Race Reports, April 2011

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 30th April


George Nicholson

12 Striders turned up on a sunny morning at the Sunderland Parkrun. Peter Brooks, sadly, but wisely pulled out after 1k rather than risk aggravating an injury. Callum was first Strider home with a PB of 21: 34, and Jan was 1st Lady Strider to finish - well done the 'Young' ones. Ever improving Ian Graham achieved his second PB in 2 weeks and Lindsey was delighted with her new PB of 28:37 , and rightly so. Good also to see Louise Miller enjoy her first Parkrun.

Will Horsley still has the fastest time recorded at this event with his 17:26, however under the WAVA age Grading, Jan is the top club runner, and is many percentage points ahead of 2nd placed Graham Daglish & 3rd placed Will.,- well done indeed to the 'old Young' one, - sorry Jan I mean the 'elder Young' one:0)

Nationally, Parkrun had new record turnout of 10,898 parkrunners at 69 events More locations are opening up all the time and more runners turning up at each event. Coming up next Saturday at Sunderland the YES TEAM from Lucozade will be there to celebrate the new sports drink Lucozade Sport Lite - Orange, They are asking everyone to add a touch of orange to their running wardrobe whether it's a pair of shorts, head band, t-shirt or flippers. To reward everyone who dresses in orange, the YES Team will hand out goodie bags - could be a tech top, could be a set of orange laces, every runner dressed in an item of orange wins something.

Personally I think that any City Harrier turning up should be made to wear purple!

Coniston Fell Race, 30th April

9m 3500ft AM

Dougie Nisbet

A beautiful day on the busy lakeland fells.

Dougie takes a breather and takes in the views.

What makes Fell Races utterly brilliant is that most of them allow entries on the day. So, if say, the previous night you happen to be on your second bottle of plonk and spot something called with classic simplicity, the "Coniston Fell Race", it is what is generally referred to in the trade as "a good idea at the time". And so, 7 days to the day we drove in and out of the Rheged Centre (whatever that is), trying to figure out where the toilets were, giving up, and tootling on in quiet desperation to Coniston.

It was pretty busy in Coniston. In the registration tent there were even several lanes organised by surname and it felt perilously close to being a busy race but thankfully (mostly to the satnav and my bladder) I had arrived pretty late and the queues had cleared long ago. With number collected and pinned (you only ever get offered safety pins when you've brought your own; swellknownfact), I tootled back to the car park and up to the start.

Most fell races are low-key affairs so this all felt a bit different. I was wearing my DFR vest but hadn't spotted any familiar vests or faces until a nice chap ran up and said "Hello Denise, how are you?!". I looked down at my bosom and everything seemed in order and furthermore, Denise was running the Three Peaks this weekend so looked suspiciously at my interlocutor who introduced himself as Ken Maynard, a Durham Fell Runner running as a pit pony, and I said I was an Elvet Strider, running as a Durham Fell Runner. Life is complicated. Especially, as Ken said, when you're not wearing your glasses.

The race did most of the heavy lifting in the first few miles. There followed a spectacular series of ridge runs until the Old Man of Coniston and an exciting descent for home. My navigation was massively confused because I thought there were only two checkpoints, so when I arrived at the third checkpoint (the Old Man of Coniston) I was a bit disoriented. But visibility was perfect and I glimpsed runners way ahead down the fell and that was far more useful than any compass bearing and I concentrated on trying to descend as fast as I could without breaking any limbs or too many violets. Races will always continue to surprise me and this one was jolting me with stinging pain in my feet. My feet? What was this all about. I've done a lot of fell, trail and road races and this was the first time that I was in discomfort because my feet hurt. Dougie fraternises with the opposition from over the border.Perhaps it's something to do with the heat and the constant pressure on the heels from the descent but the factor limiting my speed was not cardio, or muscular, it was that my heels were stinging.

Crossing the line I was surprised to hear my name shouted and veered over to find NFR's Phil Green enjoying a siesta. We settled down to compare blisters (he won) and to watch the remaining runners come in. Perfect conditions for my first attempt at this classic fell race. A bit of cloud and rain and I imagine it'd be an entirely different beast.

Royal Berkshire Marathon, Newbury, 29th April


Dave Robson

There are different sorts of marathons around at the moment. Big city marathons, trail marathons, Long Distance Walkers Association events and low key marathons with few runners. The Royal Berkshire marathon was one of the latter, with a maximum of forty entrants. The race instructions were along the lines of:

There are no marshals at the turns, map and compass optional. If you turn right, you are lost. From the start proceed 100m along the red surface, follow the turn to the left, proceed 100m, follow the turn to the left. Repeat 104 and a bit times.

Yes, it was a track marathon. The advantages of such an event is that you always have the leaders in sight (which sounds impressive if you miss out the bit about the laps), you don't have to carry anything as there is a water station every 400m, it's flat and there is a good surface. The major disadvantage is that it could be very dull and that is what I feared the most. As it turned out, it wasn't dull at all, there was always somebody to talk to and I knew quite a few people there.

The horror ... the endless horror ...

There were some very experienced marathon runners running and quite a few runners from the Brathay ten marathons in ten days round Windermere event, which is starting shortly. Both male winners from the last four years and one of the female winners were running. There was also a seventy three year old male who did the first ten in ten event and is doing it again this year.

The overtaking protocol wasn't what I had been expecting. We were asked to run on the white line on the outside of lane 1, so that overtaking runners could overtake on the inside (or the outside). One you had overtaken you were expected to return to the outside of lane 1. If runners were running with someone else they had to be further out than the outside of Lane 1. It seemed to work pretty well.

We had to have a human lap counter to count the laps for us and I can understand why, I totally lost track of how many laps I had done. I asked my lap counter (who was counting for someone else and kindly agreed to count for me as well) to let me know how many laps I had done every ten laps (we had to wave, smile, give the thumbs up to our lap counter every lap so that we weren't missed). At certain times I was just dying to hear her shout I had reached 70 or 80 or whatever. My halfway time was 2hr 5min and I got my hopes up of a very good time, but I slowed in the second half. Laps 60 to 70 were the worst for me. There was a bit of a breeze but it was only in our face in the home straight where you were concentrating on catching the eye of your lap counter, so I didn't notice it too much. I was very happy to finish with 4hr 23min.

There were a few fast runners there. The winner only asked if he do the event the night before and finished with 2hr 32min ! I am not sure yet whether I will do another track marathon, but it was certainly an interesting experience and it was a well organised event.

Carlton Challenge, North Yorks Moors, 26th April

4.8m / 860'

Sue Jennings

Sue at here first fell race.

