Three Shire Fell Race, Lakes, 15th September

AL 13m/4000'

Danny Lim

"T'isn't a fell race till you've got sheep's turd under yer fingernails". That phrase came to mind as I was holding on for dear life on all fours on the approach to the summit of Wetherlam. Behind was Langdale valley; picturesque and terrifying at the same time. A lady fell-runner was struggling to climb over a large rock. The gentleman behind placed his hand on her bottom and gave her a good shove. "Oh, thank you!" the lady replied gratefully with a hint of embarrassment. A surreal, quintessentially British scene at the mountainside.

For what we are about to receive ...

Grateful at reaching the summit in one piece, I knelt and punched the ground like Iron Man, or more precisely, placed the dibbler through the reader. It was a horrid climb, my calves and thighs were burning from the accumulated lactic acid. I glanced at my Garmin, only 2 miles into this 11 mile race! Not even a parkrun!

Only 30 minutes ago, Mike Hughes and I were at the start, admiring the muscular, sinewy legs of our fellow athletes. We were both a tad nervous. This was my first AL race and one of the Lakeland classics.

It was a hard, hard race, not just because of the distance and elevation. The terrain was often rough, the ground uneven and hidden in a thick layer of vegetation. I had to keep concentrating, it was very easy to go over my ankle. Large crags and boulders were strewn everywhere, some so big I had to scramble down on all fours or find a way around.

But it was a great day out. I was grateful for Mike's company along the way and it was nice to see a familiar face on the fell side. Though he did motor ahead towards the end. I was just happy to finish.

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

Simonside Fell Race, Thropton Show, 20th September

6.4M 1200' Cat BM

Nigel Heppell

For me the first part of this race was just getting to the start line on time. What should have been an easy journey turned to a frustrating dash after joining stationary traffic on the A1, diverting along the backroads of Gateshead towards Newcastle only to see traffic queuing to cross the Redheugh bridge to St James', leaving no option but to push a way through the throngs of happy shoppers winding their way through Dunston to the Metrocentre. One whole hour for the first 9 miles - I could have run there just as fast, well, once upon a time, maybe. Fortunately not much on the roads beyond Newcastle so managed to arrive in Thropton, park, change, pay entry, register for race with about 5 minutes to spare. Joining Mike B, Susan & Geof(NFR) and Sally H, I was wearing the last-registered number when we started.

Safety briefing highlighted the potential hazards of wading through the river, running through recently felled forestry, along with scambling up and down crags, and included the words 'what do you expect, it is a fell race you've entered'. Nice steady start along road out of village, down along streamside then a refreshing paddle across River Coquet before another level stretch of field gradually rising to uphill lane, double bend through farm buildings and onto steeper pasture land before entering woods where aforementioned forestry vehicles had churned up the surface.

Mike B had long since disappeared ahead and Susan passed me on the climb. I noticed Sally having to hold herself back to keep Geoff company a little way behind. Not so much of a scramble up the rocks to Simonside as steps have been constructed since I last ran here in 2008 but the descent from the ridge seemed trickier and I left a bit of shin skin on a boulder up there as a memento. Downhill through the heather and then the woods is always the most enjoyable part of this race for me and from time to time I do get to overtake a few other runners too, then the pressure is on to maintain the advantage down the lane and across the open ground back towards the river. A quick glance back saw the red-shirted runner I overtook falling further back, but what was that purple vest coming into sight?

I'm gratified to be able to say I had been ahead of our club captain for 6miles of the 7mile race - but only because Jan and Paul suffered transport problems that gifted the rest of us a 10min head start! Paul flew past and continued to draw out a considerable lead in the last stage of the race through a field of long grass, a short stretch of road and an impressively large finishing funnel. I thought about giving chase but after a few paces filed that idea in the folder marked 'futile'.

Striders were in the (bottled) prizes today with, in no particular order, 1st in age group wins for Susan, Sally (non-alcoholic), Jan, and Mike B.

Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the Thropton show, a date to remember for anyone planning that far ahead. After serious critical appraisal of the exhibits Mike and I reckon we could clean up in the drop scone, sponge cake, and jam making categories; with a bit more training we could improve our placings in the fellrace and would then be suitably warmed up to do alright in the Cumberland wrestling. We might have to enlist help from Angela for the funniest-shaped vegetable though.

Results

PosName Club CatPosTime
1 John Butters NFR M 51.48
12 Karen Robertson NFR F 56.14
25 Mike Bennett M 59.04
?? Paul Evans M ??.??
42 Nigel Heppell M 66.41
45 Susan Davis F 68.28
52 Geoff Davis M 70.34
53 Sally Hughes F 70.34
?? Jan Young F ??.??

74+2 finishers.

Great Langdale Marathon, Lakes, 20th September

26.2m

Dave Robson

This was an event I have always wanted to do, but for various reasons the timing has never quite worked out. The event website has the following on its front page "And Englishmen (and women) now a'bed will think themselves cursed that they did not run with us on that day - Henry V and Rocket Rod" on a background of the lovely Langdale valley. It was also billed at the UK's toughest road marathon. They know how to sell an event ! Jane Ives had run this a couple of years ago and had also recommended it (see link at the bottom)

The only way is up ...

It was a fairly low key event, almost all on road - there was a about a mile on a very smooth track. There was a half marathon as well, which was one lap and the marathon was two laps. It was up and down almost all of the way. The one exception was the first mile which lulled you into a false sense of security. It was flat, but then you turned up the very steep climb to Blea Tarn. This was followed by a lovely descent into Little Langdale and a climb out and past the start and finish of the fell race that Danny and Mike were doing. More climbs and descents before we reached Skelworth Bridge and a very steep 25% climb out of there. Then an undulating run back to the start/finish where many people finished.

I wasn't doing too badly at this point, but I realised I hadn't put enough vaseline on my nipples, so I looked around for a first aider, but I couldn't see anybody, so we carried on. It was much quieter on the second lap. The roads were open but the traffic wasn't too bad. Mel and Dave. We had met a few friends from fetcheveryone at the start and one of them said that the second lap will feel shorter than the first and that this was true even when you have done the race more than once. I was hopeful this was correct, but didn't really believe it. But that is the way it worked out. We ran past the fell race presentations and got to about 18m when I felt I was tiring. I knew I was well within the 5hr 30min cut off and Melanie went on ahead to finish with two laps equal in time which was very impressive.

I bimbled along, walking all the inclines and running everything else. I got to Skelworth Bridge to find they were giving out Galaxy chocolate bars at the checkpoint (checkpoints up to here had been water and haribo). I took half a bar gratefully and as I climbed up that massive hill again, I came up with a novel and not really recommended solution to my sore nipple issue. I melted the chocolate in my mouth and then applied it. It worked !

I finally arrived at the finish where the event was winding down, collected my medal and lovely little shoe momento. I also collected a bottle of wine, all over 60s finishing the marathon got one,a lovely gesture and one which I hope will be copied by all events in future ...

Northern Athletics Men’s Road Relays, Warrington, 20th September

6x6,000M

Gareth Pritchard

Two things hit me when I turned up for this event, first was how similar it looked to a harrier league event. Over 100 northern running clubs with tents set up on the grass and flying their flags with pride for all to see. Second was what a shame only 4 lone striders were here to experience it as really exceeded all my expectations.

First leg was Rob Everson posting a respectable time for a fast lad of 22:48 and leading the team well. Considering the first leg was won in 18:07, you can see the competition was extremely high. Rob is still fighting off a ongoing cold that's derailed his training massively, so this was a great effort and showed true dedication which bodes well for what is going to be an impressive HL season for rob I'm sure.

Second leg was me 😄 posting a 21:40 which I'm happy with, raced a young lad round the 6k and out kicked him in the end 😄 very enjoyable. Tainted a bit when ex strider Adam pointed out the bloke runs a easy sub 17min parkrun and just coming back from injury. But great banter on the way round and all smiles at the end. Really made my race.

Third leg was Simon Gardner posting 23:38 and gaining another 2 places for the strider team on another impressive leg. Showing great form of late and knocking out PB's for fun. Really gave 100% and posted a last mile split which would have seen him pulling away from me. Great stuff.

Forth and unfortunately our last leg was Matthew crow posting another quick time 23:48 and keeping our team in a respectable overall position. Mathew is another up and coming strider who seems to be getting quicker all the time. Fantastic commitment shown on his leg, that sub 40min 10k will fall in no time I'm sure. Well done.

