Race Reports, December 2009

Jolly Holly Jog, Ripon, 28th December


Andrew Thompson

The Jolly Holly is always a good run to blast the post Christmas cobwebs away and this year was no exception - except this year there was a nice covering of snow to make it a little more interesting. At the start the man with the megaphone happily told us of our impending doom in the final couple of miles, and if we didn't want to run to mind our footing on the trip back down the hill to Ripon. Myself, my mum, Jean and my brother went along for the trip and it's a long way to go not to run so to turn back was not an option. We bumped into Jim at the start, who was looking (I hope he doesn't mind me saying) as apprehensive as I was feeling.

My mum drives slowly at the best of times, but due to the ice we kept a constant 40mph down the motorway, so by the time we ran to the start line my blood pressure was up and I was ready to give the course hell. There's nothing like a lung buster of a hill to get rid of the red mist though, and the one in the middle of this race seems to go on for days. After the hill the course meanders up and down through the (countryside) estate for a bit and then along back to the start along farm tracks. The tracks were almost un-runnable, but my brother was also racing and he always zooms past me in the last mile of any race so there was no let up. My first fall came at exactly 5 miles, I know this because I had to alter my path to get out of the way of the mile marker which proved a bad idea. It was ok though, I managed to overtake someone while on my bum, which I don't think I had done before. The second fall was entirely silly on my part, I tried an elaborate overtaking manoeuvre on a sharp corner that was never likely to end well, and sure enough it didn't. Luckily the hedge stopped my slide and it was back up and at it. Turns out my brother didn't overtake me, and finished 20 seconds behind, though with no falls. This was the first time since the 1989 Destiny Run that I have beaten him in a race, a fact made the blood and bruises feel not so bad....


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 ELLIOTT-DICK, PHILLIP York Knavesmire H M 0:37:39
11 PENTY, BECKY York Acorn F 1 0:42:47
122 THOMPSON, ANDREW M 0:53:07
126 THOMPSON, BEN M 0:53:41
182 GILLESPIE, JEAN FV50 0:58:23
369 NICHOLSON, JIM MV60 1:12:08
378 COFFIELD, MARY FV55 1:13:23

442 finishers.

Helvellyn Run &
the Wansfell Race, 27th December

4.6M 2500’ & 2.5M 1500'

Dougie Nisbet


Dougie and Phil. When my alarm sounded at 3:30AM and Charlie (my cat) purred soothingly into my ear to tell me that staying in a nice cosy bed would be a lot nicer than driving to Thirlmere to climb a snow-clad Helvellyn there was a long, long moment when it was touch and go. But curiosity and a thirst for a bit of adventure won out and it seemed like no time before I was approaching Keswick and peering through the windscreen at big thick snowflakes. I spied another vehicle parked ahead and almost literally bumped into Phil Owen who had paused to assess the situation. It was snowing heavily and the roads were slidey but to turn back at this stage would be such a shame so we jumped back into our cars and slid our way south towards Helvellyn.

At the Thirlmere car park we met Will who helped us shove our cars of the road and then briefed us on the fun ahead. The idea was to hit the summit for sunrise. And so at 7AM six head torches bobbed their way upwards into the impenetrable blackness that may have been cloud or night. Who could tell. We followed the faint glow of Will's GPS and his upbeat encouragement giving us regular updates on altitude and distance to go. The snow varied from a couple of inches to several feet and the climb upward was a surreal experience as the light gradually increased and one by one we switched of our head torches. We followed Will and his GPS through the featureless cloudy white-out to hit the trig point around 0830. Pausing for a few chilly seconds for photos, and for Phil to chase one of his gloves that had flown perilously close to the edge, we turned back into the wind and the descent.

With the wind now blasting in our faces it was really cold and we had to get moving to keep warm. Following Will, our outward footsteps and the GPS we slipped, tumbled and sometimes ran back to the car park, pausing occasionally to chat to bemused hikers who were making the ascent. Back down we discovered Will's car was an Aladdin's cave of soothingness, with tea, coffee and eats. The climb had been a challenge and I was very pleased to have achieved it, and a big thanks to Will for leading the run so competently and professionally. I doubt I would've tackled such a venture without someone experienced at the helm.


We slid our way out of the car park and headed for Ambleside and breakfast at Bilbo's cafe where me and Phil I draped our wet socks on the radiator and filled in our entries for the fell race while tucking into breakfast and coffee. This was all very civilized! We were both hungry after our Helvellyn adventure but at the same time wary of the fell race just an hour or so away. Some coffee, some shopping, some chat and some company, and soon we were all milling around outside and ready for the race.