I went in to my first ever fell race thinking what am I doing here and even told the event organiser that I would be last - not far wrong as I was second last (I beat the last person by at least 3 minutes though). It was absolutely freezing to start with and the race was about 20 minutes late starting which meant that I kept my jacket on - silly idea as after about 5 minutes I was far too warm and ended up with it tied round my waist and getting in the way! In all of the excitement of the start I also forgot to set my garmin off and must have been running 5 minutes before I realised. This wasn't very helpful because being at the back of the field, I pretty much ran the whole race (after the first mile) without seeing anyone and there were several times when I thought I might have taken a wrong turn but thankfully hadn't.

When I came over the top of the hill towards the end and saw Jan, Phil and Dougie I was so pleased that I had made it. I only fell over twice - the first time in the smelly boggy bit near the beginning where I managed to twist my ankle, the second time because I turned round and saw someone coming towards me and thought oh no the one person I overtook is going to pass me and I will be last - my lack of concentration meant that my foot/leg went down quite a large hole and I fell in to the bracken - thankfully there was no one apart from the runner who passed me who saw this and thankfully it wasnt the one person that I had passed so I was still not last!!!!!

Anyway, I would still do another fell race as I can only get better and I am convinced if the course had been another mile I would have passed the woman in front of me too (wishful thinking). I also had the excuse that was loaded with cold and poor Dougie had to put up with me coughing all the way back to Bishop Auckland. Here's to the next time!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Will Horsley NFR M 1 34.53
28Kay Neesam New Marske HF40 1 41.59
75Dan Hibell M 20 48.12
101Dougie Nisbet DFR M45 14 51.52
104Phil Owen M45 15 52:44
109Jan Young F55 2 53.09
135Sue Jennings F45 6 69.33

136 finishers.

North Tyneside 10k, 24th April

Greta Jones and Mike Elliot ...

Once again Easter Sunday dawned bright and Sunny. Mike and I arrived at the Parks Centre in North Shields in plenty of time to meet and chat with fellow Striders, notably Dave Robson, Alistair Robson suitably attired in a bright green hat and his lovely wife Jackie, Phil Owen then Steff, Lindsay and Claire were seen from the distance all proudly wearing our Striders vests.

We made our way to the start meeting Steff, Lindsay and Claire en-route, they then snuck off to the start via the road and that's the last we saw of them until the finish line.

Mike and Greta.

There was a technical start, a cry of go, later followed by the sounding of horn and we were off. Down to the fish quay, and at about mile one, I lost track of Mike, We hit the prom at the Stones, passed the Flats and the Black Middens to Sandy Goit. The top of the priory can just about be seen from this point but in order to get there it was up 2 steep but thankfully short hills. The priory looked great in the Easter sunshine but with no time to dawdle, as Mike was on my tail it was time to take a deep breath and keep going.

We headed along the Long Sands where a welcome drink awaited us outside the toy museum. A sip of water and the beheading of a jelly baby was enough to keep me going. Heading towards Spanish city the crowds were out in force enjoying the beautiful day and spectacular event.

By mile five the heat was taking it toll and a stitch had set in to my left side. My pace slowed but I managed to keep going.

With 500 meters to go I was overtaken by Phil Owen who I pleaded with to carry me home, his reply was that Mike was 200 meters behind me and closing fast, but he wasn't to tell me that as Mike had a cunning plan (his view was a tactical race), Phil and I upped the pace to try and shake Mike off.

With 300 meters to go I managed to leave Phil behind me to the encouraging cry of he's closing in don't let him beat you.

Alistair was heard to shout from the sidelines (as had had already finished) Go Greta Mike is right behind you. This spurred me on as I kept up a sprinters pace always conscious that Mike was closing in.

With a 100 meters to go the voice of Steff could be heard adding to the chorus of Go Greta. I crossed the finish line just in front of my nemesis Mike who finished 5 paces behind me, another great North Tyneside race ended and would you believe it, the official finishing time for both of us was 57.17. 'BUGGER'

... and from Dave Robson

A good turn out of Striders for this popular Easter Sunday run (nearly 1700 finishers this year) from the Parks Centre in North Shields to St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay. It was a warm day with little breeze and the route was the normal one down to the Fish Quay and following the river to Tynemouth and up to the Priory and the road along the coast. The race is not the cheapest 10k around, but there is a good goody bag. Phil Sanderson finished 11th (and was second in his age category) and Adam Walker (Dave's fifteen year old son) finished his first 10K in under 45min (when you take off the time to get over the start line). Looking at the age category times, I noticed that the first Vet 70 male came in just a shade over 40min, there is something to aim for!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 BATOCHIR, Serod Morpeth Harriers M 1 30:20
11 SANDERSON, Phil M40 34:10
24 SMITH, Rosie Durham City Harriers L 1 35:40
292 HOCKIN, Richard M55 45:00
323 ROBSON, Alister M35 45:36
539 BARLOW, Stef L35 49:43
755 READEY, Claire L35 52:46
762 TARN, Lindsay L 52:50
1052 JONES, Greta L45 57:17
1053 ELLIOTT, Mike M60 57:17
1066 OWEN, Phil M45 57:22
1405 ROBSON, Jacquie L 1:04:12
1562 ROBSON, Dave M55 1:08:53

1680 finishers.

Anniversary Waltz, Cumbria, 23rd April

11.5M / 3,600' AM

Dougie Nisbet

Dougie starts his post-marathon recovery run. "You've chopped the top of the fell off! Have another go". I handed the camera back to Roberta and while she lined up the shot they decided to start the fell race so I nabbed the camera back and bid her a hasty farewell and chased after the pack as it sped up the field. Phil and David Gibson were here running as Striders with me running for DFR. Phil and I were miffed as we'd discovered that there was an extra long race called the Anniversary Wa! which, had we known, we would have entered instead of the measly Anniversary Waltz, checking in as it did with a paltry 10.5 miles and 3600 feet. We were, it has to be said, of a slightly different viewpoint some 3+ hours later when we staggered home from the fells and into the village hall for the free beer. I think I can speak for both of us in stating that we'd had ample sufficiency of fells for one day.

My quads are still hurting from this race. Some ridiculously steep climbing, various route choices, thrilling scrambles over rock faces, and pretty close to zero visibility on the tops. With the exception of Cat Bells the other four checkpoints were in cloud and this added an extra edge of excitement to the day. As far as fell races go this one gets a big field; getting on for 200 I believe. Even so I soon found I was running alone on the tops due to the poor visibility with occasionally glimpses of other vests as routes converged and diverged. I was dismayed when I descended of Cat Bells to discover I was actually still descending of High Spy and Cat Bells was still to come. For the first time I can remember my knees started hurting on the final descent probably due to the relentless steep terrain. Running the London Marathon the previous week probably wasn't helping much either. I was certainly glad to see the finish.

Me and Roberta had found some late availability at a local hotel which meant a nice relaxing evening with no long drive home. There was a couple in the prime window seats in the dining room who asked the waiter to take their picture. As the sun set and the backdrop silhouette of the lakeland fells came into more dramatic relief I saw it would make a great photo. I could contain myself no longer and hopped over to the couple to ask them if they wanted another photo taken with the beautiful landscape behind them. It's only when I was standing right next to the table I realised it was Danny Lim (or to be more accurate, he realised it was me!). I never recognise runners when they're out of uniform. Our poor womenfolk had to put up with me reliving the Anniversary Waltz for Danny's benefit but I think we could possibly have another fell running convert in the making here.

