Pier to Pier - 2016
Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Sunderland 5K, 13th July

Katy Walton

I had been looking forward to this race following my great experience in 2015. This race is a very fast 5k course. On this night the sun was out and the wind up slightly, but no conditions to make the pb seekers fear their results.

Ladies and M50's were the first group of people to charge down the 1k hill at the very start of the race. Elbows all out hoping that you don't trip.

Once reaching the bottom of the hill a crowd of spectators greeted the eager runners as they started their small lap of the park.

Clearly marked kilometre signs were positioned en route for those keeping to a set pace.

As you finished the first loop of the park you approach the supporters again, Simon, Allan, Graeme, Mark, Stephen and Gareth were shouting loudly. Next is a larger loop where runners do a loop of the lake, at this point the wind was certainly making its point in slowing me down.

A lady who I often race against at the NEMAA ran past me which bucked me up a bit, I knew I was on par with her so my new aim was to keep on her.

A little mistake I made last year was that I didn't push on the winning 'straight' (I was unaware where the finish was) and this year I was determined not to repeat my mistake so I started to pick up my pace and give my all.

A nasty little incline on the finishing straight certainly finished each runner off nicely!

Excellent times from all Striders, Stephen Soulsby, Elaine Bisson, Louise Warner, Lesley Charman, Fiona Jones and Karen Byng, Louise Barrow, Catherine Smith and Victoria Stott.

In the second race Strider men running were Gareth Pritchard, Stephen Jackson, Mark Warner and Graeme Walton, all men gave their all as the vast group of runners flew down the hill causing a big draft of wind to hit the spectators. Fabulous runs from all.

This race is a brilliant, cheap local race which can be entered on the night and also an offering of a good chance of a pb. See you next year Sunderland 5k!!

IRONMAN UK, Bolton, 17th July

2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike, 26.2 miles run

Debs Goddard

Photo of Debs giving thumbs up before starting.I was so happy to have even made it to the start line of this event after six months of hard training and a knee injury which meant that I hadn’t run for more than six miles since January. For the last week I’ve lived on a diet of ibuprofen and practically bathed in alcohol hand gel so I didn’t pick up any last minute nasties.

This event is logistically complicated in that it’s a split transition. This means that the bike start and the run start are in different locations 12 miles apart and the finish is in a further location in Bolton town centre.

I travelled down 2 days before the event to take my time registering and setting up the two transitions. My Tri club buddy and twice Ironman himself, Tim Matthews, was my domestique for the weekend and was tasked with the challenging job of keeping me calm!!!

After registration and the welcome party on Friday, we spend Saturday setting up the two transitions and I was able to get into the Lake (Pennington Flash) for the practice swim session as luck would have it with my coach Sorell. The lake was much better than I expected – fairly warm and reassuringly murky (I am not remotely interested in knowing what lurks beneath!!). We also managed to meet up with my fellow Durham Tri competitor Bob Hewitson and have a hearty carbo loading breakfast and a nervous chat about the upcoming challenge awaiting us the next day. So off to bed for an early night for an extremely early start but not before applying the ever important race number tattoos (so damned cool!!).

Photo of Debs with number printed on right arm.So race day arrives – up for a 3am breakfast in the hotel then onto the shuttle bus to the lake for a 4am and pitch black arrival to the start but thankfully no rain. Wetsuits donned we arranged ourselves in the chute to enter the swim in predicted swim time order. On my way down to the water I spotted my wonderful supporters from Durham Tri club – Tim, Lesley, Amanda and Olivia which gave me a nice little boost. At about 6.25am I was off!! The swim course consists of a 1.9K lap of the lake then an Aussie style exit from the water to run around a channel of about 50m to the roar of the crowd before jumping back in for a second lap. I exited the swim in a satisfactory time for me of 1hr 30mins. Into the T1 tent which unfortunately had a surface underfoot of thick squelshy mud (but made my cross country soul feel rather at home!) On to the bike and off I went to tackle the 112 mile ride.

This bike course is rather challenging featuring over six thousand feet of elevation. The route consists of a 12 mile trip out to the village of Adlington then two 50 mile loops. The two most legendary climbs are entitled 'Sheephouse Lane' and 'Hunters Hill' which are obviously done twice each. The support of the crowds was fabulous around most of the course but most notable on these two aforementioned climbs. Huge crowds lined both sides of these hills, music was blasting in places and encouragements being shouted – a real Tour de France feel. There is quite honestly nothing like the sight of a man in a mask, cape and mankini dancing to the tune of ‘Uptown funk’ to lift the spirits when the legs are getting tired.

Photo of Debs taking corner on bike. I did find it quite challenging to eat and drink enough to keep well fuelled – very surprising for those who know me well!! The taste of isotonic Powerbar energy drink after 4 litres, chia bars and sweets can become very tedious. I took up the option to have a ‘special needs’ bag available to me at mile 88 and experienced a moment of sheer ecstasy when I extracted and devoured my packet of salt and vinegar square crisps which I had cunningly placed there earlier. I even managed to eat a couple of ham and cheese croissants to make sure I had something in the tank for the ever approaching marathon.