For as long as I race I shall no doubt continue to think that short races will be easy and long races will be hard. This race was only 2.5 miles so was bound to be a piece of cake. A depressingly large number of minutes later, at the summit of Wansfell Pike, acknowledging the marshall's "well done lad" (in that familiar reassuring tone of voice reserved for runners at the back) , I accepted that this was not going to be one of my better races. It was like Roseberry Topping all over again, but with snow. I nipped in front of Phil before the top and we both hit the summit in around 31 minutes. Will had crossed the finish line about five minutes earlier to finish in 9th place with 25.25 and to secure his place as winner of the NFR championships, 2009. Nice one Will!

As we descended I heard maniacal laughter behind me and, familiar with the Doppler Effect, realised it was approaching fast. I stepped aside to watch Phil fly by using his backside as a very effective sledge and overtake me in a bizarre but effective manoeuvre. My heart was now completely out of the race and I saw no one else on the trudge back to the finish. I was slightly miffed to discover that I wasn’t last but that two ladies had rather unsportingly hung back to deprive me of that accolade. Although Phil was the only Strider there in the home strip the organisers must’ve thought he had a DFR look about him and changed his club accordingly on the results sheet.

Heading out of Ambleside back home Dorothy (my Satnav) was very insistent that the best way was over the Kirkstone Pass. We had words. I explained about the snow and ice but she wasn't having it so I switched her off and reflected on a great day's adventure. The sort of day you think about afterwards for a long time.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Rob Jebb Bingley M Open 22:07
9 Will Horsley NFR M Open 25:25
102 Phil Owen M40 39:34
105 Dougie Nisbet DFR M40 40:37

107 finishers.

Guisborough Woods, NYM, 27th December

Tom Reeves

This has not been great weather for running so by the time race day came I was feeling a bit stir crazy and desperate for a run. Me and the family got down to Guisborough early and drove onto the car park at the rugby club. What a nightmare the car park was a sheet of ice and there were cars careering around with a variety of fell runners young and not so young looking a tad fearful. We got parked and as I staggered and slid to the club house and registration I wondered if we'd ever get off the car park!

The walk to the start was little better being mainly sheet ice and frozen dog turds, not a good combination and certainly no place to fall. I met David Gibson who told me Phil Sanderson had been out and ran a lap of the course(he's keen !) and pronounced it's muddy and icy (never?). We met Jan Young at the start she had also braved the car park.

Ready for the off...

The race itself is just under 6 miles and is 3 laps of the woods the start is a gradual up hill climb on forest track then a steep narrow track up the side of an old quarry. There's a nice run along the top with a great steep downhill back to the start. Yes it was very muddy, icy and a fair bit of snow. The race itself was pretty tough going with all the slush on the uphill sections the best racing line tending to be on the edges of the path. The downhill section turned quickly into a quagmire and there were a number of pretty spectacular falls. Roll on the next race at Captain Cooks.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Phil Sanderson NFR MV40 40:00
55 Kath Aspin New Marske Harriers FV40 1 54.23
33 Tom Reeves MV40 8 49.18
46 David Gibson MV40 1352.16
95 Jan Young FV55 1 61.54

113 finishers.

Christmas Handicap, 19th December

Pam Kirkup

The temperatures were arctic, local races were being cancelled on piece and yet Striders were out in force for the Christmas Handicap! But then we are superheroes, aren't we? The fancy dress was inspirational - and every runner came in costume; anything from various members of the Superman family, Batmen, Catwomen and Robins of all ages. We had Wonderwoman, Darth Vadar, The Hulk, Indiana Jones and Steve Urwin ... clearly raised from the dead ... and many more.

A topnotch selection of Superheroes and Villains!

Naturally, the handicapping was extremely accurate and so after runners entertained the traffic, the race was eventually won by Supergirl, otherwise known as Angela Proctor in 43.24.
Fastest woman was guest runner, the tooth fairy (Aveen Fox) in a stunning 32.54.
Fastest man was Indiana Jones (Geoff Watson) in an equally stunning 32.58.
2nd Fastest woman was the Hulk herself (Debs Goddard) in 40.05 - don't get her angry!
2nd Fastest man was Steve Urwin (Mike Bennett) in 34.46 - without his crocodile.
Fastest junior was Robin (Adam Walker) in 39.16 - we'll nick him from Fetch.

Other results:

Santa and his elves identified 5 winners of the fancy dress:

We all then gathered in the Court Inn for the presentations, some lunch and to thaw out with a few beers. Thanks to everyone who took part or helped. A special thank you to Santa who along with his elves, entertained passing motorists and buses by while the race was going on and of course to Harry for looking after us so well at the Court Inn.

