Who: A selection of awesome Pumas

Where: Dewsbury

When: 5 February 2017

How far: 10k (plus a bit extra for good measure)

Over to Johnny…..who manages to be at every Puma appearance at every race. Dedication!

One of the most eagerly awaited races on the running calendar is the Dewsbury 10k. It’s a particular favourite of most who run it, and it’s hard to see why. A smooth out and back, none too testing, and great for upping your PBs. I’d never done it before, so I was eager to put all these theories to the test.

Race morning

T’was another cold morning when we awoke, but then again, we’re only just into February, so what would you expect? I left my house a 7.33am and made my way to Matt Newton’s, where we were collected by Debbie Fox in a roomy Audi. Simon Wilkinson conveniently dropped off Matt’s running gear (which he’d had since Friday) before making his way around to the club to cadge a lift off Neil Coupe. Just for good measure, Rachael Hawkins jumped in too. En route to Dewsbury, we stopped off to pick up Shana Emmerson. Of the four of us in the car, only Matt had done this race before and we relied on his navigational skills to get us there. These were, however, suspect, and Debbie was flicking on the sat-nav before we’d even hit Brighouse roundabout.

We arrived in Dewsbury town centre and looked around the obvious parking spots. Debbie cheekily snuck into Sainsbury’s parking lot, and evidently got away with it. Seven of us trooped across to the Sports Centre for the obligatory loo visit before making our way to the start, where we had our pre-race photo shoot taken by Queensbury’s Andy Smith, who wasn’t running due to injury. We met up with Alison Pearce and spied Melissa Hall and Sarah Firth on the starting blocks. Typically, we were situated somewhere near the rear, an obvious Pumas’ trait, but with our race numbers coming with accompanying chips (no fries) nobody was going to fool us with false finishing times. Also running on behalf of the Pumas was Paul Pickering, although it must also be pointed out that Carine Baker was a late withdrawal, whilst Neil Coupe himself was running in place of the unwell Vicky Owen, doubtless faster but less glam.

Pre-race, running in all the glam locations

Assuming everyone finished the race, there were 1,081 competitors, so as one would imagine, once the gun had started, it took us some time to reach the start line. We could see the elite bombing off, and in time it would be our turn (though ‘bombing’ in our case is a term loosely used). Off we set, around six miles ahead of us. At least we would start to feel warmer once we were under way.

Of the course itself, there’s little to make it sound really exciting. It was a straight run down the A652 Bradford Road towards Batley, passing such crowd-drawing attractions as Dewsbury Auto Salvage, Beds Direct, Skopos Retail Furnishings, Lala’s Kashmiri Cuisine and Tesco Batley Express. Further along the route on the way out was Batley Grammar School (where my cousin Paul is Assistant Head, just saying) and a little further along, the entrance to the impressive Wilton Park, though we had little time to survey its beauty.

Mid race low down

I was soon into my rhythm, though the chances of me keeping pace with Neil and Matt was a forlorn one. I did so for the first half mile, but after that I just had to let them get on with it. Paul Hopkinson, running for Halifax Harriers, also passed me early on, but this run was about what I could achieve for myself, with the notion that the course was pretty flat and my personal best at such a distance standing at 49:54 (set at the Epilepsy Action event in Bradford last March) there to be broken. Ahead of me was Alison Pearce, who’d managed to get away from the start a while before I did, and she seemed to be flowing.

I kept Alison in my sights for most of the outward journey, offered encouraging words when she briefly stopped around two and a half miles in, then watched her pass me a minute later! The sight of Neil and Matt (or should that be the other way around?) on the other side of the road making the return trip was encouraging; they’d never been miles in front of me and this told me the turning point wasn’t too far away. When we reached it, I took Alison on the inside and got my head down.

I can’t speak for everyone, but the road back in seemed easier than the road out, in that we were now, initially, running ever so slightly downhill. I tried to take in all the landmarks, but that was a hopeless task in itself, because I simply couldn’t remember where or when I’d passed them earlier! Best just carry on regardless. Knowing the turning point had been around halfway, I knew that we had the equivalent of a parkrun to do, though the watering station about half a mile after that did throw me somewhat.

Whilst on my way back in, I spied in turn Simon, Melissa, Rachael and Sarah still making the outward journey, though I must have been deep in concentration to miss Debbie and Shana. On we plodded, each step closer to home. With about a mile to go, I overtook Diane Waite, something I’ve never done before, and in time I noticed several runners now walking in my direction; they’d already finished and were making their way home or to their cars, or to just anywhere. It wasn’t important, although it did give me a sense that the finishing line couldn’t have been too far away. Then the crowds increased in number and their applause grew louder. The end was near, if you know what I mean.

Johnny nearing the finish line


Rachael gliding over the finish line

To confirm this, a female runner, whom I later discovered went by the name of Marie Lees, told me that the finishing line was just beyond the approaching archway. I quickened up and passed her, and sure enough as we went under the railway arch, the finishing line was there ahead of us. Suddenly, she made a bolt for it but I was having none of it and kicked with her. Our sprint took us away from runners behind us, and before we knew it, we were gobbling up two chaps who were casually approaching the line. We caught both of them and I think my own kick had just brought me in ahead of her. It was a satisfying end to what I felt had been a comfortable run. An old friend of mine, Dave Waite (husband of Diane) greeted me over the line and remarked that my sprint finish had just got me under fifty minutes. But that was the gun-time. My chip time would be better than that.

I went off to start my recovery, taking the bottled water, then going to pick up my dishy and illuminating pink souvenir T-shirt. Mushy Cade the Running Machine has nothing on these, I thought whimsically. I joined Matt and Neil, and soon Simon joined us. The other runners came in thick and face, with Sarah Firth being #LPH. Then the chip time results started coming through, and bizarrely, and quite randomly, I was informed by Debbie that my result had just showed up on her phone: 48 minutes 42 seconds. To coin a phrase often uttered by Matt Newton: I’m happy with that. Matt, for his part, had been first Puma home in 44:56 (a personal best, to boot), with Neil Coupe not far behind in 45:15, though here we felt there were some sour grapes. “I was robbed,” he later exclaimed (though what of, no one was entirely sure). He felt that the course was longer than 10k, but no one else seemed to have been mithered.

Once we’d posed for Andy Smith once more in our bright pink T-shirts we made the trek back to our cars.

Everyone looking super stylish in their finishers t-shirts

Then it was time to head home, though not before six of us had pulled up at the Enchanted Wood at Kershaw Garden Centre. It was like a scene from The Sweeney. But we were only here for brekky, and a full English seemed to be the order of the day. Debbie was evidently happier with her 10k finishing time (though not a PB) than she was with her fried egg, and returned it with the accompanying words of something along the lines of “Make sure the egg yolk is hard, OK?” She’s sometimes a tough one to please. But we got there in the end.

Enjoying a proper athletes re-fuelling the correct way

Finishing positions and times of the Pumas:

  • 413 Matt Newton 44:56
  • 428 Neil Coupe 45:15
  • 559 Johnny Meynell 48:22
  • 589 Alison Pearce 49:28
  • 698 Debbie Fox 52:13
  • 709 Simon Wilkinson 52:37
  • 813 Shana Emmerson 55:04
  • 831 Melissa Hall 55:59
  • 915 Paul Pickering 59:40
  • 916 Rachael Hawkins 59:43
  • 950 Sarah Firth 01:01:12