Race Reports, November 2011

Ravenstonedale 10K, 26th November

Phil Owen

I would normally do the Harrier League XC but this has been a long standing engagement with an overnight stay and night out in one of my favourite little places Sedbergh. My bro coming home put paid to the night out but I still headed for the race and meet up with friend and Howgill Harrier organizer mate and other friends. As those of you doing Harrier League will know it was a little wild out in the morning and as I headed south west the sky only became blacker and blacker. I was convinced I was travelling into Mordor!

By the time I had got there (after nearly being blown from the road on the A66) the storm I had seen in the distance was upon us in full rage. Ravenstonedale is tiny but beautiful in whatever weather. Folk were dashing about trying to stay dry just a bit longer while registering in the local school which was 100m away from the finish at the Black Swan pub. Soon after 1:30pm, the RD jumped on a wall to see the race off, reminding us to give our race numbers to the lass with the black bag at the end for some really decent spot prizes. A round of applause for the 'best butcher in Sedbergh' who had kindly sponsored the race and off we went down the undulating course (660ft ascent I’m told).

First a small loop out of the village and back in again, another bigger loop doing the same and a much bigger loop for the rest. A great course for spectators as well as they go to see the runners pass by three times! The mostly single lane little country farm roads were almost free of any cars (I think I saw two, both of whom pulled in and waited patiently) but not free from mud & 'farm stuff' but not to worry as this was been washed away as he roads flooded. The high dry stone walls offered a little shelter here and there but throughout the race the wind raged and the rain came down like 6 inch nails, the air electric with energy. I loved it.

By mile 5 I had caught my mate up but he pulled ahead right at the 6 mile sign and just beat me. Oh well, I'm used to that right now but the running and fitness are getting better and it's good to have two working feet again. Free soup, a chunk of bread and great craic sheltering from the rain outside the Black Swan after and plenty of stronger stuff inside for those would wanted it. What a gem of a race this is and all the proceeds goes to the local school. Even better later I got a text to say I had won a spot prize of a meal for two at the Black Swan! Grand day out.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Blaydon, 26th November

Mudman & Mudwoman

Record Numbers turn out at the Harrier League!

I don't know whether it's the free entry that's attractive during these recessionary times, or whether it's just that word's getting round on how great this competition is, but record numbers turned out in both the men's (420) and women's (159) races at the HL fixture at Blaydon. Striders contributed to the throng with 12 men and 10 women giving their all for the club in the mud and the wind. Two Striders men achieved promotion to higher packs with Phil Sanderson leading us home in 13th position (Phil will be back in the fast pack for the next fixture) & Neil Sleeman, in only his second HL race, finishing in 28th place and moving to the medium pack for next time. Well done to both of you! The rest of the team put in a sterling performance achieving 5th place in Division 2 on the day, meaning we're in 4th place for the season so far. Let's see if we can get even more out next time and maybe even push for promotion!

A delighted Tom Reeves produces the Fart of the Season, to everyone's amusement. The women's race saw a battle royal between Striders' two leading ladies, Nina and Mudwoman, with the 'lead' changing hands a number of times. Nina eventually prevailed by the narrowest of margins thanks (possibly!) to her new 'go faster' hair do! They were followed home by Fiona running from the medium pack with a 2 minute handicap. The seven other female Striders each put in 'gutsy' performances with Anna making her HL debut in a Striders vest. The 'Sea of Purple' finished 7th on the day in the now highly competitive Division 1 resulting in 6th place for the season so far. Well done everyone!

The HL takes a bit of a break now until Feb, although we've got the North Easterns and the Northerns before then. Let's see Striders supporting this resurgence in North East Cross Country running by putting out our biggest teams ever of young, old, fast & less fast runners. Go on, give it a go, it's free!

Results

Men
PosNameClubCatTime
1 STEPHENSON, Ryan Gateshead Harriers 28:33
13 SANDERSON, Phil 32:22 *M
28 SLEEMAN, Neil 33:07
125 GIBSON, David 35:10
128 REEVES, Tom 35:13
180 CLAYDON, Matt 36:09
192 MCCONNELL, Stewart 36:20
213 JONES, Mark 36:46
244 DAVIS, Geoff 37:33
276 ROBERTS, Shaun 38:16
277 WHITE, Conrad 38:20
351 BELL, Peter 41:07
369 ROBSON, Alister 41:51

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

420 finishers. Men's team 5th of 11, Division 2 - now 4th in the division.

The Striders Women wait for Roz, before warming up with a hard session of Ring a Ring of Roses.
Women
PosNameClubCatTime
1 TARBUCK, Rosie Newcastle Uni 22:54
47 MASON, Nina 26:58
48 DAVIS, Susan 26:59
65 SHENTON, Fiona 27:24 *M
78 LAYTON, Roz 27:46
95 SEELEY, Anna 28:14
113 LAMB, Liz 29:03
114 LAUREN-MAATTA, Camilla 29:04
121 TOMLINS, Zoe 29:44
125 BRADLEY, Jean 29:54
146 YOUNG, Jan 32:22

*M Medium pack - 2m handicap.
*F Fast pack - 4m handicap.

159 finishers. Women's Team 7th of 10, Division 1 - now 6th in the division.

Abbey Dash, Leeds, 20th November

10K

Peter Bell

At an ungodly hour for a Sunday morning Alister Robson knocked on my door. We were off to Leeds for the Abbey Dash, one of the fastest 10Ks in the country. I normally run this every year but it was a last minute number which got me out of bed this time! After a drive through some serious fog we arrived at the start to be greeted with 8000 other runners. This race is a big one and attracts clubs from all over the North. It’s a straight there and back and pretty flat hence why it called a dash as the speed you can hit has ensured a personal best for me each time. Last year’s time was 48:40 and I knew I could improve on that!