I saw my own family twice on the bike route at the most remote part of the course which was fantastic and the Durham Tri support crew cycled their way to two vantage points to cheer me on. Tri club coach Ian MacKenzie also made two surprise appearances on the bike route which again gave me a great boost. All was going rather well pacing and timing wise until disaster struck at 100 miles – a rear wheel puncture, arrgh! Now to put this into perspective, in 10 years of cycling I have never had a puncture – what a cruel world this is. Thankfully I had practised this in the week before the race so tried to stay calm. I had been introduced to CO2 canisters which inflate the tyre to 100PSI in 3 seconds – a god send. About 20 mins later I was on my merry way again and before long found myself at the finish of the bike leg 8 hours and 20 minutes later in T2 at the Macron Stadium to the welcome cheers of my fans. Unfortunately my Durham teammate Bob had fallen off his bike earlier in the race and fractured his wrist, so his racing day was sadly over.

Photo of Debs in Trisuit giving thumbs up.

By this time of the day the sun was well and truly shining so I lathered on the suncream, donned my fresh tri suit and socks, said a quick prayer to the God of injured knees and I was off to face the most challenging part of the event. The run course consists of a six mile run from the Macron Stadium then a hilly six mile loop of Bolton town centre which is completed three times. I set off on a 4 minute run (which very quickly became a shuffle) followed by 1 minute walk strategy with the aim to keep this up throughout. It started well and the route was fairly pretty along a canal path which offered some welcome shade and a blissful stretch of off road surface, yippee! This only lasted for 1km unfortunately before it was back to soul sucking tarmac. I then joined the three loop part of the course where we were rewarded with a different coloured hair scrunchy to proudly wear on our wrist on the completion of each lap.

Again nutrition was a major challenge and my stomach had simply had enough of trying to digest vile food options whilst competing with the muscles for a blood supply to enable this. I managed to get down a few gels, bananas and tortilla crisps washed down with lashings of coke and water. Jules Percival had bought me a packet of polos on the assurance that they were marvellous for warding off nausea in endurance events. Wow was she right and I rewarded myself with one after every 5k of running completed.

Photo of Debs with support team.

By the time I started on the loops I felt absolutely cream crackered and can honestly say the support of the crowd and other competitors got me through. The lovely people of Bolton were out in force for the whole route; their enthusiasm helped no doubt by the sunshine and for some ice cold beers in their hands. My tri family were along the route and also my coach and her colleagues from Tri Training Harder which was wonderful. The real saviours of the day, however, were my Hubby and kids which had positioned themselves half way up the long drag of a hill. They proceeded to take it in turns to run with me for short stretches, hold my hand, give me hugs and encourage me that 'I had this'. My son Rhys later told me that watching the marathon was like watching an episode of the zombie drama 'The Walking Dead'. Never was a truer word said as I definitely felt like I was starring in it at some points. On each loop when you hit the town centre part, you are faced with the roar of crowds driving you on and a trip past the finishing shoot which gives you a taste of what’s to come.

At long last and 5 hours and 49 minutes later and a total time of 16 hours and 5 minutes it was my turn to hit the red carpet and do my victory dance to the sound of the yearned for words of the PA “Debs Goddard you are an Ironman” – it was an awesome moment and one I won’t ever forget.

Photo of Debs at the finish with red carpet and timer.

Summer Handicap, 13th July

photo by Dave Robson

Results

pos bib name finish time actual time handicap for July handicap for August
1 252 Heather Roistrick 48:35 48:35 0 12
2 86 Denise Benvin 49:49 49:49 0 9
3 254 Gillian Appleby 50:55 50:55 0 9
4 255 Jackie Rendal 51:34 51:34 0 9
5 49 Debra Thompson 54:27 42:47 12 18
6 22 Rachelle Mason 56:01 38:01 18 21
7 28 Julie Trotter 56:10 56:10 0 3
8 54 Angela Greathead 56:14 47:14 9 12
9 228 Debbie Jones 56:58 41:58 15 18
10 250 Fiona Elizabeth 57:02 45:02 12 15
11 256 Daniel Mitchel 57:11 36:11 21 24
12 122 Jan Young 57:11 42:11 15 18
13 38 Stan White 57:40 51:40 6 9
14 113 Jean Bradley 58:01 40:01 18 21
15 257 Laura Philips 58:03 40:03 18 21
16 60 Rebecca Divine 58:26 46:26 12 15
17 29 Phil Todd 58:28 49:28 9 12
18 238 Jim Nicholson 59:04 47:04 12 12
19 200 Francis Timson 59:09 41:09 18 18
20 162 John Hutchinson 59:33 38:33 21 21
21 115 Peter Hart 60:06 39:06 21 21
22 251 Teresa Archer 60:06 51:06 9 9
23 260 Will Glossop 60:24 39:24 21 21
24 127 Andrew Davies 60:34 39:34 21 21
25 70 Helen Thomas 60:41 42:41 18 18
26 50 Helen Hackett 60:45 51:45 9 9
27 45 Sharon Campbell 60:59 51:59 9 9
28 197 Claire Hodson 61:11 49:11 12 12
29 19 Bev Walker 61:43 58:43 3 0
30 21 Katharine Bartlett 61:43 58:43 3 0
31 242 Huw Dixon 62:16 38:16 24 21
32 172 Richard Stollery 62:46 41:46 21 18
33 73 Sophie Dennis 63:12 57:12 6 3

34 finishers.

