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

On Friday 22 January we held our 2nd social event, a comedy night.

The evening was a ticket only event, and we were inundated with requests for tickets, so much so that the event was sold out within a couple of weeks. Look how busy it was:

Everyone enjoying Pete's routine
Everyone enjoying Pete’s routine

The main event was local comedian Pete Emmett, who had everyone in stitches during his set. And thankfully most people avoided having to be involved in any ‘audience participation’!

Other highlights included Wendy’s impossibly hard quiz, which had everyone trying to find their funny bone by completing the punch line of some jokes (jokes that would have found pride of place in a Christmas cracker).

There was also a raffle with lots of fab prizes all donated by fellow Pumas.

Have a look through the gallery below at some snaps from the evening:

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A special thank you goes out to our wonderful kitchen assistants Alan, Andy and Luke. The boys did a fab job of getting the food ready and served up.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next social event, it’s sure to be fab…

While the rest of us spent most of December finding excuses not to go running quite as much (because it Christmas of course!) Matt decided to do something crazy. Like, really crazy, and run every day of the month (that’s 31 consecutive day’s people!). Each and every run had to be at least 3 miles or 25 minutes long. The challenge was called Marcothon.

When Matt first started out his aim was to see how far he could go, it turns out, pretty far!

The trouble with signing up to run every day is that it means that you have to run every day. Whether it’s nice weather or pouring it down (which it did, A LOT, in December) and you have to fit it around work and home life. We all know how hard it is to try and fit in a couple of runs a week, never mind one a day!

Days one to nine, were fairly easy going, but by day 10 Matt had to change his mindset somewhat as the injuries started to take their toll. He had to knuckle down and run through the pain.

Because he is clearly somewhat insane, Matt then decided to celebrate making it halfway through his Marcothon by running a half marathon (that’s 13.1 miles (after already running every single day for 15 days)). Mental, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Not content with just running 3 miles a day Matt managed to run a fair few 10k distances along the way as well.

But even superman couldn’t sustain all this running so by day 21 Matt made the decision to just do the basic 5k runs with a slower time just to get him to the end of the challenge

To celebrate the last day of his challenge Matt met up with some fellow Marcothoners to do the last run together.

Matt and the Marcothon's
Matt and the Marcothon’s

Altogether Matt’s total mileage for December was 122 miles and this took him a total of 19 hours. A huge achievement! Well done Matt!!

Ever wondered how much training, dedication and, lets face it, pain, goes into training for and running a marathon?

Well, wonder no more, 2 of our Pumas are here to answer all your questions!

Adam Standeven and Andrew Tudor will both be blogging about their training in the lead up to their marathon debuts at the Virgin London Marathon on 24 April 2016.

To visit their blogs just click the links below:

Their blogs will chronicle the ups and downs of training for a marathon. And hopefully they’ll inspire you to take your own challenge in 2016.

If you’d like to make their hard work worth it, both Adam and Andrew will be raising money for some great charities. You can find links to their sponsorship pages by visiting their blogs.

Northowram Pumas Running Club got 2016 off to a healthy start with a 2,016m family fun run, raising more than £1,000 for charity.

Some of the fun runners at the start of the New Year's Day event
Some of the fun runners at the start of the New Year’s Day event

The friendly local club hosted the New Year’s Day event to boost the London Marathon fundraising efforts of four regular members.

If you’d like to sponsor one of our intrepid marathon runners follow the links below:

  • To sponsor Deke and Andrew who are raising money for Sense visit Virgin Money or text ATDB69 £5 to 70070
  • To sponsor Shaun or Adam you can visit their just giving pages. Click here for Shaun or here for Adam. Shaun and Adam are both raising money for The Children’s Trust.

A total of 124 people of all ages took part by running or walking 2,016 metres (about 1.3 miles) or a more challenging 5k route.

The support from the local community was overwhelming and ensured it was a huge success. It is an impressive achievement, being the first attempt at a charity extravaganza for the relatively young club, founded in September 2014.

