St. Andrews parkrun, Fife, 1st August
We were up here for a week's holiday and could not resist taking in the local parkrun. This event is held a bit out of St Andrews at Craigtoun Park. It is a beautiful park and it looked great on a sunny morning. There are lots of things for children to do in the park - swings, slides, zip wires, boats, a short train ride.
We started off fairly steadily and we were surprised how much was in our legs after a tough uphill race the previous night. We sped up a bit, too much, and we finished quite a bit under our target of 30 minutes. We paid for this later in the day when running our second race.
Afterwards we chatted to the first female finisher, a Tyne Bridge runner who was also up here on holiday.
2015 Charity Relay, Pennine Way, 24–26th July
Pam took this photo of 25 Striders about to head off to Sunderland Bridge. Send us your photos and stories ...
Club Handicap, Houghall Woods, 29th July
|position||name||bib||handicap||finish time||actual time|
Elvet Striders Clamber, Houghall Woods and Low Burnhall, 22nd July
Another sunny evening and some great racing last night. It looked hot and tough from where I was standing taking photos around the Willow Miner. Till's also got a great batch on Facebook, and there's a nice write-up in the Northern Echo.
|1||55||Liam Emmett||Jarrow & Hebburn||MU20||1||31.28||1st male/1st U20|
|16||104||Lucy Butt||Durham City Harriers||FSEN||1||38.32||1st female/1st female senior|
|5||94||Stephen Jackson||M30||2||34.28||1st strider male|
|21||15||Elaine Bisson||F30||1||39.18||2nd female/1st female F20/1st strider female|
|22||18||Penny Browell||F40||1||39.38||3rd female/1st V40 female|
|25||12||Mike Bennett||M60||1||40.36||1st male V60|
|81||142||Roz Layton||F60||1||47.22||1st female F60|
Coastal Run, Beadnell, 19th July
about 14 miles 'ish
I love this race and am almost evangelical when describing it to people "the beaches are great, the trails are quick and pretty, the view of the castle as you run past and the support from the locals, it's just fantastic" etc.
So how to make it better? Well this year I had a cunning plan, following a run of the course a couple of weeks prior to the actual day, an alternate route had been found!
To the day loads of people in purple vests, a coachload and a fair few more all gathered around the car park, queueing for the loo and avoiding the slow moving traffic as their owners looked to secure a place to park, the strength of wind is debated and just before the off the gathering on to the beach for the team photo [If anyone has a 'team photo', or indeed, any photo, - send it to me! Ta. Ed.].
Then we're off a stampede of splashing soles the broad starting line changes shape to an, almost, beach long peloton, a line of smiling faces embracing the day, enjoying the run and reaffirming a love of running.
At this point however a small group edge towards the waves turning with the bay and aiming away from the masses their eyes focused on a small path and a break in the dunes, a set of purplies are off exploring.
Concern races through my mind, I've checked and reread the rules- the course is suggested not set, our route choice is our own and ( perhaps crucially ) we never really did compare the choices available. Too late now we hit the new (ish to us) trail and keep the pace lively hoping this is a wise choice.
After a mile and a bit we merge with the main field I see faces I'd not expect to be passing now, numbers that had been passed on the run out are ahead. I ask a fellow strider for his measured distance (the new path is about 500 metres longer, perhaps this is why after 35 years of the event being run the alternate is not needed?)
From this point on works to be done and it's head down and pushing as hard as I dare, still 10 miles to go. I have a good day - in the end when comparing time to last year the deviation didn't make much difference- but throughout the feelings are good, smiles stay on faces and it's a great day and another fantastic experience.
On the final beach the wind really took hold, the sand clung to the feet sucking them down and devouring energy but still the love affair is there. This is why in the depths of winter,on freezing cold mornings I, my friends, clubmates and countless more like us all put on our kit and get out there because running isn't just about the personal goals, it's a shared experience that releases endorphins and on good days, of which this is definitely one, makes the heart glow.
At the end we excitedly chatter and congratulate each other on getting round, one of our number wins their category which is really very impressive as they too choose the long route. And then that's it I'm not on the coach back and am part of a small group descending quietly home, the talk turns slowly to other subjects. Thoughts will gradually no doubt blend parts of today's run with those done before and also, hopefully, with those to come but always, always there's a part of me that dwells forever on those beaches.
|Striders POS||Name||Club||Cat||Chip Time|
|1st M||Carl Avery||Morpeth Harriers||Senior M||1:15:42|
|1st F||Emma Holt||Morpeth Harriers||Senior F||1:29:36|
|1||Stephen Jackson||Senior M||1:25:04|
|2||Gareth Pritchard||Senior M||1:25:55|
|3||Jon Ayres||(M) Veteran40||1:42:30|
|4||Katy Walton||Senior F||1:43:24|
|5||Graeme Walton||(M) Veteran40||1:45:02|
|7||David Brown||Senior M||1:47:40|
|8||Mandy Dawson||(F) Veteran40||1:51:09|
|9||Michael Bennett||(M) Veteran60||1:51:35|
|10||Juliet Percival||(F) Veteran40||1:53:24|
|11||David Spence||(M) Veteran60||1:56:14|
|12||Michael Terry||(M) Veteran40||1:57:22|
|13||Malcolm Sygrove||(M) Veteran40||2:00:57|
|14||Innes Hodgson||(M) Veteran50||2:03:28|
|15||Ari Hodgson||Senior M||2:03:28|
|16||Nicola Whyte||Senior F||2:04:17|
|18||Lucy Cowton||Senior F||2:04:17|
|19||Camilla Lauren-maatta||(F) Veteran40||2:04:58|
|20||Jean Bradley||(F) Veteran50||2:05:15|
|21||Debs Goddard||(F) Veteran40||2:05:54|
|23||Dave Robson||(M) Veteran60||2:09:44|
|24||Anita Clementson||(F) Veteran40||2:13:23|
|25||Kathryn Sygrove||(F) Veteran40||2:13:36|
|26||Katherine Preston||(F) Veteran40||2:18:57|
|27||Debbie Mcfarland||Senior F||2:27:18|
|28||Emil Maatta||Senior M||2:28:40|
|29||Christine Farnsworth||(F) Veteran60||2:33:24|
|30||Kelly Collier||Senior F||2:40:07|
|31||Helen Allen||(F) Veteran40||2:42:55|
|32||Aileen Scott||(F) Veteran40||2:57:19|
|33||Stan White||(M) Veteran50||2:57:19|
|34||Margaret Thompson||(F) Veteran60||3:03:29|
|35||Claire Galloway||Senior F||3:09:34|
800 finishers.[Note: Results on the www.resultsbase.net website are not listed by overall position when filtered by club. To see your overall position you need to go the their website and click on your own result. Ed.]
