In our first year of WYWL, we were asked to host the PECO Vs WYWL relays. Here’s our awesome blogger Johnny with a low down of the adult races, and Junior Pumas Jude and Orlagh Kenny with all the details from the Junior races…

The Adult Relays

On Sunday 12 March, 2017, Northowram Pumas were privileged to host the annual relay race between the best of the West Yorkshire Winter League and their Leeds and district counterparts PECO. Having previously hosted the Burner and Coley Canter, the Pumas were well versed in how to pull things off, and once Andy Haslam and his team had been given the green light, they set to planning a 5k route that would give the plucky runners the chance to experience the best of what the Northowram suburbs had to offer. Wickedly, the lofted terrain was utilised to the full.

WYWL team manager Steve Boyer had an array of talent to choose from, but sadly, he would have to make do without Ben Mounsey, winner of the four Winter League races he’d entered. Still hopeful of retaining their title, he could still count on Matt Livesey, Isaac Yasin and Mark Pottinger for the Open Age team, with Andrew Croft, Gav Mulholland and Quentin Lewis making up a strong Men’s Over 40s team.

Of course, many other clubs entered their own teams in various categories, and in total, there were forty-one registered by various clubs. Northowram Pumas elected to send out just the one, all hopes being pinned on Richard ‘Oggy’ Ogden, Liz ‘Supershorts’ McDonnell and Tim ‘I’m At My Best When Hungover’ Brook.

The Pumas Team…Richard
The Pumas Team…Liz
The Pumas Team…Tim

It was a mild Spring morning to which everyone awoke, and many volunteers arrived at the clubhouse early to help set up the markers for both junior and senior relays. The junior race was due for a 10.00am start; by the time that had got underway, the marshals for the senior race were being drilled by Andy Haslam. We were then split into two groups; I went with the group led by Tracey, and she walked us all to our designated marshalling points. Mine would prove to be towards the latter end of the course, at the top of a field just below the A6036 Bradford Road. There I remained for the best part of two hours, though I was fortunate to have a couple of newly acquired friends for company; two horses on the other side of the electric fence who came a-noseying.

The senior relay was set for an 11.00am start; deep in the forest, the marshals were awaiting any signs of movement through the trees; it was really exciting! On Northowram Fields Cricket Club, the first leg runners assembled, listened to their brief, then they were off. Those who had recced the course would know just how difficult a route it was; those who went into it ‘blind’ were in for something of a shock.

Once the runners had done two sides of the Fields cricket pitch – this would help thin out the pack before they went out yonder – and run across the top of neighbouring Hedge Top CC, they descended Hedge Top Lane, the start of a welcoming early downhill section, but this would prove to serve only as the proverbial calm before the storm. Once the bottom of Hedge Top Lane had been reached, the course then continued across the quarry and on to a track through the woods until it joined Wood Lane.

Stormy skies over the quarry

There then followed the arduous climb towards the wooded section, already questions being asked of the resilience of the runners. Gradually the road climbed until it veered off into the woodland section. Runners bore left across the top of the woods; from my standpoint, they flitted about like phantoms in the mist as they dashed through the trees. Here, runners would gain some respite from the climb, and in time they would head downwards to link up with a track which ran across the bottom of the woods; the course then took a swift right turn downwards through a field, rejoining Wood Lane, but happily – for the time being – turning right and downhill until it reached the basin. The course then veered off left for the most demanding section; the tough climb up through the woods and grassy pathways which in time would bring the runners out on the main Bradford Road.

Liz, enjoying the hills more than most

It was here that I would greet each runner in turn, and point them in the direction of the lamp posts that were peeking out on the horizon. The runners would reach the main road but have little time to recover as they were asked to turn right uphill once more until being directed right onto another track which continued for quite a while until it joined up with the familiar Hedge Top Lane. As they reached the top there, the runners would turn right into a track which runs parallel with the bottom of Hedge Top Cricket Field, where they would hand over to the next runner. As Bruce Forsyth might have said, “That’s all there is to it.”

It would be fair to say that the PECO contingent established themselves very soon into the race. By the time the leading runners reached my marshalling point on the first leg, Lee Athersmith of the PECO Men’s Open team held a short lead from fellow PECO runner Will Kerr of the Men’s Veteran Over 40 team. Leading the charge for WYWL Men’s Open team was Matt Livesey, and he would pass Kerr somewhere between myself and the handing-over point, giving Isaac Yasin an eight-second advantage. Athersmith meantime handed over to Alec Francis, and he maintained PECO’S lead. Leading the charge for the club runners on the first leg was Abbey Runners’ Ross Armstrong, who handed over to Clare Barratt-Mold in fourth. For the Pumas, Richard Ogden gave a really good account of himself, and he handed over to Liz McDonnell with Pumas lying fifteenth.