Mermaid 10K, Marske, 22nd April

Jacquie Robson

Jacquie gets a season's best and comfortably beats the cut-off.

Alister and I had talked about doing this race prior to the VLM, but I was suitably non-committal and thought I might get out of it as I expected his legs to be a bit sore after his fantastic efforts in London. That man has seriously caught the running bug now, though and, after a day off on Monday, he was back on his bike to work to allay the dreaded DOMS and even had a jaunt out at the Sedgfield Relays. So I knew when he suggested we both enter this last Wednesday there was no real way out for me! Excuses such as 'my legs hurt' sounded a little hollow after his fantastic marathon time!!

Alister promised me a very flat course, with the 'carrot' of a pub-based race HQ, and it was exactly as he said. After knee surgery last August, my 10k races have been few and far between and I'm slowly building up the mileage to make sure I can get a couple of half-marathons finished this season. I was fully intending to jog around the course very steadily and, after a rather painful experience at the Sanddancer a couple of weeks ago resulted in a 66 minutes finish time and lots of ice, I was happy to aim for something around 65 minutes. This went out the window when I finally read the race blurb – apparently, there was a 60 minute cut-off. Gulp! Reinforcements were brought in for race day, with Flip Owen and Anna Seeley (still not yet wearing a Striders' vest but an now an official member of the gang!) and our friend Neil Williams travelling down with us. The weather was perfect – a bit misty and cool and totally still. We also bumped into Ian Spencer at the start, making it a decent Striders' turn-out.

The race is, indeed, absolutely and totally flat! After a loop around a housing estate, we joined the path along the coast and would have enjoyed sea views if the visibility wasn't so restricted because of the lovely cooling fog! Alister, Anna and Ian had disappeared from sight immediately after the start (despite me trying to spot the glamorous yellow-hat-and-gloves Robson combo), but I set off steadily behind Flip (still recovering from a foot injury) and Neil. It was an enjoyable and relaxed run and I was pleased to see the kilometre markers ticking ever-upwards without feeling under too much strain. It felt quite comfortable but my watch indicated I was going a bit too fast so I sat back a little after the 3k marker, but I was pleased to see that my 5k time would have been a passable effort for a Parkrun! By this time, I'd lost sight of the other guys but was carried along by a bunch of Quaker runners (who were out in force). I was a little concerned when the leaders sprinted past me. I hadn't realised there were any laps to complete and had a minor panic as I'm no fan of laps. It was, however, a small loop back around the promenade at Redcar and wasn't too tedious. I still felt fresh so I pushed on at 7k and picked off a few more runners. The long kilometre stretch back to the start was a hard slog, but I was overjoyed to cross the line in a season's best and my second fastest 10k time ever! It really is a fast course! All the Striders had a great run. Ian Spencer put down a fantastic time just over 44 minutes, and Alister broke 45 minutes again. No DOMS in those legs! Anna and Phil had a decent run, and Neil was pleased with a PB by 2 minutes! But, of course, the best bit by far was the post-race beer in the pub afterwards!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
117SPENCER, Ian MV40 44:10
129ROBSON, Alister M 44:52
157SEELEY, Anna F 46:38
207OWEN, Flip MV40 50:25
260ROBSON, Jacquie F 57:05

290 finishers.

Neptune Relays, Sedgefield, 20th April


Danny Lim

Dave and Will discuss team tactics. I headed to this relay with slight trepidation. I was mindful it was a team event & didn't want to let everybody else down with a bad time. But the atmosphere reassured me; it was pretty relaxed & informal. There were runners of all shapes from waif-like athletes to more rotund ones (like myself). The kids even had a chance to have some fun with a race for them.

I was to run the first leg for our team (Calum Young, Graeme Arrowsmith, Richard Hall). The striders fielded 4 teams today. I started off with Dave Catterick & Keri Pearson (not sure who the 4th strider was, maybe it was Karen Dene?).

The tricky bit about this race is getting my pace right. 1.7 miles is the shortest race I have ever done. I made the schoolboy error of starting too fast; way too fast!! My Garmin, showed I was about 5:30 minutes to the mile, which is unheard of for me. Half a mile later, I was paying the price. My lungs were screaming & I was struggling to catch my breath. Keri & Dave had raced ahead & were nowhere in sight. I settled into a more realistic pace & tried my best to keep it going till the finish. The very scenic course around the lake & woods helped distract me from my pain. There was plenty of support from fellow Striders & marshalls, especially at the finish. Thanks everyone!

After my run, I was able to cheer on runners in the later legs. Alister who just ran the London Marathon was looking strong & chugging along in his yellow gloves (pink hat missing). Will sporting the colours of a different club also looked strong as he passed by. Jan & Calum both had strong finishes. Dougie kept a steady pace all the way. For some runners, the pain of 1.7 miles was self-evident of their faces! The course is such that each runner passes the start/finish a second time. It was a really fun race in a fantastic setting. The sunshine & warmish weather helped too. Shame I had to miss the prize-giving as I was off to work (night shift).

A special mention for Will Horsley who organised the teams & registered us.

I'll be back next year, but perhaps with a better pacing strategy. Elvet Striiders at the Neptune relays

Five Fabulous Fables

London Marathon, 17th April


Zoe Evans ...

Zoe. This was the second time I have run the London Marathon, and having taken it all way too seriously in 2008 (obsessing over mile timings, weighing out pasta relative to my body weight, sobbing uncontrollably at mile 21 etc etc), I decided if there was only one plan I would stick to this time round it would be to ENJOY IT!! I had a vague idea I would be somewhere between a 9:30 and 10 min mile, but just decided to run however felt good.

The weather was already getting warm as I got off the train at Blackheath, and it was only to get warmer. The start area was buzzing and I made friends with a nice lady from Cornwall in zone 6. And we were off! I managed 3 miles before I accepted the fact that I was desperate for the loo and resigned myself to stopping in the portaloo queue (no, I did NOT do a 'Paula'). Although this lost me about 3 mins I felt a whole lot better for it! From then on I cruised along, taking in the views, enjoying the music, the drumming band around mile 5 were fantastic, and even did a bit of celebrity spotting - Cheryl Baker!! Wasn't she in Bucks Fizz??