Dales Trail Series DT30, Muker, Swaledale, 11th July
The event seemed well organised with plenty of drinks and snacks for sale and after a quick cup of tea and a flapjack we set off to the start about 1km away where we met Dave Robson and Mel Hudson who seemed keen to get started. By now the sun was shining and it was pretty warm. The briefing informed us that the route was actually 33k, but we were told with tongue firmly in cheek that since the first 3k was on roads, it technically was still a 30k trail race (not sure how that works!). We were triple counted and suddenly we were off.
Having been warned that the first 5 miles was uphill, it was not as bad as I thought with some bits more runnable than others. However, the fast runners quickly left me for dead and I took up close to the rear with a couple of other ladies. We had been warned to take it easy on the narrow rocky descent after 5 miles or so, but even so, I managed to trip over a rock (or maybe it was my own feet). Momentum took over and I hit the the ground with knee and thigh before inadvertently using my left boob as an airbag against a rock. I think it might possibly have saved me a rib fracture but it hurt (I have a colourful chest as a reminder)! A very caring runner stayed with me for a few moments whilst I got to my feet; I declined her water to drink or to wash my bloodied knee with, and steadily increased from a hobble back to a run. I did keep telling her to run on but she refused, and I felt a brief (very brief) pang of guilt as I ran off and left her behind…!
I mustered up some energy from somewhere deep down, somewhere that I had never before delved into, and ran hell for leather! It paid off and I beat her by 2 seconds. Although I thought I had 3 or 4 runners behind me, I was chuffed to find that there were actually 10. My jubilation that I'd not let myself nor the Striders down was embellished by finding out that Elaine had finished 3rd lady overall. Now I'm back home nursing my bruises and looking forward to the next challenge…. Anybody know if arnica's any good?
|27||11||Elaine Bisson||Elvet Striders||FV35||03:08:35|
|98||64||Melanie Hudson||Elvet Striders||FV35||04:14:30|
|99||117||Dave Robson||Elvet Striders||MV60||04:14:31|
|105||146||Diane Watson||Elvet Striders||FV45||04:25:23|
Sunderland 5K, 15th July
Quick 5k just what I needed to see where I was with my training. I headed over to Sunderland with Graeme who had race envy so he entered the race on the night.
It was a gorgeous sunny night with a good turn out of club runners including plenty of Striders.
First race up was female and V50 men. To the top of the hill Louise Warner, Sarah Davies and myself did go. Feeling nervous, I had heard the start was a scrabble with a chance of a tumble and a crushing as people run over you! Off we went down the hill immediately. Louise Warner must have had too many skittles as she flew down the hill ahead of me. Taking note that Stephen Jackson had gone off too fast last year I decided to let her go. "I will catch her" my positive mindset said.
Once at the bottom of the hill the runners go around the small lake, this did include a little hill, but soon you were heading along on the flat again. I managed to pass Louise on the bridge as we approached the lake. About 400 metres later Kim Simpson seemed to be getting closer to me, I reeled her in and went past, this gave me a boost to continue running as I was.
Up the hill to the crowds of supporters I went with huge cheers from Lesley, Phil, Catherine and the strider men who were ready to race. Back onto the lake path, this time to do a loop around the big lake.
I enjoyed this loop, you could see that the course ahead was flat, this just made me feel great and continue with my pace.
Before I knew it I was running back up the hill towards the supporters and there was the finish. It was over. I looked at my watch praying it to be under 21minutes and to my shock 20.03. Louise came in not far behind me followed by Sarah, both enjoying the race.
The guys race was over and done before you new it. The order changed between the Striders as they ran past to do their loops. We were all guessing who would come round first the next time, it was very exciting! Excellent efforts from all but Rob ran in first followed by Stephen and then Gareth. Graeme had a great run followed by Richard Hall senior. Simon Gardner had a fantastic time too he came in after the dashing trio ahead of Graeme.
I think this would be a great race for the sprint section in the Grand Prix next year. It's local, very fast and they accept entries on the day.
