Bramley 10k,

Sunday, 8 October, 2017.

Competing in what was only her second 10k race on Sunday was Eileen O’Brien, who teamed up with her friend Anne Molloy of Sowerby Bridge Snails at Bramley, the race organised by It’s Grim Up North Running. Myself and Eileen – together with Gill Holmes – have something in common; we joined Northowram Pumas on the same evening, just over two years ago. Several years earlier Eileen had been a member of Stainland Harriers, but since retiring from work, had lapsed somewhat. In fact, it might be fair to say she’d given up. Her only (loose) association with any sort of sporting activity was lying on the settee reading ‘Runner’s World’. Eventually, Eileen decided to get involved once more and pitched up at Northowram Pumas where we bumped into each other. I remember the occasion well, as we were the first people to show up, and we wondered whether we’d got the right night or, indeed, the right venue.

Putting themselves in the frame are Eileen and her friend Anne Molly.

Eileen has been regularly taking part in our local parkruns, either as a runner or as a volunteer. She joined the Pumas as an improving athlete; at the time she was in the middle of achieving a total of TEN consecutive personal bests at Halifax parkrun, setting her fastest time there at 34:01 on 14 November 2015. But she went into this Bramley 10k having run even faster a week last Saturday when the Pumas made an excursion to Pontefract parkrun, where Eileen clocked 33:42.

The course at Bramley was two laps of 5k, therefore 10k in total, taking the runners around the historic town first mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It begins and finishes in Bramley Park, starting by running clockwise around one of the inside paths, then takes the runners out through the main gates and left onto the A657 Upper Town Street. At the junction with Broad Lane, the runners turn left and follow it for some distance before the road eventually meets Swinnow Lane. Swinging left, the route then runs into Stanningley Road and takes the runners back up to rejoin the A657 Upper Town Street and the long drive towards Bramley Park. The runners re-enter the park to continue their second lap. Having completed the circuit once more, the runners then enter Bramley Park for the finish.

Having set a parkrun personal best only eight days earlier, you could say Eileen went into this Bramley 10k on a bit of a high. So there was every chance that she might improve on her time of 1hr 14:24 set at the Kirklees 10k Challenge back in May. Eileen duly did, despite admitting that she felt ‘scared’ beforehand. There was no need to be; in conditions suited to this sort of distance, she smashed the Bramley course in 1hr 11:31, finishing 133rd out of 140 runners. For her part, Anne Molloy finished 115th in 1hr 02:11. The winner was Tim Davies of Leeds City in 34:44.

Having completed the race in a new PB, Eileen proudly shows off the fruits of her labour. Oh, and she also got a medal, see.

So Eileen knocks off over three minutes off her previous best 10k race. You can run a long way in three minutes, so her performance should not be understated. Well done!

Littleborough 10K,

Sunday, 1 October, 2017.

Hollingworth Lake is a popular tourist resort for locals and incumbents alike. It’s an ideal spot for picnics in summer, and with several hostelries dotted around the lake’s edge, what’s not to like? The sight of sailing boats drifting slowly by emanates an air of tranquillity. Asked to run around it twice at moderate pace, and suddenly the place doesn’t seem so appealing.

But that was the size of the task facing me when I signed up for this 10K race several weeks ago. Happily, I didn’t make the journey over the Pennines on my own. Matt Newton, with or without ankles, claimed he would always be ok to run it, and Tracey Ann was an eleventh hour addition to the entourage. If she was eleventh hour, then her significant other Jason Boults must have been close to throwing out time when he was coaxed into taking part.

The runners are gathering in the distance for the start of the race but they won’t go without us; Matt Newton, Tracey March and Johnny Meynell.

We were joined at race HQ, the Littleborough Conservative Club, by many familiar faces, as the Sowerby Bridge Snails were using this event as one of their club championship races. There were also a good few Halifax Harriers in attendance as well as a sprinkling of Stainland Harriers and Queensbury Running Club runners, so we weren’t completely overshadowed by our Lancastrian neighbours.

I’d run a couple of 5K races around here earlier this year but never over 10K, and the course, apparently, was much changed from last year. Starting opposite the train station at the bottom of Hollingworth Road, the route rose ever so gently – but for quite some way, I might add – before joining Lake Bank with Hollingworth Lake on our left. Keeping to the road, we ran parallel to the lake before making a swift left-hand turn immediately after The Beach public house to follow the path which circumnavigates the lake, following it anti-clockwise. All fairly flat and scenic, but perpetuated with puddles, dog walkers and horse riders. Eventually the path joins Rakewood Road, but before continuing along the lake side, the route diverted sharply to the right along Syke Road to do an out-and-back (swinging around a marshal, if you get my gist) before rejoining Rakewood Road. The route rejoins Lake Bank before beginning the second full circuit. Upon completion, and having made the swift detour up Syke Road and back, the route swings right to take the return journey along Hollingworth Road, and the welcome downhill stretch to the finish.

Myself, Matt, Tracey and Jason joined the runners at the start, although there was a sense that none of us should really have been there at all. I was suffering with stiff thighs after yesterday’s efforts at Pontefract parkrun, Matt was troubled with his dodgy ankles, Tracey has succumbed to, among other things, glutes (now recognised in these parts as the top sports injury, having overtaken the metatarsal that no one had ever heard of until David Beckham suffered broken one), whilst Jason had never attempted to run this sort of distance before, and but for Tracey’s insistence, would otherwise never have dreamt of it.

