Wednesday 9 August, 2017.

It was only last April that relatively new Puma Cathy Heptinstall ran her first 10k race. To prove she’s making great strides, last Wednesday, she decided to do another, solo, in the Farsley Flyer Trail Race. And all hats off to her for giving it a go. But for those of you who know her well, they weren’t seriously worried whether Cathy would manage the multi-terrain six-and-a-half mile route, but more concerned as to whether she’d actually manage to find the venue. She seriously was concerned about that.

The Farsley Flyer Trail Race is a little known event that’s worked its way onto the running circuit for the first time; the organisers are trying to seek more publicity so that it gains popularity. Most of this is being done by word of mouth but on the evidence of the number of local clubs who were represented, the word is certainly getting out there.

The Farsley Flyers who organise this race have introduced a concept previously unknown to this scribe; no mass start meaning those who may be ‘running late’ can turn up anytime between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. As everyone is ‘chipped’ times and positions will later be ironed out. A further incentive to enter this race are the cakes and biscuits awaiting the finishers, as well as £2 off a drink in the local hostelry The Fleece, on Town Street.

Some of the runners pre-race looking relaxed. What’s the rush, anyway?

The route consists of mainly country lanes, trails and fields. A few of the trail sections were slightly overgrown, and just for good measure, there was a section that was muddy due to the recent rain. Though on the evening, the weather was kind and the sun stayed out.

Having navigated her way to Farsley, Cathy found herself near the front at the start, crossing the start line at 18:30.15 once the runners had been given the green light to go. I hasten to add at this point that Cathy wasn’t being stalked; these ‘out’ and ‘in’ times are recorded on the results sheet.

Cathy in recent action at Brighouse.

The route, hitherto kept a secret from all competitors except those who had reccied the course during the week, had a climb of 200 metres, but Cathy negotiated it well and finished just after five past eight, 107th out of 153 runners in a time of 1hr 35:20. The winner of the event was Ben Coldwell in 53:36, whilst the honour of the first Farsley Flyer home fell to James Crabtree, who finished sixteenth.

Evidently, from the feedback from runners who took part, there is a good chance that we’ll see more competitors next year. “A great event – well organised, great route and delicious cakes. Would definitely run future races,” was one typical glowing review. Oliver Gregory of the Flyers responded by saying, “Farsley Flyers loved every minute of hosting their first race, hope you all enjoyed the challenging route.” Their first race, maybe, but I’d say definitely not their last. Next year, I expect Cathy to be accompanied by several of her Puma friends.


Wednesday 9 August, 2017.

What to do when you’re far away from home on your holidays. Why not sign up for the local hill race at the Isle of Skye Highland Games? “Don’t mind if I do,” reckoned Tim McBrook, holidaying with the lovely Lisa and Mei-Lyn, and just short of donning a kilt, he lined up for the race which has been a feature of the Games since, well, forever.

Tim McBrook, braced and ready to tackle that Hill.

The Games were inaugurated in 1877 by the Skye Gathering Committee, and except during the World Wars, have taken place annually in the natural amphitheatre at Portree, known locally as The Meall (translated as ‘the lump’). However, the tradition which they represent goes back hundreds of years before that, with clan celebrations that included fiercely-contested feats of strength and endurance, together with piping and other forms of entertainment similar to those that can be enjoyed at the games today.

Tim, therefore, had a nice array of events from which to choose in a programme which included piping, dancing, sailing and tossing the caber. Tempted or not by the thought of humping a nineteen-feet tapered pole, Tim decided to play safe and pitched himself – Pumas top and all – into the Hill Race, though by all accounts, this 2.7 mile event isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Here’s a course description just to set the scene: “Once you leave the games field you must choose which route to take to the foot of the hill. Longer and safer via the road, or an obstacle course via the foreshore. Most people take the shorter route. This goes over a low wall with an 8 foot drop into a cemetery, through a graveyard, over barbed wire fence, down grassy bank avoiding the nets drying, over a gate and onto the beach, then across seaweed, mud, stones, a couple of paddles through burn outlets, then back up to the road beside the petrol station. There are several ways up the hill, either following a narrow winding path or by cutting through the grounds of the Viewfield Hotel. Both end up on a narrow path to the right of a fence heading up to Suidh Fhinn. You do not go to the top of this hill. At about 170m you turn right and contour a couple of hundred metres to a prominent white flag, where the marshal hands you a token. At the road you again have the choice, longer and drier or shorter and wet.”

The size of the task. Tim’s probably about seventh here.

