Anna’s Journey – from C25k to a marathon

By Anna Warrington

I started couch to 5k thinking I would give it a go and if I don’t like it I just won’t bother going again. I’d not run since school so knew it wouldn’t be easy. From day 1 I enjoyed it, the support from others doing it and the leaders involved is great.

The weeks fly by and we were soon at the graduation park run being supported by so many members from the pumas.

The running bug is catchy- so much so I went from C25K to 10k to half marathon and recently finished the Yorkshire marathon.

I’ve made many friends and love being a member of the club. If in doubt give it a go, you might surprise yourself and actually enjoy it!

This picture is me completing the marathon with a great friend I met on C25K.

From Couch to 10 miles!

By Jayne Scanlon

I’ve never been very good at exercise stuff. As a kid I was the academic one, the swot, the one picked to be prefect, but NEVER picked in P. E. I was always that one left that folk groaned at when they knew I was on their team. I was the one who never got picked for the good stuff on sports day, but got stuck with the 1500 metres because no-one else wanted it….. And I never finished it, I once even passed out on the third lap of the field!
Into adulthood I started suffering with chronic back pain and any form of exercise caused me discomfort and pain, so I stopped exercising, completely, and became even more incapable of more than a very short walk.

In 2016 I started working in Brighouse and I used to see groups of people running when I was coming home from work. I once saw one group, really spread out with a couple of ladies quite a way behind everyone else. I made enquiries and found it to be members of Northowram Pumas. I contacted them and spoke to a lovely guy called Ian who really tried to encourage me to his beginners class but I chickened out, I decided, when he told me they typically ran 3 miles, it was not for me…. After all, I could barely run a bath!!
I did however, like their Facebook page and, in 2018, when I saw their Couch25k program advertised I knew it was time. I bullied my son Josh to sign up with me and we both got in. Oh…. My…. God, I’ve done it now I thought.

I turned up that first session thinking there would be loads like me, complete beginners, all struggling to run and breathe at the same time. We were asked to run around the field to check our ability. To my horror, I was already half a field behind everyone else by the first lap and needing oxygen and a defib! I was mortified. So much so, I cried… I was so embarrassed, those old school feelings coming back.

Lucky for me, the leader didn’t give up on me, and told me it would get better, making me promise I would come back the next session…. And I did.
I worked hard during that program, running when they asked, walking when told and got my reputation of being stubborn and determined. I was the slowest in group, REALLY slow, but I never gave in, and on the 24th November, I did my graduation Park Run. I was disappointed, I was slow and I had to walk, I was so upset how far at the back I was, I never enjoyed the achievement and the love of the club who’d all turned out to support us.
Since then, I’ve had injuries, illnesses, bad periods of doubt but, belonging to a club has, for the first time in forever, somehow motivated me never to quit. I plodded on, doing my thing, sometimes improving, sometimes slipping backwards but never giving in.

One day, after talking with my husband who was doing the York Marathon, I decided to jump in with both slow feet and sign up for my first race, a 10 miler!!! Not a 5k, not a 10k but straight in. Stupid? Hell yes, achievable? Who knew…? But I wanted to do something amazing with him on that day.
I signed, with only 7 weeks to go!! and a holiday in between. Madness!!! But it was done, no turning back now. I only told a select group of people, mainly as I didn’t want any pressure, but also just in case I failed, that old embarrassed feeling coming back.

I trained, kind of, doing club runs and did two long runs with my husband .. A 5.4 and a 7.6 mile and pretty much accepted I’d finish it, but I’d have to walk.. A lot! But, after two of my closest club friends offered to run with me, there was no turning back, I was not going to fail or quit.
The day arrived, I got ready, I’d prepared the week before, eating properly, carbing up, feeling like a proper athlete 😂😂, and off we went.
I waved my husband off on his marathon and I waited for my event with my support besties. I was nervous, I felt sick, I was dreading the unknown… 10 miles!!! What was I doing?? The klaxon went and we were off.
I emptied my mind; I visualised a medal and I settled into my pace. I let folk pass me, I didn’t care, this was about me, not them and I ran! I just set myself mini goals, each mile to get to, and relaxed. It was tough in places, I hate inclines and there were some sneaky ones, but having two teamies with me made me dig in, I wanted to make them proud, I wanted to make my husband proud and most of all, I wanted to be proud.

