Halifax Hariers
Halifax Harriers Athletics Club - Est. 1888

Christmas Handicap Races

Christmas Handicap 2017 review

Charlie Spencer is the new Christmas Handicap champion after overcoming a 19 minute handicap to finish the 5.8 mile course in 37 minutes and 12 seconds. Harry Johnson was second in 37:24 after very sportingly handing the victory to Charlie who had taken a wrong turning. Taking the bronze this year was Mark Gaughan in 42:44.

The ladies winner was Isobel Castelow who ran 32:41 on the slightly shorter 5 mile course.

13 harriers ran the handicaps this year which was a good turnout considering the majority of the regular bunch were helping Hanni-Jane Maeer (Fisher) celebrate her wedding the previous evening. Other runners and their times can be found in the results above

The Christmas handicap races are a traditional event for club members only and intended to give all runners an even chance of winning. There are races for all member categories including senior men and ladies, juniors and boys and girls age categories.


The handicap races date back to pre-1960 but club records began in 1985. Prior to this, results were published in the Daily Mirror on the Monday morning after the race which demonstrates not only the interest in such a local event but also the value placed on being recognised as the club's handicap champion.The men's course is 5.8 miles long and the ladies course a slightly shorter 4.5 miles. Junior athletes have competed over various distances around the moor.

The handicapper has the unenviable task of allocating a start time to each member with the slower runners starting first and the faster runners going last. It's often traditional for the handicapper to be slated by some members who think they've been given a bum deal but this is usually taken in good humour - and remembered for next year!

If done correctly all runners should cross the finish line at the same time but of course this never happens. Getting all runners in within a few minutes of each other is usually considered an excellent effort. The handicapper can use a variety of methods to determine an athlete’s start times from recent race results, known current form, how much a runner complained during last year's handicap or a mixture of these.

To encourage greater participation in this long standing traditional event it has been decided participants no longer need bring a gift to swap. Instead, senior members are invited to meet at the Three Pigeons afterwards and if they're still feeling like giving, buy each other a drink!


Men's - Fastest times: Stephen Halliday 29:27 (1992)

Most appearances: John Greenwood (32/32)

Ladies - Fastest time: Katrina Oddy 28:40 (2000)

Most appearances: Linda Hayles (13/32)

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Calderdale Athletics Network
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