Palma de Mallorca Marathon, 16th October
The weather forecast was for a sunny 25C with no breeze and I was fine with that. Well, more sort of horribly fascinated. I struggle in hot races and ever since London, where I’d been well prepared and trained, I’ve been exasperated by my inability to deal with hot weather. I wasn’t expecting a fast time today but I was hoping to finish feeling in control and not vowing never to run a marathon again.
It was also my first big overseas race. Something I’ve always fancied and I think I chose well. There were 48 nationalities which handily meant that English was the unofficial lingua franca. We started at 9am sharp and headed west along the seafront. I knew it was race to be run with the head, not the heart, and I settled into a steady pace. The breakfast run on Friday morning had been useful in finding out how I dealt with the heat and I realised, somewhat to my disappointment, I would be wise to stick to 6:15min/km and see how it went. (A 4 hour marathon is 5:41min/km). The first 10km are an out and back turning at the naval port and it was a little congested towards the turn, probably because the first lap of the marathon is shared with the half marathon.
I was slower than I wanted to be but in control and comfortable. Back past the cathedral then into the old town. This was just amazing and shows how a city can embrace its marathon (are you listening Edinburgh?). The marathon route unashamedly blasted past the front door of the cathedral, and probably the side door and back door too. Then up and down so many narrow alleyways that I was completely disoriented. But life and business went on as usual. Waiters paused at cafe doors before nimbly stepping through the race to look after customers on the terraces, and if ever there was a choice of going round an obstacle or straight through the middle – the direct route usually won. Any second now I half expected James Bond to burst out of a side alley in the middle of a high speed car chase.
Through the middle of a major shopping centre and suddenly it’s the Tour de France. Policemen blasting on whistles and waving the crowds back who were either surging forward because they were watching the race, or drifting onto the course because they were on their way to lunch. It was fantastic fun. Roberta was trying to track my progress from my smartphone but it was doubtful whether it was helping much. In the end she settled for drinking coffee and walking the few yards to the race route when she thought there was a chance I’d be showing up again.
I’d lifted my pace a bit in the erratically shaded alleys and soon we were back down to the seafront to start the second lap. If I was going to run a negative split, then this was about time to begin splitting my negatives. Along the coast road for the second time and I was feeling pretty good. Always mindful of the heat I was micro-calibrating my speed more on perceived exertion and comfort rather than too much attention to the Garmin. Things were going well until about 22km, and then suddenly they weren’t going quite so well. I had half-expected it but was still disappointed. I’d trained well for this race but racing is always full of surprises and I knew that I might have problems. But I’ve learned a lot from London, and many other hot races, and I knew the trick was to stay in control of the race, not the other way round.
I dropped my pace until I felt comfortable, then simply micro-adjusted my pace until I wasn’t so comfortable, then back down again. We’ve all done it. Eventually the relentless heat of the seafront gave way to the old town again and it was great to get into the shade. I was irritated to be feeling so stuffed as I’d really enjoyed this bit of the race first time round and wanted to enjoy it again! Still, I was still in control of the race and steadily passed walkers and much slower runners as I maintained a reasonable running form but at a maintainable pace. I did some tactical walking at aid stations and on the hills (that I hadn’t noticed on the first lap) and so never really slammed in the wall as I have done in previous marathons.
The last 2km run in to the finish were a gentle downhill straight through the cafes and main shopping street which were all open of course, it’s just the roads that were closed. There were a couple of “C’mon Striders” and “Well done Elvet” that were uncannily reminiscent of the Harrier League, right down to the accents, although “Go UK!” was a new one for me (your national flag is shown on your bib).
I was a bit disappointed to finish in 4:30 but was pretty happy that I’d run the race about right; tactically and responding to the conditions so that I had pace and form to the end. As my first experience of an overseas race I have to say it was an absolute blast. The carefully balanced chaos of running through the old town like a street mob and the carnival atmosphere surround the event were wonderful. There really isn’t anything about the race I didn’t like.
