Northowram Pumas were founded in 2014, and each ensuing year will bring its own anniversary. This week, the club celebrated its second ‘birthday’ and on Wednesday 14 September, we hosted our Second Anniversary Run. Lots and lots of Pumas turned up and everyone seemed really excited.

Thanks to Johnny Meynell for his awesome account of the evening! Even if he looks slightly less impressed in the last photo (keep reading to check it out!!) – maybe he’s just reminiscing about his old university days.

Inviting some friends round

And of course, with it being a special occasion, what better than to invite a few friends round? Happy to take up our invitation were the fledgling Sowerby Bridge Snails, who arrived en masse.

Snails and Pumas - an unusual but winning combination
Snails and Pumas – an unusual but winning combination

Mm, Snails. It rather gives the impression that these are folk who move perhaps just a tad faster than walking pace, but don’t be fooled, they are Snails in name only. I have it on good authority that one attendee last night has run six parkruns, each time a personal best, with his last outing recording a time of 20:37. And he has a friend, another Snail, who’s even faster than him!
The Sowerby Bridge Snails can’t have failed but to be impressed at how organised we were pre-run time. With so many extra runners, it was decided it’d be best to assemble on the cricket field with poles to indicate the different groups. What a splendid idea.

An ingenious cone and pole system to sort out running groups
An ingenious cone and pole system to sort out running groups

The plan worked, and how simple it must have been for Simon Wilkinson to take the customary group photos when everyone was ready at their stations.

Customary Group Photos

The plan was to set off prompt at 6.45, so right on cue the respective leaders Luke Cranfield and Adam Standeven (Group One)

Group one - with Adam and Luke
Group one – with Adam and Luke

Andy Haslam (group two)

Andy's group two
Andy’s group two

Phil Turner and Nicola Pennington (group three)

Phil and Nicola taking the reigns with group 3
Phil and Nicola taking the reigns with group 3

Ian Marshall and Paul Hopkinson (group four)

Group 4 with Ian and Paul
Group 4 with Ian and Paul

and Ally Canning, Wendy Hewitt and Sarah Rushforth (group five)

Group five with Ally, Wendy and Sarah - Ally has also forbidden Simon from taking any more photos
Group five with Ally, Wendy and Sarah (Ally has also forbidden Simon from taking any more photos after the worlds worst pose was captured)

led off their troops.

The Running

I went in Group Two, which was a cosy run up through Coley, Shelf, all the way up Giles Hill Lane to Brighouse/Denholmegate Road, down Syke Lane to Green Lane, then home via Blake Hill End and Upper Lane.

A lovely stretch of quiet backroad
A lovely stretch of quiet backroad

It was a warm evening which made the going even tougher than already expected, and we hope that the Sowerby Bridge Snails appreciate the terrain we have to negotiate on a weekly basis, the general rule being that you either start up a hill or finish on one.

We love a good hill do us Pumas
We love a good hill do us Pumas
Group 5 looking pretty happy mid run
Group 5 looking pretty happy mid run

The general feedback on the routes undertaken by our guests in the various groups seems to be that they enjoyed it. The exact figure of how many Snails were actually in attendance cannot be verified, but in the words of the late BBC news reporter Brian Hanrahan, “I counted them all out, and I counted them all back.” Later, it was put to me that there were forty orders from the Snails for meat pies, and one veggie pie, which in anyone’s book would be roughly forty-one.

And some more hills for our Snail friends
And some more hills for our Snail friends

Whilst the Snails came through largely unscathed, sadly the same cannot be said of the Northowram Pumas. If Strava is to be believed, then Group One (Luke’s!) ran a distance of anywhere between 6.3 and 7 miles.

Luke's group - before losing half this contingent.
Luke’s group – before losing half this contingent.

Not only that, but a contingent also managed to get lost! Still, nobody was hurt in this group, unlike in Group Four, where Joanne Davison’s unscheduled route took in the A&E after she fell shortly into her run. Accompanied at hospital by Jane Henley, it turned out Joanne was none too seriously injured, and escaped with bruises on her knees and legs.

Time for Pie

For the rest, it was a run to the finish back at the club, and runners sprinted/ran/ jogged/staggered* (*delete as appropriate) over the line, happy in the knowledge that the BAR was open. Yes, it is a measure of how the Northowram Pumas have grown that we now have fully trained bartenders, and happily after each run, we can now socialise with a bevvy.

Back to the club for pie and drinks
Back to the club for pie and drinks

The runners piled into the bar, where they were served by the Three Amigos, namely Simon Wilkinson, Matt Newton and Tom O’Reilly. Ally Canning was also seen serving so waiting time was kept to a minimum – great service. I’ve never been served so quickly since I ventured into the Long Chimney circa 1988 (though in their case they poured me a drink before I changed my mind). And as it was a special occasion, food was also being served; the aforementioned meat and veggie pies. I chose the Cornish slice, which evoked memories of a holiday in St Austell some twenty years ago! Here, thanks must be given to those who helped prepare and serve the food, and we are most grateful for the behind the scenes work done by Tracey (who made sure the pies arrived on time), Holly, Andrea and Ian Marshall. And let us not forget those who took time to bake cakes, etc which topped off suppertime.

Thanks to Tracey, who gave up her evening run, to make sure we ate all the pies
Thanks to Tracey, who gave up her evening run, to make sure we ate all the pies

Most of us stopped for well over an hour, giving Nicola enough time to present Jessica Edwards with her Uni Survival Kit in front of a packed house. Jess, who’s been with the Pumas since the formative days, has helped in various capacities and now leaves for University with our good wishes.

Saying a really sad farewell to our awesome committee member Jess as she goes away to get drunk - sorry to go to uni
Saying a really sad farewell to our awesome committee member Jess as she goes away to get drunk – sorry to go to uni

All-in-all, it was a pleasant evening and thanks must be given to those who made it possible, as well as to all the Pumas and Sowerby Bridge Snails who turned out in force to make the event such a success. Dare I say it, here’s to the next one….