Race Reports, June 2011

Humber Bridge Half Marathon, Hessle, 26th June

13.1M

Alister Robson

This was my third race in East Yorkshire in a few weeks following from May's Beverley 10k and the Humber Bridge 10K only three weeks before, which is nice as it means we get an excuse to call in and see Jacquie's parents in Beverley. It's a race I did last year in similar heat and the only one where I've blown up completely and had to walk for long stretches, only just making it round in 2.06.50 - my slowest half by far. I felt slightly less bad when Keri told me that she hadn't completed it and was pulled out but I think it's safe to say I had some serious unfinished business. We got talking to two girls from Wallsend Harriers who were doing it again to try and get rid of last year's bad experience and this was repeated with most people I spoke to during and after the race.

Again out of nowhere came a heat wave - 27°C, and the day was ominously hot as we arrived - even though the start was pushed back half an hour to 10am from last year's 10.30. On paper it's not that difficult a course, its 400m of elevation change compares pretty unfavourably to the Run Northumberland Wallington's 500m or even RAF Spadeadam's 800m, but I guess the difference is that those half marathons are in March and October respectively. It's also pretty steady to start - a nice little run around Hessle and a gradual climb upto the bridge itself, where for the first time this year we were running on the southbound road deck rather than the pedestrian area alongside it. After crossing the bridge (no mean feat as it's over a mile long), you run up the sliproad and into and through the village of Barton.

It was only after the slightly misplaced 'Halfway' sign that I started to flag, and sensibly I realised that I wasn't going to get round in 1.50, my initial aim, that it was very hot and just to make sure I crossed the line. The people of Barton were fantastic in their support - many armed with hosepipes and water pistols, so that I was able to keep running all the way up to the main hill on the course - a half mile climb up Gravel pit Lane between 8.5 and 9.5 miles. My main aim here was to get to the top without walking, which I just managed. After reaching the top you turn back and down onto the road that leads to the south side before you climb once more up to the bridge itself. It was here at about 10.5 miles that I had to walk and gather myself before crossing the bridge (the second tower in particular never seemed to arrive!) and dropping back to the start to finish. I crossed the line, tired, sunburnt, but happy with a chip time of 1.57.06 and immediately, especially given how many people I'd seen crashing out and ambulances I'd heard, my thoughts turned to Jacquie and how she was getting on.

I decided to dash back to the car to get her a recovery shake, thinking she'd be quite a bit longer but by the time I got back to the finish it was just in time to hear the announcer shout 'Jacquie Robson - Elvet Striders' as she crossed the line in a brilliant 2.25.58 - only a few minutes down from her recent PB of 2.19 at the utterly flat Redcar Half. There were loads of well stocked water stations all around the course, the organisation was excellent and that only makes it more sad to find that unfortunately a local man, 32 year old businessman Matthew Good died before he could be taken to hospital and many others were hospitalised prompting the organisers to consider moving the race for next year.

Cronkley Fell Race, Holwick, Teesdale, 26th June

10.5M / 1752'

Jan Young

Hot day, wind against on outward run, so easier on return. The out and back course starts at the Strathmore Arms, Holwick, crossing Cronkey Fell before dropping down to the Tees, where the checkpoint is thoughtfully placed in the knee deep, slippy rocks river. The uphill start sorted me out and that's where I stayed, near the back. Rewards were jelly babies at the Tees turnaround and knowing Nina had caught the leading lady. She was 30 metres adrift at 6 miles, but 3.5 minutes up at the finish. After tackling bogs, stream crossings and testing climbs, we exchanged race numbers for chip butties; beats t shirts! Paul E. placed 4th, just missed out on a prize; Gibbo and Phil O enjoyed the post race wash in the stream.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Carl Bell Howgill Harriers M 1:16:54
4Paul Evans M 1:29:05
15Nina Mason F 1 1:44:33
24David Gibson MV40 1:50:57
40Phil Owen MV40 2:06:05
45Jan Young FV50 2:12:33

49 finishers.

National Three Peaks, 24th, and, 25th June

3 mountains

Emma Detchon

Emma and friends climbing Ben Nevis

Through work at Teesside University I signed up for a ladies 3 peaks challenge. There was 11 ladies walking, our guide Callum and my boss Geoff as our driver with help from Callum and 2 of the ladies. A last minute change meant we were left with a mini bus limited to 62mph, not great for getting around the country fast!

We set off from Middlesbrough at 11.20am and arrived at Ben Nevis, in time to set off at 6.25pm. The weather was beautiful, we walked up in t-shirts 3/4 of the way and I felt completely weighed down by my coat and bag! I think we walked up in 2hr 45min whereas it'd taken 3hrs last time and our target to finish was in 5hrs.

Emma and friends on top of Ben NevisOne of the girls struggled on the way down due to knee pain, one of the ladies was a trained sports therapist so we had to stop while she strapped it up. It took an extra 2 hrs to get down Ben Nevis with the delay - we were all absolutely shattered.

We had to get the group together and question if we wanted to go on as by the time we finish those who have to drive will be very tired and is it safe? We all said we really wanted to go on and 'luckily' (for us only) Nat our sports therapist had also been having knee pain on the way down so decided not to walk anymore and offered to do more driving.

Callum had a rota for those driving as he wanted two passengers in the front awake at all times. Only problem for me and Jenny was that meant we'd only have two hours sleep before our shift as passengers then we'd have to be awake before walking Scafell Pike. I was so tired after Ben Nevis those two hours were the best sleep I've had then we did our duty chatting to Geoff and eating pasta at 4am!! Luckily two of the girls agreed to swap with us so we could get more sleep, they were due on for the next shift but it just meant we'd done two hours each rather than 2.5 for us and 1.5 for them. So pleased we did as the last 45 mins into Scafell is awful, the road is so bumpy we couldn't get any sleep! We arrived at Scafell to rain and low clouds, I felt so tired but was armed with caffeine energy gels!

It was busy walking up and again one of the girls fell to the back and we were told to stay together. The higher we got the more the wind picked up so by the summit we were blown around, I had my chocolate banana cake - lovely! Everyone was cold and wet so we just headed straight down. We finished Scafell Pike in 4 hours which was our target time.

We were originally due to go to a pub for a meal and well deserved drink at the end but due to the delay we weren't going to make it so Callum and a few others ended up stopping for fish and chips on route. We stopped one more time to change drivers, go to toilets and for me to change after noticing bad chaffing from zip off trousers!

Emma and friends on top of Snowdon We arrived at Snowdon to the worst weather yet, drizzly rain and all cloud!! Everyone says Snowdon is easiest so two girls decided to run it to make up time.

It wasn't long before our faithful slow coach fell to the back and the rest of the group agreed the only way was to encourage her the best we could. After a few renditions of different songs I thought it was time to ease off the jelly babies, maybe I was becoming delirious haha! The summit was worse than Scafell for the strong winds, cold and no visibility. It took an hour extra than planned to do Snowdon. But we'd done it, 3 peaks finished J I got home to bed after 6am around 47 hours since I'd got out of it!

After being determined to never do it again, I can say I was enjoying it by the end and would love to do it again to get under the 24 hours! Someone said the achievement is doing the 3 peaks, the challenge is doing it in 24 hours, but I still love the challenge! I would also say to anyone thinking of doing it, the three individually are a challenge on their own! The main thing that keeps us all going is the team spirit and same as being part of the club, that's the best bit for me!

Durham Dales Challenge, Wolsingham, 25th June

30M option

Dave Robson

I headed off to Wolsingham for this Long Distance Walking Association (LDWA) event and picked up Sue Jennings on the way. We got there and chatted to other runners and met Joan Reeves at the start who was also doing the 30m route.

We started off running through Wolsingham and then straight up a big hill. We took it nice and easy and reached the first self clip at about 2.5m. This was the point where the 16m and 30m routes split and it was clear that most people were doing the 16m. We set off across the moor with nobody else in sight and it continued like that for a long way ...

We were running into a breeze and Sue was starting to struggle especially on the uphills of which there were quite a few. We reached Hamsterley Forest, which seemed full of flies. Climbed our way out and back onto the moors again. Sue was really struggling at this stage and at 10m she decided to pull out at the next checkpoint at 11.5m. She had also developed a dodgy stomach. I ran on to the checkpoint to warn them there would be a dropout. While we were waiting for her a car arrived asking if there were any people dropping out so the driver waited and then took Sue all the way home, which was very good of him.

I set off towards Middleton-in-Tessdale hoping to pick up the time a bit. It wasn't that easy, running by the River Tees was just lovely, but there was lots of mud and steps so progress was slow. Made it to the Middleton check point in about 4hr 15min. They had lovely sandwiches, cake and tea.

Set off again and the route followed a stream (uphill) and made it to the next checkpoint where we were presented with a choice, follow the windy road upwards or go straight up. I chose straight up. I think it was quicker.

Then I made a navigational error. I hadn't been able to work out this section beforehand. I had put the route on the Garmin and that worked well most of the time, but I knew not to rely on it here. I saw walkers ahead going down the left hand side of a stream and the instructions seemed to say go right (they did but I was taking that decision too early) so I went down the right. I ended up climbing through heather and the couldn't find any way over a wall, so I had to negotiate a steep descent to the steam - I slid down on my bottom.

Back on track and another big climb, past a reservoir and seeing some fantastic views - it looked sunny in the distance. Whilst on the moors it always seemed cloudy and dull, but everywhere else it seemed sunny!

After the next checkpoint (more fantastic food) we had to find a shooting butt with the number 4 inside of it. I never found it, but luckily some walkers pointed me in the right direction.

Finally made it to the last manned checkpoint (where they had quiche :-) ), past the elephant trees (they look like two elephants from the valley) and down into the valley towards Wolsingham. Finally made it back in 8hr 14 ! A long time on my feet. Joan Reeves had had a great run and came in with 7hrs 37 :-)

Then it was the usual LDWA two course meal All that food and the race for just a tenner!

A lovely day, but far from easy.

Newburn River Run, 22nd June

6.5 miles

Gary Davies

I thought it would be a pleasant change to run a race after work rather than doing my usual game of 6-a-side football or training run. That said after staying at work until 6:15pm before heading through to Newburn the notion of running 6.5 miles was becoming less appealing. Never the less off I headed in the pouring rain which made the journey along the A1 have an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon the 'Wacky Races'. This coupled with my apparent inability to judge the A694/695/69 road system resulted in me heading the wrong way along the Scotswood Road (the wonders of a college education).

At the risk of turning this into a debacle of a report. I arrived at Newburn Leisure Centre surprisingly in good time only to find I didn't have my Striders vest with me 'what a woodenheed'. A slight bout of chuntering tourettes ensued which was fortunately subdued by the arrival of Mike Bennett across the car park. Always good to see a friendly familiar face.

After collecting my number and a brief warm up it was off to start with the afore mentioned Mr Bennett. The usual assessment of the assembled field quickly followed. After uttering he / she looks lean, mean and quick at approximately 100 plus runners I came to the conclusion that this may well be a fast race and slip streaming the racing machines was possibly my only strategy. These fears were supported as at the starters whistle with Mike and the rest of the Isle of Man TT machines whizzing off into the rain splattered horizon.

The first 2.5 miles went by without any incident of note other than the odd finely tuned racing machine clipping past me like was in reverse (stifling tourettes as I type). Upon reaching Wylam and crossing the bridge at the Railway Station and heading for the footpath I failed to notice the runners ahead negotiating the cycle chicane (which almost resulted in a over the bars incident without a bike). I continued chuckling and wondering how I managed to make it to 37 years of age without being covered in bubble wrap. The rest of the race was pleasant enough along a nice gravel track through the golf course to Newburn Bridge and the road back to the Leisure Centre. I managed to stave off any last mile kicks from rivals (in fact I don't recall anyone passing me in the last 3 miles) granted I'm not sure if anyone was close enough but I still claiming the mental victory ha ha!

The official time was 51 mins (by my watch under 50 just !). That said time was irrelevant thoroughly enjoyed myself

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Ian Harding Morpeth Harriers M 33.44
75 Mike Bennett M55 45.52
147 Gary Davies M 51.01

283 finishers.

Durham 3 Peaks, 22nd June

3 hills

Dougie Nisbet...

Nigel and PhilDaveKathryn

Some might disagree, but the Durham Three Peaks is as much a game as it is a race. So many permutations in under three miles. Free of Charge. And with the promise of bluff, double-bluff, and a hint of mischief, it really is a race not to be missed.

When I ran it last year I was delighted to finish in fourth place in 30 minutes and a sprinkling of seconds. This year I was determined to do better. I recced the route and studied the film. I burned the midnight oil measuring the relative distances using different routes and wondered if I could swim 10 metres faster than I could run 230. Probably not, but jumping in the Wear struck me as infinitely more exciting than going the long way round.

I don't think there's a Start quite like this one. I imagine this is what the big-bang was like. God shouts "Go!" and all matter of Striders explode outwards in every direction. My first choice of checkpoint was the Steps in Great High Wood and I dashed away with what seemed an unfeasibly earnest bundle of Striders. Local knowledge (4 years of studying at Houghall College) allowed me to take a pretty direct line through the grounds towards the woods. I was then dismayed but should not have been surprised to discover that I wasn't the only one to be taking the direct route up through the woods. Climbing straight up my memorised route I noticed a mysterious paper trail of pink that seemed to veer away to the left. I had a feeling it would probably finish somewhere in the middle of a holly thicket.

Out of the woods, to Phil Owen marshalling at the steps, then on to Whinney Hill. I stormed down the track looking for my pre-arranged marker tree. As an arborist I probably shouldn't admit to this, but when you're hammering down a woodland track, all trees look the same. I saw a likely looking larch (it was actually a rowan but that would spoil the alliteration) and I veered to the right and down to the low road. A gleeful tumble down the bank then across the main road, and up again.

At Nina's checkpoint I had a decision to make. Go or No go. Swim or Bridge. All my plans and recces had assumed I would take a direct line towards the Durham Cow. But it had been raining hard all afternoon and I was not so sure now. The Wear might be feeling a bit full and frisky and might see me as a plaything. Ah what the hell, you're a long time deid.

Straight down the bank and an unfeasible amount of nettles, then to the bandstand. The students who had been sheltering in the bandstand must have thought the world was going mad as the second runner in as many minutes ran past and disappeared from view. There's a little Wych Elm just by the river that was my marker and a slid down the river bank and plunged into the Wear. Straight up past the nadgers and right up to the neck, and suddenly I felt mortal. In the river rat race we had buoyancy aids and lifeguards, here there was just a big lonely swollen river. When I realised that I was just a couple of metres from the bank and couldn't touch the bottom I nearly lost my nerve and paused to give myself a talking to. Then, trying to do a bit of Pythagoras in my head, I struck out in my sedate breast stroke for the opposite bank, hoping that the square of the hypotenuse was equal to me going roughly that-away.

I was feeling ridiculously euphoric when I (eventually) hauled myself out exactly where I wanted to be on the Pelaw Woods side. I may even had punched the air and high-fived a bit of empty space before rather spoiling the moment by having to retie both my shoe-laces. I glared suspiciously at the river and wondered what strange river-life had managed to do that before heading up towards the final checkpoint.

As I sprinted to the finish I was not looking over my shoulder, I was looking at all the other points of the compass to see if I was going to get pipped at the post by someone taking a different dastardly route. Arriving at the finish I found that a few Striders were already home. I was a few minutes faster than last year so I was happy with my new PB. And then it was just a matter of waiting for everyone else to come home; the injured, dazed, lost and confused.

Thanks to Geoff and Jan for organising this fiendish and fun race, and to Flip, Dave and Nina for their encouragement at the checkpoints. Next year I might do it anti-clockwise ...

..Geoff Watson

A damp, humid, overcast and wet evening saw the 3 peaks race take place once again. A good turnout of 28 people saw runners disappearing off in various directions either following or searching for their best route. There seems to be a preference for either the steps or bridge first, only Jan seemed to go to the stile first.

3 runners took to the water this year, Dougie Nisbet, Matt Claydon and Geoff Watson. There were 3 DNF's. Poor Peter Bell who stood on a wasp's nest limped in looking as if he was in some pain. Hopefully Peter will recover soon from that. Kit Chong didn't make it to the bridge, but recorded times at both the stile and steps on two separate occasions! Phil Todd managed to visit the steps, the stile and steps again before running out of time. Everyone managed to return safely, all completing the course within 45 minutes. James and Mathew Reeves were the junior entrants and completed the full course. Well done to both!

Jan assembled a fantastic prize list once again, Geoff Davis received 1st male prize and Susan Davis 1st female prize. James and Mathew took the junior prizes and there were plenty of spot prizes too.

Many thanks to David Shipman, Phil Owen and Nina Mason for marshalling and time keeping at the checkpoints. Also many thanks to Paul Evans to for starting the race and recording the finish times. Thanks also to Jan for providing a great prize list again!

Results

PosNameStepsStileBridgeFinish
1Geoff Watson 04:56 10:03 18:28 23:33
2Geoff Davis 05:18 11:31 19:59 25:37
3Matt Claydon 05:05 11:13 19:45 25:53
4James Garland 21:15 14:58 07:46 26:52
5Dougie Nisbet 05:59 12:30 21:47 28:09
6Nigel Heppell 24:21 17:23 07:26 28:56
7Marco Fanden Bremen 24:21 17:23 07:09 29:18
8Tom Reeves 26:40 18:13 07:46 32:56
8Mathew Reeves 26:40 20:03 07:46 32:56
10Susan Davis 06:20 14:33 25:08 33:06
11Jan Young 27:20 19:13 31:14 33:34
12Dave Catterick 08:18 16:27 26:59 33:46
13James Reeves 29:14 18:13 10:02 36:55
14Ian Spencer 29:34 20:13 08:50 37:06
15Joan Reeves 28:34 20:23 10:09 37:32
16Dave Robson 31:06 19:23 09:17 37:55
17George Nicholson 08:28 16:28 31:35 39:13
18Jim Wesley 08:18 16:28 31:14 39:14
19Kathryn Sygrove 09:04 16:33 31:18 39:18
20Karen Chalkley 09:04 16:28 31:38 39:32
21Angela Proctor 08:37 16:28 31:12 39:42
22Simon Kelly 32:04 23:18 09:47 40:08
22Lois Albin 32:04 23:18 09:07 40:08
24Jo Porter 34:20 23:18 09:02 42:08
24Jo Richardson 34:20 23:33 09:15 42:08
DNFPeter Bell 07:05 19:33 --:-- --:--
DNFKit Chong 05:08 11:43 --:-- --:--
DNFPhil Todd 09:14 18:16 --:-- --:--

Newton Aycliffe 10K, 19th June

Alister Robson

After Jacquie's exploits at the Great North Swim we weren't sure we were going to do this one, but as she felt fine and it was Father's Day and Dad lives in Newton Aycliffe, we thought "Why not?" There was a change of start this year and parking was at the Oakleaf Sports Complex rather than the usual Greenfield School, so quite a walk past the train station and over to the usual start on Burnhill Way. We had seen Peter in the car park and came across Richard and Matt at the start - a good representation of Striders.

Waved off as usual by the town mayor, on what was quite a warm still day, I set off at a good lick - though not as quickly as Matt who rocketed into the distance - trying to keep up with my work colleague and parkrunner Michael Coxon and at one stage found myself having a mini race with renowned endurance athlete Sharon Gayter. Unfortunately just after the first large loop (the course consists of a not particularly scenic, one small loop and then one larger one followed by nearly all of the large one again) I felt my back go, what later turned out to be a muscle spasm, and I knew that I was shifting focus from a possible PB to just getting round. The pain was only sporadically serious and I limped round, having been overtaken by Richard and Peter in 45.51. Jacquie had a better run in a very creditable 59.07. Nice tech tee this year too.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1James ASKEW Aycliffe Running ClubM 33:08
18Alexandra SNOOK Gateshead Harriers ACF 37:49
46Matt CLAYDON M 41:35
108Richard HOCKIN MV50 45:21
110Peter BELL M 45:25
113Alister ROBSON M 45:51
237Jacqie ROBSON F 59:07

269 finishers.

Whitby to Durham Relay, 18th, and, 19th June

Geoff Watson...

This year's charity relay was from Whitby to Durham over 14 stages and 100 miles taking in parts of the Cleveland and Teesdale ways. The charity fundraising this year was in aid of the Prostate cancer charity in memory of Mike Hall.

Striders at the end of the relay
Day 1

An early start on Saturday morning saw the support bus (Dave Shipman's camper) head south to Whitby. Good time was made and the 0730 arrival gave us enough time for a brew before setting off. The weather was a little damp but calm. There was no wind and the sea was beautifully calm. The first leg was from Whitby to Runswick (7.5 miles). On this leg were Geoff Watson and Mike Bennett and Benji. A quick photo under the whale bones and then the run was off, down the Promenade and then onto the beach to Sands End. Climbing up from Sands End onto the old railway the route snaked along the coast to Kettleness through fields. Benji took great delight in chasing anything he could; pheasant, rabbit, even a hare to which he gave a determined 100 metre pursuit. After Kettleness the route dropped down onto the beach at Runswick. A final push on the steep road out of the bay took saw the end of the leg at the cliff top car park at 0906 (scheduled start 0925)

Here Jan and Nina were ready to take over and they headed off for the next leg to Skinningrove (8.28 miles) 15 minutes ahead on the schedule. The route from here continues along the Cleveland Way passing through Staithes and taking in the climb over Boulby before a steep descent into the village of Skinningrove. Jan & Nina arrived in good time at 10:43 keeping the schedule up (scheduled start 10:58). Jan and Nina then set off back to Runswick to pick the car up.

Whilst at Skinningrove Dave Robson arrived. Having previous knowledge of the Cleveland Way he offered to guide Mike Bennett and Dave Shipman through Saltburn and Skelton on the next stage to Slapewath whilst the van moved on to the next checkpoint. This next leg was 8.37 miles.

At Slapewath Dave Cattrick arrived but there was no sign of Richard Hall who was his partner for this leg. Dave Robson kindly offered to stand in on this leg over to the hamlet of Kildale. Mike and Dave arrived at 12:24 having had a good run through but losing their way slightly, but time was still in hand with the scheduled start at 12:32. The weather was now becoming more inclement with some heavy bursts of rain. Both Dave's duly set off for Kilby whilst the van went on to the end of the leg. Here more runners began to arrive with Angela and Nigel for the next leg. Jan and Nina arrived having collected their car from Runswick. The rain continued with occasional showers whilst we waited for the runners. The tea room was a welcome distraction for some of the team. The runners eventually appeared on the hillside descending from Captain Cook's monument and shortly arrived at the hand over at 14:10 now bang on the schedule. Dave Catterick was continuing whilst Dave Robson stopped. Many thanks to Dave for filling in on this leg.

The next group headed off from Kilby and up the road over the fell heading for Claybank. At Claybank the van parked up at the point were the Cleveland way crosses the road. By now the midgies were beginning to become a nuisance so tea in the van seemed like a great idea. There was certainly plenty to choose from with abundant cake and snacks. Mike's carrot cake was a hit. As time marched on it seemed that the schedule was going to slip and so it did, however not due to fatigue. There had been some navigational issues on the outward stretch from Kilby that caused the delay. All runners arrived safely with Nigel leading in at 16:15 (scheduled depart 16:02). Nigel and Angela were continuing on accompanied by Kirstin. Dave Catterick now took a well deserved rest having completed 17-18 miles.

The next checkpoint was at Huthwaite, a small hamlet enroute to Scugdale and the start of the cycle leg. On this leg the cyclists included Keith Wesson, Barry Bird, Dave Shipman, Mike Bennett, Paul Gibson and Alan Purvis. Again time was ticking by and concern over the whereabouts of the runners from Claybank grew. Dave Robson had seen them pass through at Carlton Bank, so the they couldn't be far off. The cyclists were itching to be off as the start time past. The runners eventually arrived at 18:00 (17:17 scheduled depart) and the cyclists headed for Girsby. Keith issued a warning that there should be no attacking in the first mile, however the peacocks in the road put an end to any early breakaways! The ride was over a scenic route along quiet lanes passing through Rounton, Appleton Wiske and Hornby. The riders made good time arriving at Girsby at 19:04 and only 40 minutes over the scheduled time. A good day out!

Those that were staying over now headed for Ingleby Cross and the Blue Bell Inn where there was camping at the back of the pub. The tents went up in the rain, then hot showers and food in a lively pub hosting a 40th birthday party made for a good night. A few pints of the local 'Slipway' all round enabled some of us to slip off to sleep quite well despite the rain and revelry. Mike said it didn't seem long between the party goers leaving and the birds starting singing, but couldn't say for certain who was late or early!

Day 2

The morning broke with damp, overcast skies. The cloud hung on the tree tops of the firs up on the hillside. Tents were taken down followed by breakfast at the team van at 0745 followed by a swift drive to Girsby for 9am. Geoff Davis appeared from down the track at Girsby. He and Susan had arrived to run alternate legs for the whole day. So at 9am Dave and Jan set off with Susan for Croft on Tees. At Croft Paul Loftus arrived for the next leg. Concern for the runners on the first leg of the day rose as time ticked by. They eventually arrived at 10:29 (scheduled start at 10:07) having had some tricky navigation round the golf course where the Teesdale way disappeared. Paul, Nina and Geoff Davis now set off for Low Coniscliffe and pulled back some time arriving at 11:23 (schedule 11:15).

George Nicholson had arrived and was ready for his leg, the weather seemingly improving with sunny skies. The next leg saw Susan, George and Geoff Watson head for Piercebridge following the winding path of the Tees. The runners arrived at Piercebridge up on the schedule at 12:05 (schedule 12:14) but thoroughly drenched having been caught in a torrential downpour. This seemed to set a weather pattern for the day where it only rained on the legs George was running!

The next leg was perhaps the trickiest of all, being a connecting leg to take the route from the Teesdale way over to Bishop Auckland. The marked paths were permissible but rarely used and therefore impassable in places. Never the less, Mike Bennett and Geoff Davis made a stern effort and ploughed or hacked their way through the fields arriving up at Brusselton at 13:41 (schedule 13:32).

Whilst they had been out running more tea and cake had been consumed, including Susan's excellent banana cake! On the next leg were George, Susan, Barry Bird and Andy James. There was a nice downhill start along the bridleway then out on to the roads for a urban leg through Bishop. Rain was visible in the distance, so it must surely have been George's leg! The van moved on to Newton Cap to see them pass through the carpark. Barry stopped here and Mike ran on for a few miles to the finish of the leg at Hunwick Station.

On arrival at Hunwick Dave Robson, Christina, Denise Mason and Colin Blackburn were waiting. The runners arrived at 14:32 (schedule 14:34) and the next group (Dave, Colin, Denise, Christina, Geoff, Mike) swiftly headed off for Langley Moor. The van moved off to catch the runners at Willington and then Brancepeth where Barry Evans joined in. Somewhere on this leg Anna joined in. At Langley Moor a large group assembled for the last 2 miles. The runners arrived at 15:40 (schedule 15:54). The final group of 13 or 14 headed off across the field only to encounter problems getting out of the field. Having tackled this they headed up to the Duke of Wellington and onwards to Prebends Bridge, the Bailey and the end at the Millennium square arriving at 16:14 with 3 minutes in hand. They were accompanied by Phil and Paul on their bikes

There were a few photo's and everyone then moved on to the Court where Kim joined us for food. Many thanks to David Shipman who again made his van available as the team HQ along the way and invaluable support vehicle. Thanks go to everyone who took part and made the whole thing possible, I'm sure Mike would have been very proud of everyone!

...Jan Young

Leg 2, Day 1

Nina and Mum ran 8.2 mls from Runswick Bay to Skinningrove, following coastal Cleveland Way footpath. Warm morning, but heavy mist hanging, couldn't see 'owt leaning when over sheer cliffs! Speeded up in last two miles, hoping to keep 15 minutes ahead of schedule and must have looked reasonably impressive as one walker asked, 'Is there a race on?' exclaiming !!!!!!! nora when we replied '100 mile relay from Whitby to Durham'. I assumed his other indistinguishable comments were encouragement! So pleased my route knowledge and map helped Nigel, Angela and Katrina on their leg. We survived the wet overnight camp and thanks for great company in pub. Already looking forward to next year.

...Nigel Heppell

Leg 5, Day 1

Arrived at the hamlet of Kildale on a cool, dank Saturday afternoon and found a good collection of Striders sheltering in various vehicles and tearoom waiting for leg 4 runners to appear up the lane from Cap'n Cook's Monument. David Catterick and Dave Robson duly arrived bang on schedule and David C, having already covered 8.4 miles, continued on through the next stage with myself and a slightly injured Angela. After a bit of confusion with the route at the end of the first mile where what appeared on the map to be a simple track but was in reality a tarmac road caused us to veer off uphill and get a good soaking in the long grasses, we regained directional control and climbed out of the valley to reach the escarpment. Excellent views back towards Roseberry Topping, ahead to Clay Bank, and west over the flatlands of the vale, close views of some Golden Plover too. Its all a bit featureless up on the top itself though we did find a Hardmoors 110 self-clip tied to a post at one point. Nice headlong charge downhill to the changeover at Claybank where midges were doing their best to antagonise the support crew.

Leg 6, Day 1

Swopped David C for Kirsten at this point and Angela and I carried on. The girls took the sensible route contouring around the treeline but I had a new pair of shoes to break in for the Saunders MM so I went up over the tops to view the Wainstones and give my feet a bit of a workout. There are quite a few climbs and descents on this route but we managed to meet up at the dips and came into Carlton Bank carpark together where Jan, Nina and Dave R gave cheer. Jan also sent us off on an attractive undulating trail underneath Lordstones that eventually led us through some very boggy woods before spitting us out onto the Cleveland Way again. A steady trot down the lane to Huthwaite where a whole bunch of strangely attired folk sat astride their cycles straining against their brakes ready to make up some of the time we lost on this section. Not the warmest or driest of runs but very satisfying all the same.

...George Nicholson

Leg 10, Day 2

I arrived early at Low Coniscliffe on the Sunday morning for the start of Leg 10. Soon the support ‘convoy' drove 'into town' and before much longer the leg 9'ers arrived on foot. Susan, Geoff W & I set off along the Teesdale Way following the River Bank footpaths heading towards Piercebridge. Susan who had earlier said she preferred running in the rain, soon got what she wished for - BIG TIME . The shower didn't last long, however the volume of water that fell out the sky in that time more than made up for it's brevity. We left the river banks briefly as the path went through the hamlet of Carlbury, then returned back down to the riverside again and proceeded in great haste to arrive at the lovely village of Piercebridge for the next hand over. I should have guessed with Susan & Geoff the pace would have been fast, and I only really managed to catch them, and my breath, at the finish. For the record it should be noted that this leg started 5 mins behind schedule and finished 10 mins in front !- say no more... I rested a while before driving north in the sunshine to collect Andy James and return with him to meet up with Barry B. & Susan at Brussleton. The 4 of us due to run leg 12 to Hunwick... and guess what ? it was starting to rain again.

...Andy James

Leg 12, Day 2

Having met a very wet George at Hunwick (he was organized enough to have a change of running clothes!), we traveled to Brussleton to meet up with our fellow runners (Susan and Barry Bird) and the back up team. After waiting anxiously for half an hour for Mike and Geoff - the notoriety of their leg was public knowledge - their 2 figures appeared to much cheering at the top of a hill. I was so looking forward to that long downhill start - but to no avail - it was so muddy that no speed was possible. A very straightforward leg, mostly on road, meant navigation was not an issue so I could concentrate all my energy on keeping up with the goddess of Strider running?! My fellow runners were actually very kind to someone who only trains once a week and we managed to make up some time. The route took us on the West Auckland bypass, along Watling Road and through Bishop town centre (not a pretty sight with all the shuttered shops) and then onto Newton Cap viaduct. Dave, Geoff and team were a welcome sight at the car park then the long railway path to Hunwick. We made it and NO RAIN, despite being with George! Thanks everyone for a great time.

...Colin Blackburn

Leg 13, Day 2

As Elfie and I arrived at the car park at Hunwick Station I was surprised to see just a couple of cars and no compervan. I quickly checked that the cars contained someone I knew before Elfie drove off - you never know what people get up to in remote car parks on a Sunday! Denise, Dave R and Fetchie Christina were sitting out the drizzle in Denise's car, Denise discovering various things about her car like where the tyre pressures were listed. It was getting close to the changeover time with no sign of the runners or the campervan. Just as I got my phone out to check for emails a fleet of vehicles arrived from one direction and the incoming runners from the other. A very quick change of clothes and we were off. Geoff D, Mike and Benji decided to stay on for another leg (not sure if Benji had any choice) and so the six of us and a dog set off for Langley Moor. At some point Anna jumped out of a bush and joined us! The great thing about only railway lines is that they are flat, this made for a very enjoyable run. In fact it must have been good because I don't even remember going through Willington.

Leg 14, Day 2

At Langley Moor several of us set off on the final leg into Durham. You'll have to forgive me for not remembering everyone on this leg but there was Mike E, Keith, Angela, Anna,... and the others! Despite this being the shortest leg it started somewhat hesitantly with some terrible navigating. We all charged across a field full of horses like something from the Wild West. a very steep bank brought us to a stand still. A quick diversion and we found a way down. It turned out to be a mudslide, one that Angela did on her backside. After going under the viaduct we tried to find our way into someone's back garden before finally finding the stile out of the field and realising we should have stayed high. I blame the map. The rest of the run went smoothly as we trod regular roads and paths through Durham while Phil O did stunts on his bike as he tried to get the odd picture of us in action. We arrived in Millennium Square to the applause of lots of other Striders and after a few photos we decamped to the Court Inn for a well earned pint or two and some food.

Great North Swim, Windermere, 18th June

1 mile

Jacquie Robson

Although I'm a pretty confident swimmer, my experience of open water swimming until now consisted of a leisurely float in the sea in much warmer areas of the world than the north of England. So a mile in Windermere seemed like a good challenge to get my teeth into!!! I only got around to purchasing the required wetsuit in the last week or two and my only preparation for the swim (other than my occasional pool sessions with the Durham Tri club) involved dunking myself into a very cold Ellerton lake last Monday evening. Although I was happy that I could swim in the wetsuit, it really was a very different experience to swimming in a pool, and I was a bit apprehensive. Arriving in the Lake District late on Saturday morning, however, to become one of the estimated 10,000 participants over the Great North Swim weekend, I started to feel quite excited. There's no parking near the venue so Alister and I left the car in Bowness and got the ferry up to Ambleside which was very scenic and gave me my first view of the course. Marked by fluorescent yellow buoys, and not as far out into the lake as I thought it might be, we could see a wave of swimmers making their way around, supported by a flotilla of dinghys and kayaks, their coloured hats (all red ones for that particular wave) bobbing up and down. The ferry was pretty much filled with swimmers, and a kind lady who heard me discussing the route with Alister gave me some race pointers as she'd done the swim a number of times before. We disembarked at Ambleside and wandered the half mile or so to the lakeside hotel where the event village was located. The second half of the course went alongside the edge of the lake and we had a good view from the path of the swimmers making their way towards the finish. I watched a number of people coming in - being helpfully hauled out of the water on wobbly legs by some sturdy-looking officials - and made sure I'd worked out the procedure. We then studied the start. I watched the 'green' wave go into the starting pen, dunk themselves in the acclimatisation zone to get their wetsuits ready, and listened to their instructions and safety briefing. On the starting hooter, the dash into the water looked a bit mad but great fun, and I was keen to get going.

Jacquie at the Great North Swim The changing facilities were extremely small for the number of swimmers involved - an overcrowded, heated marquee tent with limited chairs and floor space is not ideal for inserting yourself into a wetsuit, and it's certainly not a standing-up job - but we all helped each other get zipped up and shared around the anti-chafe rub to make sure our necks didn't get sore. Before I knew it, I was white-hatted, goggled and ready for my turn. A quick swim around the acclimatisation zone was followed by a bit of a warm up and some standing around listening to the safety instructions (I'm definitely buying some wetsuit boots for next time - my feet were the only bits that got cold!). Soon I was ready on the start line waiting for the hooter to go. I'd managed to stand where I'd been advised to by the lady on the ferry - the right hand side of the starting gantry to make sure I had a straight line swim to the first buoy - and sprinted into the water on the sound of the hooter to try to keep myself away from all the flailing arms and breast-strokers (and there were plenty of these - there really were all shapes, sizes and abilities represented in each wave). I arrived at the first buoy in what seemed like no time and, despite catching someone's foot as I swam around it (I've got a good scratch on my hand, but no other obvious injuries!), I found myself in plenty of space with only a couple of people around me. My trial run in Ellerton lake had made me a bit concerned about going off course during the swim because I found 'spotting' (lifting your head out of the water to look forward and see where you're going) quite tricky, but the massive fluorescent buoys made it as easy as following Alister's yellow hat in a race!! I found a good rhythm and started passing buoy after buoy until I could see the pink half-way marker ahead of me. On every breath and 'spot', I was very aware of people in kayaks very close by and, despite being half a mile out into a deep lake, I didn't feel at all worried about my safety. A bit tired, yes, but not worried. The approach to the half-way buoy was a bit 'choppier' than the previous section of the course - perhaps the ferry went past as we got there - but the waves disturbed some of my fellow competitors and I could see people stopping to tread water for a bit until the waves died down, but I ploughed on and made up some ground. On the way back from half way, I could really feel the gentle waves pushing me to the left of the course and at one point was surprised to see a kayak only feet from me. As they were usually 10-20m away, I was a bit concerned that he was getting in the way of the swimmers, until I realised that I'd drifted well to the left of the course and needed to change direction pronto or I was going to end up on the shore! A quick course correction later and I was pushing hard to the orange buoys that signalled the last bit of the course. Everyone was beginning their 'sprint finish' here, and the water became a bit more crowded as swimmers came together to make their way through the narrow finishing gantry and towards the edge of the lake. At one point, as I was trying to fight my way through three or four slower swimmers ahead (including pink-hatted people from the previous wave) I had a bit of a collision with a man trying to cut across the front of me just as someone behind me tried to push me out of the way. My fighty instinct kicked in, though, and I pushed the man off me and out of my way (perfectly acceptable in open water, so I'm told) and sprinted through the archway to the finish. I thought I'd be able to run up the step to the finishing arch but my legs were a lot more wonky than I anticipated - and I was clearly heavier than the officials had anticipated as, on trying to help haul me out, I nearly pulled two of them back into the lake with me! But I staggered over the timing mat and, elated, had a wave at Alister, posed for some pictures and collected my t-shirt and medal.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. It was extremely saddening to hear that someone from that day didn't make it back - a 46 year old experienced male swimmer, swimming in the green wave I'd watched start before my race, collapsed and was airlifted to hospital but tragically didn't make it. Always a dreadful thing to happen, of course, but I do hope it doesn't put anyone off entering the race. As I said, the safety and support was outstanding. We watched one swimmer rush into the water, have a bit of a panic, swim straight to a nearby kayak and hang off it for a number of minutes, chatting to the safety marshal on board, before deciding that she COULD do it after all and swimming along, escorted by her friendly kayaker! If you're pretty sure you can swim a mile - any stroke, any speed - you'd definitely enjoy it! I know I did!

Jacquie was raising money for the Acorns Children's Hospice, you can make donations through the JustGiving link below.

Jacquie was 1992nd of around 5820 swimmers. Her time for the mile was 35:31. She was 710th woman, 815th in her age category and 375th woman in her age category.

Summer Handicap, Round 3, 15th June

Results

PosNameClubCatCatPosTime

finishers

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Redcar Half-Marathon, 12th June

13.1M

Jacquie Robson

This was to be only my second ever half marathon and I chose it because it was flat! More terrified than I've ever been for the start of a race in the half hour leading up to it (my own fault - not enough miles in the legs), but fully equipped (for a change) with watch, sweatband, sun glasses and appropriate kit (I put the checklist on the fridge the night before!), I decided to jog nice and slowly to about 8 miles then jog-walk the rest and treat it as a training run for the GNR in September.

Striders soaking up the sun.

There was a good smattering of purple at the start, and, after chatting about tactics to Karen and Lindsay, Emma and I kept each other company from the gun because she was suffering with a nasty cold and wanted to go slowly with me. We used her Garmin to keep us at a slow and steady pace. I enjoyed running along with Emma, and we had a good chat, enjoyed the scenery (well, for the couple of miles along the sea-front, at least) and cheered on the Striders passing us on the way back before we'd even hit halfway! Passing the 8 mile mark, I was feeling surprisingly comfortable and my legs took on a mind of their own and seemed to be running on auto-pilot, so I let them loose and left Emma at about 9 miles. I felt great up to 11 miles, and suddenly had it in my head that I was going to run all the way round and smash my PB (previously 2 hr 36 mins). I put in a bit of a burst of speed towards the 12 mile marker - showing my lack of experience, as the marker didn't appear. And my legs went dead. And I started to feel extremely wonky. And everything started to hurt. And I had the urge to sit on the tarmac and cry. Is this the 'wall' you crazy long-distance runners talk about? The smack-you-in-the-face headwind for the last two miles didn't help. And I swear someone kept moving that 12 mile marker further and further away from me! Eventually it appeared and I realised I'd need to walk. So I tried to walk. But it hurt more than running so I carried on at a staggering, shuffling jog. A supportive cheer from Anna and Alister as they walked back to collect the car (presumably having finished many hours before me!) was a welcome boost, but the 13 mile marker (and a view of the finish) took about another ten miles, or so it seemed, and I wanted to be anywhere but shuffling along on that tarmac! I decided to definitely never ever EVER do a half marathon again! After what seemed like about fifteen years, I spotted the 13 mile marker in the distance and closed my eyes for a bit in the hope it would move towards me. When I opened them again, I'd veered fantastically right but I could finally see the inflatable arch of the finish and had passed the marker. With clenched teeth and screwed up eyes I shuffled under the archway. I must have looked a real mess as the three members of the St. John's Ambulance crew ignored all the other finishers and headed towards me, but I staggered past them insisting I was fine.

And then I looked at my watch, and I WAS fine - a PB by 17 minutes. Yay! And, now the soreness in my legs has started to ease, I definitely seem to remember enjoying myself. And I'm ALMOST looking forward to the Humber Bridge half marathon in two weeks ...

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Taylor Graeme Jarrow & Hebburn AC M 1:11:07
53 Summersgill Carolyn Middlesbrough & Cleveland F 1:24:57
129 Shenton Fiona FV50 1:32:25
319 Robson Alister MV35 1:41:35
332 Hooper Dave M 1:41:29
335 Seeley Anna F 1:42:03
535 Ives Jane FV40 1:51:14
547 Feely Brian M 1:51:32
617 Brooks Peter MV40 1:54:45
668 Tarn Lindsay F 1:56:23
756 Jennings Elise F 2:00:07
820 Chalkley Karen FV45 2:02:56
1046Robson Jacquie F 2:19:13
1085Detchon Emma F 2:24:09

1191 finishers.

Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, 11th June

23.2M / 4,128'

Pam Kirkup

I had planned to walk/jog the whole way this year - I'd certainly done enough training. However, a nasty little virus intervened and I was relegated to the sidelines once again; a reluctant spectator after Langthwaite, the first checkpoint. The weather forecast was dubious for Saturday when what seemed to be a smaller-than-usual field congregated at the start for that heart-warming slog up to Fremington Edge. Heart-warming? Try lung bursting, leg burning and totally knackering. Ok, I'm exaggerating but I was feeling feverish at the time.

Nina ended up running much, much faster than the prediction she rather strangely had stuck in her cap. Nigel was in denial at this stage, but it all went ok.

I drifted steadily to the back, or so it seemed, by the time I got onto an unusually bog-free Fremington Edge. There I met some friendly people from Northallerton with their very fit niece, Emma, from Brisbane and on leave from the Aussie air-force. They kept me entertained en route to Langthwaite where, after umpteen coughing fits, I decided to drop out. So the rest of the route is Paul's description!

From Langthwaite to Whaw was good underfoot and the support was much appreciated on that steep hill up to the main road and on to Great Punchard Head. The first drops of rain occurred at this point although the hill-side and path remained drier than usual. A couple of weeks previously we had recced the possible routes from Great Punchard and there was still plenty of sloppy mud about. The area near the checkpoint was badly eroded and taped off and so on to Little Punchard and the real mud-bath! Paul was very impressed with the extensive choice of grub at Level House - a wide range of sandwiches, cake and flap-jack managed to stave off hunger pangs and cramp.

It was at Gunnerside when the rain got really heavy which seemed to be an on and off feature all the way to Surrender Bridge. The last three miles I personally hate - heavy, aching legs, sometimes cramp, always running out of energy - and then there's the gully to negotiate and finally that horrendous, long, stony and narrow path down to Reeth. It's like having the soles of your feet beaten with a bamboo stick. However, Paul doesn't agree! He actually loves that last stretch - it's 'a buzz', an adrenalin rush'! Clearly he was dropped on the head as a small baby! After his moment of excitement he came into view running down the road and finished in 5.02 - delighted and cramp-free. And cheered in by myself, Shaun and a bunch of Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers who had kept everyone at the Buck Inn amused all afternoon.

Is that a skirt, or 'skort', you're wearing there Jean? Very smart. Any chance of getting them made up in Striders colours I wonder ... that'd be a bit different for the Harrier League, eh? Just a thought ...

Striders had some excellent performances, including Nina coming in as 5th Senior lady. All in all it was a very pleasant day with considerable successes for the club. Back at Langthwaite, one of the marshals told me that 62 people hadn't turned up to run, so if you fancy it next year and miss the entry in January, you can always register on the day.

Shaun adds: Tom Reeves was first Strider home, in a fantastic time of 3:55, having left his abdominal difficulties on the start line. I came in a couple of minutes later in 3:57, some 23 minutes faster than my previous best time, hugely faster than I'd expected. Nina was also much faster than the 4:15 she'd hoped for, and did a PB time of 4:02. Andrew Thompson, on a break from marathon running, got round in 4:30 or so, followed by Jan looking very strong in about 4:45, then Nigel on his first time out here in 4:50-ish. Dougie came in a tad under five hours, doing well with a twingey knee, and Stef wasn't far behind having a good solid run, as did Pam's Paul coming in soon after. Jean Gillespie came in just under the six-hour mark, and Maggie Thompson came in somewhere around six hours 30, recovering well after a bit of a fall, finishing with Barrie and Christine who had a romantic day out on the fells together. Great day on the hills! SR.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Matthew Hayes East Hull M 3:06
10 Heather Mochrie Unattached F 3:37
32 Thomas Reeves M 3:55
36 Shaun Roberts MV50 3:57
41 Nina Mason F 4:02
102 Andrew Thompson M 4:32
143 Jan Young FV40 4:47
146 Nigel Heppell MV50 4:50
165 Dougie Nisbet M 4:58
175 Paul Foster MV50 5:02
183 Stephanie Barlow F 5:06
274 Jean Gillespie FV40 5:58
295 Phil Layton M 6:18
304 Margaret Thompson FV40 6:25
305 Christine Farnsworth FV40 6:25
306 Barrie Evans MV50 6:25
374 Bob Layton MV50 7:05

426 finishers.
Striders Mens team 6th, Striders Womens team 14th, of 21.

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Blaydon Race, 9th June

5.9M

Alister Robson ...

Much better weather this year for the 31st running of the famous Blaydon Race. Quite a few Striders met in the Groat Market on this fine Thursday evening, to see the dancers and queue patiently for the race to start. I really do think it's time that the organisers considered using chip timing. With over 3,500 runners crammed into the street, it took quite a while for quite a few of us to get over the line. I was only about 30 yards from the start and it took me almost 30 seconds to get over the line. Anyway we were soon enough off, started as usual by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, who this year, and for the first time, was running the event himself.

James trying to get through the crowd.

The beginning was a bit of a scramble. Why slower runners place themselves near the start line I'll never be able to fathom. It settled down by the time we got onto Scotswood Road with no sign of the screaming hordes expected at the Arena for some rubbish or other. Once the downhill section on the Scotswood Road was finished and you crossed the Scotswood bridge you are directed down to the riverside for a quick loop back and then under and along. I was pleasantly surprised to see I was ahead of most of the other Striders, and then unpleasantly surprised by the steepness of the next climb which robbed me of momentum. Anyway that was soon enough over and I was back up into Blaydon, down into the finish and across the line.

A nice tech t-shirt in mustard yellow and a goody bag with a bottle of Wylam beer in. Well everyone else's had the beer in. Mine didn't, I just got orange juice and water. A little chaotic at the end as usual, quite a few people pushed past me in the queues while I was dry retching. More reason I guess to move to chip timing. I passed on the pickled onions and tripe and beetroot that was on offer. I'll still be up in the early hours next February to get in when entries open again though!

... and Jacquie Robson

Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road ... agyen. Well, for the second time for me. Lots of Striders turned out and, unlike last year, the sun was out, which was nice, and the atmosphere from the crowds was great. The bottlenecks around the city streets at the start and through the gate to get down to the riverside on the far side of the Scotswood Bridge were still a bit frustrating, but the rest of the race was great fun, with lots of supporters and noise. I was very pleased with my run - faster than last year, and I could see plenty of purple and green vests enjoying themselves and running comfortably. And thanks to Alan for the shout out as he went past me at about 4 miles - that's the nice thing about being part of a friendly team: you always feel like you're running with friends. The finish arrived in no time, and the specially designed beer bottle at the end was a good treat in the goody bag - especially after the disappointment of being given Fosters last year. The tech-T was pretty decent, and the black pudding was as tasty as ever! Only slight downside is that Alister didn't get a bottle of beer in his goody bag - so that meant that mine, apparently, had to be surrendered to someone who'd appreciate it more (him). The empty is a nice keepsake, though!! Definitely a favourite of mine, this race. I'll be doing it again next year.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Edwin Kipkorir Birchfield M 28:25
24 Justina Heslop Clapham F 31:44
163 James Garland M 37:18
265 Ian Thomas M 39:13
384 John Robson MV45 40:43
490 Alister Robson M 41:51
700 Graham Daglish MV55 43:37
836 Andrew Thompson M 44:43
1030Richard Hall MV45 46:01
1055Peter Brooks MV40 46:12
1228John Hutchinson MV55 47:18
1718George Nicholson MV60 50:17
1741Karen Chalkley FV45 50:27
1814Brian Feely M 51:01
1987Jim Nicholson MV60 52:08
2172Alan Smith MV60 53:21
2214Elise Jennings FV35 53:43
2310Andy James MV60 54:25
2315Jacquie Robson LV35 54:27
2456Anita Clementson LV40 55:21
2698Mike Elliott MV60 57:23
2897Jennifer Crilley LV40 58:59
2903Emma Detchon LV35 59:02
3034Lindsey Brooks LV40 1:00:23
3263Jean Gillespie LV55 1:03:28
3264Margaret Thompson LV60 1:03:29
3286Phil Owen MV45 1:03:57

3584 finishers.

The Yomp Mountain Challenge, Kirkby Stephen, 5th June

23M

aka Mallerstang Horseshoe & Nine Standards Yomp

Sue Jennings

Sue and David before the off.

Well we did it - The YOMP - all 23 miles (although my Garmin only recorded the first 9 miles!). Having worried earlier in the week that the weather would be very hot, we needn't have bothered! It was raining, very windy and cold - at one of the stations they said that it was trying to sleet at one point - I can vouch for that and I am sure it hailed when we were right on the tops. We agreed at the beginning that we would run at our own paces and David did a fantastic time of 4 hours 43 mins and I came in at 6 hours 41 which I was pretty happy with seeing I had on several occasions nearly given up (I was soaked to the skin even though my coat was supposed to be water proof).

And can I say that I will never complain about the hills in Tow Law again - today was like climbing Scafell 6 times over!!!!!!! (5200 feet according to David's Garmin). And if it had been nice weather, then the views would have been fantastic - highly recommended if you want a very hilly, tough and long fell run - the views on a good day would be superb!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Bell C M 2:43
12 Savage S F 4:16
36 Catterick David M 4:43
47 Gibson David M 4:53
120 Jennings Sue F 6:41

175 finishers, 27 retirees.

Humber Bridge 10K, Hessle, 5th June

10K

Jacquie Robson

Organised by City of Hull AC, this 10k race takes competitors over the impressive Humber Bridge and back. Alister and I decided to travel down to have a go in preparation for the Humber Bridge half-marathon in three weeks, where we'll do most of this route again. For me, as an East Yorkshire girl, it was a chance to visit my parents in Beverley and also to get all nostalgic about my time as a teenager competing for a local athletics team, Hull Springhead Harriers. City of Hull AC were our direct rivals back then, and they compete in purple, so I did feel a little bit like a traitor arriving in a purple vest, but my old club ran in green so the Striders vest I now proudly wear gave me a nice mix of the two!! I did enjoy spotting all the local familiar vests - the red of East Hull Harriers, yellow and blue Beverley AC and a few Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe colours. We also spotted a couple of familiar faces and found a friend of ours shaking nervously at the start of only her third ever 10k so, despite being the only two Striders runners, we felt like we were among friends.

The day had started off grey and cold so I didn't worry about forgetting my sun cream and sunglasses. Arriving at the start, however, at Hessle Rugby Club, the sun came out and the temperature started to rise. This keeps happening when we run near the Humber - Alister had a rather warm experience at the Humber Bridge Half last year, so we really should have been prepared! I was particularly nervous, especially as I really don't like running in the blazing sun and because I realised I'd also forgotten my running watch (note to self: write a list of required race kit and stick it on the fridge!). The starting hooter went before we'd really had a chance to think about it, trapping Alister at the back with me and the other slow people, but he shot off like a whippet and I settled into a gentle jog. With no watch on I felt really lost at first and wasn't sure whether I was going too fast or too slow, but I felt very comfortable so I figured I was going at a good pace. I braced myself for the steep climb up from the riverside to the bridge, and was very relieved when it didn't come. The first kilometre must have been a gentle incline because I found myself on the Humber Bridge with no real awareness of any climb. Once on the bridge walkway the view was fantastic in the sunshine but the wind was a bit of a shock! On the plus side, it was behind us crossing to the south side, but I was very aware that this wasn't going to be good news for the way back. I tried not to think about it, though, and concentrated on enjoying myself. I was cheered up by the comfortable jog (nice back wind!), the glorious view and the amusing T-shirts of two ladies in front of me (one of which read: 'I'm with the bomb squad. If I'm running, keep up!'). Before I knew where I was we were across the river and running under the bridge to come back along the opposite walkway and past the 5k marker. The south side, however, has a pretty evil climb back up to the bridge, and it seemed to go on until more than half way across. The head wind was so fierce going back that, at one point near the south tower, people were being blown across the walkway - a bit scary with a huge drop to the water beneath!! But I gritted my teeth and struggled along and began to worry that I was going really slowly. There didn't seem to be many people behind me and, as the kilometre markers started to take longer and longer to arrive I started to fight a bit of a battle with myself to try to go faster into the evil headwind. I felt some relief at finally reaching the north tower (which, at some points, felt like it was backing away from me as I approached!) and I figured that the route must be all downhill back to the finish. Unfortunately, we had to go under the bridge again and climb back up to the road at the other side, which was pretty tough. The reward at the top was the 9k marker, and I decided that my time was going to be far too slow unless I really put some effort in on the last kilometre. The ladies with the comedy T-shirts ('My mascara can run faster than you') came past me on the uphill section, and I decided that they were the ones to beat, even if my time was going to be rubbish. The sharp turn into the finish almost surprised me, and I was greeted by Alister shouting 'Go on, Jacquie - look at the clock!'. A glance up made me realise that a sprint finish would have me running my second fastest 10k ever, and my fastest since knee surgery. I gritted my teeth and sprinted (staggered?) across the line, totally shocked, stunned and elated to cross before the clock ticked over to 57 minutes.

A really flash tech-Tee and some free cod liver oil (Hull is the location of the headquarters of Seven Seas food supplements!) were an added bonus, as was the touch of sunburn! I was a bit gutted when the published results gave me a time of 57.05 (the clock definitely said 56.58 when I crossed it) but it's still my second fastest ever. Running without a watch is definitely the way forward! Alister did fantastically well, too - and after a fast Parkrun the day before (dressed up as a lady in a netball dress - don't ask!) and a full day's netball tournament. Good preparation for the Humber Bridge Half Marathon in a few weeks' time. Gulp!

Hadrian's Wall Half-Marathon, 5th June

13.1M

Dougie Nisbet ...

If it hadn't cost 23 quid and involved a new, interesting, off-road and quirky sounding race, I would simply have pressed the big-button on the alarm clock, turned over and gone back to sleep. The curiosity and cost combo were too great, however, and I dragged myself out of bed to the espresso maker and checked the weather forecast. Mindful of my senior-moment the previous day in which I was convinced the Allendale 8 started 30 minutes later than it did, I checked and rechecked the details and soon we were sneering our way past the Metro centre and onwards to Hadrian's Wall.

Lately I've noticed several races taking 'entries on the day' for events that were initially thought would be over-subscribed. The Hadrian's Wall Half Marathon had a limit of 300; as it happened, they got 50. Which is a shame given the great location and potential of this course. Poor publicity, price tag, weather, location? Who knows. We parked next to the campsite and believed the marshall who said it was a 'slow 20 minute' walk to the start. I'd bumped into Ian Spencer who was also running but as we headed for the Start, and the minutes ticked by on the improbably long and steep walk we both had to abandon our spouses and jog ahead as the clock ticked towards 10AM.

Ian and Dougie. At 10:08 I exchanged pleasantries with the sweeper (always a good idea in my book!) and grumbled to Ian about my hurty knee. Perhaps it was the thundering road descents in yesterday's race what done it, but by knee was a bit twingy and I assumed it would loosen and warm up in the first couple of miles. Starting races with a twinge or two that disappear after a few miles is pretty much routine for me.

Away we went on an agreeably squashy and mixed terrain. It reminded me of Swaledale in some respects as it's truly mixed-terrain with a lot of trail, grass and mud. For a mile or two I was keeping Ian in my sights about a minute ahead and he was providing a good pace marker for me. We were accompanied on stretches by large fearsome looking cattle who bellowed and belched their encouragement, and occasionally just stood in the way looking simultaneously glaikit and malevolent. A few miles in and at the first water station I was running steadily but my performance was nothing amazing. A bit of lethargy had set in and my knee was giving me concern. I walked at the water station and munched a glucose tablet or two, pausing to stretch my knee and, in the process, lose a few places in the field.

Into the forest and a series of short climbs that I tackled without any great enthusiasm and it dawned on me that, in a nutshell, my heart really wasn't in it. I walked a little and on the next climb, when my knee started complaining again, I paused to consider my options. It's Swaledale next week, and I really would like to do that. I'd lost a lot of places from walking and stretching. There were still around 8 miles to go. And I had a hurty knee, that was getting hurtier by the mile. It didn't feel like a "run-through" twinge, it just felt wrong.

There's a first time for everything and today was to be my first DNF. I turned round and jogged back towards the sweeper. This didn't take long and I explained to her that I was going to retire and planned to just jog gently back to the start. She was having none of this and immediately produced a space-blanket and got on the radio to St John Ambulance and I heard "We have an injured runner" being passed down the line. I don't know if the next words were "Man Down! Man Down!" but I was beginning to feel a bit of a fraud and insisted I was an experienced club runner who was just retiring as a precaution. The sweeper waited with me until a medic cycled up and he escorted me back to the sweep car where I was placed gently in the back seat by Paul and Emily. Paul put a jacket around me and a grandad-stylee travel rug over my knees and I felt a right twit. I felt like shouting "I've done Britain's Worst Fell Race, you know!", but as it turned out, they were right and I was wrong. I "run hot" and was in a singlet with no base layer. I fell into the classic mistake of forgetting that as soon as you stop moving, you cool down, and within minutes I was very grateful for the extra insulation. So if you're reading this Paul and Emily, thank you for looking after me.

I then had a very interesting 'behind the scenes' view of the race as we drove round just behind the sweeper, collecting the signs and talking to the marshalls. At some point I jumped vehicles and got a fast lift back to race HQ with another marshall (thanks John!) at which point I headed for my car only to discover I'd left my car key in Paul and Emily's car. No matter, I'll give Roberta a ring. No signal. I thought, if I was Roberta, on a damp drizzly day in the middle of nowhere, what would I do? Where would I be? Sure enough, there she was, in the campsite tea room, where they did a mean bacon and egg roll.

Perhaps the most interesting moment of the day was when sitting in the tea room, still in my racing kit, Ian walked in. I affected nonchalance and asked him if he hadn't noticed the point during the race at which I'd overtaken him. His puzzlement lasted the briefest of moments (but it was there!) until he twigged that I couldn't possibly have overtaken him in a supersonic blur. Worth a try though!

This has all the potential to be a really cracking race and it's a shame that it didn't attract more runners than it did. There's shades of James Herriot and Swaledale in there, and the mixture of track, trail and fell really appealed to me. I watched the back-markers run home in pouring rain on the final straggly descent and felt a pang of envy. There's a lot of multi-terrain diversity in this course and it pitches a nice balance between trail and fell. I hope it runs again as I'll certainly be back for more.

... and Ian Spencer

This is a race that deserves to grow and one day reach its ambitious upper limit of 300 runners. Sadly, this day, only 49 finished, which must have been disappointing for the organisers and their chosen charity, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue.

The organisers went out of their way to ensure a safe and well marshalled event. St. John's Ambulance were out in force. The course was well chosen and, except for trek to the start and the last mile, the course was well marked, scenic and a pleasure to run. Also, don't be alarmed, but the mile markers don't start until mile 5.

The race HQ was at a nice campsite, which included free, hot showers and a tea room. However, the runners email stated 'please allow 18 minutes to get to the start.' That turned out to be a wee bit optimistic. True, a fit runner could do that but if any supporters wanted to come and see you off, it would have been better to allow 30 minutes, given that it was up a steep hill. Still, given the small field, they waited for the stragglers. The alternative was to have an uphill start. What's wrong with that?

It would be better to think of this as a 13.1 mile fell race anyway. The website's statement that; 'the only significant climbs being along the wall itself' was the sort of thing a dyed-in-the-wool fell-runner would say. I really want to do this race again. It is very enjoyable but, next year, I'm going to take the sort of kit that I would always have on a long fell run: full body cover (carried if not worn), whistle, energy drink, phone and possibly a button compass. Even in June, the rain, visibility and temperature can't be guaranteed.

The only other fly in the ointment is that quite a few people ended up getting lost in the last mile, as well-marked trails gave way to open moor, marked with bits of white tape attached to stakes. I wasn't alone in wondering whether I'd followed the official course at the end or got mixed up with the course markers from the start. Up to mile 12, I was pretty sure I'd finish in under two hours. I ended up coming in after 2 hours, 9 minutes and 30 seconds. I'll wear the Garmin next year.

The men's race was won by Les Smith in 1:34:14. The ladies race was won by Laura Davies in 1:54:41, neither of whom seem to be in a club.

Allerthorpe Half-Marathon, Pocklington, 5th June

13.1M

Kathryn Sygrove

The Inaugural Allerthorpe Half Marathon was run by Freebird Events, and started just outside the Lakeside Centre with lake, aviary, watersports, cafe and caravans. Quite a canny place to start I thought, as I went to collect my number. There were only about 200 runners, but I had fancied this run as opposed to Redcar half which seemed deadly boring - this was around small country roads, fairly flat, mainly closed to traffic, and not far from Pocklington, where the Snake Lane 10 miler continues to elude me. It also seemed a pleasant smaller run and I quite relished the anonymity of being the only Strider there - Danny Lim had signed up but was injured.

It has gone from overcast and windy to bright hot sun and the race started at 1.30pm. I spoke to a few Darlington runners and got lined up, son and hubby jiggling about to take some pics. They went off to canoe and have fun round the Centre, another reason for selecting this race. I was unsure how my legs would fare after two marathons and knew they were still a bit jaded - the advice is not to do more than 10 miles 2 weeks after a marathon, and I had done Edinburgh Marathon 2 weeks beforehand. I started about 7.50 mins/ mile and hoped to knock a couple of mins off my PB which is around 1:46, but by 4 miles my legs were unhappy. They dragged along like lead, and the bright glare of the sun made it hard work. At the first water station (about 4 miles) i had lots of water and isotonic drink, and was thirsty immediately again. But I already knew the distance was a mistake for me right at this point in time, and acknowledged my error. So, how best to continue?

Stiff legs gave me no choice but to slow down, and I hovered between 5-7 miles with the idea of pulling out. My knees were hurting and I was not at my best. Yet, a bit of wind and shade seemed to help and those miles passed a bit easier, even if at a slow pace, with the odd stop for a shotblock and a few swigs of Lucozade. Kathryn at Allerthorpe In fact, I think the slight change in weather really did help, and the sun went behind some clouds, and out came the wind - straight into our faces. But it was cooling, even if tough to move forward in, and by 9 miles, I was feeling a lot better. Several others were struggling, especially towards the 10-mile point, as there were only 2 water stations - the second at 10.5 miles - which was woefully inadequate, and I patted my hydration belt happily as if to acknowledge that at least I had got THAT right!

I chatted briefly to a lady and commented on her steady pace as opposed to my staccato one, and when she asked how long and how far we had run, she was surprised that she had done below 9 min miles, and was apparently spurred on by my chit-chat to her first ever sub-2 hour half! But I was well away by the second water station, did not even stop as I had just drained my second water bottle, and sensed victory as I overtook several people at the 11 mile mark. In fact, my pace just got steadier and steadier till then end, although I knew I was well outside my PB. I aimed for sub 2 hours, went past a few more people at 12 -13 miles, and charged the last 200 metres past another 2 or 3 runners who must have found me very irritating. Still, a couple of marathons have taught me to leave something in the tank, and pelt I did. My finish time was 1:57:34 (I think), quite slow for me, but given that I had seriously considered being a DNF, I was just happy to cross the finish line.

I knew I had done too many races close together, partly because my son had been ill, and it was my way of channelling my nervous energy, but still came away pleased to have learned another lesson about my physical limits soon after two marathons. So, I will put that one down as a "do not do likewise in future" and move onwards more slowly next time.

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 4th June

5k

Alister Robson

A little bit of a damp squib this one, partially because the weather, which had been so fantastic the day before, took a turn for the worse becoming chilly and windy, and partially as lots of us were geared up for the main event - the charity netball tournament later in the day. Only two runners turned up in fancy dress, George as 'The Comedian' from The Watchmen comics and film and myself who was dressed (not too convincingly) as a female netballer.. Still, a great turn out of Striders again either running or supporting and PB's for Denise and Peter and a warm welcome to Roz, making her parkrun debut.

Me - I was just off a new PB, and gutted not to get the points for second female :-(

Emily Hart Charity Netball Tournament
for Acorns Children's Hospice

Netball, Farringdon School, Sunderland, 4th June

Alister Robson

Sam Brown the Sunderland parkrun organiser organised this fantastic tournament which she hopes to make an annual event. Farringdon school gave their facilities over free of charge and Sam, my wife Jacquie and some others also kindly donated their time to umpire. There were three sections within the tournaments. Some experienced ladies teams fighting it out for the 'Blue Riband' event, another section of 'Back to Netball' and lastly our mixed league, where your representatives, Purple Haze, battled it out with Parkrun Panthers (a team made up of other Sunderland parkrunners), Meadowfield Ladies, Wearside Wildcats and Team BBC who included a local celebrity no less - Hannah Bayman the BBC Look North weather presenter.

George moving faster than anyone's seen him go in thirty years! No way is Alister going to give him the ball, mind ... The first game (of 2 x 5 minute halves) in our section, a narrow defeat to Meadowfield Ladies, served as a reminder for some and an introduction to the rules of netball for most. We quickly recovered and beat Parkrun Panthers, learning all the time. Heavy defeat by the BBC's well drilled outfit, was followed by another narrow defeat to the Wildcats when some profligate misses in front of the posts were very costly. So at half time we were pretty much bottom but after a break we got back out there and turned it around. Beating the Meadowfield Ladies and Parkrun Panthers pretty comfortably, we were on a roll and even managed to reverse our earlier result against the BBC, throwing the whole league wide open. Unfortunately narrow defeat by the Wildcats in the last game meant that we finished third, not bad for our first time out!

Was it cold? Wildcats topped the table followed by the BBC, then ourselves, then Meadowfield and finally the Parkrun Panthers who were down to the bare bones of a side in the latter stages, and reliant on David Savage's daughter, Ellie (later scouted by a netball coach) and Dean Phillips' two young lads.

Many thanks to all who turned out and helped to raise over £700 so far for what is a fantastic cause. Special thanks to Anne Nicholson for manning the tuck shop, to Andy & Kerry our guest players and to the rest of the Elvet Squad, George, Mike Elliott, Zoe, Emma, Denise, Jean Bradley and Jacquie.

We're going to try and organise a friendly game amongst ourselves soon - the netball facilities at Maiden Castle are free for those members that have already paid their Maiden Castle subs and I can vouch that it was a whole lot of fun!

Allendale 8, 4th June

8M

Colin Blackburn

Two road races in seven days. I must be ill or something.

I hadn't entered this race in advance but decided I'd give it a go if I could blag a lift. Dougie stepped up and offered to collect me en route to the small North Pennine town of Allendale. The day before Dougie had emailed to suggest a pick up time based on how long Google maps said it would take from my place to the race HQ. Leaving at 1pm would be comfortable for the race start at 2:30, it's not as if we would have to battle through traffic. As we drove across the high Pennine moorland that straddles the counties the weather was perfect for racing. The temperature had dropped since last week, the sun was nicely hidden above a blanket of cloud and there was a light breeze.

Dougie and Colin. Approaching Allendale Town we took the diversion onto one of the high roads, the main road south from the town was closed for the race. Still, there was plenty of time. We dropped down into the busy town—the race is part of the three-day Allendale Fair—and found the school parking. Dougie and I then ambled down into the centre to find registration leaving Roberta in the car expecting us back to change. There were quite a few vested runners on hand to direct us to the church hall in the corner of the market square, in fact there were a lot of runners ready very early. We walked into a surprisingly empty hall with a couple of helpers at the far end. When we said we wanted to register they suggested we needed to get a move on as the race started in 8 minutes, at 2 o'clock! Dougie was convinced this was a joke until about the third time of asking when it sank in. Luckily we were both able, Superman-like, to rip off our clothes revealing our running costumes all ready to run. Maybe it was more Bucks Fizzy? So, with literally sixty seconds to go we took our places on the line after saying a quick hello to the third Strider, Richard. And we were off!

There was no time for a warm up so I was really careful, this week, to take a very steady first mile. This is a very pretty race with some great views. The course heads south out of Allendale Town on the Allenheads Road. Somewhere around Sinderhope the course takes a minor road down into the valley and then back up the other side before returning to the town via The Peth. There are some ups and downs. There are a couple of very steep descents but the organisers had put out excellent signage to warn runners of any hazards. In fact the organisation and marshalling were excellent with two well-staffed drinks stations. The views were beautiful and the moorland birds—curlews, redshank, lapwing and more—filled the air with noise. Though they were of course trying to warn all 139 runners off. I felt a lot better this week than last and managed to keep at a comfortable pace all the way around and really enjoy the running, I think I may have even had negative 4 mile splits. The race finishes with a very sharp climb back into the town. It's almost sadistic but there is loads of encouragement from the marshalls, the runners who have already finished and the fair-goers. Like Andrew last year I just had to extend low high-fives to the children lining the finish lane.

There was plenty of chance to chat to some of the other runners around the finish and I said hello to a Morpeth Harrier, Marie, who I had only previously met via Facebook. Once Dougie had finished we wandered over to the church hall for the prize giving. Despite what seemed like a very large number of spot prizes we failed to win anything! Still the race entry of £11 included a technical shirt with the wonderful slogan "There are no hills in Allendale, only bumps." Wandering around the town the fair seemed to have plenty to offer: talent shows, strongman contests and a myriad of stalls. All the local shops and pubs had renamed themselves to a Toy Town theme. This race was excellent but on top of that the whole atmosphere was great and it would be ideal for a family day out.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1DUFFY, Patrick Crook & Distict ACM 45:29
23MCMANUS, Claire North Shields Poly F 52:14
57HOCKIN, Richard MV50 59:12
72BLACKBURN, Colin MV40 1:02:15
87NISBET, Dougie MV40 1:05:42

139 finishers.

Angel View Run, 2nd June

5M

Ian Spencer

The name is a bit of a give away. This 5m race is around parkland and bits of dual carriageway, a stones throw from the Angel of the North and the Angel View Hotel, the race HQ.

Nice race, shame about the hotel. I've seldom met surlier, rude bar staff as in the Angel View. Call me a bluff old traditionalist, if you will, but "will it be something quick, 'cos I'm very busy" isn't the kind of opening gambit I would use to a customer looking to buy a drink for himself and his partner. Given the unwanted attention she got from other patrons while I was running, I was left wondering whether the Angel View Hotel is more used to parties of swingers than runners and their families.

Anyway, back to the race. Generally, it's lovely, scenic (apart from the bit of road) and challenging. There are no namby-pamby frills like mile markers, t-shirts or other mementos (except on the junior race preceding it, where they get a medal). It's well marshalled and way marked. The only confusion came when, running back to the start from the second loop, I thought I was about to finish when I was told there was another loop up the hill to do. So, the course is more of a clover leaf than a figure-of-eight.

I'll happily do this next year, so long as I don't have to set foot in the Angel View Hotel.