Neptune Relays, Sedgefield, 22nd April

Jon Ayres

A warm sunny night with spring offering a glimpse of lazy summer evenings and the backdrop of Hardwick Park with its lakes, wildlife and Victorian follies - how do you improve on that?

For some perhaps the gentle tones of Gilbert and Sullivan; others may look to the words of William Shakespeare acted out but surely 480-ish folk in lycra sorted into teams of four-ish hurtling around the paths , tearing over bridges and hustling through the woods is Nirvana for those in the know.

A fair few striders had got together - including a few speedy chaps and ladies - and I was looking forward to watching them run and trying to do likewise (though at reduced velocity).

The usual scrum/mild panic of getting teams gathered together seemed to go OK (hats off here to Sedgefield Harriers, patient and calm folks at the tables accepting entry forms) and we gathered by the start.

From here I can only offer a personal recollection of the course and it would be hard to list all those running, though honourable mentions to Denise Davies and Lindsay Rodgers for doubling up and running the first and last legs for their team as people were detained at work, and to Angela Greathead, who stepped in almost as the first leg set off to take the mantle of second team runner and complete the numbers.

So to the race: Malcolm Sygrove had given our squad a solid start and came home strongly in mid field, handing over to Angela ( who looked to be motoring at a fair lick from my vantage point), Paul Swinburne took over duties and seemed to improve our place in the rankings as he powered through to the finish line.

A marshal called out I could go and so my race began: the strange thing was starting alone with only one runner, maybe 60 metres ahead, for company. The good thing about this was having a target to aim at. Unfortunately I was also a target and was passed just after the first major spectating point. The run round the lakes at about a mile showed places were there for the taking and I saw Elaine Bisson closing rapidly on folks ahead.

Having gathered a few places, screams from the Walton clan provided encouragement and a couple more were taken as we ran through the woods and up the short climb to a folly. My priority of catching the runner who'd overtaken me earlier didn't work out and despite closing the gap to a couple of yards he sprinted away from me as the downhill section to the finish. Ho hum...

All in all the night was a great, short and sharp, work-out made all the better by the company of 30 Strider club-mates (as well as those who had come along to shout encouragement).

Asics Greater Manchester Marathon, 19th April

Stephen Jackson

Steven passing runners on the way back at the Asics Manchester Marathon 2015
Where to start? Well, how about the end of my race report for the Ikano Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham from September 2014: "Never again, I thought, as I noticed there was a reduced price offer for the Greater Manchester Marathon in April 2015. Sub 02.45:00? Now there's a thought..."

Fast forward six and a bit months and I'm lining up alongside the so called theatre of dreams with a host of other Striders for the 2015 Greater Manchester Marathon. Forgetting the iconic football stadium at the start and finish of the race it seems to me this was a route designed to entice runners with a fast, flat course. The date, I assume, was deliberately designed to coincide with London for those who missed out or an opportunity to achieve a PB with the 2016 VLM in mind. Whilst the course was pleasant enough - an 'out and back' loop through the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford - London, with its iconic capital City skyscape, it ain't.

That said, the atmosphere was very friendly, the race very well sponsored and organised and the weather conditions almost perfect. Cool but not cold, cloudy and calm - save for a gentle breeze. No excuses.

I hadn't been 100% during the week and was a little apprehensive about the race. In hindsight I'd diagnosed myself with a chest infection that was probably a false alarm. Annoyingly, this meant I'd missed Charlie Spedding on the Wednesday evening but the unplanned rest probably did me good.

Despite this last minute hiccup I knew I was in pretty good shape. I was 4 seconds off a 5k PB the weekend before the race at a windy Hartlepool parkrun and my training in general meant that my 'easy' pace was gradually creeping up a notch.

I'd enlisted the help of Allan Seheult who had put together a 9 week bespoke training plan. I'd worked hard up hills and on the track; I'd raced and I'd rested. More often than not, six or seven days a week I'd pounded the payment near to my home, putting the miles in.

This really helped, not just because Allan really knows what he's talking about but also because it meant I was being thorough and reflecting upon how things were going along the way.

This is a race report as opposed to a training report so I'll not bore people with the details but I'll let you into a little secret, I'd only run 20 miles or more twice since my last marathon - over 22 miles only once.

I had a race plan, which of course I didn't follow. I was to run 3:53/km splits and, if possible, increase slightly towards the end of the race. I'd run a negative split at the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in January so that made sense. However, I felt good on race day and went off a little quicker - nothing too radical (maybe 5 to 10 seconds) but quicker than planned nonetheless.

Now I don't want to sound like I wasn't happy with the race, I was absolutely, totally and utterly, indescribably elated BUT there is an argument that I was running just below half marathon pace for twenty miles before my inevitable demise at mile 23. I went through halfway in the same time I completed the GNR last September and twenty miles in 2 hours and two minutes. This would have been fine had I maintained that pace to the finish line, but I didn't. Room for improvement, says the perfectionist in me.

Steven crosses the line at the Asics Manchester Marathon 2015
The last couple of miles were hell. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I most certainly will have forgotten how uncomfortable it was in a year or so. I would certainly recommend the race; it's well organised and it's perfect if you want to run your fastest possible time. There are plenty of drink stations, the t-shirt is canny and the goody bag up there with the GNR. In my humble opinion, decent value for money.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you for the incredible support I received in person, on facebook and via text messages etc. It was a privilege to line up alongside so many Striders, many of whom were completing their first marathon. Never again, I thought, as I noticed that I'd recorded a Championship Entry time for the Virgin London Marathon in April 2016.