If we had a full team We would have finished about 70 to 75th in a massively talented field of over 110 teams. A great effort and we can all hold our heads up as a club. I'm sure many local clubs will have taken note of our efforts and was nice seeing others doing well too.

I will Finnish this off with an early call for both Male and Female striders to keep an eye out for this event next year. The club will hopefully help promote this early when we get the dates through. This really is an event suitable for most striders and would be fantastic to get a few teams together next year and show everyone what a talented and friendly club we striders are.

Dale Head, Rosthwaite, 20th September

4.5M 2215' AS

Dougie Nisbet

Join the queue.We crossed over the M6 and continued west to Keswick. It was around this point I realised that my Walshes were not sitting on the back seat but were in fact sitting next to the back door back in Durham where I'd cleverly placed them so that I couldn't possibly forget them when we left the house. A quick detour via George Fisher was required, where I said I wanted a pair of Fell Shoes, size 43, and I needed to walk out the door in them in 10 minutes. This was becoming a habit. I tried on a nice pair of yellow La Sportiva Bushidos that felt just fine so I kept them on and made my way to the counter. "That'll be £110 please", she said nicely. My jaw clanged on the counter. This was about twice as much as I've ever paid for a running shoe. But they were a very nice yellow colour and I didn't have any time to spare so I handed over the dosh.

The Borrowdale Show has had several years of bad luck with the weather and this entirely volunteer run event was now financially threatened. Roberta had signed us up for a couple of tickets earlier in the year via the Indiegogo website. This scheme along with some sponsorship appears to have saved the show and this year the weather was looking fantastic. As it turned out we had bags of time and I was standing staring absent mindedly at some carved sticks when the announcement came over the PA: "Would anyone wishing to enter the Fell Race please make their way to the cattle truck."

Ah, fell racing! I'd missed this. It was good to be back! It's not a proper race unless you're filling in an FRA entry form in the back of a cattle truck. I found myself at the front of a queue of 1 and was given my number which was, oh excellent, 1! I've never been number 1 before. No pressure then. I had a look at the race details and noted it was an AS. Roberta noticing the worried frown that passed across my otherwise tranquil features asked, "What does AS mean?". "Er, well basically, short and brutal. Usually.". I paid some closer attention to where the race actually went and noticed that it marched right up to the top of the hill, the hill being Dale Head, then marched right down again. This wasn't looking such a clever idea the week before the Loch Ness marathon.

Surrounded by Borrowdale vests ... no wonder I'm looking nervous.

The race briefing had an unusual twist that I hadn't come across before. To check everyone who had registered was actually starting we all had to shout out our numbers in sequence. No. 26 having registered mere minutes earlier, must've decided not to bother, possibly having noted the lithe mass of sinew that was assembled for the race. I was having serious doubts myself - there were no tourists here. This was a serious bunch.

What's to say about the race itself, apart from it was slate-shatteringly hard. It was hot and I struggled, feeling drained, weak and puzzled, much as I felt in last week's LDMT. I should've been feeling fantastic as I approached the end of my marathon taper but I felt terrible. I stopped for a good drink both ways at the Dalehead Tarn beck (the 'water stop' in the Anniversary Waltz) and with some great encouragement from the marshalls managed to get round.

The weather was so warm that there was no need to fumble for post-race jerseys or shelter. I got a cup of tea and found a quiet patch of grass and we just sat quietly for a while soaking up the atmosphere of the show. It was a brutal little race and I should've treated it with far more respect than I did. I guess if you want to race well in a race that involves running up hills, then you need to train by running up hills rather than along railway lines. Clearly just buying expensive shoes and wearing the number 1 wasn't going to cut the mustard.

Ascent of Dale Head.

Lake District Mountain Trial, Patterdale, 14th September

Classic Trial - around 16 miles and 7000ft climb

Dougie Nisbet

3,2,1,Go!I'd been nervous for last year's cancelled event but this year I was in much better spirits. Conditions were good, bordering on the perfect, and I was feeling fit. I reckoned I was fitter than two years ago when I'd successfully got round the LDMT ahead of the cut-offs so I was reasonably confident as I stood at the Start in Patterdale waiting for the three minute countdown. I wonder where we'd be going?

A taped route led 1200m after the start to map collection and all became clear. For starters we'd be heading straight up St Sunday Crag and make our way to the first checkpoint; a sheepfold at the bottom of Fairfield. Up over the top of St Sunday or do some clever contouring around the side? Hmmm, I decided on the more brutal but easier to navigate over the top route. It was hot and hard but an hour later I was skirting the summit of St Sunday and planning my descent. Conditions were clear and I was lucky to spot the checkpoint from a distance so took a direct line to it. 90 minutes in and I was at checkpoint 1, 7 to go. This was harder than I had expected and although still comfortably within the cutoff I'd hoped to be going faster and feeling more comfortable than I was.

Checkpoint 2 was easy navigation. Hole in the Wall, so back over St Sunday and down to Grisedale Beck, where a fellow runner bid me a cheerful good morning and asked me how I was doing. I was pretty sure I recognised this chap.

“It is you, isn't it?”, I asked.
“Oh, yes, it's me.”, Joss replied.

Introductions over, we chatted for a minute, during which time Joss said he was retiring because his knees were giving him trouble. He seemed remarkably upbeat and spoke of seeing his specialist next week to get them fixed. Joss was running with two fantastic sticks that looked hand chiseled and customized – I'll never look at my Lekis in the same way again. He headed off down the valley back to Patterdale and I headed upwards to the Hole in the Wall.

It was a long hard climb up the wall line during which at some point Andy Blackett from DFR passed me and somehow managed to make me agree to make up a 'B' team at the FRA relays, before he pushed on ahead into the distance. Checkpoint Two eventually arrived and I was feeling far more tired than I expected to be, and only half an hour inside the cutoff time. This was beginning to look ominous.

Checkpoint 3 was a fair trek away, somewhere NE of Hart Side. I descended down Red Tarn Beck then crossed over towards Greenside Mine. I was very pleased with my direct route up the beck and across the shoulder of Sheffield Pike to Nick Head, where I picked up a path that contoured all the way round to Brown Hills. My speed was slow but my navigation was fine. I left the path to begin contouring round Brown Hills towards the checkpoint at Coegill Beck. I realised that time was now against me and that if I got to the Checkpoint 3 before being timed-out I'd retire there anyway.

Unfortunately I decided to contour by following my instincts rather than following the compass and it wasn't too long before I found myself in the wrong beck wondering where the checkpoint had hidden itself. I checked my watch. It was academic. I was out of time. I'd drifted too far east and the checkpoint was out of reach. Five hours and 10 miles into my race, and only two checkpoints visited. Time to admit defeat. I retired. It took me another hour and a half to get back to registration to find Andy Blackett sitting comfortably watching the runners finishing.

“Retired?”, he asked, without preamble.
“Yup”.
“Yeah, me too”.
“?!”

For those who don't know him, Andy Blackett is no slouch, so I did feel slightly better to hear this news. He too had contoured round Brown Hills making a similar mistake to me but managed to relocate and push on to Checkpoint 3 where he retired. A look at the (extensive) list of 'rtd's on the results shows that most people who retired did it at this point.

It was a tough event and sadly, it was too tough for me. I suspect it was a harder course than two years ago, but that's neither here nor there. It's advertised as a challenging event and LDMT are entitled to set the bar high, but I doubt I'll be fit or confident enough to tackle the Classic again.

An early view from St Sunday Crag.

Roseberry Topping Fell Race, North Yorks Moors, 10th September

2.3K

Jan Young

After you lot pounded thirteen miles at the GNR, I thought I'd buck the trend with 2.3k. Scoff not, that short stretch climbs 217m. Picture that angle; can someone do the maths for me?

It's steep! But it's a very tolerant Topping; allows you to walk up/ climb up/ cling on to it's grassy, rocky bits. On summitting, kiss the graffiti obelisk, turn around and throw yourself into mid air, leaping athletically over the heads of still ascending runners. As your feet are now moving far too fast for your brain to consider route choices, many follow blindly and wish they'd practised 50 degree upright stance before. No injuries; oldest competitor, seventy five, in Bingley vest.