A Challenging Day!

Wasdale Horseshoe Fell Race, 9th July

AL / 21.1 miles, 9022ft

Geoff Davis

Event Organisers Whiteboard showing race terms and conditions.

On your marks, get set, GO!

Come with me across the 21 miles and 9,000ft of the Wasdale Horseshoe Fell Race traversing the roughest and most famous fell country in England. It's raining, windy and the mist is down to about 1,000ft. The race starts along a runable stony track before switching uphill onto the steep, grassy, tusocky and boggy fell side of Illgill Head. We're all walking now, because of the steep gradient, and we quickly enter a world of mist and rain. The gradient eases near the summit and a 'sheep trod' takes us left of the top and on to the first check point atop of the next fell: Whinn Rigg. Visibility is down to about 20 metres and so there is no possibility of seeing the wonderful view down to Wast Water and across the fells of Lakeland. The first checkpoint is reached after about 45 mins (cut off time 1 hour) and the steep descent begins back to valley level. I start well on the thick grass underfoot but lose places on the steeper, stony, eroded path through the bracken. My well worn knees only allow a certain speed and I've no desire to take a fall on a day like this.

We're now on the only 'easy' section of the race which takes us through fields and woods across the wet Wasdale Valley to Greendale - the home of fell running legend Joss Naylor and his wife Mary. They are both there on the bridge giving out orange juice. "Well done lad, how was that?" says Joss to me. "Not too bad" I reply "do you think it'll fair up today Joss?" He scowls "oh, there's a lot of low stuff still due to come in". I thank him and Mary and head off. He's dead right about the weather of course!

Nonetheless it's mild as I begin the upward plod back onto the fells and to the next checkpoint of Seatallan (2266ft). I think of taking off the 'cag' I've been wearing from the start. As if on cue, the rain peps up and the wind increases by a few knots so the cag stays on - for the rest of the race. I cross a stream that's now in semi-spate. It matters little as I'm already soaked to the skin. The occasional runner comes and goes in the mist although a lady runner stays nearby all the way to the summit of the steep, grassy and boggy hill of Seatallan. Two marshals huddle around the exposed trig point with the wind and rain howling around them (this is why they have cut off times!) I pass over my token, tell them that number 25 has dropped out (as requested to do so by the Greendale marshals), thank them and head off towards Pillar; the next check point and some 4 miles distant.

An easy, grassy descent takes me into a boggy area glorying in the name of 'Pots of Ashness'. Navigation now becomes a real challenge. With a few other runners I pick up a trod through the thick mist and mire. With careful route finding I know I can avoid climbing the hill of Haycock, and even Scoat Fell, if I get it spot on. Ignoring others that climb up to my left I head onwards on a bearing. I do mange to miss out Haycock but the steep ground pulls me up to Scoat Fell and onto familiar and easily navigable terrain so no matter. Rocky ground is now the norm causing my foot placement to become more measured and my pace to slow. Two runners ahead of me veer off onto a narrow rocky trod that I know avoids a bit of climb so I follow. One of them is uncertain: he turns & shouts his doubts to me. I give the thumbs up and he carries on.

photograph of mass start

The narrow col between Scoat Fell and Pillar is extremely windy and it's hard to keep one's feet. I hold onto the wet rock as I begin yet another steep climb. Other runners are struggling with the conditions and the navigation but I'm confident of the route and just battle on against the elements - at least it's not cold! The summit of Pillar (2'7ft), the next check point, arrives and I'm around 15 minutes inside the cut off. The marshals have some shelter here so are fairly cheery. I hand over a token, they glance at me, establish I'm fit to carry on and off I go.

It's a wet, rocky descent from Pillar down to Black Sail Pass and, because of the conditions; I can't see the easier lines that I know are there. Descending becomes slow, laborious and frustrating. Two runners pass me and I vent my frustrations into the screaming wind! Finally I arrive at the pass and look around in the mist for Susan, who I know should be there, and there she is! She gives a little jump as she's been waiting for some time and is pleased to see me! I take a drink, tell her I'm ok and head off on the traverse of Kirk Fell. This is one top we don't have to go over. Some of the runners around me though are unsure of where they are and whether they're on the correct path (or trod). I re-assure them that they are indeed at Black Sail and that this narrow, rocky trod; on this steep fell side running with water is exactly where they should be!

The traverse is out of the teeth of the gale and gives a little respite although the wet and the rock continue. I calculate that I have 55 minutes to reach the next checkpoint on the top of Great Gable and conclude, as I'm still feeling ok, that it is just about doable. The familiar ground of Beck Head is reached (the col between Gable and Kirk Fell) and the steepest, wettest, rockiest, crapiest climb of the day begins. The route finding through the rock however takes my mind off the conditions and I pass a couple of guys before reaching the top of Gable (2949ft). I'm very pleased on my arrival as I'm 13 minutes inside the cut off and, although there's still a long way to go, there are no more cut off times to contend with and I'm reasonably confident I'm going to finish!