Sub 02.40:00? Now there's a thought...

Teenager With Altitude, Stair, Lake District, 18th April

AL/15.4 miles/7600 ft

Aaron Gourley

Borrowdale, Keswick, Dark Peak say the vests worn by those milling around the village hall. Then there's me sporting my Striders purple, feeling completely out of my depth. What am I doing here? An early start sees me in the Newlands valley just outside Keswick for the start of the 'Teenager with Altitude' fell race. I'm under no illusions as to how tough this is going to be but with the weather being perhaps more than perfect, I was in high spirits.

A bridge closure meant there was a 30 minute walk just to get to the start line which, once reached, spelt out what this race had in store - a near vertical climb up to the first peak, Causey Pike. The slowest start to a race ever, perhaps?

I take it easy, there's a long way to go. The top is reached, then a hurtle down off the ridge before cutting off to reach the second peak, Outerside. I take a look behind me, but there's no one there. It dawns on me that I may be in last place, surely not?

Peak two, is reached followed by a mad dash down into the valley past the old mine workings before a long slog back up to the summit of Grasmore. The sun is blazing down, the valley is stunning but the view from the top even more so. I'm feeling good as Grasmore summit it reached with a good proportion of the field still in close contact. Off to the next peak, Whiteless Pike - tick. Then it hits me, this now becomes a battle.

A ridiculously stomach churning, knee trembling near vertical drop off the side of this peak back into the valley of Sail Beck to reach Newlands Hause checkpoint follows. There's a 2hr 30 cut off here, I've no idea of my time as I've decided to watch my heart rate in this race instead. I've not been stopped from proceeding so I assume I'm within the cut off.

Next up is High Snockrigg (don't laugh, that's what it's called and is a serious climb to get up there!). From here it's fairly runnable to the base of Robinson, to which peak we are said to meet up with the Anniversary Waltz runners, a shorter race that starts an hour later than ours.

The climb to the summit is beyond ridiculous, in my eyes! By now I've lost sight of just about everyone who was in front of me and there still appears to be no one behind. At the summit I just about have enough energy to fake a collapse, this is getting really tough now. The views over Buttermere are, however, stunning and I press on to Hindscarth before another stupidly steep drop off to Dale Head beck takes me to the final swing north towards High Spy and Cat Bells.

My legs have just about had enough now and I struggle on the ups. Day walkers congratulate me as I pass but I feel no pride, I'm shot. I reach Cat Bells in 4 hrs 35 mins, I know the time only because an Australian guy asks "what the hell are you crazy guys doing?" I reply and for the first time check the time.

I set away off this peak down the track then glance left, I can see the finish but ahead of me on this ridge there is nothing, I realise I've already been on Cat Bells and now I've missed the drop off. I see a group of three runners on the road below and realise I've made my first navigational error right at the end of the race so the only thing to do is go straight off the side down the steep bank onto the road and back to the finish, in just over 5hrs.

On arriving back, Pete Bland's mobile shop is being packed up, probably sold out of spare lungs and replacement knees! In the village hall I stagger for my reward, a free beer and some food - this is what makes it all worthwhile.

I thought I was last but it turns out there were two more runners behind me, I've never been last in a race but this one I had no worries about being in that position, in fact I quite enjoyed it. It was a real test and put me in my place. The weather was stunning and the views even more so but next time I think I'll go for the more "runnable" and shorter Anniversary Waltz than this 15.6 mile, 7600ft of ascent beast of a race.

Broughton Woods Wobble, North York Moors, 12th April

AS / 4.5m / 1220ft

Mike Bennett

3 Esk valley usual suspects, Jan Young, Danny Lim and Mike Bennett made it to a damp windy Clay bank car park to enter on the day for this event, another in the Esk Valley series, rescheduled from Feb. Only 55 runners turning up on the day.

The course may be quite short but had all the ingredients of a testing fell race. The climb being the longest uphill section on the Cleveland hills then a mixture of heather tracks, mud, granite slab paths, and rocky descents. Scenery was great if you dared take your eyes off the track for more than a few seconds without taking a tumble. Marshalls on route at critical points, course was reasonably well marked but a couple of sections where you could miss the route. I did manage to stay on the course this week so avoiding any time penalty.

A fast downhill muddy finish, fell shoes tested to the limit.

Jan was 10th female finisher and came away with wine, I managed first in age group with Danny close behind.

Mike Jan Danny


1Cameron TaylorEsk Valley FellMJ/1/50/30039:46
9Kay NeesamNew Marske HarriersF45/1/50/35044:51
16Mike BennettM60/1/50/24850:12
18Danny LimM0/7/42/13551:31
46Jan YoungF60/2/48/39061:20

55 finishers

Transped Blyth Valley 10k, 12th April

Innes Hodgson

It was a dark and stormy night in deepest Northumberland.

Well not quite. It was a cold, wet and windy morning and we were at the seaside. I ran this event for the first time last year and really enjoyed it hence it was near the top of my to do list this year. The course is fast and virtually flat, just a few sharp bumps in the dunes.

12 striders had made it to the start ready to mix it with the talent from across the North East. There were some good runners racing and the first 22 all broke the 35min barrier. We were packed in like sardines at the start with lots of chatting I guessed the gun had gone when people started shuffling around me (it must have taken me more than 3 seconds to cross the line, but more of that later). The run past the park is always interesting especially with the bollard encased bus stop, once passed it was time to settle into a pace.

