Race Reports, March 2009

Doctor's Gate Fell Race, Hamsterley Forest, 29th March

Dougie Nisbet

Susan crosses the beck.

It was calm, sunny and warm in Hamsterley Forest as we milled restlessly around the start as the minutes ticked past 11am. I used the time to jab my finger at Shaun and tell him he was going to overheat if he ran with a base layer in this weather. He wisely stripped off with just a few seconds to spare. [Thanks. Ed] Dave Robson had decided not to run and had shrewdly put his running gear beyond use just in case he was tempted on this clear summer morning. After the pep talk from organiser Gerry Hehir we were shooed into the forest and the climbing began.

I kept Nigel in my sight for most of the climb and thinking I'd sussed his M.O. thought I might catch him somewhere on the ascent. It was not to be and he was just a distant purple splash by the time we reached the top. Feeling yesterday's Harrier League heavy in my legs I settled for ticking over on the descent and lost quite a few places on the way down. On a fast downhill stretch just when I thought we were nearly home a discretely positioned arrow turned us right and up and the route took an unexpected meander over an extra hill. Many runners missed the arrow and therefore avoided this scenic detour, taking a more direct route back to the finish. Quite how many missed it, and how much time was saved or lost, will no doubt be discussed for decades to come. [Duff course marking plus only being able to field a single marshal for the whole course, in my humble opinion. Ed]

This was my first time running this race and I was not disappointed. I like the variety and combination of open moorland, runnable forest track, twisty paths and a few fords. For my money it's the most interesting Hamsterley Forest race, whatever route you choose.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Phil Sanderson NFR M40 43:34
2 Will Horsley NFR M 45:06
7 Karen Robertson F40 1 50:12
22 Shaun Roberts M50 3 55:48
30 Geoff Davis M50 7 57:00
38 Nigel Heppell M50 10 59:20
52 Susan Davis F40 4 64:38
52 Dougie Nisbet M40 19 64:44

76 finishers.

Arkendale 10K, North Yorkshire, 29th March

Andy Jordan

Organised by the same people who are responsible for the Staveley Stampede (link below) this is a fantastic, undulating 10km race centred around the roads, paths and fields around Arkendale in North Yorkshire. The scenery was great, apart from one stretch along the side of the A1(M) on a footpath I didn't see any other Striders at the event but many other clubs were there en masse and seemed to have a good day out.

At the finish line there was a barbecue with an excellent offering of burgers and hot dogs which is just what you need on a warm spring morning after running a tough course. This is not a course for a PB as there are some quite hilly sections and there are several different types of terrain to negotiate so I was delighted to finish only 5 seconds outside my PB in a time of 46.31. I cannot recommend this event highly enough for a challenging event with a really friendly feel.

Temple Park XC, Harrier League, 28th March

Down but not out!

Geoff Davis

A bumper turnout of 12 Striders men managed to 'pip' their closest rivals at yesterday's Harrier League. However, this wasn't quite enough to keep us 'safe' and the team were duly relegated to Division 3 for the 09-10 season. Are we downhearted? NO! 'Cos if we can get out the same numbers as we did yesterday and keep the same team spirit and standard of cakes then we'll bounce straight back to Division 2 without any problems.

Yes, we are in fact doomed.

Yesterday at South Shields our young guns Paul and Will, running from the medium and fast packs respectively, led the team home followed by a slimline Shaun. A claggy Mudman came next followed by 'Achilles' Wesson, Tom 'the knee' and Nigel running under a nom de plume. An injured Conrad hobbled home a couple of minutes later closely followed by our other 'non vet' Andy Jordan. The three 'men of many races' Dougie, Dave R and Phil Owen completed the dynamic dozen.

Everyone said how much they had enjoyed their race and got changed quickly so they could cheer on the womens' team which numbered nine brave lasses. Coach Seheult was there to see his triathlon charges perform and they didn't let him down, with Debs leading the girls home with her best run of the season followed by Roz in her very welcome return to Harrier League competition. Mudwoman wasn't far behind but was disappointed by the lack of mud on the course. The greatly improved Steph Barlow had a tremendous run as did the rejuvenated Jan, followed by two new and enthusiastic recruits this year Jane Ives and Zoe T. Wonderful Wendy finished strongly in spite of spending most of Friday night producing one of the 'cakes of the day' - iced in Elvet colours and commemorating the 08-09 Harrier League season. Making her HL debut was Denise Mason running in borrowed fell shoes and a new Striders vest she had a great run and will definitely be back for more.

