Race Reports, October 2010

Guy Fawkes 10, Ripley Castle, 31st October

10M

Kathryn Sygrove

Well, if I thought the Tynedale Jelly-Tea 10 miler was hard with that enormous hill out of Corbridge, boy, how wrong I was! On the Nidd Valley Road Runners' website, it is aptly describes as "an accurately measured hilly course with the first and last miles on forest trail and bridle ways. The race finishes in the stunning Ripley Castle Courtyard." Okay, no worries, I thought, but once I had arrived in Ripley, kindly escorted by Flip and Anna, rumours abounded about loads of hills, "tailing off after 9 miles", "downhill then, when you are flagging", then other comments like "lots of chocolate at the end", and "terrific goodie bags" which helped placate me somewhat.

Go on man! Do it!

Flip and Anna had been explaining en route about meeting "random Fetchies" from the Fetchpoint website www.fetcheveryone.com and how you only had to look for their teeshirt or rather swish-looking hoodie, to make friends, get the gen, and swap running notes. Too true, they must have met about half a dozen such Fetchies here that they knew! They were the ones with stories of hills and chocolate ...

The start was somewhat confused, as the start had altered to near the Castle grounds. It was a rather murky, humid and grey day to be standing around getting cold, and the race was due to start at 10.30 am which easily came and went. About 10 minutes later, all were ushered via a most feeble loudspeaker to the start right in the village centre, and off we went. 10.40 I reckon - took my Garmin which ran out of battery, so fat lot of use that was!! DUH!

I started well with Andrew Thompson (also running were mam Maggie, Jean Gillespie, and we espied Jim Nicholson too from our Striders' clan) as we stumbled over the bridle path to find good footing. I soon got left behind as he and Anna (not-racing-just-running-Seeley, only kidding - she has hurt her achilles) moved past me up a slight incline. Undulation seemed to follow undulation, with the odd downhill bit until we hit 4 miles. Oh heck! The Birstwith Brute. What a formidable sight. I chose to fast-walk this beast, and save my energy for other anticipated hills - anyone who ran it must have been mad. Then more slight ups and downs, till the Swincliffe Swine - not quite as bad as the brute, but fairly leg-knackering all the same. I adopted the same method of reaching the top, and kinda free-wheeled (free-legged??) it down the other side.

Bit of a blur between 6-8 miles, I didn't feel so good by then, and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Then another flaming hill with specially-devised title "For Fawke's sake".That one (ie the joke) passed me by till the end, goofy woman that I am! But then what happened? We were at the 9 mile point, and suddenly the bridle-cum-forest trail opened up in front of me and Flip-I-take-a-long-while-to-speed-up-Owen raced past me with an encouraging call. Smelling victory, my legs suddenly came alive and I shot through the trees and towards the courtyard, cheered on by onlookers and finishers.

I got passed the finish line, completely unaware of my time, expecting 1:40 after those hum-dinging hills. What do you know? 1:31:53, nearly 5 mins faster than the Jelly T and (to my immense delight) only 28 seconds after Flip. Of course, Anna, and Andrew were a good 10 mins ahead of me, and Jean, Jim and Maggie soon followed. I nearly didn't find them in the carpark by the way, Flip, and was envisaging getting bus and train back to Durham, till Maggie yelled at me and pinpointed their location - good lass!

I hear some stranger called Ian Crampton won the race in a bizarrely fast time like 56 minutes, but I bet he didn't get his picture taken with Guy Fawkes, ready to set off his sparkler-bomb! :-))

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Ian CramptonDurham City Harriers M45 10:56:51
23 Karen PicklesPudsey Pacers F35 11:03:52
260 Andrew Thompson M 1:20:46
480 Phil Owen M45 1:31:25
489 Kathryn Sygrove F40 1:31:53
528 Jean Gillespie F55 1:33:39
653 Jim Nicholson M60 1:39:43
748 Margaret Thompson F60 1:46:32

833 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Farringdon, 30th October

Mudman & Mudwoman

There was another great turnout on a bright and not too muddy day with 17 men and 10 women running for their club. Only one debutant (I think!) and that was long standing Strider member Ian Graham who had a good race running in road shoes. We hope Ian is now converted to the 'country'.

Will Horsley led the men home and a few male Striders were vexed at the 'extra' loop tagged on at the end of the race. I believe our webmaster intends writing to his MP.
[ I certainly am. Why we had to do nearly an extra kilometre, with an extra hill, during a severe economic downturn is quite beyond me ... Andy Glass's Mum needs to get to the bottom of this. Ed.]

Jan, Stef and Angela. Nina led the women home on the two lap course pursued by a strong women's team. Tom & Joan Reeves captured both races on video! Can't wait to see it.

We haven't got many more details at the moment 'cos when we went to get the results everyone had packed up and gone home! No doubt the results will be on the web very soon.

Yours in clarts ...

Results

Men
PosNameClubCatTime
1 VIS, Patrick Durham City Harriers 34:11
44 HORSLEY, Will *M 39:00
55 SANDERSON, Phil *F 39:31
139 REEVES, Tom 41:26
192 BENNETT, Michael 42:45
210 DAVIS, Geoff 43:34
217 WHITE, Conrad 43:59
225 HIBELL, Daniel 44:22
231 HOOPER, David 44:33
249 ROBERTS, Shaun 45:15
287 ARROWSMITH, Graham 47:32
289 THOMPSON, Andrew 47:38
294 VISEGRADI, Konstantin 48:00
328 NESBIT, Dougie 50:25
329 WALKER, Dave 50:43
344 NICHOLSON, George 52:29
349 GRAHAM, Ian 52:52
355 OWEN, Phil 54:44

*M Medium pack - 2m30s handicap.
*F Fast pack - 5m handicap.

367 finishers. Men's team 7th of 11, Division 2.