Harrier League, Druridge Bay, 9th October
|position||bib||name||cat||pack||race time||actual time|
|1||331||Justina Heslop (Elswick Harriers)||FV35||S||22:40||22:40|
|position||bib||name||cat||pack||race time||actual time|
|1||694||Stephanie Dann (North Shields Poly)||FV40||S||26:42||26:42|
Harrier League, Wrekenton, 1st October
Handy Mandy Saves the Day!
The new x/c season kicked off this year at Wrekenton with both Strider teams competing in their respective First Divisions. With a myriad of other distractions this weekend today was always going to be difficult for Striders’ x/c faithful. Nonetheless, some magnificent performances throughout the field, not least by the evergreen Mandy Dawson, saw the teams steer clear of their dreaded ‘drop zones’. Striders women finished 8th from 10 on the day while the men finished 7th from 10.
No less than 48 Striders gathered beneath the purple banner to resume, or begin, their love affair with cross country racing. Veterans of many previous campaigns, such as Roz, Jan Y & Conrad, were there rubbing shoulders with newcomers like Andrew Davies, Phil Ray, Kirsten Fenwick, Diane Harold and Faye Bell and trying to calm pre-race nerves. The weather was very ‘un-cross country like’ with sunny skies, mild temperatures, a gentle breeze – and a bone hard course! A perfect day to make one’s x/c debut.
The women were first up and, after a disturbing absence of any of the ‘Sea of Purple’ with their toes on the start line, Mandy was first to the fore with a quick start from the slow pack melee. Rachelle and Lesley followed with Mudwomen herself keeping in close contact. But as always Striders were conspicuous throughout the 350 strong field where no less than 41 other clubs were represented. It was great to see come backs from Nina & Sue, gratifying that Camilla preferred her running to be ‘alcohol free’ and gladdening to see no less than 27 Striders giving their all for the greater glory of their club. Fresh faces and familiar faces were cheered to the echo by their club mates some of whom, like Simon, Karen, Phil and Mark, had come along just to watch.
Mandy maintained her ‘lead’ to be first Strider home, & gaining promotion to the medium pack (again), while on the second lap Mudwoman came through strongly to pip Lesley while being closely pursued by Tamsin running from the medium pack. But there were some great performances throughout the field including Jean (2nd in age group), Jan Y (3rd in age group) and Roz (4th in age group)! Some great sprints for the line too – Jill and others. Well done everyone – particularly the debutants – x/c can be a ‘savage arena’ even for us ‘old lags’ and you may feel more exposed than in say a road race, but the rewards and sense of achievement are fantastic! Let those endorphins flow!
And so to the men’s race. The final event of the afternoon and a field of 532 competitors or 1,064 elbows! Striders’ first run out in the top division for more than 20 years – bring it on! A crowded start from the slow pack and a bottle neck at the first incline showed how important it is to find a position near the front of the field if such situations are to be avoided. No such problems for James Garland who had one of his best races of recent years and sped off to head the slow pack Striders. Only two of the clubs best athletes managed to overhaul James – Michael Mason first Strider home running from the medium pack and Stephen Jackson second Strider running from the fast pack. Incredible performances! James was followed in by debutant Phil Ray – rewarded by a strong performance in a tough race – then Jason flying through from the medium pack and Matt Claydon making a very welcome return to x/c. These guys were backed up by a further 15 Striders all of whom gave their all including Danny Lim (travelling up from Teesside), Daniel Mitchel (in his second season for Striders), veteran Richard Hockin with hair flying in the wind and webmaster Dougie just making it the start line after a very thorough warm up!