The women had a very good year, particularly in the absence for much, or all, of the season of four or five of our high performing xc runners. The team finished 10th on the day and 12th for the season - well done - particularly all those making their debuts this year.

Well, its been an eventful season with its highs and lows but each fixture provided an enjoyable afternoon out with fellow club members. Hope to see you all there again when things kick off in October.

Mudman & Mudwoman.

Results

Men

Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 ELLIS, Ieuan Elswick Harriers S 32:54
110 EVANS, Paul M 38:10
158 HORSLEY, Will F 38:44
170 ROBERTS, Shaun V S 38:58
226 DAVIS, Geoff V S 40:45
223 WESSON, Keith V S 41:01
253 REEVES, Thomas V S 41:51
254 HEPPELL, Nigel V S 41:53
297 WHITE, Conrad V S 43:54
299 JORDAN, Andy S 44:09
315 NISBET, Dougie V S 44:55
324 ROBSON, Dave V S 45:48
336 OWEN, Phil V S 47:28

359 finishers. Elvet Striders: 9th Men's Team, Div 2.

Women

Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 FLOYD, Gemma Morpeth Harriers S 26:38
31 GODDARD, Debs V S 28:59
37 LAYTON, Roz V S 29:11
53 DAVIS, Susan V S 29:46
56 BARLOW, Steph S 29:53
76 YOUNG, Jan V S 31:10
82 IVES, Jane S 31:45
85 TOMLINS, Zoe S 32:13
90 ROWELL, Wendy V S 32:49
93 MASON, Denise S 33:56

106 finishers. Elvet Striders: 10th Women's Team.

Coniston 14, Cumbria, 28th March

Pam Kirkup

Striders hopelessly off-course.

Coniston is my favourite race. The course is challenging and 'undulating' yet scenic and stunningly beautiful - certainly worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

This year I was merely a spectator; one of a small group of Striders who had travelled to the Lake District for the weekend; a mixture of runners and supporters. Paul & I were staying in Hawkshead and woke up on Saturday to howling winds and the occasional splattering of hailstones or sleet on the windows. Not good!! However, as the morning progressed the wind seemed to settle... leaving just arctic temperatures with the occasional glimpse of the sun.

At the start I saw a few purple vests - Mike Bennett, Linda McDermott, Barrie Evans, Alan Smith, Jean Bradley - but it wasn't until much later that I learned that Graham Daglish, Jim Nicholson and Mike Hall also were running. At 11.00 quite a substantial field set off and Paul, Peter McDermott and I did a local walk. Jill Hall and Bob had decided to walk the course and so had started out at 9.00am. Linda dropped out after a couple of miles so we went back to Coniston to meet up with her... and then they started finishing! The winner was Nick Leigh of Altrincham in 1.15.56, runner up was the blond guy with the pony tail who regularly wins Dent - Steve Little in 1.16.51. They passed us in the final half mile so Paul and I went to the finish to support our finishers...before hyperthermia set in!

Mike Bennett was first Strider in 1.43.10 followed by Graham Dagleish in 1.50.12. Next was Jean Bradley in a stunning 1.58.52 - Jean was hoping to finish under 2 hrs but didn't feel too confident I think because of the horrendous weather. She was absolutely thrilled to achieve her time.

Barrie did 2.01.24 which I suspect was better than he expected from what he said at the start - "I'll be out there for a very long time!" Alan Smith we saw finish in 2.05.12 as I began to lose all feeling in my fingers! Paul and I left before Jim & Mike finished - we hadn't realised at the time that they were running but Jim finished in 2.31.30 and Mike did 3.38.57. Congratulations to all our runners - it was a very cold and blustery day on a lovely but challenging course.

On Sunday, which was very cold but fabulously sunny, 6 of us ventured up Coniston Old Man. It was an excellent day with amazing views.

Coniston is a fantastic race and it doesn't always clash with Harrier League so, if you've never run it, it's worth doing in the future and a good weekend away.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Leigh Altrincham M 1:15:56
35 Pollyanne Veazey-French Moi? Non, je ne suis pas dans un club. F 1:29:37
243 Mike Bennett M50 1:43:10
388 Graham Daglish M50 1:50:12
674 Jean Bradley F45 1:58:52
776 Barrie John Evans M60 2:01:24
876 Alan Smith M60 2:05:12
1370 Jim Nicholson M60 2:31:30
1472 Mike Hall M70 3:38:57

1472 finishers.