In an attempt to stop Ari going off too fast we had decided that I would take the pace until we got to the dunes, then he could do what he liked. The dunes were not as bad as you think there was a good tarmacked path through them, there were a few sharp bumps (10 to 20 strides and you were over them) nothing to slow you down. Then there was the wind, have I mentioned that it was a bit windy, in fact the wind was grabbing hold of you and trying to fling you back from whence you came. That fact that it was windy was the only reason that I kept sight of Sally Hughes for so long. Once you made it back on to the road you had the wind behind you.

Can anyone tell me how on out and back courses the wind hinders more than it helps? As part of the run for home there was a nearly 2 mile stretch of straight road with not so much as a nod to a bend. This gives a great opportunity to get into a pace and work with those around you, I have to say thanks to Terry Brown from North Shields Poly for his encouragement during this section. The final half mile takes you past the park and those dam bollards; one day I am going to get it wrong and join the ranks of the castrate. After the park it gets a little twisty and it was here that I lost a bit of concentration (I must have lost at least 3 seconds but more of that later). Eventually you turn a corner onto the quayside and you have 150m left to sprint.

Crossing the line stopping my watch which showed 44mins and 56 seconds. What joy a pb by more than 2mins and I broke 45mins. What despair when the official times said 45m 02s oh for those 3 seconds that were thrown away all round the course. Never mind I was only going for a sub 47min and I still beat Ari by a minute, Richard Hockin had to eat my dust and I whooped Malcolm Sygrove. But the best thing was being less than a minute behind Sally, I don’t get that close to her on a parkrun. If I think I was unlucky the Matt Archer takes that prize being only 3 secs off beating 40mins. Well at least he has the pleasure of being the first strider home followed by Steve Trout then Sally in third. Teresa Archer and Gail Craig finished in 1hour and 9 minutes which is impressive for a first 10k in such grotty conditions. Stephen Ellis ( with his Cheshire Cat grin) followed Victoria Brown. Mike Elliott finished just over the hour. It was a tough day with some very good performances. A special mention goes to Blackhill’s Jordan Bell who at the age of 18 came second with a time of 32:23 this boy is class keep an eye on him.


1Chris SmithMorpeth HarriersM32:15
47Michelle NolanGateshead Harriers & ACF36:39
133Matt ArcherM40:03
229Steve TroutM4543:22
256Sally HughesF44:06
283Innes HodgsonM5045:02
311Ari HodgsonM46:02
328Richard HockinM6046:35
332Malcolm SygroveM4546:55
399Victoria BrownF50:34
456Stephen EllisM6054:22
533Mike ElliottM651:02:07
555Teresa ArcherF1:09:26
556Gail CraigF451:09:27

558 finishers

Edale Skyline, 29th March

AL / 21.1m / 4505ft

Paul Evans

The Edale Skyline is a race I've intended to do since seeing it written about in the Fellrunner a decade ago, entranced by the scenery and history of the race, in awe of the challenge (Billy Bland rates it as being, along with the Three Peaks, one of his two toughest races) and wary of the fact that its early-year position in the calendar means it will never race the same in any two years - recent years have seen heat casualties, hypothermia, sunburn, retirements due to getting lost in thick mist and a full-scale blizzard; in one year, things were worse yet; so bad that the organisers simply cancelled and re-scheduled for the autumn.

So, I'm cautious and remain so despite knowing that I've run longer races and Ive run races with more climb; so nervous that today is a ‘half-dozen trips to the toilet before ten a.m.’ day. A slow jog from the village hall, over the brook on a narrow bridge where we’re all dibbed into the starting field, and the vista of the Kinder massif towers above us, the sky largely clear but the western edges swathed in thick grey cotton-wool.

We commence the race quickly, under strict instructions to stick to the flagged switchbacked path as far as it lasts before an element of route choice is permitted to Ringing Roger, the first control. The climb is hard but enjoyable, all but the frontrunner walking until the gradient slackens a little and we can open our legs out along the edge paths of damp peat and exposed gritstone boulder. Hitting Ringing Roger is done and the next few miles out to Whin Hill pass very quickly at a steady pace, passing a few on the way up the long, slow climb through the heather to the control at the top of the hill, a thick, aromatic pine plantation to our left only partially blocking the view down to Ladybower reservoir, full after the wet winter that has soaked the earth and nourished the occasional daffodils sighted in sheltered nooks.

You'd be lucky to see any sort of skyline through that murk

Control dibbed, we descend gradually along track then rapidly through dead bracken, crossing the Hope Valley railway just before Hope village, through the stone cottages and up the flanks of Lose Hill, walking and running alternately to the top, Walshes gaining valuable traction as we climb upwards, the way marked by walkers on what is a fine, sunny morning in this part of the valley. From here, a relatively easy few miles commence, running the undulating ridgeline to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor, the Edale’s church spire glinting to the right hand side in the valley bottom, toy-like trains lazily easing along hundreds of feet below. More places are gained here and I leave the brief respite (tarmac, a cup of water and a jelly baby) of Mam Nick knowing that over half the race is done and I feel good. However, despite my legs still powering me forwards, the earth is getting softer and wetter, the trods less distinct and the fluff that I saw earlier enveloping the western peaks is now less abstract and very real, very wet and very sight-limiting.

