“Thanks Pumas! You did a great job, it was my first time, thanks to all the encouragers, especially the children – it really helped!”
“Awesome Parkrun today. Massive shout out to the Northowram Pumas – amazing cakes!”
“Thanks Pumas! You did a great job, it was my first time, thanks to all the encouragers, especially the children – it really helped!”
“Awesome Parkrun today. Massive shout out to the Northowram Pumas – amazing cakes!”
It seems like quite a long time ago that we first started playing around with the idea of junior Pumas. Since before Christmas we had discussed running a junior course, and over the following months we started putting the wheels in motion. Applying for grants, attending coaching and safeguarding courses, buying equipment, finding coaches. There was quite a lot to do before our intended start date of 13 April 2016.
But 13 April came round soon enough, after an initial meeting with our official coaches, Mark and Alastair, we anticipated that on that first week we’d have between 5 and 20 juniors joining us….
We had over 60 juniors join us! To coach Mark’s astonishment (and possibly a little bit of fear) we had 60 children ranging from 5 to 15 turn up, wanting to fine tune their running skills!
To be honest, we were a bit thrown, we never expected such an incredible turn out. But after a couple of minutes of shock, we got stuck in.
We decided to split the groups based on age ranges, so we had:
Each group was lead by a coach or assistant coach and then some willing volunteers from our adult running groups. For our first week we stuck to the cricket pitch and did a variety of skills based games with each of the groups.
After a slightly chaotic, and exhausting hour, we got some great feedback from the kids in each of the groups and most of them (we will concede that running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (although we will never understand why?!?)) were already looking forward to coming back next week.
Here are our Junior Pumas (and coaches)
We were amazed that each week we had at least 60 children turn up ready to run (there’s only been one week since we started that we’ve had less than 60, and even then 54 kids still turned up).
After our first week, we’ve also introduced a lot more off road running into our sessions, even our under 7’s have been enjoying some of the great trail routes around Northowram!
We’ve also started to adapt the groups, so that we’re working on ability based groups rather than purely aged based groups. This means that, regardless of their ability, each child is running with a group tailored to them.
Here are a couple of shots of the sessions in action…
All the kids that attend each week are showing some brilliant running potential. Each week we’re staggered by their enthusiasm and willingness to try something new. Especially when something new is running up hills!
West Yorkshire Sport have also put together a brilliant video that shows what we’re about and how we got to where we are:
We’d love for as many of our juniors as possible t0 sign up and run the Northowram Burner 2.5k fun run.
We’re also looking into organising a Pumas summer event, open to adult and junior members and possibly entering some of our juniors into some junior races. Keep checking the website and Facebook group for more information.
The best way to find out about what’s going on with Junior Pumas is to join our Facebook group.
If you’ve got any questions, comments or ideas then please just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of us on a Wednesday after the sessions.
We’d also like to say a massive thank you to all the parents who bring their kids along, all of our adult Pumas who help us out on a Wednesday, and Alastair and Mark from Calder Valley Running Club who come and help us coach each week.
Event: Scarecrow fun run
Location: Northowram and surrounding trails
Weather: Wet, wet, wet
Date: Monday 2 May 2016
The Northowram Scarecrow Festival takes place every year over the May bank holiday, and as runners, the obvious highlight of the weekend for us Pumas is the Scarecrow fun run/walk.
There were two distances to choose from. A steady 3.5 mile route or a more challenging 4.2 mile route both starting and finishing at The Northowram Sports and Activity Club at 11.00am.
Both routes were a mixture of trail and road and took the runners/walkers around some of the beautiful sights around Northowram village. There were also the chance to catch a glimpse of some of the many amazing scarecrows that were scattered around the course (a fleeting glance of course….people were going pretty fast!).
Even the, at points torrential, rain didn’t dampen anyones spirits, with an amazing 108 people turning up for the event. This also included quite a few children and some of our new junior Puma members.
Everybody that took part successfully completed the run/walk and all the children received a finishers rosette.
Matt Newton was the first person back to the club after completing the 4.2 miles, despite getting lost and taking wrong turns along the way!
Northowram Pumas would like to thank everybody that turned up and joined in with the fun run.