Blakey Blitz Fell Race, North Yorks Moors, 22nd March

Nigel Heppell

Nigel about to chuck a sodden sweaty hat at his unlucky missus.

The first running of the 'BLAKEY BLITZ' 9.5mile/2370' fell race started from the totally remote Lion Inn, situated on Blakey Ridge in the heart of the North York Moors National Park. The Lion Inn pub has been voted 'Best pub in the NYMoors'. The pub website has photos and a video clip that give some flavour of the terrain around this area. It also has another claim to fame - see end of report.

The race director admitted he made a mistake in running the race on Mothering Sunday - cars and grannies all over the place! The race route followed a loose figure of eight crossing Rosedale, Danby High Moor, and Glaisdale Moor passing by delightfully named marks like Blakey Swang, Sturdy bank, Loose Howe, Great Fryup Head, and Oven Mouth. Its a kind of inverse fell race, in that the start/finish is on the high ground, so the beginning is easy with a 1km headlong charge downhill into Rosedale, but equally, a horrible slog back up the same route to finish. Much of the running is on typical moorland tracks with heather over loose rocks and occasional peat bogs. At the furthest point the route drops steeply off the moor to cross Great Fryup Dale followed by a hard slog over an area called 'The Hills' and a scramble past waterfalls up to the moor top again.

I found that I could gain a few places on the downhill stretches only to lose them eventually going up. My feet and legs took quite a pounding over this course and I was glad to get in under 2 hours. I've no idea yet what my race time or position is, but at least it'll be a PB.

Any Striders interested in jazz/rock/blues, or from Middlesborough, may be interested to check this out where another view of the location can be seen (the barns are now converted to luxury holiday lets!) - I have an original LP (remember them?) in my collection; any offers?

More info here on early demise of band member.

Ultimate Trail Race, Cartmel, Cumbria, 21st March

Dave Robson

Five Striders went to Cartmel on Satuday for the first of the Ultimate Trail events. Jean Gillespie, Maggie Thompson, Barrie Evans and I ran in the Challenge event which set off an hour before the main race and Phil Owen ran in the main race. Both events were the same distance.

Jean and Barrie in deep doo-doo.

It was a lovely sunny day and the ground for the first three quarters of the route was very firm with hardly any mud at all. However, the last quarter was a bit muddy and would be much more difficult if it had rained in the previous two or three days. The route was largely off road on trails with lovely views from the hills. These events are run by the same people who do the lovely Lakeland Trail events and this felt very much like an event in the Lakeland Trail series. Graham, the main organiser, is famous for not quite getting distances right and he did it again, advertising it as 16K and it turned out to be 18K !

The start and finish was at the Cartmel Race Course so there was showers and a bar available afterwards. All finishers received a Cartmel sticky toffee pudding !

Trimpell 20M, Morecambe, Lancashire, 15th March

Dave Robson

I did this 20m race last year. I enjoyed it, so I went over to Morecombe to do it again. It attracts runners from all over the country as its mainly on cycle paths and flat, so its good preparation for spring marathons. Most of it is close to the River Lune so its reasonably good scenery as well.

Peter Brooks and Phil Owen were doing it for the first time and they seem to have enjoyed it as well. The sun almost shone and there was only a gentle breeze, so it was great day for running. All three of us were happy with our times.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Michael Aspinall Lancaster & Morecambe AC M 1:50:01
340 Dave Robson MV55 2:54:33
404 Peter Brooks M 3:09:32
436 Phil Owen MV40 3:15:01

493 finishers.

Prudhoe XC, Harrier League, 14th March

Susan Davis

Saturday morning in Durham was calm and bright. However, by the we set off for Prudhoe the wind had picked up somewhat. In anticipation of being swamped by a Sea of Purple on arrival at Prudhoe Geoff & I decided to erect the tent bearing in mind at the same venue last year one of the tent poles snapped. Thanks to Eric for assistance in getting the tent up.

It's touch and go ...