The sea of purple!
Women
PosNameClubCatTime
1 SMITH, Rosie Durham City Harriers 20:23
26 MASON, Nina 26:09
49 PEARSON, Keri *M 26:57
52 GODDARD, Debs 27:08
67 DAVIS, Susan 27:40
96 BARLOW, Stephanie 28:54
101 YOUNG, Jan 29:03
111 BRADLEY, Jean 29:41
116 PROCTOR, Angela 30:00
122 TARN, Lindsay 30:40
123 LANGLEY, Michelle 30:55

*M Medium pack - 2m handicap.

147 finishers. Women's Team 8th of 16.

Border Reivers Half Marathon, RAF Spadeadam, Haltwistle, 27th October

Dougie Nisbet

On a bright autumnal midweek day two cars and six Strider passports headed for RAF Spadeadam for one of the more unusual half-marathons on the racing calendar. George Paul and Barrie were in the lead vehicle and they were through passport control and into the changing rooms in plenty of time. Alister me and Phil were not far behind but instead of heading straight for registration we decided to take the scenic route and have an extended drive around the base. After 15 minutes driving and countless "It MUST be around the next corner" we sheepishly realised we would have to 'fess up and go back to the nice young lass on the gate and admit that none of us had paid much attention to what she said when she'd explained where the registration and parking was.

Luckily just before we got back to the gate the gym jumped out at us and soon we were parked and ready to rock. With still an hour or two to go George was already well into his warm-up and jogged along with us to registration before disappearing to continue limbering up. It didn't seem long before we were at T-minus 20 and it was time for the race briefing. Normally I switch off for this sort of thing but decided it might be prudent to listen up for this one. I recall the words 'missile', 'phonebox' and 'tank' were all in there somewhere but my overwhelming impression was that it would probably not be a good idea to go off course.

Blue Streak and the StridersOn the start line I noticed I was one of the few not wearing a base layer and I shared a manly chat with Paul and Phil about nipples and sporting fabrics and the effect of the cold wind. The Station Commander started us off with a nicely pitched pep-talk and up and away we ran towards the forest. It should have been virgin territory for Alister, Phil and me but having spent 20 minutes driving around looking for the car park we soon discovered that we were already quite familiar with the first few miles. It was a long drag uphill and Phil was first to feel the pace and dropped back down the field. Barrie did what Barrie does, which is to start at the back then amble by whistling a happy tune. By the end of the first few miles of climbing the field had rapidly spread out. Paul and Alister were way out ahead, with me, George and Barrie within a few hundred yards of each other. Around the half-way mark I got past George but Barrie was still an elusive 40 seconds or so ahead. He looked catchable all the way to the finish at which point I realised he wasn't. The very fast downhill run into the finish on tarmac was quite a buzz although I felt an injury wasn't far off if I wasn't careful with that final fast few miles of pounding tarmac.

Paul and Alister had been home for a while, with Barrie then me and George fairly close together. Phil finished a few minutes later after rallying a bit on the second half of the race on his long-road back from injury. He says he's super-unfit and got a long way to go but I suspect a return to our back-of-the-pack battles are not as far off as he might think.

It was great having a hot shower afterwards and I noticed that my Raynaud's Syndrome was on particularly fine form with all five fingers in a delightful two-tone; white at the tips, a lovely rosy-red at the base. I popped my hand around the edge of the shower cubicle and said, "Here Phil, this is what I have to put up with!" When there was no reply I popped my head around the shower cubicle to discover Phil had transmogrified into a complete stranger who was looking at me with an understandably bewildered expression.

The day was rounded off with tons of nosh, unbelievably cheap beer and some really, really comfy chairs. Great company and a great day out. A candidate for next year's Grand Prix perhaps?

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 A Fisher M 1:22:01
8 Paul Evans M 1.30.43
38 Alister Robson M 1.49.31
41 Barrie Evans M 1.52.39
44 Dougie Nisbet M 1.53.17
47 George Nicholson M 1.55.33
63 Phil Owen M 2.04.24

69 finishers, apart from the 18 women who also ran, but who the RAF in their wisdom list as if in a separate race.

Dublin Marathon, 25th October

Ian Spencer

Sometimes less is more. I used to think that nothing could beat the experience of running the London Marathon but Dublin can. I know it's supposed to be pointless to compare and one should just judge each race on its own merits. But, as a Londoner, Dublin really has become my favourite. This is because, with just over 13,000 entrants, it is all the better for being smaller by giving it an intimacy and easy-going nature. For example, instead of the kraal that you are in on Blackheath, you can just walk to the start on Fitzwilliam Street, have a coffee with your supporter(s) before dropping off your bag, use one of the vast number of loos, take up your place and whoever has come to cheer you on can still see you to give you a wave.

The organisation was faultless with bags of that big city marathon atmosphere both at the registration and on the actual race. This was helped further by the perfect cool and sunny conditions. The Dublin course isn't flat but its undulations are steady climbs rather than anything severe. It goes through the beautiful Phoenix Park as well as historic sights such as O'Connell St. But what really made it for me was the astonishing warmth and friendliness of the crowds. The amount of sweets, fruit and drinks on offer meant that this is the one marathon where you could actually put weight on and get your five-a-day! It took only a minute to get over the start line. Only once or twice were there pinch-points where the route narrowed; mainly at the end because the Garda are so laid back that they didn't get spectators to stand on the pavements. Not that it held back either of the winners who both set course records.

Although, €70 is a bit steep for some I felt that I got more than value for money. An unforgettable weekend.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Moses Kangogo Kibet Kenya            M 2:09:07
3109 Ian Spencer M45 283 3:45:12

10,700 finishers

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Cramlington, 23rd October

Mudman & Mudwoman

Your club was represented at today's Harrier League by no less than 19 men and 10 women. Everyone had a great time on the wet and muddy course particularly our seven debutants:

We also saw the welcome return of Paul Loftus after an absence from HL of around two hundred years.

Yes, it's that time of the year again ... one of new Strider Konstantin's excellent photos.