Pleasingly I pick up the trod to Brown Knoll at the first attempt and am able to keep in sight a trio of runners ahead, one of whom is Sally Fawcett who will finish first lady. I plough through the bog, now often ankle-deep, sometimes above the knee, and catch them when they hit a particularly glutinous patch, the depth obscured by the falsely-reassuring green of the sphagnum moss that has been used as both food and dressing in the relatively-recent past. I help them out and we run on together, Brown Knoll conquered, a very slow run to Jacob’s ladder completed via a path that may have been an actual path or may have been a stream-bed, impossible to be clear given that it was firm-based but covered for half a mile in ankle-deep water, hidden from view by peat embankments eight feet high. At Jacob’s ladder, I begin to struggle; I have not eaten despite knowing I should, and I simply cannot maintain the pace, so I fall away from my companions for the final few miles back to Ringing Roger and then down. I will the end, hard; I now want this over as it hurts and I have little left to give – I paced myself better, I think, for the 18 mile race this is when measured in straight lines than the 22 mile race it is if one cannot fly. As it happens, I lose surprisingly few places on this stretch, though a handful of nimble types leap past on the last few hundred yards into the field, but then it is done, my number cut off and I am free to trudge back to the hall for warmth, dry clothes, pie, peas, gravy and Henderson’s; DPFR are, after all, a Sheffield club.

One plug, if I may - a chap called Steve Firth is raising, via donation-funded sports photography in often-grotty conditions, money to pay for mosquito nets for use in places where malaria is an endemic, life-culling reality. The photo, which I think conveys the day well, is from Mossie Net Photography on Facebook.


1Nicholas BarberPennine Fell RunnersM02:52:51
42Sally FawcettDark PeatL03:37:54
56Paul EvansM03:47:01

242 finishers
This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time a Strider has ever run this race. Unless you know different! It's never too late to send in a report [Ed.]

Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultramarathon, Ruchill Park, Glasgow, 4th April

55 miles

Mark Dunseith

Mark in front of the Falkirk Wheel at the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultramarathon 2015The build up to this race report is a short write up. I counted my 'training miles' since January 1st and I have run a total of 122 miles since the start of the year. So I arrived at the race start line wholly unprepared for what I was about to undertake. I have always been of the mindset that if you put your mind to it then your body will get you there. This is what I was hoping would get me through this run. Anita was hoping that training would have got me through but I have become quite lazy over the last few months.

At the start line we spotted Jon and Shirley Steele, the race directors from the Strider favourite Hardmoors races, and said a quick hello before the off. The race started at a very quick pace and I got into a comfortable pace with another runner and started to have a chat. This pace was comfortable for a Wednesday night run of a few miles but I quickly realised I was going too fast and pulled back a little but still managed to get to the first checkpoint at 13.1 miles in just 15 minutes over my half marathon PB. Ooops.

Through the checkpoint, full of custard, and I took it a good bit easier over the next few miles to the second checkpoint. The run had settled into a run/walk strategy and it also got a bit boring. The run is very flat and the canal has very little changes of scenery. It was a lovely day though, the sun was out and it was warm but not hot.

We left the canal path briefly when entering checkpoint number two (22 miles). This was the Falkirk Wheel which is basically an elevator for canal boats, transferring them from the Forth and Clyde canal to the Union canal. I've always wanted to see it in action but for the ten minutes I was there it was not in use. Anita said that shortly after I left it was used but I didn't get to see it. This was also the first point at which I wanted to quit the race. I didn't feel tired and my legs were fine but my toes were starting to hurt and I just wasn't enjoying the race. I was sitting in the passenger seat of the car and I just wanted to close the door and have Anita drive me home.

Off I went though, eating my peanut butter sandwich (I now rarely eat peanut butter for enjoyment as I have sickened myself of it by using it as fuel for ultras) and slowing down a bit more than the previous section. After a few miles I knew I was going to need a shoe change at the next checkpoint. After only a few miles I came to the entrance of a tunnel that had all kinds of warnings and signs outside. It turned out that the tunnel was about half a mile long and had lots of leaks coming through the roof. I can imagine that it has regular safety inspections and the like but I thought it was ready to come down any time. There were even big holes in the ceiling that you couldn't see the top off as it was so dark. I've never been so glad to be back into daylight and I also decided that I wouldn't be taking up Spelunking (it's a real word that).

The only other thing of note I saw on this section was two ducks having a race. Two male ducks came flying past me and flew up to an orange buoy and landed in the water before turning round and flying straight back to where they came from. I'm sure they were having a race. What else can you do on a bank holiday weekend if you're a duck I suppose.

Into checkpoint three (33 miles) and I was miserable. My feet were aching and I asked Anita to grab me my other shoes. She ran off to the car while I sat eating and a guy from Glasgow asked me if I could take his photo. He'd cycled from Glasgow and wanted a photo to prove it to his friends before getting the train home. 'No I don't want to take your photo, thank you very much. I want to sit here and feel sorry for myself while eating some custard' I thought to myself as I cheerily took the camera off him and said 'No problem, what would you like me to get in the background for you?' He was a really nice man and I enjoyed the little chat we had. Anita came back with my shoes and after a quick change I was off again.

I got 300 yards out of the checkpoint when I decided I'd had enough. I stopped for about 15 seconds and decided I was going to go back and go home. Then I thought about the previous 33 miles and how hard they were. On the Friday morning Anita made a joke about staying in the house all weekend on the sofa with our cat and not going to Glasgow. My thought was that if I dropped out now then we may as well not have made the trip. Decision made. I decided to carry on but at a fast walk pace. I managed to march all the way to the next checkpoint (42 miles) doing 15 minute miles. It was miserable but I got there. Once I was there I knew I wouldn't drop out so this was a bit of a moment. I knew I had to finish.

The next checkpoint was only 5 miles away but these were the longest 5 miles of my running life. They were almost entirely spent walking as my feet, and in particular my two little toes, were in so much pain. My walking was getting slower so it seemed to take forever. A couple of runners caught up with me and asked if I was alright but I told them I'd be finishing and to crack on. Every single runner who passed me towards the end was very nice. They really are a friendly bunch these ultrarunners.

