Race Reports, November 2008
Thirsk 10M, 30th November
It was a pretty cold morning in Durham when I left, but when I got out of the car at Thirsk race course, it felt much, much colder ! Last year at this race it rained for the entire race, but at least that didn't happen this year. We were led to the course and stood there shivering waiting for the start. Last year there was a loop round the town before following a triangular course ending up back at the race course. The loop round the town had caused some traffic problems so this year it was eliminated, the triangle was extended and they introduced an out and back arm on the final side. Some people didn't like that bit, but I enjoyed seeing the faster runners on the other side of the road. There was more use of a busy road this year, which I didn't enjoy so much, but it's still an almost flat course.
Four striders made it to this event, although Barrie Evans was a bit late so he didn't have time to enter on the day and ran numberless.
|1||Stephen Hepples||Loftus & Whitby AC||M||50:31|
|21||Tracey Morris||Valley Striders||F40||1||57:45|
Ravenstonedale 10K, 29th November
The most scenic 10K road race in the country, it has been claimed. It certainly looked great, there was snow on the surrounding hills, no clouds and for the first time for three years, no wind ! Same undulating course as in previous years and only little bits of it were icy. Lovely soup and roll to all finishers
|1||James Bulman||North York Moors AC||M||33.57|
Blaydon XC, Harrier League, Shibdon Park, 23rd November
Miles of smiles
What a fantastic day at Blaydon!
Super Saturday saw a record numbers in both senior mens and senior womens races over 300 in the mens race and over 100 in the womens.
Stiders as usual put on a star performance with everyone taking part running their best. The men were led home by Paul Evans and the women by Fiona Shenton.
Old hands of the harrier league were impressed with the performances and attitude of the new members taking part in their first X/C my impression is that they will all be back for more.
The team effort did not confine itself to the race with a band of supporters also putting in a strong performance on the day much appreciated by the runners.
Post race ELVET EATS excelled on offer in the team tent flapjack, coffee cake, lemon drizzle cake and more. [ Not forgetting the blueberry flapjack! Ed. ] Angela provided tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Louise & Mandy knowing only too well what motivates Striders also provided mulled wine. I am still convinced that no other club can touch on our hospitality.
The title, above, sums it up today I felt we all enjoyed mile upon mile of happy smiling faces.
Thank you all for being there.
343 finishers. Elvet Striders: 9th Men's Team, Division Two.
111 finishers. Elvet Striders: 10th Women's Team.
Abbey Dash 10K, Leeds, 23rd November
Luckily the abysmal weather forecasts turned out to be entirely wrong, and by the start conditions weren't bad at all: cool, dry, sunny and not a breath of wind. I had a good start, heading out to the west of the city to Kirkstall Abbey, and reached the halfway mark in 19'59", a single second under my most optimistic schedule. Couldn't keep up the pressure in the second half, though, but I was still pleased to finish in under 41 minutes, in a "recent PB".
Good race, and an excellent warmup for the Blaydon cross-country, as Mandy later helpfully pointed out!
|1||Matt Janes||Bedford AC||M||1||29:32|
Brampton to Carlisle 10M, 15th November
The 57th running of this classic run took place in bright sunny and pleasantly mild conditions though with a noticeable headwind. In years gone by international class and top regional runners flocked to the event and sub 50 minute times did not guarantee a finish in the top ten or even top twenty. In earlier years super fast times have been posted by among others Jimmy Alder 46mins+ and for the women Jill Hunter and Angie Pain raced to wins in 51mins+ (beating recent winning times for the men). Results and times in this event over the last decade or more reflect the general decline in standard particularly at the sharp end which is mirrored in races throughout the country.
Numbers on the start line were slightly down on the last couple of years and may be highlighted by just 2 Striders taking part (with Phil Owen warming up for a half marathon next day joining me on my 25th start) We have for many years run buses to the event and had competition amongst ourselves attempting to earn grand prix points prior to socialising over a meal and a welcome and deserved beer.
Phil without regard to the morrow started fairly swiftly and I never saw him again until the finish. I plodded my way round the course feeling comfortable but not overly so. Racing as a way and means to fitness used to work but somehow my legs have forgotten this tactic and seem set to go at their own pace!! Still proved to be enjoyable and chance to meet old adversaries again and vow to do better next year.
|1||Ricky Lightfoot||Ellenborough AC||53:29|
|50||Philippa Wakefield||Border Harriers & AC||F||1||1:01:44|
Town Moor 10K, 9th November
Quite a firm breeze blew over Newcastle's Town Moor as we massed on the start line for the traditional minute's silence before this Memorial Day run. The rain held off for most of the race, but it was quite slippy underfoot, and the bends had to be taken quite carefully.
Conrad and I saw quite a lot of each other during this one. I over took him early on in the first lap, then he got past me again - same again on the second lap. Then on the muddy last final stretch I put a last spurt on and got my neck in front. So I was pleased to come in under 42 minutes, Conrad not far behind, and not much further behind Keith, going very well despite not having a bike under him. John H also had a good run, and Peter was pleased to get home a shade under the fifty-minute mark.
I then legged it over to Colin's for his excellent soup, sandwiches and beer, for which many thanks!
|1||Jonathan Taylor||Morpeth H & AC||M||1||31:26|
|25||Angela Hibbs||Chester-Le-Street & Dist AC||L||1||37:51|
361 finishers. Elvet Striders: 8th Men's Team.
Sunday Social Run, 9th November
Many thanks to Colin and Elfie for hosting Sunday's social run from Curlew Sike on what turned out to be a very cold, windy and wet day.