Keri had a sparkling debut finishing 10th in a field of 134 and earning immediate promotion to the new Women's medium pack. Phil Sanderson continued his blistering form finishing (by my calcs) as the fastest veteran in the men's field of 305 runners.

Striders Women finished a fantastic 4th team while the men appear to have finished 8th in Division 2 (out of 11 teams).

WELL DONE EVERYONE! We can't wait for next Saturday (Farringdon). Be there or be square.

Results

Men
PosNameClubCatTime
1 HOOD, Mark Sunderland Harriers 34:26
50 HORSLEY, Will *M 40:35
66 SANDERSON, Phil *F 41:03
133 BENNETT, Michael 42:59
167 WHITE, Conrad 44:21
180 WESSON, Keith 44:37
183 DAVIS, Geoff 44:52
203 HIBELL, Daniel 46:10
204 HOOPER, David 46:23
228 ROBERTS, Shaun 47:18
230 ROBSON, Alistair 47:22
237 GIBSON, David 47:53
247 VISEGRADI, Konstantin 48:44
271 HOCKIN, Richard 50:30
273 NICHOLSON, George 51:01
274 LOFTUS, Paul 51:11
283 NESBIT, Dougie 52:12
285 HALL, Richard 52:36
287 WALKER, Dave 53:03
295 OWEN, Phil 55:18

*M Medium pack - 2m30s handicap.
*F Fast pack - 5m handicap.

305 finishers. Men's team 8th of 11, Division 2.

And they're off!
Women
PosNameClubCatTime
1 ROGERS, Stacy Heaton Harriers 26:56
10 PEARSON, Keri 29:52
24 SHENTON, Fiona 31:18
28 MASON, Nina 31:33
55 GODDARD, Debs 32:55
56 DAVIS, Susan 33:07
73 YOUNG, Jan 34:08
79 BARLOW, Stephanie 34:39
111 TARN, Lindsay 37:17
116 LANGLEY, Michelle 37:48
125 READEY, Claire 39:28

134 finishers. Women's Team 4th of 17.

Saltergate Gallows Fell Race, North Yorks Moors, 17th October

9m / 1400'

Tom Reeves

What a great day for a fell race. Sunny dry with a very light cold breeze. I was the only Elvet Strider on the start line as we set off along Levisham Moor skirting around the strangely named Hole Of Horcum. The ground was good indeed - too good for me, I was quickly overtaken by lots of runners on the largely flat wide path. If you are a trail runner this is a good race for you to try with a good 75% on very good tracks. The course has been changed this year and is a figure of eight. The route doubles back on itself along Lewisham Bottom and is a bit of a tough run through the heather. The toughest bit comes on the second loop of the figure of eight - the Angels Staircase is very steep and very muddy. Then it's a sprint back through the woods, a good long descent then two naughty climbs to the finish.

Phew!

Richmond Castle 10K, 17th October

Denise Mason

It was a bit of a shock to find frost this morning and it was my first race with a base layer and buff! I had no idea Richmond was so close, only 30 miles away, so I parked up fairly early with Jane in the marketplace. We sat and scoffed cakes and drank coffee before venturing out of the car for a short warm up. Neither of us had any idea of the course route, although I was prepared for it being very hilly.

We found one other Strider at the start line (James) who reiterated how hilly this one was going to be. We started off on a steep decline along the cobbled marketplace and it wasn't long before Jane broke away in to a faster pace. I was secretly glad as I didn't fancy trying to keep up with her! The hills were killers and there were quite a few of them. The marshals were great, apart from the one who shouted 'Well done only 3 bad hills left!' ;0)

They were the kind of hills where you feel like you're going to knee yourself in the chin and I had to power walk most of them! The course was quite pretty though and I found myself really enjoying it. The last hill led right to the finish line in the castle grounds. There was a lot of crowd support and there was no way I was going to stop for a walk on that one! Happily there was a chip shop right near the finish line too and I rewarded myself with a greasy buttie!

Although clearly not a PB course, I'll definitely be back for this one next year.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Marc Scott Richmond & Zetland Harrs M 1 0:33:50
41 Angie Watson Birtley AC F 1 0:42:00
256 Jane Ives F40 8 0:52:44
313 Denise Mason F 20 0:55:40
376 Jim Nicholson MV60 16 1:00:12

452 finishers.

Kielder Marathon, 17th October

Shaun Roberts ...

When this race was announced, we had a lot of talk on the list as to whether the high cost was justified, especially as there didn't need to be road closures. Well, arriving at Kielder early on this cold and foggy Sunday morning, you could see where some of the money was being spent. Shuttle buses, paid marshals, traffic control, temporary car park roadways - all sorts, that a club-run race normally doesn't have to pay for. Sadly, though, a bit more time on the planning side might have been a good idea. There was a long queue of cars trying to get over the dam and down to Falstone to park - but the shuttle buses were trying to get up and down this same narrow stony road, which slowed down the whole process. I was surprised that the race was only delayed by fifteen minutes.

Andrew Jean and Margaret.Dougie and Alan.

Very sociable before the off - lots of the usual suspects were here, including quite a few fell-runners. Dave Robson wisely decided not to run with an injury, but was there taking some great photos - see link below. And very photogenic it was too - we'd passed a huge 'sea' of white fog coming north from Hexham, and there was a similar fog over the reservoir, that burned off soon before the start, giving some perfect mirrored reflections of the North Shore treeline. Steve Cram, whose brainchild this race was, started us off. He also ran the race, despite recently flying in from Delhi - but his pre-race chat seemed a bit edgy to me, as if he could have done with a bit more sleep.

