty Edwards finished in 73rd improving on last year with a time of 2:08:46 and was then delighted to be reunited with the gloves she’d reluctantly abandoned mid-way. And bringing us all home were Tiffany Lewis and Mark Kirkby, nipping under the 3 hour mark in 2:59:41 and 2:59:40 respectively.
Plenty of post-race refreshments were on offer, including some of the best yogurts you never really thought you needed and some cold pasta which was best avoided.
To sum up, it’s a tough (over 1650ft of Climbing!) but rewarding race in a stunning location. Really well organised and definitely something a little different. I’d wholeheartedly recommend you add this one to your calendars for next year.
On a weekend where the Northowram Pumas were represented at many events throughout the North, this Puma chose to stay close to home and run the Sowerby Bridge Flat Caps 10k Race. Now in its second year, this race was described as ‘a charity 10k for any ability’, an ‘undulating 10k road race, chip timed, measured and fully marshalled course’ with all participants receiving a bespoke medal. With a 10.30start, the promise of a medal and some stunning views, I was in!
With hindsight, I don’t really think that this was as full and frank description of the route as I (and many fellow runners) would have liked. I’d driven a recce of the route and let’s just say that ‘undulating’ really doesn’t give this race justice. With over 1000 feet of climbing, all in the first half, it’s a bit like the Overgate route, but even more harsh!
Starting off from Snails HQ (Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club on Walton Street), it was a well organised and civilised start to proceedings. A quick lap around the field before we ascended up the paths through Dixie Woods, a right turn at the top started the further ascent up Sowerby New Road. After a mile of solid climbing, at the Church Stile Inn we turned right down Pinfold Lane to enjoy some spectacular scenery, looking out towards Hebden and beyond. Heading out to Boulderclough, we turned up Shield Hall Lane, for an absolute ‘pig’ (insert swear word as you see fit) of a climb. You’d think that was it….but no. More climbing up Steep Lane, which, as names go is a fairly accurate description! To say it was hideous is an understatement; Think Howes Lane, but steeper. And longer. Ooh, throw in a head wind and you’re somewhere near!
Anyway…low point/high point? Who cares at this stage? Left onto Mirey Lane (more superb views), through Hubberton Green, right up Red Brink Lane and once at the top…..it’s all downhill! Views across to Norland, Huddersfield beyond and even Saddleworth! Down Toothill Lane,Thunderton Lane, left onto Plain Lane, down Upper Field House Lane, and back into Sowerby. Sometimes it has a bit ‘too’ downhill for us potential Fallers, but that just allows for Phoebe running. Past the school, round the corner and a sneaky last uphill section before crossing back over Sowerby New Road and back down through Dixie woods to where we started and the finish line! Phew!
My evaluation? This is not a 10k PB course. This is a harsh slog of steep, unrelenting uphill, with beautiful and stunning views to (hopefully) distract from what you’re doing! It was a well organised, well marshalled race with lots of support throughout and a lovely medal. All proceeds went to the Christie in Manchester. For many reasons, and not just because this year I was only there for the views, I will be back.
#FPH Dawn Higgins 58.19 (also #LPH and #OPH so there you go!)
Photo credits Jonathan Moon, Yorkshire Runner Photos and Sowerby Bridge Snails Flat Caps
Facebook event page.
This morning we climbed aboard the fun bus for fun and frivolity at the opening race of the YVAA Grand Prix Series at Middleton Park, Leeds. There were a full array of ages on display from the ever youthful Tim Brook to a gent who was running in the 80+ category.
A 5.3 mile (8.5km) course awaited us and luckily for roadies like me it had dried out nicely for this race. We set off for a lap of the field then roughly two laps off the woods with a couple of decent hills involved. #FPH in a very respectable 10th place was Tim Brook followed by the evergreen Andy Haslam in 34th.
89th place was Thomas O’Reilly followed by Andrew Mellor in 104th. I saw Andrews shirt for the whole race but just couldn’t get any closer. Andy Flynn(me) came in 110th for his first victory over club legend Neil Coupe who came 122nd. Mark Kirkby then followed closely in 134th.
On the ladies side a great run by Jo Louise to finish 56th and a gritty determined run from Tiffany Emma Lewis in 68th who wasn’t feeling her best today.
Next event is at Honley on Sunday 14th April hosted by Holmfirth Harriers. For those who’ve raced today keep your numbers and take a fiver with you to race. Those who haven’t, make sure you register at least the day before then do the same to collect your number. I’ll be away but no doubt there’ll be a fun bus thread in the days leading up it.
Sunday 17 February marked the final race of the Northowram Pumas 2018-19 Championship Series. Whilst some had opted to run the Great North West Half Marathon in Blackpool, a dozen or so ‘point chasing’ Pumas gathered in Robertstown for the Liversedge Half Marathon (at a very civilised 11 am race start)!
The course at Liversedge was described by some Pumas (who had done a recce some weeks earlier) as a toughie, with lots of up and some down and which the race organisers Robertstown Road Runners described as a route “mainly through rural areas which is testing in places”. Previous years’ events had seen snow, hail and freezing temperatures, however, the weather was forecast to be kind, with a dry and sunny day and perhaps just some wind to contend with.
After gathering for the obligatory team photo at Race HQ (minus Shaun who has already set off for the start line) we were off. Starting at Commonside, where the road was closed to traffic, the 468 runners embarked on the initial downhill stretch, lasting about a mile. The course then steadied out a bit, up through Liversedge, passing newly muck-spreaded fields to get to above the motorway. Passing the Old Pack/New Pack pubs, we settled in at four miles for the descent into Bailiff Bridge and the slog on Bradford Road. Crossing the Ford, it was the beast of a hill up to Clifton that showed who hill trains around here!
A steady plod up the hill (no stopping) and we picked up a small section of Leg Six of the Calderdale Way Relay at Clifton before a water (and jelly babies) stop around mile eight. Thus followed the ‘mad mile’, a steady incline up past Willow Valley Golf Club to head back past the poo fields! Returning towards Robertstown, you can see all the runners in front, aware that there are still two miles with a last push uphill! A final push and a left turn back on Commonside, the finish is in sight (albeit, farther away than you’d like) but then comes the Rock Star Moment!
Commentary over the PA system, with your name and club announced like you’ve won the blummin’ thing! Awesome! (Even if your race number did say you were Simon ‘he’s had major surgery you know’ Wilkinson!, they got it right!) What can I add? Yes, it’s hilly, but that’s the challenge! It’s almost scenic in parts! It stayed dry and bright! It was windy! It was well marshalled by friendly folk, giving up their time and their jelly babies! Lots of clubs are represented from all over! It’s a great race! (And that’s from me, who doesn’t even like running!)
Some fantastic results from the day;
Leading the Pumas Charge, Tim Brook in a brilliant 1.25.51 and 17th overall!
Jude Roberts in 1.32.47 and being modest on Strava
Andy Sales showing off his marathon training at 1.38.52
Matt Newton being lazy in 1.42.04
Shaun Casey coming back on form in 1.44.22
Diane ‘Machine’ Cooper leading the ladies in 1.45.03
Kirsty Edwards in a not too shabby 1.47.34
Andrew Mellor knocking a sensational 18 minutes off his previous HM PB in 1.47.34
Andy Flynn in only his second HM with a PB of 1.55.18
Dawn Higgins (me) getting round in 2.03.44
And Helen Charles with a fantastic race at 2.17.34
So that’s the 2018-19 Championship Done…. new format for 2019-20 with it all to play (run) for!
Footballers often use that old adage about taking each game as it comes. Runners could almost say the same, especially when events come thick and fast like they do over the festive period. Why, the three amigos Brook, Canning and Cranfield (sounds like a shoe shop chain) had only just finished the Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve when they were planning their next run – the very next day. Actually, the Giant’s Tooth seems to be a nice way to start any new year, a non-too taxing jaunt around the moors and Ogden water, and with a handy noon start, what’s not to like?
Our three dedicated runners were joined here by several other Pumas, with husband and wife team Rick and Anna Ralph, Robert Shirlaw, who loves this kind of event, and Gina Farley, who was representing her parent club Bradford Airedale, all managing to recover from ‘the night before’ to make it to the start line.
The start of the race is on the pathway running parallel to the water, a little distance from the main car parks, and the route winds through the woods then ascends the moors, reaching the Giant’s Tooth monument (hence the name of the race) at 1,257 feet, then continues higher to the summit at 1,291 feet before dropping back down through the woods to join the reservoir. Following the path anti-clockwise around the water, the route then veers off right back up through the woods to retrace the path downhill back to the finish. A distance of roughly three miles.
It was Tim Brook, 23rd, who once again found himself #FPH, whilst second Puma home was Rick Ralph (almost a full five minutes quicker than his time of 2017), with Robert Shirlaw the third Puma back. Luke kept Ally company and helped her shave off 1 minute and forty seconds from her time from the previous year. Anna Ralph was the last of the Puma contingent home, but her time of 33:07 was a marked improvement on her 34:56 of last year.
Carlton Lodge Outdoor Centre, Thirsk, Sunday 20 August, 2017.
Being a member of Northowram Pumas is not all about running. There are one or two off-shoots, not least the many socials evenings most of them enjoy. Some of the tales from these are legendary and I’ve heard next time out Carine Baker is going for a personal best. Thursday evenings has seen a relatively small bunch take to cycling. Anyone can join, though for this you’ll need a bicycle, a helmet and the willingness to put in some serious mileage, often involving steady and arduous climbs over the moors. These guys are proper hardcore. Oh, and some lyrca wouldn’t go amiss, though here word has it that organiser Neil Coupe has a drawer full in different colours and sizes. He likes to cycle in pink in homage to his hero that is the Mushy Cade Running Machine.
So whilst the Fleetwood Half Marathon was being run, four other Pumas were taking part in the second Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club Charity Sportive which set off from Carlton Lodge Outdoor Centre, Thirsk. Carolyn Brearley, Jo Allen and Melissa Hall elected to undertake the 60-mile route, whilst Sarah Firth decided to take the slightly less challenging 30-mile event. All four were up at the crack of dawn to be ready in time for the start.
The 60-miler was entitled a “Rite gud ride” for those ladies “who are ready to go that bit further with a couple of hills thrown in,” and takes the same route as the 30-mile and 100-mile routes before splitting at Knayton. En route, the riders take in several villages with quaint sounding names such as Kirby Wiske, Ainderby Steeple, Yafforth, Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe and Felixkirk, and there are individually-timed climbs named Sandy Bank Climb, Kirby Knowle, Coxwold Grind Out and Knayton ‘Upsall Climb. Sarah’s 30-mile route was temptingly called “Cup o tea and a piece of cake”, and was promised “flattish on mainly quiet roads,” with “a few undulations”.
Our Fab Four duly completed their respective rides, though it has to be said, not without incident. Jo suffered two punctures and necessitated a tyre change (to her bike, of course) and in need of assistance, was forced to strike that rather helpless pose until some knight in shining armour came to the rescue (not unlike when waiting for Neil at the bar).
Jo, Carolyn and Melissa finished together and met up with Sarah, where medals were collected, cake scoffed and doubtless copious amounts of tea or some other type of liquid consumed. Jo reckons that next year they will be out in force in bigger numbers and will camp overnight. Like I said, proper hardcore.
NORTHOWRAM PUMAS V SOWERBY BRIDGE SNAILS NETBALL TOURNAMENT,
North Bridge Leisure Centre, Sunday, 13 August 2017.
In what is hoped will be the first of many encounters, the Northowram Pumas and Sowerby Bridge Snails found themselves in somewhat unfamiliar territory when they took each other on in this netball competition at North Bridge Leisure Centre. It was all for a good cause, you understand, with monies raised going towards the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund.
Amongst both sets of ladies, there are some nifty netball players; they play in a league on a regular basis. But both the ladies’ teams were made up of non-netball players, gladly giving up their time, if not their reputations, to take part. As for the men? Many, like me, have only played once before – earlier this year, in fact, when the Pumas held an in-house boys v girls match, with the male species getting a right pasting. To give them a fighting chance, a coaching session was held two nights before, then again an hour before the main competition, with the Pumas men taking on the women under the tutelage of umpire Jess Brearley. Here, in the absence of Paul Bottomley, Glenn Ackroyd proved himself to be a mean goal shooter, whilst Peter Reason showed he wasn’t afraid to put himself about. But that was the Pumas. What about the male Snails? Clearly they were taking this event seriously, and if the rumours are to be believed, their coaching sessions lasted several weeks and many more hours. On the day, it paid off.
Once the Pumas’ practice session had finished, it was time for the real action, the first game starting at 3.00pm on the dot. These matches consisted of two equal halves of six minutes, therefore twelve minutes of playing time. First up were the Pumas Ladies against their Snails counterparts.
In all fairness, the Pumas had more ‘natural’ netball players (four to two) than the Snails, and pretty early on it was clear that there was only going to be one winner. With Julie Bowman using her height to good effect, the Pumas ran up a three-goal lead before the Snails pulled one back before the break. In the second period, it was more of the same, and the Pumas moved into the final courtesy of a 6-2 victory.
The second ‘semi-final’ was this intriguing clash of the two men’s teams; just how much had each side learnt in the time they’d had practising? It wasn’t long before the Pumas realised they were up against a mean machine, with lanky Jonathan Moon and ex-basketball star Dave Collins causing early damage. The Snails led 4-0 at the break, and went on to win the match 7-1, with Glenn Ackroyd finally getting the Pumas on the scoresheet with the outcome by then somewhat of a formality.
While the Snails Men and the Pumas Ladies readied themselves for the final, the third-place play-off match saw Pumas Men taking on the Snail Ladies. The early stages were bereft of chances, but finally the Pumas broke the deadlock and led 2-0 at half-time. In the second period, they ran up a 5-0 lead before the Snails Ladies pulled one back, but it was the Pumas who had the last word as they ran out 6-1 winners.