I spotted my family at mile 12 which was a massive boost, as the weather was getting really hot by then, and my knees feeling a little bit funny. Stopped for a minute to give them a hug and then pressed on. As I crossed Tower Bridge I'm not sure why but I felt really emotional and overwhelmed, felt so grateful just to be there, be a part of something that does so much good for so many people. I'm trying not to make this sound corny but it really felt so special to be a part of it all. As I commenced the big 'loop' and saw the really fast dudes speeding past on the other side, I realised that I still had a while to go before I had tamed the beast. The sun was beating down so thank god for all those water stations and showers. Maybe it's being from down South, or having been running around in a few fires at work of late, but I really do enjoy running in the heat, much more than in the cold, so although it was challenging I felt comfortable plodding along, anticipating a nice suntan later on. I did pour some water over myself, which mainly served to cause my some unfortunate chafing! Mile 20 and I was slowing down a bit, but took a couple of painkillers for my creaky knees, and kept on plodding. I realised that last time I ran this race I had already started walking on and off by this point, so was happy to find myself still jogging and still enjoying the scenery.

The next 2 miles went by in a haze of staring intently at the crowd for my family, who finally appeared at 23.5 miles, happy days! And then I realised, I had less than 3 miles to go! Less than a Parkrun! And I'm still running! The crowds were great, I heard my name countless times and felt so grateful to everyone who shouted for me. By this point every muscle in my legs was burning but I was determined that I would run the whole way this time. And finally, there it was, the Mall. Then the '400m to go' sign.... And with the end in sight I managed a little token sprint to finish in 4hrs14mins, knocking 15mins off my pb, and finishing with a big smile on my face. Thanks to all the Striders for their encouragement, especially on wednesday night before the race, it gave me such a confidence booster and reminded me of everything I love about running. Well done to all the 'Super 6', it's been fun!!

... and Alister Robson...

What an absolutely fantastic event. When I first applied back in April last year I didn't know what I'd let myself in for. I do now and I also know I'm going to be applying again. All those long, horrible runs on cold mornings in January and February were worth it as everything came together on the day.

Alister, Kathryn and George at the Expo. The whole day was just one brilliant experience after another. I even enjoyed the Expo on the Saturday where it was great to meet up with George and Kathryn and get some silly photo's. The expo itself was great and I ended up buying far more stuff than I probably needed. In the end I plumped for running in my Striders vest over the Acorns charity vest - I had my name put onto it at the Expo. It just felt right somehow to be running in purple on a Sunday!

I hit a slight snag on race morning as we missed an overland train from Dalston where we were staying, but there was another along very shortly afterwards and all the trains were full of pensive looking runners. Walking across Blackheath to the blue area was brilliant too, a real sense of converging on something important. The start was fantastically well organised, with loads of loos and the pens were much better organised than the GNR. When the start went off the pens gradually merged and there was a bit of bunching. Quite a few other male runners took this opportunity to have a last minute pee against the fence and although I didn't think I really needed to go, I thought it prudent to join them. Turns out I did desperately need to go, and also that this would be the last time for about 10 hours that I would be able to! I lost quite a bit of time here as many, many runners went past me, but I actually think this worked in my advantage as I was forced to slow to their pace which was slightly slower than I intended, and given the later heat, could well have saved me. I stayed sensible and didn't try to catch up the lost time as I knew that would be a mistake.

The first ten or so miles went past really easily and I felt a bit of a fraud, knowing full well that I was basically coasting quite a bit slower than I knew I could run. I was also surprised by how emotional the whole day was. I ran with a smile on my face and my head up as advised by several people - really trying to drink in the atmosphere - and you can't help but be inspired by some of the wonderful stories from the charity runners and supporters around you. Some daft song set me off and somehow I found tears in my eyes at several points early on. Tower Bridge was also a particular highpoint - it just looked stunning in the sunshine and the crowds were fantastic. Just after the halfway marker I spotted my wife, Jacquie, and was able to get across to give her a sweaty kiss - it was a real boost to see her and our friend who kindly put us up for the weekend. 13-22 miles was where the real hard work began as I knew it would. The heat was now really starting to get up and whereas in the first part I'd been able to carry and sip a bottle of powerade from the start most of the way round, I grabbed water and lucozade from nearly every drinks station all the way home. My gel strategy I also adjusted on the fly - I took one every 50 minutes or so rather than the hour I'd been practising beforehand, but again this seemed to work. My right knee which has been a little sore for a couple of weeks, I certainly became more aware of, although from my splits it doesn't appear to have slowed me too much. I spotted my wife again at about 22 miles and again grabbed a kiss. She later said that we'd have both been gutted if I missed my four hour target by a few seconds! I don't remember a great deal from about 22 miles in - it was very much a case of gritting my teeth and getting on - this was further than I had ever run before. I think I worked out at 5K out that there was only a 'parkrun' left and I knew I could do that. Alister. I even managed a sprint coming up and over the line, especially as the race clock still had 3.59.xx on it, but I think I just missed the race clock 4 hour mark.

The medal was well worth it and I think I even managed a smile for my photo. Bag collection was easy and simple and I made my way over to 'R' where I'd arranged to meet my wife and slumped on the kerb. The only bad thing about the day was when we found out about George, and thank goodness he's OK now. I think he still thinks he let people down by not finishing but he did no such thing. He is a personal hero and an inspiration.

Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible for me to do, joined me on training runs and provided freely some great advice and best wishes. I would name you all personally but I'd be petrified of leaving someone out.
You know who you are.

... and Kathryn Sygrove...

I still don't really know what to make of my London marathon race, my first ever marathon two years after I took up running in earnest. Did I achieve my goals? Yes and no. Yes, I raised nigh on £1200 for Toybox, a charity which works with street children in Central America. No, I did not achieve the sub-4 hours which I had hoped for. Does it matter? Yes and no. Yes, because that's the sort of person I am. No, because I have helped to make the lives of some desperately poverty-stricken children better (maybe even helped to save their lives, the way some of them are "removed" for good by the police); no, because I made it in hot conditions, whilst having the nouse to re-think my original game plan in light of those unexpected conditions; and, no, because I achieved something which many people will never achieve in their lives. In balance, then, I came up trumps.

Kathryn and pink toyboy. On the day, I started at the red start with George Nick, after having met him, his wife Anne, Ali and Jacqui, at the Expo on the Saturday after a 5am start. The Nicholsons and I went on to meet Amanda, one of George's daughters, at Heathrow Ariel, where our hotel was. Saturday passed and Sunday greeted us with another 5am start for breakfast. YIKES! The coach transfer to the start left at 6.30am and we got to the start points about 7.50am. Lots of photos, mainly mad ones, were taken, then me and George were left to find our pen near the back. George swapped pens to start with me, so we could encourage each other in the pre-race wait. So far, so good.

It was coolish as we went over the start line about 9:57. A bit jostly, but fine. I soon separated from George and kept an eye on my pace, aware that some bottlenecks slowed me down (probably for the best) and at other times, I was as close to my marathon race pace as I could be. Really, the first 10 miles went like a dream. I have never managed to be THAT close to my race pace so consistently well in any of my training runs, apart from slowing a bit for drinks (my first at 6 miles might have been a bit tardy, and may have impacted me later on, but in the relative cool, I was feeling strong and steady). First signs of a bit of weariness were evident in trying to bob along behind the 3:56 pacing guy, but I held on till about halfway at around 1:58. My tried and tested Shotblox had gone down pretty well, and I had increased my water intake to include running with it by now, for extra hydration.

