Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Coastal Run, Beadnell, 20th July

14M

Report to Follow ...

Anyone fancy penning a few words on this one?

Results

PosNameClubCatCatPosTime
1 Kevin JeffressSunderland Harriers M1:18:57
34 Debbie AppletonHavering Mayesbrook AC FV401:31:21
89 Michael Tait M1:39:53
101 Graeme Walton MV401:40:42
119 Jon Ayres MV401:42:14
136 David Gibson MV401:44:09
138 Katy Walton F1:44:19
162 Rachel Terry FV401:46:21
218 Matthew Crow M1:51:15
240 Alister Robson MV401:52:30
256 David Brown M1:53:30
261 Mandy Dawson FV401:53:48
263 Colin Blackburn MV501:54:01
270 Juliet Percival FV401:54:24
286 Michael Bennett MV601:55:25
383 Stephanie Walker FV352:01:56
431 Megan Bell F2:04:44
437 Nicola Whyte F2:05:01
453 Mark Dunseith M2:06:31
461 Kathryn Sygrove FV402:06:53
466 Lucy Cowton F2:07:02
469 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV402:07:16
473 Fiona Jones FV352:07:39
499 Melanie Hudson FV352:09:32
508 David Spence MV602:09:46
524 Anita Clementson FV402:10:46
536 Paul Beal MV502:11:24
592 Sarah Fawcett FV502:15:14
608 Dave Robson MV602:17:13
630 Barrie Evans MV602:18:32
682 Ian Spencer M2:24:18
720 Louise Billcliffe FV502:27:48
728 Jacquie Robson FV352:28:43
753 Karen Anne Chalkley FV502:31:10
756 Debbie Mcfarland F2:32:01
776 Anita Dunseith F2:35:32
794 Brian Ford MV402:39:43
814 Kirsty Anderson FV352:43:39
818 Sue Jennings FV402:44:36
822 Helen Allen FV402:45:52
827 John Hutchinson MV502:50:24
845 Robert Clark M3:03:09

857 finishers

Great North 10K, Gateshead, 13th July

Natalie Johnson

On a very wet Sunday morning Alison Kirkham turned up at my house (20 mins early while I was still in me PJ’s) to collect and deliver me and others to the Great North 10k. We had a bit of a round trip to collect everyone from various locations in Durham County so we had plenty of time to psych ourselves up. Arriving at the stadium for about 9.30 we had loads of time to get absolutely soaked to the skin apart from Helen Goodram-Page who was dressed as a waterproof Grey Elephant (I kid you not ... I’m only jealous).

To amuse ourselves before the race we took numerous "before the race photos" including high jacking (it didn’t take much persuading them) a few of the 200 or so gurkhas who were obviously desperate to be part of the purple army.

Striders and friends.

Anyway back to the race. Focus. Focus. Off we went to the start. It was a staggered start with the elites going off in Orange followed by white, green and finally pink setting of at 6 minute intervals. "We" had a mixture of colours but all decided to drop back to the pink section and start together.

So after a brief warm up ... a tiny green person way in the distance moving to the music. We sort of just did our own thing for the most part and then we were off. Splitting up into smaller groups. I don’t really remember much of the first mile or two as this is always the bit I struggle with. I remember zigg zagging up a hill and I could see Kelly Colliers bun ( I said bun) in front of me bobbing up and down dodging in between people who had already stopped to walk.

Coming into the final straight ...

As we passed the Baltic the faster runners were coming back the other way. There were lots of shouts and cheers when passing fellow striders and some other clubs too. The Bounders seem like a friendly bunch. We passed Anna Seeley looking like she could have run this course about 6 times over no problem. The water station was a welcome sight at about 4k. Although it had been raining (it had stopped at this point) it was still very warm and I remember Laura Gibson mumbling something about wanting to take all her clothes off at one point. She didn’t go through with it thankfully otherwise we might just have ended up in the paper again!

Report continues here...

Chevy Chase, Wooler, 5th July

20M / 4,000'

Matt Claydon

As Aaron explained in last years report ones experience of this race can vary hugely depending on the weather conditions. This year my experience varied hugely all in the same race. Even before the start I felt a certain amount of trepidation having never run a proper fell race and having had limited training as I returned from best part of a year out. This was compounded by the requirement to run with full survival kit including waterproofs, fleece, food, water, map, compass, whistle, flaregun, crampons and a St Bernard. Oh and it's 20 miles up and down mountains. Well very big hills. Driving up to Wooler through rain and mist did not give me any cheer, although I knew the course had been shortened in recent years when the weather was bad and I admit a repeat of this would not have upset me. Arriving at HQ it was optimistically reported that the mist would clear, which was good as at the time I couldn't see Cheviot to navigate to.

The distance can be walked or run with the walkers heading off an hour earlier. It was a friendly hustle and bustle at the start where I arrived in time to see some friends off on the walk. An hour later I still felt a little nervous as it was our turn. I ran with a friend who turned up at the start with shoelaces untied and backpack spilling over. I at least felt organised if daunted. I had been a little surprised to see no other Striders at the start, a rare occurrence these days, so was pleased to have some company.

Going over the edge ...

Steady away for the first hour of undulating tracks I began to feel comfortable, even a bit cocky. As we approached the bottom of Cheviot I decided a sub 4 hours was potentially possible and I upped my game. The heavens opened as I tore (trotted) past some of the slower runners and straggling walkers. I caught my walking friends just before the summit fulfilling my threat from the pub the night before ( I left after a nursed pint, they stayed til 1 and hit the shots).

I lost my shoe in the deep peat bogs at the top and spent some unpleasant time retrieving it before charging (sliding) down the other side. This appeared to be an technique underused by the runners around me that I found quite successful. At least you get a rest. As I climbed Hedgehope (nearly as high as Cheviot) the clouds began to clear and I arrived at the summit knackered but dry. I had intended to stop for a rest here, but still optimistic for a good time I took a quick snap of the target in front, framed by a simply stunning panorama, and pushed on.

This is the halfway point, which if you think about too hard is quite unsettling. Luckily I have a talent for not thinking too hard about things and my confidence was growing. All downhill from here! There remains a lot of uphill for downhill, like an impossible scenic Esher print. The temperature steadily rose and stints along rabbit tracks, through gorse bushes and across bogs and rocky outcrops took there toll. A stretch along wooded riverside was stifling and I began to rapidly fade. This was around the 15mile mark, and every footfall required attention. As I (briefly) overtook the lass in front I saw her face was covered in blood. A hardy local type, she explained she had cut her lip falling on a rock. Fair play to her, she won a trophy later.

From here it was walk, jog, walk, jog back to Wooler. I did manage to pick off a few that could by now only manage the walk bit. A sprint (crawl) finish for the camera's brought me home in 66th place sneaking under 4 hrs 30. I'll definitely take it. Never ever again I thought. This is a blinking hard race, the hills which one assumes to be the hardest bit are actually relatively straightforward as long as you don't try to run up them. It's the long drag home you need to be prepared for. After 6 cakes and a coffee my friends trickled in and we enjoyed a pint in a sunlit beergarden down the way. By the end of the beer we had all agreed it was the hardest thing we had done, and that we would all be back next year.

Osmotherley Phoenix, Osmotherley, 12th July

33m

Melanie Hudson

The Osmotherley Phoenix race is where I did my first marathon two years ago. Strangely, it did not put me off and now I was about to run my 31st marathon/ultra. I decided this time to do the 33 mile route.

It was clear before we even started that it was going to be very hot day.

A long and winding road ...

We started slowly uphill out of the village which meant that we had to dodge round walkers once we started to run. Then there was a climb up to the radio mast on the Cleveland Way, down to cross the road and along to Scugdale. Then another tiring climb up to Carlton Bank and the steep descent to Lordstones. At this point the 17m route cuts off and one the great things about this event is that you can decide when you get to the checkpoint which route to take. We were both fine, so the 33m was what we continued with.

After Lordstones there is a choice, you can go up over the three sisters (including the Wainstones) or contour round. We have always contoured round, there are more than enough big hills in this event and we did not fancy tackling them again having done them earlier in the year on one of the Hardmoors races. This year there seemed to be more people doing the three sisters which surprised us a little. However after chatting with people along the way some of them said that they had not realised how difficult the Wainstones would be and had regretted having taken that option.

On to Clay Bank and then the slog up the other side to eventually reach the trig point which is the highest point on the North York Moors. Down into Chop Gate and the 17m checkpoint there at the Village Hall, where the Wainstones marathon had started. We spent a little longer at this checkpoint, putting on more suncream and preparing ourselves for 'that hill' the one that hits you straight away after leaving Chop Gate. It is just so long and steep and to get that after 17m is just a killer. We had to take a couple of breaks in the climb up and Dave was concerned about an attack of cramp which he seems to get when climbing big hills well into races on hot days. He made it over the most difficult bit, but then the cramp set in. Having just recovered from his second calf injury of the year and two long races in the next two weeks he decided to play it safe and slowed down.

