Race Reports, April 2009

Flora London Marathon, 26th April

Three reports from Peter Brooks, Carole McGinn & Alan Smith:

... first from Peter:

Wow, that was a hot one (I'm beginning to sound just like Shaun!), the weather forecast all week had shown light showers on Saturday and heavy rain on Sunday, how wrong can they be? We flew down to London on the Thursday before the marathon and there was hardly a drop of rain all the time we were down there.

The expo at London is much better organised than that of Berlin, which took me totally by surprise, I managed to get my number and through the expo comfortably within 15 minutes on the Friday. On the day of the race, all runners were given free transport on the underground and South East trains all day which was a great help.

I got to the start in plenty of time and, after joining the longest and slowest loo queue I have ever seen got into my start pen with about 10 minutes to spare. The race started and it took me about 11 minutes to get over the start line (quite happy with that considering how many runners there were) and a few hundred metres in I heard a delicate voice call me. I turned round and saw Jean Gillespie behind and we ran together for a few miles until I needed to make an emergency stop, I didn't see her again after that.

The race goes past quite a few London landmarks - Cutty Sark, the O2 arena, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Katie Price, Peter Andre and the Houses of Parliament. I saw quite a few of them.

I managed to run up until the 16 mile point when I realised that I was not going to get all the way round non stop and decided to run/walk the last ten miles to make sure that I got to the end. By mile 20, I was running a mile, walking a mile but I was happy with that as it meant that I finished by running from Parliament Square to the finish.

All in all a very well organised race, but I have learned that it's not really a good idea to run a marathon when you have shin splints as it hurts. A lot.

... next from Carole:

After completing the Great North Run in October 2008 I hoped one day to complete the London Marathon. I joined Striders thinking it would help improve my running and as I had been unsuccessful in the FLM Ballot decided I had nothing to lose with the club draw.

I was excited and nervous to get a place and began my training in January. I started to do too much running and got an injury in my leg. Not to be beaten I visited Physios, Chiropractor and finally a Physio at Univ Hospital who advised he could help me. As a result I was a little behind schedule with my training and had completed 16 miles in 3 hours before tapering in March.

The Marathon experience was brilliant. Very well organised, from registration which I did on the Saturday to instructions for getting to Black Heath which was my starting point. On Sunday morning I took the tube to Charing Cross and then a train and I arrived at Black Heath about 8.30 and had a wander around, put my kitbag on the correct lorry to be taken to the finish and then sat down on the grass and chatted to a lady who had come from Holland. Her tip for the next day was to do plenty of walking as recovery.

I was in the last group and I crossed the start line about 10.00am. I had decided that my main goal was to enjoy my first marathon and had read that if anything was to go wrong it would be because I had misjudged the pace so I decided to start slow and just run round taking everything in.

Right from the start people were cheering and encouraging the runners and this atmosphere really kept everyone going. I passed the Maritime Museum at Greenwich which is approximately 6 miles into the course and was doing 12 minute miles. I knew I wanted to reach 13 miles and still feel like I could run that distance again so I felt that pace was reasonable. Music along the course was varied and inspired me to ‘keep on running’. The weather was beautiful and very warm. Water stations were every mile and I got a small bottle of water at each one and ran all the way clutching my water and sipping very often as the last thing I wanted was to be dehydrated

Crossing Tower Bridge I could not resist waving at the cameras as it felt like a special moment!! At around mile 13 as I ran along the course the fast runners on the other side of the road had already reached mile 22 which was impressive. They were running at speed and at that point I realised my run was for enjoyment – a completely different level of running.

After mile 16 I was fairly cautious as had not run further in training. I still felt OK but could remember Steve Cram's voice from watching the Marathon on TV where he says people get tired at the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf so I continued with my steady pace. By mile 18 I was running 13 minute miles but still felt in control. I was taking a gel every hour and also the odd jelly bean or sweet offered by the crowd. Mile 20 is a turning point as you realise you only have 10K to go and you are on the countdown. From Mile 22 you begin to see landmarks such as the Tower of London, then along the Embankment towards the House of Parliament at Westminster I knew I was nearly there and started to realise this was something I could achieve. The final run to the finish along bird cage walk towards Buckingham Palace is very special and a fitting place to finish such a fantastic run.

