Date: 12 June 2016

Location: Northowram Primary School, Halifax

Distance: 2.5k and 10k

Terrain: Mud and hills!

The Burner is an annual race held every year by a group of schools within Calderdale.

For the past two years the race has been hosted by Bolton Brow school and has negotiated the hills surrounding Sowerby Bridge.

But this year the race moved to the Pumas home turf! So we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get involved and help out.

Much of the behind scenes organising was done by our chairman Andy Haslam, along with the help of the rest of the Burner committee and a number of Pumas who, suffice to say, now know the route like the back of their hand!

The route

The criteria was simple:

Off road. We love our off road running us Pumas. So the route decided by Andy and Ian incorporated some of the best trails and scenery we have to offer. And obviously, it’s June, how treacherous could some off road running be?

And hills! You can’t escape them in Yorkshire, so we thought we’d pick some reet tough ones to run up. I’m certain the route was pretty much 80% uphill!!!

Here’s a map of the route we’d planned:

View route map for Northowram Burner 2016 – 10K on

On the day

After all the organising, recce runs and more recce runs, the big day finally came around.

The first race of the day was the 2.5k fun run. There were over 450 runners. Most of them youngsters. The atmosphere was fantastic and we had a great warm up by Amanda Tuck.

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After the 2.5k, it was time for the 10k to get underway.

Again Amanda took us through a warm-up, with Puma Johnny taking it VERY seriously:

Johnny beasting the warmup
Johnny beasting the warmup

And then, after Andy’s safety briefing, we were off.

And they're off....not before a final wave to the crowd!
And they’re off… not before a final wave to the crowd!

The first couple of miles were a mixture of road and trail,

Thanks to the great British summer weather it rained pretty much constantly the days leading up to the Burner. This meant that the lovely downhill trail sections of the course started to resemble something from a Tough Mudder event!

The first few miles, although uphill (and including a bit of a slog up towards Queensbury), were mainly on roads so the pace was pretty quick and all the fellow runners seemed pretty happy.

The hill into Queensbury had most people looking a bit tired:

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The fun started on the descent down into the valley, I imagine those at the front of the race had an easier time than those of us towards the middle/back, as by the time we got to trail sections the ground had been thoroughly churned up by the 80 plus runners before us!

But, it’s no fun if there’s no mud! And even though it made it tough it didn’t seem to dampen anyones spirits. As with every race I’ve been to, you could hear all the competitors having a laugh and a joke about it, regardless of club, pace or ability. One of the reasons why running is such a great sport!

Once we’d passed the mud slide, and the mountain rescue man who was manning the stream crossing with a rope in case anyone got swept away, it was pretty much back to solid ground. A nice downhill and flat section gave everyone the chance to make up a bit of time. Before the dreaded Whiskers Lane.

To our Advantage (or possibly, actually, disadvantage, as we’d all spent the whole race dreading it) the Pumas knew what the finale of the race had in store. Whiskers Lane is a rocky, vertical (ok, not vertical, but it feels like it!) climb back up towards Northowram. It is a killer. If you’re ever in the area we’d definitely recommend giving it a go, if you get up it without walking you deserve a medal!

Thankfully after the climb the final stretch was flat-ish (it is Yorkshire after all!) back to the school playing field.

The winner was Joe Sagar with an outstanding time of 39:41

Winner Joe Sagar crossing the finish line
Winner Joe Sagar crossing the finish line

The first male Puma home was Luke Cranfield with a time of 45:14. Although he needs to work on his finish line face…

Luke, first male Puma home
Luke, first male Puma home

And the first female Puma home was Liz McDonnell with a smashing time of 54:31

Liz, first female Puma home
Liz, first female Puma home

Also a massive well done to all the Pumas who took part in the race, it was an amazing team effort!! As with every other event we’ve done the amazing team atmosphere and camaraderie between the Pumas makes me #proudtobeapuma.


And finally we’d like to give a massive shout out to:

  • Andy Haslam – Race Director Extraordinaire
  • Ian Marshal – Just for always being there to help out
  • Henry Naylor – For some great race timing skills
  • Simon Wilkinson – for yet again pulling out some first rate organisational skills and co-ordinating the marshalling of both events
  • Sarah Rushforth – For helping to organise the whole event
  • The Burner Committee – for bringing the whole event together
  • All the other helpers and volunteers for working hard to make it a brilliant day!