It was great as in no time at all we had seven male Striders present and raring to go. The women gathered to cheer them off and we could not help but notice a bit of strong packing by the chaps at the back of the field. Those of you who have run at Prudhoe will know that it is a tough old course so the guys had clearly made a wise decision not to go off too fast and save something for the hill. I am pleased to say all seven Striders completed the course and were led home by Will who has now run himself into the fast pack. Special thanks to Dave Shipman for turning out for his first X/C since his knee operation. Well done guys excellent team spirit.

Sorry I could not offer as much support as usual whilst the men were running but I had to spend time re-securing tent pegs. I am sure that Deb, Jane, Liz & Fiona gave good support.

Deb's wish for "secretly hoping for lots of the brown stuff" were not to be realised today but there were a few squidgy and claggy bits to add interest, and number of retirements from the mens race. Thankfully a good part of the course was sheltered from the wind and so it was pleasantly warm once you got started.

The womens team were four in number. Jane has been bitten by the X/C bug and was not daunted by the course but finds it hard to explain why it X/C has such a great appeal. One thing is for sure she is getting stronger in each race. Thanks to Liz for turning out on not her favourite running surface and I hope Geoff's Walshes made the course a little easier. It now also seems to be a trend for Deb and myself to battle it out on the X/C. Deb led the way for a large part of the course until the dreaded hill. As the climb started I gained ground on Deb and passed her. I knew the race was not over and could still hear Deb's dad shouting words of advice & encouragement as I reached the top of the hill. I half expected Deb to catch me on the flat so thanks for a good hard run Deb and for the lovely cake at the tent.

Thanks to Fiona for her support & also to Mike and Geoff W for cake and flapjack.

Results

Men

Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 JONES, Gary Blyth RC S 34:24
9 HORSLEY, Will M 36:20
103 BENNETT, Michael V S 38:45
177 DAVIS, Geoff V S 40:59
218 HEPPELL, Nigel V S 44:55
247 ROBSON, Dave V S 50:12
253 SHIPMAN, David V S 51:32
262 PURVIS, Alan V S 1:01:54

262 finishers. Elvet Striders: 10th Men's Team, Div 2.

Women

Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 SIMPSON, Kim Gateshead Harriers F 25:37
23 DAVIS, Susan V S 27:54
26 GODDARD, Debs V S 28:06
55 LAMB, Liz S 29:49
62 IVES, Jane S 30:59

73 finishers. Elvet Striders: 10th Women's Team.

Grindleford Gallop, 14th March

Paul Evans

On a day when it seemed that many striders were missing the cross-country, in order to indulge in long-distance races elsewhere, I took myself off to Derbyshire for one of my all-time favourite races. The Gallop is that rare beast, a long fell race that's runnable almost for the entire distance and, even better, like many LDWA-type events has refreshment stands that dispense cake along the way (none of this 'finish the race before you get fed' nonsense). It is run to support Grindleford Primary School and manages to get most of the village involved, either in baking, marshalling, refreshments along the way or keeping tea and soup flowing in the village hall - overall, a massive logistical effort. However, getting up at 0530 on the morning of the race in order to catch the train, none of that bothered me in the slightest, my only concerns being the weather (clear and windy) and whether I'd get chance to use the limited toilet facilities before running.

Ten o'clock came and the runners set off across a muddy field, crossed a stream and headed into a mile-long section of twisting paths through sodden woods and fields, all limiting overtaking opportunities and forcing me to stick to my plan of running steadily all the way. After a mile we got back onto the road briefly, crossed a main road and commenced the first of four big climbs, emerging into the Plague village of Eyam at the 3 mile point. At this stage I was still some way back, and a large pack of runners had fallen behind the elite two or three runners who wouldn't be seen again. A fairly dull mile through the village took us back onto the moors, this time above the limestone quarries of White Rake, for a section of twisting farm tracks laced with puddles, all into a fierce headwind that sapped both legs and willpower, particularly of the runners who had got caught up in the fast start. Another brief pause for a marshalled road crossing, a slow, steady, stile-punctuated drag over Longstone Moor, the way marked by the walkers who had started earlier in the day, and checkpoints 2 and 3 were knocked off, the latter signalling the start of an exhilerating descent from the moor into Great Longstone, Monsal Dale (and the viaduct so hated by Ruskin) visible in the near distance. This was why running can be so life-affirming.

Unfortunately, next came a 2 mile drag along the Monsal Trail, an old railway track, which was both busy with walkers and (despite the spring flowers on the banks) by far the most dull section of the course - it was actually a relief to pick up the flapjack at Hassop station and get off the track onto the third big climb at Bakewell. That is, until the realisation hit that crossing a golf course on one of the first nice Saturday mornings might be a touch hazardous. This survived, it was time to start walking up the muddy incline through the woods, force down the flapjack and be comforted by the fact that, at 13 miles, others were starting to flag more than I was. Thankfully this didn't last too long and a glorious long descent commenced to the royal village of Edensor, Chatsworth House in the background, providing a welcome break for my burning calves. After this, a 2 mile flat section through the estate's grounds took us to Baslow and the final checkpoint and feeding station. Further flapjack in hand, two other runners and I commenced the murderous climb up to the gritstone edges, none of us wanting to be first to admit defeat and walk but all of us ware that there would still be 4 miles to go once we'd got to the top. In the event, the initial leader of our trio blew up first, legitimising my decision to stop, walk, stuff my face and then carry on running. Once at the top, it was a relief to find the edges blasted dry by the wind, the views perfect and the gradient flat or slightly downhill, and I didn't see another runner from this point onwards, the field being well and truly spaced. Finally this lonely section ended and the steep descent through the same woods we'd started in began, popping out only 100m from the village hall and the finish. It was almost an anti-climax not to be trying either to catch another runner or fend off a challenge, but I wasn't going to complain - not when finishing meant a chance to fill up on bread, cheease, homemade vegetable soup and cake.

This is a superb race, and a nice intro to longer fell races for the less-experienced runner. My only moan would be the lack of marshalls in three points allowing members of one local club to flagrantly cheat, but this can't really detract from a superb day. Oh, and happy surprise find of the day - if ever stuck at Sheffield railway station, the Red Lion is 2 minutes walk and does a superb pint of Abbeydale Moonshine.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Pead, Andy Goyt Valley Striders M40 2:28:18
10 Evans, Paul M50 2:44:17

256 finishers.

Dentdale Run 14M, Dent, Cumbria, 14th March

Shaun Roberts

Driving over the Pennines, it seemed as if we were going to be setting off into quite a wind. Luckily it settled down a bit and conditions were pretty good by the start - dry, cool and with more of a breeze into the face than a gale. Fourteen Striders lined up at the start - I was hoping there'd be enough back at Prudhoe to make the numbers up - there were, luckily - but this one was always going to be my one and only missed XC.

I always forget how many hills there are in this one, and sure enough, half a mile down the road we were directed up the side of the dale for the first climb, followed by a nice downhill section. So the whole race goes. I kept a good pace up for the first five miles (34') and went through ten miles in 70 minutes. Thought I might have to slow up a bit then, but more nice downhill bits made up for some quite steep bits in the final stretch, so I kept going and was well chuffed to get round in 1:40 or so, a full three minutes up on my PB for this one. The marathon training must be working ...

Quite a few Striders came in just after the two-hour mark, led by Alan Smith, but with Jan Young not far behind. Amanda gave her legs a first outing in the sun for the year, and enjoyed most of the race - possibly excepting the last few miles. Barrie Evans and Mike Elliott also ran half the course, stopping at the bridge - great to have lots of support there, by the way - I saw Pam, Mandy, and Barry Bird, to name just three.

Excellent race!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Matt Barnes Altrincham M 1:12:53
15 Jo Waites Calder Valley Fell Runners F 1:32:55
55 Shaun Roberts M50 1:40:39
251 Alan Smith M60 2:03:33
260 Jan Young F55 2:04:35
262 Stephanie Barlow F35 2:04:42
267 Phil Owen M40 2:05:08
285 Nina Mason F 2:07:39
295 Jean Bradley F45 2:08:55
296 Wendy Rowell F55 2:09:09
331 Amanda Hunter F35 2:14:17
376 Yvonne Jones F55 2:22:35
387 Mary Coffield F55 2:26:27
409 Margaret Thompson F55 2:39:49

421 finishers.

Kielder Borderer Fell Race, 8th March

Dougie Nisbet

The snow turned into hail as 45 runners huddled together outside Kielder Castle for the race briefing. All checkpoints would be manned. Fording the Kielder Burn after East Kielder farm would save about 5 minutes, we were told, and make finding the Kielder Head checkpoint more straightforward. With a casual wave of his arm and a cheery 'off you go then' the organiser bid us on our way and a kaleidoscopic collection of rucksacks, bum bags, jackets and hats headed cheerfully into the trees. The hail started to fall a bit harder but I wasn't unduly concerned. Naivety is a handy state of mind and I thought myself well-prepared for most eventualities. I knew to expect remote and hostile conditions.

The first few miles were straightforward enough and it seemed no time at all before we were heading back down to the valley to head up to Kielder Head. Geoff and Susan's red-clad NFR posse were a little ahead of me until this point, but they seemed a bit jittery about the river crossing. Like a hesitant straggle of blushing wildebeest they ran along the bank looking for a suitable crossing point. I was having none of this nonsense and plunged into the river with more bravado than brains. Slow and Shallow became Fast and Deep, and within a metre from the opposite bank I finally found myself up to (and including) my nadgers in freezing water. This was shocking enough in itself, but not quite as scary as suddenly being swept off my feet and only a frantic lunge for the grassy bank prevented me getting a full body soaking. We all hit the Kielder Head checkpoint around the same time, some of us with dryer undergarments than others.

Through the forest and up the fell to Grey Mares Knowe with the race sweeper never more than a few metres behind me. I was dried out and warmed up by now, and even though things were beginning to feel a little bit more grown-up, visibility was good and I was still pretty chirpy. An exchange of photos with NFR's Phil Green at the checkpoint, then on to the border. With my GPS receiver, digital maps, and assortment of geostationary satellites, I followed my pixels to my preprogrammed waypoint that would put me smack on the trod. It doesn't take much to see that all the military satellites in the cosmos don't amount to a hill of beans in the crazy heather on the Kielder fells. A yell from the sweeper and a bit of pointing (I think) and I got onto the real trod, and started moving a bit faster, still with the red haze of Geoff and Susan's group a little ahead.

Dougie photographing Phil Green, photographing Dougie ...

I stumbled as I crossed Carry Burn and plunged both hands in the icy water to break my fall. It was here that my spirits began to drop. My hands were freezing, and were to stay that way for the next two hours. My Garmin was none too chuffed either and it decided to take no further interest in the race. I'm glad visibility was good as I was in no mood to fumble in my bum bag for my compass. Heading along the border fence and an undone shoe lace nearly had me in tears as I tried to retie it with numb hands. I must've looked pretty dejected as I crouched down in the heather because the race sweeper appeared from nowhere to check I was OK. Phil James was keeping an eye on all the stragglers like a good shepherd with what appeared to be the contents of a small General Store in his rucksack.

Around the Kielder Stone there's a temptation to think you're almost home, but there's the grim exposed haul up to Peel Fell. A brief nod to the poor shivering marshall at the checkpoint and then a bit of runnable ridgeway arcs round to the spikey Deadwater Fell. One last climb up to the welcome sight of the Mountain Rescue crew at the final checkpoint, then, downhill all the way.

Running properly again for the first time in two hours, and whimpering a bit as circulation started to return to my hands, the last few miles down to the finish were almost luxurious. Geoff and Susan who had been a comfortable red glow ahead for the last four hours now leapt ahead, and I focused on the yellow hi-vis glow of the NFR runner just in front of me. After 17 miles and 3000 feet (plus VAT) I finished in a time of 4:49:25. A little slower than my Edinburgh Marathon time! Into the castle and endless cups of hot tea from a never emptying tea pot. What devilish magic is this?

A highly recommended, strangely humbling fell race over remote terrain with great views. Despite all my homework, maps and gadgets I can understand why runners still prefer to get out and reccie the reality. The bewildering heather clad fells have no respect for the neatly arranged contours on the map. It seems a shame that this race won't run again until March 2011 and so I'm very glad I decided to give it a go. I'm looking forward to running it again.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Phil Sanderson NFR M40 3:14:14
9 Helen Jackson Bingley L 1 3:39:39
30 Geoff Davis M50 4:46:15
31 Susan Davis L50 4:46:15
33 Dougie Nisbet M40 4:49:25

44 finishers.

Lunesdale Walk, Arkholme, Lancashire, 7th March

Dave Robson

Left at 7 to get to Arkholme, the start of the Lunesdale Walk, a long distance walking association event which welcomed runners. There were three routes: 6m, 17m and 28m. The last two started at the same time and the first 15m were the same. Got there in plenty of time, registered, had a lovely cup of tea. As my race number was 15, I wasn't expecting a big field - about 45 althogether with about 15 runners and 30 walkers, but it wasn't possible to tell who was doing 17m and who was doing 28m - you could make your mind up at the 15m checkpoint.

