When: Sunday 6 November 2016

Where: Leeds city centre

Who: Too many Pumas to list!

Thanks to: Helen and Amelia for their smashing write up and Matt for coordinating people, cars and parking.

Early morning…again

Another ridiculously early Sunday morning get up could only mean one thing – another race and Amelia’s first. We somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed and get ready in time for our lift into Leeds, a bit too tired and cold to really feel the excitement or nerves yet. After driving round in circles for what felt like ages trying to navigate around the road closures we finally got parked up. Getting out of the car we realised how freezing it was and were very glad we had brought our headbands and gloves. I think Carine was rather regretting her decision to wear short shorts though!

Pumas Pre Race
Pumas Pre Race

The walk to meet up with the other junior Pumas seemed to take ages and Amelia was starting to feel the nerves now. The butterflies were starting to flutter in my stomach too but for Amelia, not me. After being re-directed a few times and sent the wrong way a couple more, we finally made it to the meeting point to find a friendly Puma gathering waiting for us. A quick toilet break and essential pre-race photoshoot and the junior Pumas were heading to their starting pen. At this point myself and Carine left the kids in Gabriella’s capable hands and made our way to the adult start. I was starting to feel excited about my own race now, but was disappointed not to be able to watch Amelia’s first race. This is how it went from her point of view:

Amelia and the Junior Dash

I was really nervous that I wouldn’t do very well but wanted to do my best and had decided to try and keep up with Amelie. It was nice to be part of a group entering the starting pen knowing that I had support around me. We did some warm ups first which made me feel a bit silly but everyone else was doing them so I joined in too. Then the man at the front counted down really loudly and we were off! Everyone ran off really fast and I tried to keep up.

Jeremy - winning the competition for best running photo!!!
Jeremy – winning the competition for best running photo!!!

There were lots of children and I had to dodge to get past. I was trying really hard to keep up with Amelie and couldn’t spot the other junior Pumas.

Amelia and Amelie

After a bit, I started getting tired and hoped the finish wasn’t that far. Finally, I went round a corner and could see the finish. I tried to sprint but my legs were too tired, so I just ran as fast as I could over the line. I felt tired but was really happy I’d done my best and had beaten my pb by a whole minute, finishing in 8:39 right behind Amelie at 8:38. The first junior Puma to finish was Jude Kenny in 7:15 and everyone else got amazing times too.

Jude and Rueben leading the Junior Pumas
Jude and Rueben leading the Junior Pumas

We got our t-shirts, medals and lion bar and walked up to try and find Gabby but had to wait for her to come and get us. We had a lovely, warm hot chocolate and then went to watch the adults finishing.

Junior ladies at the finish
Junior ladies at the finish

We had to wait a long time but I was really pleased to see my mum, though she looked like she was about to collapse!

Helen and the 10k

And I was! I’d decided to take a new approach to this race and instead of taking it easy and building up my pace gradually, I was going to go all out from the start.

Once myself and Carine got to the start area we managed to spot a fellow Puma’s tall head above the crowd and went over to join everyone. It was freezing and everyone was wrapped up, to varying degrees, in jackets, scarves and throwaway jumpers with one Puma even in some throwaway jeans! We all kept our layers on as long as possible and I’m sure Neil has never had so many women telling him to take his jeans off! Another male Puma that was enjoying the female attention was Matt as he somehow agreed to pace a group of about 6 of us to try to get 50mins. I knew this was probably a reach too far for me but I wanted to give it a go.

Obligatory start line selfie
Obligatory start line selfie

We finally got underway and were immediately all split up as we tried to dodge people to get round and get a decent pace going. I somehow managed to keep up with Matt and as Amelia had been intent on keeping up with Amelie, I had the same aim of keeping up with Matt. I was not as successful as Amelia though and by around mile 2 his head was only just visible in the distance. I was however, running at a much faster pace than normal thanks to his start and was just trying now to maintain it. This was made really hard, not just by my own lack of fitness but the sheer volume of people that made running more an obstacle course! I managed to spot and try to keep up with Carine and Mike along the way, only to lose them in the crowd.

Chris, looking determined to get to the end
Chris, looking determined to get to the end

By mile 5 my legs were getting heavier and heavier and I was really starting to struggle. I was just thinking of having a little walk to recover when Debbie ran past. That was all the motivation I needed as I had a new target – to try to stay with Debbie. I somehow managed to get my legs going and worked hard to stay with her, even up that last hill towards the finish. Then as I rounded the bend the finish line was in sight. I was so happy to see that finish line and tried to drag a sprint finish out of my legs. Barging past people to try to keep my sprint going I was focused on the finish when suddenly I spotted Simon near me. He gave me a shout of encouragement which saw me over the line where he then had to hold me up as my legs collapsed! On stopping my watch I realised I had smashed my pb by nearly 3 mins. I hadn’t made the 50mins I had aimed for, but 51:57 was near enough for me!

The Finish

I was so happy to see Amelia and find out how she had done and also all the other Pumas and junior Pumas who had done amazing. First Puma home was Tim Brook in a supersonic 40:52 followed by a whole heap of fantastic times. Loads of people managed to achieve pb’s, which considering the crowds and the weather was amazing.

Having run a lot on my own before joining the Pumas I can honestly say finding them was the best thing that ever happened for me and my running. I know for a fact that there is no way I could have got my pb today without the support and encouragement from fellow Pumas, not just on the day but constantly. Amelia also loves it and has made so much progress in a short amount of time. #proudtobeapuma

At the finish line
At the finish line

A round up of all the times (** denotes a new PB)

Name Time
Tim Brook 40m 52s
Andrew Tudor 43m 5s**
Shaun Casey 43m 8s
Chris Ellis 44m 15s
Neil Coupe 46m 17s
Richard Baker 46m 53s
Rachael Helliwell 47m 45s
Matt Newton 51m 3s
Jane Cole 51m 15s**
Grace Illingworth 51m 31s
Helen Jackson 51m 57s**
Debbie Fox 52m 14s
Simon Wilkinson 52m 24s**
Mike Hartley 53m 3s
Carine Baker 53m 10s**
Shana Emmerson 53m 45s**
Victoria Owen 54m 57s**
Alison Wilkinson 55m 53s
Jo Allen 56m 32s
Jodie Knowles 57m 44s
Tiffany Lewis 58m 58s
Nicola Hartley 1:01:24
Susan Burlison 1:01:24
Helen Charles 1:01:52
Caroline Reynolds 1:01:54
Laura Fairbank 1:03:54
Jane Henley 1:05:25