Ormskirk parkrun, 23rd May
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
-- William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
The weather was calm, the first time for weeks, and the quote was for the benefit of PB hunters who might like to consider, contrary to most advice, actually going off a bit fast at the start. Interesting advice, and on another day I might have given it a go, but today I settled in at the back of the runners and waited to see how I'd get on in my first parkrun since January. I'd been quite encouraged by the Pier to Pier and decided to see how I got on with something short and fast.
This is my second time at the Ormskirk parkrun and it might just be my favourite parkrun. It's set in the campus of Edge Hill University and it's great to see it promoted so positively. It's warm and welcoming, with changing rooms, toilets, tea and coffee, a nice course, and best of all, you get some culture on the start line. The usual briefing also included the reminder that under 11s must be accompanied by an adult. "Why must under 11s be accompanied by an adult?", we were asked. "To slow them down!", came the instant reply.
How we laughed, but it was no joke. It was great seeing so many young children out today; it wasn't so great being convincingly beaten by so many of them. You'd think they'd at least have the decency to look as if they were struggling or trying. No respect, kids of today.
I wouldn't say it's a fast course, given that it has hills and circuits; two little ones and two big ones. I think. It didn't matter as the marshalls seemed to know exactly where to send us, or maybe I just have that 'still on his first lap' look about me. I got round all the laps and up the hills and finished in under 26 minutes; when I say 'under' I mean in much the same way as £3.99 is under £4.00.
Still, the year is young, and perhaps next time, with some suitable cultural inspiration pep-talk, I can get that down a bit more.
Club Handicap, 20th May
This is my fourth year organising the handicap, the last three years with Ladies captain Anna Seeley. As a level three coach now, Anna had a bit too much on this year to organise with me so Anita Dunseith has kindly stepped. We'd like to thank Anna for all the hard work over the last few years.
For the past couple of years, when the handicap has come round, I've wondered how popular it would be and every year I've been surprised just how many are still up for it. After all it's a far from easy option and can be a little daunting for the uninitiated. We have tried to address that by putting runners in groups and having lead runners for those new to the route. This seems to work well and numbers have been up every year. However, as the emails came in beforehand with 5k & 10k times it was clear, the handicap was still a popular option but I hadn't envisaged the massive purple posse made their way over to the start. Over ninety runners, a club record by over twenty stood waiting the off! A good omen for XC in the winter, something I think the handicap is good training for in many ways. (lapped circuit, timed and being watched )
Anita and I had disused making the first handicap more of a time trial , as Anna an I had done on a number of occasions and with so many new runners we decided to implement that although still roughly in time order. It worked well. The fastest male on the evening was Michael Littlewood with a fantastic time of 31:57 very closely followed by Graeme Walton 32:21 and James garland 32:24. Conrad wasn't far off with 33:21
The fastest lady was Helen Tones with a nifty 36:04 with Sarah Davies not far behind in 37:16. Katy and penny take note...
The handicap isn't about the fastest and we had some very gritty performances right the way through the field, particularly from some of our new runners, at least one of who shed a few tears but ground a great run out. As I said earlier, the handicap is never the easy choice. Lots of folk had some excellent runs but to pick just a few out, Debbie MacFarland knocked two minutes from last year's time and Denise Benvin continues her storming progress. Laura Jackson dug deep and continues to improve all the time while Phil Todd also had an excellent run. The night's performance goes to Shaun Roberts who I'm sure a few of you will never have heard of. A club member for many years and until recently our webmaster, Shaun has had an injury hell and not been able to run for 14 months. He ran a superb 38:52. It's good to see you back Shaun and we hope the recovery continues.
A big hand to Anita for dealing with the huge numbers and getting the results out very fast. Dave Robson and Anna Seeley were also a huge help, and many more lent a hand. The chocolate all went but all the talk was of the fantastic water melon-apparently it's the new chocolate. A fantastic strider evening, long may the tradition continue. See you next month.
|position||name||start time||race time||actual time|
Clive Cookson 10K, Whitley Bay, 20th May
At 7km my heart rate is hitting 182bpm, I'm pushing hard on this second lap around the course and starting to suffer. I'm getting a stitch so drop the pace slightly. Heart rate 177bpm. My plan had been to run the first lap at a comfortably hard pace, maintaining a HR of around 175bpm but I get drawn into the race from the off as over 400 runners make the charge at the start.
The first lap passes without incident but I know I'm going too fast, I just hope I can maintain it. The girl from Crook AC who's been my target from the start is beginning to edge away having been on her shoulder for the last 2km. I'm getting worried I've over cooked it. Simon Gardner is now well out of sight, that persistent problem he's been having doesn't seem to have slowed him down too much.
8km and I recover a little, I can pick up the pace and try keep the girl from Crook in sight but she's finishing strong. I'm starting to reel a few people in that had passed me shortly before which inspires me to keep pushing. My heart rate rises above 180bpm again as I turn down onto the road for the final stretch to the finish.
Someone appears on my right pushing for my place so I up the pace, I'm being forced to work hard. The guy stays alongside me as we make the final turn into the finishing straight at Monkseaton High School. My competitor starts to make a break so I stick with him, keeping just ahead. Heart rate is 187bpm.
The final 50 meters are battled out as I try to maintain my position before we cross the line shoulder to shoulder. I check my watch, my heart rate hits 190bpm, 3bpm higher than I thought was my maximum.
My time is 42:34mins, about 3 mins faster than my previous 10k at Darlington about 3 years ago. I'm very happy with that as I continue with the deconstruction and rebuilding of my running after some very disappointing performances.
I'd been nervous about this 2 lap race, beginning and ending at Monkseaton High School, as it had been a long time since I'd raced in this manner. Morpeth on NYD had been the most recent. But with a new 10k pb, a new maximum heart rate and a pretty cool tech t-shirt, I'll take it as a very good way to spend a Wednesday evening. Oh, and I got to listen to Sunderland grab a much needed point to ensure another season in the Premier League as I drove home. Perfect!
|position||name||club||cat||cat pos||gun time||chip time|
|1||RYAN STEPHENSON||Morpeth Harriers||1||00:32:17||00:32:17|
|25||EMMA HOLT||Morpeth Harriers||1||00:36:39||00:36:37|
New Fox and Hounds, Ainthorpe, 20th May
9M / 1499' BM
I seemed to go have gone back in time as I drove through Danby, a tranquil village nestled in the North York Moors. I nearly had lamb chops for dinner, after narrowly swerving from a couple of lambs that insisted on dashing across the road as I drove by.