Pumas on tour, Hollingworth Lake and surrounding fields providing a scenic backdrop.

But there we were, making up a field of 249 runners, and at 10.00am, we were off. We swung immediately into Hollingworth Road and began the gentle ascent. There was never a question of me bombing off – I’m too long in the game for that lark – and soon, up alongside me, was Matt Newton, and I’d share more than half the race in his company. Matt had joked he’d be more likely be bringing up the rear, clearly this wasn’t going to happen. I did half expect him to kick on as normal, but perhaps his ankle really was hampering him.

We ran around Hollingworth Lake in each other’s company, though I’m pretty sure I had to put in the most effort. So much concentration did I put into my running that I hardly noticed Matt exchanging pleasantries with a marshal at the Pavilion Café where we veered a sharp right turn. Had I been more attentive I would have noticed the marshal was our friend Paul Hopkinson. I hope he didn’t think I was being rude! We meandered along the path before hitting Rakewood Road and shooting up Syke Road. We did a quick shifty around the marshal (presumably they’d run of cones) then rejoined Rakewood Road, just as Tracey appeared to start her out-and-back.

Tracey about to show a clean pair of heels.

As we continued along Lake Bank and turned onto the path around the lake for the second time we were joined – and overtaken – by a woman I recognised as one we’d spoken to at the Conservative Club when we collected our race numbers. She turned out to be Lisa Kempster, and she certainly upped the pace. Before I knew it, her and Matt were pulling away from me, though never too far away. I gritted my teeth and dug in. I kept them within my sights as we toured the lake on this second lap, once again omitting to acknowledge our friendly and supportive marshal at the café. We continued along Rakewood Road, took the down-and-back on Syke Lane, then shortly after passing the watering station (where, incidentally, Jenny Hopkinson was handing out refreshments) we were ushered right to take up Hollingworth Road on the return home. Familiar with this section, I had prepared myself for a grand downhill finish, and this is what I gave myself!

I got into my stride and before I knew it I was making up good ground on Matt and his companion Lisa, soon on their heels and then passing them as I sped up. Matt offered encouraging words, as did the runner I passed further along. “Go on lad,” he said, typifying the kind of spirit which regularly shows itself among athletes. I burst passed him, then had this horrible feeling that I’d gone too early; there was at least another quarter of a mile to go. This runner, who I later learned went by the name of Paul Gandy, a Meltham runner, was soon on my shoulders, but instead of racing me, was offering more encouraging words which I’ll never forget. “Go get that train, go get that train, don’t miss that train,” he urged me, and once again I lengthened my stride to pull away. “Good response,” I heard him say, but I still had some way to go. I kept it up for as long as I could but felt I couldn’t sustain it. Paul closed in on me again just as the finish line came into view. “Go on,” he shouted, and with that I gave one last kick for home. I finished exhausted and carried on walking to regain my breath, thus not having the chance to thank Paul for his encouragement.

The sprint for home. Not only was I not going to miss my train, at the rate I was going by then, I had a good chance of catching the previous one.

Behind me, Lisa Kempster must have shrugged off Matt in the sprint for the line, for she finished three seconds in front of him. But she was grateful to Matt because, not for the first time (I didn’t realise they’d encountered each other before) he’d helped her to a personal best at this distance (as he’d helped her to a PB several weeks ago at Halifax parkrun). Having regained my composure, I joined Matt then we walked back up the road to await Tracey coming in.

The finishing line’s in sight and Matt Newton is helping Lisa Kempster to a 10k personal best. She repays him by kicking away and beating him by three seconds!

Now from what I can gather, Jason had been quite some way in front of Tracey for much of the race; as they both appeared, she had now stolen a march (no pun intended) to lead him in. She finished in 55:10, a time which pleased her no end; at the beginning of the month Tracey had run the Kirkwood Hospice 10K (a slightly easier course, I’d say) in 56:41. One might say she’s putting herself back in the game.

Tracey gains the upper hand, overtaking Jason and winning their own personal dual. She doesn’t care, and not only that, Jason can pay for dinner.

The winner of the race was Ian Livesy of Barlick Fell Runners in 33:52.

Pumas’ (and Jason’s) finishing positions and times were;

136 Johnny Meynell 51:28

139 Matt Newton 51:36

165 Tracey March 55:10

168 Jason Boults 55:15


Action photos supplied by Jonathan Moon (Sowerby Bridge Snails).

Stainland Trail 10K,

Sunday, 24 September, 2017.

Sunday saw the staging of one of the toughest runs on the local circuit, the Stainland Trail 10k. Having taken part in this event last year, I can certainly vouch for that; the climbs, the mud, the slippery paths. Anybody who wants to do themselves justice would need to be on top of their game. Advice which needs to be well heeded.

This event was also happened to be the next round of the Northowram Pumas’ club championship, and as such, you’d expect anyone who’s anyone to have shown up to challenge for the points on offer. There was, however, over that weekend, a conflict of interests, with many Pumas attending the high society wedding of the year – that of Neil Coupe and Jo Allen the day before. The afternoon stretched into the evening, and the evening long into the night. If, by the end of it, many of our would-be runners weren’t in a comatose state, they were certainly rendered incapable.