I was thrilled to finish just inside the 5 and a half hours. I collected my bag and made my way to the meet your relative's area and then had a slow walk back to the Hotel for a very relaxing bath.

By the next day I had decided I would like to do another marathon so not quite sure where that will be.

... and finally from Alan:

I had hoped that this year it would be different from two years ago. Earlier in the week I was in London on business and picked up my Marathon number on the Wednesday before the race. This at least was one job done in advance as usually I picked the number up the day before. I stayed at my son’s on the Saturday night and caught the 7.30am train from Earlsfield to Waterloo and then followed the crowds to Waterloo East station, to get the train to Blackheath. I had to stand all the way from Waterloo East, closely squashed in with other runners. I was at the Blue Start and kept a lookout for other striders, particularly Peter Brooks who was also at the Blue Start, but I did not see him or any other striders at any time. The only "personality" I saw was Gordon Ramsay, whom I saw at the end of the race and who finished before me.

The morning started off sunny and quite warm for that time of the day. I "greased" up and put some sun lotion on. Two other runners asked to use the sun lotion as they had forgotten theirs. There were the usual queues for the loo, but not as bad as previous years. I had a drink of Lucozade Sport, did a few stretches, put my baggage on the baggage lorry and went to the start, which for me was in pen 4. It took about 1 minute 23 seconds to get to the start line, but that did not matter as we all had timing chips on our shoes. The first mile was as expected very crowded and very slow. There were a few road humps with people standing at the side of the road with warning signs. After 3 miles the runners from the three starts merged into one.

I was running for Macmillan Cancer Support and at various points along the route there were large groups of Macmillan supporters cheering, waving and encouraging me. On the night before the Marathon I went to the Macmillan Pasta Party with my son.

I was aiming to finish in just under 4 hours and at the half marathon stage my time was 1 hour 57 minutes, which although not particularly fast was on target if only I could keep up the same pace.

I seem to remember that there were four roadside showers. I went under three of them, but missed one as I was on the wrong side of the road and did not see it until too late. I had plenty to drink on the route, mainly water, but also Lucozade Sport.

At about the 13 mile mark, we passed some of the lead runners who were coming in the opposite direction, having already reached the 20 mile plus mark! I deliberately ran at a steady pace, making sure that I did not go too quickly, but at about 14 miles my quads started to hurt a bit, so I knew then that I was in for a hard run for the rest of the race.

I kept eating jelly beans and Kendal Mint Cake after about half way, but neither seemed to make any difference!

When I had been running for 3 hours 11 minutes ( yes, I deliberately looked at my watch to check the time) I got cramp in my right calf; this happened about another 3 times, getting worse each time and forcing me to eventually stop and walk until it went. I looked for the St John Ambulance personnel each time, but they were nowhere to be seen. The last time I had cramp was as I was running along The Embankment and had to stop. At that point I saw my son who took a few photographs of me (not difficult as I was running so slowly!)

At the start of the run I had a slight pain in my left knee, which gradually got worse, but after a while, I did not notice it as it was masked by the other pains in my legs!

At various points in the run I was overtaken by (to name but a few) a speed walker (who seemed to me to be going very fast) an Emu, Elvis, and also by a male runner dressed as a bride, who said that he was running so as not to be late for Church. At one point, I thought that the crowd were shouting "Come on Elvet", but I then realised they were in fact shouting "Come on Elvis."

I remember seeing the 21 mile marker, but did not see the 22 mile one and then lost count of how many miles I had done until I got to the 23 mile marker.

I managed to put a little bit of speed on as I came into The Mall, but by no means a sprint. I staggered over the line in 4 hours 28 minutes, to finish half an hour slower than I did two years ago, which was my slowest ever marathon (even slower than the Great Langdale Marathon). It was hot, but not too hot and not as hot as it was two years ago when apparently it was the hottest ever London Marathon. The sky clouded over after about 4 miles although the sun did come out again. I prefer the warm sunny weather to wet and cold. When you are running slowly, you soon start to cool down.