I finished that race, 25 minutes faster than I had set myself and I ran the bloody lot, I never once stopped and I never once walked and I wasn’t last!! I’m always last, but not that day, I even passed people, that had never been known! I had only ever run 2 miles without stopping before so I had no idea where it came from but I pulled an amazing achievement out of the bag and I earned my medal!

I achieved the impossible for me, how? Well, support from others, running is lonely alone. Belief, if you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t believe in you either. Determination, the mind can force the body to react when you dig in. Realism, make your journey about you and your goals, don’t be pushed by others, set yourself achievable goals and you’ll get there. Finally, LOVE!! Love yourself for when you do your best and you’ll achieve your impossible.

My name is Jayne and I AM a runner!


Keswick Mountain Festival

Keswick Mountain Festival 2019

This is Big Brother.

Welcome to the Lake District, your home for the next 3 days. We believe it’s the perfect setting for a weekend of Running. For those of you into Cycling and Swimming, that’s available too. Big Brother has organised an evening of entertainment at the festival, stunning scenery in an unrivalled setting and a host of great house mates. Big Brother hopes you enjoy your stay.


What follows are the the Diary Room accounts of the weekends adventures by the people that lived them.




Diary Entry 1 – Andy Barnes


“Yo Big Brother. I was supposed to be doing the Sprint Triathlon first thing on Saturday morning. Except, this became a Sprint Cycle Sprint. There was to be no swimming as they found some sort of Green/Blue Algae in the Lake! I’m very disappointed. I’ve let the ladies down as they didn’t get to see me in my swimming attire!”


Big Brother didn’t get to see Andy on his bike either, with an irreparable puncture to his rear tyre meaning a transfer to the 25k. Andy finished in 133rd with a time of 2:46:53.




Diary Entry 2 – Rebecca Stanley


“Hi Big Brother. Just to let you know, I forgot the Desserts for dinner. I had one job! I’m not sure the house mates were that impressed. I did Keswick Parkrun on Saturday morning with Andy and then climbed up a mountain on Sunday afternoon with Claire and Andrew. Oh and the festival was brilliant. Glitter was a bit expensive though!”


Big Brother hasn’t forgotten about the desserts Rebecca.






Diary Entry 3 – Jude Roberts


“Good morning Big Brother. I did the 25k on Saturday. Myself and Andy actually ran the whole way together. I may have left him at the end though. First Puma home and all that! On Sunday we both ran up a Mountain. It was a bit chilly at the top. By the way, do you know what ABBA and Jeep stand for?”


Big Brother hasn’t forgotten any of Jude’s Acronyms. These are now the thing of legend amongst this year’s house mates. He finished his 25k in 125th position with a time of 2:45:43.


Diary Entry 4 – Andrew Mellor


“Hello Big Brother. The 25k was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! We set off, all smiles and were even at the front on the start line. The Captain would be proud! Two words to describe the route? Incredibly Tough! We all had to concentrate on our footing, watching those ankles and some of those descents were treacherous. Awesome oranges at the last checkpoint saved me. Loved every minute of the weekend!”


Big Brother has not forgotten Andrew’s fan boy moment meeting a YouTube star. He finished his 25k in 238th position with a time of 3:03:58.



Diary Entry 5 – Claire Ramsbottom


“Hi Big Brother! I did the 25k and feel like a proper runner now! No denying it was super challenging. I ran most of it and even made friends along the way which kept me going near the end. I saved our house mates on Saturday night by jumping into the road for a taxi to take us back to the house. Such a fab weekend. My face hurts from laughing!”


Big Brother hasn’t forgotten the amount of glitter in the Dining room. Claire finished her 25k in 360th position with a time of 3:27:18.




Diary Entry 6 – Peter Reason


“Hello Big Brother. The 25k was definitely hard on the legs. It was some of the most scenic yet challenging running I’ve ever done. It was a really tough race but I do fancy some cycling next time so may try a Sportive. Hats off to everyone who prepared the curry for Friday and pasta for Saturday.”


Big Brother is not sure if Peter got out of his hiding place behind the bedroom door. He finished his 25k in 422nd position with a time of 3:45:25.