During the course of the celebrations, some of those who otherwise would have gladly taken part in the Stainland Trail were already pulling out, but no one could really tell if that was just the drink talking. On the other hand, there were those who had paid to take part but had resigned themselves to missing out due to injury, and in this case Peter Reason (weak core and glutes) and Matt Newton (Tan House ankle) were particularly unfortunate. As, too, was Liz McDonnell, who, but for a domestic mishap, would gladly have been there.

So which of the Pumas did actually manage to make it? Well, giving an 8.00am social media rallying call was the tee-total Jane Cole, who appeared to be chomping at the bit. Why, you could almost imagine her jumping up and down on her bed with excitement, like a young child on Christmas morning. She was informed by Lisa Aspinall that Tim Brook was still snoring in his bed, though to be fair, he had only just got in. Incredibly, though, Tim dragged himself up, bemoaning the fact that the barmaids never know when to stop filling up his glass (because of the copious amounts he’d downed he was wisely advised not to breath out near anyone having a cigarette). Similarly, Luke Cranfield confounded the doubters, of which they were many, myself included. Around 8pm the previous evening, I’d had a brief conversation with him, and come to the conclusion that if Luke wasn’t ‘already gone’ by then, he was certainly ‘on his way’. He left his house in the morning without Ally Canning, who, having arrived home from the wedding party the same time as Luke, was only missing the Stainland race due to a convenient dodgy ankle.

Andrew Tudor, having missed out on all the celebrations, was a cert for the race; never fully fit these days, he shows real dedication to get up and drag himself around any course put in front of him – when there’s points up for grabs. Indeed, Andrew has taken part in all but two of the eleven club championship races, though never with the same set of body pieces.

And there was a fifth Puma on show. Here, making a special guest appearance, was Richard Ogden. Injured running in the Calderdale Way Relay last May, Richard married Jennifer in July and was last heard of living it up on his honeymoon in Mallorca. But he’d paid for the Stainland Trail months ago and not being able to get to the Pumas’ sessions, has been, word has it, pounding the streets solo, often undercover, to get himself in shape. Here’s a man who would willingly pay twenty quid in taxi fares so that he didn’t waste his £10 race entry fee.

So that’s the Pumas’ cast, what of the race itself? Well, this is one that starts and finishes at Stainland Recreation Ground, though what goes on in between I’ll perhaps leave to your imagination. The drop down towards Fall Spring Wood is fair enough, though treacherous near the bottom. The route then climbs west through the woods before coming out into fields. Next up is Milner Wood, where a tough climb awaits the runners. Then there’s Beestones Wood, which eventually brings the runners down to dry land at the Sonoco Recycling Plant and the welcome watering station. Veering right, the runners next take a trail path called Cray Lane and follow it around until it joins the tarmacked Stainland Dean, which rises steadily. The runners then turn a swift left to take up Berry Mill Lane, initially steep, following it around until entering Firth House Wood and continuing for some way along Crow Wood Lane and Dog Lane before circumnavigating Sonoco (where the watering station is there for anyone wanting a top-up) and starting the ascent homeward. Up through the fields, the route eventually picks up Beestonley Lane, and the runners climb back up the fields they’d come down earlier. By now, legs would be aching, and even though the finish line isn’t too far way, there is still much work to be done in order to get there. The route veers right, taking the perimeter of the fields, and then there is one last climb alongside Stainland Recreation Park before it enters the park at the top right hand corner. The runners then run three-quarters of the field clockwise before reaching the finishing line.

What a lovely view. This photo also includes Tim Brook on his way to being #FPH. He says that running on ten pints is tolerable, but eleven is just plain ridiculous.

The race was due to start at 10.00am, just enough time for one Puma to make one last desperate run for the gents. “You could hear him throwing up in the corner,” said one key eyewitness of Tim Brook, who, nevertheless, dusted himself down to help make up the field of 144 runners on the start line. And then they were off.

There’s no suggestion that this cow gave Luke Cranfield a helping nudge, although he probably needed one. Running 5K in a dress against running ten with a hangover is doubtless the better of the two evils.

According to Luke, both he and Tim “took it steady”, though Tim would probably have had to take his word for it because, according to him, the whole six-mile course was “a blur”. They still managed to keep among the leaders, with Tim just summoning up enough energy to pull away from Luke in the final stages to take the honour of #FPH and a credible seventh place. Luke was but one place behind him, just six seconds slower than his time of last year.

Richard Ogden on his way. Not seen in a Pumas vest since May, he was clearly glad to get his money’s worth.

Richard Ogden finished an uncomplicated 32nd, comfortably inside the hour mark, whilst some way behind him there was drama of sorts. Andrew Tudor was suffering badly with injury over the last half of the course, and in time was caught by a rapidly improving Jane Cole. Maybe they helped each other, but upon finishing, Andrew gave Jane credit for pushing him on when he was clearly struggling. Jane, modestly, returned the compliment, but had she had any more conviction about her she may just have caught the runner just one place ahead of her. Using some skulduggery, he pipped her by two seconds; had she beaten him she most definitely would have been shouting about it, for this was her very own marito, Piero Tozzi, a Baildon runner. Jane, in fact, despite being Pumas’ sole lady, was the ninth female home. Yep, she’s brutal alright.

Jane Cole has caught up Andrew Tudor (just behind) and will push him on to the finish line. But clearly here she has Piero in her sights and will get Andrew to help her chase him. She’s so brutal.
Andrew Tudor staggers through the stile obviously in great pain but showing that bulldog spirit which got our country through tough times; carry on regardless.

