RICHARD McLEOD played a starring role as winner of Holmfirth Harriers’ annual Christmas Handicap race for the Tinker Cup.
It was the 94th running of the club’s ‘Blue Riband’ event and the out-and-back course, from Honley Cricket Club to Greenfield Road in Holmfirth, reputedly crosses 50 walls and fences in a distance of six and a half miles – and to this it owes a deserved reputation as a very tough race.
The outstanding way in which these obstacles were tackled by McLeod, who has one paralysed arm, made him a real champion.
In his three years as a member of the club, McLeod had yet to win any kind of trophy or medal, but he has already gained recognition nationally having been invited to join Great Britain’s elite Paralympic triathlon training group at Loughborough in February 2013.
After the race McLeod said he attributed his success to the all-round strengthening gained through circuit training in the gym.
There are also trophies for the first man and first lady home, the Ian Roberts Memorial Trophy and the Norman Haigh Trophy respectively, with Mark Buckingham and Katie Walshaw retaining the prizes.
For Buckingham it was his ninth victory in 12 years, while for Walshaw the win completed a run of five in five.
Richard Anderson, another of the club’s top runners, also completed a hat trick in the runners-up spot in the men’s race.
Anderson’s recent good form in cross country races was evident in his chasing Buckingham from start to finish, losing out by just 14 seconds, compared with a margin of one minute and 43 seconds last year.
Club Life Member Martin Booth, who has completed 52 years in membership of the Harriers, of which he was secretary for 15 years, presented the trophies.
The club also took the opportunity to express thanks to the officials, marshals and other helpers in a variety of capacities, numbering 35 in all.
Once again the club was indebted to the farmers, landowners and tenants for their permission and co-operation in allowing the race to cross their land, their walls and their fences.
The help is enormously appreciated in a club which values its heritage, especially when it comes to the Tinker Cup – its inaugural race being in 1908.
The course has remained substantially unchanged since its inception, although in 2002 the route was reversed, with athletes now running from Honley to Holmfirth and back, instead of vice-versa.
This year, however, minor changes were necessary north and south of Dean Brook Road due to new tree planting and fencing.