Race Reports, February 2010

Snake Lane 10, Pocklington, 28th February


Alan Smith

I thought that 10 miles would be a fairly easy distance to run ( compared to a half marathon, that is). I was wrong! The last couple of miles seemed to go on for ever.

At the back of my mind, I thought that it was a fairly flat course. Wrong again! At around 9 miles, there is a long slow hill, which I had forgotten about. It is amazing what tricks the memory can play ( memory? - what is that?) The mind seems blank out the hard bits. I last ran this race two years ago and had no recollection of the final hill! In the distance I could see a Church, a long way away, which I thought was probably some where near the finish ( which it was.) As I was running up this last hill, I pulled away from a few runners who had been playing cat and mouse with me up to then and I did not see them again.

I find it difficult to remember a race as my mind seems to go blank when I am running. You may ask, how is that possible, how can it go any blanker than it is already? The miles seem to slip by without me remembering much about them, apart from the hill at the end. The morning was cold and there was a cold wind some of the time.

Have you ever thought why the Snake Lane 10 is so called? The answer is fairly obvious as at one point the road snakes backwards and forwards and you have a good view of all the runners ahead of you, which is quite depressing. Apart from this part of the route and that hill it is an uneventful course with no real land marks, that I can remember.

When I got to the race, I was directed to park in a school playground which was a good 5 minute jog to the Rugby Club to use the facilities, which in turn is about another 5 minutes to the start, but I got there in time.

After the race I met Mike Abbotts (that is his surname according to the results list), who used to be a member of the Striders and had a brief chat with him. He is now a member of Beverley AC and finished just ahead of me. Unfortunately, I did not see any other Striders, although Barrie Evans and Christine also took part. I hope that the results still count as part of the Grand Prix as I was the first Strider home (which makes a change!).


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Stephen Hepples Newham & Essex Beagles M 0:53:00
33 Melisa Neal March AC F 1 1:01:02
345 Alan Smith MV60 15 1:19:35
425 Barrie Evans MV60 20 1:24:11
630 Christine Farnworth FV55 13 1:42:57

666 finishers.

Ganghoferlauf, Leutasch, Austria, 28th February

25km Classic

Colin Blackburn

Another month, another ski race. Well, this year at least. After the Pustertaler last month the Ganghoferlauf will be my third and final race of the 2009/10 season. This year is the 40th anniversary of this Austrian race. To commemorate this event there is a 50km classic race in addition to the usual 25km classic and 20km and 42km freestyle races. All four races are on one day, Saturday being reserved for a whole raft of junior races. So with only one race on offer I decide not to be stupid and enter the sensible 25km instead of the value for money 50km. The course entry fee of €37 includes a free bumbag with insulated drinks bottle worth over €50 so ignoring the flight and accommodation costs it wasn't a bad deal.

Chris looking pensive!

I arrived in Seefeld, with regular running and skiing partner Chris, two days early to get in a bit of practice. Unlike the Scotland we had left behind Seefeld was positively balmy with temperatures above zero and slightly slushy old snow. On the first morning we walked into Seefeld and asked for waxing advice at a ski shop. We were advised to buy some no-wax skis at €400 as waxing was hopeless. We went for the cheaper option that day and skated—no grip wax needed! Seefeld had some nice woodland trails with some very nice trail-side cafes, though the hills were a little hard for my skating ability. We grabbed lunch at Seewaldalm and then a little later stopped for a coffee at the Wildmoosalm. The first was good but a little normal, the second was positively weird. It was packed with a real mix of people, skiers, walkers and people who looked like they'd been trapped there all their lives. The roof dripped with football scarves from just about every European club, arranged in a rainbow of colours. Every now and then an emergency Strudel trolley passed around the packed room with a blue light flashing and siren sounding. The Strudel was good too!

Snow? What snow?