Fortunately, the event was held in warm sunshine, and Tim, being the natural athlete that he is and never one to shirk a challenge, chose….the longer and drier. Bearing in mind, if you hadn’t heard, he had sustained a nasty ankle injury the day before clambering over rocks and stones, so fair’s fair.

With cash prizes on offer to the first three competitors home (£100 for the winner is something not to be sniffed at) Tim had every incentive, particularly as, word has it, it was his round next. The runners began with a lap and a half of the field before making their way out through the town and towards the hill, with Tim at this early stage lying third and giving hope to his family that he really could bring home the readies. Out of sight they went and just went on out there is anyone’s guess. But Tim gave it his all, climbed the hill via the road, collected said token and made his descent. Alas, he found himself out of the money-placings as the runners re-entered the field, but over the final lap and a half, Tim showed a clean pair of heels to his nearest rival and made a dart for the line. Cheered on by literally thousands of spectators, Tim finished a more than creditable sixth out of a field of thirty-three runners, beating many of the locals, and he must have been happy with his time of 21:18, though having never run this race before, to what could he compare it?

Tim makes a dart for line in front of literally thousands of spectators.

The event itself was won by Chris Edis of Keswick, whilst the Ladies’ section was won, for the eleventh time, by Christina Rankin of Uig. And while Tim isn’t the first Yorkshireman to have run this race – indeed, last year, the event was won by Leeds’ Noah Hurton – I’m pretty confident in saying that he is the first Puma to have entered it, so how lucky was he that he happened to be on the Scottish island when he was, with the Games nicely coinciding with his holiday. It’s not as if he actually planned it.

Is it?


Sunday 6 August 2017.

Hot on the back of the Jane Tomlinson Run For All 10k at Leeds last month, Glenn Ackroyd and Andrew Mellor were Northowram Pumas’ only representatives in the York event over the same distance on Sunday. On a course that’s a joy to behold, it’s ideal not just for getting that personal best, but also for taking in the glorious sights the city has to offer. But don’t just take my word for it, why, even the event organisers were promoting the event as “arguably the UK’s most beautiful 10K run.” As they went on to explain: “There’s no shortage of architectural ‘eye candy’ on this course; you’ll journey past the racecourse, along the fashionable Bishopthorpe Road, through the medieval city walls, across the River Ouse, past York Minster, through Goodramgate and on to Clifford’s Tower, past Rowntree Park and the old Terry’s factory on your route to the finish.” What’s not to like?

Andrew (left) and Glenn ready to do the Pumas proud.

Both Andrew and Glenn squeezed themselves into the massive pack of 5,286 runners* on the starting line, and at 9.30 they were on their way.

Glenn and Andrew ran the Leeds 10k in times of 54:44 and 55:50 respectively, but here, with the conditions near perfect – they certainly weren’t running in the searing temperatures we encountered in Leeds – and on this super-fast course, one could have expected both runners to go faster. And indeed they did, with Andrew romping home in 51:57, testament to the amount of effort he’s been putting in recently, and Glenn finishing in 53:04, a more than satisfactory performance, for as he later admitted, it wasn’t so much about taking part, it was all about beating his buddy Keith Petty! And he did that by a minute-and-a half.

Andrew sneaking around the corner. Can you spot him?
“It’s all about beating Keith Petty,” claimed Glenn before the race. Glenn duly delivered but I believe they’re still on speaking terms.

In a post-race interview, Andrew agreed that York was a great course, and though not necessarily easier than Leeds it was “nicer”. And of his time, he was “proper chuffed”, so much so that he treated himself to a right proper brekkie at Lucky Days Café.

Lucky days? Happy days, more like.


*  The number of runners who completed the course.

Pumas’chip positions and times;

1428 Andrew Mellor 51:57

1587 Glenn Ackroyd 53:04


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.



Thursday 3 August, 2017.

Just twenty-four hours after the Dewsbury Flat Cap 5, Neil Coupe found himself on the starting line at Centre Vale Park, Todmorden, for the last in the four-race series. This was something of a minor miracle, really, for he was nursing a nasty ankle injury sustained at Dewsbury, but not something many of you might have known about. Joining him on the starting line was Johnny Meynell, ready to complete a full-set of the four races, though sadly, watching from the sidelines, was Alan Sykes, who, having run the first three, now forced to rule himself out having pulled a leg muscle at Dewsbury the night before. The curse of Flat Cap, eh? Also adding support to the two-man team was Matt Newton, and it’ll be a pleasure to see him up and racing in the not too distant future.