Diary Entry 7 – Sharon Reason


“Hi there Big Brother. I ran the 10k on Sunday morning with Rob. We had a little boat trip across the lake to reach our starting point. It was a lovely route but at less than a mile in, Rob took a dive down the banking towards the lake. He’s just clumsy! Not sure how he expected me to pull him back up onto the path? I was actually tempted to leave him until two guys helped out. But we finished together and I’ve had a brilliant weekend.”


Big Brother would like to thank Sharon for driving people around Keswick all weekend. Sharon finished her 10k in 441st position with a time of 1:43:17.




Diary Entry 8 – Rob Bowman


“Aye up Big Brother. I’ve had a smashing weekend. I ran my first ever official 10k with Sharon. I suspect she tripped me up. In truth, I may have just fallen over a tree stump. But there was blood everywhere and grit in my arm. Thank you to the marshals for putting a plaster on my finger! Loved every minute and the support from the house mates was fantastic. Team Puma! Best thing I’ve been a part of in ages!”


Big Brother has looked into Robs tumble and found no foul play. He finished his first ever official 10k in 440th position with a time of 1:43:16.




Diary Entry 9 – Julie Bowman


“Hi Big Brother. It’s hard going to a festival and behaving yourself the night before an Ultra Marathon. I got up around 04:30 as our race was setting off at 06:00. Good job the other house mates were quiet when they stumbled in. They had been warned! The actual race was brutal. I fell at least once. 50k on that type of terrain is hard. Can’t believe Rob forgot my Fanta for the finish. Livid! Someone pass me the Epsom Salts!”




Big Brother is still afraid of being late for dinner after Julie shouted to the girls upstairs. Julie finished her 50k in 66th position with a time of 6:42:10, the 2nd female in her age group.



Diary Entry 10 – Tim Book


“Hello Big Brother. Is the WiFi working in here? Anyway, I did my 100th Parkrun on Saturday morning over at Whinlatter Forest, cycling over with Jane. Like Julie, I was on my best behaviour on Saturday ahead of the 50k. I even proper studied the route. It really was a difficult and tiring race, I had nothing left in the tank at the end. Fantastic weekend though!”


Big Brother would like to thank Tim for bringing entertaining music to the house. Tim finished his 50k in 21st position with a time of 5:47:41.



Diary Entry 11 – Jane Cole


“Alright Big Brother. Can I just say I’ve had a brilliant weekend. Disappointed not to be running but I’ve enjoyed 15 miles on the bike. We bought too many Pizza’s for Sunday but I’m blaming Claire for that. And where was dessert? Also, how good was Hide and Seek! Proper took my mind off Bob. Thanks to all the house mates for the funniest weekend ever. My cheeks and belly hurt from giggling all weekend!”


Big Brother recognises Jane for suggesting the house mates play Hide and Seek. Well done Jane.




Disclaimer: The diary records above may or may not bear any relation whatsoever to the events and individual views of the house mates over the Keswick Mountain Festival weekend. Rumours that Jude was evicted first for repeating stories and jokes are unsubstantiated.

Calderdale Way Relay Records

Following the efforts of May 19th 2019, these are the new Club records for the Calderdale Way Relay for each leg Men’s and Women’s:

Leg 1 1:25:52 Luke Cranfield & Tim Brook set in 2017
Leg 2 1:09:47 Luke Cranfield & Tim Brook set in 2018
Leg 3 0:49:30 Chris Crabtree & Chris Topher set in 2018
Leg 4 1:27:06 Luke Cranfield & Rick Ralph set in 2019
Leg 5 1:04:36 Andy Haslam & Andy Sales set in 2019
Leg 6 1:32:58 Tom Moran & Chris Topher set in 2017
Leg 6 1:46:01 Jon Ding & Andrew Tudor set in 2019 (Spring Hall)

Leg 1 1:45:40 Elizabeth Mcdonnell & Diane Cooper set in 2017
Leg 2 1:22:16 Elizabeth Mcdonnell & Diane Cooper set in 2019
Leg 3 0:55:13 Ally Canning & Diane Cooper set in 2018
Leg 4 1:42:57 Kirsty Edwards & Julie Bowman set in 2018
Leg 5 1:24:24 Gabriella Kenny & Julie Snee set in 2019
Leg 6 1:46:16 Andrea Warrington & Julie Bowman set in 2016
Leg 6 1:43:58 Kirsty Edwards & Victoria Owen set in 2019 (Spring Hall)

Well done everyone.