After the race I met up with my son and then went to the Macmillan Recovery Centre where I was given food, drink and a sports massage. I would thoroughly recommend running for Macmillan Cancer Support, for whom I have ran every London Marathon.

None of the problems I experienced in the Marathon were experienced during training (even when I went on a three and a half hour run). I had a fairly easy running week the week before. The only thing I can think of is that I had a gentle sports massage on the Friday before the run, so could that have caused the problems? I have never had a sports massage prior to a race before. The golden rule is not to do something different before a marathon and I broke that rule. Or was the problem caused by the pain in my knee, which I have subsequently found out from my doctor could be a possible cartilage problem and which now hurts every time I run.

However, I would do it again if I can get a place next year. After many tries I managed to enter the online ballot for the Virgin London Marathon 2010 by going on line in the early hours of the morning when I woke up and could not get back to sleep. I would like to do another marathon before next year but that depends on getting my knee sorted out. The atmosphere on the day was wonderful and the crowds were tremendous, calling out my name which I had on the front of my running vest. It is an experience not to be missed!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1* MIKITENKO, IRINA W 1 2:22.11
13,141 ROBSON, JOHN M45 1,419 4:11:16
17,575 SMITH, ALAN M60 227 4:28:13
18,214 THOMPSON, ANDREW M 7,959 4:30:38
25,193 EVANS, BARRIE M60 361 4:58:29
25,196 FARNSWORTH, CHRISTINE W55 147 4:58:29
28,526 BROOKS, PETER M 11,647 5:16:42
30,309 MCGINN, CAROLE W45 935 5:29:55

35,000+ finishers.
*Elite Women's race.

Blyth 10K, 26th April

Jamie Steel

Two weeks after been a little disappointed with my North Tyneside result, I was looking forward and raring to in the Blyth 10K. I was up early and out the house on time to travel to Alistair's as he kindly offered me a lift. Feeling sure I had everything I needed, except on the way I discovered I forgot my trusty Garmin - great start. I didn't have time to go back so had to just do without. We arrived in plenty of time; it was very warm sunny morning on the coast, felt more like a summers day.

We warmed up and before I knew it was time to go to the start. Still fretting how I would cope without running without a watch. I scoured about looking for a familiar face that maybe I could pace off, no luck. The gun went and I was off, it felt like I was running naked. The first mile was ok apart from being very congested on the footpaths, then came the turn onto the coastal path through the dunes for a couple of miles, there was a strong head wind which made it tough going! After the turn back it was much easier going and I felt I had the picked pace up, convincing myself I would be on for a sub-40!

This year's route was slightly different in that you stayed on footpath all the way back rather than rejoin the path though the dunes, so it was certainly flatter and faster. At 6 miles I picked up the pace for a good strong finish, making up 4 or 5 places. Still convinced it would be a sub-40 I was so annoyed and frustrated learning my time was 41.08. Slower than my North Tyneside time on a course where 2 years ago I did 39.07. I can only assume I lost the time on the first 3 miles, but since I have no data to analyse I am only assuming. Felt a little better after speaking to Alister, Dougie and a few fellow club runners that conditions were quite hard today.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 BROWN, Mark Morpeth Harriers M 32:06
21 HIBBS, Angela F 1 36.26
90 Jamie Steel M 41:08
207 Liz Lamb F50 227 46:36
242 Alister Robson M 48:18
286 Dougie Nisbet M45 361 50:12

416 finishers.

Redcar Half Marathon, 19th April

How not to run a half marathon

Dougie Nisbet

Alan having a drink of water at the finish.

Two weeks before this race I finished in the last 10 in the Gisborough Moors race. Putting this lacklustre performance down to having a bit of a sniffle I decided to take things easy and rest before Redcar. So today, on the anniversary of my first ever Striders' race report, I was (once again) feeling pretty good. I felt fresh and optimistic and pretty confident of beating my course PB.