Well done to you all! We held our own first time out in the top flight so there’s much to be pleased about. But make no mistake we’re going to need a battalion of purple clad reinforcements if we’re going to hold out against the top clubs in the region. I know we can do it – so come on, let’s get cracking!
|position||bib||name||cat||pack||race time||actual time|
|1||407||James Askew (DCH)||Msen||S||31:34||31:34|
|position||bib||name||cat||pack||race time||actual time|
|1||71||Chloe Price (Birtley AC)||Fsen||S||24:09||24:09|
Lincoln Half Marathon, 2nd October
Alcohol is a funny thing. It makes you do things that at any other time you would think to be somewhat foolish or unwise. And that is how I found myself on the start line of Lincoln Half Marathon; a decision made during a girls weekend under the influence of cocktails that tasted like chocolate milkshake. Having only completed my first half marathon 3 weeks previously, and carrying more injuries than the England football team, even to me this seemed like it could be an error of judgement. However, there was a greater purpose to this run than just getting myself over the finish line. In my year and a bit of running with Striders, I have been overwhelmed by how supportive both club mates and the wider running community have been. There are people without whom I would have failed to finish events, or not even signed up at all. So this race was payback time - it was my turn to help my friend Sara (Witham Runners) finish her first half marathon.
So bright and early we arrived at Lincolnshire Showground to be met by an event village with everything you could want - including a local running shop for any last minute emergency kit, a plethora of catering outlets, and impressively a posh coffee vendor! Supping our lattes and taking in the atmosphere, we realised that this event was going to be bigger than we anticipated. It was the first half marathon held in Lincoln for 25 years and given the amount of participants, spot on organisation and massive public support en route, I suspect it may not be the last.
As the waves of runners were called to the start line, we positioned ourselves a little way behind the 2:30 pacer and I reminded Sara of the golden rule - "don't go off too fast!" The gun was fired and, 5 minutes later, we eventually crossed the start line. People were passing us left right and centre, but we were sticking to the plan of 11.30 to 12.30 minute miles. The first 5 miles were nice and steady along relatively flat, pretty country roads and in to the outskirts of Lincoln city centre where crowds of supporters were already present in abundance. Reaching the centre itself, along the small streets of boutique shops, we arrived at Lincoln Cathedral at 5.5 miles. Cue a game of "my cathedral is better than your cathedral", to which I did somewhat relent as we ran through the beautiful expanse of gardens and stone arches. One thing we did agree on however - cobbles are a pain to run on! From here we ran downhill (similar length and gradient to Potter's Bank) to the riverside, passing diners enjoying an al fresco Sunday brunch, and again a healthy amount of supporters. Over to the other side of the bridge and around the university campus, which was probably the least inspiring section of the course but gave us opportunity to have a few gummy bears and a bit banter with our fellow runners. Back over the river at the 7.5 mile point, ready for the return leg to the showground, and it dawns that we now have to run back up that hill, except this time it is longer due to the route. One mile, 200 feet of elevation, and one acapella rendition of "Hakuna Matata" later and we were at the top of Yarborough Road, probably with many folks thinking I'm a bit mad. Steady going for the next mile to recover then started increasing the pace steadily.
At this point Sara was beginning to struggle - we were well in to distance PB territory for her, the long hill had taken its toll on her legs and the proverbial wall was hit. This is why I was here though, and I'd be damned if we were going to drop off target after the hard work was done. This is when I drew on everything that I'd experienced from Striders. We ran for almost half a mile holding hands, distracted with talk of wedding planning and summer holidays. When that wasn't working we did relaxation and breathing control techniques. We were passing runners ahead of us at an incredible rate - probably around 30 people from mile 11 onwards, and used this to reinforce just how excellent Sara was doing, and how sticking to the pacing plan was paying dividends. Mile 12 assurances of "not far now", and "it's just around the corner" were stretching the truth a little, but got us over the field and in to the showground again. 200 metres to go and a burst of expletive ridden declarations of how we've got this and gearing up for a final push. 100 metres and the crowds cheering us in. 50 metres and I'm practically screaming "come on it's there" before grabbing her hand and dragging Sara level with me to run in the final section and cross the line together.
There were hugs all round, and maybe a tear or two fell. Goal achieved; Sara completing her first half marathon. And I experienced running an event from a completely different viewpoint. This was not about my time or my achievement. I was there to support someone else, to get them through the race, to help them reach their goal. Comparing this to my previous half marathon I didn't feel the pre-race doubts, the aching legs at mile 10, or the post-race come down. Maybe it was sticking to the pacing plan, or better in-race hydration and fuelling. Or maybe, for me, this is what running is all about?