Off at 10:15, on a short tarmac loop near Leaplish, then onto the Lakeside path. Conditions were perfect - cool, but not too cold, then later bright without getting hot. A bit of a breeze, but nothing too strong, even coming into it across the dam. I set off pretty firmly and found the first stretch up towards the Castle to be fine - faster than I'd done on a recent recce - and I covered about eight miles by the hour mark. I knew that wasn't going to last though, and sure enough, the endless succession of short hills pulled my pace down a lot, so I only covered another seven miles by the end of the second hour. Most of the surface so far was cycle path gravel, which isn't the fastest, but it's quite nice, having a bit of 'give' in it. So getting to the tarmac on the dam felt really hard underfoot, and the soles of my feet started to ache - as did the ligament in my right knee that's been giving me some gip for a couple of months. I didn't have to walk any hills, though, until just after the twenty-mile mark (2h40m), when my legs were just crying out for a break - I started to walk the steepest slopes.

Fiona.Shaun.Graham.

Into the woods onto Bull Crag Peninsula, where I managed to keep running between short uphill walks. It seemed to take an age to get to the finish - time seemed to slow to a crawl, as I kept checking my GPS to see how much was left: 1m, 0.9m. 0.85m, 0.82m ... the last mile seemed to take as long as the first eight had done! Finally, we got to the source of all the loudspeaker noise we'd been hearing for miles across the water but couldn't see - and the assembled crowds were great. After the elite types had come in, I reckon most spectators were actually bored silly, which is the only way I can explain the huge cheers that went up as I put up a thumb to the left. I did the same to the right - more cheers. Sod it, I'll really get them going, I thought, so I did an arms-wide, aeroplane-stylee set of swerves to the finish, and they went wild! All very nice, and it started to erase the memories of the last few miles.

The queue for a massage was pretty short, so within five minutes of finishing I was sprawled on a table with a young scouse masseuse pummelling my aching legs. For some reason, the organisers had roped in twenty sports massage students from a Liverpool college - excellent! Hope they got paid. Just what the doctor ordered - until I tried to stand up afterwards. Jelly legs! In fact there were a lot of runners hobbling around, asking themselves, and others, why this had been such a hard run. The simple answer was: the endless undulations. No really massive hills, but an awful lot of smaller ones, that stopped you getting in to any real rhythm. Saw Fiona afterwards, who'd had a good race, also Andrew and Grahame who'd also done well, on what is a very hard marathon course - well done to everyone else who got round ...

Just time to experience one last niggle on this first-run event. Had to wait over forty minutes to get on a shuttle bus back to the car park - as I could have seen coming, the buses had again got caught up in the stream of traffic leaving the car park. Time for a good chat with a bloke who'd just run the race in his Vibram FiveFingers, which is to say, close to barefoot! He'd had a good run for 25 miles, but the chunky stony finish got to him in the end.

... Andrew Thompson ...

Just to add a bit to Shaun's report, this race was a funny one - the hundreds (thousands?) of little hills were hard but also had downs to go with the ups which did give recovery time in readiness for the next bit. Not going to mention PMA this time though, for Dougie's sake, think he is getting sick of my 'run at them screaming' chat.

It did get very tough towards the end - the hill at 20 miles was a killer. I managed (apart from half of the above mentioned hill) to run the whole route so I was pleased with myself about that, even though I slowed down a lot towards the end. I also did exactly the same as Shaun - the last mile I found myself checking my watch every ten steps wishing it over. When I checked three times and it was still on 25.27 miles I gave up on that and a minute later I found myself singing 'Holiday' by Weezer very, very loudly (without an ipod) while stumbling over the moors - think I lost the plot a bit there! I went past one man in tears sobbing loudly but I'm not sure if that was my vocals or the never ending last mile. Great route overall, not easy but it was never going to be. I'll be back next year.

One last thing: thanks to Dave for appearing at the top of three different hills on the route armed with his camera - the encouragement was appreciated, reckon he must have covered nearly marathon distance himself ...

... and Alan Purvis

Alan chatting to Dave before the off.

Why does anybody want to put themselves through the pain of running 26.2 miles?

When I first started serious running over thirty years ago it was regarded as the pinnacle of a lifetime in the sport. About the only marathon around was the Windsor to London and it would have a field of maybe fifty or so small, wiry men who had served their apprenticeship with 5, 10, and maybe 15- or 20-milers. The London Marathon, Great North Run and all the other big events opened the floodgates of ordinary mortals prepared to put in the miles and the effort. There are runners now who have done a marathon but never raced a 10k.

In our own club we have people running the West Highland Way, the Bob Graham Round and not just a single marathon but turning round and doing it all again! The first question asked by non-runners is "Have you done the London Marathon"? Having reached the twilight of my running career this was a serious gap in my record. I became too slow for the Harrier League a couple of years ago, went over an hour for a 10K, two and a half hours for the half-marathon and almost last in the Northumbrian Coastal Run. So when Steve Cram put forward the idea of a run round Kielder I thought "yes,its local, probably flat, not likely to be hot and my last chance."

Despite the proliferation of marathon training schedules available I relied upon what I know about my capabilities and the time I had available for training. My regular exercise had consisted of two days running on the roads, three days in the gym doing strength work and sessions of rowing, cycling and running, with two days off. The extra work would be three or four early-morning runs, gradually-lengthening long road-runs and only one rest day. I believed that three or four days of multiple sessions would replicate the stress expected in a marathon. Although I knew that it wasn't recommended to do a training run more than, say, 16 or 17 miles I thought it would be a psychological advantage to get nearer to the target, so I got up to 23 miles. [ Good idea, Ed. ]

Having generally arrived home wrecked after these runs I realised that I would have to take food on board! I entered the world of gels and sports drinks which was a bit different from malt-bread, bananas and Cadbury's Fruit and Nut bars I used to eat on longer triathlons some years ago! Experimenting with the gels showed that I had difficulty in tearing open the sachets so I took a small pair of scissors to do the job properly without squirting the stuff all over my vest.

