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.

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Report by Paul Hopkinson

6am and the alarm clock’s ringing in my ear, the rain is pouring down outside and I’m so tempted to turn over!!!

The 40 minute drive to Ackworth wasn’t filling me with confidence as the weather was getting worse by the mile.

I eventually park up and register, get my race number on and meet my running buddy 45 minutes later. Having to stand
around in the rain and wind before the race hooter went off wasn’t ideal either.

So the race itself was a hilly course all very marshalled filled with sweets on the way round.

Right from the start we knew this was going to be a tough race. We had to divert off the course to avoid a flooded road, but we soldiered on and started to settle down in to our race pace and as the miles passed, we took the constant headwind and driving rain
in our step.

By the time we got to the half way point we stopped for water and to plan how to attack the last half of the race. We decided to run the last part alone and just finish. My pace picked up knowing I only had a few miles to go.

Happily the weather started to turn, the wind slowed and the rain stopped!!! BLISS!!!

The last mile was filled with another flooded road, which, by the time
I got to it, I just went Rambo style and got drenched. This was then followed by the worst hill of the course but as I got to the
top I could see the finish line and actually sprinted in and finished in a time of 1 hour 58 minutes 16 seconds.

Driving back home I was thinking I’ll definitely do this one again and I’d recommend it to the other Pumas. Here’s the link for the event:

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Literally, since I started running, every time I go on holiday I dutifully pack my running clobber and tell myself that I will, at least once, go out for a run while I’m away.

And I suspect like many people, I never actually do. I drag all my stuff there and it sits in the bottom of my suitcase (hidden under other things so I’m not reminded about it) completely untouched until I get home again.

Total holiday running fail!

But, I recently went to Brussels and I discovered something that will change my lack of holiday exercise forever. SIGHT JOGGING!

This is amazing.

I think the name pretty much gives it away, but basically it’s a sight-seeing tour that’s based around running.

In Brussels, we booked our tour through Brussels Sight Jogging. We booked our tour before we went. It cost us €64 for 2 people and as the tour lasted upwards for 2 hours I think this was pretty good value.

The website gave information on a number of different routes you could do, we plumped for the ‘Old Brussels’ tour as this covered the main highlights of the city centre.

Our sight jogging guide, Alexandre, met us outside our Air BNB (another awesome holiday must!) accommodation and off we went.

Alex was happy to run at a pace that was comfortable for us, which was good. And over the next 2 hours we covered about 7 miles in and around the centre of Brussels.

With one of the many sights
With one of the many sights

It sounds like quite a long time to be running, but we had a lot of stops at different places of interest where Alex would give us a bit of history or story about a particular building or monument.

By doing the sight jogging we got quite a good idea of the layout of the city centre, which made the rest of our weekend a bit easier as we weren’t spending it getting lost!

We also saw a lot of things that I don’t think we’d have ever come across or known about if we hadn’t done the guided run, as your guide is a local they know all about the interesting parts of Brussels and the history behind them. It’s much more interesting than just reading it out of a guide book.

Alex was also happy to give us recommendations about where to eat and drink and also where to avoid!

Plus, it burnt off enough calories to cancel out all the beer and waffles (ha, it totally didn’t but that’s what I’m telling myself)!

2 hours sight jogging = lots of beer
2 hours sight jogging = lots of beer

If you’re off on holiday and want:

  • To do a bit of running
  • Learn about the place your staying
  • Meet a nice like-minded local

I would whole heartedly recommended sight jogging. Most major cities seem to have companies that offer it. And it is a great way to get a different view of the place you’re staying in.

We’ve already got one booked in for our summer holiday in Slovenia! Roll on sight jogging Ljubljana






Sunday morning say Deke Banks and Andrew Tudor take on the Trimpell 20.