Prize giving equally entertaining and challenging; organiser Dave invited anyone not awarded prize to come forward and claim spares. Always results in embarrassing 'scrum'. Third lady, Lucy- DCH/DFR, yes I've named you, dived into the fray clutching her three bottles of wine, emerging with sweets! She did share them! All part of the fun, camaraderie and challenge.

Pieces of 8 10K, Penshaw Monument, 31st August

Mark Brodie ...

Penshaw Monument. So like all races I enter, I never find them myself, in fact my very presence on the start line is almost always a product of peer-pressure and this was no different! A situation I came to regret very quickly (in a sort of pleasantly knackered sort of a way)!

Looking around the car park at the start, there seemed to be a strong field of 'folk in the know' but the sprinkling of 'strider purple' was very reassuring.

I decided to run the 10km route; a very wise decision indeed! The race starts with sharp climb up towards the monument, sweeping round the back to the top and then dropping down. There is a series of steps and an exhilarating down-hill through the paddock to follow. I enjoyed it while it lasted but I knew only too soon would I be crawling back up it!

The route drops down to the river and follows it along towards the A19. Heading along the river you get a brief glimpse of fellow competitors running the half-marathon route on the opposite bank. The pleasant trot is soon interrupted with a sharp right onto the ‘infamous’ steps. As we were told at the briefing, they are steep and they just keep going! A selection of ‘witty’ quotes mark the route up the steps, offering a brief reprieve!

A short flat section breaks up the hills, but worry not the next hill is soon to follow. Reaching the brow of the hill I was greeted with the smiley faces of Mark & Anita, grabbing a cup of water on the move and I was ready for the final slog; I mean hill! A pleasant section along a disused railway and then for the ‘biggie’! It was a slog; but a satisfying one! The reward was for sure, to finish on the monument! Awesome! So how would I describe the race in a nutshell, well the word ‘brutal’ was thrown around a lot at the finish. Over the top you might say; most definitely not! My only advice for anyone thinking about this next year would be to make sure you to get to the start line sharpish; they don’t hang around after the briefing!

... and Anita Dunseith

We often see race reports from runners but hubby and I realised not much is said from the perspective of the marshals without whom the race couldn’t happen so here’s my experience of marshalling the first ever Pieces of Eight Penshaw Monument trail race.

Sunday 31st August 2014 saw the inaugural run in a new urban trail series from Phill Turton and Tim Bateson, part of the Hardmoors family. From what I understand their aim for this series is to promote trail running in the North East and show runners routes (and hills!) they may not have been aware of before.

A marshal's viewpoint ...

Mark and I arrived at race HQ nice and early to get our marshal kit of hi-vis vests, route description, jelly babies and LOADS of water. We also received a bottle of wine each (NB this isn’t guaranteed every time you marshal!)

We pulled up to our checkpoint and had a conversation with the local farmer about where to park our car (and ended up moving it to avoid his wrath!) set up our table; filling the cups with water, setting out the jelly babies and Pringles and putting a handful of peanuts in some more of the cups (we always like to bring a few alternative treats because it’s easy to get sick of jelly babies and savoury snacks are always appreciated after supping on gels during a run). The day was really warm and sunny so we sat on our camping chairs and waited for the runners to arrive. They didn’t disappoint and started to arrive steadily, some of the fast runners flying through without even looking at our beautifully laid out table, others stopping for a quick drink and a handful of jelly babies and others for a good long chinwag. Aside from our lovely Striders friends our favourite runner was a guy in a Sunderland Harriers t-shirt who’d ironed his name STEVEN across the front yet was genuinely perplexed as to how we knew his name as we cheered him through!

After Megan and Katherine went through we waited a while for the final runner and tail runner but to no avail. We rang the RD to check they were still running to be told yes but we would have to time her out because it would take her too long to get to the finish and the first aid cover had to leave. We were genuinely gutted to hear this, especially as we were the last checkpoint and it was only a couple of miles to the finish. On a personal note I am often last and have made friends with a number of sweepers and know how devastated I would be to get timed out. I know this has to happen and for all the right reasons but it’s sad when it does. The final runner arrived and I had a quiet word with Jon the sweeper to tell him this to which he responded “no way, I’ll get her in” and off they went.

Mark and I packed up our table, did a sweep of the village to check for rogue plastic cups and headed back to race HQ in time for the prize giving. We were over the moon to hear the final lady did finish, particularly when we heard she’d left Manchester at 4am that morning to run her first ever trail race (cue me crying my eyes out when I heard this!)

For me running is the best thing in the whole world and it’s nice to help out sometimes to give other people the chance to run their race and experience how awesome this sport is. Be nice to your marshals and SMILE because there’s always a good chance we’ve got a camera. Oh, and DON’T DROP YOUR PLASTIC CUPS/BOTTLES!! If for whatever reason you’re unable to run; injured, resting or just having a day off; marshalling really is the next best thing ;-)

Keswick parkrun, Keswick, 6th September

5K

Dave Robson

We had booked places for the Lakeland Trails race in Keswick later that day, so it seemed a good idea to try out the Keswick parkrun. Malcolm and Kathryn also had the same idea. We thought there might be lots of runners doing the same thing and there were a few, but not as many as we expected.

The route is very simple, 2.5k up the old railway line and then come back down. The route is definitely not flat, but the ascent is not too bad. You cross the river a couple of times and go under various roads and the scenery is very good.

We got the usual friendly parkrun welcome and there is a lovely cafe in the Museum close by where it was possible to sit outside and relax in the sunshine

Lakeland Trails Keswick Trail Race, Keswick, 6th September

15K

Dave Robson

After the Keswick parkrun it was breakfast, a bit of window shopping and on to the trail race. It has been a year since we last did a Lakeland Trails race. Can't think why it has been so long, but it was lovely to be back, I had forgotten what a lovely atmosphere there is at these events. What also had attracted us was that a friend Kev Kendall was performing after the race.

Kathryn was doing the 10k and we were able to see her finish before we started. She seemed to enjoy it. The children's races were on after that, these Lakeland Trails events always have them.

I have been having calf problems recently and they seem to occur when it is hot, there are hills, we are going a long way and when I go a bit too fast. Luckily we weren't going too far, but I wanted to ensure I got round with no issues. So I took it very easy. I couldn't resist going a bit faster when I reached the downhill section of the trail race, but I got away with it. Melanie pushed on from the start and had a fantastic run !

Nice day for a run on the hills ...

The route goes up the old railway line that we had covered a few hours earlier in the parkrun and then turns into the hills where the ascent is much more serious. We went up the east side of the Glenderterra valley between Lonscale Fell and Blaise Fell, then came down the west side of the valley. The views are outstanding and it was a lovely day. The famous Glenderterra bog was as wet as ever !

A bit of a surprise was to come across Mike Hughes who wasn't in either race who had just come out for a run in the hills. He was coming up the west side of the valley into the race, unaware it was on.

Afterwards Kev played for an hour and we relaxed on the grass with some runners from Fetcheveryone who were there. It was a lovely day and Kev did great.

Vale of York Half Marathon, 7th September

13.1m

Anna Seeley

Looking for an alternative on GNR weekend I stumbled across the new Vale of York Half Marathon and the promise of a flat fast course on closed roads appealed so I entered wondering how quick I could run off marathon training. I later found out that the Hardmoors Princess Challenge was the week before and having destroyed my quads on that I figured I might as well finish them off altogether with the Pieces of Eight 10K the following day so didn’t quite manage to get to the start line as fresh as I would have liked.

It was feeling decidedly chilly as everyone lined up on the start line at Sherburn Aero Club but it didn’t stay cool for long and very quickly the temperatures were rising. The first mile was a little congested as everyone jostled for position and tried to settle into a comfortable pace but once we were out of the air field and onto the roads crowding was no longer an issue. Two miles in and any thought of a fast run went out the window as the early splits weren’t encouraging, it was getting hot and the legs were already protesting. Considered DNFing but figured it would make a good long run if nothing else and decided to try and stick as close to marathon pace as possible.

3 miles in and up the only “hill”, a bridge over the railway line, and onto the long straight roads through Bishop Woods. Rather than following the “racing line” the race snaked its way across the road towards the blissful shade, no one was caring about the extra distance, we just wanted some respite from the sun. Out of the woods and we were onto a 3 mile loop before returning the way that we came back to the airfield. Marshalling was great with fantastic support from both the organising club and lots of local cyclists who seemed to appear from nowhere to cheer us on. Water stations every 3 miles meant that you despite the heat you didn’t need to worry about dehydration.

