Halifax parkrun, Shroggs Park, Saturday, 23 September, 2017.

It was a parkrun like no other. I mean, where else could you have expected to find an array of priests and vicars, an abundance of elegant (and some not so) dames, chimney sweeps, ridiculous wigs (some even fitted correctly), glasses of Prosecco downed pre-run, and where a pregnant bride was shoved over the finish line in a wheelbarrow by the mother of same said bride? You couldn’t make it up.

The happy couple upon arrival. Despite a 5k run ahead of them, Neil still manages to make Jo giggle, convincing her that “it’s all downhill from here.”

As if you haven’t guessed, the occasion was Halifax parkrun, unofficially labelled ‘Neil and Jo’s Wedding Run’. And their friends from Northowram Pumas were out in force to make it all the more memorable. Yes, Neil Coupe and Joanne Allen, married officially the day before (but willing to go through it all again in front of the watching masses later in the afternoon, where the wedding rings were delivered by Barney the Labrador) had invited all their running friends to make this parkrun one to remember. One to remember? It’s one nobody will ever forget!

A colourful mix, a small selection of what was on offer on Saturday.

‘Twas a colourful scene, what with all these outfits and everything, though one of the funniest sights was that of vicar-clad Chris Ellis arriving late (long after the photo-shoots and first-timers’ briefings had been done) and hurtling up Harrison Hill with a horrified look on his face, one that suggested he was about to turn up for his own sermon only to find all the parishioners had gone home. He made it in time, and on the starting line, those dressed for the occasion were joined by others who looked, for once, kind of out of place – runners in running gear.

Tracey Ann, Simon Wilkinson and Shana Emmerson, with her new best friend, Kevin.


Luke Cranfield (in mid-week): “To make it a fair contest, I’ll put on a thick suit, shirt, collar and tie, it’ll be so hard to run in that.”
Tim Brook: “You’re on. I’ll do the same.”
Gabriella Kenny and Paula Snee. These two look as if they could actually be sisters. Oh wait…
Providing the love interest…Claire Ramsbottom and Rachael Hawkins.

Race director Stephanie Hull did an amazing job when addressing the 191 runners and giving the compulsory race briefing, her delivery cleverly based on a wedding theme; “We are gathered here today…Does anyone know of any reason why this parkrun should not go ahead?” Stephanie then led Neil and Jo through the crowd – and back again – in the manner of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea. Her race briefing duly completed, there was one last task to perform before Harrison Charles got the runners under way, and that was Neil and Jo stepping forward to release a couple of doves (acquired by Gabriella Kenny via Queensbury Running Club) – these are homing doves, apparently, and sure to return from where they’d been brought.

The day provided freedom for at least one happy couple.

Before you knew it, we were off, as we all know, roughly three-a-half-laps of Shroggs Park. Oh what a circus; three fellas humping it around in suits that would help them sweat out almost half their body weight, ladies almost tip-toing around whilst holding the hem of their dresses, and Shana Emmerson carrying a special type of boyfriend, probably the best kind, one that doesn’t answer back (but destined never to get a recorded finish – because he didn’t have his BAR CODE!). Mind, from what I can gather, neither did many others, seemingly too concerned with ‘looking the part’ than hunting out that essential item, one without which, we are told, means, “No time.”

You can almost hear the runner in the orange T-shirt asking himself, “What on earth has just passed me?” Or words to that effect.

Of course, once out in the field, there were those, despite how they were dressed up, wanted to knock off something respectable. Luke Cranfield, who arrived in a tight-fitting white laced dress covered up by his Pumas hoodie, for fear of arrest, took the honour of being #FPH. His dress barely reached the top of his thighs, thus giving him plenty of leg manouvreabilty* (Back in the day, you could just hear an old dear warning her daughter dressed in similar attire, “You’ll catch a chill, you know.”)

Alan Sykes – all-in-all a bit of a mess, really.

Not too far behind was Tim Brook. He finished eighth but was first in a newly created sub-category – #FPHIAS (First Puma Home In A Suit). First female Puma home was Kirsty Edwards, skipping around in her frock in a manner that suggested perhaps that she may have just done this sort of thing before. Jane Cole came in 57th, choosing this occasion to run her first parkrun. She can’t usually make Saturdays due to work commitments. She offered me a small cash inducement to publicise her hairdressing business, but being far too professional and honest I couldn’t accept anything like that. Just as professional and honest as Peers and Cole Hair, 34 Well Green Lane, Hove Edge.