Tour of Merseyside, 5–11th July
6 races, 7 days, 52 miles
I had spotted this little beauty back in 2013 on the BTR website it was 6 races in 7 days, it was 52 miles over the week all different races and different terrains and different distances. As I had only been running a matter of months an I hadn't even run a full 5k, I thought one for another year. In 2014 I was on holiday when it was taking place so 2015 was me year. So euro in hand I went to use the computer in reception whilst on holiday and secured my place. I have family in Liverpool and put a weeks holiday in at work and invited myself to my parents for the week (they didn't object, not sure why I wouldn't want to spend a week with me)
Race 1 was Southport half marathon an it was a warm day to say the least, Dougie had also decided to do this run an it was nice to see a strider face at the race. This was a flat fast course and went out one way to a turn around point, on my way to the turn around point I spotted Dougie coming towards me on the other-side a few mins between us, at least I knew where he was and so the chase was on. I did spot Dougie in the distance around the lake some 6 miles further on, and all but few miles from home and I was catching him, he however also had a canny spurt and I never got any closer. You can read Dougie's amusing report which is also on the website [thank you! [blush] Ed.]. The gauntlet has been thrown down for next year though ... 13 miles done
Race 2 was in Thurstaston the Wirral side of the River Mersey and was a 6 mile multi terrain race, it was a wet night which got even wetter in fact torrential at one point, but it was a lovely run that went out on to the beach for a around 2 miles it was heavy going here on the legs and only got a bit lighter on the legs as we made our way towards the woods which was equally as nice to run through. It was then along the track for a couple of miles and back to the start finish line. The atmosphere was lovely and people were getting to know each by now ... 19 miles done
Race 3 was by Walton Hall Park and was 10 miles on the Sustrans Cycle Trail known locally as "The Ralla" it was 2.5 miles one way then 2.5 miles back to the start/finish then the same in the opposite direction, whilst this was not a course to rave about it was nice in the fact you got to see the other runners going in different directions and there was plenty of encouragement through out to field an it turned out to be a nice night considering the look of the grey clouds and dull skies an the forecast was for rain ... 29 miles done
Race 4 was a short and sweet 5 miles, and somehow it ended up as a fancy dress night (think it might be a regular after this year) the race started and finished in the Wellington pub car park in Hale Village, a dammed good idea I thought, nice and handy for post race refreshments. It was a lovely flat 5 miles in the evening sunshine, it was a race of left turns around the outskirts of Hale. We got lots of encouragement from people sat in their cars waiting to get through the village as well as local residents who had come outside to watch the spectacle all of whom must have thought we were all nutters, they wouldn't be far wrong in all fairness. The Children however thought it was fantastic and it was lovely to hear the laughter and squeals of delight as we ran past. I do wonder if the Lord Mayor will let us back next year????? It was a great atmosphere people really having fun getting to know each other now. I had managed to find a leopard print dress in a charity shop that I cut up found a scarf to match and went as Jane, thankfully nice and light to run in given the heat. I will have to start thinking now for next year as there was a pretty high standard set this year, so I am open to suggestions folks. A fab night all round ... 34 miles done
Race 5 was at Stadt Moers country park. This used to be the tip many many years ago and deep in the trees you can find the outlet holes for the gas to escape, you wouldn't believe it if you went thought it really is a lovely place and is one of the winter xc courses for the area. We had to do 2 x 3 mile laps but before we started it was time for everyone to catch up and laugh on the previous nights costumes. Race time came and it was on with the announcements and handing the tour leader tops out then off we went. The course was lovely and with a bit of mud in the winter it would be fab, we snaked around and up and down the hill and trees in front a few times before heading off in a different direction and then coming round to the start finish for a much needed bottle of water in the heat and lap 2. When finished the queue for the ice-cream van soon built up, it sold handmade ice-creams an had been getting some hammer each night but the poor ladies really had to work on the warm nights, so even if you run just to eat the ice-cream it was worth it. Another great night and 5 races down this meant that tomorrow was the last race, I had made it this far tomorrow I would finish even if I had to finish at a crawl pace ... 40 miles done
Race 6 the final race, this was once again on the other side of the river at Wallasy it was the Wirral Coastal run and the final 12 miles. It was a tad windy as we waited for the start we had been asked to be there for 9.30 so we could have a group Tour photo, an so we all gathered around to have the picture taken, it was the photographers job to get us all in, and so balanced up a step ladder dug in to the drifted sand on the prom it was cries of squash up a bit more, move to the front, supporters move left or move right, no move in more an a few more to the front etc.
However the picture was eventually taken with much laughter and ribbing and one photographer who somehow didn't fall off his ladder and we for the last time took our position at the start finish line. This was going to be fun, 6 miles of head wind woo hoo along the prom towards Hoylake, I had got to around mile 4 when the leaders came towards me flying along and well on their home, how they managed their words of encouragement going at that speed was beyond me. To get the full 6 miles in we went on to the beach at mile 5 and a half, and ran half a mile on the sands to the water station which was also the turn around point, that was it, I was on my way back now, I was on my way home to the finish line and to completing my first Tour. The head wind which was now supposed to be behind us helping had dropped an the sun was out, and so it was a very warm 6 miles to the finish, It was a fantastic feeling to count the miles down and the final push to the line was full of fellow competitors and family members all cheering and clapping, but I crossed the line, I had finished. I had completed The Tour of Merseyside I had run my 6 races in 7 days I had run my 52 miles an I was a fully fledged "Tourist" I was given my medal and collected my T Shirt. I made my way back along the prom to meet one of my new friends and run in with her and watch her cross the line. All that was left was to make our way back to Liverpool an the post race bash an presentation. So with a nice pint in hand an some much deserved grub from one of the food sellers we all chatted till it was time for the presentation an awards. Then it was time for a good laugh at the footage that had been recorded all week by the camera man catching our week for us, his hard work an cutting an editing each night to put hours an hours of footage on to a DVD so we could look back an remember total miles completed 52 ...
Same time next year I think
Bridges of the Tyne Road Race, Newcastle Quayside, 7th July
There was a huge turnout of new Striders, well established Striders and ex-Striders; everyone was extremely encouraging and it really was a great occasion. I think many people made a bit of a night of it and stayed in a local hostelry after the race. The conditions were warm and although there was a headwind on the way out it did help on the way back when things started getting tough.
Gareth Pritchard set off looking strong and I followed suit as we both went through the first mile a little quicker than intended. There was still time to take stock, ease off and get to half way (including the race's only hill). The second half was hard work but I felt able to gradually pick up speed and, one by one, gain a few places. I finished the race above 5km pace which was encouraging. The funny thing about running PBs is it never gets any easier.