On the Saturday we decided we really did have to test our waxing and so prepped the skis with the ultra-sticky klister in an attempt to get some grip on the wet snow. We had planned a trip from Seefeld to Leutasch via some very picturesque trails. It turned out to be a beautiful day and we were getting grip on the hills. At lunch we stopped at Ropfer Stub'm which has spectacular views across the relatively snow-free lowlands of the Tirolean mountains. Well, I say stopped. I sort of crashed into the cafe as the arrival slope was a little, er, interesting. Luckily my crash was just out of view of the crowded terrace. Ordering Spinatnudels I found lunch was two tennis-ball-sized lumps of dough and spinach, very filling and very nice despite their appearance. After lunch we pushed on the Leutasch taking in the final 8km or so or the 25km course for practice.

The day of the race dawned and we took breakfast early, Frau Warner had left out a flask of coffee and some bread the night before. After getting our stuff together we walked down to the bus station only to discover the 0824 didn't run on a Sunday! Luckily the taxi rank was just a few yards away and all the taxis had roof-racks designed for skis so all was not lost, bar €15! Once we got to Leutasch we tested our waxing and touched up the skis a little before heading to the changing rooms. The 25km and 50km races started at the same time which meant a few hundred people in the start lanes. I tucked in behind someone who looked like they might go at least as fast as me—overtaking at this stage isn't something I have an aptitude for. Luckily I was far enough back to avoid an enormous pile-up on the first bend. Chris on the other hand had to take evasive action but survived with no damage to him or his poles.

After the first long climb of the race there were a couple of great descents. The second shorter climb promised even more. While heading up this climb I met a young guy skating along with broken poles in his hands. He'd managed to break them 30 minutes in to the race, he had been in 15th place, his race was over but he was philosophical about it. For me it was a yo-yoing sort of race. I'd pass people on the ups, they'd pass me on the downs. When I got to the next summit of the race I looked down the very steep descent to see a paramedic crew waiting at the bottom complete with skidoo and stretcher trailer. I think they were anticipating accidents. Luckily I saved them having to spring into action for me by negotiating the slope perfectly if not at the highest speed.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful and I held my position till near the end. As I started to flag a couple of people passed including one old guy in period ski gear: britches, long socks, etc. Anyone entering this anniversary race got their money refunded if they did it in period costume with older skis. As I approached the finish I just had to make sure I went into the finish loop and didn't accidentally started a second 25km lap as the 50km competitors had to do. On the final bend I had the old guy in my sights and started to double pole. Unfortunately my double pole sprint finish isn't a patch on that of Petter Northug and I finish a second or so behind. He tapped my pole lightly with his to acknowledge my effort, shaking hands with poles is difficult if not dangerous!

The included post-race meal really hit the spot and we hung around to watch a bit of the presentation. There was a special prize given to a guy who'd done all forty races, unfortunately he then fell down the stairs off the stage. I hope he recovers to take part in the 41st. We then headed back on the bus (yes they do run in the afternoons!) to Seefeld and watched the mighty Petter Northug win the gold medal in the 50km classic at Vancouver. He finished his 50km faster than I managed my 25km, I've got a long way to go yet!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Thomas Ruppaner Fischer Racing Team M 1:07.00,2
46Chris Dibben London Nordic MV40 17/33 1:34.12,0
91Colin Blackburn Tyneside Loipers MV40 24/33 2:08.55,2

124 finishers.

Commondale Clart, NYM, 28th February


Nigel Heppell

Nigel leaps over the clarts.

Unlike yesterday I judged my travelling time just right for my first attempt at this race and arrived at reception in the pub for 10mins warm-up in front of the open fire before the rather brutal start steeply uphill on road for a fairly simple anti-clockwise circuit of Skelderskew Moor.

I say simple; it would have been if you could get your feet out of the special kind of sticky clag that passes for a track/trail in these parts. I guess the clue is in the title; the average depth of mud must have been 6" and when you consider the odd bits of road and some reasonable track surface you can work out for yourself what the rest was like; a bit like one gut-busting continuous hop-skip-and-jump; suffice it to say that even though the temperature peaked at 2°C in a nithering north-easterly I still managed to work up a sweat.

Don't be deluded by the 5.5miles and 600ft climb listed on the race map, the 6miles and 1000' featuring on the Esk Valley website has got to be nearer the mark.

Winner's presentation in the pub was up to Dave Parry's usual standard - generous quantities of wine and lager on offer though, sadly, none for me! It was nice to see two younger lads competing in their first ever fell race and really enjoying it - quote "that was SO much better than road racing" - what more can I say?