He may be in a (tight-fitting) dress, but Luke Cranfield still has the determination of a winner (fifth, actually).

Claire Ramsbottom, Rachael Hawkins and Andrew Mellor were also Halifax parkrun first timers; fortunately for them, next time out they should record personal bests, and questions will surely be asked if they don’t. Worryingly, however, two Pumas actually managed personal bests, one being Wendy Hewitt, who ran in a pretty blue frock decorated with birds and clocked a time over two minutes faster than her previous Halifax PB. Which begs the question: What was she doing last time out? More importantly, what was she wearing? Clogs? Simone Brook, who ran her first parkrun here two weeks ago, beat her time that day by eleven seconds, so there’s another one who might like to pay attention to detail when choosing her running outfit.

That “Get me to the church on time” feel about it. Chris Ellis with Vicky Owen look to be either getting there, or making a hasty retreat.


Paul Bottomley addresses his flock with an appropriate hand gesture. Not the one he wanted to give, I believe.

For some it was a familiar tale of suffering. Matt Newton limped over the line as he has done on several occasions before, suffering with an ankle injury sustained when scaling Tan House Road the previous evening. Though in the past, injured or not, he can never have claimed to look as fetching as he did here, matching lemon dress and tights and all (although in some quarters, he was likened to Big Bird from Sesame Street).

Of course, we all awaited the arrival at the finish line of the newly-wed Mr and Mrs Coupe. They finished in style; Neil humping Jo into a conveniently placed wheelbarrow (one can only assume this prop was planted pre-race, as in the previous forty-one Halifax parkruns I’ve run, I’ve never seen a wheelbarrow placed handily on Harrison Hill). And pushing her with consummate ease (again, does he do this regularly?) over the line under a shower of confetti.

Neil wheels Jo over the line. It surprised no one that she managed not to spill any of her glass of Prosecco.

When all was gathered in, the Pumas entourage made its way back to the Northowram Social Club, for a welcome breakfast of bacon, sausage and/or egg butties, tea and coffee. Where, amongst other things, Matt Newton was declared the Best Dressed Puma, and Bella the dog managed to hoodwink everyone in an impromptu game of Hide and Seek.

What a morning. What a carry on. What on earth just happened? And that was just the start of the day.

Carlsberg don’t do parkruns. But if they did…

* No such word.

For prosperity, Pumas and associates’ positions and times were;

5 Luke Cranfield 19:11

8 Tim Brook 19:58

43 Andy Haslam 24:08

44 Tom O’Reilly 24:12

47 Jude Kenny 24:30

49 Peter Reason 24:52

51 Kirsty Edwards 24:54

57 Jane Cole 25:45

67 Jonathan Meynell 26:41

73 Claire Ramsbottom 27:28

75 Andrew Mellor 27:39

76 Finley Canning 27:44

77 Victoria Owen 27:50

78 Chris Ellis 27:58

80 Simon Wilkinson 28:03

82 Paul Bottomley 28:31

83 Rachael Hawkins 28:34

91 Matt Newton 29:15

94 Mark Brook 29:27

97 Amanda Huddleston 29:52

98 Charlotte Reason 29:54

104 Anna Ralph 30:28

113 Wendy Hewitt 30:59

120 Sarah Haigh 31:47

121 Debbie Fox 31:53

125 Shana Emmerson 32:04

127 Simone Brook 32:12

132 Alan Sykes 32:53

133 Tracey March 32:57

134 Nicola Pennington 32:59

136 Paula Snee 33:00

138 Gabriella Kenny 33:04

142 Neil Coupe 33:33

143 Mrs Coupe 33:33

156 Tiffany Lewis 34:12

160 Eileen O’Brien 34:42

161 Tamara Gibson 34:58

163 Patricia Taylor 35:06

170 Megan Casey 36:17

171 Shaun Casey 36:20

174 Mai-Lyn Brook 36:28

176 Nicki Hartley 36:35

Unknown positions and times for Adam Standeven, Lisa Aspinall, Carolyn Brearley, Ally Canning, Laura Fairbank, Jane Henley, Nichola Mathieson. How does that mantra go again…?