At the race itself I was pretty quickly dropped by the majority of the field but, after fears around the eight or nine mile mark that I mightn't make it, I knew after half-way that I would. My finishing time of over six hours would make many runners think, "Oh he must have walked half of it" but I ran every step of the way although at barely more than a really brisk walking pace. At that speed I didn't suffer much after the race and, like many people who have done a marathon, I didn't want to lose all that fitness so ran about sixteen miles a few days after. I even thought about doing the Newcastle Town Moor Marathon in November but, having put my wife through the misery of waiting for her husband to cross the line after most people were back home for tea, I was not too disappointed to have missed the entry date!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 ZAK KIHARAKenya M 12:29:06
15 LIZZY HAWKERRoad Runners Club F 12:58:22
79 FIONA SHENTON F 123:33:29
99 SHAUN ROBERTS M 873:36:18
226 ANDREW THOMPSON M 1923:53:13
322 GRAHAME ARROWSMITH M 2714:04:55
629 DOUGIE NISBET M 4994:42:03
696 JEAN GILLESPIE F 1544:49:27
765 MARGARET THOMPSON F 1804:59:48
926 ALAN PURVIS M 6896:11:49

934 finishers.
Honourable mentions to Andy Biggs (DCH), 3:34:48, Phil Green (NFR), 4:30-ish, Steve Gustard (DFR) 4:42:04, Chris Hassell (NeVets) 3:49:38, Linda Noble (Darlo) 3:28:51. Steve Cram finished 158th in 3:46:12.

Abingdon Marathon, 17th October

Phil Owen

Back when my foot was just fixed from my first of 3 breaks this year I had a notion I would get all the Ultras out of the way, storm Hardmoors 114 have a few weeks rest and smash my marathon PB at this flat marathon. Breaking my foot another twice this year put paid to that. So with virtually no running Anna and I headed down to Abingdon (just south of Oxford) for the marathon. I was hopeful Anna now had the trail ultras out of her legs and even if I was going to struggle she would run a fine race.

Man drinking beer.

Met up the night before for beers with loads of fetchies and talked to a fetchie friend hellen we thought may win the race. (she did) I had a fair few beers as I really was not bothered about anything but finishing. Another fetchie Mhairi was gathering drinks for the fetchpoint. ( something fethies do for each other at various races to provide support , encouragement and sometime drinks.) I gave Mhairi my Italian sports drink.

A freezing 9am start and it was freezing from Tilsbury Park leisure center and we were off. The course is all over the place with a loop included. Out round streets, along a river , through the town centre and past fetchpoint on an industrial estate at 11 miles. Round a short lop again and twist and turns all over the place. In my book this is great as instead of thinking about running or the pull on the back of my knee i started with (but never got worse than just painful) , I just wondered where the hell we were going . Still i had decided to keep to a nice even 4:20 pace and i held it well.

Mile 22 came at fetchpoint again and I stopped for a chat and my Italian sports drink - see pic. I was told Anna was not well and not having a good race. Pity.

Suitable refreshed I plodded on , meeting up with a lad from Banbury in my line of work and passed the time chatting about Comrades ultra and stuff. He flagged near the end while I was fine. A twisty turny finish around some parkland before you finish on the track for a stadium finish in 4:23-ish. Not that the time mattered.

Anna was not well and the marshals had wanted to take her out at 16 but she refused and plodded on home in 3:47.

Back to the pub after and a great time. I thought this marathon would be dull as I'm not that keen on road or flat but i quite enjoyed it in the end . Anyway its just great to be back running again.

PS. I wore my near striders top. This is the first time I dared run anything over 10 miles in club colours as the old one rubs burns my arms. The new one was excellent.

Sunderland parkrun Celebrates its 1st Birthday

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 10th October

5k

Kathryn Sygrove...

Well, my first Sunderland Parkrun a) at all and b) as Ladies' Captain, was on the date of their first anniversary and to be fair, I think only the promise of cakes at the end lured me out of bed at 7.15am on a not-so-warm early October Saturday morn. It may also have been the fact that Richard and Diane were waiting for me as well, so no cop-out was permitted. Oh, and Diane's son Paul (10) was going to take part as well. Good on him, I thought.

We were cheerily welcomed by Alister Robson, Flip, Dave Walker (who really IS one of ours, he tells me so!!, and NO! Dave Robson, there aren't two), Dave's youngest -and probably fastest -lad, and Emma who were already raring to go, and Zoe who came racing up soon after with the spangly new vests - at Alister's behest -what a star to turn out and watch that early on the weekend! I was already clad out with Alister's Striders' top, a slight jar on the eyes I was told, being bright purple over even more garish pink! I ignored that comment.

Striders at the anniversary Parkrun

I was musing whether to run gently/ walk with Diane and Paul, following a bad gut the day before, but got so excited at the start of a new race in different surroundings, that I raced off like a good 'un. Second time round the lake WAS a bit boring, although the marshall asked if I had done two laps already, and when I answered "No" and ran the wrong way passed her, she merely shouted after me "Oh well your time won't count then!" DUH! Why didn't she just stick her arm out and say "This way for the second lap"? maybe she was still half-asleep as well...

After 3.5 km, my unfuelled body fell rather weary, and I clung on till the hill -another ruddy one!, boy, will they be my undoing - at the end. Zoe yelled me on, then Alister's grinning face appeared, telling me to go for the cones. So I did. 27:08 wasn't bad for a first attempt, Emma and Alister (the Grinninator?) both got PBs - well done to them - and I guess me, Rich, Diane and Paul did, given that these were our ONLY times to date.

Slurpish cakes afterwards, even though the Grinninator failed to point out who his wife Jacquie was. It was only when the gooey cheesecake arrived that an aside from him earlier made me put two and two together. Good fun in all, so back I go this Saturday to challenge George Nick's PB, somewhere in the 24s...as if!!

...Alister Robson

This was the anniversary run and it was a little different as there was a prizegiving beforehand for the two winners, male and female, of the Sunderland parkrun points table.

Basically each male and female winner gets 100 points, second 99, third 98 etc. You also get 100 points for volunteering at the event (Marshalling, photographing, timekeeping etc) upto three times.