The race HQ was in the Fox & Hounds Pub. It was a surreal sight, dozens of runners queueing up, surrounded by the locals tucking away into their dinner. Sadly, I was the only Strider in sight. For the first time ever, Dave Parry spoilt us by starting with a lead car. After 100 yards of tarmac, we veered off the road onto moor. This is a race almost purely on soft ground or heather. There was very little hard tracks or stony path, which my feet were grateful for. There was however, plenty of bush-whacking with lots of heather and knee-high vegetation to run through.
The climbs and drops were relatively gentle which disappointed me a tad. But the final mile was exciting as I was chased by a runner that kept trying to overtake me. The nerve of him! I had planned to run this race at a "steady" pace and here I was finishing off with a eyeballs out sprint. I'm going to pay the price at my next race this weekend, I'll keep you posted.
Great Wall Marathon, 16th May
When I visited China 3 years ago (0ctober 2012) I happened upon the village where the Great Wall of China Marathon starts from. Having ran my first marathon in 2011 and developed a bit of a taste for them, I decided that this needed to go on my bucket list never really knowing whether I would get the opportunity.
Arriving in China 3 days before the marathon, I found the heat oppressive and was very nervous about how I would cope running a marathon in 30+ degree heat advertised as “One of the toughest in the World”, particularly when the weather in the UK had been cold (just 13 degrees when I left on the 12th May). Two days before the marathon, the runners did an inspection of part of the course which I think was done to give people an idea of how difficult it was going to be and at this point everyone was offered the chance to move from the marathon to the half marathon or even to the 8k fun run. I didn’t come out to China to change to a shorter distance and kept my nerve.
On the night before the marathon we were told we would get pasta for tea. This didn’t happen and the food at the hotel left a lot to be desired! On the morning of the marathon we were woken at 3.45am to go for breakfast (which was inedible) and then put on a coach at 4.30am to go the start line. We arrived at 6am and it was actually quite cold at this point. But when the sun started to come up at 7am it got hot quickly.
The marathon, half marathon and fun run all started at Ying Yang Square – there were 2500 runners in total, I think they said about 900 were running the marathon. We were told that we had to get back to the 32km point within 6 hours or we would be timed out and wouldn’t get the chance to go back on to the Great Wall. We were also told that once back on this section, we had up to 8 hours to complete the marathon or we wouldn’t get a finishing time – so my targets were set! I hadn’t come all the way to China not to finish or get a time!
I was booked on to the second wave which meant I would start running at 7.40am but I decided it would be easier to run with someone else and went with the wave 3 runners (7.50am start) and an American lady who I had met at the hotel when I arrived in Beijing. We set off slowly up a very long hill which was partially shaded and we tried our best to stay in the shade as we knew once we reached the Great Wall that there was no shade and it would be hot. The first hill was 3 miles long and took us up over 1000 feet of ascent. At the top we stopped to take a few photos and go to the toilet and then moved on to the Great Wall.
The Great Wall section was very congested and this made it difficult for us to run any of it, although some of the sections were unrunnable anyway as the steps were very steep and uneven and I wanted to get round in one piece. It took us 1.5 hours to get over this 2 mile stretch of wall and we got back to Ying Yang Square after 2.5 hours (only 8km in to the marathon). From the square, we followed roads round and through local villages – local people were out on the streets watching us and cheering us along, many of them giving us the thumbs up. The atmosphere was fantastic! We got to 13 miles in and I realised that if I didn’t pick my speed up that I wouldn’t get back to Ying Yang Square within the 6 hour cut off time so I ended up leaving the American lady and going on my own – she didn’t make the cut off unfortunately. Just after this point, there was a very long hill that seemed to go on forever and by this point in the day the heat was unforgiving. I didn’t have a hat or sunglasses – have never been able to run with either so I had to use water to try and keep myself cool.
What goes up must come down as they say and after the very long hill up there was a very long hill down which was lovely. At the bottom the route passed through another village with more local people supporting runners and then the route went on to a dirt track and finally on to a quite busy road. I started to run along the road and reached 32km realising that I wasn’t anywhere near Ying Yang Square – I had about 20 minutes left to get there. This spurred me on and I passed quite a few runners at this stage and finally got back to the square with just 6 minutes to spare!
Everyone cheered as I went back through the square and was shown the way back on to the Great Wall section. I stopped at this point and ate some watermelon and took a few minutes break before heading up what they call the “Goat trail” section of the wall. As I climbed up and up and up, I passed runners sitting with their heads in their hands, a couple of people on stretchers and a couple being sick. Fortunately for me because I had taken it easy in the first part of the marathon I had plenty of energy left and I just kept plodding up the steps. It took me just over an hour to complete this section and then I was able to run down the 3 mile hill which was the hill that we had started on.
As I ran back in to Ying Yang Square people cheered and I crossed the finish line again with just 6 minutes to spare. I was given my medal and then I had the most fantastic massage which was free!
My final time was 7 hours 54 minutes which I was very happy with as the weather had reached 36 degree centigrade. This was one of the hardest runs I have completed mainly because of the heat but also one of the most beautiful runs I have completed too. The scenery was fantastic, Awesome, Amazing! I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in travelling abroad for a marathon.
Raby Castle 10K, 17th May
It was a busy weekend for races and we were spoiled for choice (Raby, Pier to pier, Windermere and Calderdale). Having done Raby for the last couple of years – I decided this was the one to do again.
The day dawned bright and breezy, so could I improve on last year’s time? This year the parking was adjacent to the start and finish – so no long dash to the start - which seemed to work very well. There were a series of events, with a fun 1.2k and 5k and then to finish the 10k – which is two 5k laps of the estate – either tarmac or good forest track. There is a long uphill at the start of each lap and a nasty sharp rise around 4 and 9K towards the end of each lap – so not one for a 10K PB.
