Looking out over the stillness of Digley Reservoir, based near the small village of Holme, recently a hotspot for cycling enthusiasts capturing the Tour de Yorkshires King of the Mountain highlight to the peak of Holme Moss; Andy Brentley, a member of The Summer Wine Trails organisation team reflects on the success of a rapidly growing competition set in this picturesque valley in West Yorkshire.
The Summer Wine Trails was the brain child of Jon Burdon (Race Director) of Holme Village and Andy (Assistant Director) of Upperthong, Holmfirth, back in 2013 as they ran along their favourite local trails together. The concept was to create a series of races that would have at the heart of them a uniquely open community feel encouraging all ability of runner to explore what has shamefully often been known as 'the darker side' of running - the disciplines of trail and fell. To engage a wider audience Jon and Andy have generated, at present, two progressively challenging trail races within a short distance of each other.
'The School Run' is approximately 9K which starts at Holme Village Junior and Infant School and circles the valley surrounding Digley Reservoir, held this year on Saturday 6th June and saw both male and female winners representing Stadium Runners who brought the lion's share of competitors to the event as they have added it to their season's calendar. Jonny Cartwright who won the men's section commented 'this may be a race for all abilities but it's by no means easy, especially in today's blustery conditions - hilly and technical, it's a great addition to the calendar." Another first time racer was heard proudly confirming "that was really tough but amazing, such a good atmosphere for a new relatively small race, I'll definately be back."
The second race held this weekend on Saturday was the 'Stairway to Heaven.' Offering a further 3 Kilometres of challenge, climbing the opposite side of the valley from it's base at Holmbridge Church Hall up and around Cartworth Moor forest. With outstanding weather conditions due the continuing Indian summer we are experiencing; the 32 competitors were treated to a gruelling wave of ascents for approximately the first 5 miles. One runner, Paul Wheeler, arriving in 9thposition was adamant that this little race needs to be respected: “if you don’t know what’s coming that final climb up the forest road is a killer. I saw many people struggling as they’d gone too hard through the woods below not realising they had this ahead.” The race was won by Gareth Hague of Steel City Striders in 56:22 and first lady (third overall) was Helena Croft of Stadium Runners in 59:10 who was also the series champion.
Jon and the team were overwhelmed with the positive praise received for the event and hope that it will continue to grow without ever losing that small community vibe that seems to have made it so successful. With children's races and a 'stepping stone' challenge walk, jog, run offering those newbies the opportunity to cover the course non- competitively in the hope that they will grow the confidence to return and race the following year, it offers a range of opportunities to help promote the sport to a wide age and ability range.