Then came the heat. WHAM! (at least, that's how I felt it). 13 to 16 miles I focussed on 14, 15 then 16 miles in between the mile markers, but was starting to feel increasingly nauseous and a bit light-headed. The psychological "10 miles to go" point saw me stop briefly to force down more Shotblox, which stuck to my dry mouth by then, and a good bottle of water in sips. A man collapsed on the path at that point made me think: "You better rethink your plan, or that will be you, if you feel like this already." That wise move saw me move off again, re-energised, but still feeling churny and a bit sick. All of a sudden I was at 21 miles, and the same thing happened again. Eh? I had drunk so much extra water, maybe not quite as many Shotblox as intended, but the choice between nausea without them and a different nausea after imbibing them, wasn't really much cop. In fact, having to take on board a lot more liquid on the run had not been easy either. My gut felt assailed and complained evidently. A coolish bit under a bridge (not many of them all the way round) saw me repeat my tactic of 16 miles, but I could have wept, I felt so sick. I could have cheerfully stood there and not budged one inch further. More water, more ramming down of Shotblox, some of which I spat back out as they were so cloying by then. I asked a marshall - a young guy - for a hug, and reluctantly set off, feeling awful. But I knew the 22 mile mark was familiar territory - across the road from 13 miles - and the crowd started to roar in an ever-increasing crescendo, the closer the finish-line got. Somehow, I crossed 23, 24, 25 miles, Heaven knows how. My mental determination was spent that is for sure, and I realised how alone you can feel after doing so much of your training with running buddies. I walked a wee bit then, as faint-headedness re-occurred, with thoughts of "Stuff the time, I am gunna make it now, come what may." And as we rounded the corner into the Mall, I broke into a very gentle trot, ever-so-slightly upping the pace as the 800/600/400/200 metre markers came along. I saw a man limping in obvious great pain, and asked if he would like me to walk with him to the end, but he waved me on, so I finished jogging lightly, but nothing more than that.

After picking up my kitbag, I sat down in a haze. I could not believe that, after having felt so dreadful for most of the second half - mainly the heat, partly my ever-dicky tum - I had actually done it. The second leg had been an absolute ordeal, I had forced myself through it, and I honestly cannot say that I enjoyed that part. My thoughts turned to George in that hot "Buzz" suit and I started to worry about him, if I, when lightly-clad, had felt so lousy. When I heard about Sophie Raworth and how she had pushed for a similar goal to mine, only to end in collapse at 24 miles with a core body temperature of 43 degrees, I realised that I had probably also been starting to show symptoms of heat exhaustion, and had run the best and only way I could have on that day and in that hot weather. It suddenly hit me that this isn't a game, it is serious business, and if your body is sending you messages you did not expect to hear on race day, it is because it knows so much better than your competitively- driven mind.

... and Dougie Nisbet

The portaloos were the first thing to impress me. Policed by fierce looking women armed with radios and spare toilet roll there was absolutely no doubt about who was in charge. Once you reached the front of the queue you were given a curt nod and pointed to the first free loo. All very reassuring and efficient. I'd arrived at the blue start with plenty of time in hand and as it was warm and spacious I found a space on the grass and settled down to wait. This was to be my 6th marathon and I felt good. Rested, hydrated, trained, tapered, calm, confident and a little bit excited. I wasn't worried about the heat as I'd run Edinburgh in 2009 in very hot conditions and this looked nowhere close.

Dougal the Brave running.I joined the exodus to the starting pens and waited for the action to begin. I'd left my Garmin at home and would be running alone, using the Force. I knew there would be timer clocks at every mile and I had a rough idea of where I should be and when but mostly I simply planned to run, run as fast, as I can, until I got to the finish. There was no indication of when the race actually started just a gradual movement of bodies forward and when I reached the timer mats at the Start Line I was disconcerted to see there were no clocks there. I didn't know when we'd started and it wouldn't have mattered anyway as there were no clocks to subtract the walking to the start time from. I asked a few fellow runners but they were all Italian and then I realised I really wasn't that bothered anyway. Use the Force.

I'd expected congestion but I hadn't really appreciated how long it lasted. I thought things would open up after a few miles but even getting on for the half-way point it was still pretty boingy. It didn't worry me unduly and I enjoyed running at the pace that felt right when I could and soaking up the atmosphere. The evangelists giving us bible readings intrigued me (I didn't stop to listen) and the steel drum bands under the motorway bridges were just fantastic. Normally I don't get very thirsty during races but given the weather I was drinking a little water at every drinks station.

I've listened to lots of people saying how great the London Marathon atmosphere is but I still wasn't quite prepared for the reality. Crossing Tower Bridge under clear blue skies with the glorious cacophony from the fantastic crowds will be a memory I shall never forget. Sharp right and on to the Isle of Dogs I knew I was wide of my dream target time but still good for a sub-4. I was a happy man. Things started unravelling for me around Canary Wharf when the noise from the crowd was so loud my ears hurt! The heat was getting to me now and I knew I had to tread the fine line between keeping the pace ticking over and pushing the needle into the red. There was no breeze to take the heat away and I wondered how George was faring in a Buzz Lightyear costume.

Mile 21 proved to be the deal breaker. I was hot but coping ok until a man with a 5-foot lollipop ran passed. The lollipop said "Runners World 3:56 pacer". Excellent. Realising I was still in with a shout for a sub-4 I lifted my pace to stick with the Lollipop Man. It was to be my undoing. I was managing to hang on to LM but I was also pretty sure that the sky wasn't meant to contain quite so many bright colours and that the road wasn't meant to wobble like the set of Faulty Towers. The painful muscles and the prescription free hallucinogenics I could just about deal with as I realised I was pushing the envelope and simply needed to ease up. It was the sudden, unexpected, intense nausea that crippled me. There was no elegant gradual slowing up; I simply stopped running then concentrated on walking gently and focussing on the ground ahead. Any serious attempt at a time ended there and then and I continued walking, absolutely petrified in case I threw up in front of all these people. I may have been close to being one of the many roadside first-aid statistics but the thought racing through my mind was PleaseDontBeSickPleaseDontBeSick, it would just be so embarrassing. I looked around wondering where Zoe's Uncontrollable Sobbing point was as I felt that perhaps I could pause there as a mark of respect. I was feeling none too great myself.

It's all very public in the final few miles. In some marathons if you're struggling you can ease up, walk, and put on a brave face for the final few yards. In London it's a solid wall of crowd and sound and there's nowhere to hide. I must have walked for about 15 minutes before I gradually started to feel better and became aware again of the encouragement from the crowd. It was now more specific and directed, beyond the usual "C'mon Dougie!". I heard "Don't give up now, Dougie; you're nearly there.", and when I responded with a beleaguered nod and broke into a jog I was rewarded with "That's the spirit!" and cheers and applause.