As is usual there were a number of striders warming up and chatting before the start, which makes it all very sociable. I’m not sure if Gareth and Rob were psyching each other out as to how easy they were going to take it, but they soon disappeared in front once we had started – and from the results do not look to have been taking it too easy. The wind was against going up the first hill, which did make the going hard – but we were sheltered to a degree by the trees to the side. On reaching the top and turning down to the farm – which should have been a relaxing way to get back into your stride - the wind made even that bit of down hill hard work. The views – if you choose to look – are stupendous by the way. The second half of the lap apart from when you come out of the woods is very pleasant running. There was a tail wind on the open section and not too warm. I felt I was going OK and the two laps were approximately the same time so managed the pacing OK. On the final run into the finish there is always a good crowd to cheer you in. Initially I though I was a tad slower than last year but I had remembered the wrong time and as it happens managed a few seconds quicker – so that was very pleasing.
No monster goody bag and T but very welcome cake, banana and water. What is there not to like. Despite the wind and the hills there were excellent performances – well done to all. Hopefully there will not be the clash of events next year and more can sample the delights of Raby – a very scenic and well organised event.
|position||name||club||gender||age position and category||time|
|1||Drew Ingis||Darlington H & AC||1 20-34||35:22|
|25||Heidi Dent||Howgill Harriers||1 20-34||39:36|
|16||Gareth Pritchard||M||4 35-39||38:39|
|63||Conrad White||M||5 55-59||43:41|
|113||Louise Warner||F||3 35-39||47:10|
|115||John Hutchinson||M||11 55-59||47:12|
|126||Sarah Davies||F||4 45-49||47:58|
|138||Michael Ross||M||28 40-44||48:28|
|145||Malcolm Sygrove||M||22 45-49||49:01|
|189||Marita Le Vaul-Grimwood||F||8 40-44||52:00|
|215||Anna Seeley||F||17 20-34||54:06|
|271||Gillian Green||F||17 45-49||61:30|
|292||Helen Hall||F||18 45-49||64:22|
|298||Joanne Parkinson||F||22 40-44||65:28|
|315||Kate Talbot||F||30 20-34||75:32|
Pier to Pier, South Shields to Sunderland, 17th May
It was hard to find anyone who was feeling good. Runners are notorious for grumbling about their form, but we were all in top grumbling form today. One day I'll chat to runners before a race and someone will say they've never felt better and fully expect to PB. Not today though - I was treating the race as a fact-finding mission after a viral infection that has messed up my running for most of the year. The first fact I found was that it was going to cost me £25 to run the 7 miles or so from South Shields to Roker.
I calculated that I'd be running at £3.63 mile pace, which is still slightly cheaper than a Brendan, but that didn't worry me too much either way. The weather was fine and the race is an old favourite of mine.
In common with the Coastal Run the start is a faintly tribal mass of running shirts stretched across the beach. I was disappointed that the organisers hadn't drawn a line in the sand with a pointy stick to indicate the Start Line. I do miss that touch.
A few minutes after 10 and away we charged along the beach. This was my first running race in about 6 months and I was curious about how it would go. It was clunky at first and I felt I'd got out of bed 10 minutes earlier rather than the actual 6am start it had been. That extra Espresso had been a bad idea too (I knew it would be, but I never learn), and I had to dive into some bushes to redress that balance. This was a bit awkward as I'd only just passed George and Karen and we'd done the whole 'Well-Done' routine - now I was going to have to pass them again and explain myself.
We approached the lane that extends down from Redwell Lane and the usual bottleneck was there as runners queued to get down the steps. There's big seconds to be gained here by running down the grass, jumping down the wall, across the lane, and up the other side. I'm not sure whether people are just not keen on the wall scramble, or they just don't realise how much shorter and quicker it is to avoid the steps.
I had to pull over for a bit of quality retching as we passed Souter Lighthouse but on the whole I wasn't feeling too bad and for the remainder of the race I steadily picked up my pace and picked off runners all the way to the Finish. The sand was firm underfoot at the finish (has that changed?) which was a relief as I'm sure in previous years it's been a painful comedy sprint in soft sand for the last few yards to the line.
My time was a few minutes slower than the last time I ran the race 5 years ago so I was pretty happy. It could've been a lot worse. Graham Daglish was grinning at the end of the finish tunnel as I coughed in, not doing too badly for someone who hasn't raced in 3 years.
There were a few first-timers today, including Andy James who made the classic mistake of pushing for the line too early. It's easy done - the Finish looks tantalisingly close, but on closer inspection morphs into a flight of steps with the real Finish another beach away. In fact, the more you speak to people, the harder it is to find someone who hasn't made this error.
After a chilly start we had fine conditions for this race today. And thanks to the bus driver's daughter we had plenty of room on the coach as she'd insisted on coming along ... and when the coach is already full, you just have to get a bigger one out the garage.
|25||Alex Sneddon||Jarrow & Hebburn AC||Women||0:44:26.9|
|184||Graham Daglish||Seniors M60||0:51:56.7|
|227||Lesley Charman||Seniors W40||0:53:23.0|
|251||Andrew Short||Seniors M50||0:54:02.7|
|293||David Spence||Seniors M60||0:55:07.9|
|369||Karen Jones||Seniors W40||0:57:07.9|
|418||Jean Bradley||Seniors W50||0:58:36.7|
|497||Greta Jones||Seniors W40||1:00:49.0|
|556||Dougie Nisbet||Seniors M50||1:02:24.7|
|579||Stephen Ellis||Seniors M60||1:03:21.5|
|592||Kate McPherson||Seniors W40||1:03:48.8|
|616||Angela Tribe||Seniors W40||1:04:28.9|
|634||George Nicholson||Seniors M60||1:05:20.8|
|640||Karin Younger||Seniors W50||1:05:43.5|
|666||Aileen Scott||Seniors W40||1:06:50.6|
|669||Andy James||Seniors M60||1:07:02.2|
|688||Louise Billcliffe||Seniors W50||1:07:42.2|
|692||Karen Anne Chalkley||Seniors W50||1:07:48.4|
|747||Helen Hackett||Seniors W40||1:10:19.8|
|771||Angela Robson||Seniors W40||1:11:19.3|
|777||Christine Farnsworth||Seniors W60||1:11:40.7|
|856||Barrie Evans||Seniors M60||1:15:47.7|
|883||Michael Elliott||Seniors M60||1:18:10.3|
|910||Margaret Thompson||Seniors W60||1:20:59.1|
Calderdale Relay, 17th May
Hats off to Dave Shipman. For years he has organised the annual trek to West Yorkshire, cajoled people into taking on extra legs at the last minute and made it seem as if his last-minute rejigging of running orders and car movements in the pub the night before was basically effortless.
