Race Date: Sunday 23rd April 2023
Race Report by: Katelyn McKeown
The Cat Lane Canter returned on Sunday 23rd April for its third in person event. This local trail run offers 5K and 10K distances with the latter being 2 laps rather than one. There is no doubt that it is a hilly and challenging route. Starting on the grass at Newfield Secondary School the run takes participants down a muddy bank onto an open meadow path above the woods. A quick slide around the balancing pond is followed by a short climb up to the woods, erroneously known as Cat Lane.
These ancient woodlands have remained intact due to steep banks of the Meers Brook which has carved its path from its spring above Herding Wood, through Gleadless Valley to the River Sheaf. The hills that make the CLC such a challenge are the very same reason that these woods have been left pretty much undisturbed by development and demolition over the decades since Sheffield made its way this far South East.
The route does take in the infrastructure of yesteryear as it funnels runners through some gateposts and past the pond belonging to the old Lees Hall Farm, a fairly grand house from the C16th. The pond has recently been encircled with willow fencing to create a protected space for Great Crested Newts who breed here. The right-hand turn at the pond finds you adjacent to what remains of Lees Hall’s orchards which still contain many apple trees, some of which seem to have spawned themselves to create interesting varieties of apple.
The route contains three fairly significant climbs, the first being the long drag up to the golf course fence. This climb is definitely runnable but it is sufficiently long and steep that it may well be beneficial to power walk, particularly on the second lap! The second long climb is up to the Round Sheffield Walk sign – keen Round Sheffield Runner’s will realise that they are usually enjoying the lovely downhill of Stage 8 when they see this sign! Finally, the drag back up to the school which starts off innocently enough, over the stepping stones, hardly visibly a hill. However, the path does get steeper, and it seems to go on for ages and then there is the horrible vertical assent back towards the school drive. If your legs aren’t screaming at you by this point well, well done!
The CLC is a race that is close to my heart and, far more specifically, my house. It’s like, so close you would really need to go on holiday if you wanted to avoid it. And even that might not be enough! This year my game plan was simple; take part in the Manchester Marathon with the sole purpose of preloading an excuse for doing badly on the Canter. Sadly Seth Kirby did not seem to get the memo, as despite having put in a sterling performance at Manchester, he won the 10K in 41-25. Likewise, Paul Middlemas did not adhere to the plan and topped off being the second Strider at Manchester by coming 2nd in the Canter and first M40. Huge congratulations to both (but also – Tut)!
The prizewinning did not stop there for Striders with Neil Schofield bagging another 1st MV50 to add to his growing collection. Fiona Jeffries snagged an impressive treble with 3rd female, 1st FV40 and 1st FV50 in the 10K. Nicola Rafferty won the FV60 meaning that Striders took the entire female veteran prize haul – fabulous women!
The 5K women’s race was won by Strider Sophie Evison AKA Broc Pastor in 29-25. Heather Knott took the 1st FV50 for Striders. Graham Nield romped home with the 1st MV60 in the 5K. So all told, a very hefty prize cache for the Striders – well done all.
The Manchester Marathon representation did not stop with the top two men either! Being on the registration desk I was in pole position to offer words of encouragement to mar-ungover runners including Laura Mella, Tessa Bainbridge and Karen Clarke. The second part of my game plan was to wear my Manchester t-shirt so I was appropriately dressed to dole out sympathetic wisdom like “it’s going to be awful” and “why are we doing this to ourselves”. The only Manchesterer who looked completely unfazed and full of beans was Kevin Haighton and we’d expect nothing less of an absolute legend!
The Cat Lane Canter raises much needed funds for local schools. It also raises the profile of these beautiful woodlands that in the past have been neglected and prone to litter and antisocial behaviour as a result. During the CV19 pandemic a group of enthusiasts ran the CLC as a virtual event and went on to create the Not The Cat Lane Canter Grand Prix (Not the Cat Lane Canter Grand Prix – Quirky virtual running in Sheffield’s hidden places (to-lo.co.uk)). The website is a treasure trove of runs in often unknown and unloved corners of our city and a great resource for runners and walkers looking for something off the beaten track.
36 Striders took part in the 10K and 8 in the 5K. The 10K race was won by our very own Seth Kirby and first female was Vicky Penn of Smiley Paces in 00:49:55. The 5K was won by Al McGregor in 00:24:29 and first female was Strider Sophie Evison in 00:29:25.
|10||Sophie Evison||FSEN||00:29:25||1st female|
|18||Heather Knott||F50||00:35:06||1st FV50|
|50||Graham Nield||M60||00:46:00||1st MV60|
|1||Seth Kirby||MSEN||00:41:25||1st male|
|2||Paul Middlemas||M40||00:42:17||2nd, 1st MV40|
|5||Neil Schofield||M50||00:44:02||1st MV50|
|34||Fiona Jeffries||F50||00:53:37||3rd F, 2nd FV40, 1st FV50|
|50||Nicola Raffety||F60||00:58:12||1st FV60|
The full results can be view here.