Race Reports, December 2010

San Silvestre Vallecana, Madrid, 31st December


Barry Cornelius

Honorary Strider Barry Cornelius, who runs the incredibly-helpful North East Races website, started the New Year with a flourish in Madrid, and here is his report on the proceedings. Ed.

The San Silvestre Vallecana is a 10K in Madrid from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (owned by Real Madrid) to a lesser known stadium, the Estadio Teresa Rivero. It has been celebrated on New Year's Eve each year since 1964.

A sea of runners competing in a previous year's San Silvestre Vallecana. There are actually two 10K races each New Year's Eve. The 10K for elite runners takes place at 1955hrs and previous winners have included Paula Radcliffe, Jon Brown and Dave Lewis but often the male and female winners are Kenyans. The 10K for the masses starts at 1730hrs, and by "masses" I mean about 27000 runners. The photo shows the start of a previous year's race. So it was often difficult to run at a consistent pace as I spent a lot of the time avoiding people and looking where there was space to pass slower runners.

Each runner had to provide proof of their fastest 10K in the last year and this allocated you to a particular pen at the start. So I started in the 46 to 48 minutes pen. I spent the first few K watching the pacer with the 45 minute balloon drift further away and the 48 minute pacer passed me without me noticing! According to my Garmin, the K markers were accurately placed. The race was chipped with pads at each 2.5K. My intermediate chip times were 12:30, 24:26 and 36:05.

In the days before the race, I'd made two trips, one to recce the start area and the other to run the last 2K. So I was familiar with the steep ascent from 7.8K to 8.8K. All along the route the race was enthusiastically and noisily supported and during this ascent there were three deafening drum bands. Although the race falls over 50 metres, there were several other steep ascents including one for the first 0.4K (as you can see in the photo) and another for the final 50 metres.

Like most town races, there was the usual street furniture to cope with. However, unusual ones were: at numerous places on the road surface there were steel grills providing air to the metro below - these were slippery, and at two points on the route I overtook a motorbike with the pillion passenger wielding a TV camera providing live pictures of the runners (like as is done in the Tour de France)! This caused a bit of chaos as runners turned round to face the camera. Overhead, we were watched by two helicopters presumably also with TV cameras.

It took me 49m39s which is a reasonably good time considering the hills and the hindrances. I was the 7075th finisher of 27,000+ and was 136th in the over 55 male category. After the race, I got interviewed (in English) by a Spanish TV crew!

Guisborough Woods, NYM, 27th December

5.9m / 1230'

Tom Reeves

The weather didn't look so great as we set off for Guisborough and it took a while to get parked due to snowy conditions and a very icy rugby club car park. There was a good turnout and the rugby club was a hive of activity when I got there to register.

Tom in the snow.

There was a good few centimetres of snow on the ground and the woods looked fantastic in their wintery garb. There were two other Striders, Dave Gibson and Phil Owen. Dougie was also there but he was running in his DFR vest so he didn't count, although we did let him join us on the pre-race pictures.

The race is just under 6 miles and consists of 3 laps of the woods. Its uphill for the first half of each lap with a particularly steep and strenuous climb out to the top of the woods. Of course what goes up must come down and the end of each lap has a fantastic downhill section where runners can really cut loose back to the start. This year a fallen tree added to the excitement.

The first two laps were pretty good running in crunchy fresh snow the last lap was a bit more slippy as the snow became more compressed and one or two rocks became exposed but all in all it was super running conditions (my opinion).

Phil Sanderson led from start to finish (no big surprise) and I got in in 26th place which I was quite pleased with. I know running laps puts quite a few people off this race but it's actually a pretty good run out and well worth the effort (again my opinion).


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Phil Sanderson NFR MV40 39.17
26 Tom Reeves MV40 7 48.48
31 Cath Williamson Loftus and Whitby F 1 49.16
74 Dougie Nisbet DFR MV45 8 61.20
79 Phil Owen MV45 9 64.36
81 David Gibson MV40 1665.25

94 finishers.