There was a good turnout of 75 runners too, beating the previous record of 63 two weeks beforehand. After the run, where I was overjoyed to get a 5k PB, not just a parkrun PB of 21.23, we adjourned to Sainsbury's cafe for cakes and a raffle. My wife made her speciality cheesecake which went down a storm and Emma Detchon as well as having a PB herself won a prize in the raffle. There were loads of first time parkrunners, hope to see them again soon!

Striders are still third in the club list, after Sunderland Strollers and Sunderland Harriers, in terms of total runners although it's pretty close and we're still only just behing Sunderland Strollers in terms of the total number of runs completed by those runners. There was also a competitive debut for the new Ron Hill Striders tops thanks to our kit lady Zoe, who would have loved to have run herself but didn't dare in case of injury while she's striving to become a firefighter. I can say it's definitely lighter and credit that for my new PB!

Hellhole Multi-Terrain 10K, 10th October

Jan Young...

So that's what Hellhole Woods look like in daylight; only ever run there trying not to lose touch with headtorches in the dark on Will's jaunts. The trail race based at Louisa Sports Centre, Stanley, follows 4k downbank along C2C rail path, before turning off for circuit of Hellhole Woods and return up a now noticeable upbank rail path with final effort up 'challenging' tarmac path.

70+ runners were rewarded with a commemorative mug, inscribed 10k at 10am on 10.10.10. Now that makes a change! Time was every race awarded mugs; some of us had collections of them! Striders Ladies went one better. Claire R couldn't understand why her name was announced, until I dragged her forward- ladies team prize- wine for moi, Clair and Denise M. No matter we were only ladies team - you know me by now; 'You have to be in it to...'

Not a bad turnout for this one.

...Alister Robson

A chilly day up in Stanley and it was good to see so many Striders turn out for this one. I was originally down to run the Houghton Feast 10K which was cancelled, apparently due to the police cost of closing some roads/tracks. If that's true it's particularly sad.

There was a slight change in route from the last time I ran this two years ago, The start is now a pretty steep climb, nevertheless I got off to a decent start and was with Andrew Thompson for the first couple of km. I definitely went off too fast as when I went through 5km, I had just under 22 minutes on the clock. I was also beginning to regret wearing my trail shoes up until about 4km when the course goes off the cycle paths and into the Hellhole woods. Once in the woods I was sure I had made the right decision as it was distinctly muddy underfoot. Just after half way there was the first hill where I was slowed almost to a stop and another at about 8m forced me to walk. I was just starting to run again when I had to climb over a fence. I knew about halfway over I'd misjudged it and collapsed in a pile on the other side, luckily with only my pride damaged. Thanks to the Derwentside AC marshall with the handlebar moustache for picking me up and also to the Crook runner immediately behind me for managing not to laugh! Once back on the cycle path the way we went out I made decent progress again, until the horrible hill at the beginning again, then over the top and down to the finishing line finishing in a still creditable 47.44.

I saw Andrew come in not long after me but then had to shoot off to watch my wife's netball side over at Hartlepool - they won. Gutted to have missed the presentation at the end - well done Claire, Denise and Jan! Oh, and thanks to Dave Robson for the photos and for carrying kit, keys and bottles whilst looking on (injured) enviously.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Liam TaylorSunderland Strollers M 10:36:33
17 Michelle HoltChester-le-Street F 10:41:14
30 Alister Robson M 0:47:45
37 Andrew Thompson M 0:49:27
42 Jan Young F45+ 0:52:46
48 Dave Walker M45 0:54:58
51 Denise Mason F 0:55:56
52 George Nicholson M60 0:55:58
57 Stephen Baxendale M45 0:56:56
60 Claire Readey F35 0:58:51
67 Margaret Thompson F45+ 1:04:40

71 finishers.

Alwinton Show Race, 9th October

2.4M 610' AS

A little tinker of a hill

Andy Glass

'To wrestle or not to wrestle....that is the question?'

Well that is a thought which must have ran through the mind of the entry gate official at the Alwinton Show today near Rothbury as he asked Phil and I, 'Wrestlers or runners?' Lol (The show had a Westmorland Wrestling competition running as well) After pointing out that we were for the fell race we had a matter of minutes to register then leg it over to the start line. Dashing round the grounds I noticed that this is truly an old fashioned country show. Dog shows, knock the skittles over win a teddy competition, Westmoreland Wrestling...hmm don't they know the y-fronts over the top of trousers isn't a good look? (I wasn't going to tell them though hehe), beer tent and a birds of prey stand and more.

I just make it in time to the start line, to find, that out of all the runners, there are only two others that are of a similar build to me. Oh dear I think to myself, I guess I'll be last or somewhere near that!

Anyway the clock hits 1345 and after being counted by an official off we go! Way hay! Yee Haa!!!!! Bloody hell these skinny fell running types can shift! I soon find myself falling closer and closer to the back of the pack. After literally a quarter of a mile I'm hurdling a rather large farmers field gate, then up a cheeky little hill a few hundred yards after that, its a cheeky little hill indeed! Only 80 yards long but 65% incline! Oh dear I think Im going to hurt tomorrow. Then the steepest hill I've ever seen, well steepest hill I've ever seen that I'm expected to run up appears in front of me with an ambulance at the foot of it.....Hmm I thought this, is going to hurt. Colin this must be the little tinker you spoke of in your email to me?? You are certainly not wrong, this hill was a killer. My calfs were screaming within 50 yards of starting to climb it and I had to walk/hike the full height of it! (610feet). Will and the leaders ran a lot of this but even they had to yomp parts of it I found out from Will at the finish. That's a steep hill! After levelling out for a half mile its downhill to the finish, and its certainly a fast downhill. I love downhill sections, I've started to just throw myself down them lol If I fall, I fall, the adrenaline rush is awesome! Then after crossing a small road it was a very boggy last few hundred yards to the finish line, where to my surprise, the vast majority of the runners that have already finished are waiting to cheer you in! :) This is what I love about the fells (well what I've found so far) people wait to see you in and congratulate you, it's such a friendly atmosphere. I love it! Oh and there were about 8 runners that finished after me! Awesome! Well done Phil on a cracking run too! Cheers for the photos that accentuate my bald patch as you stood 20 yards higher up the hill to photograph me lol :)

I will definitely return to have another crack at this race next year. Right lets see if my legs recover for the Hellhole 10k tomorrow morning up at Derwentside AC :)

Loch Ness Marathon, Inverness, 3rd October

Dougie Nisbet

Oi! Get out from behind there!