Neil Coupe chasing down the familiar Paul Hopkinson, running for his ‘other’ team

The bigger than average field was swelled to 103 competitors, helped in no small by way by the large contingent of Halifax Harriers who were using the event as part of their own club championship, and as such there were a few familiar faces on show. Neither Neil or Johnny troubled the leaders, it has to be said, and the event was won by Michael Gaughan, who many will recognise at our local parkruns The course takes in five laps of the park, and with it being as flat as anywhere you’re likely to come across (perhaps only Wellholme Park at Brighouse beats it around here) it can be tough going at times, with no chance of a downhill stretch for a breather.

Those are the excuses out of the way. And while winner Gaughan floated around in 16 mins 41secs, Neil Coupe finished 37th in 21:27, way down on his previous time of 20:53 set in his first race (the second of the series). Johnny was hoping to crack 24 minutes, but having run the first three races in times of 24:09, 24:03 and 24:06, agonisingly just failed, coming home in 64th place in 24:01, still his fastest time over the series event and certainly showing consistency.

The clock’s ticking down, but will Johnny beat the magical 24-minute barrier? Maybe next year…

With Alan Sykes not running, there were no prize-winning Pumas in any age category, but there was some consolation as Neil treated us all to a round of chips, onion rings and cheesy garlic bread in the welcoming Hare and Hounds over the road. He certainly knows how to look after his Pumas.

Participants need to run a minimum three races of the four to qualify for the final standings league table (best three results counting), and here, Johnny Meynell finished 24th in a combined total of 1hr 12:21, with Alan Sykes 28th in 1hr 15:13 out of a total of forty-seven runners.




Wednesday 2 August 2017.

On Wednesday, the Pumas On Tour Express was on hire once more, cram-packed with ready runners, Dewsbury-bound for the annual Flat Cap 5 trail run. Other Pumas made their own way there, and all-told, there were twenty-seven club members who helped swell the throng at the starting line to 256 runners.

As usual, it was all smiles before the event.

Hosted by Dewsbury Road Runners, their website described the course as “multi-terrain, slightly undulating, finishing at the picturesque Leggers Inn pub and canal boat yard close to Dewsbury town centre”, taking in “the Dewsbury-Ossett greenway, off road paths and the canal towpath.” Depending on who you spoke to after the event, the course was either “very hard” or “not too bad”, though nobody I conversed with described it as easy.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the runners was that there were stretches where it became very difficult to overtake, and hence for long stages, runners were seen to be making their way in single file, almost like, back in the day, walking down the school corridor.

Adding some spice as far as Northowram Pumas were concerned was the fact that this event was the latest in the club championships. So,how relieved must Andy Haslam have been to be granted a last minute slot to further improve his standing in the league tables?

The race was won by Stadium Runners’ Simon Courtney in 27 mins 55 seconds, almost a full minute before second-placed Ed Hyland of Stainland Lions. But of more interest to Northowarm Pumas was the question of who would take the honour of being #FPH. It appeared to be an all-out dual between Luke Cranfield and Tim Brook, and in the end, it was Tim who edged out his rival, finishing an impressive sixth in 31 mins 12 secs, seven seconds faster than Luke who followed him in. Third home for the Pumas was the aforementioned Andy Haslam in twentieth position, Rick Ralph (30th) was fourth home, whilst the ever-improving Peter Reason was fifth Puma home, beating Chris Ellis by two places and three seconds.

Jane Cole trying to keep tabs on Simon Wilkinson.
Shana Emmerson felt the need to remove her cap for fear it might make a mess of her hair.

Elsewhere, Andrew Tudor seemingly summoned up all his energies to catch Kirsty Edwards – she was the first female Puma home in 83rd position – right on the line, Simon Wilkinson enjoyed a sub-forty-one-minute run, as did Jane Cole, who evidently had deliberated over taking part. Veteran Alan Sykes had taken the place of Liz McDonnell, but was hampered by a pulled leg muscle for the last mile or so. Further down the list, it was great to see Demelza Bottomley pushing herself all the way, here a runner who a year ago might have scoffed at the thought of running a competitive five-miler, whilst bringing up the rear for the Pumas was Sharon Reason, someone who, like Demelza, continues to impress with her endeavour.

#FPH Tim Brook, with Luke Cranfield not too far behind.