The last few miles started to hurt as the hamstring which still hasn’t recovered from the fateful night at the relays began to tighten but I was having fun trying to chase down a friend from Blackhill Bounders when all of a sudden with a mile to go I realised my shoe lace had come undone. After more races than I care to remember I should really be able to tie them properly, stopping to re-tie it I watched the black and yellow vest drift into the distance. Tried to chase him down again but didn’t quite make it finishing in 1:44, quicker than marathon pace and considering the 37 miles I’d raced the weekend before promising for the rest of the autumn. Phil Owen finished shortly afterwards, again quicker than marathon pace in 1:56.

For the first time of running this was a very well organised race and the goody bag contained a decent T shirt and medal. This is definitely one to look at for those chasing a fast autumn half marathon time or looking for a more scenic alternative to the GNR.

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Experiences of a 1st timer

Great North Run, 7th September

Louise Gregory

My running journey started in Autumn 2013, on the 7th October I completed Week 1, Day 1 of my Couch-5km App, a total of 6 minutes running (split into 1 minute intervals) over a 25 minute workout. I'd decided to follow the program myself and after staggering home the App flashed up on my phone with 'The longest journey begins with a small step taken by a brave person'.

Striders Disembarcus

Forward 11 months and I'm very proud to say that, with the help from Striders, I completed my 1st GNR. The excitement started on the very packed Durham-Newcastle train, leaving Durham at 7.44 and whizzing through to Newcastle. We met up close to our green start zone with other members of the club and spent most of the time close to the toilets while we waited for others to queue, then join the back of the queue again, and then queue again aka. the circle of weeing. The nerves were kicking in and we just made it into the pen at 10.20, after Alison sweet-talked the security man into letting us in. The warm up began and then the Elite athletes were off. We shuffled forward 20 metres, then another 20 metres, then another 20 metres until we finally crossed the start line about 11.15. The 1st couple of miles were mainly spent trying not to go too fast as we were quickly overtaken by lots of people, being in awe of the crowds & the support, high 5-ing children and shouting 'oggy oggy oggy' through the tunnels. The 1st band at the roundabout below the Gateshead Highway were playing rock anthems; we both turned to each other and agreed it was the most surreal experience.

Before we knew it we were on the Felling Bypass at about Mile 4. Our pace had dropped a little but Laura and I agreed we were comfortable and happy to keep going and see how we did. By this point it was midday and there was no escape from the sun. Laura was pointing out all the places of interest and mentioned that she was known as Google Maps within Striders...I had no idea where we where but there was no worries about getting lost as the sea of people in front of us were just amazing. The climb up to 5 mile was difficult and lots of people were walking but in comparison to the hills of Durham it was a nice gentle incline. Miles 5-9 passed in a blur and I started to flag on Mile 9 but we positioned ourselves on the left coming up to Mile 10 to take advantage of the Jelly Babies promised to us by some amazing Striders. We spotted the fantastic banner and started waving like mad fools.....the feeling of support was unbelievable at a particularly tough part of the race. Good support, or what?? I'd heard the John Reid road was a hard part but for me the Prince Edward road seemed like a never-ending hill. Laura kept me going with words of encouragement but I started to wonder if I'd ever make it to the end. We met quite a few Striders en route and helped each other on. The promise of a glimpse of the sea just didn't seem to come and a few tears were shed in feelings of defeat. But...onwards we went and the words from the crowd kept me going. Mile 12 had the best bits......a roundabout with some brilliant tunes, a gaggle of Striders on the right hand side waving and cheering at us and the '1 mile to go' sign. I'd been warned that the final mile felt like forever and it certainly seemed to be at least 5 times that distance. I thought the 20km banner was actually a 20m sign and got a little bit giddy, swiftly followed by slight disappointment that the 800m banner looked so far away. But...as Laura put it....''Find your Inner Strider'' (I looked long and hard and I think I found her) and 800m became 400m. At this point we could hear the announcer say that they were close to their millionth finisher....well if that didn't put a spring in my step...I don't know what would ! A final push meant that we finished about 10 people behind a lovely lady from Darlington called Tracy...who was the millionth runner. Laura and I crossed the finish line to ticker tape and fireworks which was brilliant...but meant we weren't really sure what was going on as everything ground to a halt while they whisked her away. A shout from Jacqui R to ask if I was the millionth runner and a cheesy grin from Alister finished the day off nicely.

So then.....a time of 2:48:07. If I'm honest then I'd have liked a little bit faster but I'm not sure I could have given any more and it's certainly given me a goal for my next half marathon. Advice for any 1st timers and newbies to running......they really do close the pens at 10.20, there are porta-loos in the middle of the central motorway so if you're desperate you can pop out of your pen and pop back in, that last mile seems like forever and if you hear them talking about the being in the red zone for the two-millionth runner, go just that little bit faster.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatPosTime
1Mo FarahNewham & Essex Beagles AC01:00:00
2Mary Keitany01:03:39
150Stephen Jackson01:19:49
380Matthew Archer01:25:58
449Rob Everson01:27:05
1261Paul Pascoe01:33:41
1291Matthew Crow01:33:49
1344Simon Gardner01:34:04
1419Graeme Walton01:34:28
1429Terry Raine01:34:32
1931Katy Walton01:37:02
2005Elaine Bisson01:37:23
2450Rachel Terry01:39:13
3302Matthew Claydon01:42:08
3619Fiona Jones01:43:12
3770Mark Brodie01:43:36
3910Andrew Podmore01:44:02
4049Lucy Cowton01:44:23
4888Sarah Davies01:46:37
5153Michael Terry01:47:16
5401Nicola Whyte01:47:50
5799Jackie Mckenna01:48:46
6460Martin Welsh01:50:12
6600Kathryn Sygrove01:50:29
6924David Spence01:51:10
6929Paul Beal01:51:11
6959Helen Williams01:51:15
7029John Robson01:51:25
7517Stephanie Walker01:52:21
7859Greta Jones01:53:03
8082Dougie Nisbet01:53:28
8614Jean Bradley01:54:33
10521Camilla Lauren-Maatta01:57:47
11670John Greathead01:59:32
11733Stephanie Piper01:59:38
13348Brian Ford02:02:18
13506Sarah Fawcett02:02:35
15598Ann Towers02:06:15
16197Alex Cole02:07:23
16264Jill Ford02:07:30
17918Karen Chalkley02:10:29
19395Karin Younger02:13:07
19404George Nicholson02:13:08
19557Angela Tribe02:13:22
20691Jane Baillie02:15:26
21800Louise Billcliffe02:17:26
22532Laura Chapman02:18:41
22628Denise Benvin02:18:54
22635Victoria Walton02:18:55
22742Maria Dimova-Cookson02:19:08
23082Stacey Brannan02:19:43
23678Jayne Freeman02:20:46
24504Emma Batey02:22:14
24757Christine Farnsworth02:22:42
25511Kelly Collier02:24:06
25927Hattie Blenkinsop02:24:56
26834Karen Hooper02:26:41
29668Margaret Thompson02:32:30
29949Vicki McLean02:33:08
30941Amy Farquhar02:35:22
31180Lindsay Craig02:35:57
31195Natalie Johnson02:36:00
31319Sophie Dennis02:36:17
31787David Arnott02:37:28
31794Barrie John Evans02:37:28
32200Jolene Smith02:38:26
32497Susan Jennings02:39:13
32503Helen Rodgers02:39:14
33526Kerry Lister02:42:03
34954Laura Jackson02:46:39
35272Caroline Dostal02:47:49
35348Laura Gibson02:48:07
35349Louise Gregory02:48:07
36555Lynsay Wardle02:52:49
37999Helen Page03:00:29

41549 finishers

Durham Three Peaks, 3rd September

2.53M to infinity

Danny Lim

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun. It's like being a child again. Like all the best children's games, they have the simplest of rules. The first runner to reach the tops of three local hills and return wins.

As the main horde of runners rushed for the gate, I was feeling rebellious and clambered over the fence. After narrowly missed being run over, I trespassed through Houghall College before reaching a gap in the hedges; seems like everyone had the same idea!