Burnsall Half Marathon

By Andrew Mellor

I’d never tried running a trail half marathon before. So for my first, what could be better than to try than one with spectacular views in the Yorkshire Dales? If you threw in a few hills and a bottle of beer at the end, I’d be completely sold. If this, like me, sounds like your thing, continue reading and let me tell you about this year’s Burnsall Half Marathon.

It’s the first race of the 2019 Due North Race Series, set in the stunning riverside location of Burnsall. It takes in several sections of the Dales Way footpath and provides some of the most beautiful scenery the Yorkshire Dales has to offer. It’s also quite hilly.

Six hardy Pumas arrived early ahead of the 10 am start to collect numbers and prepare for the challenging race ahead. The previous year’s event had seen some soaring temperatures, but this year was different. It was cold. Layering decisions became an issue immediately whilst waiting for the start but after a brief warm up around the field, we gathered with 208 other runners and were underway.

The start eased us in gently, looping around the field and then onto the path by the river. And then the first climb up Kail Hill. The route then continued uphill for what felt like forever until we reached the first welcome downhill near Trollers Gill at mile 3 (avoiding any confrontation with the fabled Barghest). Descending for the next few miles, through Skyreholme down to the river and then up into Appletreewick.

At mile 7 we were going vertical once more, providing a welcome opportunity to take on fluids and shed layers before climbing up towards Dibbles Bridge across some open, tough moorland and then up back up Langerton Hill. After some frankly ridiculous, un-runnable last climbs, we headed down towards Hebden, following the river and across the picturesque Burnsall Bridge to the finish.

The winner of the race finished in 1:27:20 and promptly claimed his prize and ran home to continue tending to his flock of sheep. Jude Roberts led the Pumas home in 15th position in an impressive 1:48:31. A sprint finish decided the 2nd and 3rd Pumas where I somehow crossed the line in 63rd with a time of 2:06:45, a single second ahead of Matt Newton in 64th with a time of 2:06:46 knocking 14 minutes off his 2018 time.

Kirsty Edwards finished in 73rd improving on last year with a time of 2:08:46 and was then delighted to be reunited with the gloves she’d reluctantly abandoned mid-way. And bringing us all home were Tiffany Lewis and Mark Kirkby, nipping under the 3 hour mark in 2:59:41 and 2:59:40 respectively.

Plenty of post-race refreshments were on offer, including some of the best yogurts you never really thought you needed and some cold pasta which was best avoided.

To sum up, it’s a tough (over 1650ft of Climbing!) but rewarding race in a stunning location. Really well organised and definitely something a little different. I’d wholeheartedly recommend you add this one to your calendars for next year.

Sowerby Bridge Flat Caps 10K

By Dawn Higgins

On a weekend where the Northowram Pumas were represented at many events throughout the North, this Puma chose to stay close to home and run the Sowerby Bridge Flat Caps 10k Race. Now in its second year, this race was described as ‘a charity 10k for any ability’, an ‘undulating 10k road race, chip timed, measured and fully marshalled course’ with all participants receiving a bespoke medal. With a 10.30start, the promise of a medal and some stunning views, I was in!

With hindsight, I don’t really think that this was as full and frank description of the route as I (and many fellow runners) would have liked. I’d driven a recce of the route and let’s just say that ‘undulating’ really doesn’t give this race justice. With over 1000 feet of climbing, all in the first half, it’s a bit like the Overgate route, but even more harsh!

Starting off from Snails HQ (Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club on Walton Street), it was a well organised and civilised start to proceedings. A quick lap around the field before we ascended up the paths through Dixie Woods, a right turn at the top started the further ascent up Sowerby New Road. After a mile of solid climbing, at the Church Stile Inn we turned right down Pinfold Lane to  enjoy some spectacular scenery, looking out towards Hebden and beyond. Heading out to Boulderclough, we turned up Shield Hall Lane, for an absolute ‘pig’ (insert swear word as you see fit) of a climb. You’d think that was it….but no. More climbing up Steep Lane, which, as names go is a fairly accurate description! To say it was hideous is an understatement; Think Howes Lane, but steeper. And longer. Ooh, throw in a head wind and you’re somewhere near!