It was great to give a cheer to other Striders as they stormed towards the finish line, everyone was running hard which was great to see. Goody bag included a technical T-shirt and a protein drink. This is a race I'd most certainly do again.
|Striders POS||Name||Club||Cat||Finish Time||Chip Time|
|1st M||Lewis Timmins||Morpeth Harriers||Senior M||25:28||25:27|
|1st F||Justina Heslop||Elswick Harriers||VF35||27:49||27:49|
|1||Stephen Jackson||Senior M||28:32||28:31|
|2||Gareth Pritchard||Senior M||28:47||28:45|
|3||Simon Gardner||(M) V45||30:56||30:51|
|4||Paul Pascoe||(M) V45||33:39||33:31|
|5||Helen Todd||VF 35||36:26||36:02|
|6||Fiona Jones||VF 35||37:16||36:51|
|7||David Spence||(M) V65+||37:55||37:39|
|8||Stephanie Walker||VF 35||38:48||36:18|
|9||Martin Welsh||(M) V50||38:49||38:33|
|10||Katherine Preston||(F) V45||40:49||40:32|
|11||Karen Jones||(F) V45||41:11||38:40|
|12||Richard Hall||Senior M||41:32||39:28|
|13||Greta Jones||(F) V45||41:33||39:03|
|14||Lesley Charman||(F) V40||43:01||42:27|
|15||Louise Barrow||Senior F||43:20||42:52|
|16||Rebecca Fisher||VF 35||46:48||44:43|
|17||Angela Coates||(F) V40||46:54||46:35|
|18||Karen Hooper||VF 35||48:37||48:02|
|19||Aileen Scott||(F) V45||48:44||48:13|
|20||Liz Baker||(F) V40||49:07||48:36|
|21||Laura Chapman||Senior F||50:39||49:58|
|22||Laura Gibson||VF 35||50:53||50:12|
|23||Kerry Lister||(F) V40||50:59||50:25|
|24||Mike Elliott||(M) V65+||53:48||53:15|
|25||Natalie Johnson||VF 35||53:48||53:07|
|26||Fiona Billinge||(F) V40||53:57||53:25|
|27||Helen Allen||(F) V45||55:52||55:11|
|28||Claire Galloway||Senior F||56:28||55:47|
|29||Lindsay Craig||(F) V45||58:37||58:02|
|30||Laura Jackson||VF 35||58:42||58:07|
381 finishers.[Note: Results on the www.resultsbase.net website are not listed by overall position when filtered by club. To see your overall position you need to go the their website and click on your own result. Ed.]
Great North 10K, Gateshead, 5th July
Advertised as the 'North East's biggest 10K' (and probably the most expensive!), this race is a good opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the Great North Run, which I am also doing this year. The course starts behind Gateshead International Stadium and makes its way to Gateshead Quayside, passing landmarks such as the Sage, the Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC Centre.
As this was going to be my first race since I ran the Great North Run in 1998, and also my first race as a Strider, I was feeling really excited. Thankfully Laura Gibson had lent me her vest, and once I'd figured out how to pin my number on using my new Event Clips (very handy!), I was good to go. My husband, Jonathan, was also running the race, and we met up with some of the other Striders taking part in front of the stadium. Also taking part in the race were over 200 Gurkha soldiers, raising money for the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, they were quite an awesome sight!
We made our way to the start (and got filmed for the local news, which we only discovered later on!) It was hot, but the atmosphere was great and we were treated to an interesting warm up with Katie Cook, who had appeared on The Apprentice (apparently). Soon we were off, I got a bit carried away and ran the first 2k at my parkrun pace, which I soon realised I couldn't sustain, especially in the heat! Once on the Quayside it was brilliant to see the much faster Striders on their way back. It was at this point that I was pleased to be wearing my Striders' vest, as the waves and shouts really kept me going. I was relieved to reach the turnaround point, especially as I knew the fire brigade was just round the corner with a big hose!
After a refreshing shower it was great to bump into another friend who was running, and to cheer on some other Striders on the other side. I had lost hubby at this point (sorry Jonathan!), it was really hot, but I felt good, and knew my target of sub 60 minutes was achievable. The hill at 9K was a bit of a surprise, but the sign at the bottom saying 'Smile!' and 'Local Hero' blasting out from the speakers definitely helped me up it! The last 1K seemed to go on forever, but the excitement of the stadium finish kept me going. Hearing the hundreds of spectators cheering everyone in at the end was amazing; I even managed a sprint finish!
I was delighted with my time of 55.54, a 10K PB in my first race as a Strider, and am now even more excited about the Great North Run in September!
Lyke Wake Race, North York Moors, 11th July
The Lyke Wake Walk is one of those iconic challenges that I'd longed to do but never had the chance. Friends had completed the walk many times which is to be done in under 24hrs.
So before I entered the dark world of ultrarunning I always thought of this as being a challenge that was the preserve of long distance walkers not realising people actually ran it. And when last year it was announced that the Lyke Wake race would be no more after 50 years due to dwindling numbers, I thought that I'd missed my chance to run it competitively.
But low and behold, with the dedication of Quakers AC and renewed interest from the ultrarunning community, the 51st Lyke Wake race was on and I wasn't missing out.
The race is a point to point route starting in Osmotherley and ending in Ravenscar following the Cleveland Way for most of the first half before heading out across the North Yorkshire Moors towards the coast.
I arrived in Osmotherley with fellow Wingate resident and Sedgefield Harrier, Gary Thwaites opting to stay the night in the YHA about half a mile from the start. Gary is a fine runner and very disciplined so bringing him down to my level on a lovely warm evening in Osmotherley, we scoffed the finest fish & chips I've had for a long time before washing it down with very, very good pints of Wainwrights in the local pub before calling it a night.
The Lyke Wake operates a handicapped starting system and Gary and I had estimated a 9hr finish which gave us a 7:15am start. Other groups would start a various intervals throughout the morning ranging from 4am to 10:30am.
There was a small group of runners for this start and following a thorough kit check and a few words of wisdom from the RD, we were off.
A short run up the road saw us join the Cleveland Way heading north towards Carlton Bank and the first check point at Lord Stones. There's no prescribed route for the Lyke Wake but there were checkpoints that must be reached so from Lord Stones you could go over the three sisters (Wainstones, et al) or follow the low path. We chose the low path.
With the next checkpoint bagged it was off up to Blowarth Crossing and the long stretch to the half way point at The Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge. Reaching the Lion Inn at over 40 mins ahead of schedule we spent a little time scoffing rice pudding and various other goodies that had been laid on for us. Leaving here was a drag and the temperature was increasing as we hit the open Moor. The ground was relatively dry bar a few really boggy sections which would see you sink to your knees. The ground bounced as we ran to the next check point and the heat, the terrain and the distance were beginning to take their toll and I was fading fast. The next miles were hard and I was struggling, Gary tried his best to lift my spirits but I was not responding well.
