Bring Back…

The re­turn of the Holm­firth 15

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

In the Novem­ber 2014 is­sue of Run­ner’sworld we lamented the death of The Holm­firth 15, a 15-mile race in West York­shire that had en­joyed a proud history since mak­ing its de­but on the roads back in 1968. It at­tracted many of the era’s top run­ners, such as dou­ble Olympian Ron Hill and 1989 Lon­don Marathon win­ner Veronique Marot, but in 2011 it was de­cided to lay the ven­er­a­ble event to rest. That is, un­til long-stand­ing Holm­firth Har­ri­ers mem­ber John Philpott saw our piece and de­cided some­thing had to be done.

‘I was hav­ing a beer with a few mem­bers at the club af­ter read­ing the ar­ti­cle,’ he says. ‘ We got talk­ing about the rea­sons why the race got can­celled in the first place – health and safety – and de­cided that this was a pretty de­press­ing rea­son for a much-loved race not to take place. The race had been held on open roads and in 2011 free polic­ing for the event came to an end. This, cou­pled with the fact that the field was col­lec­tively get­ting slower and slower and so was still out on the roads when the Sun­day rush hour started, meant that it wasn’t vi­able.’

John got to­gether with friend Dene Tow­nend, an ex­pe­ri­enced race or­gan­iser with Can­non­ball Events, and set about putting ev­ery­thing in place. ‘First of all, we had to get the idea past the club com­mit­tee,’ says John. ‘ We did that by pledg­ing that half of any prof­its would go to the club, with the other half go­ing to char­ity. Then we made sure that the com­mu­nity were in favour – which they were – and af­ter that it was a mat­ter of the race lo­gis­tics. We tri­alled var­i­ous dif­fer­ent routes, but in the end went back to the orig­i­nal two-lap, un­du­lat­ing route, as it was the best – a case of “if it ain’t broke…”. The hard­est bit was alert­ing ev­ery­one to the road clo­sures we’d now secured to cover off health and safety. When you get per­mis­sion to shut off roads for a cou­ple of hours you have to knock on ev­ery sin­gle door and also mail­shot ev­ery­one in the vicin­ity to tell them about it. It’s a coun­cil re­quire­ment.’

The re­vamped 2015 Holm­firth event drew a mod­est field of 77 en­trants, while a new 10K, added to com­ple­ment the tra­di­tional 15-miler, at­tracted an ad­di­tional 80 run­ners. ‘A fair num­ber of the 15-mile en­trants were peo­ple who’d run the old race and who were de­lighted it was back,’ says John. ‘ We want to build on that now. The ca­pac­ity for the event would be 400 and if we hit that num­ber it’d be pretty good for a club that is pre­dom­i­nantly fell-run­ning- fo­cused. We think we can get up to 250 run­ners in the next cou­ple of years and use that as a base to build. We’ll try to do things dif­fer­ently; for ex­am­ple, this year the me­mento for all fin­ish­ers was not a medal but a Holm­firth-branded cool­bag – much more use­ful. And be­yond that we plan to hold a 50thanniver­sary event in 2018. It’s nice to have the race back.’

The 2016 Holm­firth 15 takes place on Oct. 30. run­ner­sworld.co.uk/holm­firth

WEL­COME BACK (top to bot­tom) The Holm­firth 15 in its prime; the re­vamped 2015 event; our story from Novem­ber 2014

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