Mel and Dave before the off.

We discussed what to do and we agreed that at the 20m checkpoint where the 26m and 33m routes diverged that Dave would do the 26m and I would do the 33m. I had the route on my garmin, a map and the route description, however after Durham Dales two weeks ago I was a little worried that I would get lost. Thankfully there were quite a few people around to either figure out things together or reassure me that I was heading in the right direction. At a couple of quieter spots I did nearly miss a turn but my Garmin beeped to tell me and I back tracked.

At mile 25 I started to get a bad head from the heat. At this point there was a long slog from Arden Hall to Little Moor to rejoin the Cleveland Way and I was really regretting not dropping down to the 26 mile route. My headache grew worse and I felt a bit out of it. Even when it flattened out a bit I struggled to run for very long before having to walk again. Eventually it started to descend to Square Corner. I thought that was all the hills out of the way, however this was not the case. Although the remaining inclines were nothing like ones previously, when suffering with heat exhaustion, they felt like mountains.

Half a mile from the end one poor guy in front of my started throwing up from the heat and I imagine he was probably not the only one that day to have done so. Everyone I spoke to seemed to be suffering to some extent.

It was great to eventually get to the village and know that I was going to make it. I turned the corner onto the main street to see Dave cheering me in. I was so glad to get to the finish and get out of the heat.

Sunderland 5K, 16th July

Becky Fisher

The weather took a turn for the worse and I wondered what the turnout for the Sunderland 5k road race would be like as I set off from Durham on Wednesday night. In spite of the downpour that greeted us on arrival at Silksworth there were nigh on 350 runners prepared to face the torrential rain. They didn't have to! On the whistle, glorious sunshine and high temperatures were the conditions the six Striders (plus former member Adam Walker) were facing on the "fast" course. Gareth Pritchard led our Striders home, closely followed by Rob Everson. The male contingent was completed by Stephen Jackson and Alister Robson. Rebecca Fisher and Kathleen Bellamy rounded up the Striders representation at a well organised and fun event.

We were greeted at the finishing line with a Start Fitness discount card and Bibfix clips - bonus goodies. In the heat, I could have done with having the water distributed to us first!! Easy to get to, local, very friendly and an easy course to follow.

Kilburn Feast, North Yorks Moors, 13th July

7M

Lindsay Rogers

Having mainly stuck to park runs and a few 10K races, I thought it time to push the boat out and try something a little longer. Not quite ready for 10 miles yet so when I saw the Kilburn race, I thought why not. It was in the afternoon so no early start; it is called undulating so no serious hills (supposedly); it was in North Yorkshire (almost as nice as County Durham); it was a village fete so the family could come along and best of all there was a public house at the finish line!

So all the Rodgers family headed off with the constant call from the back of the car, are we there yet and will there be ice cream. We arrived to find plenty of parking and even toilets in the car park. We then bumped into Alister on the high street so I did what was right and let the kids pester him, while he tried to get them to become parkrun volunteers. So far so good as race time approached the kids went off and attacked the tombola and Mr Robson and I found our respective places in the pack.

Alister, Lindsay, and mascots for the day ...

With the words of Alan Sehault in my mind about pacing, I set off at a steady 5.00/Km with the intention of running round in a less than an hour. First mile done and then I started to appreciate the reminder from my wife to put sun block on as it was getting very hot and very sunny. The first portion of the race is quite gentle, a small couple of hills and a nice descent, then you realise that 'undulating' has a different meaning in Yorkshire, I would read it now as very hilly! Thank goodness for the helpers at the 3 water stations and 2 sponge points, they even had a car driving round offering water to those of us at the back.

So back to the run, I will admit to drifting to a powerwalk on one of the big hills and the constant changing of the running line to find shade. There was a chap of senior age running with me, never found out his name, but thanks to him for dragging me round the undulating bits.

At mile 6 I thought one more to go and managed to pick the pace up again especially when I found out that the last portion was downhill. Then a shock as I passed the 7 mile marker with no sight of the finish line, it seems that in Yorkshire racing they are generous with the distance and so I 'sprinted' the last 700 odd yards to be cheered in by Alister and my family with the best thing of all, a photo by Helen of me with both feet off the ground.

Now to the key point, the pub at the finish line allowed for 3 pints of carbo loading and an understanding wife to drive me home! Time just a tad over 1.03 so very happy given the hills and the conditions.

This is a great race and is worth a larger strider turnout, wonderful route, brilliant organisation and plenty for the family to do while they wait, although I am not sure what Alister will do with the coconut the girls gave him. Oh and there is a pub at the finish line.

Angel View Run, Gateshead, 10th July

5M

Mandy Dawson

This is a nice low key local event organised by Low Fell Running Club over varied terrain with hilly off road sections up behind the Angel View Hotel then under the A167 to the Angel of the North and back again. It was nice to see they had some junior races with U11, U13 and U15 all getting medals.

Midsummer madness is in the air ...

I must admit the race was longer and harder than I thought and it turned out to be nearer 6 miles after a change in route from last year. As it started at 7.15 I stopped en route at M&S for a coffee and scone (not recommended pre race food but tasty!!!). I met Alister in the car park and for once Striders were low in numbers with only myself, Alister Robson, Gareth Pritchard and Kathleen Bellamy running together.

Alister went flying off and I never really caught site of him, he had a strong run coming in 35th. Due to the low numbers I ended up being 4th Lady and winning the over 45 category (yes I know it is hard to believe). [It certainly is, Mandy. Ed.]

I’m not sure if it was a one off but there was a lovely buffet on afterwards in the Hotel, a feature which often attracts Striders (not mentioning any names) and also a birthday cake for an 82 year old runner competing from Low Fell Harriers ... wow, hope I am still going then. Overall a very friendly event and well organised.

Duns Reivers Week Fun Run, Duns, Berwickshire, 10th July

5K

Colin Blackburn

I moved up to the English side of the border - I can't afford to have to get a new passport - a couple of weeks ago and had hoped to take part in the Berwick Curfew Run shortly after the move. Unfortunately while Alister travelled up to a race right on my doorstep I travelled down to Manchester for work! It looks like I missed a good one. Looking around for a local race I found this little gem hosted by runduns. It's a few miles over the border in the small Berwickshire town of Duns and forms part of their summer festival, the Duns Reivers Week. The town seemed to have numerous events every day for a week or so. Thursday evening included the 5K run, a shorter run for the kids, a marching pipe band and a torchlight procession followed by fireworks.

Registration for the run was pretty informal, in the town square outside Hugo's Bistro. Four quid, no numbers. At 6:28 the field gathered at the start line. At 6:29 some of the seniors, me included, were asked to step forward so the the all-too-eager juniors didn't get bowled over at the start. At 6:30 we were off. At 6:30:05 the all-too-eager juniors overtook the front-row seniors! A short closed road section took us out of the town and into the grounds of Duns Castle. After that it was a very pleasant multi-terrain run around the castle's woodland paths and meadow tracks, including running alongside a lake called Hen Poo (I didn't leave the el off). The race ended with a run back down into the town to finish just outside Hugo's.

I was pleased to get my medal after the announcement that due to the large number of entries they may not have had enough - what is it with races in the Borders in July? I'm not sure of the results but I was happy with 22:56 on a slightly undulating 5K. After the race I got a chance to chat with a few Tweed Striders, my now local club, before Elfie and I went for a Chinese. While we ate a marching band went back and fore on the street outside the restaurant window playing various Scottish classics. All a bit surreal. We didn't have time to hang around for the procession but maybe next year we'll plan ahead.

It's not exactly an easy race for Striders to get to but if anyone is up here in July for, say, the Kelso 10K, then this little race is a nice warm up and a great evening out in Duns.

Carlton Midsummer Meander, North Yorks Moors, 9th July

6.1mi/1475'

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

The sun was still shining over North York Moors and there was a slight breeze as we lined up on Green Bank near Lordstones Café just outside Carlton village. According to the dictionary to meander is ‘to move aimlessly without fixed direction’ which is what I usually do in fell races, so I felt confident that I had the skills needed for tonight’s little race (6.6 km, 390 m climb). The only Striders taking part this time were Scott and I, but I would recommend the Esk Valley Summer Series races to anybody wanting to dip their toes into fell running. These short midweek races are the perfect introduction and not much more strenuous than the Striders handicap as you will probably be walking a fair bit on steeper sections.

The race started on a grassy slope and then followed the Cleveland Way past two marshalled checkpoints. It had all looked quite straightforward on the map with the footpath continuing until the woodland by Broughton Bank, but suddenly I was lost in a sea of bracken with no visible path under my feet. Surely the Mountain Rescue would find me here within the bracken sooner or later? Bracken is poisonous even to sheep so I wouldn’t be able to live on it, but I could live on bilberries and on water from the stream sipping through the bracken until they found me – and I did have a big lunch so could even survive for days.