Dales Trail Series - DT40, Semer Water, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, 24th September
Around 90 minutes ago I’d been catching up with old friends, sorting out my kit and laughing about the race to come-now the humour is definitely black. The initial climb away from the lake had seem OK I’d followed my stride/run plan and seemed to be toward the front of the pack, I’ve surprised myself by managing to not lose too much ground on a sharp though not too technical drop, kept my head down as we passed a field of killer cows but that all feels like a long time ago. A couple more people go past and even though we’re running(well they are) along a river the terrain feels harder than a flat run should.
A mile and a bit later and a feed station is visited, sausage rolls, cake and other goodies tempt me to sit down and forget the run while I’ve never had DNF against my name before a picnic here in a pretty corner, feasting on the goodies seems very tempting. So what to do, after all there’s a climb here and it’ll go on for nearly the next nine miles across bog, track and tarmac.
I remind myself that only a few months ago I had a good day out in similar conditions, think of the embarrassment of having to explain a “Gave up” to the likes of Geoff and Sue, never mind Mike Hughes who ran much tougher terrain for nearly a full day non stop, cast a thought to the deserved repeated ribbing I’d get from friends and resolve the pain is frankly a much better option.
Digging in now becomes the goal, set bitesize goals for the next few limes and perhaps most importantly stop feeling so very sorry for myself. I’m doing something I love, really love and I’m lucky to do so. So get on with enjoying the scenery, think about climbing a hill or two, see if there’s places to be gained and grab a sausage roll from the feed station too.
The road now is roller coaster flat and while we’re no doubt climbing overall the odd relief of a slight drop is welcome, then a run through a farmyard and the conditions under foot are heavy and boggy, walls with slight gaps need squeezing through, stiles are to be climbed and gates opened and slammed shut. We’re really climbing now too heading up to I don’t know where, thankfully the trail is really well marked so I don’t have to concentrate to much on where I’m going, though the sight of a Purple vest in the distance has focused my thinking.
The bog gives way to a trail which has us heading further away from the finish point and I’m now chatting with the other strider about how much of a day this is then a beep from my Garmin and we’ve only, only! 10 miles to go. I cast memory back to runs of that distance that I’ve completed and enjoyed and imagine them transposed onto today's route.
Tarmac now and the soft padding of shoes set a rhythm , my fellow strider and I catch a couple of vests and, hey, things are looking up it’s still hard work and a shift definitely needs putting in but surely somewhere around here is the summit. Another well stocked feed station I grab a handful of jelly babies, fill my drinks bottle and keep on keeping on, the road is definitely starting to get easier and I get into a tussle with another runner we pass each other repeatedly with victory to the striders gained just before the summit.
The start and finish of Semer Water comes into sight, though the marshals point us away, they’re all smiling or is that smirking, nah they’ve been pleasant and cheerful all the way round it must be the former-I think. From a mental point of view things seem a bit easier it’s a soft grassy trail heading slightly down now and it’s bliss, I keep a steady pace and wonder how far behind the others are with emphasis on the Strider I’ve been running with, I’m not sure I can hold them off but I’ll think about that when I have to.
I catch a couple more vests as we hit the final short and sharp climb, didn’t enjoy that at all, only a couple of miles now dig in and get it finished.
And then Semer Water comes into view and this time I’m heading toward it, I’m a long way above it so it’s a trot home surely, only now I’m being chased and I’m hopeless at descending I know who’s trying to catch me and they’re like a bloody goat, mutter, curse and run. Head down, legs turning, keep running.
I get caught on the final descent but it’s friendly enough and we cheer each other on. A final easy path through woodland and onto the finish, just outside my ideal time but given my complacency prior to this race I deserve nothing more.