On the second leg, WYWL’s Men’s Over 40 runner Gav Mulholland ran the quickest leg of the day, clocking an impressive 18:55 and helping his side from seventh to fourth. But whilst PECO’s Alec Francis was handing over to last-leg runner Ali Burns, team mate Paul Millgate of the PECO Men’s Veteran team had overhauled WYWL’s Yasin to hand over to his last-leg runner Will Kerr, who, as you’ve probably gathered, had also run his team’s first leg! Liz McDonnell overtook more runners than overtook her, and helped the Pumas rise to fourteenth by the time she handed over to Tim Brook.

On the last leg, Tim quickly made up ground, though by now the leaders were well in front and unassailable. Ali Burns brought the PECO Men’s Open team home in a time of 59:49, the only team to complete the course in under an hour. Some 46 seconds later, Kerr came in second, whilst Quentin Lewis of WYWL Men’s Veterans, by clocking 19:58, overtook team mate Mark Pottinger (WYWL Men’s Open) to claim third place.

Of the women, PECO Ladies Open team, thanks in no small part to second leg runner Crystal Goeker, who ran the fastest female time (22:49), finished seventh to claim the Ladies’ prize, with the WYWL Ladies Open team finishing twelfth. They had been beaten by one place by the Northowram Pumas, with Tim Brook making up ground and stealing four places. Of the other club runners, Abbey Runners Club were the first home, making up two places at changeover to finish sixth.

At the other end, Pumas’ Andrew Tudor guided Kirkstall Ad-Hocs’ Randolph Haggerty home as they finished fortieth, whilst Liz McDonnell regained her fitness, if not her sanity, to go around once more to accompany Wendy Murgatroyd of the South Leeds Lakers ‘E’ team, who brought up the rear.

Tudor helping out…

All-in-all, it has to be said, Northowram Pumas’s staging of the event was hailed a success; there had been no glitches that I was aware of, at least. And with the bar in the clubhouse being made full use of, the awards were handed out whilst servings of hot pie and peas were being dished out. A result all round, I think you’ll agree!

Northowram Pumas’ runners, positions and times;

  • Richard Ogden (15th) 26:09
  • Liz McDonnell (14th) 26:35
  • Tim Brook (11th) 22:10.

Overall time: 1:14.54.

The Junior Relays

We awoke to a beautiful crisp spring morning for the day of the cross-country relay race. It had been raining for the days running up to the race so the ground was still really muddy – Yeah!! Just like an off road run with Luke Cranfield!!

We arrived at the Northowram Cricket club the venue for the days race nice and early so that we could help set up and warm up. After we had helped mark out the course it was time to get the team together to start warming up. We had a walk round part of the course, then did some warm ups. Next we had a Puma photo with the girls team in the shot first and the boys photo was taken second. We had all spotted a very tall boy who looked about 17 so we asked the adults if he was the pacer, but NO was the answer, he was actually one of the kids taking part?? We were all very worried then, but my mum told us just to try our hardest!

In the Pumas relay for the girls team was Jessica Cameron, Carris Lightowler and Scarlet Garland.

Scarlet, Carris and Jess – The Junior Girls Team

For the boys team it was Jude Kenny, Sam Bell and Reuben Bartkiw.

Sam, Reuben and Jude…The boys team

At the start of the race Ruben set off as the first boy and Carris set off as the first girl, they were all running so fast and we were screaming for them to come on!! Jessicas mum ran for a bit with Carris to help spur her on this very tough course. After Carris and Ruben had finished their first lap Sam and Scarlet set off to do their lap as the second girl and boy. Sam and Scarlet had to catch some people up now as Pumas were not in the lead after their lap it was the turn of Jude and Jessica to do the last lap.

As Jude and Jessica had almost finished their last lap almost every body was cheering them on. At the end of the race everybody was tired out from all the hard work of running the Relay Race but the Pumas did really well.

Then we saw the top three teams in each race get announced and they each got a chocolate egg and the glory of coming in the top three. Finally everyone went home with the feel of running in the air, everybody’s trainers were muddy as it was a boggy course and lots of people fell over including one of our team members (Jessica Cameron). Luckily, she wasn’t hurt!

Everybody enjoyed the race a lot.

Crazy Junior Pumas

By Jude Kenny and Orlagh Kenny

Everyone tried really hard on the day and I just wanted to mention the fantastic teamwork both our teams showed. Jessica was our last athlete running in so when she was in sight, the other members of the team ran over to her and ran back in with her!! It was so brilliant and made me feel so proud of our juniors and their fantastic attitude to running, they might not have crossed the finishing line first, but I thought they were all winners! Gabriella Kenny – Proud to be a Puma!!