Dougal the Brave with his medal.Reading Kathyrn's report I think we had a similar race. We were going for similar times, had done the training, and judging by our times, crashed and burned about the same place. In the end we both succumbed to the heat. I ran, rather than raced, the last mile or two to the finish and the final emotional awe-inspiring run up the Mall. The crowds are phenomenal and the whole experience is rather humbling. My race went nowhere to plan (approximately 30 minutes slower than target) but that's the great thing about our sport. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with my time but it's great to be outwitted by the fickleness of a race. Despite all the preparation and training the race will be what it is, on the day, and full of surprises. A great run by Alister who ran on form and a brilliant performance by Zoe who sizzled round ahead of me and Kathryn. George was unlucky and there's no point in sugar-coating the disappointment he must feel. But it was hot and tough out there and no one is indestructible, not even Buzz Lightyear.

Shaun adds: Hard luck to George Nick, who stopped at the 22-mile medic tent with stomach and leg cramps, but was ambulanced into hospital, unlike Sophie Raworth, who was allowed to recover for a couple of hours and carry on. The account of her collapse on her running blog is actually quite interesting, by the way, though Paul Evans reckons she should have also been pulled out of the race if her core temperature was 43°C. Sophie sent George a message on twitter saying she was sorry to hear what happened to me, which was nice.

George says: "My London 2011 experience did not end as planned, however nothing can detract from some great memories leading up to the big day, the camaraderie and fun of the Super 6 in particular. My failure to finish meant I received dozens of warm & wonderful messages of support from a lot of people. These have made me feel very privileged and honoured indeed, and they mean far more to me than 'crossing' across that finish line on Sunday. That will have to now have to wait until April 2012!" A fuller report from George is here.

Those who have followed the fortunes of the VLM Super Six might like to read their sixth and final report by Sunderland Harrier David Savage. David's account of his London Marathon can be found in this Word document.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Mutai, Emmanuel KenyaM 1 2:04:40
1*Keitany, Mary KenyaF 1 2:22:00
8,648Robson, Alister M 3,698 3:57:19
12,336Evans, Zoe F 1,603 4:14:08
13,517Nisbet, Dougie MV45 1,467 4:19:06
14,470Sygrove, Kathryn FV45 409 4:24:00
23,991Farnsworth, Christine FV55 160 5:02:27
26,883Nicholson, Jim MV60 341 5:18:50
29,965Thompson, Margaret FV60 101 5:41:05

34,656 finishers.
*Elite Women's race.

Summer Handicap, Round 1, 13th April

Peter Brooks

It was a good turnout for the start of this year's Summer handicap series with quite a few new faces and some past runners joining in for the first time for a while. The weather was perfect, nice and sunny but not too warm (well, it was good for running, but it was a bit chilly for standing around beforehand). I would like to thank my glamourous assistant, Jane Ives for her help with timekeeping.

Paul Nolan romped home first with Greta Jones coming in as first lady. Either a lot of people had a good Winter's training or the handicaps were wrong by a significant margin, either way that will be rectified before the next race on May 11th.




Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Sand Dancer 10K, Multi Terrain, 10th April

Alister Robson

An absolute scorcher by the seaside at South Shields for the Sand Dancer 10K on Sunday 10th April. 213 runners baked in the sun and there was as usual a sizeable contingent of Striders for this event, the first in the 'Sprint' section of the Grand Prix (everything is relative, especially in this club).

This was a nice flat, two lap course starting from Gypsy's Green stadium (South Shields Harriers and the Race HQ) which is probably most familiar to us as the meeting point at the end of the Great North Run. It wound its way out along the coast (Pier to Pier flashbacks here) before heading back inland and almost back to the stadium before one more lap out and back again, and one full lap of the stadium track.

As far as Striders were concerned the ladies race was more competitive than the mens, with Fiona and Keri having a real 'Duel in the Sun' with Fiona's experience eventually telling, (7th and 9th placed ladies respectively, Fiona also won her age group comfortably.)

I had a nice little (winning) battle with a friend from Parkrun and Sunderland Harrier, Dean Phillips and although just short of last week's 10K PB, I was still very pleased with my time of 44.50 in that heat (and that most of the faster Striders were away at Guisborough giving me the easiest GP haul of points so far...)

Denise and George were next in, with Denise racking up a 10K PB, followed by Jo and then my wife Jacquie who was just grateful to get round, following an already hectic weekend and still recovering from her knee surgery.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 TURNER, Paul Elswick Harriers M 1 34:40
24 MORLEY, Sonia Tynedale Harriers FV45 1 35:51
44 SHENTON, Fiona FV50 42:12
54 PEARSON, Keri F 43:11
74 ROBSON, Alister M 44:50
142 MASON, Denise F 52:12
143 NICHOLSON, George MV60 52:13
172 PORTER, Joanne FV40 56:02
205 ROBSON, Jacquie F 1:06:24

213 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Gisborough Moors, Guisborough, 10th April


Jan Young

Jan climbs Little Roseberry in the baking heat.

Snippets from the rabbit:

Set off 20 minutes before main field, expecting to be out a lonnnnnnngg time. Was enjoyable running without a racing head and the moors/views were stunning in the sunshine. Phil the Hill, first to overtake me, went on to win the race easily, despite tripping over a dog (when will day walkers realise runners concentrate solely on forward motion, rendering them incapable of sudden changes in direction when animals suddenly attack their feet?) and getting bombed by a grouse! Got to CC monument before a surprised Sarah of Blackhill, "You're having a good run, Jan", "No, Sarah, I set off 20 minutes ahead of you!" and Tom overhauled me, followed in stages by Geoff D. and Gibbo.

I kept ahead of Shaun, up the Topping and down and up Little Roseberry. Then we're on the way home, so who cares. Just the Nab to nab, then rattle down the woods.

Susan D earned her mountain points and welcome back to Phil O and Anna S.

Deb's dad, Eric, in his first V70 outing, had his race plan scuppered, finding himself up to his elbows in smelly peat bog after only 2k, attempting to retrieve his shoe. It's still up on the moor waiting to be unearthed in 10,000 years time!



Shaun adds ...

This was the last race of the NEHRA Winter Fell Series, so all the final positions were settled. Tom came a very creditable 5th in the MV40s, and Nigel came 9th in the MV55s, off only four races. Jan was the only Strider to feature for the ladies - she was 2nd in her age group, the FV55s, but also came a very respectable 12th overall. The Summer Series starts on the 26th of April with the Carlton Challenge - the full list of races is here - and these are mainly on a Tuesday night.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Phil Sanderson NFR M 1 1:26:25
43Katie Rawnsley Scarborough AC F 1 1:43:22
52Thomas Reeves MV40 10 1:46:46
86Geoff Davis NFR MV50 12 1:55:23
107David Gibson MV40 22 1:58:46
135Shaun Roberts MV50 23 2:03:43
164Susan Davis NFR FV50 3 2:10:51
192Jan Young NFR FV55 3 2:20:21
199Phil Owen MV45 25 2:23:19

217 finishers.