As well as being a fast cat, Pumas are great leapers – which made the club’s mascot particularly apt for runners welcoming this leap year in style.

The younger entrants proved their potential as prospective Pumas by leaping for joy as they crossed the finishing line.

All 47 children who completed the run were awarded with a finisher’s medal.

Daniel Standeven, 7, and Lucy Thornton, 9, proudly show off their medals
Daniel Standeven, 7, and Lucy Thornton, 9, proudly show off their medals

The most challenging part of the 5k route was the slog up Score Hill, although most people looked to be enjoying it:

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Committee member Ian Marshall, who helped set up the Pumas, said: “It was a dream of mine to see the event take off. I am a proud Puma. I’ve had loads of positive feedback and people asking if we will do it next year. The kitchen team and volunteers were amazing.”

Finish line in sight! Marshal Ian Marshall encourages budding Pumas Daniel and Lucy
Finish line in sight! Marshal Ian Marshall encourages budding Pumas Daniel and Lucy

Following the recent flooding the local area had suffered over Christmas, the organisers were relieved there was no sign of any rain to dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic crowd.

The frosty weather, which would have made a Puma feel at home in its freezing mountainous surroundings, did not deter the runners, and only made their hot pie and peas lunchtime reception even more tasty.

Many family members joined participants to create a buzzing atmosphere at Northowram’s Community Sports and Activity Club, and enjoyed the hot food and a selection of homemade cakes kindly donated by friends of the club.

And we’re off! Puma Shaun Casey gets the fun run under way
And we’re off! Puma Shaun Casey gets the fun run under way

Local businesses rallied around to support the event, meaning there were some fantastic prizes up for grabs in a raffle, including a HD ready TV and DVD player, FatBoy beanbag, £50 golf vouchers and £50 worth of natural bees wax candles.

These star prizes were kindly donated by local businesses Benjamin James Flooring, Aerial Waves, Stromberg Golf and Root Candles.

Local building firm Red House Construction sponsored the event, meaning 100% of funds raised will go to Sense and The Children’s Trust (the charities that Puma runners Deke Banks, Shaun Casey, Adam Standeven and Andrew Tudor are representing in the London Marathon).

Ludbrooks estate agents have offered a free house sale which is being put up for silent auction on behalf of both charities. Any interested parties are asked to contact to find out more.

Mr Marshall added: “We have created an event that will hopefully live long after my legs give up on me.”

Members of the surrounding community are invited to hold the date for next year’s challenge of starting 2017 with a 2,017m fun run.

Rose, 4, leaps to the finish line with mum Kate
Rose, 4, leaps to the finish line with mum Kate

The Pumas meet every Wednesday at Northowram Community Sports & Activity Club to begin running at 6:30pm. We welcome runners of all ages and abilities, with qualified run leaders. Further information can be found on our training page here.

Most girls (generalising a bit here) spent their New Year’s Eve day getting glammed up, I’m talking taking a relaxing bath and doing their nails while having a cheeky glass of wine. Lucky them!

I spent my News Years Eve day running up some very muddy fells. The WoodenTops Auld Lang Syne race started on the hills just outside Oxenhope.

Beautiful scenery near Oxenhope
Beautiful scenery near Oxenhope

Caution! First time fell runner
Caution! First time fell runner

After scaling the slopes of a quarry to the sound of bagpipes it was onto the fells.

Lulled into a false sense of “oh, this isn’t too bad”, after the first mile of gentle path and downhill the next 4ish miles were pretty much a brutal uphill slog. It turns out fell running is much harder than good old road running. If you’re not going uphill, you’re wading through some very boggy fields!

After 6.7 miles I was well and truly knackered. But, as hellish as it sounds, the scenery was beautiful and the atmosphere and encouragement from other, much more experience runners, was really positive. Plus, as a reward there was a bottle of beer for all the runners!

My time wasn’t amazing and I finished about 10 places in front of last place, but it was (I’ll grudgingly admit) kind of fun. And I definitely earned my New Years champagne!