Anyway…low point/high point? Who cares at this stage? Left onto Mirey Lane (more superb views), through Hubberton Green, right up Red Brink Lane and once at the top…’s all downhill! Views across to Norland, Huddersfield beyond and even Saddleworth! Down Toothill Lane,Thunderton Lane, left onto Plain Lane, down Upper Field House Lane, and back into Sowerby. Sometimes it has a bit ‘too’ downhill for us potential Fallers, but that just allows for Phoebe running. Past the school, round the corner and a sneaky last uphill section before crossing back over Sowerby New Road and back down through Dixie woods to where we started and the finish line! Phew!

My evaluation? This is not a 10k PB course. This is a harsh slog of steep, unrelenting uphill, with beautiful and stunning views to (hopefully) distract from what you’re doing! It was a well organised, well marshalled race with lots of support throughout and a lovely medal. All proceeds went to the Christie in Manchester. For many reasons, and not just because this year I was only there for the views, I will be back.

#FPH Dawn Higgins 58.19 (also #LPH and #OPH so there you go!)

Photo credits Jonathan Moon, Yorkshire Runner Photos and Sowerby Bridge Snails Flat Caps
Facebook event page.

Yorkshire Veterans Grand Prix at Middleton

By Andy Flynn

This morning we climbed aboard the fun bus for fun and frivolity at the opening race of the YVAA Grand Prix Series at Middleton Park, Leeds. There were a full array of ages on display from the ever youthful Tim Brook to a gent who was running in the 80+ category.

A 5.3 mile (8.5km) course awaited us and luckily for roadies like me it had dried out nicely for this race. We set off for a lap of the field then roughly two laps off the woods with a couple of decent hills involved. #FPH in a very respectable 10th place was Tim Brook followed by the evergreen Andy Haslam in 34th.

89th place was Thomas O’Reilly followed by Andrew Mellor in 104th. I saw Andrews shirt for the whole race but just couldn’t get any closer. Andy Flynn(me) came in 110th for his first victory over club legend Neil Coupe who came 122nd. Mark Kirkby then followed closely in 134th.

On the ladies side a great run by Jo Louise to finish 56th and a gritty determined run from Tiffany Emma Lewis in 68th who wasn’t feeling her best today.

Full results at website

Next event is at Honley on Sunday 14th April hosted by Holmfirth Harriers. For those who’ve raced today keep your numbers and take a fiver with you to race. Those who haven’t, make sure you register at least the day before then do the same to collect your number. I’ll be away but no doubt there’ll be a fun bus thread in the days leading up it.



Liversedge Half Marathon

By Dawn Higgins



Sunday 17 February marked the final race of the Northowram Pumas 2018-19 Championship Series. Whilst some had opted to run the Great North West Half Marathon in Blackpool, a dozen or so ‘point chasing’ Pumas gathered in Robertstown for the Liversedge Half Marathon (at a very civilised 11 am race start)!

The course at Liversedge was described by some Pumas (who had done a recce some weeks earlier) as a toughie, with lots of up and some down and which the race organisers Robertstown Road Runners described as a route “mainly through rural areas which is testing in places”. Previous years’ events had seen snow, hail and freezing temperatures, however, the weather was forecast to be kind, with a dry and sunny day and perhaps just some wind to contend with.

After gathering for the obligatory team photo at Race HQ (minus Shaun who has already set off for the start line) we were off. Starting at Commonside, where the road was closed to traffic, the 468 runners embarked on the initial downhill stretch, lasting about a mile. The course then steadied out a bit, up through Liversedge, passing newly muck-spreaded fields to get to above the motorway. Passing the Old Pack/New Pack pubs, we settled in at four miles for the descent into Bailiff Bridge and the slog on Bradford Road. Crossing the Ford, it was the beast of a hill up to Clifton that showed who hill trains around here!

A steady plod up the hill (no stopping) and we picked up a small section of Leg Six of the Calderdale Way Relay at Clifton before a water (and jelly babies) stop around mile eight. Thus followed the ‘mad mile’, a steady incline up past Willow Valley Golf Club to head back past the poo fields! Returning towards Robertstown, you can see all the runners in front, aware that there are still two miles with a last push uphill! A final push and a left turn back on Commonside, the finish is in sight (albeit, farther away than you’d like) but then comes the Rock Star Moment!