Calderdale Relay, Halifax, 13th December

Dave Shipman

Congratulations to all who turned out for the Calderdale Relays this year, cold, clear conditions with some muddy, wet stretches making it tough going, but everyone got round safely and had a good time. Starting with a bright red sunrise at 8a.m., there was the odd spot of rain during the day but things stayed fair - and light - til we finished at about 3.45, having run a total of 55 very, very hilly miles between us.

Thanks to Roz, who filled in for an injured Jan at the last minute and guided Angela up and down the secret paths and trails. A special mention goes to Tom and Will, who did 2 legs each, both running over 18 miles. Will and Mike (Leg 4) and Keith and Peter F (Leg 6) had great runs,resulting in us finishing 85th out of 120 teams. It was Captain Peter's first fell race and his comment at the end was that his 5-mile leg was harder than the Beijing Marathon!!

Roz and Angela waiting for Mike and Will.  Trust me, they're in there somewhere ...

For those who have never done it, or couldn't make it this year, give it a go in 2010 - it's a team event which takes some beating.

Peter Brooks adds:

After reading Dave Shipman's report and seeing in words that I said "it's harder than the Beijing marathon" I figured that I should write a report so as not to scare anybody away from the race.

The race is absolutely amazing, for a non-fellrunner like myself, it is hard work but it is so much fun that you don't notice that until you have had time to collect your thoughts and look back over the day. It's a fantastic day out, you get to see some great views from the tops of the hills and you also get to run with really friendly, fun people (both from Striders and other clubs taking part). You will get muddy, you will be totally worn out at the end, but you will go home with a smile on your face.

Dave Shipman works really hard to organise the whole weekend and nobody will regret agreeing to take part. If you are unsure next year whether or not to enter, go for it, you'll not regret it - just make sure that you leave a place in the team for me!

Simonside Cairns, Rothbury, 13th December

Dougie Nisbet

The much hoped for snow failed to fall and the day was promising much milder temperatures than the sub-zero forecast so it was looking like another muddy day on the slopes of Simonside Cairns. I meandered around the runners at the start doing my usual kit check - looking at other runners to see what everyone else was wearing. Base Layer or not? Gloves? Hat? My suspicions were that it would be an unexpectedly mild and calm day and I was tempted to go with just a running vest. But with everyone looking snug in their base layers I didn't have the nerve to risk it. Perhaps they knew something I didn't.

A mile or two into the race and on the hill out of Whittondean and I'd had enough. I had to lose some layers or I was going to melt. I tucked into the crawler lane to let the perplexingly cooler runners through while I re-arranged my wardrobe. (I noticed from Phil Sanderson's photos that Shaun had also felt the heat and shed a layer). Feeling much better for the time-out I picked up the pace and rounded the hill-forts before descending to the road crossing.

Once across the road the route squelches south-west towards Coquet Cairn and it feels like the warm-up is over and the race has begun. Free entertainment was being provided by NFR's David Coxon who gave an exotic demonstration of a series of slips, trips and falls that would not look out of place on any risk assessment. They were, he assured me, "not as bad as they sounded", a reference to the thunking noise his body made when he hit the deck after going A over T on a particularly slippy section of boardwalk. (I'm undecided about whether the wet boardwalks on Simonside Cairns are scarier to run on than the wet stones of the Cleveland Way. There's not much in it).

Past Coquet Cairn a brief loop into the forest turns north bringing the race on a bearing to the Cairns. David seemed to have exhausted all his original moves and was now just doing repeats so I decided to get ahead. Confident from my prowess in the Farringdon Harrier League water jump I attempted an ambitious move where I jumped a small stream crossing while David rather sensibly took the bridge. What my move lacked in elegance it made up for in complexity and I stumbled ahead, licked my paws, and pretended it had all gone exactly to plan.

This section of the race is soft and heavy going and it's a relief to cross over into the conifer woodland and head for the Christmas lights and listen to the carols. I'd been content to follow Susan across the bogs and let her find and clear the route before nipping passed amongst the lights. Susan was nursing a post-Darlington hamstring injury and not looking forward to the descent.

I enjoyed the scramble up to the Cairns and was feeling quite comfortable and looking forward to the charge home. There is a temptation to think that once the Cairns are over that it's "downhill all the way" but it isn't really. It's a fast run home but there are a couple of bumps along the way. The hill-forts caught me out (and Susan) and I walked for a bit and drank some wonderjuice before preparing myself for final approach and back down to Rothbury.