I arrived in bags of time and jogged around looking for purple people. With no Striders immediately apparent I settled in at the back of the field knowing that the chip timing meant I could avoid a scrum start. A few minutes later I found myself alongside Alan Purvis and we chatted awhile. But I was feeling as fresh as a daisy so after snapping a few photos I stepped on the throttle. Next to be passed was a post-Hawkshead Dave Robson who was pacing Jane around the course for a sub-2hr time. A few more pics and a quip or two about their speed and I was off again.

A couple of miles in and I was running like a mad-un'. For some reason I'd disengaged my brain and was running as if I was a kid in the school playground. My mile pace was bobbing around 7:45, which would easily beat my Brass Monkey PB, and I still felt very comfortable. I took another glance at my Garmin and this time looked at my heart rate. Hmmm, 176 bpm. That seemed a bit, um, high, and the chances of maintaining this level of exertion for another 11 miles were negligible. Why was I running so hard? Shouldn't I ease up? I tried to remind myself that it isn't the first three miles of a half marathon that tend to be difficult, it's the remaining 10.1 miles that usually prove to be a bit hurty.

Around mile six I edged past Yvonne and spied a catchable looking Jean ahead. But already the cracks were well formed and, although still hairline, none the less dangerous for it. I got my excuses in with Yvonne as I passed sensing that I was likely to see her again before the finish. After a brief rally I cracked around mile eight, a few miles earlier than last year. My slowdown shouldn't have surprised me. Last year I ran the race like an eejit, this year I ran it like a buffoon. My split times look like a staircase and would probably provide a good example of how not to run a half-marathon. I got slower and slower and in the last mile Yvonne glided past in a classic 'Robson manoeuvre'. I hobbled over the finish line a good minute slower than last year with legs that felt like they'd run a marathon.

We were grateful for our bright green t-shirts as the slight sea breeze soon cooled us down after the finish. Yvonne and Jean performed an inventory on the goody bags while a chuffed Jane arrived in with Dave in a time well under two hours. I looked out for Mike and Greta but missed them finishing. Alan had a good sprint finish followed by a bottle of water of which he clearly savoured very drop.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Zak KiharaKenya/BirchfieldM1:05:08
7Joyce KandieKenyaF11:13:21
705Jean BradleyF501:49:54
770Dougie NisbetM451:52:09
805Yvonne JonesF551:53:36
864Dave RobsonM551:55:26
865Jane IvesF351:55:27
1172Greta JonesF402:11:57
1173Mike ElliottM602:11:57
1236Alan PurvisM702:16:19

1391 finishers.

Summer Handicap, Round 1, 15th April

Colin Blackburn

Thanks to everyone who ran in the handicap, this was the biggest start yet to the series with 28 runners taking part. A very big thank you also to Peter and his glamorous assistant Louise for managing the run on the night.

For quite a few runners this was their first time and they were cautious about their handicap times but almost everyone beat their handicap time, some by quite a margin. So you're not as slow as you think you are! The table shows new handicap times for the next round.

First across the line was Denise shortly followed by Jane. Phil Owen was the first man. Will broke the 30 minute barrier as the fastest male runner, Susan was the fastest woman.

Once again thanks to everyone for taking part. The second round will be on Wednesday May 13th, I'll post start times here and on the club notice-board shortly.