Andrew tells all about their adventures over the border in Lancashire:

We set off early the Lancaster for the Trimpell 20 Miler, arriving in Lancaster surrounded by beautiful countryside, historic buildings and the seafront not far off either. With the Sun shining we were feeling fresh and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Registration was in Her Majesty’s Prison Lancaster Castle, something we weren’t expecting!

It’s a beautiful building and it was quite surreal to go inside and see the old prison cells and walk ways

After registration we made our way down to the starting area, which was a couple of fields at the side of a bike path. The sun was still shining and there was a lovely view of the castle and church at the top of the hill and the knowledge we would be heading up the hill to the finish at the castle after nearly 20 miles of running.

The race set off at 11am with over a 1,000 runners, some serious athletes, some club runners and some there to challenge themselves or in fancy dress.

It was a nice flat route for the most of it, taking us along the River Lune for most of the course, crossing over the iconic Lancaster Millennium Bridge down into Morecambe with views of Morecambe Bay, back around and over the Millennium Bridge out towards Caton again alongside the River Lune. We mostly ran along cycle paths with just a few hundred meters at the side of a road during the turn at just over 13 miles. The route then headed back down the cycle paths crossing bridges with wonderful views of the River Lune and the rapids before hitting the big hill up to the finish line at the Castle (the hilly training sessions we’d been doing earlier in the week really paid off as I overtook about 10 people on the final climb and felt really strong).

I was very happy and surprised with my time (as you can see from the picture below when I see the big clock), I just wanted to get around in 3 hours.

Overall it was an excellent day out and brilliant race and course. I was very happy with my time and Deke was happy with his (even if this was a little slower than he’s capable of) as he’s had a bit of a niggling knee so he took it easy and came through with hardly any pain.

It has given us both the confidence that we can complete the 26.2 miles waiting for us in London in April and maintain a decent pace throughout.

Provisional results were:

  • Deke: Position 189 with a time of 2:35:28
  • Andrew: Position 289 with a time of 2:48:15

Have a look at some of the pictures of Deke and Andrew and the Trimpell 20:

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On Sunday the 13th March 2016 fourteen members of Northowram Pumas Running Club (NPRC) completed the Epilepsy Action 10k in Bradford. 1,150 runners took part in the race which started and finished in Centenary Square.

The city centre road race was fast and flat. Starting and finishing in Centenary Square the course went past the new Broadway Shopping Centre, on Canal Road towards Shipley and back. There was an orchestra and steel drum band on route providing the entertainment and a water station at 5k. The perfect route for making a debut or to beat a personal best.

From the NPRC’s team the first male was Neil Coupe who powered across the finishing line in a time of 45 minutes and 26 seconds. The first woman was Jenny Hopkinson who finished with a time of 47 minutes and 53 seconds. The other Pumas achieved amazing times with several making their Pumas 10k debuts.

  • Neil Coupe: 45:26 (new PB, previous 10k 57:54)
  • Paul Hopkinson: 46:22
  • Christopher Ellis: 46:29
  • Matt Newton: 47:16 (new PB, previous 10k time 50:03)
  • Jenny Hopkinson: 47:53
  • Jonathan Meynell: 49:42 (new PB, previous 10k time 53:00)
  • Julie Bowman: 50:48 (new PB, previous 10k time 55:05)
  • Gabriella Kenny: 51:29 (new PB, previous 10k time 56:28)
  • Helen Jackson: 54:43 (new PB, 10k debut)
  • Jo Louise: 57:54
  • Melissa Hall: 58:48 (award for dedication due to amount of Prosecco consumed the previous evening)
  • Wendy Hewitt: 1:00:45 (new PB, 10k debut)
  • Sarah Firth: 1:01:12
  • Simon Wilkinson: 1:01:47

The Pumas hope to compete in the tenth Epilepsy Action Bradford 10k next year.

The members thoroughly enjoyed their trip out together to the race and would like to thank NPRC for organising the coach and Northowram Sports and Activity Club for preparing the well deserved breakfast butties.

Have a flick through some of the photo’s below….maybe it’ll inspire you to come along to the next event!!!