Earlier, I did a recce and had a cunning route in mind. But all that went to pot when I saw Geoff Davies going off-piste up a steep bank, several runners in tow. Like a bull to a rag, I gave chase (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!). I thought I was being smart by cutting them off, but ended up sloshing around in the mud, wrestling with a pine tree followed by a prickly holly. Eventually, I hacked my way through the undergrowth only to find Geoff barrelling towards me, having already reached the first checkpoint. I charged ahead, only to have an uncomfortably close encounter with Scott Watson in a slap-stick pantomime way.

This set the tone for the rest of the race, with me recklessly making it up as I went along, getting hopelessly disorientated and being afflicted by a minor mishap. I'm sure I would have done a better time if I stuck to my planned route, but I enjoyed getting lost and making friends with the undergrowth. There was something liberating and maybe that's why it was so much fun! Next year, I'll stick to my plan (uh huh).

Thanks very much Paul Evans and all the volunteers for such a fun evening.

Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k, 31st August

Stephen Jackson ...

I was pleased to be asked to write the race report for this one [You don't need to be asked, and it's always nice to get more than one report for a race, such as this one. The more the merrier! Ed.] and not only because I’m still basking in that post-PB glowing feeling. It’s nice to feel part of something; which is one of the reasons why I recently joined the Striders, having trained and attended races on my own for a year or so.

It was also great to lift-share on the way to this event which was an opportunity to get to know a few Striders; both established and new members – Facebook does have some practical uses. By my reckoning 21 Elvet Striders were in attendance (including Alister Robson who, for some reason, wasn’t included in the official filtered results ‘by club’) for this popular 10k event.

I think it had the feel of the Great North Run, albeit on a much smaller scale. As was the case with myself, many Striders seemed to be using this event as some sort of ‘warm up’ for the bigger (and more expensive) Half Marathon the following weekend. There was live music at the start and finish (and at various points around the route), numerous water stations, a bag drop-off point, a small athletes’ village with free sports massage and various catering outlets. Throw in a rather fetching technical T-Shirt, a medal, a pen and a few other bits and bobs and I think the £14.00 affiliated price seemed quite good value for money.

It was really good to have a chat to Craig Younger before the event, who was running his first ever race having recently completed the 5k – 10k course (and prior to that, I think, the couch-to-5k course). It was great to see him in club colours and certainly an achievement to be proud of. I wish I’d joined a club straight away when I finally decided to take up running a couple of years ago as the encouragement and advice really does help.

Not a bad looking piece of bling for fourteen quid. The course was a relatively flat (or at least there seemed to be as many downs as up) single loop on wide roads. The sun was out and the wind was low. In theory this was a perfect day for a PB although I have a feeling some runners will have been holding a little bit back for the aforementioned half-marathon the following weekend. I found myself passing a couple of familiar rivals who usually finish well ahead of me at such events. It was also interesting to note that race winner Wondiye Fikre Indelbu ran about a minute slower than at Darlington 10k a few weeks before. He might be one to look out for in the results of ‘Brendan’s super run’. A quick chat to fellow Striders afterwards led me to believe a fair few PBs had been achieved (most notably Simon Gardener’s 38:24), a few were a little disappointed and others seemed to have held a little back for various reasons. Anyone who gets their backside out of bed on a Sunday morning, pulls on the club vest, laces up their trainers and gives it a good go deserves a medal. Which, quite appropriately, is exactly what they got.

... Matthew Crow...

Today sees me writing up my first ever race report so I hope this make sense and today saw me doing the Middlesbrough 10k run. This is pretty much a warm up run in preparation for the great north run the following weekend. As most races I do tend to be up early on the morning I left the house to pick up a few friends who were also taking part in the race - having taking the wrong turning on way to race the roads were are starting to close ready for the race I managed to find a side street to park.

Walking up the streets prior to the race starting there plenty people walking about and few music bands setting up ready for race to begin testing out some music. As I reached the the start line where the race would begin I took note of where the starting positions elite runners sub 35 etc then came across the position sign at the end of the start say happy to finish what made me smile. Heading to the field where most people were hanging about I found the fellow Striders I was met by Graeme Walton and Stephen Jackson after having a brief chat I decided to get changed and drop my bag off ready for starting. After dropping my bag I decided to do a warm on the field to right on the start line few laps jogging around and stretches it was time to head to the start.

Finding my way to start I seen Alister Graeme and Katy so I decided to jump in start from there looking at my watch, it was nearly time for race to begin the wheel chairs race had just begun. Few minutes later the 10k run began. It was quite a quick start crossing the start Line, good crowds either sides cheers people along heading down acklam road. The pace was quite quick, trying to settle in to a comfortable pace I managed to get sorted and felt good turning down bottom of the road to the left was pretty much straight bit of road only very slight incline. Hitting the 4k mark we turned left again heading up by the James Cook hospital as I hit 5k Mark I was around 19.50 minutes In to the run feeling good I decide to press on and push my self as heading to word 6k we heading threw housing streets plenty people out cheering people along and you could hear music bands playing music and you kids trying to squirt people with water as I reached 8k I was think not long to go I turned left again heading to wards the coronation pub you could hear they had music blasting out speakers as I hit 9k witch seem to go on for ages I pressed on heading to wards finish there was big crowds cheering everyone along which was great. I crossed the line in 40.37 and I was quite happy with that time heading towards the t shirt collection area I was met by Stephen Jackson who had great run and also Simon Gardener who got him self a new 10k pb.

As collected my t shirt you could smell the food stalls near by and they smelt nice the sun was shining nice and warm so decided to go collect my bag before it go too busy then decided to go cheer everyone along

Well done to all who took part.

... and Jane Baillie:

After losing my running mojo during the summer, I had signed up to this race with no expectations. One week before the Great North Run, good chance to stretch the legs and had been told was good course, relatively flat. (the magic words!)

Good turnout of Striders – approximately 25 of us made the trip down. Glorious morning for it, almost a bit too warm, but we can’t really complain about these things. Seemed to be a good setup, this was the 10th anniversary race, with all the race essentials - baggage areas/Mizuno trailer/warmup session/bands playing/chip timing/dirty burger van! We eventually all got into our pens, I always like it when a race offers areas for estimated time finishing – momentarily debated going in the ‘happy to finish’ section but boldly pushed forward to the sub 60 mins!! In fact we may have even strayed into the sub 50 – optimism at its blindest!!

The crowds were great at the start line, lots of support and cheering, and was like this most of the way around. Loved the bands on the corners as well, small taster ahead of Great North Run! Plus the usual gauntlet of kids who think it’s fun to squirt water at you as well!

After a fairly average parkrun on the Saturday, I was just aiming to get round in a reasonable time. My plan was 10 minute miles, and a steady race. Having learned the hard way about going out too fast, I was a slightly speedy 09:30 for the first mile. Calmed it down a wee bit and kept on plodding, even after the only ‘hill’ on the course I was still pretty consistent with my mile splits. All averaging about 09:30 pace.

Got to 5k mark 15 secs off my parkrun PB, and was feeling really good. By mile 4 and 5, I was starting to overtake a Strider or two (a first for me!!) and still hitting steady pacing. Getting to the last big turn, I realised I was on course for a PB, barring any major disasters. Had been running faster than I have been for quite a few months, and although I didn’t quite manage my usual sprint finish (Alistair and the Strider cheering squad were too far from the finish!!) I managed to come in at 58:31 – 26 seconds off my previous 10k time and splits of 29:15 and 29:16 for both 5k splits.

Some other notable runs on the day were from Stephen Jackson – a super speedy 36:20 and Craig Younger, completing his first official 10k race, having just graduated from the 5-10k group 4 days earlier!!

I really enjoyed the race – bands playing at most corners, water stations, sun shining, medal, nice t-shirt and a PB to boot – what more does a girl need!!

Tynedale Jelly Tea, Hexham, 31st August

10M

Dave Spence

Woke up got out of bed dragged a comb across my head and then reality struck when I realised it was Sunday and a 10 mile race faced me that morning. No going back to bed since I had promised to take Barrie Evans to the race. So 8.30 Barrie arrives and off we go to the Tynedale Jelly Tea.

Knowing the way to Ovingham very well doesn’t stop going the wrong way twice. I know what you are thinking - Old men not able to talk and navigate at the same time might have been the problem. But got there in plenty of time and caught the bus to Hexham. After the short pleasant journey arrived at the modern sports centre, checked in, acquired a number, changed, threw bag on baggage bus, chatted to other striders and then not being able to put it off any further a short walk to the start.