Mark feeling the effects of a monumental day-long effortLast checkpoint (47 miles) and last push. I made this checkpoint cut-off by 10 minute and knew that at the pace I was travelling there was no way I was getting to the finish in time. I would have to run 10 minute miles to beat the cut-off and I could hardly manage to get below 15 minute miles when I tried to run. I was getting fed up and tried to run a lot more in this section. I just wanted it to be over. I reached the outskirts of Edinburgh and started recognising some places from when I lived here about 10 years ago after finishing uni. I had never walked the canal so I was still a bit disorientated. The path was now full tarmac and had LED lights buried into the path to show the edge which was handy as it was getting pretty dark.

It wasn't until I saw a shape move near my feet that I put on my headtorch to see the path was full of toads. Every 10 meters or so there was a toad sitting on the path. Not moving, just sitting there. So the next few miles were spent running along moving my feet at the last second to avoid squashing a toad which also made me put more pressure on the injured toes on both my feet. I passed a few neds (chavs) along this path but they didn't even acknowledge me which suited me just fine. With about 2 miles to go two runners caught me from behind and said they would run in with me the rest of the way, I think this was due to the aforementioned neds and safety in numbers.

We could see the finish line from a long way off but it seemed to take forever to get there. As I crossed the finish line I punched the air but I think I was more relieved than elated. I was just glad I could stop.

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

G'bro Three Tops II, North York Moors, 5th April


Danny Lim

If you can only do one fell race in the North York Moors, Guisborough Three Tops would be my strong recommendation. Highlights include the stunning view of Yorkshire villages from Highcliffe Nab; picture-perfect like a postcard. This is followed immediately by a daring downhill dash into headwind so strong that your snot flies vertically, back into your face!

There is the breathless scramble to Roseberry Topping's trig point past amused walkers and tourists. And my favourite bit of all, that slightly insane descent down the steep, grassy side of Roseberry Topping. A true fell runner will descend in what would be best described as a "controlled fall".

This time, only four Striders braved the start line; which is surprising considering it is a GP race. Mike Bennett was the first Strider home but was stung by a 15 minute penalty for missing a newly introduced loop. Camilla and Jan also finished strongly, perhaps adding to their wine collection?

Best of all, this race will take place again this September as part of the English Fell Running Championships. So come on! Sign up now at the Esk Valley Club's website and hope to see you there.

Mike Jan Danny Camilla


G'bro Three Tops II
1Cameron TaylorEsk Valley Fell71.35 MJ/1/50/250
15Kay NeesamNew Marske Harriers91.56 F45/1/50/300
47Danny Lim 101.15 MO/13/36/93
53Mike Bennett 102.26 M60/2/48/198
80Jan Young 116.46 F60/2/48/342*
82Camilla Laurén-Määttä 117.51 F45/4/45/279

95 finishers.

In the Esk Valley Winter series with two races to go, Jan Young is in the lead and Camilla Lauren-Maatta 2nd in their respective age groups. everything to play for.

Clermont Waterfront parkrun, 4th April

Greta, Karen and Issy Jones

purple parkrun touristsSaturday the 4th April saw Karen, Issy and I participate in our first international parkrun. Saturday is not Saturday if it doesn't start with a parkrun, and even the 7:30 start did not put us off. Staying in Davenport made it easy, a trip down the U.S. 27 North found us in the small town of Clermont. Past the Heritage Village and the race start was right on the lake side.

The ethos of parkrun prevails and we were greeted warmly and made to feel welcome. Quite a few other Brits had made the effort also, Basildon, Sheffield and Darlington to name a few places we all came from.

Our first view of the course indicated that it was flat and fast and quite probably a PB opportunity, Karen however was running with Issy and, if you can believe it me, whose first items in my suitcase were running kit and shoes, had forgotten my garmin, but thought perhaps that should not stop me. After the briefing, not quite up to Robson par (but then I probably am biased) we were off. A straight run out for 1.25 miles took us to the first turnaround, we came straight back past the start to the second turnaround then directly to the finish line. As I was approaching the finish Karen and Issy were passing and heading for their second loop out when Karen shouted I think you have smashed it and that it was definitely sub 23. I knew I had run hard but being Garminless meant I would just have to wait for the official results.

Karen and Issy finished in a very respectable 31:41, I did smash it, first in my age category, 2nd lady overall and a PB to boot 22:32 on what was a very hot morning, and just to finish off our parkrun experience we joined the team at Cheesers a local restaurant to enjoy breakfast and chat.

We were very pleased to note that we have now increased the Striders participation in Clermont parkrun to a grand total of 3, Megan Bell being the first, however we also noted that Blackhill Bounders have a total of 6, so come on Striders if you find yourself in Florida, pay a visit to this wonderful parkrun.

Dales Trail 20, Reeth, 4th April


Jon Ayres

As a firm fan of the Yorkshire dales an excuse to visit the area is generally seized upon, with gusto , and the chance to get a few extra miles prep for the upcoming Swaledale marathon made this new event one not be missed for me.

The start is just outside Reeth down, that's down, by the river and the run heads up (approx 600 feet of up ) toward and onto Fremlington edge. From here it's a skirt across the top, heading North West (I think) up another climb before a near vertical, and frankly to this Tarmac trotting Princess, terrifying drop that involves clinging to grass, rock or just to dear life. Then a fast section of track that's part of the C2C for a mile or so before another climb, which completes the upward tally of over two thousand feet, at this point I'd no idea of location as lack of oxygen was causing hallucinations,with a good 2 1/2 miles of drop and flattish trail.