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The Date: Sunday 28th February 2016

The Race: Winter Run Series

The Distance: 10k

The Location: Etihad Stadium – Manchester

It was a crisp clear cold winters morning when the 3 Pumas embarked on another 10K adventure.

Sarah Firth, Matt Newton and Melissa Hall all decided to try the Winter Run Series in Manchester.

The run was fundraising for Cancer Research which proved to be very popular as there was some 5,000 runners taking part in 2.5K, 5K and 10K races.

They took part in the 10K which meant running the 5K course twice. The course was mainly around the Manchester City football stadium, parts on neighbouring roads and also around the athletics track just next door.

10:30am the race started, as they ran under the start sign the snow machines started up and the Polar Bears waved them off! At various stages of the course there were people dressed as penguins giving high fives and encouraging everyone on. There was 1 water station enroute which was passed twice. Also there was a drumming band.

As the event was so popular there was a lot dodging in and out of people but the fabulous trio still managed to get some respectable times with both Sarah and Melissa getting new personal Bests. It was also Sarah’s first sub 60 minute 10k!!

2389 runners took part in 10K race. The Puma times and positions were:

  • Sarah Firth – Place: 1316  Time: 59:57
  • Melissa Hall – Place: 866  Time: 55:38
  • Matt Newton – Place: 608  Time: 52:55

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Sunday 28 Feburary 2016 was a lovely day. Crisp and cold but with a nice bright blue sky. Perfect racing conditions!

So, what better day to tackle a 13.1 mile (hmmmm not quite…but more about that later) run around Harewood estate in Leeds.

Trail shoes at the ready for the 10am start. There was a field of around 1,000 runners.

As the race started it took a good mile or two for the crowd to thin out and give you the chance to start overtaking people.

The race started off on a gentle bit of flat, followed by a nice downhill section. Pretty much lulling you into a false sense of ‘oh, this isn’t too bad’. But as we all know, where there’s a nice down there’s always an up afterwards.

And there were plenty of ups, the majority of them weren’t too bad and we managed to run up them. But there were a couple of more severe ones, where there was no option (well no option for normal people, there were some super folk running them) but to walk up them.

The hardest hill of all was definitely the one that led to the finish line, it will always baffle me why race organisers feel it necessary to end a race by getting everyone to slog up a hill with a 117ft elevation! But slog up it we did!

I reckon there are two major selling points of this race:

  1. The views. These were lovely, a really scenic race across some lovely countryside. There wasn’t a car or a tarmacked road in sight. It certainly beats running round a city centre, where views are generally a bit lacking.
  1. The terrain. I know some of my fellow runners (*cough* *cough* Helen) would completely disagree, but the mixture of running surfaces was really enjoyable. It varied between grass, tracks through woods and couple of ‘proper’ paths/roads. It does make it harder, and your ankles will roll with the uneven terrain, but that’s all part of the fun. It makes the time go a lot quicker when you have to constantly think about where to place your footing to avoid falling!

There is one big gripe I have with the course though, and that’s the distance. I was sold a half marathon but my trusty GPS informed me that I’d actually only run 12.5 miles (0.7 miles short). I felt a bit cheated.

We started to notice around the 4 mile mark that we were falling short, every time we got to a mile marker, our watches weren’t quite showing the same distance. And the further along the route we got the further behind we fell. Making it especially noticeable later on in the race.

From what I could tell, the main reason for this was that there were easy places to cut corners, and when one person does this everyone follows. I think it would have been worth the route being marked a bit clearer or having more marshals posted in places where this could easily happen.

This gripe aside, I would highly recommend the race, especially if you enjoy something other than pounding pavements. Even if you don’t, give it a go, I think you’d be surprised by how much you enjoy it. But I’d recommend getting some off road practice in first!