Jason Harding and Steph Piper have made their debut at getting around a course of 26.2 miles and both are smiling at the end, Jason bags a top 10 finish to boot and there can be no doubt he gave 110%. Elaine Bisson finishes second lady in the series and having got round with hamstring issues deserves all the prizes won, while Tamsin Imber continues her stellar year of improvement and is amongst the sharp end of her peers.
The course is perhaps not as scenic as the others in the series but it’s been fun, kind of and I felt like I enjoyed it. The endless supply of soup, cake and proper (Yorkshire) tea are welcome and make it all worthwhile. The conversation now turns to next year this is a series that many will repeat and I fully intend to be amongst that number.
Vale of York Half Marathon, 11th September
Bleary eyed, wracked with nerves I awoke on Sunday morning “ready” for my first half marathon. But while most of the running community were heading further north, a small, intrepid group of striders were journeying south to the welcoming sounding Sherburn-in-Elmet Aero Club in North Yorkshire. The local Air Cadets were on hand to direct parking and point us towards the registration area, even handing out safety pins readily grouped in to sets of 4 - now there’s organisation!. An efficient bag drop system, and a short queue for the
porta-loo’s portable toilets (which by all accounts isn’t the case for a certain other half marathon!) and we were ready to run. A tannoy announcement informed us that the start would be delayed for 10-15 minutes due to traffic on the incoming road, which we were to be running along shortly. Not to worry – time for a few team photos and words of advice from Strider support crew. Mr Tannoy-Man informs us that we’re almost ready and to proceed to the start line. And we’re off…..
The first mile was mostly completed within the air field, going up then doubling back along one of the runways. While a little uninspiring, there was plenty of space, nobody was hemmed in and I comfortably found my pace. Turning right out of the access road, we moved out on the closed roads of the North Yorkshire countryside….. and it was beautiful. Open fields dotted with lovely cottage houses, many of whose residents popped out to cheer and wave, followed by much appreciated cover from woodland surrounds at mile 3. Then it was back out to open field views, at which point the fast runners were making their way back in on the “lolly-pop” style course. Shout outs were given to Phil, Stephen and Tamsin passing through at impressive speed.
On-going at my less speedy pace, I continued to admire the lovely views, enjoying going through a lovely hamlet at around mile 7, receiving the cheers from a family making an occasion out of the day with picnic chairs and a tea urn in the front garden. Mile 9 marked a distance PB for me, which was suitably celebrated with my running partner Debra, and mile 10 instigated the “it’s only a parkrun left” mentality. Running back through the tree sheltered area gave a great boost, knowing that it wouldn’t be too long until the aero-club would be in sight. Another mile or so and we were starting to see planes overhead coming in to land, and then the turn off from the main road came. It was still a little way to go – just shy of a mile, but the buildings were in sight, and as we got closer I could just about hear Mr Tannoy-Man again.
Coming off the road and on to a path, we managed to pass a few runners, and then heard the shouts from Strider support “just round the corner”. A cheeky push to the finish from us both, crossing the line together – as if we would do anything else after 13.1 miles. A big hug with Debra. It was done. My first half marathon.
You couldn’t shift the grin on my face as I collected my goody bag, practically inhaling a chocolate bar and put on that medal. The grin was even bigger as I discovered the Aero-Club bar were doing Sunday Carvery! Then a brew and bacon roll with the remaining strider gang before heading off home…… with heavy legs, a toe blister, and cheeks that hurt from smiling so much.
See you next year Vale of York!
Neil's 24 hour Swiss Ball-a-thon Challenge, Coxhoe, 15th July
24 X 1 hour classes
It's about four and a half days since we finished our inaugural 24hr Swiss Ball-a-thon for CHUF, and we are all still buzzing (and a bit sore!). In a nutshell, the event involved 24 X 1 hour classes on the Swiss Ball, which as you may know is something we use for many of our patients and run a dozen classes weekly.
The ball provides the ability to bring in so many different exercises for all levels, and so to appreciate the difficulty of being a parent of a "heart-bub" on the Children's Heart Unit, Freeman (CHUF) for a day we decided to do the 24 classes consecutively.