It was the second successful fun run/walk hosted by the club and £210 was raised for the Scarecrow fund.
When the booking was made at Jeremy’s at the Boathouse for the Northowram Pumas Running Club I’m sure that the Brighouse pub were expecting a group of very fit looking, health conscious, yet quiet and reserved members…how wrong they were!
Following months of hard training, determination, marathons, half marathons and 10ks it was time for the Pumas to relax and let their hair down and that is exactly what they did.
33 Pumas attended the Club’s 3 rd social event on Friday 29 April 2016. The evening started with a sit down meal which had been pre-ordered from the tasty main menu. The Steak, Fish and Chips and Burgers were very popular with just myself opting for the sensible option of the Vegetable Picnic Loaf, which would have been a very healthy meal if Matt had not been generously sharing his very large portion of Beer Battered Onion Rings!
Drinks at the bar followed the meal, which were followed by more drinks at the bar. At 9.30pm the lights went down and the live band, The International Party Doctors came on stage. The dance floor was waiting to be filled and the Pumas were ready to dance. The next two hours quickly passed by with the group’s energy and stamina rocking the venue. The band were that impressed that they invited Lisa, Claire and Liz onto stage to provide the backing vocals for one of their favourite tracks, Bryan Adams ‘Summer of ’69’.
The band’s final track Purple Rain was dedicated to Prince. The evening came to an end for some whilst the After Party continued the night in Halifax Centre’s late night pubs.
Northowram Pumas Running Club would like to thank Jeremy’s at the Boathouse for hosting an unforgettable evening. The 33 meals were delivered promptly and were all 5 star meals. We will definitely be visiting them again!
Hope to see you all there and at our next social event, our very own Summer BBQ and Band Night on Saturday 23 July 2016.
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!
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!
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…
Date: Sunday 17 April 2016
Distance: 10k and 5k
Location: Trinity Academy Halifax
A clear blue sky and crisp conditions greeted the Pumas that were setting out to complete the Overgate 10k or 5k races.
Talk before the race had been about how hard the course was, that the hills were long and steep and that it’d be quite a challenge. So, it was with a slight nervousness that we gathered together near the start line.
It was fantastic to see so many Puma t-shirts gathering together, and it seemed to boost everyone’s confidence a little bit.
As we made our way over to the start line, the majority of us positioned ourselves near the front of the start. As we’ve all been told, it’s easier to start at the front and let people overtake you than it is to start further back and try to overtake people in front of you.
Here’s a quick start line selfie of us….
Some of us were made slightly nervous looking at the other participants around us (especially when one of them was Tanya Seager!).
After some very strict rules from the starting lady, the countdown started and we were off.
As soon as we left the main entrance of Trinity Academy we started climbing, it was definitely a hard start to the race, even though it wasn’t the steepest hill we’d encounter, it was definitely a hill. We carried on up towards Bradshaw (after getting some moral boosting cheers from fellow Pumas who were marshalling the race) and past a cenotaph. From here there was a bit of a flat to get your breath back.
This was also the point where the Pumas in the 5k race peeled off and did a smaller loop back towards Trinity Academy.
Then came the killer climb, easily the worst out of the three hills we’d be tackling, a pretty long and steep climb, with a nasty bend half way up (as you thought you might be nearing the top, but no, just more hill!) up towards the Raggalds pub. This was a hard hill.
When we reached the top it was a left turn and then up Perseverance Road. Personally I thought this would be the hardest hill, but in fact it was over pretty quickly and once we’d got to the top we hit the 5k mark and there was the reassuring knowledge that it was pretty much downhill for the rest of the race (it must be true there was a sign telling us so!).
So down we went, carefully at some points, as there were patches of the steep descent that were still icy!
With the knowledge that the worst of it was over people started speeding up, we rounded the corner just after the Moorlands pub. WHAT? WHAT IS THIS? There was another hill!
Feeling a bit mislead, as the sign at the top of Perseverance Road said it was all downhill now, we geared up and slogged up what was definitely the last hill of the race. The top of this hill was around the 9k mark. So the last 1k was all downhill back to Trinity Academy and the finish line. Time to get a sprint on!