Geoff Davis. A couple of other guys are faffing around with bearings but I know the way off and I don't want to hang around in this gale. Off I go down across the boulders onto the paved bits of path with the wind getting even stronger! On a rare grassy bit, where I'm going reasonably quickly, a big gust nearly sends me crashing into the surrounding rocks. I manage to keep my feet and crouch down until the wind subsides a little and I'm able to move again. I finally reach Sty Head pass where the wind is being funnelled between the massive mountains of Scafell and Gable. I can barely hear myself think let alone hear the comments of one or two walkers who have ventured out today - they just get the thumbs up instead! I seem to be on my own now as I head upwards to Esk Hause the next checkpoint. There are a few streams to cross and they are all raging with white water although I'm never in above my knees so there're no bother and it's still fairly mild. Because I can't be bothered with the faff of extracting map from bum bag I add a couple of hundred meters to the route in finding Esk Hause. No matter, I'm still ok. I force a bar down my neck and press on to Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain!

No runners around me now but I'm happy with that. I know the route well so the mist is no problem. The wet rocks are a different matter though and I have a few slips and a few scrapes. Nearing the top I catch a few runners up and a couple more appear behind me so, at the summit (3210ft), there's a queue at the checkpoint! I follow a bearing off the top and descend the rocky, boulder strewn path. The rain and wind continue as I hit the grassy slopes of Lingmell. My foot goes down a hole and I just about stay upright - I curse the conditions. There are a few runners around so it's a race down the final steep descent. I overtake a couple but a searing pain from cramp grips my leg and they overtake me again. Further down I recover and take a few scalps in the last half mile. I'm feeling ok and the relief on approaching the finish is tangible. Susan's there to cheer me in and take my photo. I'm moving quickly as I cross the line and have a great sense of achievement on finally finishing.

What a day! 6 hours 27 minutes - a bit slower than 12 years ago but conditions are so much more challenging today. The Wasdale Horseshoe is a race many fell runners aspire to do. It tests your fitness, experience and fell craft to the maximum. Have a go by all means but please, as the FRA requires "you must be confident you are capable of completing any race you enter"!

Blaydon Race, 9th June

5.7M

Gareth Pritchard

In my head, Blaydon 2016. A very personal view.

Blaydon Group Running well. Feeling good. Pre race 17 min durham parkrun pb. Reality check at club track mile race on Wednesday. 2nd place strider last year. Wanting to be competitive this year. Please let it be close. Massive doubts. Deep breaths. Catching up with strider friends. Feeling relaxed. Squashed in at the start. Stood like sardines for 20mins. When will we start? So many people, 4000+ runners with 100+ striders. Feeling very northern at the Blaydon start line.

Down hill start, must start fast, must be leading after 5k, please don't let it be close with 2k to go, I won't stand a chance. hoping club member achieve their goals, where is Catherine? Can I really push myself that hard at the start. Stick to the plan. Concentrate concentrate and relax.......... Was that the start horn?

Go. Zero to race pace in a flash. Find some clear road. This is nuts. Accidentally barge people out the way. How did they get so far up the field? Control ur pace Gareth but push push push. It's down hill, push. 1k @3:21, fast but need to pick it up. Be brave. Get that gap, get that lead Gareth. I know that runner? Yes, hi mate. Looking good, wrong way man? Yes that's my Washington 10k bud. So glad he won that day, now show him your true speed. Help I can't breath. Push push push.

K splits 3:13. 3:16. 3:17. 3:13. Can't breath. 16:19 5k omg. Keep it together. Relax, maintain stride, don't look back, you have your lead. Hope it's enough, I want to stop. I know him? Push past and say hi just. Expect them to try keeping up as you pass, just push harder. I know the hills are coming. Don't look back. Turn, then dash back up the hill. Time to see who is close. Where is he? Please don't be just behind, I need a gap. I'm slowing. can't see them.

Yes yes yes, still can't breath but I have my gap. Surely he can't catch me now. Still passing people. Spot More striders running. Try to say something, but I can't breath. Fly over ahead. Pushing and still passing people. Getting so so hard. Big shock on the coaches face. Into Blaydon, I know this course well. Keep pushing Gareth, you got this.

More surprised strider supporters. So happy to see familiar faces. Hold it together, push. Last hill, know it's coming. Grass and sprint to the line. I did it.

Check watch, 2 mins off last years time. Definitely First strider home. In disbelief. Taken down Rosie, just. Turn and support. I love this race. That was hard. Now I can breath.