So, imagine my delight when it transpired that for the first time ever Dave's holiday clashed with the Calderdale relay. I won't lie: this is a pig of a race to organise teams for and worth it only because it makes for a truly great club weekend, from beer and curry the evening before, whilst plans are still being figured out, through the early morning anxiety about whether those travelling down on the day will show up and if they'll do so with the requisite numbers of cars, right up until the horn goes and the first leg, set off, round a field and up into the woods above Halifax, seeing the front-runners (CVFR A) separate early into a lead that they never lost.
This year we had two teams out, the aim being to get the baton as far as possible, without Will Horsley to drag some unfortunate as his partner around the first leg. In his place Mike Bennett accompanied me, whilst Mandy D and Nigel H led off for Elvet B, and the leg ran as expected - a steep mixture of track, tarmac and moorland, dipping sharply into Ripponden and then abruptly back upwards again at the halfway point, finishing off with a long climb onto some delightfully bleak moorland and a fast final descent into Cragg Vale, where Penny and Dave Gibson relieved us of the baton in 49th place, 8 minutes before the cut-off and the mass start. Nigel and Mandy didn't quite make it to the Hinchliffe Arms handover in time, so we saw Camilla and Anita off with twenty or so other batonless pairs and made our way to Todmorden, where the leg 3 runners were making frequent trips to the portaloos™ [I think Sir means, 'portable toilets' - Ed.] and watching the frontrunners set off up the hill in the sunshine. For us, the race ended here, Penny and Dave missing the mass start by 30 seconds and being relieved of their baton, Steph Piper and Mike Hughes relieved of a little additional weight before they (as well as Angela G and Paul F) followed Mike and Steph up the long drag through the woods to Blackshaw Head. Here, Penny and I were set off by Mike and Steph, who beat the cut-off with four minutes to spare, sighting Geoff Davies briefly before he collected Mike to head for the next leg. Leg 4 was a glorious as ever, with very little time on the roads, a few unintended diversions when making our way through Heptonstall and surrounding paths, and a lot of miles spent gradually chasing down other pairs on the narrow sheep trods and slippery woodland climbs. All went well until Penny turned an ankle with two miles to go, though she limped in at a run despite a lot of pain, having established that it wasn't broken and therefore was suitable for her competitive instincts to abuse.
On reaching Wainstalls, at the top of a very long uphill finish from the evocatively-named Jerusalem Farm, we sat out of the wind, waterproofs on and waited, our two legs done, for Jan and Denise to join us, which they did, not last and pushing hard for every place. From there, we made our way to the finish, Nick Jones and Steph P bringing Elvet A in in 61st place and, a while later having added extra miles and scared the organisers somewhat, who had been considering using the MRT), Diane W and Angela G came in for Elvet B, the organisers having been decent enough to keep the finish up for them and dozens of runners, including the winning teams, coming out of the rugby club bar to clap them in.
A great day of running with excellent company, put on by one of England's oldest athletic clubs, Halifax Harriers: what, apart from the logistics and the fact it seemingly clashes with every other northern race this year, is there not to like? Daring to dream, could we see Elvet C also gaining the prize of the quality slate coasters next year?
Brathay Windermere Marathon, 17th May
Having spent most of my childhood holidays camping and walking in the lakes, Windermere marathon sounded like a great challenge. I'd stuck to the 12 week training plan Allan had given me to the T. I had trailed in Jon Ayres' dust as he rallied me along on the early morning weekend runs. This was finally it, this was marathon day! I knew what I had to do "just keep running, just keep running" (thanks Katy Walton!), I actually had a marathon race plan...I was going to stick to it. 3:20...was it too ambitious? To coin Allan's much loved phrase "butterflies flying in formation", they weren't, they were out of control.
It's a pretty low key marathon, registration is open from friday until 15
minutes before the race begins. There are about 700 runners, including those
amazing 10in10 runners who run Windermere marathon for 10 consecutive
days...their final, our one and only. There's ample parking in the field,
portaloos portable toilets [You'll have Dick
emailing us again, I kid ye not. - Ed], changing facilities and even an ice plunge
pool if you're brave enough to yelp in public!
At 10:10 all runners are called to assemble on the lawn in front of Brathay Hall and we are taken down to the start line following the drum band. I took my place, inching near the front and looked around at my competitors.
10:30, the gun fires and we are off. I try really hard to reign myself in, after tapering I get a little too excited that I can actually run again and usually set off far too fast. The course climbs steadily for the first 3 miles, it plays around a bit then there is a hill to rival Redhills on the 8th mile. I took my time up it and got to the top with the help of two bag pipers, their music drifting through the trees.
Its quite a pretty run, passing through Hawkshead, along Esthwaite water, and on to Newby Bridge. I was running well and got a lift at Newby bridge where the street was lined with 20/30 spectators clapping and shouting encouragement. For most of the course you get the odd hiker or cyclist..thats it. Oh and trying to avoid the odd bus and car as it hurtles down the country lanes is also a must!
A lovely lady is waiting in a lay-by with a table heavily laden with kendal mint cake, flapjack, cupcakes, jelly babies...I resisted temptation, stopping for a picnic was not on the plan and Jon Ayres had warned me off taking any mint cake from strangers! Then on to the second half back up the side of Windermere. This is where it starts getting tough, just looking up the Lake seems immense! Again no rest for weary legs, undulating as always, a pretty hefty climb again at mile 15, by mile 18 I'd really wished I'd considered a flat course, this was relentless.