The race was won by Stainland Lions’ very own Gavin Mulholland in 41:18, over two minutes ahead of second placed Joe Crossfield of Halifax Harriers.

Injuries, illness and assorted mishaps apart, next year we could perhaps see a greater turnout, though the purists would say that this year Pumas more than doubled in appearance – yes, last year, only myself and Luke took part. But unless Mr and Mrs Coupe decide to renew their wedding vows twelve months hence, I would expect the numbers to at least reach double figures. All sober, too.

Pumas’ positions and finishing times;

7 Tim Brook 48:36

8 Luke Cranfield 48:58

32 Richard Ogden 57:05

70 Jane Cole 1hr 04:47

71 Andrew Tudor 1hr 04:49

144 runners.


Photos courtesy of Graham Teal.



Sunday, 23 September 2017.

Running somewhat under the radar was recent Pumas’ recruit Rebecca Stanley throwing herself headlong into the challenge of the Sheffield 10k, part of the Jane Tomlinson Run For All Series. This was her first run at this distance, though, I hasten to add, not necessarily one of her own making; she’d been entered into it by her friend’s husband as far back as last January. By April, Rebecca thought she’d better do something about it and so turned to the Pumas to get her moving. She started out with the Beginners’ run/walking group and put in as many shifts as she could, helped along by Ian Marshall, who’s encouraged her no end.

It wasn’t until as recently as 2 September that Rebecca ran her first parkrun at Brighouse, clocking 34:10. Two weeks later she returned, and showing obvious signs of improvement, knocked two minutes 44 seconds off her previous time to record a PB of 31:26. By then, she was working as hard as she could to give herself the best chance she could at today’s Sheffield 10k.

Rebecca feeling proud, ready to run her first race in Pumas’ colours.

This event was staged for the first time in October last year, attracting a field of over 3,200, with the route taking in the roads around Sheffield city centre. Starting and finishing at Arundel Gate, the runners follow the route along Charter Row and into Ecclesall Road, before skirting the edges of pretty Endcliffe Park as they make their way along Rustlings Road. At the end of this road, the runners almost double back on themselves to follow the route along Graham Road, reaching the halfway point just as they approach Riverdale Road. They then follow the route along Endcliffe Vale Road, close to the Botanical Gardens, then swing right down Brocco Bank before picking up Ecclesall Road once more and making the return journey for the last 3k and what the race organisers term “an exhilarating city centre finish”.

Come the day of the event, perhaps the timing of it could have been better. What I mean to say is, Rebecca might have been crying out for another week. Because…she went into it with that dreaded syndrome. An injury, no less. That’s right, she was suffering with a bad back, something sustained, Ian Marshall assures me, through work with her personal trainer, and not anything to do with Northowram Pumas. But, it was either give the Sheffield 10k a miss, or give it a go. Fortunately, she chose the latter option, and felt overjoyed when she completed it. So much so, that she rang our Ian to tell!

Rebecca had no pre-conceived ideas of what sort of time she was hoping for. In the end, she finished in 2,860th position out of a field of 3,744 runners, crossing the line flanked by two Dewsbury Road Runners. Her time was 1 hour 10:26, but her chip time was an even more satisfying 1 hour 07:26 (thus giving her a chip position of 2994).

All done. Rebecca has completed her first 10K and shows off her medal to prove it. As the song goes, “You can’t take that away from me.”

Afterwards, Rebecca paid tribute to her Puma colleagues, saying how nervous she had been initially when she joined the club, but now admitting it was the best thing she ever did. She’s on the long list (now running into three pages and almost as many buses) of runners wanting to take part in the Abbey Dash in November, a race run over the same distance. At the rate she’s going, she’s sure to better her time from Sheffield. We shall watch with interest.


Leeds Road Sports Complex, Sunday, 3 September, 2017.

The latest event in the Northowram Pumas’ club championship calendar was held at Leeds Road Sports Complex, Huddersfield, the annual Kirkwood Hospice 10k, now in its tenth year. Last year, only four Pumas took part; this year the number had increased to ten, with Matt Newton being the only survivor. The Pumas’ team was split fifty-fifty, though not by design, with Tim Brook, Peter Reason, Simon Wilkinson and Johnny Meynell joining Matt making up the men’s team, while the women were represented by Helen Jackson, Shana Emmerson, Jodie Knowles, Charlotte Reason and Tracey March.

They all gathered in the car park a good hour before set-off time; with race numbers being collected by those who had pre-booked their places on-line in the club HQ, the others registered themselves, whilst Shana Emmerson went to swap the name of the unfortunate Jane Cole (injured) to her own, and almost completely managed it (they spelt it wrong).

Smiling Pumas pre-race – before the realisation that they weren’t there for fun.

By 10.10am, all the runners were out on the field trying to look as if they were actually enjoying a mass-group warm-up routine. Then they were directed to the starting line, all 269 runners, and at half past ten they were on their merry way.

The course, as in previous years, began with two laps of the playing fields (taking in about half a mile) before venturing out onto the A62 Leeds Road and after several hundred yards being directed left onto the canal. Heading back down from the direction in which they’d just come, with the playing fields on the left, the route carried for around a quarter of a mile before turning right, crossing the canal bridge then heading under the railway and veering left to take up the tarmacked path, the only ‘serious’ bit of climbing the route asked of the runners. The path continued for half a mile or so before (sub)merging into Aquamarine Drive. A left turn onto the more earthily named Red Doles Road, back under the railway line, the runners then swung a left to take up the return journey back towards the playing fields along the canal.