I took a moment to regain my composure at Lilla Cross, before a long downhill towards Jugger How checkpoint, but dropping down into a steep ravine I slipped and fell which sent my calf into cramp. I struggled to get back out of the ravine and felt totally dejected as the time we'd built up slipped away.
The final three miles took us up in to Ravenscar and the coast line and Robin Hoods Bay in the distance beamed in the late afternoon sun. Running on pure adrenaline, I push on to the finish line at the Raven Hall Hotel to complete the race in 8hr33mins. This was 27mins faster than my predicted time but much slower than I thought was going to be possible.
Hats off to Anthony Corbett and the hard work and dedication of Quakers AC to get this race back on, I'm sure it will go from strength to strength. The only negative point I have is that due to it being a point to point race and the staggered starts it makes it quite a challenge logistically, especially if you're running unsupported as there's no transport provided to or from the start finish areas. Sort that and this will be a winner.
Manchester parkrunathon, Manchester, 11th July
8 x 5km
Last Saturday I took part in my 4th Charity parkrunathon to raise funds for Acorns Children’s Hospice, this time returning to the Manchester area to run in the official 9:00am run at Cheadle and to run round 7 other parkrun courses in the Manchester area all in one day.
I did it there last year with Sam Nightingale (the former Sunderland parkrun E.D. & Netball Coach who is well known to many Striders). On that day 5 others joined us at different stages and we formed a ‘Dream Team’. One of those runners, Gazz Pashley, contacted me about a month ago and wanted to do the challenge again on the 11th July. So with little preparation and training I agreed, but not to do all 8! In the end I completed 6 of the runs which was still a distance of almost 19 miles, so I felt relatively pleased. More pleasing was the fun we had, new friends made, and the wonderful amount of money we raised. Leona & Lorraine were 2 Chorlton Runners who were also with us last year and they did a wonderful job recruiting several more of their fellow club runners. The Dream Team had grown to 10 in number for the 7:30 am start at Woodbank parkrun course.
One big thrill and a lovely surprise was the appearance of Peter Bell and his lovely wife, Beatrice. They had seen my itinerary on Facebook, and as they were in the area met up with us all at 5:00 pm for run #7 at Worsley Woods – Thank you Peter.
Arrow Valley parkrun near Birmingham (where I did a parkunathon 2 years ago) are undertaking to complete another tour of the West Midlands on September 5th to raise further funds for Acorns. Their Team starts off with a magnificent 30. Wonderful news.
The pictures provide a better idea of the day than my words ever could, and will hopefully stimulate an interest in the minds of several of you.
Next Summer I intend to have a tour of the North East parkruns and some plans are already in place. Andy James has given me reasonable rates for a Bus with 2 drivers from Gillingham’s for the day. All I will then need is about 50 or so ‘volunteers’ to run with Peter & I. Fingers crossed they will be mostly Striders - Watch This Space ...
A view from the back
Blaydon Race, 9th June
The last time I ran the Blaydon race was in 1999 in a disappointing time of 40:30. Sixteen years later I'm on a bus full of Striders as a runner, rather than just supporting and relaxing as I have been doing on several occasions over the last two years. Now I have those pre-race nerves, but enjoying being one of the 80 Striders who have entered the race, and feeling excited to be wearing a race number again.
As we get off the bus at the start in Newcastle, expertly negotiated through a race road-block by Strider bus guru Andy James, nerves and excitement increase. Now to find a toilet and I join a longish queue of mostly Striders at a submarine shop!
I am in the club runners pen while the non-club runners are in two other pens which will start 30 seconds apart and 31 seconds after the club runners. Chat to John Ayres at the back of the club runners' pen, who is warming up with a friend. As there's lots of space there I do some warm-up strides up and down the slope. I get myself into a good frame of mind deciding that I just want to get to the finish preferably without stopping to walk, not caring about position or time and before the Strider bus departs for Durham! It's about completing not competing regardless of the pace.
Then we are off, and I manage to cross the two raised starting mats without tripping over them! Almost immediately I'm being overtaken by swarms of young, fast, non-club runners. It's very hurly-burly and as I'm being overtaken on the left and on the right, decided just to stay very close to the left hand side blocking any attempts to pass me on the inside. Soon after the start I am dismayed to discover I'm going to have to run up a hill which seems longer and steeper than I remember, and by the time I get to the top it seemed like I had been overtaken by 99.9% of the field. What am I doing here?
I am "running" at about 13 to 15 minute miles, so the first mile marker takes a long time to appear with more than four miles to go to the finish. It's warm but not uncomfortable and starting to feel confident I will not need to walk during the race. Sweat dripping into my eyes is the only discomfort. Shortly after the first mile marker I notice a group of people attending to a runner who seems to have collapsed. Then I see Ian Spencer walking towards me saying that his injury is preventing him from completing and is returning to the start. Then Simon Gardner, camera at the ready is calling me from the other side of the Scotswood road, so attempt a smile and adjust my running form.
At about two miles, I'm joined by a lady who chooses to run with me because she is trying to recover from the traumatic experience of being one of those attending to the runner, noticed previously, whose heart had stopped and needed expert resuscitation before the medics arrived: fortunately, one of the runners who had stopped to help had that expertise - Lucky man! Shortly afterwards, we pass another runner who said he was 83, so now there was every chance I wouldn't be last!
After hearing the lady's life story, including that her husband had left her six months ago and she was trying to help get him through what seemed to her like a midlife crisis. After about four miles, we agreed she would run ahead from the brow of Scotswood bridge.