On to "icecream mountain", nicknamed by regular Brathay marathoners, a hill with an icecream van at the top and a few cheering spectators. By this stage it did feel like a mountain and I'm afraid to say I walked up that mountain. However in walking I actually overtook the man in front of me who was still trying to run. Encouraged I set off again, eager to make up my lost seconds. My final gel guzzled down, in the 22nd mile I felt like I was flying, autopilot, strong and buzzing from the sugar rush. Great encouragement from Allan had me waving manically, I felt great, I was nearly there surely...then the dip and I still had 3 miles to go, I could see the finish now and it didn't seem to be getting any closer. I'd caught up 10 runners, at the next water station I passed 3 women, this urged me on, I felt strong but my watch told me I was slowing...
1 mile to go on from Ambleside, just round the tip of the lake, over a little bridge, through the bottom of the drive. I catch a glimpse of my eldest Lucy waiting at the gateway. Allan shouts on encouragement to get up the hill as fast as I can (I later find he had thought I'd get 3:19:56...oh dear must have been the walk up the hill!). I push on up the hill. Harry and Sophie are waiting, John is at the top. It feels like forever and my legs are really tightening up, I really want to stop, I let out an involuntary ow!ow!ow! , then relief as it levels to the finish. A small runway lined with clapping and cheering spectators, the commentator is saying my name over the loud speaker, I finally get over the line. A lady puts a medal round my neck and I drop at her feet absolutely finished, 3:20:28! Bang on target! Water, banana, jelly babies await. After a quick change, Lucy helping as my legs keep cramping up, I hit the tea stall...lots of tea later and onto the ice lollies, then gin and tonic sorbet...a little elated and maybe a little drunk they announce the prizes are to be awarded. I somehow bagged 3rd lady and first in my f35 age category...a cup, a tin of Grasmere gingerbread and £50 of asics vouchers...but that is not the icing on the cake, the fact that Joss Naylor is the man to present it to me pretty much makes this day "A Great Day!"
My long suffering husband has spent most of the weekend entertaining our 3 kids and puppy as I have been in a world of my own in the pre marathon void. The best thing for him about this race is that I got the time I set out to get...relief for him I might actually be in a good mood until I start contemplating my next target. The next best thing for him is that the kids were in heaven. They feasted from the lovely food stalls...hot dogs, burgers, chips, candyfloss, crepes, waffles, ice cream. They ate them all. They also went on high ropes, low ropes, climbing wall, zip wire and a fun run...and Elsa and Olaf were drifting around throughout the day.
So they say, "mummy, can you do this again next year?"...now that is a question worth considering!
|position||name||club||cat||cat pos||gun time||chip time|
|25||Katherine Cousins||Lancaster & Morecambe AC||FOPEN||1||03:07:27||03:07:23|
Hardmoors White Horse marathon, Sutton Bank, North Yorks, 3rd May
It has been a while since our last marathon. However, we had been on holiday recently and covered about 55 miles, so we thought that might keep us in some sort of form. We are now doubting that our training was good enough, because we found this marathon very hard. I completely ran out of energy towards the end and walked most of the last four miles which were an uphill drag. This may be partly to do with just getting over a cold which lasted a few days last week.
The route looked stunningly attractive on all the photos that course markers put on Facebook. When we arrived it was just throwing it down with rain with a strong wind from the east. The views from Sutton Bank should have been fantastic, but visibility was very poor. The marshalls did an amazing job out there, it must have been grim standing around in that. We did the entire event in full waterproofs top and bottoms.
The route followed the Cleveland Way north for a short while and then descended steeply to Gormire Lake. That descent was made a bit more hazardous as many of the leading runners missed the turn down to the lake (I guess the tape had been removed) and came form behind and flew past very close. We were more sheltered round the lake but then we had an enormous climb back up again to the Cleveland Way where we met the full fury of the weather again. My calf also started to tweek on that climb which felt a bit ominous given it was so early in the race. However, as it turned out it didn't get any worse.
We followed the Cleveland Way past the first checkpoint at High Paradise farm and then onto the moors. We then had to turn east into the strong wind and heavy rain. We walked that stretch, but it wasn't long before we descended steeply and things calmed down a bit. From there we went up and down and went through some very muddy sections until shortly after the second checkpoint, Melanie had a big fall on to a hard surface. She had some pain at the time, but hoped it would get better, but she was feeling her knee for the rest of the race.
We reached Hawnby which was followed by a steep climb up Hawnby Hill and down the other side (yet another tricky descent) to checkpoint 3, which was just under halfway. Then yet another climb over the shoulder of another hill, another tricky descent and then a lovely downhill run across fields, before a 1:4 ascent up a road to a checkpoint where it was great to see Denise Benvin who was marshalling there.
Then into a forest and private land, where the track turned into a mud bath. Again there was a tricky descent and a muddy ascent. We turned a corner on that ascent to see the track covered in debris left after tree felling. It was hard to believe that was the route, but tape was there and our Garmins seemed to indicate that was the right way.
The route levelled out a bit after this and we went past the lovely Rievaux Abbey which looked great with the clouds on the hills behind. Flip was marshalling there and he had saved us some jaffa cakes to eat
Then back on to the Cleveland Way and we reached the final checkpoint which was manned by Anita and Mark. It was great to see them before we started the drag upwards to the finish at Sutton Bank. We had sunshine in those last four miles and the views at the end were great, it was just sad we didn't get them at the start.
Other Striders who were doing the marathon were David Brown, Jules Percival and Andrew Thompson. We didn't see them after the start and they all did faster times than us. There were also quite a number of Striders doing the half marathon and 10K and I think everybody got very wet !
Great route and yes, I would probably do it again. This event was also the first time I had done any serious distance in my new Scott Kinabalu Supertrac™ shoes. Their grip was excellent and the cushioning was good as well - I like to have cushioning in my running shoes.
Natural Ability Fell Race, Allenheads, 4th May
AS / 6.2m / 1148ft
Finding myself unexpectedly at a bit of a loose end on Bank Holiday Monday due to it being good fishing and motorcycling weather I made a last minute decision to have a ride over to Allenheads and give this race a go. I was a little daunted by it, not being used to fell races, but had read the race information after Paul mentioned it on Wednesday at Striders and it looked okay for beginners.