So a shuffle along to the start with obligatory toilet stop (it's an age thing) and we were off. The first 3 miles mainly downhill finally dropping into Corbridge [where the race passes some extremely handy toilets - I should know ... Ed.]. Time looking good. But then before your very eyes looms heartbreak hill out of Corbridge. And oh it goes on and on and on for 2 miles. Water poured over the head near the top, Turn left, marshall says downhill now, liar. It's up then down then up. But what goes up must go down and it does for nearly 3 miles to Bywell. More water poured over the head. Sorry did I mention the heat. Then it's 1.5 miles level road alongside the Tyne before you turn left and hit a minor Eiger for 200 yards and a marshall says again it's all downhill now. Well it is after the uphill bit which wasn’t mentioned. And finally the finish down to Ovingham school with a reasonable time.

Then cheer in other Striders at the finish including Barrie. At last reward time and into the School for jelly, sandwich, tea and piece of cake. What better way to spend Sunday on what is a really well organised interesting run which has a great atmosphere. Numbers running were well down this year I suspect because of closeness to the Big One.

Now looking forward to next year?

Parachute Regiment 10M, Catterick Garrison, 31st August

Kerry Lister

So, following the Fan Dance earlier this year I willingly signed up for the Paras 10 at Catterick. Once again running it as opposed to 'tabbing' it (Tactical Advance to Battle) in the P Company Challenge.

A generous Strider discount was provided (thanks very much) .

Today, 31st August, was the day. Early morning and 815am pick up for me and hubby (doing the load bearing version) by Major McGonnell and off we went. Lovely hot sunny day, well. Lovely if you weren't planning on doing a 10 mile event either with or without a 35lb Bergen.

Registration was simple and quick, the timing chips were put on our shoes, the lads weighed their bergens in, Rob was 1lb short so the Para gave him a 1.5kg bag of porridge to make it up. Then we waited til 1045am for our briefing and warm up, which basically consisted of a Para making us all do a funny dance.

The cani-cross entrants went off first, followed after a couple of minutes by the runners (including me, Natalie Torbett and Laura Jackson) followed 10 minutes later by the tabbers (including Rob Lister, Tony McGonnell and Adam Chapman).

I knew there was 1 brutal hill around mile 8 but I didn't realise the 8 miles getting there would be quite so 'undulating'. It wasn't long before the first of the tabbers overtook us slower runners and the Gurkha tabbers were phenomenal with their speed and determination.

The miles were clearly marked, the cattle grids (of which there were many) had sheets of wood partially covering them. There were 2 water stations, however I was pleased I had my camelbak on, it was very hot out there! And plenty of Paras marshalling.

Up and down, up and down we went then there it was 'Pussy Hill in the Land of Nod', at this point I was very close to the 1:50 man (under 1:50 is the selection time for the Paras), then there was a 'last hill' sign, get in! Almost there.

At last a lady shouted 'just round the corner onto the grass then it's the finish' and it was, all of a sudden I could see the finishers funnel, big cheers from the spectators spurred me on to a sub 2 hour finish which I was really pleased with. Medal around my neck and goody bag in my hand I joined Marie to cheer the others in.

One by one they came round the corner, smiling, tired and sweaty but triumphant that we had all completed this tough challenge.

Fantastic event, well organised except the free for all at the race finish water point where people were taking 2 and 3 bottles without a though for other competitors, the coffee was rubbish too and no beer tent!

But, I will be signing up next year, for the P Company TAB Challenge.......

Princess Short n Sweet Challenge, North York Moors, 30th August

8.5miles(ish)

Lindsay Rodgers

Pre-race nerves, or perhaps it's just a bit chilly. Having ‘done’ the Hardmoors 10K at Saltburn, I was intrigued by the some of the Striders discussing the Princess Challenge due to take place at the end of August. It was to raise money for the local mountain rescue team, a charity that trail/fell runners rely on but hope that they will never need to use. The 30 mile was probably a bit too far whereas the 8.5 ish seemed manageable, so with the encouragement of the Hardmoors junkies, off I went.

Arriving in Ravenscar early enough to see the rest of the striders gear up and head off on the big one it was time for the race briefing and kit check. They were only around 40 entries for the 8.5 so for once the pre-race jitters did not involve a long wait for a toilet and with the words of ‘ it is an undulating course’ in my mind we set off.

The first 5 miles were on a nice cinder path, the only real challenges being helping one runner who took a tumble and trying to avoid the hordes of walkers and cyclists. The major thing that stuck in my mind was a comment ‘ watch out for the joggers’ from a group of walkers and helping a lady who did not seem to understand how to get her bike through a gate (it helps if you get off it). The first CP was in Robins Hood Bay and I arrived just after being passed by some of the 30 milers on their way to Whitby .My pace was not too bad (5.30/km) so it seemed to be a good time was in order. At this point runner 120 and I looked at each other and decided that as both of us were first timers best stick together as we worked out our route as we searched for the Cleveland way. This is where it changed from gentle downhill to a constant up and down. Wonderful trail along the coast (keep the sea to the left of you), punctuated by constant sharp drops and brutal climbs as we worked our way back to Ravenscar.

After the 7 mile point runner 120 (lovely lady from Surrey, never got to find out your name, sorry!) dropped me and I was over taken by some quickies that had taken an accidental detour and added a couple of extra miles to their run. This is a point where you realise that you are only running against yourself and walking can be a sensible option from time to time Between the efforts a fair amount of time was spent explaining to people why we were running geared up across the Cleveland way and then looking at the reaction when I advised that this was the ‘short’ route.

Tired but happy. Looking at my Garmin 8.5 miles soon came up with Ravenscar still in the distance at the top of a very steep hill, this is where Hardmoors comes into its own. All distances are approximate and as I struggled up the never ending rise it soon hit 9.5 miles. I must admit the last mile and a bit was walked (a power version) although a gentle run was managed for the last 500 metres. Total distance 9.89 miles. Final time 1.51, but who cares, I finished. Entering the hall, you are greeted by a round of applause by the other competitors and then stuffed full of tea cakes and sweets followed by a huge hug from the race director Kelly.

Pound for pound the best value race of the year, the best views and apart from the striders handicap and parkrun the nicest runners that I have come across so far. Yes I am now a convert to Hardmoors; Running for the enjoyment of the event and the company of brilliant people. Anyone thinking of a testing run next year should give this a try and was a fantastic end to my first year as a novice runner/strider.

Hardmoors Princess Challenge, North York Moors, 30th August

30M

Kate MacPherson

Last Saturday as we drove from Durham towards Whitby and the sunrise turned the North York moors from grey to purple, I wondered what on earth had possessed me to get up ‘mind numbingly early’ (as Anita Dunseith had put it) to go and run for 30 miles. I had never run anything longer than 26.2 on the flat, comfortable tarmac. And here I was about to attempt my first mini-ultra on rolling terrain and coastal paths. I’d always vowed I’d ‘never run a marathon’ and ‘ultra runners are just insane’... and yet I ran the marathon I’d vowed I’d never do and the thought of trying an ultra niggled away at me until the point that I knew I had to at least give it a go.

I’d heard and read about the Hardmoors races and fancied trying one of them so when the Princess Challenge was announced it seemed the perfect way to dip my toe into ultra running. The Princess Challenge is the Hardmoors Charity Run, the proceeds from which go to the local Mountain Rescue. My lovely Dad was rescued in January by Edale Mountain Rescue when he slipped and broke his ankle in three places while out walking in the peak district so this run felt like a good way to say a tiny thank you to those amazing volunteers.

Ready to Go.

We arrived at Ravenscar bright and early and registered. It was nice to see the posse of Striders although Dave Robson’s comment that ‘the last 10 miles are really hard’ wasn’t quite the confidence boost I needed! The race director, Kelly, gave us an incredibly warm welcome which was lovely, it’s really something to be greeted by name by a race director rather than just being an anonymous number in a crowd! After a route briefing from Flip we gathered outside for photos and then, just after 9am we were off. Kath Dodd, a friend and experienced ultra runner had very generously said she’d run with me, normally she’d kick my butt and leave me in her dust!. (By the way Kath, when are you going to join Striders?) Kath and I agreed that Flip’s briefing hadn’t really allayed our fears about getting lost however, route description safely tucked into our race vests (or Jet Pack as my 8-year old likes to call it) we had no choice but to go for it ...