Ok, maybe it wouldn’t be necessary – my heart lifted as I noticed the line of fell runners further down the bank. But how did they get there? I looked behind me and there were more lost fell runners in the tangle of bracken – maybe I had misled them and we would all have to be rescued together. I did feel very guilty about risking to use the Mountain Rescue’s limited resources for this, so I meandered skilfully through the bracken and, magically, in front of me there was now a grassy footpath. I was on track again, turning left by Broughton Bank and turning back by the stile/check point at Toft Hill.

Hooray, I was catching up with a line of runners struggling uphill through the head high bracken following a clear footpath. The marshal at the top of the hill told me there wasn’t much left now of the course. Going downhill, I concentrated on placing my feet on the flagstones without braking too much and at times I ran along the narrow grass verge. After a while the path turned right and the finish was grassy and only slightly uphill.

It was a great little race, with no free t shirts or mugs or PBs, not requiring superman/superwoman skills, just a little bit of everyday stamina; a mini-adventure keeping your mind and feet busy, which is sometimes all that is needed for a good day out. I’m sure the Mountain Rescue would have found me eventually had I not found my way out of the bracken.

Bridges Of The Tyne 5, Newcastle Quayside, 8th July

5M

Mike Elliott, who wishes to remain anonymous

Along with two other Striders was driven by an excellent chauffer who did not know the way and was very good [of course] following the directions to park at the Newcastle cycle hub arriving at the same time as Paul on his vroom vroom.

A story that was related on the way from Maiden Castle to the start was how this person managed to change out of working clothes into running gear whilst driving to Maiden Castle. Wonder if the other drivers managed not to crash watching this sight.

Goody bags and numbers picked up [really no need to do the race as we had the T shirt]. The smell of burgers at race HQ in the Tyne Bar certainly puts you in the mood for running on a nice warm evening. Forgot how far the start was from the HQ so ended up at the back of the field then heard a whistle which everyone thought was for the briefing but bugger me it was the start, so off we went like the clappers. Within the first mile we had passed all the 6 bridges of Newcastle. There was no more architecture to see, the only two sights left were the muddy banks of the Tyne which had turned into a piddle little stream cos the tide was out and the other being a little more difficult to see through as it was the low sun dropping out of the sky [looked as the females of any household had forgotten to switch the light off]. The best part of the race before reaching this point was seeing the field being split up by large patches of purple.

After a long 2.5 mile we reached the hill with its turn around point. Back along the river passing the ever encouraging marshals and walkers who were out for a stroll. Now two mile back to the Pitcher and Piano [must be the only pub that allows a race to go through its lounge bar as it is on the quay side]. Then the last 1/2 mile to the blown up finish and the cheering the sea of purple plus a cool bottle of water.

The End

Oh not to forget the burger and pint in the Tyne Bar and the canny crack. See you there next year.

Results

PosNameClubCatTime
1 Andy Burn Jarrow & Hebburn AC M 25:54
8 Alyson Dixon Sunderland Strollers FV35 27:27
32 Rob Everson M 29:24
32 Matthew Archer M 31:01
99 Graeme Walton MV40 33:20
101 Katy Walton F 33:29
125 Alister Robson MV40 34:15
152 Paul Pascoe MV40 35:19
183 Fiona Jones FV35 36:35
186 Lesley Charman FV40 36:41
192 Richard Hall MV35 36:55
208 Jackie McKenna FV45 37:33
219 Lucy Cowton F 37:56
224 Michael Ross MV40 37:52
237 Mark Dunseith M 38:36
241 Brian Ford MV45 38:43
251 Greta Jones FV45 39:09
253 Paul Beal MV50 39:15
259 Megan Bell FV35 39:29
291 Jill Ford FV45 42:57
295 Rebecca Fisher FV35 43:18
300 Jacquie Robson FV35 43:19
309 Katherine Preston FV45 45:02
314 Angela Coates FV40 45:58
316 Angela Robson FV40 46:08
317 Kelly Collier F 46:19
329 Emma Detchon F 47:51
329 Rebecca Maddison F 48:05
333 Anita Dunseith F 49:00
334 Mike Elliott MV65 50:10
337 Lindsay Craig FV45 51:21
337 Laura Gibson FV40 52:56
342 Natalie Stones-Johnson FV50 52:57
344 Kirsty Anderson FV35 53:30
345 Kerry Lister FV40 53:31

349 finishers.

Hamsterley 10K, 6th July

Alister Robson

Everyone had been going on about how tough this was for weeks, so I'm not sure whether it was the slightly revised route, being mentally prepared for much worse or least likely, a spot of good form that led to this being a pleasing performance and race.

The start is tough, I'll give you that, before you're even properly warmed up they take you up a big hill, before a short section of flat to get your breath back (quite narrow, so no real opportunity for overtaking), then a rapid descent to get back to the same level.

A couple of miles of flat but scenic track lull you into a false sense of security before the really tough bit. Just after the water station, there's a shallow stream crossing, with steps if you don't fancy getting your feet wet, but then you turn a corner and there's the big hill at three miles.

This just drags on, I ploughed my way up it but have to admit towards the top, as it twisted and rose, just as you thought you'd summited i,t I had a little walk. I'm not ashamed, I've seen some proper fell racers do it and I only lost one place, which I quickly picked up (plus a few more) when I started running again at the top having had a breather. By now all thoughts of a good time have gone, but what I didn't know is that it was all down hill or flat from here. The last three miles flew by, pushing and being pushed by a regular XC foe, before abruptly the finish loomed into sight.

I'm not sure if the course was short, my Garmin registered just over 6 miles, but they really aren't that accurate on twisting terrain with lots of altitude changes. On finishing I watched and encouraged loudly first Marco then John Hutch, Lisa Bryson and then Jacquie come in. I can only apologise to Paul Towers and Kathryn Larkin-Bramley for not hanging around to cheer them in but by that stage I'd worked out the big drawback with this event - flies, bugs and midgies - millions of them everywhere - not surprising in a forest, by a river in July really.

I was pleasantly surprised to be just outside the top 50 and the tech tee and goody bag justified the (late) entry fee. Recommended, but use some bug repellent!

Summer Fan Dance Race, Brecon Beacons, 5th July

24K

Kerry Lister

So, after cheering my hubby on in January at the Avalance Endurance Events Winter Fan Dance, he and his friend booked for the summer one. Unfortunately The friend got a bad back following the Durham Coast Half Marathon a few weeks back, and as it was so near the event, no money back or deferral til next time, there was, however, an opportunity to transfer the place for the sum of £10. Weellllll, I had done Swaledale, Penshaw, Roseberry Topping, Round Sheffield and a couple of other half marathons so surely I'd be ok for 'a gruelling 24km non-navigational race over two sides of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. This infamous route has long been a part of SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) Selection and is considered the yardstick of a candidate's potential to perform well on Test Week and ultimately pass the Special Forces Selection programme.' taken from the website.

Kerry at the start ...

Took the option to go 'clean fatigue' or non load carrying to the uninitiated. Rob went for the load bearing option (as expected). Borrowing Denise's fell shoes and waterproof jacket, off we went on the 6 hour drive to Brecon.

As we approached Rob kept pointing out very high points on the landscape. Not sure if he was trying to scare me or prepare me. anyhow we arrived safe and sound, settled into our hotel and set the alarm for 615am.

The morning came around and in silence we prepared separately for our upcoming challenges. The weather looked okay, the tops were shrouded in mist and the weather forecasts said 20/30% chance of precipitation. Not bad odds really.

At the red phone box of the Storey Arms 830am came and the rufty tufty load bearers had their briefing from former SAS fella Ken Jones and off they went . I had another hour to wait til my set off time so, as you do, started chatting to anyone around me. The folks at the Fan Dance are a good bunch of people, unpretentious, all 'bricking it'. Finally 930am arrived, we had our briefing, well the folks at the front did, at the back ( my natural place) we couldn't hear, however, me being me I forget instructions very quickly so probably funny miss much.

... and Kerry at the finish.

Off we went, the sun started coming out, the first hill was long, the first 2 miles were all climb, too much for me to run, and in fairness I didn't see much running at this point, I did however start overtaking people and eventually found my pace with a lovely lady called Sue (who had suffered a back problem, had surgery and found a new love of all things fitness) and her nephew Ashley ( who was training to run 6 marathons in 6 days for charity). I managed a little jog at the bottom of the summit (if that makes sense) of Pen Y Fan and left them behind for a short while, and reached the summit (886 m) in about an hour. Considering the climb I was well pleased with that, and of course had to have my photo opportunity.

Off we went again, to Jacobs Ladder, well all we saw was a precipice, fortunately there was someone who knew what he was doing to show us the way, imagine Roseberry Topping on steroids on top of another mountain and that's Pen Y Fan and Jacobs Ladder.