Results

pos bib name category gun time chip time
- 2 Peter Newton (Morpeth Harriers & Ac) 19-39 27:11 27:09
- 32 Alyson Dixon (Sunderland Strollers) 35-39 29:48 29:44
1 921 Gareth Pritchard 19-39 31:00 30:40
2 637 Stephen Jackson 19-39 31:24 31:05
3 714 Michael Littlewood (M) 40-44 33:35 33:14
4 1186 Mark Warner 19-39 34:27 33:35
5 606 Andrew Hopkins (M) 40-44 34:47 33:58
6 132 Matthew Archer 19-39 34:46 34:27
7 474 Simon Gardner (M) 45-49 35:23 35:02
8 1118 Paul Swinburne (M) 40-44 39:56 37:15
9 1044 Tim Skelton 19-39 40:02 38:08
10 875 Mike Parker (M) 40-44 40:33 39:21
11 4595 Alex Witty 19-39 41:45 39:42
12 2140 Louise Warner 35-39 40:23 40:23
13 324 John Coulson 19-39 43:31 40:42
14 1477 Sarah Davies (F) 45-49 42:56 40:58
15 1858 Louise Morton 19-34 42:06 41:21
16 592 David Hinton 19-39 47:46 41:25
17 1724 Fiona Jones 35-39 44:18 41:34
18 753 Michael Mason (M) 40-44 43:34 41:54
19 1806 Rachelle Mason 35-39 43:35 41:54
20 1204 Martin Welsh (M) 50-54 43:41 42:00
21 984 Michael Ross (M) 45-49 45:28 42:27
22 368 Colin Dean (M) 55-59 43:48 42:36
23 978 Lindsay Rodgers (M) 45-49 45:22 43:05
24 1722 Karen Jones (F) 45-49 46:02 43:17
25 1415 Lesley Charman (F) 40-44 46:06 43:25
26 1532 Catherine Elliott 35-39 44:21 43:35
27 1378 Victoria Brown 35-39 46:37 43:39
28 4608 David Case 19-39 46:23 43:43
29 1076 Ian Spencer (M) 55-59 45:33 43:46
30 1761 Roz Layton (F) 60-64 45:48 43:49
31 2163 Nicola Whyte 19-34 46:53 44:10
32 431 Stephen Ellis (M) 60-64 46:18 44:16
33 1028 Chris Shearsmith 19-39 46:14 44:43
34 1921 Stephanie Piper 19-34 47:09 45:07
35 4604 Victoria Walton 35-39 47:11 45:12
36 1307 Louise Barrow 19-34 46:49 45:22
37 429 Craig Elliott 19-39 46:18 45:31
38 564 Peter Hart 19-39 49:14 45:35
39 356 Andrew Davies (M) 40-44 48:53 45:36
40 851 Richard Hall (M) 50-54 48:56 45:49
41 1840 Karen Metters (F) 40-44 48:52 45:52
42 546 Jonathan Hamill (M) 40-44 48:16 46:02
43 1983 Jill Rudkin 35-39 50:51 46:33
44 711 Robin Linton 19-39 49:26 46:35
45 1627 Lesley Hamill (F) 40-44 49:46 47:22
46 243 David Browbank 19-39 49:40 47:36
47 2000 Jenny Search (F) 40-44 49:50 47:48
48 2091 Kate Thompson 19-34 50:52 48:01
49 1723 Debbie Jones (F) 45-49 50:58 48:14
50 1790 Kate Macpherson (F) 40-44 51:08 48:25
51 2187 Fiona Wood 35-39 51:41 48:44
52 2025 Catherine Smith (F) 40-44 51:35 48:55
53 2088 Helen Thomas (F) 40-44 50:47 48:57
54 1648 Helen Hedley 19-34 52:07 49:01
55 2136 Faye Ward (F) 40-44 51:47 49:22
56 1534 Janet Ellis (F) 50-54 52:18 49:37
57 1491 Rebecca Devine 19-34 53:00 50:07
58 1058 Alan Smith 65-69 51:37 50:22
59 2198 Jill Young 19-34 53:14 50:24
60 1364 Stacey Brannan 35-39 52:09 50:24
61 1513 Jane Dowsett (F) 45-49 53:14 50:28
62 1623 Lisa Hall 19-34 52:48 50:29
63 1558 Rebecca Fisher 35-39 53:12 50:33
64 270 Gareth Cardus (M) 40-44 53:41 50:45
65 580 Mark Herkes 19-39 54:07 51:10
66 1655 Lucy Herkes 19-34 54:08 51:11
67 913 James Potter 19-39 53:17 51:13
68 849 James Nicholson 65-69 54:19 51:22
69 1556 Katie-Louise Finney 19-34 54:23 51:32
70 1826 Debbie Mcfarland 19-34 54:29 51:39
71 1710 Sue Jennings (F) 50-54 54:34 51:52
72 1331 Louise Billcliffe (F) 50-54 54:40 52:10
73 1674 Karen Hooper (F) 40-44 55:02 52:13
74 2105 Ann Towers (F) 55-59 53:10 52:13
75 1142 Andrew Thurston (M) 55-59 54:59 52:40
76 411 Andrew Dunlop (M) 40-44 54:57 52:43
77 2011 Nicola Simpson 19-34 55:59 53:09
78 1639 Emma Hart 35-39 56:52 53:12
79 1996 Aileen Campbell Scott (F) 45-49 55:24 53:19
80 1488 Sophie Dennis 19-34 58:26 55:43
81 1482 Katie Davison 19-34 58:44 55:48
82 1707 Julie Jarratt (F) 45-49 59:01 55:51
83 1461 Lindsay Craig (F) 45-49 59:01 55:52
84 848 George Nicholson 65-69 58:32 56:12
85 1408 Karen Anne Chalkley (F) 50-54 58:32 56:13
86 1324 Kathleen Bellamy 35-39 59:33 56:22
87 2009 Alison Simms (F) 40-44 1:00:03 57:58
88 1537 Rebecca Embleton 35-39 1:00:04 57:58
89 1533 Pauline Elliott (F) 50-54 1:00:22 58:21
90 1276 Teresa Archer 19-34 1:01:15 58:33
91 1586 Laura Gibson 35-39 1:01:39 58:51
92 2124 Bev Walker (F) 50-54 1:01:20 59:15
93 1548 Amy Farquhar (F) 40-44 1:02:34 59:46
94 1743 Alison Kirkham (F) 40-44 1:04:08 1:01:16
95 1440 Kelly Collier 19-34 1:04:09 1:01:18
96 2075 Kate Talbot 35-39 1:04:42 1:01:34
97 1682 Louise Hughes 35-39 1:04:40 1:01:37
98 1717 Natalie Johnson 35-39 1:04:56 1:02:09
99 1529 Karrie Eilles 35-39 1:04:56 1:02:09
100 1290 Jane Baillie (F) 40-44 1:07:18 1:04:09
101 1411 Laura Chapman 19-34 1:09:52 1:05:18
102 1353 Clare Botone 35-39 1:08:39 1:05:51
103 1844 Elaine Mills (F) 45-49 1:08:51 1:06:01
104 1773 Helen Lintron (F) 55-59 1:09:25 1:06:32
105 1593 Rebecca Gilmore 19-34 1:09:24 1:06:32
106 1576 Claire Galloway 19-34 1:10:57 1:08:05
107 1696 Laura Jackson 35-39 1:11:40 1:08:49
108 2101 Helen Todd 35-39 1:09:51 1:09:51
109 1765 Rachel Leigh-firbank (F) 40-44 1:15:06 1:12:12
110 646 Neil Jennings (M) 50-54 1:15:09 1:12:14
111 1709 Elaine Jennings (F) 50-54 1:15:10 1:12:16
DNF 426 Mike Elliott 65-69 19:36 19:36