Report continues here...

Watergate 5K, Gateshead, 28th August

Alister Robson

Alister wearing some NEMAA silver bling.Again a low Striders turnout for this one which many would enjoy very much. No T-shirt or medal, in fact only a bottle of water and a buffet after, but cheap as chips and part of the NEMAA championship series too.

Unsurprisingly I always think this venue would suit a parkrun down to the ground being a good surface and going nowhere near any roads. It starts flat if a touch competitive at the front, before a short sharp climb, then a long downhill when you can really get the speed up. A tight right hand bend across a narrow bridge and again you're climbing up a longish drag. There's a quick drop to get your breath back then the bit I always forget about, another short climb. From here it's a short downhill, a tight right turn and a long straight and back to the start to begin the second lap.

I had a great run here which surprised me a little as I hadn't run much this week, and had a horrible journey to get here - stuck on the A1 Western Bypass which was like a car park - and only just got there in time to meet Richard and Becky, the only other Striders in attendance at the start. Richard came in just after me and Becky ran strongly too - I think both comfortably improved on last year, here.

We hung around for the presentations and a beer and I was overjoyed to discover I'd won the NEMAA silver medal for my age category, and that I'd also won a silver from my run at the Morpeth 10k earlier this month. :-)

Inclined to Madness, North York Moors, 27th August

10K

Nigel Heppell

Four Striders filled a car and travelled down to the fringes of the NYM on Wednesday night for the penultimate race of the Esk Valley Fell Club summer series. Mercifully midge-free in a fair breeze we were sent on our way in the usual Dave Parry style 'blah, blah, health and safety, blah, go ...' along an undulating forest track that had seen recent tree-felling work and was strewn with debris to trip the unwary. 2.5 miles of what seemed like hard work led us to the base of the incline - the track bed of an old rope-hauled railway - and a 1mile walk up the slope for three of us. Spat out onto the moor top and it's time to run again, gradually gaining height in amongst the grouse shooting butts, to divert briefly up to touch the Urra Moor summit trig point of Round Hill, highest point of the NYM at 454m, and also a Marilyn before a foot-slapping, knee-knocking, headlong charge downhill, some on the Cleveland Way, for the last 2miles to the finish at Clay Bank car park.

Mike B was cheated out of 1st V60 place by a holidaymaker from Dulwich. None of the rest of us was last. Thanks go to Camilla for providing the taxi service.

Inclined Striders.

Northumberland Coastal Marathon, 24th August

26.4

Melanie Hudson

This is the first time I have the Northumberland Coastal marathon and it is now high up on my list of most scenic routes. The route is an out and back from Alnmouth to the river bridge just south of Beadnell. It mainly follows the Northumberland Coastal Run route, but with the vast majority of the road sections on trail instead. It passes the spectacular ruins of Dunstanburgh castle, the lovely seaside village of Craster and goes along some beautiful beaches.

There were only fifty five runners at the start line which is surprising since it is such a beautiful marathon. Amongst these 55, were Striders DaveR, JulietP and DavidB. The weather was a little cool and overcast at the start with a breeze which made for perfect running conditions. It did warm up a bit later as the sun came up but it never got too hot.

I ran the first half with Dave and it felt as if it was going well. The course was runnable which made it a challenge for us as we are used to courses with lots of hills that we walk up, we are not used to running constantly. At the halfway point Dave decided to slow a little and I went on ahead.

At mile 15 my knee started to hurt quite a bit and I slowed down but thankfully it eased off as I hit the firm flat sand. Up until mile 20 I was feeling pretty strong and enjoying the scenery. However I began to feel unwell with a slight headache and feeling sickly. It is not like me to feel sickly in a marathon and I thought it would just pass.

At mile 22 I caught up with Juliet and David and I ran the next 2.5 miles with them, however by now I was feeling pretty sick, my head was hurting quite a bit and I was generally feeling very tired. It was great to have Juliet and David’s company which kept me plodding on, rather than resorting to walking. Although my poor navigation skills did not help them. At one point I tried to send us all down someone’s back garden because I remembered at one point on the way out turning past some lobster pots, maybe not the best way to remember a route when in Northumberland and lobster pots are a common thing. Then we came to a confusing section in a caravan park, I thought I had remembered the way as Dave had showed me on the way out. However we ended up on the beach way too early and ended up having to clamber over lots of rocks to get back to where we needed to be. I guess it was a good distraction from feeling ill but I did end up adding nearly a quarter of a mile to our distance, sorry.

About a mile and a half from the end I told Juliet and David to go on ahead as I felt as if I might be sick and I needed to run/walk to the finish. They kept looking to back to make sure I was okay, so I had little rest walks but the thought that I would be seen walking in the last mile spurred me to run more than I would have done otherwise. Thank you Juliet and David for helping me get through those last four miles. I was very relieved when I crossed the finish line. It was only then I realised that I was feeling so unwell due to a migraine. I took some tablets then cheered Dave in at the end.

Dave and I had some food and I began to feel a lot better. We then joined Juliet and David in the pub for a quick drink before heading home.

It wasn't until the next day that Juliet and David realised that they had both come first in their age categories. Well done you two!

Fleetwood Half Marathon, 24th August

Alister Robson

Graeme Walton had run this last year and reported favourably on its PB potential. He kindly offered me a lift and so Katy, Graeme and myself set off from Durham at 6.30am on the long journey to Fleetwood.

After a quick stop at the golden arches for coffee and a hash brown, we arrived in plenty of time in glorious sunshine and next to no wind - perfect conditions for me. I say we arrived in plenty of time, but the queues for the toilets were already starting to snake around the leisure centre car park - this and the unsecured baggage storage area was about the only thing I can mark this down for.

After an amusing MC gave the briefing and a slight delay in the start caused by the previously mentioned toilet queue we were off and running along the wide sea front promenade, Katy as usual shooting off, Graeme (who I managed to keep in sight for most of the first small lap) and me slowly and steadily towards the rear of the 500 strong field.

After the first short lap of about 1Km, we set off further down the coast for a larger lap of about four and a half miles. All this time I felt great and was running comfortably at my goal pace of 7.15 mins per mile. The third larger lap of about 8 miles was even further down the coast (you could see Blackpool Tower in the distance), but there was a slight headwind and I felt I was working hard. The long straight did however let me catch sight of Katy and I knew then that either I was storming it or Katy was having a struggle.

When I went round the furthest corner at just short of 10 miles and I saw her standing still I knew, if I didn't already, that it was the latter. I encouraged her to join me but she wanted to stop (it turns out to take her shoes off). The last three miles were a real drag, friendly marshals and photographers excepted. I really did have to push myself to keep going, knowing that if I could hold to even 8 minute miles I'd have a new PB and that's the way it panned out. All too soon, I was back on the final lap making the turn into the centre and could see the race clock ticking down and hear Graeme urging me on.

That early start and hard work was worth it with a PB of nearly two minutes and 1.37. Katy came in very shortly after me, still breaking 1.40 despite her struggle and Graeme was already in, in 1.33. There was a medal (if no T-shirt) a banana and a wagon wheel or bag of mini cheddars and water on offer to finishers. Graeme even very kindly stopped off on the way home so that I could get some essential hop flavoured recovery carbs on board!

Stockton River Rat Race, 24th August

10K

Vicki McLean

A beautiful sunny morning Kerry, Denise, my husband Paul and I met on the beautiful banks of the river Tees. What better way to spend a Sunday morning than chucking yourself into the cold murky water of the Tees voluntarily! Eagerly anticipating the start or the race we began to notice various obstacles close by and to the right my nemesis the ship! I must explain early on I am not a big fan of heights or water. To try and take our minds off the forthcoming torture we commenced our pre race preparation coffee, selfies and face painting let battle commence!!!

Warm up complete it was off to the start line Helen Allen was there to wave us off (she was in a later wave), a sea of MS society orange t-shirts made it the most colourful wave. Before we knew it we were off ducking under the scaffolding and running off to the metal barriers helpful hints by fellow competitors to keep to the corners was invaluable. Not interested in time Kerry and I took a leisurely pace and Denise ran off with my husband (full permission given by me). The next obstacle was the cargo net down on the floor crawling on the grass doing alright till the third section of net was on a specially soaked section of grass! Head to toe in mud I thought I had entered the wrong race but on the plus side I couldn’t see the ship over the six foot wall! Try as I might I was unable to get more than my ankle over the wall so I sneaked around the corner. Next the inflatable obstacle course, imagine orange beetles on their backs trying their best to get on their feet again with not much luck. Pure determination and we were on the other side in good spirits and covered in mud, still no signs of any water we were running again!