And so to the final; Pumas Ladies v Snails Men. A mouth-watering clash if ever there was one. Could the Ladies gain the upper hand and stop the Snails in the tracks, or would the Snails continue to be as clinical as they were in the match against the Pumas Men? It was a tough call, but clearly man-for-woman the Snails had a massive advantage; height, to which they used to devastating effect. Collins got the Snails off to a great start and by half-time they had raced into a 3-0 lead. They continued in the much the same vein in the second period, and though Julie Bowman put the Pumas on the scoresheet, it was the Snails who romped to victory, the final score being 7-1 in the favour. There was no doubting it, the best side on the day had won.
The final hour saw a full Pumas side take on the Snails in a mixed team contest. This was divided into four quarters of fifteen minutes, with only three men allowed on each side at any one time. Substitutes were made at the end of each quarter. But the match went the way of the Snails from the outset, once Collins had scored the first goal from the edge of the area. At the end of the first quarter, the Snails led 5-1. Most of the damage was done in the second quarter as the Snails scored seemingly at will; there was no reply from the Pumas, and at half-time the Snails led 12-1.
The Pumas made a fist of it in the third quarter, actually winning that segment 2-1, and going into the last period the deficit was now ‘just’ ten goals, 13-3. However, the last quarter was virtually one-way traffic. The slick Snails powered forward and scored at regular intervals. Pumas managed two goals but upon the final whistle, the result proved something of a white-wash; Snails 21 Pumas 5.
The umpire’s whistle signalled not only the end of the netball action, but also the stampede for the bar, where the Pumas showed a clean pair of heels to be first in the queue. In due course, once everyone had been served, the umpires Jess Brearley and Sophie Boothroyd (who had given up their time free of charge) handed out their awards. Mark Brook was given a wooden spoon as the biggest ‘Lobber’, whilst Pumas’ most impressive player was named as Peter Reason. He gleefully collected a giant bar of Cadbury’s, but this award should come as no surprise because Peter is something of a chocolate magnate. The corresponding award for the Snails went to Goal Keeper Ben Trafford. Our Jo made a short speech and revealed that £100 had been raised for the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund, so it was hats off to everyone who made it such a fun and exciting event.
We were all winners!
For prosperity, the Pumas were represented by the following;
Ladies – Jo Allen, Julie Bowman, Carolyn Brearley, Kirsty Edwards, Shana Emmerson, Tiffany Lewis, Charlotte Reason, Patricia Taylor.
Men – Glenn Ackroyd, Mark Brook, Neil Coupe, Andy Haslam, Mark Kirkby, Andrew Mellor, Johnny Meynell, Matt Newton, Peter Reason.
Amid the often exciting and clever netball on show over the course of the three hours, there was one moment which perhaps went unrecognised. Of the player thrust into a most unaccustomed forward role, yet who, despite being starved of the ball for much of the time, with his only attempt on goal nevertheless managed to score. Many would find this hard to believe, but friends, I know this is true; I was that shooter.
It’s always nice to see Northowram Pumas competing ‘out of town’, so to speak, and on Saturday, the Family von Reason, whilst taking a trip to the Big Smoke, took time out to enter the fifth race in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Summer 10K Series. A three-lap course, the route begins and ends at the Last Drop bar and kitchen adjacent to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and takes in famous venues such as The London Stadium itself, London Aquatics Centre and the Copper Box.
The previous evening, Mo Farah collected gold medal by winning the Men’s 10,000m in the London Stadium at the World Athletics Championships; at 9.30am on the Saturday, in the prelude to Usain Bolt’s last-ever 100m race, the von Reasons took their places among the three-hundred plus ensemble gathered at the starting line.
The race attracted runners from many of the London running clubs such as London Frontrunners, Wimbledon Windmilers and Dockside Runners, as well as others from as far afield as Plymouth, Poole and Guernsey. And Halifax, of course.
The race was won by one Tsukasa Kawarai of Yakitori Running Club (don’t ask) in 34:32, while for those of you who know the Reasons well, it would come as no surprise to learn that the ever-speedier Peter was the first family member home, his impressive time of 44:39 giving him a position of 77th out of 344 finishers. Charlotte (Lottie) Reason must have felt pretty chuffed to comfortably finish within the hour, but perhaps the biggest plaudits should be given to mum Sharon, who completed her very first 10k race, finishing in 1 hour 08:05.
Full von Reason positions and times;
77 Peter Reason 44:39
238 Charlotte Reason 59:42
292 Sharon Reason 1hr 08:05.
For those of you who are keen on these sort of events, there’s still time to enter the sixth and final race of this series on 2 September. It’ll cost you £18, or £16 for England Athletics members, though the hotel bill and travel expenses might put a massive hole in your wallet.