Spotted at the start were Corrina James, Anita Clementson and Phillip Connor and words uttered at the end all seemed to affirm my view that it's a very tough course but excellent fun. It also gave excellent value a cracking run,technical tee, water bottle and free tea and cake at the finish. The organisation and marshalling were near faultless and very friendly. A great, hard run that leaves me looking forward to the next two in the series, I'd heartily recommend them to all.

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Hartlepool Marina 5M, 29th March

Gareth Pritchard

The colour Purple. I almost missed out on this race due to poor timing on my part and a certain relay race which was supposed to be going on at the same time. ( gave it my best shot ..) I was very lucky and managed to get a place by emailing the race organisers directly even though entry was closed and race full. Very helpful and fantastic to see.

Weather reports leading up to the race looked terrible with rain and strong wind which potentially could wreck the PB hunters day. The race is ran along the coast and follows the parkrun route with a bit extra added on to make up the 5 miles. Very flat, fast with strong competition all ends of the field to push you on. I had mixed feeling building up to this race, my training seems to go from highs to lows every week now as I build up to the London marathon. Last week I flew round 34 miles with ease but this weeks training was terrible. Only two short runs done, feeling poorly and just not myself.

But Come the morning I was feeling good and the heavens were smiling down on the PB gang, the rain had stopped and the wind a wimpier rather than a roar. The location is great for this race, parked easy and picked number up onboard a very cool ship at the hartlepool marina. On to the race which was almost a false start thanks to a drill? Bad timing as the cannon soon went off to start the race..

Gareth puts the STRIDE into STRIDER! Plan for me was simple, try to keep super fast Rob and Stephen in sight and hope to hold off the in form simon to grab 3rd strider home. Pre race marathon paced run for Stephen effected his day and Simon was coming back from recent injury problems. Both still managed cracking runs with simon just missing sub 30 mins for another great time.

The first mile was super fast as expected with Rob zooming off into the distance while I kept trying to control my pace. You turn back half way and it's great getting the shout outs from fellow Striders as the relentless effort kicks in. I remember Simon shouting out that Rob was finding it hard and could just about still make him out ahead. The last 2 miles to home was nothing but pure grit and effort to catch the super speedy one. I needed every mile of that race and somehow pushed ahead with less than half a mile to go. End result was an unexpected 1st strider Finnish and 2 great PB's for us both, a fantastic and enjoyable race. This is why I love road races so much, you have no where to hide, no excuses, it all comes down to your training, fitness and pure force of will to push yourself harder than you ever imagined possible. I'm an unashamed super fan of road racing and this race was everything I love about the sport.

Another GP event in the bag. Lots of other great runs, performances and someone with a 30 sec PB which we all know about via the emails .. also 3rd place for the strider men's team. Well done everyone. As some speedster said: well done the strider 5 mile king...... For now. .. Will definitely be back next year.


1Gregory JayasuriyaMiddlesbrough25:56
12Gareth Pritchard28:32
14Rob Everson28:42
18Stephen Jackson28:58
19Sarah TunstallKendal Amateur29:08
41Simon Gardner30:00
117Katy Walton34:01
183Fiona Jones36:57
187Lesley Charman37:07
220David Spence38:28
341Lindsay Rodgers43:57
344Karen Chalkley44:09
351George Nicholson44:34
354Karin Younger44:20
365Jayne Freeman45:10
435Sophie Dennis49:11
455Mike Elliott51:03
463Lindsay Craig51:54
466Kate Talbot52:13
471Laura Gibson53:15
472Natalie Johnson53:16

516 finishers

Run Northumberland Half Marathon, Kirkley Hall nr. Ponteland, 29th March

Claire Galloway

Elvet Striders at the Run Northumberland Half Marathon 2015The day started with the clocks going forward! One hour less in bed! So the challenge had already commenced. Ponteland High School as the parking base was easy to find. Laura Jackson immediately had her strategic head on, advising me on the best parking spot for a 'quick exit'. However, we amusingly reminded ourselves that such a strategy really wasn't necessary (the car park would be empty by the time we got back). A few coaches picked up runners for the short trip up to Kirkley Hall. Myself, Laura & one other runner were the only passengers on our coach... VIP's, or maybe not. After arriving in the grounds of Kirkley Hall, completing a swift registration & number collection, bags dropped off, it was great to meet up with other fellow Striders to get into the spirit. Myself & Laura were a little nervous of the 3 hour cut off time & of the sweep car picking up those runners outside of this time. I was also a little nervous, as this was my second half marathon, my first being last year at the GNR. However 'pep' talk from our fellow Striders did help to put our minds at ease.

So, yes, the race! Off we went with the expected sweep car right behind us, roaring its engine at what seemed like every 30 seconds. Whilst we appreciate the importance of the sweep car especially in such a rural area, we did think this could be annoying for a full 13.2 miles! However we luckily lost the sweep car after a couple of miles (we assumed it was behind someone else further back). The route was scenic as described; water stations approximately every 3 miles, the roads fairly quiet and the route was definitely 'undulating'. We were hoping for some sunshine which we experienced, very briefly, early on. Coming up to the half-way mark near the village of Ogle, we passed some runners in the opposite direction whom were definitely in 'the zone'. We could only assume they were on the home straight, however our spirits remained high. Passing through Ogle, it amused us to see the Reverend leaving Church & dashing off past us in her red sports car. Think 'glamorous' Vicar of Dibley. Various cyclists were also out & about on their Sunday morning ride, some quite pleasant with their encouraging words as they whizzed past (or smug that they were leaving us in their wake, hard to tell...) The weather was quite variable for the duration, experiencing a variety of seasons; later the horizontal rain / sleet was particularly refreshing. A Bounder & a Quaker had been in our sights in front for some time, I managed to catch up with them & make a break, also passing an unattached runner, before 'that hill'; a steep one a few miles from the end of the race....nice.