Full list of Pumas’ finishing positions and times;

6 Tim Brook 31:12

7 Luke Cranfield 31:19

20 Andy Haslam 33:43

30 Rick Ralph 34:06

54 Peter Reason 36:59

56 Chris Ellis 37:02

64 Neil Coupe 37:33

71 Shaun Casey 37:53

83 Kirsty Edwards 39:07

84 Andrew Tudor 39:07

100 Simon Wilkinson 40:48

102 Jane Cole 40:56

106 Paul Bottomley 41:34

112 Vicky Owen 42:20

116 Alan Sykes 42:32

129 Debbie Fox 43:58

151 Andrew Mellor 45:59

162 Sharon Wilson 46:45

164 Helen Jackson 46:58

188 Anna Ralph 48:37

192 Jodie Knowles 49:05

198 Shana Emmerson 49:34

201 Charlotte Reason 50:15

204 Jo Allen 50:28

206 Carolyn Brearley 50:43

221 Demelza Bottomley 53:13

235 Sharon Reason 55:19



The Bingley Show Trail Race isn’t for the faint-hearted. Predominately off-road, as the name suggests, it also takes in several steep climbs which ask much of the nimblest of runners. Northowram Pumas were represented by just two competitors; Tiffany Lewis and Karen Matos, and all credit must go to them for daring to give the 10k course a go. Not only was the route treacherous in places, the event got under way in torrential rain which made the going all the more heavier.

Karen and Tiffany brace themselves. Apparently, they were banned from using the umbrella whilst tackling the course on Heath & Safety grounds.

There were 132 runners who braved the elements and the event was won by  Michael Malyon of Baildon Runners in 42:33. Tiffany was #FPH in 123rd position in a time of 1hr 19:06, whilst Karen was just one place behind in a time of  1hr 21:26. Upon completion of the race both bemoaned the conditions, the course, their positions and their times, but when asked by an official later if they’d enjoyed themselves, both were heard to reply, “We loved it!”

Tiffany either waving or trying to keep her balance.


Karen had pre-supposed that the sun might come out, and when it did, her glasses stood her in good stead.





The third round of the four-race series at Todmorden saw three Pumas take part. Alan Sykes and Johnny Meynell had taken part in the first two races, whilst Paula Snee was making her first appearance in the event which sees the competitors working their way through five laps of Centre Vale Park.

Paula, in fact, had an enjoyable evening, for not only was she #FPH, but she also set herself her fastest-ever time of 23:30 for the distance, bettering her Brighouse parkrun PB by twenty seconds. Johnny Meynell finished in 24:09, whilst Alan Sykes finished in 25:13, his slowest time at the event so far. Nevertheless, as he did in his last outing, the old stager cleaned up in his age category and helped himself to a fine selection of bottled beers.

In a field of 68 runners, the winner was Jason Parker of Preston Harriers, who completed the course in 16:40.

Runners must complete a minimum of three races to qualify for a final position in the league table, and with Johnny and Alan having run all three races, their current standings at present are 17th and 21st respectively from a listed field of thirty-four.

Alan Sykes once again drank the barrel dry, finishing top performer in his Over 65 age category.



The latest event in the club championship was this daunting seven-miler up the fells around Widdop, near Hebden Bridge. Advertised as a “classic high moorland route…good and interesting paths with a few tussocks and chest high bracken thrown in!”, this enticed only four Pumas, Luke Cranfield, Tim Brook, Andrew Tudor and Peter Reason.

In total, there were 146 starters, two of whom failed to finish. First Puma home (#FPH), officially for the first time, was Tim Brook, whilst the event itself was won by Wharfedale Harriers’ Sam Watson in 52:13. Tim finished eighteenth in 1 hr 1:04. Full Pumas’ results here;

18 Tim Brook 1 hr 1:04

37 Luke Cranfield 1 hr 04:39

103 Peter Reason 1 hr 19:07

111 Andrew Tudor 1 hr 21:19.

Northowram Pumas were eligible for the team event, and with the first three runners home counting for points, the team totalled 158 and finished eighth from ten in the Men’s event.


A Tail Runner’s Story

Sunday the 11th June 2017, a date in our diaries that we had been preparing for and looking forward to for many weeks. It was the day of the 2nd Northowram Burner – a 2.5k, 10k and summer fayre hosted by Northowram Primary School and Northowram Pumas Running Club. Following the success of the 2016 Northowram Burner, it was anticipated that this year’s event would be even bigger and even better. The 10k race with 200 places had sold out just a few days before and the 2.5k race had sold an unbelievable 500 places with more signing up on the day.

Walking to the school for the Marshal’s briefing at 9am there was a real buzz in the air, a feeling of excitement around the village as children, parents and friends eagerly swarmed to the school in their running gear.

Simon Wilkinson was busy delivering the briefing to a full room of tired but happy volunteers. With his professional and forever calm approach the marshal’s positions were quickly allocated and ready to go.