Sitting in the Look Out Inn after the GNR I was talking tactics with Andrew ("delighted with 3:53") Thompson. I was saying I wasn't ready for Loch Ness but intended to run it for a sub-4. He said, "Death or Glory?, I like your style". I must say, I kinda liked it too.

The thing is, you never really believe it's going to be anything but Glory. And as we rolled out under the starting banner flanked by the Lochaber High School Pipe Band this cynical Scot who usually has precious little time for indulgent patriotism did feel ever so slightly teary. The backdrop is stunning and surreal and the beauty of this race is you just aim for Inverness and keep the Loch on your left. Elegant and beautiful. Job done.

This is such a strange race. You do most of the downhill stuff early on and this is where you need to get the time in the bank. At the half-way point my average pace was under 08:45 minute miles and I was convinced I was on for a flyer. I was way faster than last year and I was already dreaming of a scorching performance. Smokin'! By the time we'd reached The Hill at Mile 19 my projections had been drastically revised. I knew that if I got over The Hill and I was still averaging sub-9 minute miles, I would be on for a sub-4.

It was not to be. As we crested the hill I had my suspicions that things were not panning out well. It was around about this point I did the last bit of overtaking I was going to do. Two lassies from the Troon Tortoises (now that sounds like a cool club!) were running side by side, mysteriously attached by a short cord of rope. The reasons soon became obvious as the leader yanked the partially sighted one to one side as a bloke in front stopped unexpectedly without putting on any brake lights. The race was apparently being audio described and as I edged past I heard "There's a guy just gone past wie a dod o' tartan roond his heid. He looks a right egyt".

You can't expect to do a good marathon time without putting in the heavy lifting. Even my taper amounted to little more than watching lots of telly. So I wasn't surprised when at mile 22 I saw my average pace nudge over the critical 09:09 min/mile pace and I saw the piper stood patiently at the mile marker waiting for payment. I knew the game was up. I was finished. I was no longer racing, I was just getting to the finish. I made a few ambitious attempts to latch on to the (now steady stream) of runners flowing past me but my legs seemed to be full of lead.

Despite having a decidedly hellish last few miles I still reckon that the "death or glory" strategy is a legitimate race category. It may not be sensible, but it is exciting. It is a race after all. I was well ahead of my times compared to last year until the 19 mile mark. After that, it's all a bit of a painful blur. My time? Two seconds slower than last year. That's one second for each pint of Red Kite Ale I had last night. I can live with that.

Kielder 11K, 3rd October

Alister Robson

I hadn't been to Kielder since I was a kid and since we had a free weekend my wife and I thought, why not have a look out for the day? We set off nice and early, just as well as it's a good two hour drive, and found the start at Kielder Castle no problem at all.

I was a little concerned to only see about 50 other people, especially as it was raining quite heavily and I was worried that I might end up being last! We set off and it was down hill and flat for a couple of miles which worried me as well, as the course was described as being scenic and undulating.

I also saw surprisingly little of the reservoir. After about two miles the course skirted the reservoir and then started remorselessly up the hill and into the clouds. This carried on for about two miles and about 100m of climb, until finally it flattened out at the top. I must admit that I slowed to a walk and it was here that I was passed for the first time in quite a while. The rest of the course up until the 11k marker was relatively flat, but was quite tricky to run on as I had the choice of either side of the 'road' and one foot higher than another or the middle which was muddy and wet. In the end I did a bit of each and that seemed to work. I finally caught the lady who overtook me earlier, and about the only other person I'd seen after about two and a half miles and thought that must be about the end of the course, but it took a sharp downhill turn and eventually reached the finish at about 11.5k. I think I finished about 14th, but the results don't seem to be out yet. We stayed for the presentations and there were a load of spot prizes, although unfortunately I didn't get one. Despite getting soaked I quite enjoyed it and it made a pleasant change.

Didn't see any red squirrels though, despite looking and going to a hide where you are almost 'guaranteed' to see them. :-(

Round Ripon Ultra, 2nd October

35m

Dave Robson

I love running round Ripon. I had never been there until I started running. My first race in that area was Kirby Malzeard 10K. It was hilly and tough, but I loved it. I have been back in that area for the Fountains 10K, the Ripon 10m, the Jolly Holly Jog 10k, the Burn Valley Half marathon, the Melmerby 10k, the Yorkshire 10K and the Muddy Boots 10k.

I wasn't very well prepared for today's race which was the first running of this event. I haven't done much running since Kielder at the beginning of the month.

There were about forty starters and we started by running from Studley Roger, a beautiful village and one of many lovely ones that we went through today and headed towards Ripon. We took a slightly convoluted route through the town and we were ushered through by the runners from the Ripon Runners club who started slowly to ensure none of us got lost in this section.

There was no marking on this course, just a map book with the route marked with a thick red line. It was a bit too thick and it was a bit difficult to see what was underneath. There were four well stocked checkpoints.

Before I got to the first checkpoint I was following three runners and they were looking at their map booklet so I just relied on them. This was a bit silly and we ended up in a quarry quite a bit off the route!

The first seven and a bit miles (well a bit more for some of us) to the first checkpoint were fairly easy going. After that we were pretty close to the river and then entered woods (but not before two more unplanned diversions ). Here it became much more difficult, muddy, slippy, lots of tree roots, it was slow progress. Those ahead of me paused to decide which route to take (we were following the Ripon Rowell path for most of race, but the waymarkers were often hidden, non existent or one occasion wrong !). I decided that it was time to get out my Satmap GPS. Whenever I bring it to races I find I don't need it, but it was clearly time to use it now - I should have used it from the start. It made route finding much easier from then on. I did make one further mistake, but because I followed an incorrect waymarker and didn't check the GPS until a quarter of mile later - dumb!