As we rounded the last corner fellow Pumas and race marshals Tracey and Melissa were ready to shout some words of encouragement as we gave it everything to get to finish line…they just about found time to do this in between eating their sandwiches!
As we finished the race it was great to see fellow Pumas at the finish line, cheering us in. Apart from Luke, who was the first Puma home, so there was no one else there yet to cheer him in!
To say it was a challenging course (around 650ft of climbing in the first 3k) the general feeling was that it wasn’t as bad as we’d all expected.
And brilliant, even on a hilly course, a couple of Pumas even managed to get new 10k PB’s!
Our 10k times and positions were:
Our 5k times and positions were:
Even Tracey, Melissa, Simon and Sarah had a great time being part of team who were organising and marshalling the race.
We all agreed afterwards that it was a real boost seeing so many of us there, it keeps you going when you could see the other Pumas around you. It was also great to us our club kit amongst the more established clubs like Stainland Lions and Queensbury RC.
Thanks to all the marshals and Overgate Hospice for organising the event. It was a great one!
With my 30th birthday on the horizon, I decided it was time to start doing a little more exercise so I joined the Northowram Puma’s and entered the local Overgate 10k on 17th April. My aim was to run a sub 55 minute 10k (to prove I wasn’t over the hill!). I was then told that Overgate is really hilly, so I had a rethink and entered the Wakefield 10k on 3rd April on the understanding that it was relatively flat.
Walking into that first Puma’s meeting on a cold dark Wednesday in January was daunting and the biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome so far. However my fears soon disappeared – everyone is so welcoming and friendly that there really is nothing to worry about. After a few weeks in group 4 with Ian running between 3 and 4 miles each week, I took the step up into group 3 in early March knowing I needed to up my miles. Ally (group 3 leader) likes hills and off-roading which has helped up my fitness. I also braved a couple of Sunday morning long distance sessions with the club.
I set off to Wakefield at an early hour in the cold and fog, questioning my sanity. I’d lost my running wing man due to injury so had to brave my first real ‘race’ with just with my husband as chief supporter.
The event was well run and as I had registered early I‘d received my number, timing chip and details in plenty of time so got organised the night before. This was good forward planning as we ended up walking an extra loop of the park to the start and everyone was just filtering down to the line when I arrived! I left my supporter and wiggled my way through the crowd to about ¼ of the way back – completely selfish but I’d been told it’s easier to let people over take you than to have to dodge people yourself!
So the theory that the course is flat is not quite right – the start and finish lines are on a hill and it is undulating throughout! But it is a straight out and back course so no repetitive loops that mentally flaw me.
I know that I set off too quickly and I was delighted to reach the turnaround point and water station where I gathered myself for a few seconds before pressing on – I had a time to beat after all! Thankfully the sun came out at this stage too.
Kilometres 6 to 9 seemed to go on forever but knowing I’d overtaken the 55min pacer kept me going.
The finish line was on top of the hill and required one last dig supported by a lonely cheer!
My official time of 51:31 came through an hour after finishing and I kicked myself all day for not pushing a bit harder – next time I’ll be chasing the 50min pacer!
Location: Start – Manchester, Finish – Sowerby Bridge
Date: 27 March 2016
Distance: 50km (31 miles)
I decided to run the Canalathon – my first Ultra-Marathon – when I received the standard London Marathon rejection. I considered other Spring Marathons but wanted to do something different. I was also inspired by the several other Pumas running marathons and didn’t want to miss out on the fun!
The Canalathon is an Ultra-Marathon with three distances on offer – 50K, 75K and 100K. I decided on the “easy” option of 50K – the longer distances can wait for another year. The 50K race starts in Manchester, and as the title suggests runs along the canal to Sowerby Bridge.
Training went reasonably well. It was great to train with other Pumas, offering support, advice and encouragement to each other was a great help. A niggling Achilles injury in February set me back a little but luckily the injury improved and I was back to where I wanted to be by early March.
The big day came and it was an early start. Made even earlier by the fact the clocks went forwards the night before the race. So getting out of bed at 5AM really did feel like 4AM! A bit of breakfast and off to Sowerby Bridge to register. As I parked my car I realised I was at the point where the gripping finale of “Happy Valley” was filmed. I wondered if the valley would be a happy one for me today.