John Metson, looking very fresh at a stile.
Photo courtesy and © Phil Sanderson

The soup favoured the faster runners and the first batch had gone by the time I got into the pub although more was promised (a ruse to make everyone stay for the prize ceremony?). Susan took first Lady V50 with NFR winning all the team prizes. I was pleased to be 8 minutes faster than last year. As the bar began to empty a new vat of soup arrived and I gladly joined in with the remaining die-hards in ensuring that it didn't go to waste.

Shaun adds:

Congratulations to my mate Stu Ferguson of DFR who had a good run here, finishing over five minutes in front of me to win the NECAA MV50+ Northeastern fell championships. How I ended up in a position to challenge for this one from my usual position of mid-pack mediocrity, I will never know. Well done, too, John Metson - a great run here - he's obviously putting his injuries behind him now and is back on form.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 James Buis Heaton Harriers M 1:23:55
18 Karen Robertson NFR F 1 1:35:59
54 John Metson NFR MV50 1:47:26
58 Shaun Roberts MV50 1:48:50
67 Geoff Davis NFR MV50 1:50:59
93 Dougie Nisbet DFR MV45 2:02:43
102 Susan Davis NFR FV50 2:11:10

116 finishers.

North Eastern X/C Championships, Darlington, 12th December


Clubs from Alnwick to Middlesbrough flocked to Darlington for the 104th NE X/C Championships on Saturday. Striders were well represented with both the men and the women able to field strong teams which were led home by Phil Sanderson and Fiona Shenton. The course was flatish and muddy and also longer than those we are used to running in the Harrier League. Nonetheless, everyone enjoyed the day with the tent providing shelter and Elvet Eats providing sustenance.

Well done to everyone who ran or spectated - bring on the Harrier League!


1 P Martin Sunderland Harriers 38:46
16 Phil Sanderson 41:52
56 Will Horsley 45:58
121 David Gibson 50:20
189 Jamie Steel 55:26
193 Geoff Davis 55:47
210 Stewart Gardner 57:50

244 finishers. Men's team 15th of 21.

1 R Smith Durham City Harriers 32:38
26 Fiona Shenton 39:21
49 Susan Davis 42:54
52 Debs Goddard 43:34
55 Nina Mason 44:06

81 finishers. Women's Team 9th of 12.

Hexhamshire Hobble, Allendale, 6th December

Dave Robson

On Friday heavy rain had been forecast for Sunday and I was beginning to think this 10.5-mile race would be very tough. However, on Saturday the forecast altered - the rain was to come through in the early hours of Sunday morning leaving sunny intervals for the morning. That is what we got, but when the sun went in, it became very dark and threatening, but luckily we were spared heavy rain.

The start was a tough 1 in 4 climb out of Allendale on tarmac (there were other tarmac sections in the middle and at the end) and after about a mile we turned onto a trail across the fell. Here there were lots of puddles of unknown depth and loads and loads of mud! Great fun and I really enjoyed this run.

Phil Sanderson, John, Geoff and Susan ran in their NFR colours and Phil came in second overall and first in his age category. Sarah Lister from Blackhill, who is often at our club, won the second prize in her age category. Well done to them both.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 BUIS, James Heaton Harriers M 1:08:38
2 SANDERSON, Philip NFR MV40 1 1:08:38
18 WATTS, Jenny Unattached F 1 1:17:47
38 REEVES, Tom MV40 1:22:35
55 METSON, John NFR MV50 1:27:17
55 LISTER, Sarah Blackhill Bounders F 2 1:27:22
78 DAVIS, Geoff NFR MV50 1:31:21
117 DAVIS, Susan NFR FV50 1:39:45
153 ROBSON, Dave MV50 1:49:34

180 finishers.

Eskdale Eureka, Castleton, NYM, 6th December

Nigel Heppell

10 - 9 - 8........? How far did we have to run? This race in the North York Moors had long been advertised as 10 miles but as the date approached the Esk Valley organisers mysteriously changed it to 8 miles and rumours began about 'missing out the top loop'. On the day, a couple of GPS's registered 9.1 miles and my legs agree with that - or at least they did once circulation and nervous sensations returned to them.

Jan, Shaun and I arrived with some misgivings about the weather having had heavy rain overnight and on the journey down but were pleased when it held off for the start. Having been advised not to try the riverside route because the bracken was 'chossy' we took off up a steep road and plunged down the other side towards the overfull river whose muddy/rocky embankment we floundered along in companionable silence apart from the usual huffing and puffing and occasional curse. Across the wooden Dibble bridge and a long steady climb up onto Westerdale and then Hograh Moors the rain started again and it was soon heads down as chunky raindrops borne on fearsome winds tried to drill through my skull; it was not a day for enjoying the views. The moorland peat and bogs were overloaded and each track turned into a raging torrent to mid-calf height making running quite difficult and numbing everything that got splashed.