Starting at 1100am Fri, we were blessed with many Striders in the first group (Mums on the Ball group) who literally got the ball rolling. The atmosphere was electric as people did more than their usual weekly session, and as our staff were always participating at full intensity we knew some interesting times ahead! By 9pm more Striders had come and gone (including first-timer Jan Young with 2 consecutive classes, well done!) and by midnight, some 13 hours in, the place was as full as it had been at the start.
0100-0500 Sat was special, as the amazing "Mum on the Run" Helen Rodgers joined my colleague Trevor and myself for 4 hours of non stop, intense, Swiss Ball madness! 128 different exercises were performed (our whole database) playing a game called Swiss Ball Bingo when random numbers are selected to choose the exercise. Check out the video on Facebook on the Platinum Physiotherapy page to see what we got up to, tough but fun!
As the final stretch approached the Striders kept on arriving including the Hamills, Parkers (including kids taking part!), Kath Dodd doing two modified classes in her knee brace and finally Catherine Smith/Teresa Archer doing their first class ever. With one final (agh!) the last class finished and Trevor/myself collapsed after having done 15 hours each of intense Swiss Ball work covering the whole 24 hours. In total our staff did nearly 50 classes and over 160 classes were completed by our patients/supporters!
Thank you so much to all those who took part and supported us for such a great cause, the Just Giving page with all the details is still live for anyone who wants to support the event even now.
We can't wait until our next challenge but for now my abs are ready to get me through the upcoming Brisbane Marathon as this has to be the best Strength and Conditioning I have ever done, it's just a shame the 40 hours without sleep could not be a regular fixture as still shattered! Keep running strong!
Stand and Deliver!
The Beer Belly Fun Run, Consett, 27th August
… otherwise known as the 2nd Beer Belly Run from the Grey Horse pub in Consett raising funds for Motor Neurone Disease.
This has to be said is a ridiculous concept, one that we have inherited from America. The idea is that runners do 5 x 1K laps around a pub, after each lap you down a half of beer until the last lap when you down a pint. Thankfully I was driving and so was excused the beer swilling however the landlady did give me a glass of wine at the finish.
The entry form said that fancy dress was “positively encouraged” so Paul and I joined the throng – me as Adam Ant in ‘Dandy Highwayman’ mode and Paul as a Beverley Hillbilly. If you weren’t around in the ‘60s Paul’s outfit will be a mystery to you! There were some cracking costumes – Harry Potter characters, Freddy Mercury, a zombie with a rubber mask, Elvis and a man in drag with enormous false breasts to name but a few! The fancy dress prize went to a bloke wearing hideous white Y-fronts with a towel stuffed down the front, he had a knotted hankie on his head, he ran in wellies and he had a brown ‘skid mark’ painted on the back of his pants with some toilet paper hanging out of the waist band. Gross but hilarious! Blackhill Bounders had a few serious runners in it to compete for the prizes – even so I think I might have been second lady! Paul & I certainly finished quite high up … which might give you an idea of the standard.
Afterwards there was a buffet and 2 bands were due to play during the evening. We left after the buffet but it was a very enjoyable afternoon and an entirely fun event.
The inaugural event was last year to raise money for Parkinsons UK – a local teacher, Nigel Nattress had been diagnosed with the disease and the pub organised a series of events to raise money for the charity. The final sum raised was £5000+. Unfortunately, Nigel had been misdiagnosed – he actually had Motor Neurone Disease and died in the spring of this year. He was only in his 40s.
So this year the pub continues fund raising – this time for the MND charity and Marie Curie nursing. The pub raised £500 on Sunday alone. Some students from Longfield School in Darlington, where Nigel taught have raised £2000 in a sponsored sky dive.
The run might have been quite silly, great fun but in a very worthy cause.
Weasdale Horseshoe, Ravenstonedale Show Field, Newbiggin on Lune, 20th August
BM / 8.7m / 2001ft
"It's a wonderful day in the West Dales" I tell myself as the wind and rain slam into my body so hard that it makes me stumble on the final ascent of Randygill Top (624m). The rain feels like needles on my face as I pump my legs up the steep bank with my hands pushing my legs down to help power me upwards. Any fatigue and pain in my muscles hidden by the pain; all my clothing had long since been soaked through.