With the industrial estate on the runners’ right, and just prior to reaching the fields, the runners took a ninety-degree turn onto a tarmacked road that brought them back onto Leeds Road – the first lap completed. Required to negotiate the course twice, upon reaching this point the second time around, the runners then headed back into the sports complex, finishing by running three-quarters of the adjacent athletics track. Simple.

The Pumas’ start-line selfies are proving so popular, everyone else seemingly wants to be on one.

Right from the off, Tim Brook made a bolt for it, and was among the leaders throughout the race. By the time he’d done the two laps of the field he was lying sixth; passed by two, he overtook one and eventually finished seventh, a position which, in anyone’s book, was brilliant. Not only that, he went sub forty minutes for the first time over this distance; make no wonder this Puma was grinning for the rest of the day.

Keeping her eye on her Strava, that’s Charlotte Reason.

The positions of the Puma men went, in fact, to form, with Matt Newton, fuelled by Kopparberg and Sambuca shots from Demelza Bottomley’s fortieth party the night before, clocked an incredible 42:43 to finish nineteenth. His reaction of “I don’t know where that came from,” wasn’t entirely original, as he was saying the exact same thing just over twenty-four hours earlier when he ran a personal best 20:59 at Brighouse parkrun. Peter Reason was third home with a time which showed steadying improvement, whilst Simon Wilkinson, who overtook Johnny Meynell just around halfway, ran a consistent race to grab his own personal best over 10k.

Tim Brook charges to the line, seventh, sub forty minutes, #FPH and all that.

The Puma ladies were led home by Tracey March, and how good it was to see her back on the circuit. Jodie Knowles showed how far she’s come; her time of 57:13 was a marked improvement on her last 10k at the Helen Windsor event in July. In fact, she was nearly a minute and a half faster. Helen Jackson was relieved to keep her glute in one piece whilst Shana Emmerson managed to keep smiling all the way around, as she always does. Last for the Pumas, but certainly not least, was Charlotte Reason, who ensured all ten runners managed to finish inside the hour. She reckoned to have set her own personal best by one second, then bemoaned that her Strava – a gadget that is considered by those who use it to be as reliable as night follows day – had clocked the course longer than it should have been! A shout out, too, for the Hopkinsons, once again wearing the colours of Halifax Harriers. Paul Hopkinson finished 33rd in 45:18, while wife Jenny was just one place behind in 45:42.

Don’t you just love these before and after shots?

Pumas’ finishing positions and chip times;

7 Tim Brook 39:52
19 Matt Newton 42:43
42 Peter Reason 46:56
71 Simon Wilkinson 50:21
85 Johnny Meynell 51:36
132 Tracey March 56:41
139 Jodie Knowles 57:13
146 Helen Jackson 57:30
166 Shana Emmerson 58:49
172 Charlotte Reason 59:26

269 runners.


Wednesday 9 August, 2017.

It was only last April that relatively new Puma Cathy Heptinstall ran her first 10k race. To prove she’s making great strides, last Wednesday, she decided to do another, solo, in the Farsley Flyer Trail Race. And all hats off to her for giving it a go. But for those of you who know her well, they weren’t seriously worried whether Cathy would manage the multi-terrain six-and-a-half mile route, but more concerned as to whether she’d actually manage to find the venue. She seriously was concerned about that.

The Farsley Flyer Trail Race is a little known event that’s worked its way onto the running circuit for the first time; the organisers are trying to seek more publicity so that it gains popularity. Most of this is being done by word of mouth but on the evidence of the number of local clubs who were represented, the word is certainly getting out there.

The Farsley Flyers who organise this race have introduced a concept previously unknown to this scribe; no mass start meaning those who may be ‘running late’ can turn up anytime between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. As everyone is ‘chipped’ times and positions will later be ironed out. A further incentive to enter this race are the cakes and biscuits awaiting the finishers, as well as £2 off a drink in the local hostelry The Fleece, on Town Street.

Some of the runners pre-race looking relaxed. What’s the rush, anyway?

The route consists of mainly country lanes, trails and fields. A few of the trail sections were slightly overgrown, and just for good measure, there was a section that was muddy due to the recent rain. Though on the evening, the weather was kind and the sun stayed out.

Having navigated her way to Farsley, Cathy found herself near the front at the start, crossing the start line at 18:30.15 once the runners had been given the green light to go. I hasten to add at this point that Cathy wasn’t being stalked; these ‘out’ and ‘in’ times are recorded on the results sheet.

Cathy in recent action at Brighouse.

The route, hitherto kept a secret from all competitors except those who had reccied the course during the week, had a climb of 200 metres, but Cathy negotiated it well and finished just after five past eight, 107th out of 153 runners in a time of 1hr 35:20. The winner of the event was Ben Coldwell in 53:36, whilst the honour of the first Farsley Flyer home fell to James Crabtree, who finished sixteenth.

Evidently, from the feedback from runners who took part, there is a good chance that we’ll see more competitors next year. “A great event – well organised, great route and delicious cakes. Would definitely run future races,” was one typical glowing review. Oliver Gregory of the Flyers responded by saying, “Farsley Flyers loved every minute of hosting their first race, hope you all enjoyed the challenging route.” Their first race, maybe, but I’d say definitely not their last. Next year, I expect Cathy to be accompanied by several of her Puma friends.