PosNameH/capStartFinishTimeNew H/cap
1Denise Mason55:0019:05:0019:48:4143:4144:49
2Jane Ives55:0019:05:0019:48:4343:4344:51
3Jen Copley55:0019:05:0019:48:5343:5345:00
4Kirsty Dykes55:0019:05:0019:49:5044:5045:51
5Melanie Hudson50:3019:09:3019:51:0341:3342:27
6Angela Procter55:0019:05:0019:52:2547:2548:10
7Phil Owen45:0019:15:0019:52:5637:5637:56
8Debs Goddard50:3019:09:3019:53:0143:3144:13
9Dave Shipman50:3019:09:3019:53:0143:3144:13
10Alister Robson44:5019:15:1019:54:1339:0339:38
11Joanne Sorley55:0019:05:0019:54:3749:3750:09
12Jan Young44:5019:15:1019:55:4740:3741:02
13Andrew Thompson43:0019:17:0019:56:4839:4840:07
14Dave Robson43:1019:16:5019:56:5140:0140:20
15Will Horsley32:1019:27:5019:57:1629:2629:42
16Emma Detchon55:0019:05:0019:58:0453:0453:16
17Susan Davis39:5019:20:1019:58:1638:0638:16
18Ray Partridge39:5019:20:1019:58:4038:3038:38
19Alan Smith42:0019:18:0019:58:4640:4640:53
20Mike Bennett34:2019:25:4019:59:0233:2233:28
21Nigel Heppell37:2019:22:4019:59:1536:3536:39
22Carl Harvey40:3019:19:3019:59:3040:0040:03
23Wendy Rowell43:0019:17:0019:59:4742:4742:48
24Colin Blackburn35:0019:25:0019:59:4834:4834:49
25John Hutchinson38:0019:22:0019:59:5637:5638:56
26Kevin Chambers40:0019:20:0020:00:4040:4040:40
27Geoff Davis34:3019:25:3020:02:4037:1037:10
28Geoff Watson33:1019:26:5020:02:4035:5035:50

North Tyneside 10k, 12th April

Dave Robson

A lovely sunny day for this popular race, which for the first time reached its entry limit of 2000 a few days before the race. After a short stretch on roads in North Shields the route descends to the Fish Quay and follows the river to Tynemouth before a two stage climb up to the Priory. The route then follows the coast up to the road leading to St Mary's Lighthouse. Nine Striders entered this year and particular congratulations go to Jamie on being the first Strider home in his first race as a Strider and to Melanie for improving her personal best for the second time in a week! As usual the goody bag at the end was a very good standard, the only concern with the organisation was that for the first time there was no water station on the route and it was probably the warmest weather that we have had for this race.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 BATOCHIR, Serod Morpeth Individual M 31:33
35 HIBBS, Angela Chester-le-Street AC F 1 36:48
118 STEEL, Jamie M35 40:57
656 ROBSON, Alister M35 50:12
763 HUDSON, Melanie F 51:37
1176 BROOKS, Peter M35 57:50
1296 JONES, Greta F40 59:50
1297 ELLIOTT, Mike M60 59:50
1344 MCGINN, Carole F45 1:00:31
1356 ROBSON, Dave M55 1:00:48
1572 OWEN, Phil M40 1:09:06

1686 finishers.

Hartlepool Marina 5M, 5th April

Andy Jordan

A beautiful Sunday morning and a great day for a run. The Hartlepool race starts and ends at the Marina and follows a there and back route along the sea front at Hartlepool. At times the breeze was quite strong but because of the route you got a helping hand on the last 2 miles which made for a quick finish. There were at least 3 other Striders at the event and everyone seemed to have a good run.

This was my first ever 5 mile event so by default I got a PB but this was a good, flat course and would be a great run for someone aiming for a good time. I was the first Strider home in just under 36 minutes with Barry not far behind. Another recommended event.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Ricky STEVENSON New Marske Harriers AC M 23:22
21 Carolyn SUMMERSGILL Middlesbrough and Cleveland H F 1 29:29
75 Andrew JORDAN M 35:49
139 Barrie EVANS M60 39:35
154 Jean GILLESPIE F50 40:32
260 Margaret THOMPSON F55 51:19

272 finishers.

Gisborough Moors, Guisborough, 5th April

Colin Blackburn

The very heart and soul of fell running.

We're in Guisborough or Gisborough (you choose) and Shaun, Nigel and I came back for a second crack at this fell race while Dougie ran for the first time. Will Horsley was also out and like me running under an NFR vest. It's an interesting race giving the dichotomous views of both the chemical plants at Middlesborough and the North Yorkshire Moors. Last year Nigel described Gisborough as a BL (bloody long?) category fell race, this year it was re-categorised to BHUFALAW—bloody hard under foot and long as well! The recent relatively dry weather had compacted the few soft bits there were, giving no respite from the roads, gravel tracks, bog-protecting causeways and the steps up Roseberry Topping. With this in mind Shaun made the very sensible decision to run in road shoes, my lack of foresight meant a last minute switch to trail shoes was the most cushioning I could expect for the next two hours.