Was feeling very confident now that I could finish without walking, so pushed the pace a little. Only one more obstacle now, the flyover which I got over without stopping or walking. Finally, to my delight, I saw my daughters Emma and Maria with granddaughter Ruby cheering and then running with me to the finish where a large group of patient Striders gave me a fantastic cheering welcome which I found, to my surprise, to be very emotional, finding it difficult to hold back tears with the sweat in my eyes the only disguise. Then pats on the back and hugs. It was almost like I had won the race! Enjoyed the post-race, sleepy chat and analysis on the bus back to Durham. The results show I finished ahead of five finishers and six DNFs (not including Sophie Dennis who is incorrectly recorded as DNF) in a field of over three thousand in a time of 1:24:06, more than twice as slow as in 1999!
Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, Stanhope, Co. Durham, 7th July
BS/9 km/300 m
Whilst some of our speedy club mates met in Newcastle for the 5 mile Bridge of the Tyne Race, a hardy group of 10 purple-vested adventurers met in a layby on a road near Stanhope to begin our Tuesday evening. As we waited for the start the wind was a touch chilly but the sun was out and after a somewhat scary briefing ("obey the rules or I will tell the FRA and you will never run a fell race again") we were off.
The race soon warms you up as it starts with a steady climb first on track and then through the grass. Once we'd turned at the mast we ran directly into the sun which made it quite difficult to make out where your feet were going. There were plenty of boggy puddles to keep you on your toes and I was quite happy to learn from the runner in front where not to plant my feet. I have to say I felt absolutely great out there - the views were fabulous and seeing runners spreading out into the distance always gives me a buzz. My enjoyment was only slightly diminished when, whilst overtaking a DFR runner, who (I hope not realising I was there) deposited a full mouthful of spit across my face. Maybe he just couldn't handle being 'chicked'…
After crossing the road we continued the descent to the stream checkpoint. As ever I lost places on the descent. I was aware that at this point I was first Strider. I didn't know where I was in the ladies' ranking but I knew I didn't want to drop back. So each time someone passed me I breathed a sigh of relief that it was neither a strider nor a woman! The descent becomes suddenly much steeper just before the stream and I had to resort to sliding down on my bum as running was never going to work. The bum tactic was fairly efficient and I was soon into the stream, slightly disappointed it was nothing like the wade through the Tees at Cronkley a couple of weeks ago but quite appreciative of the refreshing cold water. As I scrambled out I heard what I'd feared from the start - Graeme's voice….it was going to be a repeat of Cronkley with him flying past me and me regretting taking the first hill too fast!
I tried to push on but the next section along the contour of the hill was quite uncomfortable. I'd turned my ankle slightly on the descent and couldn't get into a rhythm. Unsurprisingly Graeme passed me and when we had to negotiate a tricky little downhill section I thought I'd lost him. To make matters worse I could hear a woman breathing down my neck. Now I didn't really mind Graeme beating me but since someone had mentioned I was second lady on the downhill, I did not want to lose my place. Next up was a fairly steep uphill section and I knew this was my chance to lose her. I put my foot on the gas and passed a couple of men so I knew there was space between us. This burst of speed brought Graeme back into sight. As I levelled with him I asked how far we had to go - he warned there was a steep uphill to finish but with my hill rep training in the bag (thanks Tom) I decided I'd be fine. So on I went. The final climb was painful but with the end in sight I pushed on and was delighted to cross the line and grab my much-needed bottle of water.
As many people have said before, this really is a cracking little race and I can't think of a better way to spend a Summer's evening. At just £5 it's an absolute bargain (especially as they are generous with prizes!). Anyone who is tempted to try fell racing I really recommend this one next year. You won't regret it!
|1||65||Andy Blackett||Durham Fell Runners||M||42.48|
|47||86||Penny Browell||F V40||53.56|
|51||55||Graeme Walton||M V40||54.21|
|53||16||Michael Bennett||M V60||54.51|
|75||73||Shaun Roberts||M V55||59.28|
|83||57||Katy Walton||F Senior||62.38|
|88||87||Stephanie Piper||F Senior||63.48|
|97||31||Jan Young||F V60||65.36|
|108||62||Anita Clementson||F V45||73.13|
|110||63||Diane Watson||F V50||76.52|
|111||64||Jean Bradley||F V55||78.02|
Angel View Run, 9th July
With GP points up for grabs and a desperate need to recapture some kind of form I decided to give this race a go. My fitness had dropped since my London Marathon experience due to injury and laziness - more of the latter to be fair.
Katy and I arrived in good time and met up with Conrad and Jan in the car park then off we went to pick up our race numbers. The race was billed as approx 6 miles long with the starter explaining the route at length before we set off: two loops plus an out and back section consisting of trail/grass/road including some steady climbs. A group photo was taken with Sarah and Robin, and then we were ready to tear up the course.
I wasn't sure as we stood at the start line whether I had it in me to compete with Conrad, however as the race began the racing spirit soon kicked in. We soon headed up the first hill with Conrad speeding away from me. I felt decent enough as we made our way through the first lap without to much problem. At the end of the first lap there was a very tough climb where I got the chance to see the front runners on the way back down - they were absolutely flying, although it was downhill for them. At the far end of the out and back section I got a chance to see how far Conrad was in front of me - too far!! Coming back down the hill was heaven and then onto the second lap I started...
Hmmm... this is where it all went wrong: unfortunately a marshal on one of the points had sent the front runners the wrong way and so had little choice than to send the rest of field the same way. Image my surprise when my race was over after only 3.8 miles!! Maybe if you look on the results it will read that I ran approx 10k in under 28 minutes???? - I guess not. No harm done though; as far as every one was concerned it was an honest mistake that could happen to anyone.
Special praise to the Striders prize winners - Conrad, Jan and Sarah who all won some gift vouchers for performing well in there age categories.
|1||Adrian Bailes||Birtley AC||U21||21:48|
|25||Lorna Graham||Birtley AC||F O35||26:28|
|63||Sarah Davies||F O45||30.17|
|87||Jan Young||F O60||32.47|
Red Kite Trail Race, Derwent Valley, Co. Durham, 5th July
But take part I did and what a race! We started by collecting our numbers from Dipton Community Centre which has a balcony with stunning views over most of the course. One of the local runners showed us where the water stop was and pointed out different sections of the run route while looking over the vista.
