Coley Canter.

Saturday 30 December, 2017.

Last Saturday saw the Northowram Pumas’ second hosting of the revived Coley Canter. After the success of the previous year, where the event attracted 72 willing participants, this year the number was greatly increased, to the extent that there were 129 lining up at the start.

The Pumas are all smiles here. Mind, this was before they’d seen the conditions. From left; Chris Ellis, Andrew Mellor, Richard Ogden, Andy Barnes, Tim Brook, Diane Cooper, Shana Emmerson, Rachael Hawkins and Claire Ramsbottom.

Of course, events such as these take some organising, and while Andy Haslam acted as Race Director, without the help of the many marshals it couldn’t have gone ahead. There were many Pumas who were happy to stand at the strategic points for a good hour or more in the freezing cold to help the race go smoothly. But while the race organisers were indebted to them, there were in the large field of runners, a small sprinkling of Pumas who perhaps thought that running the Coley Canter might just be the lesser of the two evils, although in the event, it was questionable as to who had the most fun.

And they’re off, these way-out wacky racers.

A decent downfall of overnight snow through Thursday and into Friday morning had given way to rain by the afternoon, which by Saturday morning had rendered the course in many places at best treacherous. But oh the joys, and how they loved it, although I’m not necessarily talking about the runners. Slippery downhill grassy pathways gave the runners a challenge barely half a mile in, and those that didn’t take a tumble were perhaps thankful for the boundary wall to which they clung on to for dear life.

Chris Ellis…on his way…just about keeping upright…
…unlike Queensbury’s Neil Windle, who went all the way.

There were many taking part in this race for the first time, so they weren’t perhaps so familiar with the route which crossed fields from Coley down to Syke Lane, followed tracks up into Norwood Green, headed out towards and into Judy Woods, up through the trees before it dropped down to negotiate the brook (with the advice being to tackle it whichever way suited you best), followed bridle paths then entered the woods and the inevitable steep climb up to Shelf Park, tracks and fields that headed back towards Coley, coming out on Coley Road itself and the run for home having crossed Denholmegate Road via farm and field to Westercroft Lane and the cricket field where it all started. Still got your breath?

The appropriately named Tim Brook at his gymnastic best, flies across the fast flowing stream-cum-river. Death-defying stunts like this helped Tim to a third place finish.
Diane Cooper wades through the water but still has time for a warmish smile.
…whilst Glenn Ackroyd surveys the situation before trying an unconventional method. When asked how he felt he’d managed the Coley Canter, he replied, “Nothing to shout about.”

There were laughs along the way, for sure, but for those with their eyes on the prizes, there was much work to be done. Making light of it was race winner Owen Beilby, who completed the course in 56:26, a time some five minutes slower than Gary Priestley, who won the event the previous year, albeit in better conditions. Beilby was followed home by the familiar Gavin Mulholland – third last year – but there was something even more recognisable about the runner next home; a Pumas vest. Yes, it was Tim Brook, and had Olympic medals been given out he would have taken bronze. As it was, he had to settle for age winner in the Male Over 35 section, beating Richard Harrison of St Theresa’s in the same category by half a minute, whilst Tim’s time of 1:00:28 was a Puma record, beating that set last year by #FPHs home Rick Heaton and Shaun Casey by well over twelve minutes.

Andy Barnes was second Puma home, finishing nineteenth, and Richard Ogden was third Puma in 24th, whilst first female Puma over the line was Diane Cooper. She finished 28th, not only second female home in the Ladies’ Over 45 section, but also the fourth Puma home. Further down the line, Rachael Hawkins and her two best friends Claire Ramsbottom and Andrew Mellor went through the mill together from start to finish, whilst just behind them, Glenn Ackroyd found the Coley Canter a whole different ball game to the Abbey Dash, and as such, didn’t have much to say!

Stuck on you. The gluepot conditions around the course were tackled in style by Rachael Hawkins, Claire Ramsbottom and Andrew Mellor, who pulls his friends towards the finishing line.

Pumas’ finishing positions and times;

3 Tim Brook 1:00:28

19 Andy Barnes 1:13:12

24 Richard Ogden 1:15:50

28 Diane Cooper 1:16:47

30 Chris Ellis 1:17:19

66 Tom O’Reilly 1:27:05

88 Claire Ramsbottom 1:39:48

89 Andrew Mellor 1:39:48

90 Rachael Hawkins 1:39:48

91 Glenn Ackroyd 1:40:35

129 Shana Emmerson tail runner