Arriving at the village I saw it was pretty busy, I wondered if there would be EOD’s left. I parked in the car park they had organised and walked the very short distance to race registration. I paid my £10, took my number and a friendly marshal showed me the race route on a map. He pointed out where the hills were, in particular one steep climb just before the halfway point. I was pretty nervous by then, most of the people around me were obviously seasoned fell runners, without any fat on them, looking like they could run forever. The marshal however assured me it was do-able, fully marshalled and taped and that full waterproofs didn’t need to be carried.
It started at 11am, as advertised. I’d guess there were about 120 runners. I started almost at the back, in short sleeves having ditched my jacket behind a wall before the start as the sun had come out. It was a very slight uphill start on a stony lane, but nothing too steep. Pretty soon we were crossing a couple of fields, the going was soggy underfoot. I’d worn new road shoes as I needed the cushioning, having had a problem with my foot recently. I soon realised that sadly they wouldn’t be clean for long as I squelched across the boggy bits and slid in the odd bit of mud. It was undulating with a good mixture of surfaces, the occasional stile and a stream to cross, or fall in for some! I was enjoying it, listening to the ground nesting birds and the water rushing down the hillside after heavy rain the day before. Shortly before we crossed the main road there was a ford to get over, which meant my feet got absolutely soaked, at least it cleaned the mud off!
Then the climb started… Suffice to say it took me over 9 minutes to cover the half a mile to 3 miles, all the people around me were walking up what seemed like an endless hill. For fit people I guess it was very run able, on a good clear path through the heather, but the gradient was beyond my running capabilities. The top couldn’t come soon enough. We were then rewarded by fabulous views as we contoured along the hillside, I think the next part was overall pretty flat, passing a quarry, along a pleasant stony track, until we reached the road again. The marshals at the road crossing assured me that it was all downhill from there. They were right, it was a lovely downhill initially on grass then the final bit on the road into the village. I tried to sprint for what I thought was the finish line, and managed to catch someone up who I’d been behind for a couple of miles, but on getting there I was directed up another track to the left, where the finish flag could be seen around 50 yards away. A final push and I was finished. I felt like I’d ran far further than 5.7miles, and was glad of the water in the goody bag. I’d taken about 65 minutes, so it was far from fast. There were also a few packets of sweets, some crisps and a chocolate bar in the goody bag. Only a few finished after me, and after clapping them in I walked down into the village and had a nice lunch at a nearby café, sitting in front of a log burning stove. They’d put a barbecue on at the village pub, where they held the prize giving, it smelled lovely as I walked past to go back to the car.
Garmin shows 5.73 miles and 782 feet of ascent, a great, well organised run in lovely unspoilt countryside, definitely worth doing next year. Proceeds go to a charity which seems to do some great work with special needs children.
Sunderland City 10K, 3rd May
The opportunity to run a 10k on my home turf had really appealed to me but the timing just wasn’t right. I’d driven past the posters on my way to work for months but was undecided as to whether I should enter or not as I was too focused on training for Manchester. I made an eleventh hour decision to enter the week of the race and hoped I could run a good time on the back of my marathon training.
It was shaping up to be a nice day; with my family in attendance to cheer me on. I even had visions of heading for an ice cream by the seaside afterwards. Unfortunately, the conditions were very, very poor. Heavy rain, low temperatures and howling winds swept across the start line. To be honest, I was dreading it.
After a slightly delayed start we were moving, which was a welcome relief as my limbs were numb. I’d identified at least a dozen very fast runners at the front and tucked in behind with a runner I’m familiar with from Sedgefield Harriers.
I was happy with the run and on another day could have run a PB. All runners were hampered by a lot of surface water and faced with strong winds off the coast - although the rain had subsided a little. I went through halfway in 18:02 so was on course to get near to my 36 minute target but by 7km I had already talked myself out of it. After an extremely windy segment between 7km and 9km I finished strongly, passing 2-3 runners and finished in a time of 36:42 [chip time]. It was a well organised race and the stadium was an ideal venue for toilet facilities, baggage drop and (most importantly) shelter. However, my overriding memory will be the wind and the rain which is a shame.
Goody bag was ok, nowt flash. Technical T-Shirt, medal and a few other promotional bits and bobs. I swiftly departed for a hot shower, beans on toast and a cup of coffee. I then began to hatch a plan to break 36 minutes this year. We’ll see.
|position||name||cat||cat pos||chip time||gun time|
Sunderland Half Marathon, 3rd May
Icy blast, torrential rain, no visibility – was this some wild adventure on remotest moorland and hills? No, this was bank holiday Sunday in Sunderland. Maybe I am exaggerating. Considering all the lovely weather we have had recently this was the worst for some time. Wet, cold and limited visibility. Just for a limited time only – as I type this 5 hours later the sky is blue, the wind has dropped and all is well again (and the garden has been watered). Fortunately there was no chance of going off course. I feel sorry for the organisers and exceedingly grateful for the crowds and marshals who turned out – pointing us around the course and offering words of encouragement. I think the original plan was for some happy clappy warm up at the start – either I missed it or it did not happen as everyone seemed to be huddled within the mighty stadium of light until the last possible minute. I did venture out briefly into the rain to see the start of the 10k – who came to a bottleneck halt after 100 metres due to “water in the road” – a big puddle. Mental note miss that bit – get near the front.
Before waking on Sunday morning I had been hoping for an improvement on my last half at Redcar 18 months ago. I had done some training and a couple of 10K races in the last two weeks. I even resisted the temptation of a parkrun on Saturday so my legs could be as fresh as possible. I was hopeful and feeling quite fit. The aim was to be between 1.30 and 1.35 and as close to 1.30 as possible. Can I get under 1.30 again or is that just a dream too far? – A bit like I’m trying for a sub 20 minute Durham parkrun.
The course sets off from the stadium of light, over the Monkwearmouth bridge and does a couple of slightly convoluted loops around mainly residential streets before crossing the bridge again and out along past St Peter’s, the sea front, Roker park and back. Pavement corners were potentially a bit tricky, so I kept on the tarmac. Due to the climactic conditions visibility for those in glasses was to say the least –poor. It was like looking through a misted car windscreen in the rain when the wipers don’t work – photo obviously not taken on route but gives an idea to those of you without glasses what I was seeing – or not.