4130 finishers.

Red Kite Trail Race, Dipton, 3rd July

8 miles

David Brown

Photo of David Brown crossing river.This 8 mile undulating, circular route was brilliantly executed by Derwent Valley Trail Runners, a relatively new club dedicated to running the trails and whose website proclaims that: "we are all free spirits and adventurers at heart and the countryside is there to be enjoyed by everyone", well said that club.

Parking was organised swiftly, and numbers collected in the community centre. I proceeded with my usual pre-race warm up of wandering aimlessly around the place, and missing the group photograph. Decent chats with fellow Striders, until we were huddled onto a grass verge for our get set go.

The race starts along a street and in mild confusion of not knowing which direction we were going I found myself in the middle of the field. We swiftly took a sharp left turn and immediately bottle-necked as there were stiles to cross. I frustratingly watched the lead pack disappear into the distance as I danced about like a coiled spring.

I spent the rest of the race attempting to move up the field, but without room to manoeuvre along the overgrown single-tracks I was held back, which became annoying especially on the downhills, and whilst trying to pass runners wearing headphones. The route opened up through tracks and fields so I was able to overtake, picking runners off along the way.

The first half is relatively downhill, with a flatish bit, and then the last few miles climb ever onwards to the finish. I was able to slowly catch runners on the incline and work my way further up, but not as far as I would have liked. Due to the recent British summer the route was muddy, so my choice of fell over trail shoes sat well, especially as I pranced through the woods and rivers.

Photo of group of Striders.

There was great encouragement from families and locals who had wandered out to shout us up the final climb, we joined the street on which we started and ran it home. Finishing in 16th positon out of around 160, I was fairly pleased. Refreshments by way of hot drink, soup, and cake were available in the community centre, donations welcome.

Jennings across the river assisting.

This is a brilliant route for both experienced and novice runners, with a chance to run some fantastic local trails at £4 a pop this is one not to miss.

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race.

Cronkley Fell Race, Holwick, 26th June

10.5 m (or 11 miles for some)

Penny Browell

Photo of Penny Browell. Photo of Tom Reeves.
Now I'm not the best at navigating but I was pretty sure I'd be ok with this race for a couple of reasons - it's an out and back race (in pretty much a straight line) and I'd done it last year. So how could I go wrong? This is exactly the question I was asking myself as I stood in the midst of some bracken on the way back which definitely hadn't been there on the way out. I looked ahead and behind and there were no runners to be seen anywhere. So I got out my map, stopped and looked at it in the vague hope it would magically burst into life and tell me which way to go.

Sadly it didn't. And it didn't appear to show any of the fences I'd passed so I decided to go for my usual technique when lost - keep running and hope it's in vaguely the right direction. After a few minutes of gradually getting more worried I eventually spotted some people running a couple of hundred metres away from me so I headed over to where they were. The marshals looked bemused as I arrived at a checkpoint from completely the wrong direction. I was relieved to see them but the competitor in me had to ask "How many places have I lost?". "Five" they said "but you're still first lady". That was some compensation but I knew my chances of a PB were slipping away.

Photo of the winners.

After a slightly disappointing patch in my running due to minor injuries and tiredness I wanted this to be the race where I proved to myself I could still run well. The first half had gone reasonably well - I felt strongish on the climb and the descent seemed less difficult than last year (recent runs in the Lakes have obviously affected my perceptions of what a steep hill is). But then came the river. The river crossing in this race is really not pleasant. You have to get all the way across the Tees in water up to your thigh (on me anyway) and the rocks are unbelievably slippy. It took me forever to get over to the crocodile and back so by the time I was out of the river I'd almost been caught by the guy behind me and I knew I was losing time.