Commentary over the PA system, with your name and club announced like you’ve won the blummin’ thing! Awesome! (Even if your race number did say you were Simon ‘he’s had major surgery you know’ Wilkinson!, they got it right!) What can I add? Yes, it’s hilly, but that’s the challenge! It’s almost scenic in parts! It stayed dry and bright! It was windy! It was well marshalled by friendly folk, giving up their time and their jelly babies! Lots of clubs are represented from all over! It’s a great race! (And that’s from me, who doesn’t even like running!)


Some fantastic results from the day;

Leading the Pumas Charge, Tim Brook in a brilliant 1.25.51 and 17th overall!
Jude Roberts in 1.32.47 and being modest on Strava
Andy Sales showing off his marathon training at 1.38.52
Matt Newton being lazy in 1.42.04
Shaun Casey coming back on form in 1.44.22
Diane ‘Machine’ Cooper leading the ladies in 1.45.03
Kirsty Edwards in a not too shabby 1.47.34
Andrew Mellor knocking a sensational 18 minutes off his previous HM PB in 1.47.34
Andy Flynn in only his second HM with a PB of 1.55.18
Dawn Higgins (me) getting round in 2.03.44
And Helen Charles with a fantastic race at 2.17.34

So that’s the 2018-19 Championship Done…. new format for 2019-20 with it all to play (run) for!
Go Pumas!


Great North Run 2018

The Great North Run is one of the few iconic yearly running events that brings together 1000’s (about 43,000 actually) of runners from the length and breadth of the country. After the London marathon it is the most publicised and popular run in the country, indeed as of this time it is the largest Half Marathon in the world. Even the BBC with Steve Cram & Paula Radcliffe dedicate an entire morning of live broadcasting to it one Sunday every September, relegating Match of the Day and Andrew Marr to BBC2 so it must be something special.

They even manage to get some blokes called the Red Arrows to fly around until they get dizzy. In short, The Great North Run is big; very big. If the biggest race you’ve done is a Parkrun in Shroggs Park on a cold Saturday morning in the middle of winter, nothing is going to prepare you for this.

With such a large family of Pumas, it’s odds on that there’s going to be a few doing it every year and this year was no exception. In order to get a place in the run, each hopeful must either enter a ballot or try to get one of the many charity places available. There are over 40 charities to run for and each one is allocated a set number of spaces so if the initial ballot is unsuccessful, the lucky few might just be able to get a place supporting their favourite.

This year 28 lucky Pumas managed to blag a place, some just running for themselves but a lot for running for dedicated charities that were dear to their hearts. With everyone running for different reasons, there were numerous groups travelling up at different times. Some had booked rooms for the night before and the night after the race to enjoy the delights of Newcastle’s excellent drinking holes (guess who.!) whilst others had decided to get up before the crack of dawn and travel up on the day. Regardless, as the start of the race grew ever closer, the various little groups migrated to a single point and a mass gaggle of Pumapeople were ready for the photo opportunities and a spot of celebrity spotting.




You bump into the weirdest people

Whilst Lara Croft (or some woman called Nell McAndrew) was more than happy to be mugged by a group of our intrepid runners, unfortunately Mo Farah had photo-fatigue by that point. As Britain’s most highly decorated & most famous long-distance runner it seems that everyone wants a selfie so I don’t think anyone could blame him for finally decided enough was enough on the morning (albeit with a smile)


Celebrity Spotting with Nell McAndrew

Just getting to the start point at the Great North Run is a feat in itself. Despite the Newcastle Metro running at full load and sending trains every 5 mins, each one is packed with runners and spectators from at least 7:30 in the morning and once at the final station, there is still at least a 30 minute walk through a vast sea of bodies to reach even the closest starting pens. This walk will inevitably lead past one of the traditions of the Great North Run, the casting off of jumpers which are then rounded up and distributed to local charities.

Old Jumpers, a GNR tradition continues

The pens are laid out in traditional style with the fastest runners at the front and the slowest at the back although I suspect the guy dressed as a fridge who was near the front might have been pushing it a bit.

But the scene was now set and thankfully the sun was shining and as the start got ever closer, the irritatingly jolly compere introduces an even more irritatingly jolly fitness guru to lead the 43000 sea of competitors through a series of warm up exercises.

Wave your arms in the air

As with the London Marathon, the starting times for each pen is staggered so that the 1000s don’t all fall over themselves at the same time. First off are the Elite Wheelchair racers then each zone behind at set intervals until the very final zone gets underway. Such are the numbers that the last runners start nearly an hour after the Elite guys leave the start line so by that time, just about the entire 13.1 mile route is nothing but a sea of runners and wheelchair athletes.