Once down there we hit the Roman Road, the main challenge here being not breaking an ankle or face planting (again). Plenty of 'well dones' and 'keep goings', eventually passed Rob on the return journey with his bumbag full of burst gels and massive blisters on both his feet.

Just after mile 7 was RV2 also known as the turnaround point, good glug of water and some flapjack for the return journey, a quick check by the DS that I was fit to continue and off the three if us went again, a bit of a jog here and there as terrain allowed then there it was. The monster that is Jacobs Ladder - part 2. Bigger and uglier than going down was going up. Load bearers were struggling to stay upright and keep moving, it was long, very long then that little steep scramble at the end to reach the Pen Y Fan summit for the second time. Now we knew from here it really was all downhill, well apart from the little up hill bit. 4 hours passed, which means we did not managed to complete the course in the time required for SAS selection, secretly we were all pleased about this as we didn't really want to join the SAS anyway.

With the thought of collecting our patch and enjoying the promised hog roast we practically skipped the last stretch, seeing the red phone box of the Storey Arms and Rob standing there we knew our journey was complete, we had done it!

With Hugs and handshakes from everyone we had encouraged, passed, hi fived and raced we made our way back to the car for a well deserved bath and Fan Dance Race beer. The photo with the patch and the red phone box - 2 icons of the Fan Dance Race experience, had been taken.

Was it a challenge? For sure. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Will I do it with a full load next time? Probably.

Skiddaw Fell Race, Lakes, 6th July

9m / 2700' AM

Danny Lim

As I hurtled down the mountainside, my poor legs were turning over as fast they could. Slap! Slap! Slap! Each foot plant was taking place just in time to avoid falling flat on my face. At the speed I was going, I was acutely aware that I was one bad step away from badly twisting my ankle or rolling all the way to oblivion! I glanced at my Garmin; 10 minutes and I had descended 600 feet. Not that I had much choice in the matter!

Then, a flash of colour; a young lady had just overtaken me. To my horror, a few dozen yards ahead, she fell flat on her face. For a few seconds, she lay motionless, then started groaning in a way that left me in no doubt she was in agony. "Don’t panic!", I told myself. I was trained in Advance Trauma Life Support. Airway clear? Yes! Neck, broken? Does it need to be held still? Before I could ascertain this and to my horror, two fellow runners hoiked her back up to her feet. Blood was poring from the gashes in her arms and knees. With a quick pat on the back, they sent her on her way. I stood and watched in awe as she hurtled downhill, as if nothing had happened. Clearly, these fell-runners are made of different stuff.

Only one hill: Skiddaw!

I continued my descent, at a more sedate pace. By the time I reached the bottom of Skiddaw, my legs didn’t feel like they belong to me and as much as I willed them to, they were stuck in second gear. My lower back was aching from the relentless pounding. An hour of non-stop climbing followed by that brutal descent had taken its toll. Like Rocky Balboa, I kept moving forwards, though I was in no position to give chase. As I struggled to the finish, it was the girl I stopped to help earlier that was cheering me on.

So, any takers for next year then? I had a friendly welcome and plenty of banter with fellow runners. And for the grand sum of £6, got an afternoon’s entertainment and memories to last a lifetime.

Tynedale 10K, Ovingham, 2nd July

Conrad White

The summer seems to be full of races and the Tynedale 10K - if you have space in your race calendar - is one you could/should/maybe add to your agenda if 10K is something you want to do. This year the road bridge to Ovingham was shut to cars but not to pedestrians, which made some of the coming and going different, but the organization seemed to work efficiently. Once you have collected your number and chip it is the best part of a mile up hill to the start. Despite the pre race information I made the major navigational error and ended up with my car on the wrong side of the river so by the time I had it on the correct side, I was a bit short of time to get to the start. It was not so much as “hitching” a ride but demanding of the only van to pass for a lift - which thankfully he did for some of the way up the hill - so I arrived at the start with at least two minutes to spare.

If you want a fast start, this is the one - hell for leather down hill for the first mile (not sure when I last did such a quick mile). I think there is a prize for the first to 1 mile. The roads were closed and the course undulates to Wylam before doubling back, over the river Tyne and back along the river bank with more undulations. I have been running a bit faster recently and was hoping for a recent “best”. Personal bests happened many years ago but it’s good to know I am not inexorably slowing down year on year and there is improvement. With the advantage of that first downhill mile the times were looking hopeful. The legs were maybe not quite so sure about some of the up parts of the undulations, but there were a couple of runners who seemed to be going my way at my speed so I just hung on - especially a lady from Morpeth who seemed to be around for the last three miles (5K in the new terminology).

As it happened it was a Garmin 10K best for me (by one second over the Newton Aycliffe 10K of 2008). So felt very pleased. It also came out at nearly the same age graded percentage as I am doing in the park runs.

After I finished I went to cheer on some of the many striders, then joined some of the cheering band of purple. Unfortunately I could not stay for the pie and peas and missed the last of the striders. Apologies for not cheering everyone home.

I think this may have been in the GP years ago and with 26 striders in the results could it be one to reconsider as an option for the future?

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

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, 1st July

6m 1000' BS

Rachael Bullock

I was really looking forward to this race for multiple reasons: 1) I love fell running; 2) It's a GP race so there would be lots of friendly faces there (plus some added motivation!); 3) I had fond memories from last year after finishing 5th lady (although I put this down to the appalling weather which meant a poor turnout!); 4) It was a gloriously sunny evening and 5) I REALLY love fell running.

There was indeed a pretty decent Strider turnout, including the mean machine that is Katy Walton! Seeing as Katy had just run a pretty amazing PB at the Humber Bridge half marathon just 2 days beforehand, whilst I had had a relatively restful weekend, I was vaguely hopeful that I may be in with a rare chance of giving her a run for her money!

I felt reasonably comfortable as we set off up the hill - a long but quite gentle climb, and I managed to overtake quite a few people. Sadly, my legs weren't feeling particularly rested at all, but despite that I felt like I was going ok and making good progress, so when it started to flatten out I tried to keep going strong. Soon we started a long and gentle descent, although the ground underfoot was pretty rough - gotta keep your wits about your footing at this race. With the lack of rain recently, I was expecting pretty dry underfoot conditions, but it wasn't long before I was greeted by a rather large boggy puddle. And for some stupid reason (I guess I'm just a huge pansy) I dithered for a good few seconds trying to work out how to negotiate it! It was at this point that I heard Katy's menacing voice behind me - I can't remember what she said, but it sure struck the fear of death into me as I now knew she was right behind me and those seconds of dithering could cost me dear. This prompted me to just splash through the bog any which way, as I should have done in the first place, and surprise surprise, it did not kill me.

On I trotted, well aware that Katy was close behind and a little surprised she hadn't overtaken me yet. But then I thought ... I know her game plan ... she is just gonna let me pace her comfortably round and then overtake me on the uphill finish at the end (I had failed miserably to keep up with her during the hill session she put on last week). The descent is long and after crossing the road it gradually gets steeper and steeper, and rougher and rougher, and also pretty damp in places. I fell over in some bog at one point and witnessed several others doing the same. All the time I was convinced Katy was just behind me but I never once looked back, because that rarely works for me, it just makes me nervous and I prefer just to focus on what I'm doing. Katy didn't pass me on the descent but fellow Strider Scott did - we had passed each other a few times already and he was clearly tiring of this child's play and looked pretty comfortable on the descent.

Soon I reached the stream, where we had to go into the stream to clip our numbers! It's a VERY steep descent down to the stream, not everyone's cup of tea (including mine!) but I loved the stream! So refreshing! I wished I could have stayed in there for longer! It was pretty deep - I had soggy knickers when I came out! I wouldn't advise carrying any valuables in your pockets for this race! It wasn't until I was clambering out the stream that I realised Katy was nowhere to be seen! Turns out the purple vest I could sense behind me was that of Graeme! I was quite relieved at this point but I didn't want to relax too much as I figured I must have been doing quite well and it would be a shame to let things slip at this stage.

So I pushed on up the next hill (brisk walk rather than running at this point!) and onto higher ground again where we had to contour around the hillside - I remember hating this bit last year as again the ground is very uneven and you are running on a slant. This year I didn't find it too bad but I had a steely determination about me by now! In addition, I was still stupidly furious at myself for dithering earlier on at the bog...I couldn't stop thinking about how ashamed mudman and mudwoman would have been!! So I was feeling the need to punish myself! A short descent followed (in fact quite a horrible one for those of us who don't like steep, loose ground!) before the final uphill push to the finish. A marshal at the bottom of the hill informed that I was 3rd, or maybe 4th lady ... YAY, I thought! But then I realised there was another lady not too far behind me and so if I was going to retain my position I was going to have to run all the way up this hill with a fair amount of conviction! And with some words of encouragement from Graeme, that's what I did. I gave it my all and finished comfortably ahead of her. Turns out I had been in 4th position - I would have loved a podium finish but at least I was one place up on last year! I was completely knackered at the end, I had found it a very tough run. I would say that most finishers looked suitably knackered after the uphill finish, but some great results from fellow Striders nonetheless.