Registration was bustling, and before we knew it the 50K participants were on board a double decker bus heading to Manchester.
The start of the race was in a very inauspicious retail car park in Manchester. I met my running partner for the day, Iain, and after a final toilet stop we were on the start line ready for the off. The first couple of hundred metres was run in the car park, which felt a little odd, but before we knew it we were on the canal heading for Sowerby Bridge. Only 50KM to go.
Iain and I had agreed on a 10K an hour schedule. We also agreed to run 5 miles and walk ¼ of a mile to give the opportunity to talk on fluids and food. That seemed to go out of the window somewhat – we were making such good, steady progress we didn’t feel the need to stop and walk.
We reached 20K well under the 2 hour mark and were making good progress. We passed the first check point at around 11 miles and felt good. A quick stop and we were on our way again.
The next 20K also went very well. It was good to have a running partner as this kept the pace even and the chatting took your mind off the running.
It was after the second check point at around 20 miles where it really started to get more difficult. We stopped for a little longer this time (perhaps a mistake in hindsight) and walked a little before getting going again. The next section took you off the canal as it was closed due to the Boxing Day floods. This thought put the temporary pain we were going through into perspective – the floods devastated homes, businesses and lives in this area and it will take many years to recover.
This stretch was perhaps the hardest of the race. It was all on the road from Todmorden through to Eastwood. It was not made any easier by us knowing that we had to find a small entrance back onto the canal at some point to stay on the course. This seemed to take forever and I had convinced myself several times that we had missed it!
Anyway, we did find it. The small steps we had to go over to get back on the canal were a killer, but we were back on the canal and psychologically we knew this was the final stretch. It was great for me at this point as the surroundings were more familiar. I knew we only had Hebden, Mytholmroyd, Luddenden Foot to get through and the next stop would be the finish.
Whilst those last few miles were tough and our pace had dropped quite dramatically, it was great to be on the home straight. Sowerby Bridge was now firmly in our sights and it wasn’t long before we approached the finish.
I think we actually managed to speed up and crossed the finish line in 4 hours 59 minutes. Not bad given we had set a target of 5 hours! It was fantastic to see a few Pumas at the finish line to support us, it really was appreciated. My parents had also made the journey up from Sheffield as well, so it was great to see everyone.
Whilst on the course, both Iain and I mused that this would be our last long distance race and half marathons would be our maximum in future. However, two weeks on and I’m now thinking…maybe 75KM next year….
Andy and Iain smashed the course and came 8th and 9th respectively (out of 166).
Having completed 100 miles walking & running in 2 weeks in 2015, I was intrigued to see if the magic 100 could be completed in a week.
After discussing the idea with a few experienced runners while running on the hills of Luddenden Foot it got me interested, as everyone said it would be a massive pull on the body, not to mention the time involved.
Not to be deterred, it remained on my radar during marathon training with Emma Forester Thompson and I slipped the idea in during one of our Sunday runs.
I’m not sure if I was ignored (we were concentrating on 16+ miles) or if Emma thought I was mad. Anyway the timing wasn’t right during the marathon training and the winter months set in.
I reminded Emma again in January about the 100 challenge and I was pleased to hear, “I’ll think about it”. After giving Emma 2 months thinking time I reminded my amigo and to my surprise yes was the reply.
Plans started to be put in place, dates, times and routes developed. We came up with the novel idea of asking for the donation of Easter eggs rather than sponsor money.
Day 1: Our first run commenced on the 18 March on the canal from Copley to Todmorden where fellow Puma, Lynsey Clarke, joined us as part of her marathon training. We completed 20 miles.
Day 2: Our second day started with Huddersfield Parkrun (3 miles) followed by 15 miles on the canal out to Cooper Bridge and on the canal to Brighouse through to Copley. We completed 18 miles.
Day 3: Saw us running from Copley to Hebden Bridge with lots of Pumas doing various distances in between – we actually set out to do 16 miles but one of our friends doing marathon training was struggling so we carried on running to encourage them. We completed 19 miles.