We crossed the bridge for the first time as the 10K was coming the other way, and around our 10K the course doubles back on itself. I was able to see Jane coming the other way and we gave each other a cheer. (By the time we passed again when I had just over a mile to go I waved but was unable to cheer.) I also saw Ian and we acknowledged each other. By the time I reached the bridge again I was still feeling fair but knew the sub 1.30 was not realistic. Undulations (relatively minor) and wind taking those vital seconds away. Along to Roker I saw the leaders coming the other way – good to see what happens at the front of a race. As we came around to the sea front all I could think of was “British Bank Holiday”! There was low cloud/grey mist, white horses and breakers on the sea and a biting wind. Returning on the same bit of road after Roker Park I knew my pace had dropped again (quite a strong wind against at this point) but I had been working hard and once we turned the corner I was able to regain some pace. I lost a handful of places in the final run in.
However all was good – 3 minutes quicker than Redcar! A top 100 finish, a medal, a dayglo yellow tee shirt (to replace the fluorescent orange Darlington 10K from 2013 that my wife was not willing to give house room to it is so bright that I discarded at the start), a not so quick change into dry clothing with cold hands and into the coffee shop. Can I realize my aspirations – I will have to enter another – hopefully to be run in conditions more conducive to another PB. Tantalizingly close, yet so far.
Well done to everyone who was out – runners, spectators, organisers – in what were quite frankly not very pleasant conditions for a May road 10K.
|1||Tadele Mulugeta||Elswick Harriers||M||1||1:11:24|
|63||Louise Rogers||Tyne Bridge Harriers||F40||1||1:28:41|
An Emotional Visit to the Capital
London Marathon, 26th April
To us Brits there’s probably no bigger race than the London Marathon. I can’t pretend I grew up particularly obsessed with it or anything because I grew up as an overweight child with very little interest in anything sport-related – if you asked anybody I went to school with who was LEAST likely to run the London Marathon they would all have agreed it was me. However even as an anti-sporty type I was aware of it and heard of various (obviously insane) people who ran it.
When I qualified for a good for age place last year I wasn’t absolutely sure I wanted to do it. I’m not mad about road races and my previous marathons hadn’t gone particularly well. However, having joined Striders in the Autumn I decided it was worth trying to do it properly. I’ve spent a lot of my life living and working in London; my family all still live in and around London – so it would be an opportunity to get everyone together as well.
Training went well – PBs at half marathon and 5k and a good Cross Country season – everything was looking good. However, a few days before the race I heard people talking about it on the radio and surprised myself when I started welling up. This was to be a theme for the next few days. I spoke to my parents about where they’d be on the course and I felt emotional, I looked at the weather forecast and I got a bit shakey. It was all becoming too real.
We stayed the night before the race in a hotel about half an hour from the start. I woke at 3.30am and was totally unable to get back to sleep. On the train and at the start I tried to hold my emotions in but everything seemed so big and I was so aware of the time and effort that had gone into this day, it was hard to stay calm. At the start I met a friend who was pacing 3.45s and we enjoyed the atmosphere and meeting various oddly-dressed runners, including one dinosaur, whose costume must have weighed a ton.
Anyway onto the race itself. The start was very congested and quite stressful. All week I’d been saying I was worried about the start and the finish and I just wanted to get the first few miles done. I knew I was going faster than planned but I needed to get away from the crowds. Plus after a week of scarcely running I wanted to stretch my legs a bit! After a few miles I settled into my planned pace and felt good. At around 9 miles I heard a shout from my parents who looked utterly thrilled to see me. I gave them a wave and then felt a wave of emotion and tears getting the better of me. I couldn’t start crying at 9 miles! I tried to get a grip and managed to get my breathing back to normal but was aware of just how on edge I was still feeling. I had a similar reaction to going over Tower Bridge (such an iconic landmark and also near the halfway point) and then seeing my brother.
At this point I was so relieved we’d decided that my children would just come to the end rather than cheering me on around the course. With this level of vulnerability my kids would have sent me right over the edge!
Highlights on the course were the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, crossing the elites on the out and back section (wow, they looked amazing!), the tunnel of hell at around Mile 23 and the final section along the Embankment and up Birdcage walk – an area of London I have walked around countless times. But the real stars of the London marathon are the crowds. Unlike anything I’ve experienced before the noise at times was deafening and their passion overwhelming.
From a running point of view, things got tough from around Mile 18. I knew the last third was going to be the hardest and I over-compensated with my fastest mile of the whole race at Mile 19. After this I was just holding on. I couldn’t stomach any more sweet energy-giving concoctions and was even struggling to take sips of water but knew I was getting weaker. I kept telling myself I could have a little walk when I got to the next mile marker but on each occasion the crowd kept me going so I gave myself another mile before the walk. Somehow this got me through to the end without ever stopping. My pace dropped a bit but I was delighted to have done it with a PB of 16 minutes.
It was without doubt an experience of a lifetime. Anyone who gets the opportunity to run it, please do. You will have an amazing day. Having said that, dealing with the mental and emotional exhaustion, as well as physical, made it incredibly tough. At the end I yearned for a little fell race with 200 runners and no crowds! Will I do it again? I don’t know. I wasn’t planning to but then my daughter pointed out that in 2 years I’ll go up an age category. Having come 104th in my category this year she reckons I’ll be on for a top 100 once I get REALLY old. Hmmm…
Run Durham Hamsterley 10K, 26th April
I am not sure how I found out about this 10k, but there were online entries with a few days to go, it was relatively non expensive and I had a free morning. Steph circulated about a lift on facebook (being the dinosaur that I am, I do not do facebook) and I circulated on email and we managed to co-ordinate and went in one car. (Apologies Philip – only just realised we were three of us).