The Pumas racing the burner

At 10.30am it was time for the 10k to start. The 200 runners lined up by the arch on the school field ready to count down and run. Victoria Owen and I were tail runners for the race. We took our positions at the back of the group and steadily set off around the field. The support and cheers from the crowds as we ran through the school and onto Northowram Green was amazing and quite overwhelming.

As we approached the first challenging part of the course – Tan House Lane (mega hill), the main pack of runners disappeared into the distance. A group of runners from the newly formed running club Sowerby Snails were proudly holding up the rear of the race. The group had entered the 10k not to race and win but to take part and enjoy themselves. Vicky and I supported the group of Snails as we went through the first set of muddy tracks, over styles, through a field and up the long journey towards Queensbury.

Some of the Snails were struggling and found the course tough, but the unconditional support from their team members kept them going and we made it to the woods by Shibden Brook – where the running ended and the fun began!

Being at the back of the race we were met by very trampled and muddy, sloping tracks. Parts were pretty impossible to get down without a few screams and muddy bums. It was great to have encouragement from The Mountain Rescue Team and the marshals as we went through the woods. Everyone was smiling and laughing as a human chain of Snails was formed. Vicky showed no fear of the mud and dug in deep to support the group down the hills.

We then made it up Whiskers Lane and stopped for some selfies and some pictures of the beautiful views of the Shibden Valley.

Wendy at the top of Whiskers

Further on we were pleasantly met by some other Snail members that had either completed the race or had dropped out due to injury but had returned to support their fellow team mates through the final part of the course. Momentum increased as we reached the school. The group of Snails held hands in unison as they proudly crossed the finishing line.

The 10k Burner route was successfully completed by runners of all abilities, all with their own personal goals and reasons for completing the course. Well done to everyone that completed the course and thank you to all of the brilliant volunteers that helped to make the event a successful and inspirational day.

Thanks to Wendy Hewitt for her tail running and blogging!

Northowram burner 2.5k run 2017

The 2.5k run started at Northowram primary school.

Around 625 people took part in this event including adults, teenagers, dogs, buggies, people with young children and children from age 5 to 12.  Personally I really enjoyed the run and I would love to do it again. Northowram Primary school hosted the burner last year and I also took part in that. This year I found it easier because I have joined the Northowram Pumas running club and I have really improved.

The start of the 2.5k

The run started with a countdown from 10 and then the horn was blown. We all set off quite quickly, but soon people slowed down as they approached the short but steep hill up Baxter lane.

When we got to Upper Lane we began to spread out from each other. A while later we reached a steady downhill, which was closely followed by another small incline and downhill. Then there was a long flat run back to the school. As we approached the school there were many spectators clapping and cheering as we arrived back.

Jessica crossing the finish line

Afterwards we were given a goody bag and a medal. The annual school summer Fayre

was full of runners who had completed the race. The Fayre and Burner was organised by a group of Calderdale Primary school’s Parents,Teachers and friends association (PTFA). The stalls are shared out between the schools that take part. Originally the burner was set up by Bolton Brow primary school in 2014 to raise money for schools involved. The preparation for this event started in September 2016 and monthly meetings have taken place place to ensure that the day went smoothly.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed into making the Northowram Burner and School Fayre a enjoyable and interesting day.

By Jessica Cameron (age 10)

My First 10k

Charlotte Reason tells us about her first 10k

Northowram Burner My first 10k ….. off road and everyone kept saying all those hills. What am I doing?

The day has arrived I’m stood on the start line surrounded by other runners lots more experienced than me. I have butterflies in my stomach but I have on my puma top and I’m surrounded by friends and as the race started I knew I could do it. Having not recce’d the route I had no idea where I was going or what expect.

When we came up towards tan house I thought oh no I hope we aren’t going to the top luckily I spotted the marshal turning everyone off onto the first off road section. There were a few tough sections and a lot of mud. I enjoyed the woods section in the shade and downhill to the river crossing. I had a drink just before then and ended up with more down me than in my mouth maybe this is the part of running I need to master.

At whiskers I thought that I would never reach the top but eventually I saw Luke and he said I was nearly back so I picked up the speed as I headed back towards Northowram school.

Charlotte at the top of Whiskers Lane

When I eventually got back there was a great welcome as I could see fellow puma members stood outside the school gates and eventually see my fellow club runners at the finish line. With a great big grin on my face I crossed the finish line – I felt great. Overall I really enjoyed taking part in this race and I thought the support from all the marshalls and the public was phenomenal it really gave you the boost you needed to get round the course. For my first 10k I thought it was brilliant and would definitely do it again.

A Steel City runner

Jeni Harvey also competed in this years Burner, you can read about what she though on her ace running blog.