Day 4: Day 4 was my birthday, and what better way to spend it than running from Copley to Beacon Hill and down Shibden to Brookfoot leading us on the canal back to Copley. We completed 15 miles.
Day 5: I took the train to Huddersfield to meet Emma straight from work and the wheels turned again as we ran back to Copley. We completed 13 miles.
Day 6: We joined in with the Pumas club run from Northowram – a scenic run with group 2 with a mixture of road, trail and cows. We completed 8 miles.
Day 7: For our final run we hijacked a club run with Stainland Lions – the final countdown with around 20 runners on the canal from West Vale to Sowerby Bridge and loop back for a surprise party on at the club. We completed our final 7 miles.
100 miles complete, a daily average of 14.46 miles, completed in an average pace of sub 9 minutes – injury free.
The support on route was tremendous. It’s amazing where you see people you know or don’t, (as was the case when a runner on the canal said I’ve seen your faces numerous times this weekend – both Emma and myself thought each other knew the runner – turned out he was a newsagent who had seen our picture in the Courier).
Additionally a massive thank you to each and everybody who donated Easter eggs, toys or money.
I can honestly say I was like a coiled spring looking forward to the next days running and it was strange not running on the Friday – but delivering Easter eggs to the Children’s ward more than made up for it as we shuttled 200 plus eggs up to the ward.
Saturday we delivered to the family food bank who where so kind and grateful with lots of children receiving eggs whom would have missed out over Easter.
#100milesfor100smiles was a slogan we adopted – it turned out to be more than 300 smiles from all the eggs we where able to donate to local causes.
Emma and myself met at a beginners running course 3 years ago – so when people think they can’t run I say breathe, body straight – #Believeinyourlegsnotyourhead!
Finally, a massive thank you to Emma, family, work and still managed time to complete the challenge, oh and having to put up with me!
Now whats the next challenge we have been asked…….. ermmmmmm………………………………
Saturday 26 March 2016 “Run in the Footstep of Champions” (or “Beaten by Mo Again!”).
The World Half Marathon takes place every two years, with the UK and Cardiff having the honour of hosting the event this year.
The race was a bit ‘special’ as it was targeted as a good warm up for elites aiming for the Olympics this summer. There was also a mass participation race added to the event hence the above strap line, which is what attracted the author to enter: lining up with the best in the World! (And prep for the London Marathon…).
The days leading up to race day were beautiful – dry, cool, sunny ideal running weather. However, the forecast for the Saturday was not good: cold, windy, with the probability of a storm coming through. The forecast was exactly right!
The race start was right in front of Cardiff Castle, and followed a fast and reasonably flat anti-clockwise course round the sights of Cardiff, via the coast and over the barrage back into the city to a finish near the City Hall.
The author’s aim was to tuck in for the first few miles (into a cold head wind), run fast in the middle section with hopefully a tail wind and then see what was left for the last couple of miles. In the event, the course was reasonably sheltered and so the main effect of the weather was from the aforementioned storm – a brief thrashing of icy cold hail from the left as we crossed the most exposed part of the course. This literally made everyone gasp in shock and acted as a mid race ice bath to refocus. No chance of slowing down as we were too cold and wet! (Many of you may have watched the elite race on TV and seen that the storm was so bad that coverage was lost for a few minutes!).
The race winner was Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor of Kenya in 59:10. This was a spectacular effort as he got tripped and fell right at the start so set off bleeding and at a significant disadvantage. Muchiri of Kenya was second with Mo Farah a very good third in 59:59. The elite ladies’ race was a Kenyan 1-2-3 with Pascalia Jechirchir winning in 67:31 followed by Limo and Ngugi.
Paul Hopkinson was the only Puma running as far as he knows and finished in 1:43:07 – 2,341 out of 11,348 finishers and 80th out of 336 in his age group. Jenny Hopkinson was unfortunately injured and so could not run.
In summary, the race was extremely well organised, the course excellent and the City is well worth a visit. The bling and tee shirt were also of top quality! There is the normal Cardiff half marathon on 2 October 2016 if anyone’s appetite has been whetted for a weekend break.
Report by Paul Hopkinson