So to the start line we went and after a short briefing we were off. The route took us along the road and after a turn off onto the trail almost the whole first half of the race was downhill. I started near the back due to my lack of recent runs but I soon realised that once you get on the trail there isn't much room for overtaking. Eventually the trail widened and I took off downhill. A lot of runners were running on their heels here trying to slow themselves down but for me this is all free running as you can let gravity pull you down and all you have to worry about is where to put your feet. I caught up with Phil Owen and started to run with him while having a chat about everything and nothing. It was just like being on a Wednesday social run around Houghall Woods which wasn't lost on Debs Goddard as she shot past us and told us there was too much chatting and not enough effort going on.
There were a few stiles to climb which kept the bunch together and after climbing one stile we were in a field with about 50 cows. The cows were obviously a little upset with us being in their field as they were circling the runners and running round making plenty of noise. If you were a city type it might have put you off a bit but Strider club runs have prepared our runners for this type of thing. The farmer was in the field trying to herd them away from the runners but he wasn't having much success. Through the field we went then through the farm and along the bottom of the course towards the water stop and the inevitable climb back to the community centre.
At this point Phil took off while I was just trying to get through the race. However, after leaving the water point I had a bit of a 'moment'. I enjoy running but every now and again I have a moment which I love and I had one here. I think it was the smell of the woods that did it for me as I started climbing and felt great. Not great as in having energy and a second wind, just the feeling that this is an awesome thing to be doing on a Sunday morning. I wasn't going fast, I wasn't going to complete a goal such as the longest distance I have run, or my quickest mile, I was just enjoying running. I would put this in my top three ever running moments.
For the remainder of the race I was run/walking but enjoying every step. I was saying hello and having a chat with everyone who overtook me but having a great time. Every time I tried to walk there was a camera pointing at me or a marshal encouraging me so ended up running more than walking. Just as I thought I was back to the top of the climb there was a decent size downhill before the final ascent. Back to the pavement and a short 'sprint' to the community centre where I was told there was soup and cream scones for the runners but I was just happy to lie on the grass and watch the rest of the finishers come in while chatting to the other Striders.
This is a great race and so cheap compared to many others. The course has everything a trail race should have and I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll definitely be back next year.
Southport Half Marathon, 5th July
I'm spending a lot of time in Southport at the moment visiting family, and we all know what we do when we're away visiting family don't we? We check to see if there are any races on! And, what's this, a half-marathon just 10 minutes walk from my in-laws flat? Well, that certainly comes under 'serendipity' in my dictionary.
Denise was there too, but she had a special bit, as I discovered when I was facepalmed trying to get into their enclosure. "Are you a Tourist?", I was asked. My baffled expression was a clear enough answer and I went over to the non-Tourist bits of Victoria Park. I bumped into Denise soon enough though, easily spotting the purple vest amongst the not-very-purply-generally runners. (Penny Lane Striders is near the top of my list of great club names, just below the Troon Tortoises). Denise is currently doing the Tour of Merseyside, 6 races over 7 days. It looks a blast and it's one to keep an eye on for next year. Fills up quickly though.
So just one weekend after running the Durham Dales Challenge as an impulse purchase, here I was again, on another one. The course was described as fast and flat. We started and I did as I was told. Belting round the first 5 miles, keeping an eye on my watch and having quite a high opinion of myself. Mile 5 to 6 I started reviewing the situation, and on mile 7 I slowed to a jog.
For the next few miles I was a shadow of my former self and around the lake in Southport I later learned that Denise had me in her sights. But I perked up the last mile or two and soon after passing the 12 mile marker found myself back in Victoria Park. A little loop, and there it was, the Finish. Time to give it what's left! Closer, closer, and, what the hell?! Someone's having a laugh! I could see the finish, just 100 metres away, but sadly we were separated by a marshall and a metal barrier. Apparently, we still had a lap round the park to do yet! Cruel, Southport, Cruel!
I still managed to just squeeze in a sub-2 hour half although I hadn't expected to literally end the race with a Park Run. Denise wasn't quite so chuffed with my time, telling me that she almost caught me around the lake, but then 'you sped up again you little sh*t'. I glowed with pleasure; it's always satisfying to pip a clubmate over the line, and even better when they're a bit miffed about it! Better luck next year Denise!
The Crosses, Goathland, North Yorkshire, 4th July
This section is written three days before event starts ...
I am a bit nervous about this event. It is five years since I ran an event over 50m or 40m or even 35m. I normally do marathons, though some of them like the Hardmoors marathons are often closer to 30m. I always get some nervous anticipation before a race, especially a marathon, because I know it is going to be hard at some point. I know I will question why I am doing that event. But I know that feeling won't last and the buzz I get when I am finished is always good. I wonder if I didn't get any nervous anticipation whether I would do the events. Maybe if it was all routine, then that is the time to find something else to do.
I nearly didn't enter this event, but I read that it is a one off event in aid of the Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team. So if I didn't do it this year I might never get another chance. The plan is that the route visits many of the crosses on the North York moors. It starts at midday in Goathland so I will be finishing in the dark also at Goathland. One good thing about it is that I have covered some of the route before in the Hardmoors Rosedale, Smuggler's Trod, Rosedale Ultra and Hardmoors Goathland races. But there is the nagging negative voice which says are you getting a bit too old for 50m+ events ?
My positive voice says well that is exactly what you said in 2006 before you entered your first marathon. That and all the following ones worked out well, so why not this one ??
After the event ...
With a midday start we could have a bit of a lie in. We drove down in two cars as my car would go in the event car park and Melanie would drive round and support me. This worked out great, it made it so much easier being able to change my shirt (twice) and shoes (once) and pick up food. Thank you Melanie :-)
On the drive down it was cloudy and at one or two places on the moors, there was thick fog. It was still pretty hot, but there was a bit of a breeze. It could have been been much worse there have been some very hot blue skies days with no wind this last week.
At Goathland we parked up and went over to the Village Hall, registered, collected the goody bag and chatted to the many Hardmoors runners who were there. There were quite a few walkers doing the event - there was a 24hr cut off so there was plenty of time to walk round.