Started at 8.30. I thought it would be good to get under 6hr for this one. It was my first run that I would have to navigate. There was a route description and a map, but with my eyes, the map was too small, so I had built a much better one, but it consisted of 22 A4 pages!

I thought I might try and count the number of stiles and gates. Last week at the Belvoir Challenge 26 I reckoned there were about 27. I soon gave up. There must have been on average about 3 or 4 per mile. A different scale altogether.

Soon after the start I was last but one of the runners, but this was great, I could just follow everybody else ! The leaders made an error and those behind went another way and I reckoned they must know what they are doing and followed them. Soon after this I fell. I had just come off a stile and I was on a wooden very wet boardwalk and just lost my footing. I was lucky that I was at the end of the broadwalk and fell onto the grass as I smacked my head and banged my leg. Took a minute and decided to carry on and although my leg was a bit stiff climbing stiles, I had no after effects.

The route was not marked at all, but we were following footpaths and there were little arrows at each stile telling you the direction (but they weren't always accurate). Between the stiles (and you couldn't always see the next one) there was often no path at all, you were just running across muddy fields, grassland, very rutted fields where you coudn't run or sometimes a very muddy path, where it was very hard to run at all.

Inevitably the field spread out but there was one guy ahead of me who I kept in sight for most of the first 11m. We had a chat at one point when we weren't sure where to go, but he pulled ahead. At which point I got went off route for the first time. Managed to get back on track without too much of a diversion and approached the 15m point - decision time!

I was tempted, very tempted to do just 17m, but the weather was still cloudy and dry and I felt I could do more so I went on. Of course about 1m after that decision, the weather broke. It got windy and the rain started to come across horizontally ! I made my second navigational error and ended up trudging across a very muddy field, but got back on track. Soon after another error - I climbed a hill and then had to come back down!

After yet another minor error, I made it to checkpoint 3, 23m - Wray, the only place I had been before - to their scarecrow festival when they hold a 10K, a lovely event. The checkpoints were like last week - amazing, cakes, drinks, just lovely. And they told me I was 9th (out of 19 doing the long route and of course everybody behind me was walking, although because of the weather and the even more difficult terrain in the second half, I was walking most of the time) ! I hadn't seen anybody else since 11m and I didn't see anybody before the end either.

Finally got back. 6hr 47min ! An hour longer than I have ever been out before. Still I am glad I did it - a whole new experience having to navigate and the weather was as a fellow runner put it 'character building'.

The meal afterwards was excellent: soup, baked potato with cheese, beans and coleslaw, followed by tea and cake. Total cost of the event was 6 pounds!

Haweswater Half Marathon, Bampton, Cumbria, 1st March

Shaun Roberts

Balmy sunshine. Very mild. No wind. Not used to this at all. Six Striders turned up at the small village of Bampton for this out and back route along Haweswater to Mardale Head and back.

The race starts with a climb to get above the level of the dam, three miles or so, and then the course undulates quite a bit before a long descent to the head of the reservoir, during which time you can see what's happening at the sharp end of the race, and also see other Striders. Then the climb back up. Doh! I was going pretty well until this stage, when my legs started to feel rather heavy - something to do with the Harrier League the day before, perhaps - but I kept up quite a firm pace. The last three miles are mainly downhill, which is very welcome. I was well pleased to get round in 1:32 or so. Graham was doing his first road half in a long time, and had a good run. Alan's knee held out well, and this time he finished in front of Barrie, who looked very relaxed at the finish. Yvonne had a good run, too, in preparation for her Lisbon Marathon later in the spring, and Christine did very well to get round after doing very little training recently.

An excellent pint or two of Bluebird in the Mardale Inn finished off the event - after which Mrs Roberts and I decided against a climb up High Street - sadly there wasn't enough time left in the day. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 James Bulman NYMAC M 1:14:11
96 Shaun Roberts M50 1:32:28
143 Graham Daglish M50 1:37:21
325 Alan Smith M60 1:51:21
365 Barrie John Evans M60 1:54:59
413 Yvonne Jones F50 2:00:39
493 Christine Farnsworth F50 2:20:34

511 finishers.