The day had started with optimism, Mike Hughes and I discussing in the back of the car the likelihood of good weather during the race. As we got closer to Ravenstonedale the weather got steadily worse until it was clear the rain was set in for the day. When we reached the agricultural show, the race was starting from, we found registration in a metal horsebox next to the start line and a couple tents were set up next to the horsebox for runners to hide under. We retired to the car to change with both Geoff and I opting to wear our vests and numbers over rain jackets with Mike and Susan opting to wear theirs underneath and flash their numbers at the marshals as they ran by.
After sometime spent hiding from the rain waiting for a married couple from the Howgill Harriers to turn up before the race could begin the race started at a fast gallop and I remember hoping that the pace would drop soon which it fortunately did. The first mile or so felt more like cross country then a fell race with mud and a few streams to cross. I stepped in a puddle that looked shallow but went halfway up my shin. It wasn't long though until the ascent of Hooksey began with most runners alternating between a jog on the reasonable sections and a quick hike with arms pumping legs on the steeper sections. It took a while after that but eventually Hooksey was conquered and I could set my gaze to Randygill Top, well I would have if rain had allowed me to see straight. In reality I was trying to blink away the stinging drops of rain, running with my eyes half closed. I had started with a compass in one hand and map in the other, attempting to "thumb" the map as I went but I had good idea of the route from looking at it in the car so by this point had shoved the map in my pocket
Suddenly the land dropped away with a steep descent and an equally steep ascent up a rough grass track with muddy foot holes worn in. Fortunately, however, the climb didn't last too long and soon I was shouting (the wind was very loud) my number at the marshals while trying to run off in the wrong direction with another runner called Brian, we were soon pointed East towards Green Bell (605m). The wind that had been in my face the whole climb was now at my back and I was able to stride downhill and then was blown the whole way up to the top of Green Bell. After Green Bell the descent started in earnest. It was glorious, a chance to stride downhill over grass and rocky tracks, that were more like fast-running becks. This is where the true fell runners I had been ahead of up to then gained twenty or so yards. When we got back to the mile or so "cross country" section that had been the start I had to stop twice to tie my shoelaces and lost a minute or so and two hard earned places.
At this point I had been running in tough (to say the least) conditions for over an hour and was beginning to run out of puff. I had been feeling strong up until this point but now was feeling the fatigue set in. Lucky for me it wasn't far to the finish line, even though the last hundred metres was uphill and I finished in 1hr 16m (and 19s). After a quick jog to Geoff and Susan's car I grabbed my phone and went back to the start line to see if I photo the other's finishing moments. There was no point changing clothes as the rain was still heavy enough that anything I put on would have been drenched before I made it back to the car again. I found Geoff had already finished and we waited for the other two. Soon Susan came storming (which seemed appropriate) through to the finish line and at the same time the tent was blown from above myself and Geoff's heads, narrowly missing a woman with a child in her arms. Mike came over the line half a minute later. Then after warming up, drying off and some food we head for home. The conditions had been a through test of determination and fitness but I never gave up and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of what was my first proper fell race (Swaledale doesn't count apparently).
|1||Todd Oates||Ambleside AC||MOpen||01:05:43|
|18||Nina Walkingshaw||Howgill Harriers||FOpen||01:19:27|
Mike's Bob Graham Round, The Lakes, 17–18th June
72M / 27,000'
The "Bob Graham Round", or simply "the BGR" or even just "BG" - there is plenty written about it so no point going into details here, suffice to say is not a race, you are the only entrant, you go when you like, you start and finish at Moot hall in Keswick. To be successful you have returned there after visiting the 42 named peaks of the BGR in under 24 hours.
My report ended up being quite long, the short version; I trained lots, tried hard, had loads of people to help and did it with just minutes to spare.
My full BG story....