Chasing Mr&Mrs Speedy we clocked out at the first water obstacle, swimming the loch! Cold wet life vest on and here we go lowered gently into the water it was freezing and with a combination of front crawl, breast stroke and doggy paddle I was across with my fellow team mates shouting encouragement. Determined to continue we climbed through the architecture of the bridge and were running once more soaking wet this time. I’m the King of the Swingers not I’m more like Baloo the monkey bars defeated me with maximum effort applied and the run continued. Then came the hills, slippy and steep very tempted to slide down on my bottom but managed to stay on my feet. Saving lives, super nurses to the rescue helping a lady at the top of hill number two ...

Report continues here...

Strangford Festival 10K, 22nd August

Debbie McFarland

Knowing I was going to be home visiting family for a week in Northern Ireland I decided to look up Northern Ireland athletics to see if there happened to be any nice races I could sign up for. I have always wondered what it would be like to run back home as running doesn’t seem to have as big of a profile in Northern Ireland as it does in the North East, plus it would be a little something to keep me motivated with Great North Run and Redcar half marathon just around the corner.

For those who don’t know Northern Ireland well, Strangford is a little village at the mouth of Strangford lough in County Down. On the other side of the lough is another village called Portaferry and there is a ferry that runs regularly between the two villages.

I set off to Strangford with my Mum and Dad aiming to be nice and early as numbers had to be collected on the day, plus I didn’t have a clue where the pick-up point was for these and without the usual purple crew to direct me I was feeling a little more nervous than usual.

The race started at 7.30pm and thankfully it was a lovely dry evening. Standing at the start line without the usual banter from my striders friends was quite a different experience. The race began alongside the lough near the village square, it then went up through the village and out through Castle ward a National trust area. It was a mainly a trail run with lots of forest and narrow winding tracks along the way, a few small sections involved running on grass.

Debbie. The first few miles follow around the lough which was stunning as the sun was going down. It was one of those scenes where you wished you had a camera with you to capture it. This was by no means a flat race route and I quickly realised there would be no chance of beating my 10k personal best of 58:13. Miles 3-5 were predominately uphill and at the 4k point the girl behind me loudly stated “I wish I’d never started this”, I give her a little bit of strider encouragement and we were on our way again. The marshals were fantastic, they were at all the right points to avoid you getting lost and they provided great support. The race finished with the last half mile being on footpath and back into the village, at this point I was feeling strong (probably because I knew it was downhill from here), it was lovely to hear all the locals clapping and cheering you in and even better was the fact that my mum and dad were standing at the corner just before you turn into the finishing straight.

I finished in a not so amazing time of 62:23 however given the hills I was pleased enough with that. A lovely race, definitely one I would do again and recommend to others. Race entry was only £11.00 and the race pack included water, Lucozade sport, T shirt (although it was cotton and white) and a mini mars bar. It also had the added bonus of being chip timed.

Gateshead Harriers & AC / Quayside Business Forum 5K, 21st August

Simon Gardner ...

Simon in the final kilometre.
Any race that has the magic words flat and Fast in the description gets me interested so despite costing £15! I entered hoping for a reasonable time and a desperate return to some sort of form.

I had been struggling recently, my times in track sessions had been very good but the mental side of running was once again something I was struggling with during recent races. I had recently done the Darlington 10K in 38:53 but the first 2 miles were way off pace and felt like slowing to a jog until mile 2 then ran really well for the reminder of the race. I really should have PB’d in that race but at least it showed that I was in fairly good shape.

After getting there very early (as normal) I was soon joined by Dougie, Alister, Rebecca and Richard “Ironman” hall along with the fast lads from Crook AC. It was obvious from the start this was going to be high calibre race with several runners from Morpeth including Ian Hudspith who still holds the Newcastle parkrun all time PB.

The course starts on the Newcastle Side of the Quayside just near the pitcher and piano and heads up river past all the bridges. The turn around point is just short of the half way point and you head down river back to the Millennium Bridge with finish on the Gateshead side.

I decided to not look at my watch and just run to feel, it is a fairly narrow start but it’s not long before it opens out a little, to be honest it was probably ideal as it stopped me going off too hard.

After the turn around I decided just go as hard as I could and if I ran out steam then at least I could say I gave it everything. Thankfully it was the best I have ran in months and was I delighted (and exhausted) to cross the line in 18:13.

Thanks to all the Striders there and especially to Allan for the track and Grass sessions they have really made a difference.

... Dougie Nisbet

At over a pound a mile dearer than the Great North Run I imagined for a second that I could sense Danny's incandescence sizzling quietly in the evening sunlight. Ordinarily I wouldn't pay £15 for a 5K that I could do £15 cheaper any Saturday of the year in parkruns all around the country. But I work next door, and I've not done a road race for a while. A fast, flat 5K would be useful in providing me with some no-nonsense feedback about what sort of shape I was in.

Daniel Buren - Catch as catch can: works in situ Just after 6pm I wandered out of Baltic, registered, then wandered back to my desk and had a nice cup of tea. I looked out of the window and saw a splash of purple so wandered out again to meet my fellow Striders who'd also decided to give this new race a whirl. As 7pm approached we made our way across the Millennium Bridge to the Start of the race in Newcastle. The race started right on time, even if the starting hooter didn't, but we all got the message, and we leapt away up the River Tyne.

Plenty of marshalls, signs and tape kept us right. It was a straight out and back and it was no time at all before the Scarily Fast runners could be seen coming back downriver. Simon, Alister, and Rich were mixing it up with the SFRs but I wasn't so far back myself and feeling exhausted but upbeat. Short races are just so much harder than long races, and you have to keep concentrating or your pace slips, and in a short race, you pay for that lapse of concentration. I grabbed the lampost at the turn and birled round and I was heading home. A slight tailwind and, because you're going downriver you can tell yourself you're going downhill, and I kept my pace up.

I tried to not keep glancing at my watch but I realised I was in danger of getting a half-decent time. There was just the small matter of the hill at the end. A sharp right onto the Millennium Bridge then keeping to the right to take the shortest line possible - over the summit to hear Alister's commanding voice encouraging me to shift it downhill to the finish. A cheeky little chicane through the gates and bollards and then a few yards sprint to the line with some convenient railings to hang on to while I waited for the world to stop spinning.

I was pretty pleased to finish 1 second the wrong side of 23 minutes given that my last parkrun a few weeks ago had been nearer 26 minutes. A flat fast and furious race. Everyone needs to do one of those every now and then, even if it does cost £4.84 a mile.

Helen, Alister, Rich, Dougie, Rebecca, Simon, Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew ...

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Ian HudspithMorpeth HarriersV40100:15:03
22Heather SellarsAbbey RunnersFemale100:16:57
50Simon GardnerV40600:18:13
101Alister RobsonV401600:20:45
116Richard HallMale5900:21:33
129Dougie NisbetV501100:23:01
135Helen Todd*Female2000:23:26
165Rebecca FisherFemale3200:26:31

179 finishers
*No club. But if she were to be in a club ...

Cock Crow 5K, Jarrow, 19th August

Alister Robson

Surprisingly just Jacquie and I representing Striders for this very low key event. It took next to no time to get there being just off the A194 Leam Lane roundabout and so we had plenty time for me to have a coffee and for Jacquie to talk Masters track and field athletics with the evergreen George Routledge.

Evergreen George, indeed!

We even had time for a recce/warm up - the course had changed slightly from last year and now started and finished at roughly the same place.

It's a mainly flat course heading out on an old railway line (Waggon Way?) before a cheeky little hill takes you to the highest point of the course just before 2k. (Great views though). There's a small stile to hop over and that's what I blame for my time being slightly slower than expected over 5k, although quicker than last year.

After the stile there's a pleasant diversion around the fishing lake, up a country lane, along a very quiet road, a very short piece of grass and back to the railway line for a nice fast finish.

No medals, tees or goody bag here but no-one robbed either at only £7. Jacquie was just outside 25 mins and her times are once again heading in the right direction off the back of marathon training so we celebrated with a slap up meal in the eponymous pub where we didn't trouble the results presentations.