Lots of people got lost. I started at the back and overtook a few, then people who were clearly faster than me appeared and overtook me ! I didn't meet anyone who didn't get lost, some of them much more seriously than me.

There was three sections across the moors. I found these quite difficult to find the way, the paths weren't clear at all. There was also some sections on quiet roads. Other bits were very marshy, across muddy fields, but the second half had lots of hills.

There was nine miles between checkpoint 3 and 4 and that was pretty tough considering the terrain.

All the runners and marshalls were very chatty and friendly so overall it was a lovely, but tough event.

It finished by running down the road through the Deer Park (and the deer were very near the road today). I have run up that road many times, but never down - it was so much easier !

I finished in 7hr 57min. At one stage I was expecting eight and half hours so I was very pleased. Anna finished a few minutes ahead of me after also going off route. Will I be back ? Probably, it should be easier if the route is the same !

Coniston Challenge, 2nd October

15k

Andy Glass ...

Andy and Angela coming in to the finish.

"On the 15 February 1954 Stephen Derbyshire, then 14, saw and photographed a UFO on the slopes of the Old Man of Coniston, above Coniston Village. The picture was blurred but the case became a classic of UFO literature of the time.

It was the era of George Adamsky and general UFO fervour, and the picture resembled the classic flying saucer shown in Adamski photographs. The object was only in sight for a short time and was described as a strange misty cloud with a definite shape.

Some time later he admitted the whole thing as a joke but some people seem to think he said this because of the intense pressure on him at the time." link

Fast forward to October 2nd 2010 and by pure fortuitous luck I find my self lining up alongside Angela at John Ruskin School in Coniston for the 15km Coniston Trail Race. I didn't show it but under the bravado and optimism I quietly think to myself, "What am I letting myself in for here?" However I don't say a word and keep with the positive mental attitude and have epic music of the likes to be found in "Gladiator" and "Inception" bouncing round my head, this will be my best race of all time I keep telling myself. Thank god for Hans Zimmer! Its amazing what a little bit of positive mental attitude and visualisation can do!

And off we go, heading along the road, over the bridge and up the start of a rather large hill. A large snake of runners give it their all up this cheeky little hill :) Well at 600 feet we find a group of youth hostel guys enjoying a bottle or two of Becks, oh how I was tempted to grab a bottle! At 1138feet (the highest point) we are 2.5 miles into this race and from afar it must have been like the sight of young Stephen Derbyshire back in 1954 to see something so unnatural, nearly 350 runners or more from afar like ants, trailing below the summit of Old Man 'O Coniston along the ridge. A truly fantastic sight! After hitting the highest point, I must have had a sudden burst of adrenaline as I belted off downhill. I really couldn't believe the speed at which I could hammer myself down hill on rough trails/rock tracks, bounding like a male ballet dancer onto rocks with pin point precision. Looking back at the Garmin I was hitting 5:30 to 6 min mile pace at this point lol. Happy with that! The deal was though that Angela and I would stick together through the race as we both have our strengths, dependant on the terrain. This could not have been truer! I may have belted off during the downhills but Angela is a speed demon over the flat ground towards the end of a race! A great person to be running with when you are feeling tired and drained, always telling me you are doing great and I'm so proud of how you have ran! We managed to stick together and finished the race together! Top race, top woman and a great running partner! Thanks Angela :)

Was this race great fun???? Definitely! Would I return to have another go? Definitely! We even managed to cover the distance in 1hr 42 mins which we are both over the moon about. Can't wait to next year! Oh and many thanks to our fellow strider, "Barrie Evans" for waiting for us to finish and cheering us in. You had a great run Barrie finishing in 1hr 29mins. Really appreciated the welcome over the finish line!

Look forward to seeing more Striders at next years race!

... and Barrie Evans

Conditions leading up to this event were topsy turvy - damp and gloomy at the beginning of the week , continuous rain on Wed. 29th , superbly warm and sunny on Thursday , more rain on Friday and then ideal dry , mild and bright conditions on the day (Sunday back to rain for most of the day).

Having left Durham later than planned I just made the start line clutching my number secured from registration at the last possible minute. Just time to say Hi to Angela , Andy and Dave as the gun went and join a phalanx of 400 runners crossing the playing field of the John Ruskin School out onto the road and on to Coniston village centre turning up onto the Coppermines Road passing the Red Lion pub and onto the track heading up the Coppermines Valley passing in spate waterfalls and the YHA continuing uphill on track below Grey Crag crossing Low Water Beck Footbridge and on past the Pudding Stone onto the Waine Scar Road ( actually a track ). [Entrant for 2010 'Longest sentence in a Race Report'! Ed.]

The first 4km is basically uphill ( and most of the serious climbing is completed by this point ) so the gentle undulations of the Waine Scar Road were quite a relief before the descent to Torver across Dow Crag and through the old slate quarrries ( full concentration needed here ) passing Torver Village across meadowlands very wet in places ( a few casualties here as some ended up on their backsides ) descending through Torver Common Wood to reach the lakeside of Coniston Water with the lake on the right the path took us past Hoathworth Landing and Coniston Hall before entering the rear of the school fields and a final canter to the finish gantry. [Another entrant for 2010 'Longest sentence in a Race Report'! Keep 'em coming Barrie ... ;-) Ed.]

I can only say this was a fantastic event, well organised and marshalled throughout. The 15km route is simply suberb and anyone wanting to run and be tested should try this one.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 BAGNALL, Chris Swindon M 11:08:51
17 HURREN, Sharon Wymondham Running Club F 11:20:41
53 EVANS, Barrie M 1:29:49
140 WALKER, Dave M 1:40:05
174 PROCTER, Angela F 1:43:56
175 GLASS, Andy M 1:43:59

395 finishers.