Boxing Day Charity Score Event, Durham University Estates, 26th December

30 controls in 60 minutes

Dougie Nisbet

If you want a bit of fartlek or a few intervals then you can't do better than entering an orienteering competition. It takes care of all that for you. Set it in Houghall Woods and you're guaranteed a few lung-busting hill reps too. Today I ran the Northern Navigators Annual Boxing Day Charity Score Event at Durham University Estates and it was great stuff. Very simple: you have to get as many 'controls' as you can in the 60 minutes. That's it. Route choice is up to you. I've always fancied myself as a bit of an orienteer but I'm really not that good and I do have a tendency to get completely over-excited and run around like an eejit. They don't call orienteering Cunning Running for nothing and on several occasions today I noticed I was being re-overtaken by competitors who'd engaged some brain cells, whereas in my case if a compass bearing says to go straight through a dense holly thicket, then through the thicket I go, only occasionally emerging from the other side. I discovered today how strong the red stringy bit is on a compass when I snagged it on a shrub while I was sliding down the hill. It held fast around the tree and my wrist and yanked me to an undignified halt. I must've looked ridiculous trying to reach up with my other hand to dislodge this tiny bit of string from the twig.

I managed to get 20 out of the 30 controls with 75 seconds to spare (you get heavy time penalties if you are out for more than an hour). I probably made a bad route choice in Houghall Woods and did a bit of steep energy-sapping zig-zagging when I should've been striding a longer route. But it was great fun and a great way to pass an hour and see lots of bits of Great High Wood that I didn't know existed.

[Dougie finished in a very good 12th place. Ed]

Merry Christmas, 25th December

12 days

The Webmasters...

... wish everyone a very merry Christmas.

Though if you are reading this on Christmas Day you really should be doing something else!

Christmas Handicap, 18th December

Pam Kirkup

In spite of pretty cold conditions some 23 runners turned out for the handicap - some very skimpily dressed to meet the horror/ supernatural theme! Nick Young appeared again as Santa and entrtained the bemused motorists passing by. Richard Hall was first finisher in 40.27 and Jan Young was first female finisher in 44.35. There were also a few who dropped out!

Festive ghoulishness.

Prizes were awarded as follows:
Richard & Jan for first finishers
Mike Bennett - fastest male time
Nina Mason - fastest female time
Rhys & Rhianne Goddard - children participants
Liz Lamb - best female fancy dress
Kevin - best male fancy dress both judged by Santa and his elves!!

Spot prizes went to:
Shaun - who had already run the Sunderland parkrun, had reccied the course and was only 3 seconds behind Mike.
Roz - for her Santa's elf costume and being a very close second to Nina.
Alister - who got Santa mixed up with Satan!
And finally George Nicholson who frightened the traffic as King Kong.

London Marathon numbers went to Alister Robson, Maggie Thompson and Christine Farnsworth - reserve is Dave Walker.


Pos Name Pos Time
1 Mike Bennett 35.48
2 Shaun Roberts 35.51
3 Conrad White 36.58
4 Andrew Thompson 38.50
5 Nina Mason 1 39.00
6 Roz Layton 39.46
7 Richard Hall 40.27
8 Alister Robson 40.44
9 Ian Spencer 42.19
10 Callum Young 42.55
11 Kathryn Seagrove 42.58
12 Kevin( friend of DS) 43.10
13 David Shipman 43.13
14 Jan Young 44.35
15 Alan Smith 44.18
16 Dave Robson 52.09
17 Liz Lamb 52.09
18 Lynn Bargewell 54.17
19 Emma Detcheon 54.45

19 finishers.

Sunderland Charity parkrun, Silksworth, 18th December


Shaun Roberts

A fine pair of Festive Ladies ... Sub-zero overnight temperatures no doubt made a few runners think twice about making the trip over to Sunderland for the rerun of Sunderland's first Charity ParkRun in aid of ACORN's Children Hospice. As it happened, though, the course was 95% runnable - just a few skity bits - and there was a good turnout of runners in fancy dress as the 9:00 start time approached. Sam Brown, the organiser, told us that £200 had been raised the week before ( £344 in total now), to be careful as we worked our way round the course ... and we were off.

I was surprised to find myself in fourth position as we headed up the first hill, and round the first icy section, and a tad more surprised to end up in third as we headed out towards the lake. This is where I ended up, after a good firm run - the conditions were actually quite good for most of the way. The last section, where we were redirected off the worst bit of ice over the grass was hard work, but everyone was very welcoming at the finish - festive music, cake and mince pies, no less.

Lots of familiar faces at the finish - Alister, Phil O, Dougie, Alan Smith, Mike Elliot, Rich Hall in the splendid outfit you can see here, Kathryn, whooping quite a lot at coming in as first lady (well done!), Emma, Jacquie ... and also splendid in festive transvestite garb, George, who's done a great job in getting so many people out in these conditions - twice! Well done mate!

George adds:

I have just received an official thank you e-mail from Lucy Shepherd of ACORNS. She also said in her covering message to me :

"it looks like you've got a really nice group of runners supporting you"

Hear, Hear to that - an absolutely wonderful group of runners in fact. Thanks so much again from Anne & I.