I wasn’t running this year so joined the equally vast crowds who decided to cheat and take the Metro from the starting point in Newcastle to the finishing point in South Shields. I did think that there would be lot more wriggle room on those trains than there had been in the efforts to get to the starting point; how wrong I was. By the end of the line we were hot and highly intimate but the thought that our lot was so much easier than it was for the competitors kept us going through the hardship. Leaving the train was another long walk to the finishing line with thousands of people looking remarkably like a North-Eastern zombie apocalypse.

But anyway, enough of my whinging and back the really important people who were doing the trip the hard way. Starting from the central motorway in Newcastle city-centre the race runs slightly downhill for the first mile before reaching one of the most famous view of the race, the Tyne Bridge. If you’re lucky you might just get there in time for the Red Arrows first appearance of the day. If you’re even more lucky, you might even get you picture taken.

Where’s Wally (Simon – he’s there, honestly)

By this time the runners around you should have spaced out a little bit and you should no longer be blocked by people who are walking, having optimistically suggested to the organisers that they could do the course in 1:30 and started in a zone way ahead of you.

Slight uphill into Gateshead on the other side of the Tyne the route turns right to follow the river down to the coast. En-route and towards the quarter point of the race, the Gateshead stadium with music stands lining the route and joining the crowds in urging the runners on. No doubt along the way you’ll be shocked that some random stranger knows you before realising your name is written on your bib.

Mile 4 heads upwards on a gentle drag to the highest point of the race at Black Bull. The next 3 miles head relatively downhill till eventually the large crowds on the Tyne Tunnel come into view.

Heading through miles nine to eleven, along the John Reid road are usually described as the hardest of the race and a chance to take one of the many cold shower stations to cool down (that’s apart from the hundreds of kids squirting water from the crowds).

Past the Nook shopping complex and getting close to the Coast with a stand on the side of the road offering free pints of beer run by the local Hash House Harriers. If you’re planning a run/walk, that’s the time to walk..

By the end of mile 11 the course is right by the coast with the fresh sea breeze in the air and one final climb up to Marsden Inn before a sharp drop down to Coastal Road Bank.

By the last 2 miles the crowds at the huge cheering points are three or four deep right to the finish line the end of the world’s biggest half-marathon. This is the time to feel a huge sense of pride, not just at finishing but also at managing to catch and overtake someone dressed as a banana (even though you did get overtaken by at least three Pandas and a Honey Monster along the way). Once again if you’re lucky, the Red Arrows will be doing their thing just for you as you cross the finishing line.

Pete manages the best selfie of the day

Such is the size of the race, trying to find everyone at the end of the race really was almost impossible, even with well-made plans. As already suggested though, each little group of Pumas had their own plans for the rest of the day and the evening so it didn’t really matter. What mattered was that once again, people had come together to represent themselves and the club and the Facebook feed for the Pumas group was full of pride & congratulations. Fast, slow or in-between doesn’t matter in this group, none of that ‘we only want to be represented by our elite runners’ rubbish here, which is just as it should be.

Mo Farah warms up before a 00:59:27 finish


Pumas Great North Run Times 2018

Deke Banks                          01:36:13

Kirsty Edwards                     01:46:45

Andy Haslam                        01:47:38

Julie Bowman                       01:49:05

Simon Wilkinson                  01:53:03

Andrew Tudor                       01:53:06

Sarah Haigh                         01:59:02

Christopher Ellis                  02:00:29

Victoria Owen                       02:00:29

Dawn Higgins                       02:11:17

Paul Bottomley                     02:11:37

Jodie Knowles                      02:11:55

Andrew Barnes                    02:14:25

Peter Reason                       02:16:25

Tiffany Lewis                        02:17:56

Sarah Firth                            02:20:48

Melissa Hall                          02:22:32

Alison Shooter                      02:28:44

Brett Swiffen                         02:41:33

Gillian Holmes                      02:49:59

Emma John-Baptiste          03:04:58

Dean James                          03:07:47

Rachel Calvert                      03:16:42

Fiona Averill                          03:21:54

Katharine Barnett                 03:56:05

Cathy Farley                         03:56:06