Daleside Auld Lang Syne,

Penistone Hill Country Park, Sunday, 31 December, 2017.

Out of a disused quarry they appeared in their hundreds. Almost resembles a scene from Dr Who. Mind, one of the Daleks was in there somewhere.

It’s not every day you find yourself pitting your wits against an Olympic champion, but that’s exactly what Tim Brook, Luke Cranfield and Ally Canning found themselves doing at the annual Daleside Auld Lang Syne fell race on New Year’s Eve. This 9.6km event, organised for the last time by Woodentops’ Dave and Eileen Woodhead and raced over the moors above Haworth, is always a popular one with many entrants donning fancy dress, as is their wont. This year, those dressed as Santa Claus, elves, Batman, Daleks, bishops – you name it, they were all in the mix – as well as runners dressed in more conventional attire, came across a familiar face on the starting line. Some had to look twice to be sure, but yes, it was positively our double Olympic gold medallist triathlete Alaistair Brownlee MBE, although in fairness, this wasn’t a new event for him. He first entered in 2005 when he won the Under 18s race, and he’s triumphed in the senior race three times since them. Mr Brownlee would win this race, too, although it has to be said, his time of 44:54 was over three minutes slower than that of last year’s winner, Horwich’s Chris Farrell. So this lad is beatable.

From the start, Luke tries to keep an eye on Alistair Brownlee, who is somewhere up ahead.

The 368 runners once again set off from the disused quarry at Penistone and though this year there was no accompanying bagpipers, no one was in any doubt that this truly was the Auld Lang Syne. The route scales and descends the Haworth moors in a sort of out and back kind of manner. Early on, the runners slip and slide down the hillside before crossing the Sladen Beck, and then, weary legged, negotiate it once more on the way back in. The recent thawed snow and subsequent rain made the course a joy to behold, but no one expected anything less than a good rock and roll in the mud. One Todmorden Harrier, Martin Roberts, completed the course carrying a body board, which he utilised to good effect sliding down the muddy slopes.

Focussed…or just cold.

The weather wasn’t particularly kind, with the runners facing a strong headwind as they climbed up to Top Withens. Ah, but its’s behind you on the way back. All the way around, Luke and Tim kept each other company, but the former stretched out as they approached the finish line at Haworth West End Cricket Club to record a time of 51:55. Luke, two places behind, was but thirteen seconds slower, whilst further down the field, Ally Canning completed the trying course to finish in 218th place. Luke said of the Auld Lang Syne course that he felt that it was a little wetter than the previous year, with the muddy hill more slippery to climb and descend this time around. There were also plenty of puddles on the tracks, too, so this might explain his time of 51:57 being almost a minute slower than that of his effort last year. But this would not necessarily explain how Ally managed to knock off almost ten minutes from hers! Ally’s had a fine year-end, not only being #FPH at the Halifax Christmas Day parkrun, but also clocking an overall personal best in the process.

Alistair Brownlee, MBE, comes home to claim his fourth Auld Lang Syne winners’ crown to go with his two Olympic triathlon gold medals, four World Championships gold medals, three European Championships triathlon gold medals, and quite a few other titles time doesn’t permit me to mention.
Was this the race of the day, though? Tim Brook strides out to fend off the challenge of friend and rival Luke Cranfield.
Ally Canning sees out the year on the top of her form. The relief is there for all to see.

When everyone was gathered in, Alistair Brownlee was happy to pose with fellow competitors for post-race photos. As #FPH Tim Brook, too, was ready for an autograph – but nobody asked him.

Positions and times of Olympic champions and Northowram Pumas;

1 Alistair Brownlee 44:54

43 Tim Brook 51:44

45 Luke Cranfield 51:57

218 Ally Canning 66:40

368 finishers.

Photos courtesy of Mick Fryer, Linda Grundy and Kath Bridger.