Tuesday, 21 February 2012


  In  a recent post looking back 25 years at this time I reviewed the HABERGHAM 9 mile road race.  The race was organised by the local high school P.T.A (with Clayton Le Moors harriers). It doesn't take place any more  and perhaps the reason for it's demise was that driving force behind the event  has left the school or left teaching.
 But races with the longest history  are more likely to be organised by clubs, I suppose.  The changing  membership taking  up the responsibility of perpetuating the event.

  One such club run event was the HOLMFIRTH 15 mile road race; first put on by Holmfirth Harriers 43 years ago.  It was by no means an easy event. the  (Land)  of the Summer Wine is not exactly the flattest part of the U.K.  But every year a few hundred put thenselves up for the challenge and latterly it served as a Yorkshire Vets Championships event.  So it certainly had a regular following.
 However, The 2012 event has been cancelled with the organisers citing    "issues of cost, road safety and the declining quality of the field".
  The club felt that they would have to raise the entry fee to over £10  to cover road closure cost, which they were reluctant to do.   Now some of you younger readers might raise an eyebrow at this point, I know.
What's £10 for a race nowadays.    After all it costs £48 to enter the GNR?!

Photo: flaming photography. Problem is for us long time runners (including no doubt the H.H. organisers) we're not used to paying the high entry fees even if we can afford them.  Or as one "mature" recent customer in the Complete Runner nelson said,  "I 've never paid more than £50 for a pair of trainers  and I'm not starting now".   As opposed to younger  customers who often say,  "I don't want an expensive pair....something about £80, if possible."
Similarly with race entries there is a reluctance to having to charge too much.
  As for "declining standards"  there is no doubt about it for whatever reasons the race results of 2011 do not
compare well with those of the past.  I ran the race in the mid 1970s when Pat and I  attended selling "mobile".   In 1975 I was 49th. in 83.47 for the tough undulating course. The following year 26th in 81.48 and in1977  21st in 81.55.  All times which would have been good enough for 2nd place last year.  The 49th finisher  ran  107 mins+.    24 minutes slower than that time of 1975.
 I just wonder  whether when they refer to "declining standards"  they are really referring to the problems of marshalling.   Perhaps volunteers are reluctant to stand for over 3 hours whilst runners complete their 15 mile "challenge"?
 If so it's a concern.  We may see more and more races cancelled OR see them impose stricter time rules for entry or cut off times to ensure that the events are "done and dusted" earlier with minimal inconvenience to other road users.  Many races of course are forced to start at 9.00 or even 9.30 a.m. for that reason.
 Fortunately we do not generally suffer such high temperatures to necessitate much earlier than that.
Wouldn't do for me:  I need my beauty sleep,  being old and ugly!
  On a more personal note; the last 2 days have certainly been challenging after Sunday's 14 miler on the road. Last night I dragged a very weary body around the grass in driving rain and gale force winds. Today was a lot better but still a trial as I ran through STRID WOODS  witnessing the rapids on the River Wharfe after recent rains.  Rain which apparently we should be bottling and sending down to the south east of England where they are experiencing drought!
                      In contrast our reservoirs are overflowing!  But that's a run for tomorrow.


  1. Sorry to here that about the Holmfirth 15. I did it for the first time last year and it was a tough one.

    I think the driving force behind holding these events has always been to raise money, be it for charity, or funding for their particular club. You can see the point of the clubs in losing interest if they can't make money or the work involved is just too great. They are faced with even greater challenges today from the likes of the police, health and safety and the rise of the blame culture. For these reasons many more volunteers are needed to help run these races.

    Some events like the Abbey Dash and Brass Monkey continue to thrive because they are made up mainly of people running for fun whose main aim is to get fit or complete the course. Many of these people would not be interested in doing an arduous course like the Holmfirth 15. The competitive club runner that used to run in these events has declined in numbers. Combining the events with Vets Championships must help but has still failed to compensate for rising costs in organizing the events. I do fear that this will be a growing trend.

  2. No, I haven't been away for four months. It is still a sad day, as I have just heard of the demise of this great race. I first ran it in 1986 and have enjoyed every one I have competed in. My best time was in 1991 when I was aged 47. Terry and Antony have touched on the reasons, but we can all recall many happy times from the Holmfirth 15. Some interesting mementos came our way: hats, towels, coasters,etc., and some excellent food after the race! Is there a 15 mile road race left?
    Dare I be so bold as to encourage someone from Holmfirth to organize it at least once more.
    The same area was resposible for my favourite Marathon; Huddersfield.
    Just a note to Terry. Are you sure you have been declining? If you use the Age-grading lists from 1994 (never bettered), you can indeed tell whether you have lost any 'real' speed or performance. You can 'improve' on earlier times. I ran what I consider my very best Morpeth to Newcastle (14+ miles) just prior to it's closure, about ten years after my best actual time.
    Anyway, I'll sign off by thanking all the people at Holmfirth for their hard efforts to put the race on over many years, and I'm so glad I ran the last two races (with awards) even though I had only been doing a few miles each week beforehand. Very best wishes to all concerned. Rod