Another Sunday started “cool” but it was dry and by the time the race commenced was just about warm enough. We arrived early to what turned out to be a pleasant low key event. Recycled numbers (good eco score) (so despite what it says on the numbers in the photo it was not a half marathon) and a few people multitasking jobs. We greeted Tom as he arrived with his youngest to tackle some mountain biking course and we made our race preparations. Resting, changing shoes, warming up and other pre race essentials. The runners assembled off the road and were then led the short jog to the start. There was slight delay for the start, to set up the timing mat across the “main road” through Hamsterley. I told you this was a good low key event. One of the runners had to test it so see if it was working. We were sharing the route with the traffic – I think I counted about 5 cars in all. Those expecting something hilly, multi terrain and off road, like other Hamsterley events, would have been disappointed. Steph unfortunately had made a strategic wardrobe mistake and did not have her road shoes, so competed in trail shoes. (She was not too pleased about that). The course was a straight out and back along the tarmac forest drive for a couple of miles, then onto the fairly gentle uphill non tarmac but perfectly runable road. Thanks for the cheer Tom!
The turn was at the top, at about 4 ½ K, along with a water station. Then it was down and back to the finish. My plan, such as ever I have one, was to try and be steady but the geography allowed for what may well have been an SB 5K (possibly about sub 20) for the downhill second half and two minutes quicker than the first 5K. The field was quite small (under 100), I was well up and finished somewhere in the top 10 (see below). No massed crowds at the finish but clapping, cheering and a warm reception for all – not quite the same as those running a somewhat bigger event in the capital. As I came to the finish, the timer had just clicked over 42 minutes so almost half a minute quicker than last week’s Sand dancer. I was pleased. There was a bottle of water, a medal and even a photo – which went up on the run-nation website. I Jogged back to give Steph a cheer – who had an excellent run in the “wrong shoes”. I missed Philip – but well done.
Apparently there was some chip timing malfunction and my result was omitted. Fortunately some email correspondence followed on Sunday afternoon and the missing time has been found and the results amended. So now I am looking forward to next week and the challenges of a half marathon.
|1||Peter Hodgson||Blaydon Harriers||37:11|
|12||Lesley Jackson Bell||PB Fitness||43:18|
Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, 25th April
24m / 4750'
After the previous week’s slog around the mountains of the Newlands Valley in glorious sunshine and expansive views, arriving at the start for the Yorkshire Three Peaks fell race couldn’t have been more different. After an early start to meet fellow fell runner, Danny Lim at Scotch Corner we arrived in Horton in Ribblesdale feeling quite nervous as the thick mist and persistent rain added to our tensions about this race.
Dubbed the marathon with mountains, the Three Peaks, now in its 61st year, with its strict entry criteria (all competitors must have completed two AL fell races under FRA rules) and tight cut-off times ensure a strong field is guaranteed.
The night before I’d posted a picture on my Facebook of the much fabled ‘Three Peaks Bus of Shame’ which Danny and I were determined not to be one of its passengers. Both running this for the first time we were unsure of what to expect. As the start of the race approached and more people arrived the excitement and tension in the air was almost tangible as we packed into the huge marquee to keep out of the cold and wet weather we were blessed with.
10:30am and we were off, snaking our way up the lanes and tracks heading for the first peak of Pen-y-Ghent. The field of 802 competitors soon spread out as we made our way up into the thick mist. As the track got steeper and we slowed to a walk, out of the mist I heard ‘Get out of the way!!’ I looked up to see (very briefly) Ricky Lightfoot hurtling back down the path towards us. That’s as close as I’m ever like to get near him! He’d reached the summit in 28 minutes; it would take me 47 minutes to get there. After reaching the summit checkpoint it was lovely long run back down and off to Ribblehead, where there was a strict cut-off of 2hrs10mns. I got there in just under 2 hours which meant I was spared the ignominy of the ‘Bus of Shame’ for now!
Collecting the first of my two drinks that are transported to the sight I took a moment to savour the vast support that had gathered at this checkpoint and grab a view of the glorious Viaduct that crosses the valley before heading off. I was feeling really good and felt I was pacing the race well at this point but still had visions of the ‘Bus of Shame’ waiting for me at Hill Inn which was the next main checkpoint. By now the persistent rain meant that everyone was pretty much soaked and coupled with the strong wind, staying warm was getting more difficult.
We snaked our up the valley towards our second peak, Whernside. Here we crossed under the railway line and over a track that led to a stream crossing with no other way over but to wade straight through. Knee deep and very cold, I was not at all pleased with this then it was a long, soggy, muddy trek straight up the side of Whernside. As I approached the summit, the incline got near vertical requiring all fours being used to haul myself up to the top.
Once at the top there was no time to hang around and picked up the pace to get off as quickly and safely as possible. The route down is via a narrow stone track that was littered with walkers who made the descent just that little bit more treacherous. Once back in the valley the track meandered its way to Hill Inn, the next of our two drop bottle points and the last cut-off for the ‘Bus of Shame’. I made it in good time and picked up my bottle of coke (or liquid gold as it’s know at this point in the race). I turn and see Danny, he’s made it too, still smiling but stating he was feeling very tired. We set off together in high spirits for our last peak, Ingleborough.
On approach, for the first time the mist and low cloud has cleared enough for us to catch a glimpse of the summit and the stream of people making their way to the top. I press on up the very steep track towards the summit plateau where, on cue, the cloud drops, visibility is reduced and then to add to the mix, it starts to snow. I reach the summit checkpoint and turn and make swift my descent. God bless Inov-8 mudclaws as I make good, sound progress off the summit for the final, muddy run back to the finish in Horton. I buzzing as I’m able to move at a decent pace and keep close to a guy and girl using them to keep going.
On the final approach we’re directed through some very kind person’s back garden, across the road and into the finish field where, I’m attacked by two runners for a sprint finish. Back in the marquee a band is playing and delicious 3 bean chilli is handed out to warm weary and cold runners. Danny soon follows in for a strong finish.
In all, this is one of the best races I’ve done, loved the atmosphere and the route is brilliant. The organisation was spot on and my sincere thanks go out to the marshals who stood out for hours in awful conditions to man each and every checkpoint. I’ll definitely be back next year.
|1||Ricky Lightfoot||Salomon International Team||M||2:51:42|
|44||Helen Bonsor||Carnethy Hill FC||F||3:27:24|