Photo of Steph Piper. Photo of Susan Davies.
The joy of out and back races is that you get to see all of your competitors. Having seen the front runners speed past me prior to the river, it was lovely to see both Susan and Steph on the way back and to be encouraged by the marshals that I was still in the top 10. Looking at my watch I figured I was on for a PB.

Sadly it was soon after this that everything went wrong. Having lost 5 places and several minutes it was hard to stay motivated; I managed to get past 3 of the 5 but was still a long way off where I wanted to be. The long track to the end seemed to go on forever and when I finally crossed the line I was greeted by looks of "what happened to you???".

Results aren't out yet but according to my watch I was about 12 seconds slower than last year. I have to say I was somewhat gutted but the disappointment soon passed with a drink in the pub and a couple of goodies for being first lady (this is a very small race so being first wasn't a massive achievement!). Tom and Susan also picked up prizes for winning their categories and Steph was given a spot prize for her unusual way of crossing the river... So all in all a fun day out. It's a great race but for me it has a bit too much road and track at the start and end. And obviously they need to make the route a bit less complicated!

Hadrian's Wall Half Marathon, 26th June

Elaine Bisson

This is the third year I have run this race, it is a particular favourite of mine. It has it all, it's low key, (race limit is 600, with only 350 racing on the day,) it is a circular route on mixed terrain, it has nearly 1000ft of climb, a few stiles/gates to open, in beautiful surroundings, with great support. It is not a half marathon PB course. It starts on Edges Green, a field close to Hadrian's Wall, near Once Brewed. It is best to allow plenty of time (to account for getting lost en route) and to park where you are less likely to get stuck! Race headquarters is a tent, always buffeted by strong winds, there are a few portable toilets and one food outlet selling good food at a premium. The views to all sides are spectacular.

Fast and Furious under grey skies.

The race starts at 10am, there is a fast and furious downhill as we follow the race organiser in his car. After the first mile the road climbs and climbs and when you've just about had enough, it climbs again. By mile 4 we take a left down a track and from now until the last mile it's all off road, with a mixture of good trails, rutted farm fields, a beautiful field covered in buttercups, onto moorland...always boggy, (along part of the Penine Way), then again up and up and up for a big climb at mile 7 onto the trails of Wark Forest. I always think this will be a welcome relief but the camber is quite painful and the rocks prevent me from picking up to top speed. It continues to undulate with a few nasty hills to come.

We pass the huge radio mast then the path generally drops until I hit tarmac. I finally shift up a gear knowing that I can finish strong after my slow start. I pick up the pace and mark out two men I've been trailing for much of the race. 'Drumstick' man is passed on the first hill. The second needs a good catch, he's about 400m away but slowing and there is still a good mile left. The last half mile is downhill with short sharp hill at the end...this always fills me delight (I know I'll get him on that hill). He slows at a cattle grid, as do I but I pick up my pace. My daughter is now running alongside, with a little "get him mummy" I manage to speed up again, my legs are burning as I reach the top but the finish is in sight and I've left him behind. A last push and I'm there.

Final Hill. I think.

Previous weekends of racing (Swaledale) and supporting a BGR with a long walk in the lakes have scuppered my plans to feel race ready for this event. However I scrape a 50second course PB, am fourth lady and 24/349 and I win a prize for my age category. I promise myself I will attack those hills better next year....

Humbleton Fell Race, Haydon Bridge, 22nd June

BS / 5.3m / 787ft

David Brown

After two consecutive DNS’s for varying strains and splutters, I was becoming restless and fearful that my racing pants would ne’er be soiled again. I chanced upon this fell race via a rather delightful little flyer, described as a ‘lovely route in rural Tynedale’, I scraped the Harrier League muck off my fell shoes, and trundled over after work .

Navigation Skills Required.

Blue skies awaited me and I was greeted into the school, superb organisation saw signs direct me to my destination, which appeased any anxieties about finding the place. I changed into my kit as the school yard slowly filled, before signing a short form and handing over £6 in exchange for a number AND safety pins. There was a ten minute walk to the start line (field) again well marked and I trotted along with a couple other runners. Being rather early I started a few effortless drills up and down the starting hill, before cheering on the juniors, a great sight to see and some fantastic efforts shown on their little faces.

The starting pen (corner of field, behind the cow muck/nettles) started to fill up, as I glanced at vests emblazoned with words such as ‘Keswick’, my dreams of a podium finish were dashed (apparently they have good hills to play on). Brief instructions from the race director (“duck under barbed wire, don’t get run over, don’t break your ankle”) a blow on the whistle and we were off, upwards being the direction. We began the climb up and around the hill and into the woods, continuously climbing in single file, with respite coming by form of kissing gates and stiles.

Due to a recent chest plague I was wary not to kill myself going up, so I held back a little to set the scene and figure out the probabilities of me dropping down dead (fair to middling). Still we climbed, forever upwards, however my legs felt strong and I kept my position. The field had spread out rapidly, and by the time we reached the open fells there was a fair gap betwixt runners. As I steadily climbed, and realised I was likely to see my family again, I decided to press on. There was a Tynedale lass about 50 m ahead, she would be my first target, and I changed up a gear and overtook just as we neared the highest point.