Somewhere along here I passed Shaun just before fording a 'little' stream and tried to build up a lead across the Baysdale valley - no good - Shaun came past me running stongly uphill and I followed him onto Kildale Moor. Here the track was so flooded we ran in water for a good mile or two and I managed to get past again, accompanied by some choice mutterings as Shaun collided with submerged rocks and potholes. Soon we were near to completing the 'top loop' and some runners shot off down the hillside whilst others headed for the road. We all had to cross the Hob Hole footbridge and were bemused to see a white van pinned to the side of the bridge by water pressure, having been swept off the road upstream.

Nigel, with Shaun in hot pursuit, at the footbridge at Hob Hole where (allegedly) a poachers' van had been swept.
Photo courtesy and © David Aspin

Half a mile of uphill road saw Shaun sail past me again and then it was back onto the moor to retrace our footsteps to the Dibble crossing, except I didn't recognise any of it. I caught up with Shaun again and along with another two competitors we even looked at the map before slithering down a hill on our backsides to the crossing. I'd got a lead of 100m over Shaun until we reached the final mile of road and the inevitable happened leaving me 20s behind.

Two further items:


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Dan Middlemas Esk Valley M 1:08:31
9 Catherine Williamson Loftus & Whitby F 1 1:14:19
41 Shaun Roberts MV50 1:28:17
42 Nigel Heppell MV55 1:28:37
85 Jan Young FV55 1:50:00

86 finishers.

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 5th December


Dave Robson

Elvet Striders continued its support of this event this morning - in the club league the club remains first and is now ten clear of the next club (the league is based on the number of finishes). George, Joanne, Zoe and I were there on a still and mild December morning. The course remained the same as it has been the last few weeks so it was a bit of a wet uphill start over the grass up to the path. Zoe was the first lady home, which is a first for her, and got a new pb by 38 seconds and Joanne also got a new pb by a few seconds - well done to both of you! George and I were happy with our runs and George, Zoe and I went on to Sainsbury's cafe for coffee and cake!

... and from George Nicholson

Conditions were good for the 9th park run on Saturday morning. The predicted rain never turned up but 24 runners did. Dave , Zoe, Joanne & myself ensured that Striders remain the most represented club at this event. Dave was quick out of his 'blocks' at the start and maintained a good pace throughout to be the first strider home - as the results page reported "New PB Improved by 296 seconds". Zoe was first female home on the day, running strongly on the final uphill section to the finish and improving her PB by 38 secs. Joanne also ran well on her first Parkrun and I am sure will achieve a PB next time.

'Wannabe' Striders Nev Carman & Karen Chalkley turned out again. Karen doing very well and improved her PB by almost a minute. Nev's time was down a little, however sore throat and a hangover are acceptable excuses! Hopefully we will see them both down at Maiden Castle this week, and turning out for Striders before long.

We missed Dougie today, well at least his camera! So sorry no piccies.

Norman Woodcock Memorial 5M, Gosforth, 5th December

Peter Brooks

This race was cancelled last year due to poor weather conditions, apart from the car park looking like a boating lake, there were no such problems this year. Lindsey and I entered this as it was the first time that Lindsey had raced further than 5k and I had never taken part in a 5 mile race either.

The conditions were perfect when we got to Gosforth Park and we were informed that, due to heavy traffic, the race would consist of three laps of the race course on the ambulance track inside the ground. I must have read the instructions wrong before going over as I thought that it was that all along. Lindsey was happy that it was going to be a flat race and I had visions of 100+ runners attempting the jumps on the race course.

I was aiming to get below forty minutes, Lindsey just wanted to see how she fared in a 5 mile race, I thought that my goal was achievable with the near perfect conditions and, with that in mind, decided to try a faster than usual start and just to run eyeballs out for 5 miles. I managed to run the first mile in 6:53 which I knew was too fast to keep up so I slowed down a touch knowing that I was comfortably inside the 40 minute goal pace. All went well until Mile 3 when I was struck with a stitch, which I had to walk off but kept recurring and, as a result, missed my sub 40 goal to finish in 40:26 (official time was 40:37).

Lindsey had a cracking first attempt at a longer distance to finish in just over 53 minutes and, as a reward to both of us, we just had to have a very nice curry from Langley Park's new Indian restaurant on Saturday night!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 N McCormick Morpeth Harriers M 23:48
25 A Hibbs Chester-le-Street F 1 28:58
137 Peter Brooks M 40:37
177 Lindsey Brooks F 53:06

180 finishers.