This is a great race and very friendly and fun atmosphere. There is a good amount of marshalling and taping for a fell race, so although it's not the easiest of courses (in my opinion anyway) it is still pretty beginner-friendly.

Alister adds:

Rachael neglects to mention that the Striders Ladies (Rachael, Katy & Camilla) were first ladies team :-)

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Will Horsley NFR         M 43.16
15 Karen Robertson NFR FV45 51.17
19 Thomas Reeves MV45 51.48
36 Michael Bennett MV60 54.38
50 Rachael Bullock F 56.15
54 Graeme Walton MV40 56.41
58 John Metson MV60 57.23
67 Nigel Heppell MV60 59.19
68 Katy Walton F 59.50
69 David Selby MV40 59.57
84 Alister Robson MV40 63.33
88 Camilla Lauren-Maata FV45 63.41
120 Jan Young FV60 72.40
123 Anita Clementson FV40 74.25
128 Denise Benvin FV45 78.42

128 finishers.

Lambton 10K, nr Chester-le-Street, 29th June

Steph Piper

The Lambton run is set within the private grounds of the historic Lambton Estate and proceeds from the entry go to the Foundation of Light – Sunderland AFC's official charity which supports and encourages families and young people to engage through footballing activities. The Lambton Estate is usually closed to the public, so this annual event was a great opportunity to get inside the grounds and explore what is on the other side of the walls.

The day dawned overcast, but with sunny intervals and by the time the claxon sounded for the start of the 10k race the weather was set fair. With a record attendance of 660 runners over both races, the first 2km were a scramble over the start line and out through the woodland along a narrow grassy track. Over the bridge the field finally thinned around the 3rd km where a long, steady climb out of the valley allowed an opportunity to pick off a few who had managed to get ahead early on. Once out of the shady cover of the trees the gradient – and the temperature – rose. The scenery was absolutely magnificent and the rural setting made it the quietest race I have ever run. I had finally settled in to a rhythm, albeit a little slower than planned, and felt good with the sunshine overhead and nothing but the sound of birdsong, steady breathing and the patter of the runners feet.

The water station was situated at 5km, although I didn't pause for a drink. My split for the halfway marker was well over 25 minutes so I had to do some work if I wanted the sub-50 I was aiming for. Fortunately the next two kilometres were for the most part downhill and afforded a chance to gain some valuable seconds. With only 3km to go I was back on track and feeling confident that the sub-50 was in sight. "There's a big hill to the finish, mind" cautioned the lad I had been running alongside for most of the race. Naively I didn't think much of this at the time and pressed on back over the bridge and along the river, below the towering heights of the castle walls.

Then the hill appeared. And what a hill it was. Up ahead, most runners had been reduced to a walk and disappeared around a corner as the marshal at the foot warned it got much worse there. He wasn't wrong. I was determined not to walk but my pace was reduced to baby steps. A final false summit and it was over, the 9km marker within sight but I was done. The last 1000m seemed to take forever as the seconds ticked on, almost at double speed. Through the trees I could hear the crowd cheering and doubled up with stitch finally burst through the gates in the wall to the finish line. A high-five from Samson the Black Cat and a gun time of 51:32.

It was lovely to see so many familiar purple vests milling around the finishing field, delving into the goodie bag for a well-earned technical tee and bottle of water. Matthew Crow led the Striders home in 41:47 (pos 33) and Sarah Davies the first lady Strider home in 45:57 (pos 89).

In the days following the race, numerous press articles appeared in the Echo, Advertiser and Chronicle, many with pictures of Striders and Strider Juniors who had taken part in the 3km Fun Run which followed the start of the 10k route. An excellent – if challenging – morning of running. Well done all!

Berwick Curfew Run, 2nd July

1.3m

Alister Robson

The Curfew Run is only 1.3 miles and Berwick is 86 miles away from Durham so it was lucky I was already in Berwick that day on parkrun business.

The curfew bells strike at 8pm every evening, and last 13 minutes. Berwick was a walled city and the bells were originally to warn its residents to return to the city before the gates were closed for the evening. The Curfew Run's challenge is to complete the 1.3 mile course before the bells finish (and the gates lock).

Alister works his way past, err ... quite a young field.

The course runs along the walls and for all but a very short section is entirely on path - one small section crosses the old road bridge which was marshalled for the occasion.

Entry was on the day from 6.30pm and it was doubly lucky I was there early as the 150 limit was reached very shortly after I handed over my form and £4. Last year's entry was only 120 and so you can easily excuse the run organisers from Berwick's Tweed Striders for not expecting the demand - in the end there were so many disappointed runners, including those who'd run many times in previous years, that they agreed to put on a second wave at 8pm.

I made the first wave and on the startline felt a bit like Gulliver surrounded as I was by schoolchildren, many no higher than my waist. The start was a bit narrow but very soon the field spaced out and I was able to progress through the overkeen juniors who had a tendency to go off too quick. having said that so did I and as you cross just before the old bridge, I remembered about the climb back up to the walls. This wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, certainly nothing after Saltwell Harriers Fell Race the previous evening, and I picked off a few more of the little 'uns. The last section is again flat, even slightly downhill and I eventually crossed the line just after one junior lady and possibly even in the top 10. I was well pleased to have beaten the bells, crossing in about 8.30 although I'm not sure if results are published, aand I was even more pleased to see the goody bag - a decent shoe bag, Tech Tee, Medal, drinks bottle, snack bar, banana and a bottle of water - not bad at all for £4.

Just remember to get there early if you want to be sure of a place.

Lands End to John O’ Groats by bike, 15–24th June

1030 miles in 10 days

Dave Shipman

I know, it's not running, but enough folk in the club do triathlon, duathlon or ride a range of sportives and local rides like the Durham Big Ride and Beast, or just cycle for fun and fitness, to hopefully make it relevant and interesting.

Mike Bennett and I, along with a colleague, Andrew, have just completed LEJOG, enjoying a fantastic period of weather – only rained once in 10 days!! – and cycling through some of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain. We did it with no back-up, carrying our own gear, on a route worked out to avoid major routes and to find quiet back roads wherever possible, although in reality that did mean more hills and slow progress on many days. For accommodation we stayed in a range of cheap hotels, B+Bs, youth hostels and pubs and to make the whole thing possible we got the train down to Penzance for the start, then back from Thurso at the finish.

Only, err, 1030 miles to go ...

The daily schedule, which we managed to stick to only by toiling through some very long days and late finishes, looked like this:

Day 1 Penzance – Lands End – Newquay 63 miles
Day 2 Newquay – Tiverton 110 miles
Day 3 Tiverton – Bristol 70 miles
Day 4 Bristol – Craven Arms (north of Ludlow) 90 miles
Day 5 Craven Arms – Southport 115 miles
Day 6 Southport – Carlisle 132 miles
Day 7 Carlisle – Stirling 125 miles
Day 8 Stirling – Tomintoul 121 miles
Day 9 Tomintoul – Crask Inn 121 miles
Day 10 Crask Inn – John O Groats 83 miles

Significant aspects along the way were the kindness and warmth of people everywhere and something which really surprised me, the majority of drivers were cyclist-friendly. Only in Preston, where a man in a VW Golf nearly killed me and a young chap in a Peugeot got very verbal were things intimidating. Only the rush hour into Bristol, a stretch into the Lakes and parts of the A9 in Scotland got scary. Otherwise from start to finish we had "pinch me, I'm dreaming roads" several times a day, had a great many laughs – do it with friends/family if you decide to give it a go yourself, it's a brilliant way to spend time together – and can look back on miles of quiet lanes, notably in Cornwall, Shropshire, the Lake District and Scotland for the rest of our cycling lives. The ride along the seafront at Crosby, with the Anthony Gormley statues looking out to sea, also was unforgettable.

During the journey, from time to time we were given an extra cheer, much appreciated by all of us. Roz and her sister joined us just outside Hereford, but sadly couldn’t ride with us due to family commitments. My brother John and his partner Lyn popped out from a garden centre in Chester and John rode with us til Lancaster. Barry Bird joined us from Carlisle to Moffatt, then turned round and rode back to Carlisle. Apart from that, although there were nearly 50 cyclists starting at about the same time as us at Lands End, encounters with fellow LEJOG or JOGLE riders were rare events after Day 1 until the last day, in reality we all went on slightly different routes, covering different distances at different speeds so were dispersed to the roads. However, in keeping with the growth of cycling fever and the Tour Depart in Yorkshire, wherever we went cyclists were very much in evidence, which is brilliant to see.

Is it me, or are they getting thinner?