From the start at the Village Hall we started off running down the old railway track just like on the Hardmoors Goathand event, but we went a bit further before turning west and heading our first hill. After this were small sections of road and lots of paths across the moors. Some of these were uneven and I realised that my Hoka Stinsons were not the best to start this event with, I was twisting my ankle a bit too much. After the first checkpoint at about 6m there was a steep descent into Glaisdale where I had to slow down to keep myself from slipping over. The second major climb, on road (Caper Hill at about 9m), got us out of Glaisdale and there was Melanie waiting for me at the top. By this time the sun was out, but luckily there was a breeze. It was in our faces, but it did give us some relief from the sun.
After the second self clip at Botton Cross, I managed to lose my tally card. It was pretty windy there and I had to bend right down to get it scanned so maybe it fell out of its holder then. Luckily I remembered my number which kept the checkpoint staff happy.
I met up with Melanie at the Lion Inn and had more water melon, it was so cooling :-) Then it was the long stretch on the old railway line to Rosedale Chimney. This stretch I know well and it seems to go on for a long time. I was walking and running by this time. There are some beautiful views down to Rosedale.
After reaching the Chimney checkpoint it was a lovely downhill to Lastingham where I met up with Melanie.
After this there was a long stretch of road followed by a long drag upwards on a forest road before a plunge down to the Pickering railway line at Newtondale Halt. This was followed a very steep climb out of the dale before the drag up to Saltersgate. Here I met with Melanie for the last time and changed shoes and finished off the water melon.
After the next checkpoint, Lilla Cross, it was on with the new head torch, the Alpkit Arc. It had come with batteries but they didn't last much more than an hour so I had to try the big selling point of the Arc, the easy battery swap. I managed to drop the replacement case, but luckily I had a second headtorch and was able to find it !
The next section was Robin Hood's Bay Road, which was the furthest from a road that you could imagine. I would have struggled to run much of this if I was fresh and and it was daylight.
This section was very well lit with perfectly placed glowsticks. After Postgate Cross, (where I stopped for some lovely soup :-)) the glowsticks got a bit more sparse and I had at tricky time getting to John Cross. Luckily I knew where I should be from the Smuggler's Trod and got myself back on track. From there it was a bit of plod back to Goathland which I reached at 9 minutes past 2 am.
Having done the first half in about five and half hours, I can see that I am marathon fit, but not really able to go too much beyond that. I should have done more back to back runs to get myself used to running on tired legs. The heat in the first half also took its toll.
I am pleased I did it, but I am not sure I would do it again if it does happen again in the future, it was last done in 1999 and cancelled because of low numbers and only brought back this year because it is the 50th anniversary of the Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team. Apparently they had 250 enter this time (they had a 300 limit) so it is possible it might continue as a fundraiser for the Team who did a great job at the checkpoints and at the finish in Goathland.
Chevy Chase, Wooler, 3rd July
20M / 4,000'
Chevy Chase, a classic fell race open to runners and walkers, has been organised by Wooler Running Club since 1956. This popular race fills up quickly, so I had entered the race in February (so tempting to enter summery races that time of year and so easy to lose count of how many you enter). It is also one of those races where you get cake at the end, always an added bonus. I had arrived early, so had a quick chat with fellow Striders Maggie and Christine before they started their walk 1 h before the runners. Unusually, I was the only Strider running the event this time, so I chatted to unaffiliated runners Liz and Mark whilst waiting. Apparently, many runners had pulled out of the race last minute due to the weather, so Mark had managed to get a last minute place by turning up on the day.
It was still pouring down when we lined up in Ramsay Lane and were told there was a slight possibility that the route may get diverted from the hills later in the event of a thunderstorm. I knew that the first half of the race was going to be the toughest, as we would climb both the Cheviot (815 m) and Hedgehope Hill (714 m) so I took it easy to conserve my energy for later. After the first check point at Broadstruther there was a steady climb over boggy ground, gradually steepening after the Cheviot Knee. The mist was creeping in, so I made sure to stay close behind a lady in a bright yellow top and stripy socks as I couldn't see very far in front of me.
After a rather long climb and a short flattish run along a flagstoned path I arrived at the Cheviot summit. At this point I hauled out my compass to take the bearings to Hedgehope Hill, as there was no chance of spotting the hill from this distance in the mist. I followed a few runners over a stile and down a steep bank (no footpath at this point). The runners in front of me seemed confident about where they were going so I decided to follow them rather than the compass. However, I soon realised that they didn't have a clue of the best route, so we all changed direction together following my compass bearing. We would need to cross Harthope Burn at a suitable place but after some additional trotting found a gentle slope and a narrow crossing point only getting slightly wet feet. I was relieved to see some walkers in front of me, so we couldn't have gone too far off the right track. I was happy to see that they were Maggie and Christine power walking up the hill with great stamina. At last, I could also see the fence that led up to the hill summit.
As I descended down Hedgehope Hill all the fog had lifted and I could see green fields covered by fluffy cotton grass and further away Housey and Long Crags, meaning that Longlea Crag must be hidden behind them. Nearby a group of runners were carrying a lady with a twisted ankle, but they all seemed in good mood. It was getting hotter and I wished I had taken some sun cream with me, but at least I carried plenty of water (and there were often jelly babies on offer at the check points). The last half of the race was a complete contrast to the first; I was running in glorious sunshine through Harthope Valley, past Brands Corner and along Carey Burn to the suitably named Hell Path. My legs were rather knackered after the hills and started to cramp up during the last mile to the Youth Hostel. It was a relief to arrive at the finish and receive a rucksack and water bottle (apparently Liz, the lady I met at the start, had received a spot prize in her rucksack consisting of a large pair of pink pants - the latest alternative to t shirts and wine bottles?).
Overall, this was definitely one of the toughest races I've done due to the terrain (good contender this year to Allendale Challenge in terms of bogginess), but my memory is short so I'll probably be back for more at some point. Also, next year is the 60th anniversary of Chevy Chase so not a bad choice for the 2016 racing calendar..