Coniston 14+, 9th April


Pam Kirkup

"You really know how to make life hard for yourself, don't you?" These were the words of my friend and colleague Morag McDonnell - elite athlete, an England 5K record holder and cross country champion. She was right of course; running the Coniston 14 (really 16.7 at the moment) was a bit ambitious as a first race after a very long time. But you know, I can't help myself. I love Coniston. It's a beautiful course and the scenery takes your mind off the pain ... allegedly!

So, a surprisingly small group of Striders set off on what must have been the hottest day of the year so far, by a long way. Paul & I had met up with Jean Bradley on the previous evening in the Black Bull and we saw Alan Smith at the start. At that point we didn't know of any other Striders running.

The furthest I had run was 12 miles on my once-a-week long run so I was pretty apprehensive to say the least. It was just so hot ... and it was getting hotter! A man dressed in a white mouse outfit looked like he'd feel the heat and then there was the man who carried a Unison flag all the way around. And off we went, up the road to Torver. The early hills were tough and I saw Angela Procter pass me at about 2 miles. I was doing ok but the heat was punishing.

Then Dougie appeared. He's doing London next week; he'd thought twice about racing at Coniston and so had just come for a plod around. And that's what he did, keeping me amused and motivated. We jogged around, putting the world to rights and walking up the hard hills!! For me, cramp set in at about 13miles so, by the last bit after the head of the lake, I was really suffering and had to walk quite a bit.

However, other Striders fared better. David Carrick was first Strider home in 2hr 31 (chip time), followed by Jean Bradley in 2hr 42. Jean found it much harder than last year, again because of the heat. After Jean came Angela Proctor in 2hr 47. Then there was Alan Smith in 3hr 00 who, like all of us, had felt the heat.

And as for Dougie and me? We wandered in at 3hr 41 (Dougie's chip time) and 3hr 42 (mine). At the finish I had serious cramp and was in real pain ... after a couple of pints of lager I felt much better! I also heard numerous stories from many other runners about cramp and other ill-effects from the heat. Just comparing the times with last year - in 2010 the last runner was around 3hr 58. This year it was 4hr 35 which tells its own story.

They hope to have the normal 13.8 course for next year but, whatever, I'll be there. And I'd like to thank Dougie for his company and for keeping me motivated, I honestly don't think I'd have got around without him.

Coniston is a great race. It's challenging but, with such a beautiful course, it's worth it.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Steven Cockrell NENE VALLEY HARRIERSM 1 1:39:35
26Eleanor GreenfieldNuneaton HarriersF 1 1:54:31
462David Catterick MV45 82 2:31:54
641Jean Bradley FV55 3 2:42:03
734Angela Proctor FV35 38 2:47:04
918Alan Smith MV60 38 3:00:37
1068Dougie Nisbet MV45 137 3:41:31
1069Pamela Ann Kirkup FV55 10 3:42:21

1092 finishers.

Blyth Valley 10K, 3rd April

Alister Robson

Conditions were fantastic at the Transped Blyth Valley 10K on Sunday. I took a car load, also including my wife Jacquie, Angela and my friend Neil (whose last 10K was Hellhole in October 2008!). Once there we met Peter and Lindsey Brooks, Danny Lim and Richard Hockin. The Quay pub is the Race HQ and this was busy with quite a few runners taking advantage of the facilities (there were only 3 portaloos) and loads of people entering on the day. This is a great, well supported, well organised, flat and fast 10K with mile markers which is a tribute to it's organisers and still comes in at only a tenner including a tech t-shirt. Are you listening Brendan and Steve?

It felt weird for me to be doing this one as well, as usually this is right at the very beginning of my 10K season, but thanks to London Marathon training this was one of my final preparations and as a result I stood on the start line (which seemed a lot further back than previous years, anyone else confirm?) confident and ready to go. The race got off to an absolute flyer, and I watched our men's captain shoot off into the distance. I glanced at my watch, sub 4 minute/Km pace - too fast for me! - and settled down and concentrated on my own race. The first couple of miles at Blyth takes you out of the quayside and out via the pavement alongside the main road, before you turn and go along the sea front and through some very gently elevating dunes all the way to Seaton Sluice. At Seaton Sluice, where there was a water station for those who wanted it, the race turns back and continues all the way on the pavement back to the start. That's the end of the scenic section I'm afraid, although you can look back over to your right and see the runners who haven't yet made the halfway turn and encourage them. Just after this Richard caught me and we went along together until about 7-8K where we caught Peter who was by now paying for his explosive start (I think he later said he had a 5K PB at the halfway marker!). After this I pushed on as I was well on track to break my 10K PB which stood at 44.18 and dated from my pre-striders days in September 2008 at the Tees Pride. I was very, very happy to continue strongly, still catching other runners and eventually crossed the line in 44.12 - a new PB. My Garmin had me a little quicker than that, but also had the course as a little long - perhaps due to the new start? Richard followed me in next, quickly followed by Peter, Danny (not listed as a Strider in the results for some reason), my mate Neil, Angela and Jacquie (her first 10K since her knee reconstruction) who all seemed chuffed with their times. The prize was a white tech more mile T-shirt.

Richard also said he saw Phil Sanderson before the race attempting a rare road race but he doesn't appear in the official results. Apologies if I missed him.

Honourable mention should also go to David Rathband, the Police Officer who was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat, who ran attached to a guide runner. He is running for the Blue Lamp Foundation and is also running the London Marathon. There were video cameras there so there may well be something on the local or even national news.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 NEWTON, Peter Morpeth Harriers M 1 30:33
24 YOUNG, Lorna Heaton Harriers F 1 35:51
205 ROBSON, Alister M 44:12
218 HOCKIN, Richard MV55 44:40
228 BROOKS, Peter MV40 45:10
391 LIM, Danny M 52:49
442 PROCTOR, Angela FV35 56:44
469 ROBSON, Jacquie F 59:07

511 finishers.

The Chris Hills 10 in 10

Caythorpe Canter, Lincolnshire, 2nd April


Andrew Thompson

Richard in the fields of rural Lincolnshire. The flyer for the race said it had 'definite PW (Personal Worst) potential'. I'm not sure why, but it was true- there were a few hills, lots of uneven terrain and vast expanses wide open to the wind but still nothing to fill the heart with dread. Richard and I left Durham at 5.15 am in a huge thunderstorm but by the time we went 20 miles it had cleared up nicely. 200 miles later and conditions were perfect as we got to the middle of nowhere in sunny Lincolnshire. Straightened the old back out a bit, quick bit of cake and a cuppa, donned the pink headband and off we went ...