Puma finishing times:

  • Rachael Sherwood – 1:48:39 – Also the 22nd woman home, an amazing achievement
  • Ally Canning – 2:09:26
  • Helen Jackson – 2:09:26
  • Nicola Watts – 2:11:57

Photos from the event:

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Sunday 21 February 2016 saw 2 Pumas brave the elements and take on the Blackpool half marathon.

Andrew tells us more about his seaside race (hopefully he managed to avoid the stags, hens and doughnuts!):

Sunday morning saw an early rise, quick breakfast and out of the door to pick up Deke and begin the one and half hour drive to Blackpool.

We arrived in Blackpool at around 9:45am not really knowing where we were going but just heading for the famous Tower. We parked the car and headed to McDonald’s for a quick coffee and a toilet stop and we saw some fellow runners who advised us that the registration and start was about 1 mile up the coast.

Back to the car to change into the running gear and after feeling the wind and rain, deciding to keep the running jackets on. We had a steady 1 mile jog up to the registration area were we realised that running North wasn’t going to be that problem but the South run was going to be very difficult.

When we arrived at the registration it was a few tables set out under the promenade with a fenced off area for the baggage storage and some long queues for the few portaloos which were available.

We collected our race numbers, pinned them on, dumped our bags and went to join the queue for the loos. We could see that the wind was wild and the waves were crashing up onto the sea front:

Waves crashing over the sea front
Waves crashing over the sea front

It was that bad that the 1 mile marker which was next to the sea and already washed over with the waves.

After a quick chat with the race starter we realised that we were going to be running along the sea front, waves and all, for half of the race and against the fierce winds on the cliff tops for the other half.

The race consisted of 2 loops of the bottom part of the course, followed by 2 loops of the top part of the course before finishing in the bottom part of the course against the wind.

Fellow runners
Fellow runners waiting for the race

Rest of the runners at the start line
Rest of the runners at the start line

At first we thought that repeating loops might be a bit boring and take some of the enjoyment out of the race but it actually helped to break up the running, and meant that we spend some time running with the wind and some time running against it.

Right at the front for the start
Right at the front for the start

We thought running with the wind would be a welcome change, and it probably made us a bit quicker, but there were frequent waves crashing over the tops of our heads and we heard quite a few screams from men and women along the course.

Running into the wind must have added around 4 or 5 minutes to the the time and I was taken clean off my feet at one point and blown to the side but we both still managed get new Half Marathon PB’s!!

Deke completed the race in 1:33:18.2 and Andrew finished in 1:48:06.2.

Start line selfie
Obligatory start line selfie

This is definitely a course to break PB’s…..if it isn’t too windy!!

Obviously missing his Puma runs while he’s off sunning himself, Alan has taken to the parks of Perth, Australia to get his running fix!

Alan, calf injury and all, joined in with the 190 Aussie’s in a sweltering 32 degrees to complete his 5k park run in 25:58.

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The Parkrun was Woodbridge Riverside and as the name would suggest the route was along a riverside. And it was apparently just a touch nicer than Oakwell Hall!

Alan knocked out an amazing time as well coming 46th with a time of 25:58.

Well done Alan, our first international athlete!

Well the race is season definitely upon us with races coming up thick and fast… Mel and I decided to try our luck at the Dewsbury 10K.

The race started at 9am with hardly any wind and the sun came out to play too was the perfect setting for us to get our PB’s.

Lucky Numbers - Matt and Melissa's personal best race numbers
Lucky Numbers – Matt and Melissa’s personal best race numbers

We took the first two miles nice and steady while we settled into the race and then began to pick up the pace, we had a slight hiccup with a few cars driving on the closed road but we didn’t let that detract from our effort on our search for a PB

The course it’s self was a fast and flat out and back in, very well marshalled plenty of water at the feed stations. Definitely worth a go and hopefully we can make a team event of it!

Here’s a map of the route.

We both came in to the finish with a sprint and a cheer from the other runners.

Our official times were:

  • Mel: 56.17
  • Matt: 50.03