Coming into the finish, it was fantastic to hear the purple roar. It was kind of those to wait for the remaining two Striders especially in the wet & cold weather; very much appreciated. I managed to knock nearly 20 minutes off my GNR time, so a good result! Laura was also well within time. Other Striders also completed the race in great times. A race T-shirt & a 'small' Easter egg were collected after the race. The marshals & signage on the route were helpful and all in all a very well organised race. The 'roaring' sweep car did NOT accommodate the colour purple!

Liverpool Half Marathon, 29th March

Denise Benvin

Kathleen, Kerry, Denise and Phil at the 2015 Liverpool Half MarathonThis was my home half marathon, so to speak, coming from Liverpool. Last year it was myself and Kerry that took part, this year I had more company also, dragging Flip along for the joy of carb-loading for half marathon - Liverpool style. Staying at my mum's, a pan of Scouse was requested by Kerry, and so, having been well fed we decided that a bit of practise was needed at "Liverpool carb-loading in the pub". We did get an A* in this and went home at a late hour having had a good night, to grab a few hours sleep after my poor mum had fed us.

The alarm went off all too early the next morning to get us up for the first train. The weather was wet but thankfully not too cold. We stopped for a coffee on the way to the start in an effort to rehydrate or just simply wake up. We dropped our stuff on the baggage bus and found Kathleen for the Strider photo. Then it was time for the off.

The rain never let up the wholeway round but this was a blessing I think. Although the Liverpol Half is a road marathon it makes good use of its parks and the last 4 miles are flat alongside the prom back towards the Liver buildings making it a nice run. It's not often I get to say this (unless I am the only Strider in a race) but I was first Strider home, coming in with a PB in a time of 2:04:57 followed by a broken Flip fetching home a damsel in distress, who was followed by Kathleen then Kerry as usual who had been making another friend en-route.

Then it was time for a coffee to warm up before heading home for a Sunday dinner that was being prepared for us by my lovely mum. All too soon it was time to leave, a good weekend had by all. With the promise of good reviews on Trip Advisor we left - till next year that is .........

Blakey Blitz, North York Moors, 22nd March

AM, 10.6mi/2805'

Jan Young

On March 22nd, three Striders completed the Blakey Blitz fell race; 17k/855m ascent. The three should have been five, but Anita C. and Paul E. both unfortunately had last minute domestic/ family incidents. From race registration at the Lion Inn; a welcoming shelter for windswept weary travellers on Castleton Rigg; the route features a 2k downhill start to Moorlands Farm in Rosedale and footbridge over stream, then climb begins.

First past Dale Head Farm; advertising tempting 'teas'; onto heather moorland towards the paved George Gap Causeway to Great Fryup Head, where we were cheered on by a number logging tented marshal. We stayed high along Glaisdale Rigg, before descending into Great Fryup Dale. A wicked climb out of the end of the dale, to retrace our steps back to the start, remembering to save something for the 2k ascent out of Rosedale to the Lion Inn.

Camilla was ahead of me along Glaisdale Rigg, but I managed to overtake on the Fryup Dale descent and kept a gap between us, until the ascent at the dale end, a group of us reaching the top together. Determined to stay ahead, I tracked a runner in front of me, using his pace and taking shelter from the wind, knowing Sturdy bank into Rosedale is a long downhill and that I'd 'get away'. I find route knowledge useful as you know when to make an effort and I did call to two runners who were going 'off piste'.

Mike and the gaggle at the finish were a welcome site; for all my enthusiasm, I had used up all my energy. Much to celebrate, as points all round on NEFRA winter series and wine for age group winners. Next outing Striders' GP race, Guisborough 3 Tops on Sunday 5th April.


1Cameron TaylorEsk Valley FellMJ184:11
17Anwen DarlingtonYork KnavesmireFO199:56
28Mike BennettM601104:45
68Jan YoungF601133:58
74Camilla Laurén-MäättäF452139:57

87 finishers

Thirsk 10, 23rd March

Michael Ross

I entered this race on a whim late one Friday night back in November knowing a good few Striders had done it over the last few years and it was advertised as a flat fast course.

Not having ventured over 10k for races in the last 2 years due to injuries I was determined to make this race and after a steady away winter I started training for it in late February and training went well, having matched my 2.5 year old parkrun pb the week before I knew I was in decent shape for it and set myself a target of 80 mins for it.

Race day dawned sunny and calm thankfully and I headed down the A19 arriving in good time to pick up my number and sort myself out. The race HQ is at Thirsk racecourse but the start is about 10 minutes walk away, we were shepherded there about 20 minutes before the 11am start.

The race started on time and I eased my way into it, the first half mile fairly slow and then gently picking up pace as the congestion eased a bit, Steve Trout passed me at this point and we exchanged greetings as Striders do, my first mile completed in 8:04. The next couple of miles were on a closed country road and passed uneventfully at steady pace, turning onto A167 which was partially closed I felt my hamstring and glutes tighten and I eased back just slightly as I settled in behind a couple of runners for the next 2 miles, going through halfway in 40:10.

