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.

Carolyn Brearley, Jo Allen and Melissa Hall all set and ready to roll.

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”.

Answers on a postcard…

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).

All smiles as Sarah proudly shows off her medal after completing her 30-mile bike ride.

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.



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.

All smiles. Mind, this was before the contest!

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.

A bird’s eye view of the action.

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.

Apparently this defensive manouevre is a legit move. But Pumas’ Julie Bowman is undeterred.

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.

Pumas’ Matt Newton receives some umph from Jodie Smith.

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.

Dave Collins nets the first goal in the final and the Snails are on their way.

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.

With this simple miss, Pumas’ chances disappear in the mixed contest and player-manager Neil Coupe contemplates his future!

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.




Saturday 5 August, 2017.

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 route.

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.

It may have been many years in the planning but you must agree this is a truly impressive sight…Sharon Reason completes her very first 10K race.

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.