Sunday 6 August 2017.

Hot on the back of the Jane Tomlinson Run For All 10k at Leeds last month, Glenn Ackroyd and Andrew Mellor were Northowram Pumas’ only representatives in the York event over the same distance on Sunday. On a course that’s a joy to behold, it’s ideal not just for getting that personal best, but also for taking in the glorious sights the city has to offer. But don’t just take my word for it, why, even the event organisers were promoting the event as “arguably the UK’s most beautiful 10K run.” As they went on to explain: “There’s no shortage of architectural ‘eye candy’ on this course; you’ll journey past the racecourse, along the fashionable Bishopthorpe Road, through the medieval city walls, across the River Ouse, past York Minster, through Goodramgate and on to Clifford’s Tower, past Rowntree Park and the old Terry’s factory on your route to the finish.” What’s not to like?

Andrew (left) and Glenn ready to do the Pumas proud.

Both Andrew and Glenn squeezed themselves into the massive pack of 5,286 runners* on the starting line, and at 9.30 they were on their way.

Glenn and Andrew ran the Leeds 10k in times of 54:44 and 55:50 respectively, but here, with the conditions near perfect – they certainly weren’t running in the searing temperatures we encountered in Leeds – and on this super-fast course, one could have expected both runners to go faster. And indeed they did, with Andrew romping home in 51:57, testament to the amount of effort he’s been putting in recently, and Glenn finishing in 53:04, a more than satisfactory performance, for as he later admitted, it wasn’t so much about taking part, it was all about beating his buddy Keith Petty! And he did that by a minute-and-a half.

Andrew sneaking around the corner. Can you spot him?
“It’s all about beating Keith Petty,” claimed Glenn before the race. Glenn duly delivered but I believe they’re still on speaking terms.

In a post-race interview, Andrew agreed that York was a great course, and though not necessarily easier than Leeds it was “nicer”. And of his time, he was “proper chuffed”, so much so that he treated himself to a right proper brekkie at Lucky Days Café.

Lucky days? Happy days, more like.


*  The number of runners who completed the course.

Pumas’chip positions and times;

1428 Andrew Mellor 51:57

1587 Glenn Ackroyd 53:04



The Bingley Show Trail Race isn’t for the faint-hearted. Predominately off-road, as the name suggests, it also takes in several steep climbs which ask much of the nimblest of runners. Northowram Pumas were represented by just two competitors; Tiffany Lewis and Karen Matos, and all credit must go to them for daring to give the 10k course a go. Not only was the route treacherous in places, the event got under way in torrential rain which made the going all the more heavier.

Karen and Tiffany brace themselves. Apparently, they were banned from using the umbrella whilst tackling the course on Heath & Safety grounds.

There were 132 runners who braved the elements and the event was won by  Michael Malyon of Baildon Runners in 42:33. Tiffany was #FPH in 123rd position in a time of 1hr 19:06, whilst Karen was just one place behind in a time of  1hr 21:26. Upon completion of the race both bemoaned the conditions, the course, their positions and their times, but when asked by an official later if they’d enjoyed themselves, both were heard to reply, “We loved it!”

Tiffany either waving or trying to keep her balance.


Karen had pre-supposed that the sun might come out, and when it did, her glasses stood her in good stead.


A Tail Runner’s Story

Sunday the 11th June 2017, a date in our diaries that we had been preparing for and looking forward to for many weeks. It was the day of the 2nd Northowram Burner – a 2.5k, 10k and summer fayre hosted by Northowram Primary School and Northowram Pumas Running Club. Following the success of the 2016 Northowram Burner, it was anticipated that this year’s event would be even bigger and even better. The 10k race with 200 places had sold out just a few days before and the 2.5k race had sold an unbelievable 500 places with more signing up on the day.

Walking to the school for the Marshal’s briefing at 9am there was a real buzz in the air, a feeling of excitement around the village as children, parents and friends eagerly swarmed to the school in their running gear.

Simon Wilkinson was busy delivering the briefing to a full room of tired but happy volunteers. With his professional and forever calm approach the marshal’s positions were quickly allocated and ready to go.

The Pumas racing the burner

At 10.30am it was time for the 10k to start. The 200 runners lined up by the arch on the school field ready to count down and run. Victoria Owen and I were tail runners for the race. We took our positions at the back of the group and steadily set off around the field. The support and cheers from the crowds as we ran through the school and onto Northowram Green was amazing and quite overwhelming.

As we approached the first challenging part of the course – Tan House Lane (mega hill), the main pack of runners disappeared into the distance. A group of runners from the newly formed running club Sowerby Snails were proudly holding up the rear of the race. The group had entered the 10k not to race and win but to take part and enjoy themselves. Vicky and I supported the group of Snails as we went through the first set of muddy tracks, over styles, through a field and up the long journey towards Queensbury.

Some of the Snails were struggling and found the course tough, but the unconditional support from their team members kept them going and we made it to the woods by Shibden Brook – where the running ended and the fun began!

Being at the back of the race we were met by very trampled and muddy, sloping tracks. Parts were pretty impossible to get down without a few screams and muddy bums. It was great to have encouragement from The Mountain Rescue Team and the marshals as we went through the woods. Everyone was smiling and laughing as a human chain of Snails was formed. Vicky showed no fear of the mud and dug in deep to support the group down the hills.

We then made it up Whiskers Lane and stopped for some selfies and some pictures of the beautiful views of the Shibden Valley.