Practically and mechanically things went pretty well too, Mike had a couple of punctures, Andrew shredded a back tyre but that was all, the only noticeable downsides were late night rides into Carlisle (near midnight) and Tomintoul (elevenish). Somehow we/I failed to notice the extra ski resort after Glenshee before Tomintoul, which took us over the only hill we had to walk up in the whole journey: head for "The Lecht" if you want a challenge, don’t think I could get up it even on a mountain bike after a rest day, so after over 100 miles on a very hilly day the legs and trusty touring bike gave up!!

Like on most endurance events, we all turned into food processing machines, eating more of anything and everything as the days went by, huge breakfasts and frequent meal stops supplemented by a million muesli bars/flapjack, jelly babies, chocolate milk, Turkish Delight, Bounties, Jaffa Cakes, salted nuts but despite that inevitably had times when the energy levels dropped and all lost a few pounds in weight by the end.

So,would I do it again, most definitely, different route and probably take a few more days, do it from North to South (JOGLE) next time ... could we run it as a club relay? Yes,if enough people would commit to running a few 10 mile legs each ... though the route would have to take in a number of long distance footpaths to make it both safe and interesting – one for the AGM to discuss perhaps ... ?

Mike adds:

Hallelujah!

I signed up to this thinking it was 'something to do' It wasn’t until a couple of days into the event I began to appreciate the enormity of the task, especially given the 10 day schedule with no rest days built in. Having said that we settled in to a routine and the actual cycling became surprisingly manageable despite long days in the saddle. Memorable bits centred around scenery, food and accommodation, the cycling was almost incidental. Maximum calories were consumed, major roads where possible were avoided major hills however were included, the Cheddar Gorge, Kirkstone Pass, Glenshee, the long hill out of Moffat which took an hour to get to the top of and many others along the way. The Crask Inn deserves a special mention, many miles along a single track road (the A836 no less) from Lairg in Scotland, landlord and landlady waited up for us to serve a cooked meal, a few pints of the local Black Isle Beer and a wee dram of the local malt.

Our trusty steel framed touring bikes performed well and got us to the top of all the hills bar the Lecht. They also raised a comment or 2 from some of the older cyclists we met on route.

All in all it was one of the most memorable, (for all the right reasons) adventure holidays I have been a part of. My thanks to David for the route planning and booking of accommodation. (We’ll forget the minor oversight of the road up to the Lecht ski centre in the dark and wet.)

Round Sheffield Run, 29th June

24.5km

Kelly Collier

Kelly really enjoyed this one!

Humber Bridge Half Marathon, Humberside, 29th June

Katy Walton

High up on the bridge
Underneath the water flowed
Magnificent views to be seen
Broken by the long slip road
Energised by the crowds
Running as fast as I could.

Burning up the rain drops
Redirected traffic stood
Indicative mile markers
Displayed along the route
Gusts of wind blew head on
Encouraging cars hoot.

Hoards of people lined the roads
Around the last bend
Liking the atmosphere here
Finished, phew the end!

My time was unexpected
And praise from someone new
Resting for Graeme
At last he finished too
Too wet to stand and wait
How did Alister and Jackie do?
One long car ride home
Next year will see us too.

Cronkley Fell Race, Holwick, Teesdale, 29th June

10.5M / 1752'

Paul Evans

After a few years' hiatus the Cronkley Fell race was resurrected in 2010 by DFR, in their sixth year of existence. It was won by Will Horsley, with Tom Reeves, Nina Mason and Jan Young finishing strongly and Phil Owen towards the rear of the field after some horribly-long event not too long beforehand. This, the fifth running of the race, and the 10th anniversary of DFR, showed how little, like the galcial upper Teesdale landscape, changes in many respects, yet there were a few subtle differences from that sunny day four years ago; the entry fee and the setting may have been the same, along with several of the runners in a smaller overall field, yet there were now kit checks and counting of all runners at the start line, by the Strathmore Arms, an unfortunate consequence of a sad death on the fells last year. Nevertheless, at the starting gun (shout of 'go') 55 runners made there way up the 400m of road that serves to separate the field before reaching the stone track.

Tarmaccy start to a good fell race ...

As four years ago, Will led from the front, with a pack of runners from Howgill harriers, Elswick, CVFR and Pudsey & Bramley chasing, Tom and I trying to hang onto their coat-tails as the track climbed onto the fell. The mile or so of track was as unforgiving on the feet as ever, though the temperature was cool enough and the breeze minimal, making the outward leg easier than the headwind of the previous year permitted. Track gave way to grassy trod, a flat stretch leading to a run over some cairns (where the race claimed its only victim, mAndy Blackett hobbling back to the start) and down a slope studded with rocks to Skyer Beck, barely ankle deep this year. The ground remained firm for the drag up the drovers' trod to Thistle Green, the highest point of the race, and thankfully it seemed that the legs of the pack I was chasing were beginning to tire, allowing me to catch some of those left behind by Will on the climb; a few paces walked aside, I had set out to run as much of this as possible and it paid off well, raising me to fifth, briefly, as we began the descent (where I knew I'd lose places).

Dropping off the top down to the Tees, where the mid-river halfway point and Samuel the crocodile awaited, felt fast, though most of those I'd just passed came flying past me towards the end of the descent, whilst Will came by in the other direction, by now a clear minute ahead of a Howgill runner in second place. The Tees was as refreshing yet slippy as ever, the climb back up also providing no surprises, with places regained, leaving me in 4th as we hit the top and the out-and-back nature of the course allowing me to see how closely I was being chased by Tom and Scott. Three years ago I ran from here, a full four miles, without really racing anyone - this year it was clearly not going to be the case, as a runners from P&B Paul after a sprint finish. and Howgill Harriers were on my shoulder, both overtaking as we retraced our route downhill towards Holwick. Surprisingly, I managed to stay the course and get back into 4th place as we left the springy turf for the stone of the track, Alex Jones of P&B dropping away slightly and Heidi Dent, who by now was well on course to smash the ladies' record, refusing to fall back more than 5-10 metres on the climbs and on my shoulder as we dropped down the steeper track to Holwick. All was set for a sprint finish, which for the few spectators we provided. I would like to say that I was a complete gentleman and let her have 4th; in truth, I was blown away by a turn of speed I simply do not possess and crossed the line four seconds after her, Tom, Scott and the rest of the eight Striders following shortly to join us for chips and beer in the pretty pub garden whilst the prizes were handed out, along with the bottles of DFR Anniversary Ale for all finishers.

Once again, an excellent race with ideal combination of hard running, fantastic scenery and good company afterwards. Recognition must go to DFR, whose efforts were rewarded with a 50% rise in the number of entries this year, as well as to the Striders attempting this course for the first time, all of whom acquitted themselves well in a good field.

Hadrian's Wall Half Marathon, Haltwhistle, 29th June

Mark Payne

This event was suggested to me by an old university friend from Edinburgh who'd already entered it early in the year. Having got back into running over the last six months after something of a gap it seemed like a good time to try a half marathon again, my last having been in 2008. So I managed to pick up one of the last few places available.

The start of the race was on a hillside near Haltwhistle and gives you a good vantage point to get some appreciation of what's in store. I took the not-recommended warm-up approach of standing around chatting to my friend Tim, freshly recovered(?) from the previous weekend's Edinburgh Seven Hills race, then put myself somewhere in the middle of the assembling pack and assumed I'd start slow and warm into it. After a low-key start ('I think we've started - or maybe everyone's just bunching up - oh no hang on we have started') we got underway.

I'm happy to say that since the first year of this race (reported on by Striders Dougie Nisbet and Ian Spencer) it has been gaining in popularity, with 434 runners home compared to 49 in 2011. The route has also undergone some revision, with more tarmac featuring overall. It divided up quite neatly into four sections, starting by climbing along undulating country lanes which even felt a bit crowded for the first mile or two as the pack thinned out.

Views available.

The route turned off the road at the first water station to head East, parallel to, but some distance from, Hadrian's Wall itself. The way undulated over grassy ground which was generally good underfoot and allowed us to take in the scenery around one of the most picturesque bits of the wall, before taking a left down the Pennine way towards the trees of Wark Forest. This part was the most challenging underfoot with an occasional line of stone flags placed through the bog requiring particular care. Unlike some runners I managed to resist the opportunity to take a mud bath and pressed on to the second water station and stage three, through the trees.

Once in Wark Forest the route stuck to logging roads but continued in its undulating ways enough to stay interesting. Tim and I had taken to running together by this point, and knew we were averaging just over eight minutes a mile when we emerged onto the road for the last mile and a half, net downhill on tarmac. This let us increase the pace a bit. Soon the 'Hadrian's Wall of Cars' formed by all the runners' vehicles at the start came into view and we could see we were on the home straight and could prepare ourselves for the final small steep uphill that we knew was coming. Pushing through that we crossed the line at the same time, finishers 61 and 62.