English National XC Championships, Leeds, 27th February

Mudman & Mudwoman

Your Club was represented at the national cross country championships on Saturday by six brave souls:

Mudman leads the pack up the hill!

The course in Roundhay Park Leeds was hilly and muddy, just as you would expect in a national championship. The hills were long and steep and the mud was very sticky and smelly. Nonetheless, every Strider had a great time and felt privileged to be there and able to compete against fellow runners from Folkstone to Liverpool. The sight of 500 senior women and 1300 senior men racing up a muddy hill was truely impressive - hope to see many more of you there next year - it really is a great experience a must for every runners' CV.


1 Andy Vernon Aldershot Farnham & District AC 38:01
880 David Gibson 54:19
1010 Mike Bennett 56:27
1098 Geoff Davis 58:09

1328 finishers.

1 Stephanie Twell Aldershot Farnham & District AC 27:52
264 Fiona Shenton 37:18
394 Susan Davis 40:54
408 Jan Young 41:25

543 finishers.

High Cup Nick Fell Race, Dufton, 27th February


Shaun Roberts

I'd heard great things about this race, so as for the first time it didn't clash with a Harrier League fixture, I thought it was time to give it a go. Nigel and Dougie also came over the Pennines, and as is becoming traditional, we had the discussion as to whether to wear a Helly or not - I was for, Dougie against - but we were both happy with our choices in the end, so there you go. Bit of a long drag to start with, but after a while we had a nice undulating stretch that took us over to the east and the approach into the High Cup valley itself. Up and over a 'shoulder' and there it was - a superb view of High Cup Gill opened up before us - quite magical - and we descended into the valley. Very boggy section here until the boulder field at the head of the valley - we could forget running for a while and just had to scramble over large rocks. Then deep snow, that the organiser, Morgan Donnelly had helpfully cut steps into earlier. Brilliant open views down the valley from here:

Clambering through the snow above the boulder field.

Off and running again, now through deep snow at the top of the crag - followed by an exhilarating run down the valley side, on an unpredictable mix of snow, mud and rock. Near the bottom I saw my wife, and we shouted a few pleasantries at each other - but soon after I heard her talking to someone else, and guessed Nigel had caught me up on the descent (as had quite a few others to be honest), so I put a bit of a shift on over the last section through grassy fields to get to the finish in Dufton. Sure enough, Nigel wasn't far behind, and Dougie came in soon afterwards. Soup and a roll in the village hall went down very well.

The organiser introduced the results by making some very gracious remarks about runners at the back of the field - he said never mind the hundred or so runners in the front - they should remember that there were sixty million or so people in the country who couldn't imagine doing this sort of thing - a comment that could apply to nearly all running races, methinks.

A great race, and Dougie's managed to get some superb photos on the way round, link below ...


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Chris Steele Borrowdale M 1:04:18
102 Shaun Roberts MV50 1:33:26
107 Nigel Heppell MV50 1:34:47
129 Dougie Nisbet MV40 1:44:26

145 finishers.

Belvoir Challenge, Grantham, 27th February


Dave Robson

This is a popular event and it was full about a month ago - 1200 participants with probably about 400 runners and 800 walkers. There are two routes, the 16m and the 26m. Its very similar to a LDWA event, but its a bit more expensive as all proceeds go to the local school which is the start and end point.

It was a tad muddy today. Last year the conditions were pretty dry. This year there was lots and lots of mud. Some of it was so bad that even when it was flat I couldn't run on it - it was just squelchy and I would be ankle deep in the stuff. Sometimes I would come out of a ploughed field and my shoes would feel twice as heavy as the normally do. There was also plenty of stiles to stretch your legs.

I liked it. Some beautiful villages and Belvoir Castle looked impressive again. It was a new route this year and we got a better view this time. Some of course was used last year, but in the opposite direction. Not too many hills and none of them were particularly big, but the mud made them hard to get up.

The checkpoints were well stocked and the meal at the end was as great as it was last year - soup, pudding, tea and flapjack. Its the twentieth year they have run this event and the organisation is like clockwork. A good run and I am pleased to got round. I was over 30min slower than last year with 5hr 8min, but it felt a totally different event this year.

Durham Tri Club Duathlon, High Shincliffe, 21st February

Run 2M, Bike 11M, Run 2M

Alan Smith

The January Duathlon had to be postponed due to adverse weather conditions and was rearranged for the end of January, but that had to be cancelled for the same reason. This February event was my first duathlon, although about 10 years ago I did a run and cycle race only at Meadowfield without the final run. I drove by car in the dark round part of the route a few weeks ago but took a wrong turn as I did not realise that part of the route doubled back. I then cycled the bike route the week before the race with no problems.

On the day itself, I cycled from home to the start, so had a bit of a warm up. The event involves a 3 km run, an 18km bike ride and a 3km run. We were not sure if the race would go ahead as the morning started off very frosty and there was ice on part of the running route. It was only when I got to registration (fee £3) that we knew that it was going ahead.

I was asked to give the time of a recent race which I had done, so I gave my time for the Brass Monkey in York last month. This was used to calculate my handicap, as a result of which I started off in the first group of two and was given number 1. The next group started off 3 minutes later. At the end of the first run, I was still in the lead and it was only after several miles cycling that a few cyclists started to overtake me.

I cycled as fast as I could, but not fast enough. One of the cyclists caught me up and we cycled along together for a short distance and had a chat, but then he pulled away and 2 other cyclists went past as did a few others later on. Shaun was also competing but I did not see him after the start until he came in running strong at the finish.

My thighs were aching a bit (more of a burning sensation) towards the end of the bike ride as I approached High Shincliffe, which was the only steep hill on the route, the others being more gradual. I actually caught a cyclist up at the top of the hill, just before the finish.

The hardest part was running after cycling, but there was a transition area which was where I parked my bike before and after the cycle ride. Because it was icy, we had to walk round the transition area with our bikes before setting off running, which helped a bit. On the bonus side, when I was running after the cycling, I ran past one of the faster cyclists who had overtaken me on the bike ride, which felt good.

My bike is a hybrid, but if you want to achieve a good time on the bike ride you need to use a road/racing bike. I did not take any wrong turns on the run or on the cycle ride. After the race I then cycled home with Dave Shipman who had come to observe.

I was slightly disappointed with my overall time, as although only a few cyclists over took me (they had started after me) my time was fairly slow, but I am pleased to say that I was not the last. There were 31 starters, but only 30 finished. However, on checking my handicap time, I see that I was fifth.

A very enjoyable morning, well worth doing. The next club Duathlon is on 21 March. I have also entered for the City of Durham Duathlon on 18 April, which involves a 5km run, a 25km bike ride, a 5km run and a lot more hill work. [Link on right, under "Coming soon". Ed.]


Pos Name Run 1+T1 Bike+T2 Run 2 Total
1 Gary Grounds 11:3834:4210:50 0:57:10
5 Hilary ROSS 14:0337:5712:43 1:04:43
11 Shaun ROBERTS 13:3041:3113:08 1:08:09
26 Alan SMITH 16:1549:1515:30 1:21:00

30 finishers.

Harrier League, Temple Park, South Shields, 20th February

Mudman & Mudwoman

Twenty two Striders represented their club at Saturday's X/C at Temple Park, South Shields. They enjoyed a bright if chilly day and coped well with a fairly muddy course. The twelve women were led home again by Nina with Fiona completing the fastest time by a Strider. All the women ran their hearts out and there were many improved performances among our newer runners. The provisional results show the team finishing 10th on the day.

The ten determined men were running without three regular 'counters' and so finished 3rd in Division 3 on the day. However, we still keep our promotion spot in 2nd place for the season so far. Once again Phil Sanderson had a blistering run putting in the fifth fastest time of the day, being the fastest Veteran runner and leading home the Striders' team. Debutant Joe Thornhill had a good run and should be back with us next season.

There is a gap now of five weeks before the final fixture at Prudhoe on 27th March. It will be crucial for Striders to have their biggest and best teams out at that fixture if we are to realise our promotion and top ten dreams. See you all there.


1 REED, Nathan Sunderland Harriers 34:34
37 SANDERSON, Phil * 37:29
82 GIBSON, David 38:46
187 ROBERTS, Shaun 41:45
190 DAVIS, Geoff 41:55
206 WHITE, Conrad 42:27
212 METSON, John 42:55
227 HEPPLE, Nigel 43:54
273 THORNHILL, Joe 47:24
294 ROBSON, Dave 49:46
303 ROBSON, Alister 51:12

* Fast pack

315 finishers. Men's team 3rd, Division 3.

1 MOONEY, Jane Morpeth Harriers & AC 27:02
35 MASON, Nina 30:03
41 GODDARD, Debra 30:25
55 DAVIS, Susan 31:14
63 YOUNG, Jan 31:48
65 BARLOW, Stephanie 31:50
67 SHENTON, Fiona * 31:59
73 TOMLINS, Zoe 32:36
85 DYKES, Kirsty 33:36
89 PROCTOR, Angela 34:05
91 COPLEY, Jennifer 34:12
98 PORTER, Joanne 35:31
100 TARN, Lindsay 35:45

* Fast pack

112 finishers. Women's Team 10th.

Fairmile Fell Race, Howgill, Sedbergh, 14th February

Geoff Watson

The Fairmile fell race is another race in the Kendal winter league. This is a series of races from January to April based around the Southern Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. The races are generally between 4-5 miles and see entries from 50-100 runners. The Fairmile race is in a quiet part of the Lune valley on the Howgill fells on the opposite side to the busy M6. It takes in enroute two peaks, Linghaw and Fell Head at 623 metres. From here you can take in views of The Calf (676m) which is the highest Howgill peak to the east, or to the west, the lakeland ranges. The route is straight up and then straight down, so there is no let up on the legs!

The KWL races are quite short but have a very friendly atmosphere and races for juniors to seniors. If you are tempted to do one then Cautley Spout (7th March) is a tough but rewarding one. A more gentle cross country race in the series is the Sedbergh race (28th Feb).

Editor's note: the more astute reader will have noticed that Geoff's completely failed to mention how he got on in this one. You'll have to draw your own conclusions ...

Harrier League, Wrekenton, 13th February

Mudman & Mudwoman

Mudman & Mudwoman were unable to make it to Wrekenton but were very pleased to see that the teams did themselves proud.

The Women had their best result of the season finishing eighth on the day which also puts them in eighth place for the season. No less than 13 Striders women ran with Nina leading the team home again followed closely by Rebecca Pannell making her HL debut.

The Men continued their push for promotion finishing second team in Division 3 on the day and maintaining second place for the season. Phil Sanderson, running from the fast pack, led the team of 11 men home.

Nina hammers down the hill.

However, we need to maintain this momentum next Saturday (20/02) at Temple Park South Shields if Striders are going to have a season to remember and celebrate. Hope to see as many as possible of you there.

Jan adds:

Far from wrecks, we had some good runs at Wrekenton. Mudman and partner would have been proud:

See you all at South Shields Sat 20th Feb.





1 GARBUTT, Daniel Durham City Harriers 33:32
50 SANDERSON, Phil * 40:02
117 GIBSON, David 41:59
164 HORSLEY, Will * 43:47
183 BENNETT, Michael 44:27
201 ROBERTS, Shaun 45:30
210 METSON, John 46:15
236 HEPPLE, Nigel 48:15
254 THOMPSON, Andrew 49:53
262 NESBIT, Dougie 50:32
288 ROBSON, Dave 54:10
305 BROOKS, Peter 60:23

* Fast pack

309 finishers. Men's team 2nd, Division 3.

1 MOONEY, Jane Morpeth Harriers & AC 28:14
37 MASON, Nina 32:44
41 PANNELL, Rebecca 33:05
57 BARLOW, Stephanie 33:49
58 YOUNG, Jan 33:51
62 GODDARD, Debra 33:59
63 LAYTON, Roz 34:04
72 TOMLINS, Zoe 34:39
87 DYKES, Kirsty 36:39
90 COPLEY, Jennifer 37:20
92 BRADLEY, Jean 37:34
93 PROCTOR, Angela 37:47
94 TARN, Lindsay 38:01
101 BOS, Clare Van Den 40:26

110 finishers. Women's Team 8th.

Durham Charity 5K, 13th February

Dave Robson

I was up early for the Durham 5K charity run which started a bit earlier this year - 10.00. This made it much easier to do it and the Wrekenton cross country. In the car park I met somebody who had been thinking of joining the club and he is going to come down and give us a try, so that was a good start to the day.

Not many of the students had pre-entered, so registration was a bit busy before 10.00 and we made our way to the start a bit after 10.00 and stood and shivered for a while before getting going.

Different course than in previous years, three laps on a well marked and marshalled course on the Maiden castle side of the river. It was all on grass and as the course had been used for juniors the previous day, it was pretty muddy. It was great and the sudden lashing rainfall in the middle of the race made it feel like a normal winter cross country event, but without any hills ! I had challenged my students to race me, but not too many of them turned out, thirteen I reckon with 9 in front of me and 4 behind, so its not costing me very much for the challenge I set them. Overall they had disappointing numbers at the event (and none in fancy dress this year).

As we passed the finish for the first time, I glanced at my Garmin and it was over 8min and it wasn't a complete lap, but with the cross country coming up, I wasn't going to push it and I finished in 28min. Afterwards I saw it was over 5.5K so I felt a little better ! Alan Purvis and Louise Billcliffe also ran it and enjoyed it. There are no results for this run.

Kielder Grey's Summit Fell Race, 7th February


Dougie Nisbet

The story goes that after the first test-flight of the Spitfire in 1936 the pilot turned to the designer and said, "Don't change a thing". It crossed my mind to say this to Will today at the Harrier League when we were chatting about the first (and possibly only) running of the Kielder Grey's Summit fell race. Already Will is talking about variations on this route; whether it stays the same or has some new twists and turns, it's got the great raw material that is the Kielder Forest and can't go wrong.

The race suited me just fine and dandy. It started with a brief bit of tarmac, then onto some forest tracks that climbed into the heights of Kielder and warmed us all up before the real fell stuff began. As soon as we veered off-road and hit our first non-running climb I took the opportunity to do a quick costume change. I was overheating again and needed to cool down. The trick is to make sure your bib number isn't safety-pinned to your baselayer, otherwise when the peel off the singlet you find yourself blindly stumbling through the heather with a rather constricted view of the world.

Feeling cooler and comfortable it was soon time to hit the Three Pikes. I'd lost my DFR targets and so started the climb with no interesting blips on the radar to chase. I enjoy a good slog up a fell and often find it's where I make my gains. Sure enough, by the time we crossed the snowline and neared the top, I could see DFR's Dawn Metcalfe who had finished ahead of me at Wansfell, and suddenly I had someone to chase.

At this point the route follows much of the outward course of the Kielder Borderer, except backwards, and I got frequent blasts of back-to-front deja-vu. Stumbling down the descent from the three-pikes I could feel my balance going and made the decision to fall into the snow rather than wham my joints trying to recover. Good move. The snow was scratchy but forgiving. I picked myself up and had another go at catching Dawn. In the race-briefing Will had warned us of the final bridge-crossing was sheet ice and would require us to tip-toe across holding on to the wall. It was around here that I passed Dawn and overtook her in a slightly surreal fashion as we both gingerly crossed the bridge seeking out the scarce traction afforded by the track edges.

I pushed on to the finish and was content to run in without any ostentatious sprinting. Then several things happened at once. The finish seemed to be at the top of a staircase, and half-way up I could see NFR's Terry Hart, who is never far away from me in a fell race. He seemed too far away to catch and I hit the stairs without ambition. Then a voice hollered from above, filled with exasperation, mockery, and accusation, it boomed; "Come on Dougie, SHIFT. YOUR. ARSE!". Looking up I saw the gauntlet-thrower at the top of the stairs was Phil Owen. I decided to do as I was told and sprinted passed Terry on one of the hairpins to the finish and found myself at Kielder Castle. It's not many fell races that can claim to finish at the top of a flight of stairs!

I'm a big fan of Kielder although I'm never sure why. It's a long way to travel to risk being mauled by midges, but it's a great big slab of interesting wild space and it's a great place for fell races.