Wendy at the top of Whiskers

Further on we were pleasantly met by some other Snail members that had either completed the race or had dropped out due to injury but had returned to support their fellow team mates through the final part of the course. Momentum increased as we reached the school. The group of Snails held hands in unison as they proudly crossed the finishing line.

The 10k Burner route was successfully completed by runners of all abilities, all with their own personal goals and reasons for completing the course. Well done to everyone that completed the course and thank you to all of the brilliant volunteers that helped to make the event a successful and inspirational day.

Thanks to Wendy Hewitt for her tail running and blogging!

Northowram burner 2.5k run 2017

The 2.5k run started at Northowram primary school.

Around 625 people took part in this event including adults, teenagers, dogs, buggies, people with young children and children from age 5 to 12.  Personally I really enjoyed the run and I would love to do it again. Northowram Primary school hosted the burner last year and I also took part in that. This year I found it easier because I have joined the Northowram Pumas running club and I have really improved.

The start of the 2.5k

The run started with a countdown from 10 and then the horn was blown. We all set off quite quickly, but soon people slowed down as they approached the short but steep hill up Baxter lane.

When we got to Upper Lane we began to spread out from each other. A while later we reached a steady downhill, which was closely followed by another small incline and downhill. Then there was a long flat run back to the school. As we approached the school there were many spectators clapping and cheering as we arrived back.

Jessica crossing the finish line

Afterwards we were given a goody bag and a medal. The annual school summer Fayre

was full of runners who had completed the race. The Fayre and Burner was organised by a group of Calderdale Primary school’s Parents,Teachers and friends association (PTFA). The stalls are shared out between the schools that take part. Originally the burner was set up by Bolton Brow primary school in 2014 to raise money for schools involved. The preparation for this event started in September 2016 and monthly meetings have taken place place to ensure that the day went smoothly.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed into making the Northowram Burner and School Fayre a enjoyable and interesting day.

By Jessica Cameron (age 10)

My First 10k

Charlotte Reason tells us about her first 10k

Northowram Burner My first 10k ….. off road and everyone kept saying all those hills. What am I doing?

The day has arrived I’m stood on the start line surrounded by other runners lots more experienced than me. I have butterflies in my stomach but I have on my puma top and I’m surrounded by friends and as the race started I knew I could do it. Having not recce’d the route I had no idea where I was going or what expect.

When we came up towards tan house I thought oh no I hope we aren’t going to the top luckily I spotted the marshal turning everyone off onto the first off road section. There were a few tough sections and a lot of mud. I enjoyed the woods section in the shade and downhill to the river crossing. I had a drink just before then and ended up with more down me than in my mouth maybe this is the part of running I need to master.

At whiskers I thought that I would never reach the top but eventually I saw Luke and he said I was nearly back so I picked up the speed as I headed back towards Northowram school.

Charlotte at the top of Whiskers Lane

When I eventually got back there was a great welcome as I could see fellow puma members stood outside the school gates and eventually see my fellow club runners at the finish line. With a great big grin on my face I crossed the finish line – I felt great. Overall I really enjoyed taking part in this race and I thought the support from all the marshalls and the public was phenomenal it really gave you the boost you needed to get round the course. For my first 10k I thought it was brilliant and would definitely do it again.

A Steel City runner

Jeni Harvey also competed in this years Burner, you can read about what she though on her ace running blog.

Who: A selection of awesome Pumas

Where: Dewsbury

When: 5 February 2017

How far: 10k (plus a bit extra for good measure)

Over to Johnny…..who manages to be at every Puma appearance at every race. Dedication!

One of the most eagerly awaited races on the running calendar is the Dewsbury 10k. It’s a particular favourite of most who run it, and it’s hard to see why. A smooth out and back, none too testing, and great for upping your PBs. I’d never done it before, so I was eager to put all these theories to the test.

Race morning

T’was another cold morning when we awoke, but then again, we’re only just into February, so what would you expect? I left my house a 7.33am and made my way to Matt Newton’s, where we were collected by Debbie Fox in a roomy Audi. Simon Wilkinson conveniently dropped off Matt’s running gear (which he’d had since Friday) before making his way around to the club to cadge a lift off Neil Coupe. Just for good measure, Rachael Hawkins jumped in too. En route to Dewsbury, we stopped off to pick up Shana Emmerson. Of the four of us in the car, only Matt had done this race before and we relied on his navigational skills to get us there. These were, however, suspect, and Debbie was flicking on the sat-nav before we’d even hit Brighouse roundabout.

We arrived in Dewsbury town centre and looked around the obvious parking spots. Debbie cheekily snuck into Sainsbury’s parking lot, and evidently got away with it. Seven of us trooped across to the Sports Centre for the obligatory loo visit before making our way to the start, where we had our pre-race photo shoot taken by Queensbury’s Andy Smith, who wasn’t running due to injury. We met up with Alison Pearce and spied Melissa Hall and Sarah Firth on the starting blocks. Typically, we were situated somewhere near the rear, an obvious Pumas’ trait, but with our race numbers coming with accompanying chips (no fries) nobody was going to fool us with false finishing times. Also running on behalf of the Pumas was Paul Pickering, although it must also be pointed out that Carine Baker was a late withdrawal, whilst Neil Coupe himself was running in place of the unwell Vicky Owen, doubtless faster but less glam.