At about 6.5 miles we took a left up a closed road and was immediately faced with a stream of others coming back down the road which was slightly disheartening, the run up the road seemed to last forever and get harder, as we moved through mile 7 I checked my watch I noticed my pace had increased as I started overtaking more people and pushing on. Shortly afterwards Steve passed me coming back the other way and then the turnaround point came into sight thankfully, this gave me a boost as I picked up the pace more going through mile 8 in 7:49. Louise Barrow gave me a shout just after this as we passed in opposite directions. and then we were back onto the open roads again, mile 8 to 9 was my fastest mile at 7:46 and at this point I realised sub 80 was on if I could maintain my pace.

Mile 10 seemed to last forever and I was constantly checking my garmin as the distance slowly moved on, eventually the finish came into sight and as I caught up a lass from another club she gave me an encouraging shout as I went past her and rounded the corner back into the racecourse and over the finish line in 79:47, a pleasing 33 second negative split and a new pb over the distance by over 2 minutes.

Trimpell 20, Lancaster, 22nd March


Gareth Pritchard

After running coniston 14 the day before this 20 mile race, it's fair to say I was pushing myself to new and untested limits. This was never the plan but I could not refuse the last minute chance that came up to run coniston for the first time. I had a plan for both races and was really looking forward to a great weekend of running.

As part of London marathon training, I was looking for a good flat 20 mile race and realised a few options are open this time of year. Trimpell is an out and back race, traffic free and good reports from previous years. After strong recommendations from striders I entered my first ever 20 mile race.

Now the important things for future runners, parking is well organised and free. Race HQ easy to find, with friendly and helpful volunteers. Changing facility's excellent and secure baggage area. Race t-shirt, medal (nice bling) sandwich/banana and chocolate bar at the end. All very good value for money,

The plan was 5 mile pace progression, starting slow then running the last 5 miles at marathon pace. As is quite normal for me, unfortunately the plan went out the window within the first mile. Despite yesterday's hard 14 mile race at quite a quick pace, I was feeling really good. I tried to hold my pace back but clocked my first mile at 7 mins 😟.

The next few miles flew past at the same pace and was enjoying the whole experience. Over the next few miles I was intending to slow up but my racing instinct kept me reeling people in as they puffed away, a very odd experience. The course is indeed flat and perfect for pace work. The miles flew over and I approached the 15 mile point with a sense of dread. I knew I had set off too fast for a training run and the next 5 miles at marathon pace we're going to be painful.

Somehow I managed to keep on pace which I'm hoping to run London speeding up to 6:30 min miles and quicker. I know the feeling well of being past in the last few miles of a race, so was a real joy as I sped past runners all the way to the finish. My pace dropped slightly for the last 2 miles but still on pace over the whole last 5 which was a nice surprise.

So ends my 34 miles in 2 day, almost feel like a crazy ultra runners. Maybe one day but for now I hear London Calling. A great weekends running and a nice challenge.


1Julian HatcherBorder Harriers01:53:49
20Michelle NolanGateshead02:10:40
43Gareth Pritchard02:16:48
322Alister Robson03:00:47
380Jacquie Robson03:12:31

530 finishers

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Coniston 14, 21st March

Katy Walton

It was a good turnout for the Striders on this warm spring day in the Lake District, not just runners but a good number or supporters too; The Bisson family, Anita Dunseith, our Sarah and The Seheult's on their wedding anniversary too.

The race started at 11am and over the timing mats the runners went. Immediately as the runners started off they were faced with the first of many hills still to come, feeling fresh on their legs it's hard for any fuelled runner to not go off too fast, but on a course like this holding back is key to being able to complete the second half of the race without a struggle.

The whole course is up and down testing all runner abilities on the flat, down hills and on the varying up hills, but somehow all that this course throws at you just adds to the fantastic experience of the beautiful scenic challenging route.

There was plenty of water stops on this course, I used these to gain a little recovery and a drink before hitting the tarmac again.

I took each mile by itself not thinking about an overall time/target of the full race. I have found this to be a good tactic recently on long runs which I do still find daunting, it stops me being anxious and relaxes me into a better running form.

At the half marathon point waiting was the Strider Supporters all cheering loudly giving the runner that extra boost for the last mile. A good number of other supporters now lined the roads of Coniston.

The finish was a lovely down hill part with The Bisson family shouting loud as I ran past into the school playing field. Water and a local slate coaster was handed to all finishers.

Excellent runs from all striders and 1st Female Team Prize for the first four Strider females Katy Walton, Elaine Bisson, Juliet Percival and Lucy Cowton. Well done ladies!


position name club cat cat pos chip time
1Harry StaintonBlack Combe RunnersMOPEN101:20:34
33Eleanor FowlerNuneaton HarriersF35+101:29:01
17Stephen Jackson MOPEN1101:26:33
57Gareth Pritchard MOPEN2701:31:52
71Graeme Walton M40+1601:33:38
125Katy Walton* FOPEN601:39:30
144Elaine Bisson* F35+401:40:43
201Marc Jones MOPEN6601:44:47
227David Brown MOPEN7501:46:15
249Juliet Percival* F40+1001:47:39
440Lucy Cowton* FOPEN2801:56:25
446Fiona Jones F35+1101:56:39
658Stephanie Walker FOPEN4802:06:14
659Mark Dunseith MOPEN17502:06:15
696Ian Spencer M50+9202:08:08
846Denise Benvin F45+4102:17:43
964Christine Farnsworth F60+802:26:38
1093Kerry Lister F40+9702:51:55
* 1st Ladies Team Prize

1123 finishers.