Oldham's Halloween Half Marathon didn't prove too scary for an intrepid trio of HPP runners - Dan Mounsey, Michael Stevens and Ellis Smith.
The 13.1 mile course is widely regarded as one of the toughest half marathons in the country, with its hilly route including 450m (approximately 1,500ft) of climbing from Oldham town centre to the Saddleworth villages and returning via Grasscroft, Lydgate, Lees and Glodwick.
But Marketing and Business Development Director Dan, Systems Developer Michael and Maintenance Engineer Ellis all came through with flying colours, finishing in 1:44:01, 1:48:30 and 1:48:32 respectively, putting them in the top 100 of almost 300 participants in the men's field.
The event on 29th October was the first time it has taken place since the Covid-19 pandemic and attracted a total of 418 runners from running clubs, charities, businesses and locals looking for a challenge.
Our first finisher, Dan, says: "I only started running during lockdown so had not done a single run the last time this race happened three years ago!
"It's great to have this local event back on the calendar, it's a really challenging route which showcases some of the great scenery that Oldham has to offer. Running the majority of it with Ellis and Michael made it a great experience."
Dan, who along with Ellis is a keen advocate of running's benefits on mental health, is no stranger to tackling the hills above Saddleworth. Earlier this year he ran the route of the Three Peaks of Saddleworth twice in the same day in aid of Mahdlo Youth Zone, when he was joined by Michael for the first of the two 14-mile laps.
He says: "Activity is good for mental and physical wellbeing, whatever your age and ability. Whether it's walking, running or something else, I'd encourage us all to build some regular activity into our lives and to look after our physical and mental health."
His sentiments are echoed by Ellis, who last year completed the Tour of Tameside running festival - four runs in four days covering 33 miles - raising £600 for Tameside and Glossop Mind, a cause close to his heart.
Speaking at the time, he said: "I've had trouble with depression in the past. Running helps, but you can still get bouts from time to time - it never fully goes away.
"I know how hopeless it can feel at times when you're struggling with your mental health and having someone to speak to openly and with no judgment can make a massive difference.
"Sometimes speaking to our families about the tough times we're going through is hard and can be unbearable due to you worrying about what they might think. Having an organisation like Mind is very beneficial to a lot of mental health sufferers."
Dan adds: "Ellis hasn't run as often since switching to a more manual (and physical!) role at work, so used this as a motivation to get back in to it, and while Michael trained for the three peaks, he hasn't run since, focusing on gym work instead. So, this was a real challenge for them, and their results are especially impressive in that context."
Another advocate of mental health awareness is Assistant Marketing Manager Kenika Gumbs, who went to great lengths to bring the issue to the attention of everyone at HPP on World Mental Health Day - the international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
She organised board games to bring people together over their lunch break, and created information leaflets detailing where help can be found, as well as posters for canteen noticeboards listing helpful contacts - starting with HR Manager, Carole Hamnett-Sadler.