The race set off in beautiful sunshine along a quiet back road out of Guisborough before taking a gentle but ever steepening climb through the woods and on to the moorland where the only bit of bog was encountered and easily avoided. The weather held for the whole of the race and as the temperature rose the paragliders circled Captain Cook's Monument. The drop down from the monument gave some welcome shade from the sun and the promise of water. The promise met, the first part of the climb towards Roseberry was littered with empty water bottles. The final, and rocky, climb up the Topping was a hard walk for all but the front runners, but the daffodils were out so it was a pleasant hard climb. As usual the summit was crowded(ish) with walkers and day-trippers bemused by the be-vested whippets (and the odd labrador) running around the trig point. The descent off the Topping is steep but the best route avoids the wearing pavement used for the ascent. Unfortunately it is immediately followed by a sharp climb to Little Topping.

At the gate after Little Topping there is a very welcome extra drinks station with fruit gums on offer too. From here on it is a hard slog across the moor mostly following pavement and track. At this stage my legs stopped working, but I realised that no one behind was catching me and no one ahead was pulling away so I guess their legs must have stopped working too! The start of the final descent through the woodland was a relief on the feet and the spirits. From here the route retraces the first ascent, but thankfully downwards, ending on the final road section back to the rugby club. My legs started again here and I managed to pass a couple of runners before the finish.

I got back to find Shaun waiting, looking like he'd been out for a gentle jog! Nigel followed a minute of two later with a weary Dougie bringing in the Striders. Will finished in 4th place and with fellow NFR runners in 2nd and 3rd was part of the winning team. Those of us who ran the race last year had all managed to take a few minutes off of our times. The rugby club bar provided tea and Black Sheep or Guinness while the very generous prizes were handed out. Except for Will we all failed to win even a spot prize, still the Black Sheep and Guinness were nice. Three days later I think I enjoyed the race.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jim Bulman North York Moors M 1:22.28
4 Will Horsley NFR M 3 1:28:16
44 Erika Johnson Swaledale RR F 1 1:46.20
64 Shaun Roberts M50 9 1:52:29
79 Colin Blackburn NFR M45 13 1:55:34
101 Nigel Heppell M50 17 2:01:42
149 Dougie Nisbet M45 19 2:21:38

156 finishers.

Blackpool Marathon, 5th April

Peter Brooks

After driving over to Blackpool on Saturday morning, we met up with Dave Robson in the afternoon at the Hilton (race HQ) and chatted about plans over a cup of tea. Dave and I were down for the full marathon and Phil Owen was due to run the half marathon. On Sunday morning, I wandered into the Hilton hotel car park to find Phil with a big smirk on his face and a marathon number pinned to his chest - he'd managed to get into the full marathon. Phil's weekend's preparation seemed to be drink as much as possible, have a full English breakfast just before the race and then discover he was to run twice as far as planned.

My plans for the race were to get a PB, which means I had to get under 4:30 and possibly try for a sub 4 marathon. Conditions on Sunday were perfect, the heavy winds from Saturday had died down and there was even a small glimmer of sunshine as the race started at 9am.

Dave and Phil shot away and left me in their wake. I planned to run at 10 minute mile pace for the first two miles and then gradually increase my pace as I felt more comfortable. It was a two lap out and back course and I managed to see Dave and Phil a couple of times on the first lap.

I was ahead of target right up until I reached the 20 mile point (I got there in a few seconds over 3 hours) and was still running at 9:02 pace then I got hit by the dreaded cramp. I managed to walk off the cramp but I was unable to get started properly afterwards and finished in 4:17:50 (4:18:30 by the clock). Phil had struggled with his hamstring and Dave had a fantastic race and easily beat the 4 hour mark. All three of us got PBs and it was a great, well organised race.

Unfortunately, that was the last Blackpool marathon, but the Fleetwood marathon starts in September to replace it.