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go

Sunderland Charity parkrun, Silksworth, 11th December


George Nicholson

A wonderful & colourful turnout in Fancy Dress by 27 Striders ( 28 if Dougie's Toucan is a registered Strider ) for Sunderland's first Charity Fun Run in aid of ACORN's Children Hospice.

Sadly the overnight temperature was low enough to freeze the previous day's melting snow into ice, and some sections of the pathways were just too dangerous to risk running on , so there was no choice but to abandon the run for that day.

Milling about before the, err, off.

A last minute attempt was made by Sam Brown ( Parkrun Organiser ) to gain permission to use the all weather running track. Unfortunately the Sunderland Council Lady in charge did not grant this permission and cited several reasons e.g. "Could we provide UK athletics Numbers for all runners ?", and inevitably Health & Safety. She made her inspection, of the partially snow covered non ice bound track, from behind her desk, and declared it "not safe to use".

Tyne Tees TV had arrived and asked if they could at least record the 'start'. So, Lights, Camera, Action and the first 100 metres or so of the run is 'in the can' - hopefully to be shown as footage of this coming Saturday's 'Reality Run'. Oh, The magic of Christmas! (or mebbes TV ?)

And they're off ... for a bit. Sunderland Echo also published a lovely picture of Claire with her little girl, and loads of our own pictures were also taken ( See links below )

Thankfully several Striders still managed to have their own impromptu run round the park. Anne & I are just so sorry that we were not able to deliver the 5k organised run on the day, when so many Striders had made a great effort to be there. Over £200 was still received in donations which again illustrates the generosity of our club. On behalf of ACORNS can I give a big, big thank you to :

Angela, Anita, Anna, Claire, Diane, Denise, Jan, Kathryn, Kerry , Joanne, Roz, Susan, Zoe ( aka Xmas pud ), Alan, Alister, Andy, Danny, Dave R, Dave W, Dave H, Dougie ( & Toucan ) , Mike, Phil, Richard, Shaun, Will, Apologies if I've missed out anyone as they may not have been recognisable whilst hiding behind white beard & wearing a red suit.

The Run is planned to go ahead again this Saturday ( 18th Dec ) at 9.00 am ( weather permitting ). The presentation of 'spot' prizes given by Sunderland University will be awarded in Sainsburys Coffee Bar at 10.00am, but please do not forget the Club Handicap is at 11.00am at Maiden Castle, so understandably many may not be able to re-attend.

And finally a big thank you for your wonderful support from Anne & I as well.

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 4th December


Dougie Nisbet

Kathryn rips open a condom before leaping on the photographer ... hang on, that can't be right ... With fell races being cancelled all around I decided to head North to Silksworth for a little race that seems to have been missed from the Fell Runners calendar. The Sunderland 'Park' Run is 5km long, with 135 feet of ascent, and has, well for today at least, some 'genuine fell terrain'. I'd say that makes it a 'CS'.

The last time I ran this event I got a PB. Today I thought I'd spend it making funny faces at the club Captain, looking at the ducks and trying not to fall over. I'd chosen road shoes and this was a mistake for this tough terrain. I started gently and gingerly and after a kilometre or so passed Kathryn, the only other Strider competing (George was at the checkout doing the Beep thing with the barcodes). Down the hill, along the long boring bit, then twice round the lake. Then, and I never thought I'd be writing this, I nearly got lost! Or at least slightly mislaid. Scandalously there had been no kit checks and I hadn't bothered bringing a map and compass. I knew underneath all this snow there was probably a path, but I wasn't sure if it was the right path, or would join up with the path 'over there', which I knew I had to get on. I glanced around and saw Kathryn and hoped she wasn't just following me. I aimed in the general direction of the guy way in front, hoped for the best and ploughed on.

I was devastated to finally finish well down on my best time but it was a slow day for everyone. But I was 10th! I don't think I've ever been in the top ten for a race before. And anyway I'm already beginning my taper for next Saturday's Festive Fun Run. It's the ideal warm-up for the XC championships in the afternoon too.

Kathryn adds:

Captain Kirt wishes to stress that she was indeed First Lady back, albeit in a horrendously slow time, and one of only four gals! And Richard Hall ran too, but apparently isn't down as a Strider, which we hope to get rectified asap. Dougie kept putting me off by telling me to wave madly for the camera, and George Nick hampered my race style by throwing snowballs at me, and failing to catch my cagoule properly! Then Dougie told me off for getting ahead of him in the queue for race ranking ... is it any wonder that a frazzled Captain needed a barcode to chomp on after all those shenanigans???!!!