It was good running, through fields and trails of the countryside. Things were going well and I was just extolling to Richard the virtues of the 'run at them screaming' technique that we were going to carry out with military precision when we saw a group of about 30 runners standing in the middle of a field looking confused - lots of head-scratching and chin-stroking going on. A few minutes later we were retracing our steps a mile or two back across the fields to the first checkpoint. In many ways it wasn't so bad, the pressure was off and day turned into a run in the countryside instead of a race.

We went through villages and fields on decent tracks, the sun was out and morale was high. The second checkpoint was filled with cakes and sandwiches so I had a cup of Joe and a bit of cake. A lot of cake actually ... after a few minutes it was back up and at it. The next section had a couple of hills to start off and Rich and I went our separate ways after a tricky climb at about 16 miles (about 14 miles of the official route). The rest of the race was a bit of a blur, lots of fields and trails, one airport and a bit of road. Andrew celebrates in style. I was beginning to flag a bit by 20 miles but great joy, the third and final checkpoint appeared like an oasis in a pub car park. The tent was again full of cake and sandwiches so I had another cuppa and refuelled. The last section was a bit tough, but we could see the church steeple from a few miles off where the end was and it was mainly downhill which was good for the emotions. 26.2 came and went, but it was on, through fields of horses and over stile after stile which was agony on the tired legs. I shuffled along to the end from here and I collapsed in a heap at the end - 28.2 miles overall. My time was about 4.45 but it didn't matter. I had my victory Scotch Egg and another bit of cake and watched the other runners come in. Rich wasn't far behind, about half an hour at a guess. As a welcome to the world of marathon running he chose a toughie to get started on - his next one will be a doddle by comparison!

Lessons learned from this one- it is possible to 'enjoy' a marathon rather than race it, and that cake beats energy gel hands down, Oh and that mile 28 is harder than mile 26. A lot harder!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Anthony Gerundini Lincoln Tri M 1 3:49:00
23 Andrew Thompson M 4:42:45
39 Richard Hall M 5:51:06

58 finishers.

Cartmel Trail Race, South Lakes, 2nd April


Two reports on this one... first, from Phil Owen

It's been a while since I did one of the lake land trail races and two years since i did the inaugural sticky toffee pudding race. Back then it was billed as a 16K but this was just the RD's doing his usual "I'll guess the distance then wait for the folks with a garmins to correct me" ploy. I did it in 1:46 back then but of course my foot is still healing so I'm not allowed to run much but one of the features of these races is they have the challenge an hour earlier. Same course but for folks that might want to walk the route or just take a little more time for whatever reason. One of the reasons I love these races is its such a great Fetch fest and before the race we met with loads of fetchies we have known for a good while now who have become such good friends. In fact the first fetchie I ever met was on one of these lakeland trails and that of course was Dave Robson and the reason I ended up joining Striders. Dave was of course here today as was Maggie T and new strider Anna S.

Before the off ...

At 1pm and with perfect running weather (warm and sunny with slight cooling breeze) we set off and soon climbed through lovely woodland. I had started with a quick walk but ended up in a slow controlled trot. This felt comfortable and although near the back we were not getting left behind. Anna was running with me in case I had any foot problem but also because I had given her my stinking cold. I know, it's good to share. It was soon apparent that Anna's chest was worse than we thought and this slowed us down quite a lot. She really should not have been running. Of course this was probably a good thing for me as it curbed my enthusiasm ... !

As we climbed the forest turned into the most wonderful grassy trails. Near the first top we were treated to a wonderful view of the coast and to be honest the stunning views never stopped. I've rarely been to this part of the south lakes and I had forgotten about how truly beautiful the area is. I chatted to Maggie a bit along the way and other runners having a great time. We followed the coastal way for some part and then we were meant to do a sharp turn right. This was taped up but unfortunately instead of the little blue puma flags of the main sponsor they had used red tape and this had been trampled a bit into the ground. To be honest I was enjoying myself that much I didn't look. Anna had shouted up that we may be on the wrong course but other were adamant that we were on the correct course. We weren't. The runners ahead of us soon turned around and we climbed up the single track and back onto the correct course laughing and joking. It's that kind of event. No harm done and for me it was just an added bonus. I could happily stay out all day.

From here it was fairly easy running with the added bonus of all the trails turned into a bit of a mud fest. Brilliant. A finish back through some more woodland and back into Cartmel Racecourse in 2:44, nice and easy. Picked up our famous Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and sat in the sunshine to watch all the runners come in from the grandstand with a cold pint and great friends.

Perfect day :-)

... and from Barrie Evans

Not one for the faint hearted - described as a Beauty and a Beast of a course. Received a 98% approval rating by Runners World Readers in 2010. Panoramic views of Morecombe Bay and the surrounding peaks. Organisers claim underfoot conditions are variable with a bit of everything and warn it can be very sticky in places.

After four days of steady rain in the Southern lakes it proved more than sticky in many / most places . Mudman and Mudwoman and the Harrier League team should visit this one to see what real mud is!!!

After all the rain, perfect spring weather marked race day and it was pleasantly warm and sunny as 350+ brave souls lined up on Cartmel Racecorse for the 1pm start ( with an ominous taste of things to come as water squelched up through the lush green turf ).

After leaving the racecourse it was onto a rough farm track , flooded in places ( attempts to skirt the watery bits were soon abandond as a lost and pointless cause ), and gradually climbing past Lane Park woodland onto a very muddy ancient bridleway continuing climb onto open land up to High Barrow ( 170m ) then along Ellerside Ridge following the ridgeline with views out to Greenodd Estuary ( to be honest the surface of very wet grass, rocks, mud and water made concentrating on staying upright more important than admiring the scenery which for me was glimpsed only briefly all through the race ). Then followed a slushy descent towards High Stribes Wood continuing down to Grassgarth before ascending up through the wood and out onto the rough pasture of Bigland Heights descending again to pass close by Bigland Tarn before a short dry section ( on tarmac ) through High Gate Estate then onto the open moorland of Bigland Barrow passing by Black Beck Tarn before an undulating dry kilometre of country lane up Barnsley Hill. Then into and through the woodland of the Great Allotment an absolute quagmire ( organisers comment on route photo - a very sticky section , glorious mud , quite deep in places , especially in March - also in April as can be verified !! ) . After the downhill slog through the woods it was onto another ancient trail passing near to Barnes Bank Plantation and through a working farmyard before fording the Pill Mill Brook ( cold , fresh , clean water but no time to wash off all the mud - just a good paddle to just below the knees !! ) before the final climb up through Park Woods and the descent back onto the racecourse ( seen only in the last 150m or so ) and the run into the finish. All that for a Sticky Toffee Pudding, but well worth it. They even had hosepipes to wash away some of the mud - shoes and socks will need further serious cleaning !!

There were four events on the day with over a thousand competing and watching making it possibly the biggest day of the year for this pretty south lakes venue.