I haven't yet had chance to run many of the other trail and forest-type races that feature more prominently in the Striders calendar so I can't really make a comparison, but this half marathon was much more fun than the all-tarmac events I've done in the past, and I would say well worth a look next year.

Whitby urban orienteering event, 29th June

6.2k

Dougie Nisbet

After Saturday’s 30 miles around the Durham Dales a manic urban orienteering event around Whitby on the Sunday seemed like an attractive antidote. I’ve never been to Whitby before and what better way to find out about the place than by running excitedly through the streets and parks. We registered and I chose the longest course with some nice long running stretches while Roberta decided to stick with a shorter course.

Squinting all the way to the finish.
Photo courtesy and © Wendy Carlyle

Urban orienteering favours the quick thinker; the navigation is usually quite straightforward but you need to make a lot of decisions very quickly. It was, for example, a long way from Control 6 to Control 7. What was the best way? You could easily spend 30-60 seconds pondering all the permutations, come up with an absolutely wizard plan, fiendishly efficient and fast, but that 30 seconds could have been used just running optimistically in the general direction of the control. Sometimes the hare does beat the tortoise.

I do ok in urban orienteering but I need time to read the map, check my location and plan my route. And think. And I do it a few seconds slower than most orienteers, which over 30 controls, soon adds up.

The sun was out and Whitby was busy. But there was plenty of space and it was easy to get round people. It wasn’t quite as easy to parry the questions that many ask when a sweaty runner sprints passed waving a map in the air. Roberta kept bumping into the same dog-walker who seemed to want regular updates. Almost every walker also insists on ‘helping’ with some advice; “there’s one of them things just along there!”. One bloke helpfully told me that he thought I was lying about fifth. Fifth in what, I have absolutely no idea! But fifth would be nice.

There was a nice bit of variety in my course, through streets, paths, parks and an interesting stretch along the seafront. I got around briskly enough without any major errors, apart from going straight from 11 to 13 without bothering with the extra hassle of going to 12. In an urban event such as this with lots of controls it’s surprisingly easy to get out of synch and miss a control.

Roberta finishing.The event finished back at the school where we started in a nice flat grassy area. With the car parked just a few yards away I was able to sit on the grass and have a coffee while waiting for Roberta. Unlike a conventional running race where a lot of people finish around the same time an orienteering race has people starting and finishing at all sorts of times and apart from the occasional appearance of a brightly coloured runner you’d not know that you were at the Finish line of an orienteering competition. A nice way to round off a weekend’s racing.

Durham Dales Challenge, Wolsingham, 28th June

30M & 16M options

Dougie Nisbet

A special 25th anniversary cake.There was, not surprisingly, a bigger than usual turnout for the 25th Anniversary running of the Durham Dales Challenge. I'd forgotten the system for kit checks, which turned out to be looking at the kit list, and signing a form to say that you understood that you had the kit. I would be carrying a torch, and not just any old torch, a working one at that.

And lots of water. I did the Swaledale Marathon thing and assumed rather smugly that my two drinks bottles counted as a cup/mug and so I wouldn't actually have to have a cup dangling irritatingly from my backback. When I got to the half-way point and could've murdered a cup of coffee, I rather wish I had. When they say bring a cup, they mean it.

A seasonal marshall (there was ONE!) gives Dave clear direction on what to do with his token.

Checkpoint 1: Action Shot! Dave drops his token in the bucket.I've done this event before so knew that the navigation was pretty easy. The 30 miler and 17 miler routes part company early on, where Santa points you in the appropriate direction depending on your choice. Santa is the only marshall you'll see. But you needn't worry about maps and marshalls, just keep reading the clear route descriptions.

Unfortunately I didn't read the bit about turning sharp right to go onto a narrow forest path, and instead continued galloping along a stony Hamsterley forest track, only to realise something fishy was going on when I bumped into a marshall. Not any old marshall, but a Hamsterley Marathon marshall. Turning 180 I bounded back from whence I came only to bump into Melanie and Jules who had also made the same mistake, as had many others.

It's probably that way.But Melanie and Jules were only getting warmed up. They wouldn't expect me to do the honourable thing and refrain from listing their impressive list of creative navigational deviations, and they'd be right. It was just as well that for the most of the race they were running a bit faster than me as it allowed me to shout ahead when they strayed from the route, which they did with impressive frequency. We soon got into a rhythm and when we got to Middleton in Teesdale and they turned right instead of left, I simply shouted STRIDERS! as loudly as I could. When they looked back in a guilty golden labrador sort of way I simply pointed meaningfully left in a pointing meaningly left sort of way.

Once out of Middleton in Teesdale (where those who had brought cups had a cup of tea) the half-way point has come and gone and, psychologically, you're on the way home. But I remembered this being a tough bit of the race. A long climb out of town to get to Checkpoint 6 then the barren climb over the top and down to Great Eggleshope Beck, where we found Mark limping determinedly along the valley, which he seemed to be determined to do all the way back to Wolsingham.

On to Checkpoint 7 where I tried to untangle my control card for clipping. The clipping lady insisted that it wasn't a problem and as she clipped my card commented that she'd be sure to be careful what she did with her clippers. Indeed! I've never been a fan of body piercings, and if I did ever get any, they certainly wouldn't be there. Another reason not to wear lycra.

Melanie and Dougie. Mark and Jules. Jules and Mel.

I'd caught up with Jules and Mel who upon departing checkpoint 7 were about to go off-piste once more. I put them right then followed them out. By this point you've past the psychological 20 mile mark and there isn't much more climbing ahead. Jules and Mel started chatting to a walker and continued chatting to him all the way to the top of the hill. I paused about half way up the hill in order to stay on course and take the path away to the right, and hollered up to Jules and Mel that they might like to do so too.

This is no time for dancing!As they came back on course I started jogging again on the now slightly descending path. It was quite nice to be running again and I got into a bit of a rhythm and stuck with it. I was still running when I approached Checkpoint 8 to see several green blobs in the distance. As we got closer they turned out to be marshalls in greenish fancy dress. They offered me a toasted teacake but I just took juice and jelly babies. One commented that there were two lasses just behind me and Jules and Mel turned up a few moments later.

The last 7 miles or so of the DDC are either downhill or flat and I was running quite steadily now so I pushed on. Into a farmyard just as the farmer was herding his sheep down the track. I followed patiently, only avoiding following them into the pen when the farmer obligingly opened another gate and pointed me in the right direction. At the penultimate self-clip checkpoint I caught another runner who was having a bad year. A previous sub-6 hour man he was struggling this time and we ran together almost to the finish, unfortunately taking a slightly longer route as I insisted on unnecessarily taking the path I took last year, rather than the shorter unflooded one I could've taken this year.

At the final self-clip I glanced back and saw Jules and Mel not so far behind. Should I wait a few minutes so we could all run in together like something out of The Incredible Journey?. I mean, these were my clubmates and we'd been through a hard 7+ hours together. I looked at my new running partner and asked him. He looked at me as if I was insane and said, simply. “Na, just bury them.”. Well that was clear enough. I tapped my heels together and galloped the last few yards through Wolsingham and up to the school, where, like all proper races, you have to open a door and walk up to a table where you actually finish. No chip timing here.

A nice and easy finish.

Anita and Dave had been back awhile having done the 17 miler had some pie and had listened to some nice and easy music. Dave had done the right thing going for the shorter route rather than risk exarcebating an injury on the 30 miler. Anna had already won and gone, as had Christine and Maggie. Anita was tracking Mark via the odd satellite or two, and after a route discussion with Dave went out to meet him coming back. As I left for home Angela and Sue arrived home nearly an hour faster than last year with Anita shepherding Mark in around the same time.

I think this impeccably organised event is likely to become a favourite of mine, partly due to the elegance of the route, the diversity of terrain and scenery, and probably in no small part due to the relatively easy last 7 miles. The 30 miles pass quickly.

West Highland Way, Scotland, 21–22nd June

95M / 14,000'

Phil Owen

The West highland Way race starts at 1am in Milngavie (just above Glasgow) and covers 95 miles of hills to Fort William including 1400ft of ascent. This was my fourth attempt, one DNF and two finishes with a pb of 26:47. I truly love this race but it’s hard to explain why. After all there are lots of 100 milers in beautiful places about and it’s not even the toughest of them (but more than tough enough). However there is a lot more to this race than the actual race itself. It has history, traditions and whw family. You just have to be there to understand.

The route of the West Highland Way Race.

Milngavie to Drymen (12.11miles)
Drymen to Balmaha (6.84miles) [overall 18.95miles]

The start is a funny old thing. For a race that takes you through some beautiful landscapes, starting at a subway under a road and along a fairly dreary main street always seems at odds with the race but the electric atmosphere, the nerves and excitement soon put that out of your mind. Through a park and woodland, along old railway lines and to Drymen. This is the flattest section of the route but by no means flat. Head torches bob and folk run way too fast. They usually pay the consequences. I try and switch off for a while. I like to leave Drymen behind to be honest; a couple short tarmac sections annoy me and I want to be on the whw proper. Soon after Drymen we glimpse Conic hill, a 1000ft hill with a good run up to it. I always feel this is where the race starts. On the top, it's light now and the view of Loch Lomond is superb. Down the other side, lots of steps and into Balmaha Car park to be met by my support. I leave quickly and won’t see the support again till Beinglass.

