Thanks, as always, to our star blogger Johnny. Who makes us all sound like champion runners! 

The Ladies section excelled themselves when Northowram Pumas took part in the second round of the West Yorkshire Winter League at Pudsey on Sunday, 27 November, writes The Man Who Wasn’t There.

Once again, the club was thankful to Salterlee Primary School for the kind loan of the minibus, and the Pumas On Tour Express, crammed with eager runners, winged its way to Pudsey courtesy of the skilled driving once more of Neil Coupe, who for the only time that day found himself at the front.

The Pumas take on Pudsey
The Pumas take on Pudsey

For those runners who didn’t take part in the first race at Dewsbury, the Pudsey course may have seemed slightly daunting, though for those who did participate at Dewsbury, the general consensus was that the Pudsey course wasn’t as testing. Still, it had all the ingredients to make it a fun event; steep climbs, woodland trails, fields, and plenty of mud thrown in for good measure.

The Pumas were without several runners who had to pull out through injury or illness, or in one case, both. Nevertheless, they sent out a team in numbers; twenty-nine, in fact, took part, which is a great credit to a relatively new club like ours when you consider that this is the first time we’ve entered the competition and we only celebrated our 2nd birthday earlier this year. There were a total 356 competitors who lined up at the start at Round Hill, a field that not only saw the runners off, but would also usher them back in. The course took in Black Carr Woods where the organisers advised off road shoes, but such footwear was needed long before the runners reached the woods; immediately from the start, they had to negotiate the fields of Round Hill, which were described in certain quarters as “very dicey”.

Jo taking on the 'dicey conditions' in a field in Pudsey
Jo taking on the ‘dicey conditions’ in a field in Pudsey

Welcome downhill sections gave the runners the chance to gather themselves after some arduous climbs.

Although not all Pumas find them that arduous!
Although not all Pumas find them that arduous!

perhaps the most testing being the steep trail hill around half a mile from the end.

For prosperity, a happy snapper was there to photograph the competitors as they reached the top of this section. Looking at the Pumas at this stage, there was a mix of facial expressions. Andy Haslam showed fierce determination:

Andy's 'I really want to win it' face
Andy’s ‘I really want to win it’ face

Tim Brook seemed to be treating it as ‘just another day at the office’

Tim 'another day, another hill' Brook
Tim ‘another day, another hill’ Brook

Adam Standeven’s smile disguised the sheer relief at conquering it

Adam smiling at the camera...or just because he's made it to the top of the hill
Adam smiling at the camera…or just because he’s made it to the top of the hill

Whilst Neil Coupe seemed to be expecting a fanfare for managing it

More running less posing Neil
More running less posing Neil

Richard Baker, Matt Newton and Jo Allen obviously know how to ‘work the camera’, whilst Carine Baker and Nicola Pennington were too preoccupied to actually notice it. The pained expressions of Rick Heaton, Andrew Tudor, Paul Hopkinson, Ally Canning, Victoria Owen and Tiffany Lewis perhaps tell you all you need to know

Vicky, Tom and Gabby looking pretty knackered
Vicky, Tom and Gabby looking pretty knackered

though you’d be forgiven for thinking that Julie Bowman had actually finished the race.

Not quite finished yet Julie!
Not quite finished yet Julie!

There was still some way to go, however, and there was that final killer hill up the tarmacked road to tackle before the runners re-entered Round Hill and made a short burst to the finish line. Which (judging by the video, at least) seemed to have been plonked randomly in the middle of the field. Still it was a welcome sight for each and every runner, there’s no disputing that.

Winning the race by the proverbial country mile was Stainland Lion’s international fell runner Ben Mounsey, but tucked in just behind the leaders to finish an impressive twenty-third was Pumas’ dependable Luke Cranfield. Tim Brook was the next Puma home in 51st place, Andy Haslam, in his first Winter League race, finished a handy 68th, whilst Adam Standeven was the other Puma to finish in the hot one hundred.

No one was back in time to capture our very first Pumas home...but this photo of Andrew is pretty good and he smashed it.
No one was back in time to capture our very first Pumas home…but this photo of Andrew is pretty good and he smashed it.

For the Ladies, Jenny Hopkinson must have run the race of her life to finish twentieth in her field and 159th overall

Amazing effort by Jenny to get FFPH (First Female Puma Home)
Amazing effort by Jenny to get FFPH (First Female Puma Home)

and she was backed up by Liz McDonnell, Kirsty Edwards and Lucy Oxley, who were all taking part in their first Winter League race of the season. Jenny, in fact, was chased to the line by Rick Heaton, who’d done well considering he’d been out of action for three weeks, whilst further down the field, Tom O’Reilly struggled with injury but still managed to complete the course. Tom was one of fourteen Pumas competing for the first time; I hope he and the others aren’t put off and are ready to go again!

Daniela, looking like she enjoyed every minute of her WYWL debut
Lucy in her first outing as a fully fledged Puma


Matt sneaking in to overtake Tracey at the finish line. That didn’t go down well
Wounded and hobbling but Tom still managed to cross the finish line and add to the points total
Liz, without her infamous turquoise shorts, much to everyone's disppointment
Liz, without her infamous turquoise shorts, much to everyone’s disappointment

We are, after all, a team. And never was this more apparent than when a large contingent reconvened in the Yew Tree, where drinks and pizza were the order of the day. As they should be.

Once all the positions had been calculated, it was pleasing to see that the Ladies had finished fifth in their category, moving up the table one place to eight. Overall, the Pumas remain in ninth position. But there’s plenty of time to go. Book your places now for the Pumas On Tour Express. Next stop – Skipton.

Full list of participating Pumas and finishing positions;

  • 23 Luke Cranfield (M)
  • 51 Tim Brook (MV)
  • 68 Andy Haslam (MV)*
  • 94 Adam Standeven (MV)
  • 113 Richard Ogden (MV)
  • 127 Shaun Casey (MV)*
  • 129 Andrew Tudor (MV)*
  • 159 Jenny Hopkinson (FV)
  • 160 Rick Heaton (MV)*
  • 171 Liz McDonnell (FV)*
  • 168 Paul Hopkinson (MSV)
  • 190 Kirsty Edwards (FV)*
  • 197 Richard Baker (MV)
  • 200 Lucy Oxley (F)*
  • 212 Rachael Helliwell (F)*
  • 231 Ally Canning (F)
  • 232 Matt Newton (M)
  • 233 Tracey Ann March (F)*
  • 237 Neil Coupe (MV)
  • 274 Julie Bowman (FV)*
  • 294 Gabrielle Kenny (FV)*
  • 295 Carine Baker (F)
  • 297 Victoria Owen (F)
  • 313 Nicola Pennington (FV)*
  • 320 Jodie Knowles (F)*
  • 324 Jo Allen (FV)
  • 334 Tom O’Reilly (MV)*
  • 338 Daniela Fuldusova (FV)*
  • 344 Tiffany Lewis (FV)

* Denotes first Winter League race.