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West Yorkshire Winter League 2017-18 – Dewsbury.

West Yorkshire Winter League, Race One.

Hopton Mills, Mirfield, 26 November 2017.

The Pumas line up before the race. Most have had their faces painted in the club’s colours and look the bee’s knees. The hooded Tom O’Reilly, however, cuts a mean figure and could almost pass for the Grim Reaper.

Sunday heralded the start of the West Yorkshire Winter League, with Dewsbury Road Runners, as they did last year, hosting the first race. But while generally there is usually an air of excitement for the start of any new season, I’m not sure that this applies here, if the comments of some of our Pumas are anything to go by. Having staggered round, the terms ‘brutal’ and ‘beast’ were used in certain quarters to describe the Mirfield-based course; Matt Newton also used a word beginning with ‘B’ but as this is a family-site, we won’t repeat it here, though he really should have known better, anyway. After all, he ran it last year so knew what to expect! In total, thirty-one Pumas – many with faces painted in the colours of the team to show they meant business – turned out on a chilly morning; doubtless the number would have been even greater but for those who were either injured, having a weekend away (no names mentioned, although this in turn meant that the tour bus was rendered inactive), or just not fancying it! The race was set for a 10.00am start, so there wasn’t too much hanging about trying to look over-excited.

Jude Roberts helps form an orderly queue for the trail through the woods.
Andrew Mellor – looking for a way out?

The 5.7-mile course had been slightly tweaked from the previous year but it was no less challenging, containing as it did all the usual elements we all love so much; steep hills, troublesome woods, fields and thick mud in abundance. The race started with a loop of adjacent fields behind Hopton Mills, Hagg Lane, to help thin out the pack and thus avoiding much congestion further down the line, and then it was straight into the first major climb up into Hagg Wood, taking in what is affectionately known as the ‘Golf Course Climb’, closely followed by Scopsley Lane Climb, with Dewsbury Golf Course off to the runners’ left. Fixy Lane Dash Down offered some relief, but only in readiness for the toughest of the three climbs, that of Back Lane Climb, along the edge of Liley Clough, reaching the summit at 182 metres as they crossed the fields around halfway.

Galloping through the leaves are Matt Newton and Richard Ogden. Photo courtesy of Smith Photography.

The downhill section of over 1k which followed was most welcome but legs would be getting weary as they crossed the fields and headed back towards Lily Clough Woods. Coming out of the north side, the course then ran along the edge of some fields before entering Whitley Wood and the arduous climb of 160 meters before picking up Back Lane and the return journey, giving the runners a nice downhill, if not tricky, stretch before finishing in the fields off Hagg Lane where they’d begun their assault.

Katrina Wood showing grace and poise as she negotiates this tricky section, proving that this trip down into the woods was anything but a teddybears’ picnic. Photo courtesy of Smith Photography.

So how did the Pumas fare? Well, given that several key runners were missing, they had a pretty productive day, and things certainly auger well for future races, particularly in the Ladies’ field. As expected, it was Tim Brook and Luke Cranfield who led the Pumas’ charge, Tim finishing fifteenth, just two places and, by my reckoning, nine seconds in front of Luke. These two were our first scorers, and they were ably backed up by Rick Ralph, Jude Roberts, Andy Barnes, Adam Standeven and Shaun Casey, with Tim, Rick and Jude picking up the points in the Veterans’ category.

#FPH Tim Brook breezes to the finish line.

Matt Newton (140th) followed Richard Ogden home, but only six places further back, and having the run the race of her life, was Ally Canning, who was the first female Puma home. Diane Cooper (a veteran, but not in the strictest sense), Jane Cole and Kirsty Edwards also scored points and by the end of the day’s play the Ladies team were sitting proudly in third place.

In the Supervets category, Jon Ding was the first to bring home the points, finishing 162nd, whilst the unsuspecting Mark Kirkby also managed to score. Needing a female to complete the set, this honour fell to Katrina Wood, who was first over-50 female Puma.

Proving that there really are some benefits to hill training, Ally Canning is the first female Puma home.

Elsewhere, there was a personal battle going on between Sarah Haigh, Dawn Higgins and Jo Clay, all three appearing in the finishing straight together, but Sarah winning the sprint for the line. One place behind, but oblivious to the mad-dash which had just preceded her, was Rachael Hawkins, whose run to the line was slightly more refined. But she must have had some concern for her new best friend, Andrew Mellor, who marked his Winter League debut by suffering a nasty gash to the knee following a fall (graphic photos of which later appeared on social media and are definitely not for the squeamish).

They’re all good friends, really, but nevertheless, Sarah Haigh continues to watch her back as she outsprints Dawn Higgins and Jo Clay.

All-in-all, a pretty successful morning, and one that augers well for future races. Commander-in-chief Andrew Tudor described it as “a great team effort,” whilst Shaun Casey was heard to say that the Pumas roared loudest. To which we all concur.

Pumas’ finishing positions;

15 Tim Brook (MV)

17 Luke Cranfield (M)

61 Rick Ralph (MV)*

78 Jude Roberts (MV)*

100 Andy Barnes (MV)*

108 Adam Standeven (MV)

112 Shaun Casey (MV)

139 Richard Ogden (MV)

140 Matt Newton (M)

146 Ally Canning (F)

153 Chris Ellis (MV)

162 Jon Ding (MSV)*

163 Andrew Tudor (MV)

185 Diane Cooper (FV)

192 Jane Cole (FV)

211 Tom O’Reilly (MV)

213 Kirsty Edwards (FV)

218 Peter Reason (MV)*

250 Vicky Owen (F)

253 Julie Bowman (FV)

270 Katrina Wood (FSV)*

273 Sarah Haigh (FV)

274 Dawn Higgins (FV)*

275 Johanne Clay (FSV)

276 Rachael Hawkins (F)

303 Mark Kirkby (MSV)*

308 Ian Evans (M)*

328 Andrew Mellor (MV)*

331 Tiffany Lewis (FV)

332 Sharon Wilson (F)

359 Charlotte Reason (F)*

371 runners.

* Denotes first Winter League race.

How we stand (14 teams);

Male – 8th

Female – 3rd

Veterans – 7th

Supervets – 12th

Overall – 9th

 

 

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