Ominously, my car's temperature sensor dropped down to 2 degrees C on the approach to the lofty location and small patches of snow/hail nestled in the hollows at the roadside. Colin and Elfie's house looked a bit bleak too, largely due to the absence of a roof!, but there was a warm welcome inside.
Having waited a while for all prospective candidates to turn up, a group of three intrepid walkers (Carole, Roberta, Leslie) set off on what they thought was a 2-3 mile walk, that turned out to be more like 4+miles, and sundry others did their own exploring of the locality, or sat toasting their toes infront of the log fire.
Colin, Jan, Dougie and Nigel ran off downhill with the wind behind. A pleasant, if boggy in places, stretch along the riverside through woods was followed by a long climb out of Blanchland to the high moors and a seriously strong headwind accompanied by intermittant blasts of sleet and hail. Jan's features progressively disappeared under layers of waterproofs, hats and mufflers until just her eyes were peeping out, Dougie began to revise his kit list planning for future trail events, Nigel's fingers went hypothermic, but Colin seemed unfazed - he must be used to it! I'm afraid we probably didn't pay as much attention as we should have done to our guide's facts and figures concerning the local industrial archeology, but there comes a time when you really want to get off a hill, and after wading through 50m of knee-deep water, this was it. [Of course there was a perfectly reasonable route to avoid that puddle but that would have been too easy. Colin] So, straight down the valley and all the way up the other side brought us to hot drinks, soup, bread and cakes - and a slow thawing process.
All in all, a good day out.
Crystal Palace Canter, London, 4th November
I'd done my research. I'd planned my escape. While on a short break to London I sneaked out the hotel and walk/jogged from Cavendish Square the 9 miles to Crystal Palace. While the rest of my party were at the Wallace Collection gazing in wonderment at all the marvellous things that Mr Wallace collected, I had my own plans. At noon I arrived at (I am reliably informed) the highest point in London. It was here I met with the shadowy figures who take part in the monthly Crystal Palace Canter, a 3 mile 2 lap circuit around the parkland at Crystal Palace.
Everyone was very friendly and gave me the low-down on the course and the hills, turns and slidey bits. Just as well as the 1st lap was a squally sleety ordeal and I was seriously under dressed, although the parakeets screeching in the branches above seemed to find it warm enough. For such a low-key event there was some great competition and I swapped positions a few times in the two short laps. As the race started I naively thought I might get on the podium surrounded as I was by lots of M50+ runners, but I finished with depressing consistency more than halfway down the field. As I was running in a tiny midweek lunchtime race hundreds of miles from Durham I wasn't hugely surprised to be the only one there in a Striders' vest. But it's a small friendly world, and Claire Wyngard of the Dulwich runners, instantly recognising my Striders' vest, asked me if I knew her sister-in-Law Janet Wyngard who is also in the Striders.
So Janet, if you're reading, Claire says Hello!
|1||Neville Webb||Dulwich Runners||M50||1||20:04|
The Canter is on the first tuesday of each month.
Gibside Trail Race [10K], 2nd November
Last night I dreamt I went to Gibside again. Which was prophetic, as this morning I set of with Fiona, Conrad and Mike to the place I spent the summer of 2007 working. It would be interesting charging around the trails and paths that were so familiar from the time I spent wandering along them with a notebook, camera, and a copy of 'What Tree is This?'.
We arrived early and I was reassured to find the hall not in flames. We were so early there wasn't even a queue for the toilets. As the start time approached more and more Striders appeared on the scene and formed a friendly purple haze around the avenue. The start itself is probably the widest one I can recall and it was good not having the usual corset-like squeeze that accompanies the beginning of most races. However at the end of the avenue we swung round a hairpin and the tree-lined superhighway became a narrow pot-holed soggy cart track. Moments later we stormed down the hard entrance road to the estate and the only downhill part of this trail race that could be described as 'not very nice'.
Debs and me have been closely matched in recent race results and I was confident that I could steal the march on her in this event. Sure enough after about a mile I nudged past her and thought that was the end of the matter. As far as I was concerned the case was closed. This was at the bottom of the first hill. When we got to the top of the first hill Debs breezed by in what can only be described as 'a lofty manner', so I gritted my teeth, put my head down, and gave chase. For a short while she was in my sights but by the time we got to the half-way point and the drinks station she was nothing but a distant memory.
I'd heard many runners talk about the last long hill but the killer for me was the short steep chappie in the middle leading up to the monument. I try to subscribe to the Alan Purvis motto that states that Thy shalt not Walk any Hills so I settled for running up this one very very slowly. On the last hill I rallied a little and spied Debs ahead, but as we turned around the top corner she engaged full afterburner and stormed away to finish a good minute ahead of me.
We were all pretty much agreed that the finish was soul sapping. That long, long, long, straight, with the finish banner never getting any closer and the ground getting stickier with every step made it hard to keep the momentum going. A bit like the finish to the coastal run, but with less sand.
I joined the friendly splodge of purple that had cheered me in and watched the remainder of the Striders squelch home. A tough, well organised race with great scenery and variety.
|1||Neil Wilkinson||Morpeth H & AC||MV40||1||36:10|
|15||Michelle Holt||Sunderland H & AC||F||1||41:09|
If these results look a bit faster than usual, it's because the course had to be shortened, down to about 6.2 miles, due to riverbank erosion. Also an extra hill was inserted! Congratulations to Fiona, third FV45 and sixth lady overall, and to Mike Bennett, third MV50 gadgie. SR