Pre-race, running in all the glam locations

Assuming everyone finished the race, there were 1,081 competitors, so as one would imagine, once the gun had started, it took us some time to reach the start line. We could see the elite bombing off, and in time it would be our turn (though ‘bombing’ in our case is a term loosely used). Off we set, around six miles ahead of us. At least we would start to feel warmer once we were under way.

Of the course itself, there’s little to make it sound really exciting. It was a straight run down the A652 Bradford Road towards Batley, passing such crowd-drawing attractions as Dewsbury Auto Salvage, Beds Direct, Skopos Retail Furnishings, Lala’s Kashmiri Cuisine and Tesco Batley Express. Further along the route on the way out was Batley Grammar School (where my cousin Paul is Assistant Head, just saying) and a little further along, the entrance to the impressive Wilton Park, though we had little time to survey its beauty.

Mid race low down

I was soon into my rhythm, though the chances of me keeping pace with Neil and Matt was a forlorn one. I did so for the first half mile, but after that I just had to let them get on with it. Paul Hopkinson, running for Halifax Harriers, also passed me early on, but this run was about what I could achieve for myself, with the notion that the course was pretty flat and my personal best at such a distance standing at 49:54 (set at the Epilepsy Action event in Bradford last March) there to be broken. Ahead of me was Alison Pearce, who’d managed to get away from the start a while before I did, and she seemed to be flowing.

I kept Alison in my sights for most of the outward journey, offered encouraging words when she briefly stopped around two and a half miles in, then watched her pass me a minute later! The sight of Neil and Matt (or should that be the other way around?) on the other side of the road making the return trip was encouraging; they’d never been miles in front of me and this told me the turning point wasn’t too far away. When we reached it, I took Alison on the inside and got my head down.

I can’t speak for everyone, but the road back in seemed easier than the road out, in that we were now, initially, running ever so slightly downhill. I tried to take in all the landmarks, but that was a hopeless task in itself, because I simply couldn’t remember where or when I’d passed them earlier! Best just carry on regardless. Knowing the turning point had been around halfway, I knew that we had the equivalent of a parkrun to do, though the watering station about half a mile after that did throw me somewhat.

Whilst on my way back in, I spied in turn Simon, Melissa, Rachael and Sarah still making the outward journey, though I must have been deep in concentration to miss Debbie and Shana. On we plodded, each step closer to home. With about a mile to go, I overtook Diane Waite, something I’ve never done before, and in time I noticed several runners now walking in my direction; they’d already finished and were making their way home or to their cars, or to just anywhere. It wasn’t important, although it did give me a sense that the finishing line couldn’t have been too far away. Then the crowds increased in number and their applause grew louder. The end was near, if you know what I mean.

Johnny nearing the finish line


Rachael gliding over the finish line

To confirm this, a female runner, whom I later discovered went by the name of Marie Lees, told me that the finishing line was just beyond the approaching archway. I quickened up and passed her, and sure enough as we went under the railway arch, the finishing line was there ahead of us. Suddenly, she made a bolt for it but I was having none of it and kicked with her. Our sprint took us away from runners behind us, and before we knew it, we were gobbling up two chaps who were casually approaching the line. We caught both of them and I think my own kick had just brought me in ahead of her. It was a satisfying end to what I felt had been a comfortable run. An old friend of mine, Dave Waite (husband of Diane) greeted me over the line and remarked that my sprint finish had just got me under fifty minutes. But that was the gun-time. My chip time would be better than that.

I went off to start my recovery, taking the bottled water, then going to pick up my dishy and illuminating pink souvenir T-shirt. Mushy Cade the Running Machine has nothing on these, I thought whimsically. I joined Matt and Neil, and soon Simon joined us. The other runners came in thick and face, with Sarah Firth being #LPH. Then the chip time results started coming through, and bizarrely, and quite randomly, I was informed by Debbie that my result had just showed up on her phone: 48 minutes 42 seconds. To coin a phrase often uttered by Matt Newton: I’m happy with that. Matt, for his part, had been first Puma home in 44:56 (a personal best, to boot), with Neil Coupe not far behind in 45:15, though here we felt there were some sour grapes. “I was robbed,” he later exclaimed (though what of, no one was entirely sure). He felt that the course was longer than 10k, but no one else seemed to have been mithered.

Once we’d posed for Andy Smith once more in our bright pink T-shirts we made the trek back to our cars.

Everyone looking super stylish in their finishers t-shirts

Then it was time to head home, though not before six of us had pulled up at the Enchanted Wood at Kershaw Garden Centre. It was like a scene from The Sweeney. But we were only here for brekky, and a full English seemed to be the order of the day. Debbie was evidently happier with her 10k finishing time (though not a PB) than she was with her fried egg, and returned it with the accompanying words of something along the lines of “Make sure the egg yolk is hard, OK?” She’s sometimes a tough one to please. But we got there in the end.

Enjoying a proper athletes re-fuelling the correct way

Finishing positions and times of the Pumas:

  • 413 Matt Newton 44:56
  • 428 Neil Coupe 45:15
  • 559 Johnny Meynell 48:22
  • 589 Alison Pearce 49:28
  • 698 Debbie Fox 52:13
  • 709 Simon Wilkinson 52:37
  • 813 Shana Emmerson 55:04
  • 831 Melissa Hall 55:59
  • 915 Paul Pickering 59:40
  • 916 Rachael Hawkins 59:43
  • 950 Sarah Firth 01:01:12