Namer of the Clouds: Cirrus 10K, June 2021 – Ben Hales

Namer of the Clouds is a new three-race series organised by Ackworth Road Runners to commemorate the town’s connection to the ‘Godfather of the Clouds’, Luke Howard. Though a chemist by trade, in 1802 the amateur meteorologist classified the clouds by their appearance, and his nomenclature is still used today.

The races are Cirrus 10 Kilometres, Cumulus 10 Mile and Stratus Half Marathon. This weekend me and Melissa Massarella headed to Frickley Colliery for the inaugural event, the Cirrus 10K. I’d checked beforehand what cirrus clouds were all about.

Cirrus are known to raise the temperature of the air beneath the main cloud layer, by an average of 10°C.

It was a baking hot Sunday morning in June. We arrived just ten minutes before the start. Dozens of Ackworth runners had congregated at Frickley Athletic football ground. After registering we went straight onto the spoil tip, now Frickley Country Park for a warm-up. Just a quick jog up one of the hills and we were sweating. This was going to be tough.

A large number of cirrus clouds can be a sign of an approaching frontal system or upper air disturbance.

We drifted into the starting pack. 135 runners had come to race, and it was great being part of a proper mass start for the first time in over a year – great atmosphere! With a blast of the pistol, we were off. There was no lightning pace though, and I found myself running near the front. The warm conditions soon disturbed my starting rhythm. By the end of the kilometer one, the first of several chasers approached and thundered past, as I settled into a more sustainable flow.

Cirrus clouds are wispy clouds found at high altitudes.

We ran on the old Frickley Colliery branch line, then down Frickley Lane, and back towards the Country Park, where hills awaited. One climb was dead straight, and I put in some effort to keep up all the way to the top, only to find more hills waiting round the corner. We descended the ‘hair-pin climb’ section of Frickley Parkrun, which inevitably meant we’d have to climb the steep downhill section which comes before it. I approached its foot. The runner in front was halfway up, walking! Could I get some lift? No rockets would carry me to the stratosphere today – I was also forced to walk this steepest part.

They may produce glories: an optical phenomenon, resembling a saint’s halo around the shadow of the observer’s head.

Back at the top of the spoil heap, a runner had almost caught me, so I had to work hard to keep my place. Getting shot by a burst from a kid’s water pistol was welcome, and I turned the final bend to concentrate on a runner in front, uncatchable. With a final sprint I made it over the line in 51:16 – 26th home. I waited for Melissa to finish, and she came home in 58:30 – 61st. We soon realised that our pace was faster than at our last race, Roche Abbey’s (not quite) 10K.

Thanks to Ackworth for putting on a friendly, well-organised race. We look forward to enjoying more ‘mon-soon’!