It’s up here we get our numbers crossed with red felt tip from the race directors mother, and begin our descent. Guided only by small markers I spied one runner ahead, a civilian not belonging to a club. With around 2 miles to go I now wanted to race, and somewhat regretted taking it easy in the early stages. I began hurtling myself through the overgrown fells, unsure where my feet were landing, with the occasional bog adding a refreshing surprise. The civilian began nervously descending, and politely stepped aside as I put on my best ‘I know what I’m doing’ face and sprinted past him, arms flailing like an octopus in a tank top.

As we looped back toward the woods, I glanced back and noticed a pack had given chase, amongst them lads from Elswick and Morpeth, we crossed stiles and began the race down the wooded single tracks, no room to overtake and I was leading the pack. Around a mile to go I was galloping over roots, winding my way down and down with exhilarating speed (I thought so anyway). No idea where I was in regards to position, but I pretty soon got my Harrier League head on, and there was no way either of these lads were passing me, it wasn’t going to happen. As we were spat out of the woods, into the open and onto the road, my cushion-less fell shoes turned to stone as we raced toward the finish and I held off the pack as promised, to a hero’s welcome.

I finished in a time of 45.45, and 23rd out of 60. This was indeed a ‘lovely route’, and a one to look out for next year. The size of the field was small enough to remain friendly, and big enough to spread across all abilities – but I couldn’t help thinking some of our faster lads and lasses should get over there to race some fantastic runners and push themselves on the fells, maybe Keswick will be the ones shaking at the start.

A sprinkling of Portmagic

Portrush parkrun, Northern Ireland, 18th June

Jonathan Hamill

My legs feeling a little heavier from my mid-week efforts at Lisburn Half Marathon, I headed North, to Portrush (Portmagic as it is known to locals). Having grown up nearby, running on my old doorstep was a good way to conclude my trip.

A room with a view.

A school friend had recently opened a luxury B&B, and I was keen to try it out. Blackrock House is the 1st 5* graded B&B in Portrush, and recent runner up in the Tourism Northern Ireland Awards 'Most Promising New Tourism Business' 2016.

I alighted the Belfast train at Dhu Varren, just before the main Portrush station and walked round the corner to Blackrock House. Nicola’s house has fantastic views (photo above), overlooking the West Bay beach, promenade and having stunning views towards the Giant's Causeway. It is also situated on the main Causeway Coastal Route, offering many running options, including a coastal run of around 6 miles to nearby Portstewart. It is a runner friendly B&B, and I’d highly recommend it to those of you who are contemplating running events in the local area.

Hopefully their services won't be required.

Breakfast Done, parkrun to run. I headed out on the Friday morning for a gentle run. Leaving Blackrock House, I dropped down onto the West Bay promenade, past the famous Barry’s amusements, the Lifeboat Station and Harbour, rounding the headland at Lansdowne, towards the East Strand (home to Portrush parkrun), and eventually back through the town.

On the Saturday morning, my runner friendly breakfast comprised granola with local yoghurt (Nicola also offers the post parkrun option of something more substantial). Portrush parkrun has a slightly more civilised start of 0930hrs and although it is a short jog from Blackrock House, I gladly accepted Nicola’s offer of a lift as she was taking some photographs of the event.

Portrush parkrun is the world’s first beach parkrun and it is run entirely on the sand. The course starts adjacent to the watersports centre at the East Strand and rounds the coastline towards the White Rocks and back. It is flat but challenging with a variable surface, according to the tide.

The course route - it looks a bit Chariots of Fire.

Run Director. Mervyn Thompson (pictured left), officiating as Run Director provided the briefing. This included the offer of tomato plants, from Fiona, one of the regulars who had got a wee bit carried away in the garden! A nice touch saw the milestone runners called up to the front and applauded by the crowd. A BBC camera crew was filming for the documentary, “Love in a day” which focuses on people doing things they love and on this occasion, the love of parkrun! Faye McLernon, a former schoolmate was filmed, (look out for the purple t-shirt).

Contrary to the weather forecast, it had been dry for the past few days and it was a sunny day, although the wind was pretty fierce, as I found out! High tide had been at 0630hrs and there was some reasonably firm sand along the route.

I set off from the beach start line and struck a decent pace, which would have delivered a finish of around 25 minutes. All was good, until the turning point – a flag with loose sand, which took the wind out of my sails. The return was into the wind, which was formidable and my pace took a hammering – no negative splits! I did wonder if the catch-up with an old friend in the Harbour Bar the previous evening had hampered my chances a little too!

202 runners attended Portrush parkrun’s 202nd event! The fastest finisher came in at 19:13. I was slower than usual but given the wind and miles under my belt during the week, I was happy to come in 10th in my age category at 27:07.

If you like the pier to pier ...

After some quick goodbyes, I had to shoot off to catch the train back to Belfast, and a comparatively complex two-flight hop via Heathrow home. There are no direct flights to Newcastle on a Saturday, which work with parkrun timings (I suspect most people would make a weekend of it anyway).

For those interested in sampling the North coast hospitality, the following may also be of interest and I’d happily help folk with their travel plans as required: