Race Reports, March 2011

Run Northumberland Half Marathon, Wallington, 27th March


Alister Robson

Alister on his way to a PB!If it's Sunday it must be race day right? It didn't get off to a great start. The clocks went forward so we got an hours less sleep. Well I did. Angela unfortunately suffered an Alarm Clock Malfunction so when I arrived at hers at 8am, ready for about three quarters of an hours drive and a 9.35 start, and had to knock her out of bed, we cut into our leeway quite a bit. Still it was a gorgeous morning. Until we got up the motorway and found that the overhead signs were warning us that the junction ahead was closed. Oh well. Thinking on my feet I decided that as Wallington was near Morpeth, to go up the Tyne Tunnel and across. This went partially well. The Tyne Tunnel was fine, but my TomTom instead of taking me through Morpeth and across diverted me back down the A1 and onto the Ponteland/Jedburgh road. By now time was seriously tight and I was getting nervous as I remembered reading that there was a good half a mile walk to the start. We got just about into the village of Wallington and suddenly the beautiful clear skies disappeared, the temperature dropped and we drove into fog! All ominous. Anyway we just got there and parked in time and dashed up the road, just a few minutes before the off.

I spotted David Catterick and we talked to Maggie Thompson too. Anyway all too quickly, after one of the best observed safety briefings I've ever heard, the largish field was off and down the hill. This proved to be the only downhill section for quite a while. I'd seen the elevation profile and hadn't expected this race to be flat but once again was quite unprepared for how hilly it was. I lost David ahead quite early on and settled and concentrated on 8 minute mile pace, which I calculated would get me round on or around my PB. This proved to be comfortable and again, thanks to Geoff and Susan's Wednesday night hill work sessions I found I was overtaking quite a few runners on the hills as I was maintaining a consistent pace and they weren't. The fog cleared quite quickly and it became very pleasant - very sunny with next to no wind but not too hot. Marshalling was excellent, there were water stations at 3, 6.5, 9 and 12 miles. It was all on (open to traffic) roads but they were not busy and I never felt threatened by the traffic.

There was one long drag on the back half which seemed to go on forever into the village of Scot's Gap and the last couple of miles again were one long straight with several climbs and drops before the last village of Cambo where I finally caught up with David. I felt fresh enough to accelerate on and down the hill and round through the fantastic archway finish and into the gardens of Wallington House, the scenic ancestral home of the Trevelyan family. There was a large time display and I was glad to see I had indeed managed a half marathon PB, which goes nicely with my 5K and 20-mile bests from last weekend. Can I keep the roll going and add a 10K best at Blyth next Sunday? David finished just after me, and Angela came in at 2.07 which both seemed pleased with. Maggie finished a very creditable third in her race category. Goodie bag was a very nice green tech More Mile t-shirt.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 James Buis Heaton Harriers M 1
28 Kirstie Anderson Tynedale Harriers FV40 1 1:13:39
121 Alister Robson MV35 26 1:44:23
127 David Catterick MV45 18 1:44:55
180 Brian Feely M 19 1:53:34
258 Elise Jennings F 20 2:03:50
279 Angela Proctor FV35 17 2:07:37
327 Margaret Thompson FV60 3 2:30:06

331 finishers.

Hartlepool Marina 5M, 27th March

Shaun Roberts

Cross-country at Prudhoe ... then a pancake-flat seafront run in Hartlepool. Chalk and indeed cheese. It shouldn't really work, should it, one race straight after another, and yet sometimes it just works out ok. I jokily told a couple of people at Prudhoe that I'd be using different muscles for a fast flat run than across the fileds, hills and mud, yet I reckon there is something in this, as it's a very different style of running. Anyway, the upshot is that on a lovely sunny day at the coast, heading down towards Seaton Carew and back, Nina and I had no bother and had good runs. I ended up with what I call a "recent PB" for this distance - I have to go back over twenty years for a faster one, anyway.


Nina was pleased with her time, and Calum did very well dipping a few seconds under 35 minutes in his first race for ages. Good to see Andy out racing again, and Danny also had a good run. Great to see Dave Robson out on the course supporting, and taking the photographs - cheers, Dave!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Ricky STEVENSON New Marske Harriers M 1 23:52
45 Shaun ROBERTS MV50 9 32:39
80 Calum YOUNG M 29 34:56
89 Nina MASON FV35 3 35:29
100 Andrew JORDAN M 35 36:05
174 Danny LIM M 48 41:38

288 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Yet Another "Grand Day Out"

Harrier League, Prudhoe, 26th March

Mudman & Mudwoman

It's not just Wallace and Gromitt who get those 'Grand Days Out' - anyone who runs for Striders in the HL is guaranteed a day to remember and the final 2010-11 season fixture at Prudhoe was no exception. The Striders tent was strewn with balloons and streamers celebrating Deb's Dad Eric's 70th birthday so we were all in a party mood before we'd run a step.

The men were first up to tackle the tough Prudhoe course in what were near perfect conditions: mild, dry and just a light breeze. Fifteen purple warriors, complete with war paint courtesy of Nina's daughter Lea and her friend, set off to do battle. Their names and finishing positions are listed below and each of them will have their own tale of success or disappointment but they all ran their hearts out for Striders, cheered on by David 'The Voice' Shipman, Keith W, Jacqui and the women's team. The support was, once again, the envy of all the other clubs. Provisional results show that Striders men's team finished in a season's best 5th place in Division 2 at Prudhoe which could push us up to 6th place for the season.

Another great turnout! We didn't get everyone on this group shot, but I'm not going to start cutting amd pasting people's heads into this one ... have a butchers at the excellent photo sets linked to below ... The women were next to enter the fray and the purple ten did the club proud. Whether they ran from the slow or medium pack they all gave their best; each of them fighting for that 'purple pride' as they clawed their way up the unforgiving, relentless hill that makes Prudhoe the race it is: bl**dy hard! After the 10 had finished we all re-convened back at the tent to break open the bubbly and gorge on the mountain of cake that was the envy of the other clubs around us. The Striders' Women's Team finished in an excellent third place at Prudhoe which means they also finish in third place for the season - our best result for a number of years.

A veritable Sea of Purple on the start line. Phil Sanderson also secured first place in the v40 men's HL Grand Prix for the 10-11 season.

The results, great as they are for Striders, only tell part of the story. It's the team spirit, camaraderie and sheer joy that Striders' involvement in the HL brings to those who come along and run, or just cheer, that really matters. Thanks to all who have turned out for their club this season and to those who have come along to cheer us on. We can't wait for next season!!


1 HARDING, Ian Morpeth Harriers 29:05
21 SANDERSON, Phil * 34:54
36 HORSLEY, Will + 35:23
101 BENNETT, Mike 36:50
114 DAVIS, Geoff 37:13
120 GARLAND, James 37:29
125 THOMAS, Ian 37:36
149 SAWALA, Till 38:09
152 GIBSON, David 38:28
187 ROBERTS, Shaun 39:42
193 DAGLISH, Graham 39:57
225 HEPPELL, Nigel 41:39
226 HOCKIN, Richard 41:40
231 ROBSON, Alistair 41:56
252 DAVIES, Gary 44:15
265 HIBELL, Daniel 45:57

* Fast pack (+5mins)
+ Medium pack (+2m30s)

282 finishers. Men's Team 5th, Division 2 - 6th overall.

Nigel very, very nearly catches the cork ...
1 MOONEY, Jane Morpeth Harriers 23:27
11 MASON, Nina 24:37
12 PEARSON, Keri * 24:48
20 LAYTON, Roz 25:17
32 SHENTON, Fiona * 25:52
43 DAVIS, Susan 26:19
46 GODDARD, Debs 26:34
50 BARLOW, Stef 26:46
61 YOUNG, Jan 27:29
65 TARN, Lindsay 27:54
75 BRADLEY, Jean 29:13

* Medium pack (+2mins)

88 finishers. Women's Team 3rd - 3rd overall.

East Hull 20, 20th March


Alister Robson

As many of you know I am running my first ever marathon at London in just under 4 weeks now. I have really struggled with the necessary slow runs and looked forward to the later stages of my training programme where the 'fun' races were. This could not have been much more of a contrast with Spen 20 the previous week. That was all hills and a relatively small field. This was, with the exception of a couple of very small stretches, flat as a pancake and had just under 400 runners - all of whom I spoke to seemed to be using this as training for the VLM. I stayed over at my in-laws in Beverley the night before as I didn't want to be rushing around the morning of the race and this was very prudent.

The race itself sets off from Wilberforce College in East Hull and the first mile or so took us to the outskirts of the city, on very well-marshalled roads, before heading out along country roads, farm tracks and a disused railway line. I was feeling very good on this stretch, settling along with a group of other runners at about 8.45-8.50 pace with the intention of having a negative split on the way back and just beating my one week old 20 mile PB. In the end boredom was the enemy. It was a lovely mild day, I felt good, but the scenery was a little too serene and I found myself attacking what small hills there were (thanks Geoff and Susan!) and leaving behind the group I was with, and ending up going along a little quicker than my race plan. After turning back for home, I again picked up the pace a little and though there was a long monotonous stretch on the railway line with a bit of a headwind between 16.5 and 18.5 miles that really seemed to drag, when we entered the housing estate at the end I still felt pretty fresh and strong, so I put on another spurt. There was a bit of a cruel hill climb at 19.5 miles and I caught quite a few runners here, and the last stretch was a little tricky as you were up and down the kerb quite a bit, which was tiring on by now tired legs.

I managed to finish in 2.51.04 according to the official results which I was very pleased with. The race was organised brilliantly with loads of cheery marshalls and good drinks stations with bottles of water, rather than plastic cups, at about 3.5, 7.5, 11.5 and 15.5 miles if my memory serves me correctly. The memento was a very nice Parker pen which made a nice change from the usual T-shirt.

Brough Law, 20th March

5M/1250' AS

Dougie Nisbet

It's not a massive amount, a £2.50 saving, but my entitlement to a discount stemmed from being a Finisher in Britain's Worst Fell race and I was therefore eligible to half-price admission for Brough Law Fell Race. A lot of effort had gone into getting that discount and I was determined to get my money's worth. Like a lot of fell races you drive for miles in the middle of nowhere, think you're lost, turn a corner, and suddenly there are thousands of (usually NFR!) vests milling around. Lots of familiar faces including Geoff Davis running for NFR and me running for DFR.

Brough Law startI've been around the houses with fell races and think I've seen one or two but I've never seen one that started (or finished for that matter) like Brough Law. In an attempt to limit erosion control the course had been adjusted so we were guided between a row of canes that went straight up the fell rather than taking a more sedate route. Once that initial shock to the system had been crested we were yapped on our way by Casper and the path settled down a bit. Since I adopted the Barrie Evans approach to races I've had much better pacing and results. Start at the back and take it from there. As a rule of thumb I usually finish in the bottom 10 in a fell race but today I made it into the bottom 30 so I was pretty pleased.

A nice race with lots of runnable grassy paths not unlike the Weasdale Horseshoe. It's a great example of how a fell race can take you to a dot on the map that wouldn't normally get a second glance and it reminded me why I like Northumberland so much. The finish retraced the route from the start, except very much in the downward direction with Will shouting lots of encouragement and you could sense the eyes of the crowd giving you marks out of 10 for your descending technique. It's hard to shake of the perception that you're at some sort of accident blackspot with lots of bystanders willing you to crash and burn on final approach! I sprinted, if that's the word, across the line to be handed my well deserved Creme Egg by Kayden, NFR's newest prospective young member.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Philip Sanderson NFRMV40 1 36:08*
19Karen Robertson NFRFV40 1 44:11 
23Geoff Davis NFRMV50 1 44:59 
51Dougie Nisbet DFRM 54:23 

72 finishers.
* New course record

NEMC Kielder Water Marathon, 20th March


Denise Mason

Dave, Jane and I headed through to Kielder together early on Sunday morning. Typically I hadn't read any of the race instructions so I was briefed by the others. I knew as much as to expect a tough race but we figured it would be good training for the West Highland Way. The race started and all 31 of us runners quickly joined the wonderful spongy path that we would stick with for most of the 26.2 miles ahead! The hills started very early on in the race and we all found we were tiring very quickly and walking the inclines. We were all in good spirits though and the scenery really was beautiful (if not very quiet at the back of the pack!).

Denise and Jane afterwards with the race memento! I reckon they should have got one each. Dave, Jane and I stuck together and arrived at the first water stop to meet none other than our wonderful Phil Owen who was supplying the refreshments (noticeably no coffee though which I was badly in need of!). We carried on, running a decent pace up to the dam (nearly half way). I started to suffer a bit at this point but the rest of the group, which was now a little bigger as another runner had joined our pack, kept me plodding on. We also had Ian Spencer for company as he was cycling alongside us with first aid support!

The rain started to get heavier and we all began to look like drowned rats but weirdly I started to perk up at around 18 miles where as everyone else seemed to start suffering. A couple of appearances from Jane's family seemed to lift spirits too and the route home was thankfully a little more forgiving on the legs. We still walked every hill (even the speed ramps on the roads were a challenge by this point!) but we ran the flats/downs and the last few miles really flew by for me.

The 3 of us finished together in 4hrs 49 minutes which for me was a PB (50 minutes faster than my first attempt at a marathon). Dare I say I think I might have been able to run a little further?! We finished cold and wet, grabbing a cuppa and some food with Ian Spencer in Kielder Castle before heading home.

I really enjoyed today and the fact that it was a free race really was impressive!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Phil Smith M 3.16.36
6Susanne Hunter F40 1 3.38.10
23Jane Ives F40 4.49.08
24Denise Mason F 4.49.08
25Dave Robson M55 4.49.11

30 finishers.

VAA NEE Cross Country Championships, North Shields, 19th March

6K / 9K

Fiona Shenton

Cross country but not as we know it - beautiful sunny day, no mud and no hills! Women and men over 65 went first. Striders represented by yours truly and Nina. Nina was well up in the race despite having done Dent last weekend. Unfortunately she doesn't appear in the results so I hope she will be able to supply a time? I was happy with 25:17 (although not quite so happy when those with Garmins pointed out that the course was well short of the advertised 6K!) Still good enough to be 2nd 50yr old gadgie.

In the mens 35-64 age group race (approx. 9K) we had Mike (37:04), Shaun (38:40) and Conrad (39:02). Mike took the silver in his V55 category. By my reckoning they should also have had a V50-54 team prize?? To be fair to the poor organisers their day started off badly when the school caretaker failed to turn up at the agreed time to open up Monkseaton High School as the race headquarters. Not all bad though as the Foxhunters pub right next to the course agreed to allow in the thirsty finishers to get results and medals.

Shaun adds ...

I'm not at all sure we need to be fair to the organisers. How on earth they come up with this course as suitable for 'cross-country' is beyond me. Close to pancake-flat without any notable 'features' whatsoever. Running past peoples' front lawns on a Saturday afternoon while they wash their cars and their sprogs kick footballs about. The only connection with the 'country' was that there was grass! How about something involving a hill? A moor? A riverbank? Would that be getting a bit close to a fell race? Possibly. But this course was just pitiful.

And our club appears throughout the results as "Elvert Stridders". Nuff said.

Hardmoors 55, Helmsley to Guisborough, 19th March


Tom Reeves

"I've never seen so many old gadgies in lycra" were my wife Joan's comments as I got organised before the final briefing for the Hardmoors 55. We were stood in front of the pavilion at Helmsley football club at 8.50 and received our final talk prior to the start at 9am. My main aim for this was to get round as the longest single distance I've run since the Lakeland 50 was 19 miles. I was feeling decidedly under prepared!

The weather was absolutely fantastic and as we ran past Riveaux Abbey I felt warm and relaxed in the early morning sun. I was running along with Andy a guy from DFR and a very good fell runner. He introduced me to Dawn another DFR member this was her first ultra. The first 9 miles to Checkpoint 1 at Sutton Bank White Horse passed in no time at all and as we were nearing the White Horse the race leader came whizzing back along the escarpment we shouted well done and went down the steps to get our first clip.

Tom with Dawn and Andy

I've walked most of the route which follows the Cleveland Way on a few occasions which was handy as I managed to lose all my photo copied maps which I'd carefully marked out at the 14 mile mark past Sneck Yate Road. At this point Andy ran off with Jim, another exceptional DFR runner who came flying past after starting at 9.30am with the sub 9 hour runners. Incidentally Andy would finish in 8th and Jim in 4th.

I continued my steady plod with Dawn and we got to Osmotherley in good shape and pretty good time. I got a big well done from our very own Dave Robson who was marshalling the early part of the race. We were ushered into the village hall where our first drop bags were, I grabbed a couple of drinks changed my running top and we were soon off. I could have murdered a cup of tea but alas there seemed to be none on offer.

It's very easy to dawdle at checkpoints so I made sure we got moving, even so my legs had stiffened even in the 5 minutes or so while I was sat down! The weather was still lovely sunny with a light breeze wow! We went through checkpoint 3 just out of Osmotherley this was a last minute addition to stop naughty runners taking a short cut up the road, tut tut. We got some great views and some really nice running over Carlton Bank, Cringle Moor and the Wainstones. At Clay Bank road crossing Joan greeted us with a big hello and lots of encouragement she also had some extra drinks which were a real boost and more importantly a new map and strict instructions not to lose it.

We were past the 30 mile mark and every mile seemed like double the distance so I decided to stop looking at my Garmin. We managed to take a wrong turn at Tidy Brown Hill and lost a fair bit of height added half a mile and lost a good 7 places which is not what you want on a long race ahh! Joan was there at Kildale which was the second bag drop. I didn't have a second bag and neither did Dawn so we got through the checkpoint really quick making up all the places that we'd lost.

Dawn met a couple of her DFR buddies before Captain Cooks Monument and this was an extra boost for her. We had a great run over to Roseberry topping making up some more places and got a wonderful view of the massive orange full moon. It finally got dark as we ran through Guisborough woods and my legs were starting to feel tight on the down hills. The final down hill was on a concrete path then it was a long mile back along the disused railway to Guisborough rugby club. 10 hrs and 57minutes of very pleasant running. Dawn came in just after me and grabbed 3rd place!

Spen 20, West Yorkshire, 13th March


Zoe Evans

I should have known from the suspicious lack of information on the internet regarding the topography of the Spen 20, or the fact that it passes through Calderdale, that it was going Pre-race snacks to be a hilly one. Alas I did not do my research. Was warned of the possible 'undulations' by Dave Robson the night before, and had my fingers crossed it was a vicious rumour. After all, we all love a few hills, especially on a Harrier League... but 20 miles is a different kettle of fish, n'est ce pas?

Approaching West Yorkshire the rain was lashing down and Alister, Angela and I felt a vague sense of foreboding. In the reception area the participants all looked rather lithe and sported a variety of club vests with hardcore Yorkshire-type names. They were friendly though and offered a lovely selection of pre-race snacks such as pork pies, pot noodles, etc.

I knew from the ascent of the first 3 miles that this was not going to be my moment AngelaZoeAlister of glory. Alister, meanwhile, strode off into the distance and his luminous hat was soon just a bright yellow dot on the horizon (the horizon that was about 4 miles up in the sky!). Having had a dodgy ankle, I took it slow, and then slower, then slower.... the hill on mile 10 nearly finishing me off, until i stopped at mile 13, stretching and wondering how i would carry on, when Angela came into view, and from then on I had a lovely companion for the last 7 miles which really helped. The sun also came out for us at this point, and we attacked the hills together with a slow and stoic determination. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it does finish the race.

The views in Spenborough are really beautiful if you can stop squinting from the pain in your calves and actually look at them. Angela and I were greeted on our last mile by a bright and breezy looking Alister, who had nailed the 20 miles in a fantastic 2hrs53mins. We crossed the line in 3hrs26. All in all, a satisfying race to have completed, but a hell of a long way to run when the hills are so abundant. Fingers crossed this will make VLM seem like a breeze!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1David Thompson BarnsleyM 1 1:58:27
11Susan Partridge Leeds CityF 1 2:10:54
177Alister Robson M 2:53:35
255Angela Proctor F35 3:26:58
256Zoe Evans F 3:26:58

272 finishers.

Bedford Clanger, 13th March


Dave Robson

I wanted to do this one last year, but for some reason I couldn't make it. I made sure I could do it this year and I am very pleased I did. There were lots of people from fetcheveryone.com and folk from the Quadzilla there and it was good to catch up

The course was unmarked and there were no marshalls except at checkpoints. I had the route instructions with me, but I had also downloaded the route to my Garmin. I had never done this before and wasn't sure how it would work. It was pretty good, I didn't have to faff around putting reading glasses on and off, I could just glance at my watch and see the turns approaching. The only place I struggled was when there was a path on one side of hedge and a path or road on the other side - it was difficult to decide which side of the hedge I should be.

There were lots and lots of turns. After most races I can rerun the route in my head, but I don't think I could do it with this one, there so many turns and different terrain and scenery - roads, enclosed paths in woods, enclosed paths in housing estates, fields, it was just lovely Especially for me, having run along a canal last weekend, this was like a lovely breath of fresh air

What would also make it more difficult to rerun the route in my mind is that I spent the first 16m chatting to two Fetchies and that was great They sent me on at 16m and I felt reasonably strong. Towards the end I could see I was close to getting under 5hr so I speeded up in the last half mile and I was pleased I was able to do that. 4hr 56min 31sec

This was a lovely event and the organisers did a great job.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Steady Away!

Harrier League, Blaydon, 12th March

Mudman & Mudwoman

Striders' Men and Women both maintained their overall league positions at yesterday's re-arranged HL fixture at Blaydon. The women, minus two of their regular 'counters', slipped to 10th place on the day but maintain overall 3rd place for the season. Once again Keri powered through the field from the medium pack to lead 'our lasses' home Michelle hammers up the hill. and was followed by Stef Barlow running probably her best ever harrier league race. A couple of purple vests were seen to take a tumble in the mud but the girls were back on their feet immediately and all eight Striders got to the finish line in one piece.

At last it seems that in the men's team "the torch has been passed to a new generation" with only one 'super vet' finishing in the first six Striders home! Phil Sanderson led the gallant 15 Striders to the finish supported by good performances from James Garland and Till Sawala. Till was running his first HL and wore spikes without the spikes in! Perhaps a tip we could all learn from? The race also saw two notable returns to the HL fray. Keith Wesson & Dave Shipman accompanied each other to the line with Keith showing a rapid recovery from his hernia operation and Dave marking a significant milestone on his return to full fitness. All the lads done well with the team finishing, once again, in 7th place on the day and maintaining 7th place overall for the season.

However, it's not all over yet. The final fixture of the season takes place in two weeks time (26th March) at Prudhoe and there's still all to play for. The women need to field their strongest and largest ever team if they are to hold off the other clubs queueing up to take their bronze medal position. The men as well can't afford to relax if they want to avoid the drop. Lets see if we can get over 20 men and as many women, daubed in Striders war paint (just like last year), to see off our rivals and finish the season in blaze of glory at Prudhoe!


1 CARMICHAEL, Adam Gateshead Harriers 29:38
58 SANDERSON, Phil * 34:43
74 GARLAND, James 35:07
149 REEVES, Thomas 36:24
153 THOMAS, Ian 36:32
164 BENNETT, Mike 36:49
169 SAWALA, Till 36:57
184 GIBSON, David 37:30
185 DAVIS, Geoff 37:33
222 WHITE, Conrad 39:17
250 ROBSON, Alistair 40:22
254 HOCKIN, Richard 40:43
263 DAGLISH, Graham 41:23
265 HEPPELL, Nigel 41:53
292 SHIPMAN, David 47:05
293 WESSON, Keith 47:05

* Fast pack (+5mins)

307 finishers. Men's Team 7th, Division 2 - 7th overall.

1 HOPE, Ingrid Sunderland Harriers 24:19
20 PEARSON, Keri * 26:16
45 BARLOW, Stef 27:20
52 GODDARD, Debra 27:34
65 DAVIS, Susan 27:53
70 LAMB, Liz 28:08
84 TOMLINS, Zoe 29:18
85 TARN, Lindsay 29:24
94 LANGLEY, Michelle 30:18

* Medium pack (+2mins)

114 finishers. Women's Team 10th - 3rd overall.

The Chris Hills 10 in 10

Gin Pit Marathon, Manchester, 12th March

Andrew Thompson

I was glad to finally get the year's running started - a lot of effort has gone into the publicity side of the ten races that I nearly forgot that all I have to do now is the running! This one looked good, it was a tiny field (30 runners) on the Saturday but about 18 of the 26.2 miles were around the canals and tracks of Salford which I was looking forward to. It was flinging it down on the Friday but I like a bit of mud so that was ok, the Saturday was pretty much perfect conditions, no wind or rain just grey. I got to the football social club in good time and had my pre-race Scotch Egg.

One down ... nine to go! Last year I made a marathon mistake by not eating enough before a race, this time I went the other way- I had so much energy food by the time we set off I felt heavy legged and lethargic. I don't blame the Scotch Egg, but I'm going to drop it from my pre race schedule next time. One thing I hadn't thought about on such a small field was the course was self navigating so keeping the guy in front in vision was the main objective. I hung onto their coat tails at about 8.20 mile pace and after 6 or 7 miles we reached the canal so could relax and plod happily along. The mud began and running became hard work, it was very monotonous, flat and squidgey. By 17 miles I felt positively green but there didn't seem much point in stopping to walk. I had kept up the 8.30-ish pace until then but onwards from there it dropped to 9.20 per mile. The runners in front must have been feeling it too because they were still in sight, by now I was the back end of a convoy of about 6 runners and was glad they were there as my motivation was low - it was just the fear of getting lost that kept me going. I still can't work out why it was so tough as it was dead flat and pleasant enough scenery so it should have been easy running. I didn't see any of the Tudor Village at mile 9 or any of the barges who were floating about the place. I can't really remember anything other than trying to pick my path through the mud and the constant thought of 'Oh Thompson you fool, what have you let yourself in for ...'

We left the canal at about 21 miles and the course went back onto the road. It was hard work and the pace dropped even further. I got to the end though and managed a quick last mile. My Garmin said 3.58 but my official time was 4.01. It didn't matter, it wasn't that kind of day- it was just good to be back into the swing of it. I felt a bit of a fraud because a lot of the runners (17 out of the 30) were doing the same run the next day, making my position of 12th a bit false. I contemplated doing it again but saw sense - the new Mrs Thompson wanted taking for a night out and Curry Mile was beckoning! Running will get me into the dog house a lot in the coming year, as it did last, but not this time.

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Dentdale Run, Dent, Cumbria, 12th March

14M 379Yards

Jan Young

Dent 2011

Nina soon after the start. Fourteen miles of up and down,
Thats' the race from Dentdale town.
Along the road, up the hill,
Across the bridge, ten miles still.

The seven mile bridge - a cheer goes up,
Keep on now, we wish you luck!
Along the road, up the hill,
Across the bridge, four miles still.

Dig in deep, Dent is in sight,
We've worked hard for beer tonight.
Afterwards, we're in the hall,
Well done, well done to one and all.

Lots of chat, cakes, tea and tea,
Celebrate friends' victory.

To Alan R: Roz collects the F55 prize.

"If I'm beaten by Batman
My running's going down the pan."

But, head up, you've no disgrace,
The speedy dressers won the race.

And as they are younger than you,
You can have your victory too.



Thanks for all the encouraging support along the route, lovely to meet up again.



Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Peter Parker * Altrincham M 1 1:18:23
19Joasia ZakrzewskiDumfries RC F35 1/32 1:30:19
86Shaun Roberts M50 17/65 1:44:59
140Nina Mason F35 7/32 1:53:02
147Roz Layton F55 1/16 1:54:16
201Dougie Nisbet M40 69/91 2:00:13
244Jean Bradley F55 7/16 2:06:38
262Jan Young F55 9/16 2:09:34
331Alan Smith M60 25/35 2:20:12
382Margaret Thompson F55 15/16 2:37:41
384Christine Farnsworth F55 16/16 2:38:35

392 finishers.

Congratulations to Roz for winning the F55s! Honourable mentions, too, to Alan Rowell (1:40:03, and first M60), and Geoff Watson (2:06:40), both running in orange.

* Quite possibly not the winner's real name - see 'superhero' photos on event website, below. Luckily, 'Wonder Woman' doesn't feature on there - she rather let herself down by not wearing a bra, or indeed any form of upper-chest covering, which was a bit discombobulating during the pre-race warmup. Still, saves on the Vaseline ... Ed.

Trimpell 20M, Morecambe, Lancashire, 6th March

Shaun Roberts

Trimpell! The very name strikes fear into the hearts of ... no, no that won't do ... it sounds like a knitting style. How about ...

Twenty miles! A funny distance, and one I've never done before. [This is better] A sort of 'marathon-lite' ... but much more than a half-marathon, so I'd be well advised to take it easy wouldn't I? Unfortunately the race starts on a running track, so I went off at a steady, err, six-minute miling. Common sense took over once we got onto the (pancake-flat) cycle tracks that nearly all this race is run over, and I started to revert back to my 'plan'. This involved trying to keep to a steady pace over the whole thing, slightly faster than my marathon pace of about 7m30, and so getting through each 4-mile chunk in a tad under the half-hour, at which point I'd get a gel down my neck.

Getting close to the finish ... And that's pretty much what happened - quite a nice route, a five-mile westerly loop first, before heading up the River Lune. Over a nice Millenium Bridge in Lancaster, and with some very nice running further out in the country overlooking weirs and small rapids, with canoeists playing on them. The weather was very balmy - bright sunshine, but cool air. The finish was again on the track, so somehow you felt you were slacking if you weren't going at interval pace, so I overtook a couple of runners here. My wonky knee was getting very heavy by now, though, so I was more than pleased to get to the finish, and also with the time of 2h24m or so.

Race highlight? A yellow race notice by the cycle track saying "Look Right Now - Upside-Down Trees". And yes, buried upside-down were ten tall tree-trunks, rootballs at the top - quite surreal. No other Striders at this one, but some club members will know Graham Bradshaw of the Tri club, who had a good run, finishing some eight minutes up on me.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Gethin BUTLER Preston Harriers MV40 1:52:13
107 Shaun ROBERTS MV50 8 2:24:50

388 finishers.

Ultra Races, Grantham, 5th March

2 x 29.3m

Dave Robson

Day 1

Today it was Cotgrave to Grantham. The route was mainly on the Grantham canal so it was pretty flat. There were some road works on the A46 so the towpath was closed and we were diverted onto a road for about a mile and there were further small stretches of tarmac at the beginning and end.The canal is not navigable for most of its length and there are stretches with no water at all. For the first 12m I was wondering whether I should have chosen road shoes as the surface was hard packed with no mud.

After Harby, 12m, it became grass and some mud for a while. I may have been losing it, but I had the impression that the canal was going uphill but the water in the canal didn't appear to be moving!

I was very pleased to get to the end of the canal which stops when you get to the A1. 5hr 7min and I am very happy with that. We stayed the night in a hotel in Grantham and there was a talk on the Marathon des Sables. There is no way I would do anything like that!

So far so good!
Day 2

Today was Grantham to Cotgrave, exactly the same route in reverse. As breakfast was not being served until 7 and the race started at 9, I decided not to have a proper breakfast this morning and had cereal bars and energy drink. This may have been a mistake.

As I went outside of the hotel I switched on my garmin - nothing I tried various combinations of buttons and suggestions from other runners, but nothing. I had a stopwatch on my normal watch so that had to suffice. I also had a memory of roughly how far the checkpoints were into the race, so that would have to do. Of course when I got home and charged the garmin again (it had been charged overnight) it worked fine ...

My legs felt pretty good and I started slowly, but then started to speed up. After the first checkpoint which was reached in under 10 min/mile pace, I lost it. This was the start of the 'downhill' stretch that I felt was uphill on Day 1, so I decide to just go for it. I wish my garmin had been working, I would love to have seen my pace, but I felt comfortable, shot blocks seem to be boosting me and I was passing lots of people. Got to roughly halfway in about 2h 25min and a Day 2 which was faster than Day 1 looked very feasible. After halfway the path changed from grass and mud to more hard packed trail and I didn't enjoy it as much. Also my speedy first half was starting to have an effect and I was slowing.... The shot blocks didn't seem to be as effective, but at least the Scaps seemed to work fine.

I also realised just before the final checkpoint that I hadn't been drinking enough, so I drank what I had left and picked up a new full bottle (this was probably all too late, once dehydrated it's difficult to recover). But then the sun came out, the weather had been a much better day than Day 1, we could see for miles and we could easily see Belvoir Castle which has been lost in the drizzle and cloud yesterday. But the sun coming out in the final quarter made it worse for me, I was running out of steam and walking much more. Some of those runners who I had passed in the first half who had made a much better job of the pacing started to come by. At this point I just wanted to reach the point on the canal where we were diverted off the canal to avoid improvements to the A46. It seemed to take for ever.

I was drinking all my water and luckily there were two young women who were car supporting somebody behind me so they seemed to be at every road crossing and I got some water off them.

I finally made it back in 5h 14min, so only 7min slower than yesterday, but as a run, it felt much worse. I drank two bottles of water straight away and went to the local supermarket to get some food down me.

Lessons learnt:

1. Before you leave home check that you have your favourite glasses in your glasses case;
2. When changing your mind at the last minute about which pair of shoes to wear on Day 1, remember to put the the new pair for Day 2; pair in your overnight bag and not leave them in the car which was at the start of Day 1 and the finish of Day 2;
3. Eat a better breakfast;
4. Be cautious about the pacing;
5. Think about how much you are drinking.

Still overall, I have come out of it okay, everybody was very friendly and I enjoyed myself, you can't ask for much more than that