Balmaha to Rowardennan (7.70miles) [overall 26.65miles]
Rowardennan to Inversnaid (7.26miles) [overall 33.91miles]

Two very tough sections lay ahead with constant climbs and very rocky ground. From Inversnaid hotel we have a few miles of the famous Lomond side rocks to negotiate. More scrambling than running but I do love this section.

Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm (6.63miles) [overall 40.54 miles]
Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre (9.54miles) [overall 50.08 miles]

I take a bit of a fall just before the checkpoint and have a few scapes but luckily my back pack saved me form the worst. David Hetherington follows me into Bein glass CP, sits down and eats. I know I’ll not be fast this year but I do want to be ahead of David or I’ll never hear the end of it for the next year. I refill my water and eat at the same time, grab something I can eat on the way out and move on. Total time, no more than five minutes. Dave’s still sitting, looking like death and eating what appears to be pedigree chum as I leave. Some decent climbs then some steep rolling hills in the forest finish this section. Under foot is a lot rockier than I remember but I’m glad of the shade in the forest. The heat has been taking its toll on me. I run well into Auchtertyre.

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes, where the supporters turn out on Loch Lomond.

Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy (9.26miles) [overall 59.34 miles]
Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Lodge (10.82miles) [overall 70.16 miles]

At Auchtertyre I’m weighed and have lost 4kg. Not good, they will keep an eye on me. However a breeze has picked up and I’m finally cooling. As I leave I see David come in and sit again. The cooling has completely changed how I feel and for the first time in the race I’m feeling grand. 50 miles of overheating and feeling rubbish is never that much fun!

I plod along the short easy section to Tynndrum while eating. I meet my crew here, as it’s a good place for them to park and eat. I hate the next 10 miles of rolling rocky track but I’m feeling good and really pick up the pace. As I come into Victoria Bridge, something is up. David’s (one of my support crew), mum has taken gravely ill and he has to leave with my other support, his wife Carolyn. He’s speaking to the race director on the phone as it’s strictly against the rules for anyone to not have support. I tell him just to go and the race is secondary. The RD’s right hand man, Sean a medic and race safety officer is by chance on hand. As I’m looking good, he speaks to the RD and I’m allowed to continue. I’m very lucky not to have been pulled from the race.

Lindley an old pal who I had no idea was there appears. He’s supporting a friend who arrived before me and says I can stick with him. However one look at the lad and I don’t think he will finish so decline to run with him. Lindley does take my gear onward and sadly my support and great friends leave. It's a short hop over Murdo’s hill to the Bridge of Orchy I realise I have no food on me to see me over Rannoch moor. By chance again I meet a Karen whose runner has already retired and is just enjoying the day helping out. She agrees to drive round and I have the pick of her runners grub.

The Rannoch is long rocky hilly exposed and hard work. I hate it with a passion so do it as fast as I can to get to Glencoe. Lindley’s girlfriend is waiting with pasta and refills my water. I put on a jacket, hat and gloves and head off. I can’t find my head torch and think I’ve left it in David’s car! I always carry a spare micro head torch and although its not great for running with , it will get you of the hills. I say nothing though as I’m not risking being pulled out the race.

Glencoe Ski Lodge to Kinlochleven (10.55 miles) [overall 80.71 miles]

The Devil's Staircase is next, a zig zaggin rocky 1850ft climb. I usually like this because I know after it is almost four miles of zig zagging rocky downhill that I just love to run. Unfortunately this micro head torch isn’t going to cut the mustard to make that possible so my usual fast decent where I usually over take loads becomes a bit of a trudge with lots of slipping.

Kinlochleven to Lundavra (7.58miles) [overall 88.29miles]
Lundavra to Fort William (6.99miles) [overall 95.28miles]

Into Kinclochleven and weighed again. No change and I still look good so I’m ok. I hear my mate Darren, a Sunderland stroller has had to quit on the Rannoch but David (another stroller) is supposedly 15 minutes behind me. I doubt this because his supports aren’t about. I guess he has also quit and later proved right. I’m fairly sad about this but as one whw runner said:

there is never any real failure, just ongoing series of experiences that enrich our lives

The climb out of killy is another killer and seems to take an age. I know what’s coming as well, nearly seven miles of very rocky way. Again I move as fast as I can on it but suddenly I’m hit by overwhelming tiredness.

I’m not surprised though. On the Thursday I’d had a call to work Friday and had to go so no lie in. I planned to sleep on the afternoon but a neighbour chose that time to take a delivery of paving slabs. In the end I got up and drove the three hours to my supports house in Scotland, had a cuppa and drove to the start. When the race started at 1am I’d been up since 6am. That’s not a good start.

I seemed to kick every rock on that road and hurt my toe a bit. Still I made good time to Lundavra and the turn into the forest & homeward bound. Forest trail with steep drops and climbs follow until a last long climb to the Land rover track and the wonderful view of Ben Nevis. The toe was really hurting now and downhill was a problem. Not good when this track is so high it takes three miles of winding down to get to the road level in fort William. The first time I did this race I ran the whole thing (which is very tough on the quads at this stage) but I now took an age to limp down. Never mind, another finish and exquisite third Goblet is mine when the most wonderful ceremony that takes place later.

The famous WHW goblet.

30 hours running, way over my best with these races you soon learn, the finish is the important thing (as a lot don’t) and a good time a bonus. My future plan is to try and do this near 24 hour pace. Should be fun trying….

Keldy and Cawthorne Banks, near Pickering, 22nd June

Green (3.7km 135m)

Dougie Nisbet

It was a toss-up between an urban event in Killingworth or a drive down Pickering way to Keldy and Cawthorne Banks. In the end we decided to go south, partly because it was a location we hadn't been to before, and it was woodland and I like that sort of stuff, and partly because next Sunday we're doing an urban event in Whitby. Urban orienteering is fun once in a while but not every week.

It's quite a long way to Cawthorne Banks and you need to drive through a lot of gorgeous North York Moors to get there (well you don't, but we did) but it was worth the trip. We registered for the courses we fancied then a long trek to the Start which was perched classily beside Elleron Lake. Roberta toddled off on the Orange course, and I started at the same time on Green.

Let's go the scenic route. The first four controls were easy. It was all running and easy navigation and I was soon out of breath from the hard running. Things toughened up a bit after that and the controls became more challenging. Then came control 8. Getting a bit over-confident I crashed through the undergrowth in the general direction of control 8. Soon realising that I hadn't really thought this through, and the reluctance of the control to simply present itself in my path, I started looking for a catching feature - an obvious feature somewhere after the control that would allow me to relocate - that is, work out where the hell I was. Relocating is what you do when you've gone a bit astray and you're desperately looking for nice feature, like a fence or a road or a building that will make things clear where you are. Time ticked on and my minor error was becoming a major error. Was I relocating, or was I lost? There were no obvious catching features and I was, quite literally, just stumbling around in a wood. I stumbled down to the stream and picked a direction. Eventually a footbridge, a road, and oh good grief, I'm there?! Really?.

I often ponder over the fickleness of this sport - being both fascinated and horrified by how a simple mistake can pretty much blow your race apart. Sure enough, 26 minutes to find a control that should have taken 5, and my position at the bottom of the results pretty much guaranteed. Well you live and learn. Or other people seem to, anyway.

Control 7 to Control 8. How hard can that be?

Beeston parkrun, 21st June

Simon Gardner

Following on from my trip down to London was another journey down to my sisters which is about 30minutes from Nottingham so after doing forest rec and colwick parkruns it was an ideal chance to head over to Beeston which just outside of Nottingham.

Beeston parkrun has not being going long , I think this was week 12 and after a 40 minute drive I soon arrived on a very warm morning.

The course is set in between the river Trent and the beeston canal and after parking just over the opposite side of the canal it's just a short walk to the start area. The course is basically a rectangle of approximately 2 mile in length. The vast majority of the course is on gravel type paths and pretty much flat.

A 7 mile run on a very hot Friday afternoon and a few too many beers on the evening did not leave me in the best shape come Saturday morning so after the first mile I was finding it very hard work. Once you have completed one full lap you once again head through the finish but eventually head down onto the canal path before coming back onto the main path heading back towards the finish where I crossed the line in 10th somewhat hot and tired.

It's another excellent course and the core team did an excellent job. One final note I got talking to someone who had been planning to study at Durham uni and really wanted to join striders as she loved the colour of our kit! , shame she is heading to Birmingham instead (should have studied harder