Stood at the start, Garmin at the ready, pre-race nerves started to build. I turned to Alister and said, "Why do we do this?" to which his reply was "because we can!" With those words ringing in my ears I picked out the first person who was running my 7 minutes mile pace. I quickly overtook her running comfortably at about 6 minute 50 pace. The fog had still not cleared and the road ahead looked bleak. Conditions underfoot were greasy at about 2 miles but still I was overtaking a few, determined to pick off as many as possible. The abbey appeared out of the mist shortly afterwards where I made the turn to come back.

I couldn’t see Alister but I knew he would not be far behind. Keeping an eye open for his famous fluorescent hat and gloves I was on course timewise and pushed harder to keep it going. Before I knew it I was at 5 miles and still powering through. The final rise up the main road brought the finish in sight. That rise had slowed me considerably with the Garmin reading over 8 minute miles. For the first time I knew what to do at the finish. Sod my stupid watch and run like hell. Head down I crossed the line in 43:50 mins smashing nearly 5 minutes off last year’s time. What a Dash!

Rosedale Ultra, Hetton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire, 19th November

30M

Dave Robson

I was up at 4.30, had breakfast and headed off in the dark to Hetton-le-Hole. I got there in plenty of time (I could have slept longer !) and registered. I only knew one other runner to talk to, but there were about three or four familiar faces. There were three distances available 40m, 30m and 13m setting off at half hour intervals. My start was at 8.00 and the mist had not burned off so we set off over the moor with about 75 yards visibility. We hit a small road and followed that to the top of Chimney Bank above Rosedale. There we turned north along the old railway line. Although we were gently climbing all the way, I felt good and it all seemed to be going well. The first checkpoint was at 7m and they only had water as advertised. The sun then came out for a short while and we could see down onto the mist in the valley. Then we were suddenly back in the mist with visibility down to 50 yards and it started to get chilly. We followed the railway line all the way round the head of the valley, but at times the line was just a bog so we ran alongside or up embankments. We came down one of these and it was a bit muddy. I was running in my Hoka's and I had suspected they weren't good in very wet mud. This was confirmed as my feet went from under me and I landed in the mud Three more falls were to come.

Do not mess with Dave. He's huge! After a while we pulled up a large hill, crossed a road and then turned a sharp right into a very tough 2.5m section, which felt much much longer. It was basically a bog initially, then it turned into a mud bath. You would put your foot down and have very little idea how far it would go in - sometimes it would be up my calf, a couple of times it was over my knee. I know I had the wrong shoes on, but even my mudclaws wouldn't have coped with that, however they would have given me more confidence. I was so pleased when that bit was over and the second checkpoint at the end of it was well stocked with food and tea - sadly the remaining ones were just people in cars and large cartons of water on the verge.

We went into Dalby Forest where we were on good trails most of the time. While there some faster runners on the 30m route came by. They had apparently made a major navigational error and added 7m. Out of the forest and back to the moors before the major climb out of Rosedale and up Chimney Bank via a muddy trail. Then it was a lovely run down to Lastingham and then 2m back to Hetton-le-Hole, where a meal was provided. There were 26 runners doing the 30m race and I asked what position I was in when I came in. I had been passing runners, but I was astonished that I was 8th in a time of 6hr 38min What had happened was that a large number of the faster runners had added 7m to their run, which had promoted me way beyond my usual position. A tough run, but an enjoyable one and it will be my last marathon/ultra for 2011.

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Brampton to Carlisle, 19th November

10M

Dougie Nisbet

Every year I read with bewilderment the reports for Brampton-Carlisle. As far as I can tell it involves running from one town to another town along main roads that aren't closed. What's the attraction of this bafflingly popular event that every year entices dozens of Striders to head west for this tiresome 10 miles of tarmac? Perhaps it was time I found out. So this year I entered this decidedly unappetising sounding race.

Kathryn worships at the feet of the master. Or else just can't take her eyes off his enormous banana-holder. When the coach pulled into Brampton I had to admit it wasn't the grimy little town I'd expected. I followed Angela who seemed to know by sixth sense where chip registration was and a chirpy series of signs directed us along the corridors to a hall with well-organised queues for the timing chips. Signs. Nice. Enjoy them while you can.

Chipped and numbered I set off to look for the baggage bus. There were lots of coaches but none were announcing themselves as a baggage bus so I followed some runners with baggage who seemed to queueing with purpose at one particular coach. I negotiated the gridlock, got on the coach, and put my bag on the, well, the baggage rack. Crazy thinking I know, right outside the box. Back through the chaotic contraflow to get out the coach and then some hanging around before kick-off.

Happy Striders before the off, confident that their luggage, at least, was safe and sound. The start of the race was a big jolly affair but things went pretty much downhill after that. A few timing chips scrunched underfoot as I set off with Barrie, Sue and Angela at the back of the field before I tentatively tested my knee and began progressing through the field. As George says, when you start at the back and steadily pass people you rather tend to think you're doing a lot better and going a lot faster than you really are. The Garmin doesn't lie though, and I could see that my 1:20 goal (8 min/miles) was an unrealistic target and at an unmaintainable pace.

What's there to say about the course? What's not to like? What is to like? Er, nothing. Lots of roads, traffic, exhaust, noise, roads, cars, pavements, and roads. My race went ok and my knee was completely pain-free for this first time in several few months so although slower than I would've liked I was reasonably happy. The marshalls were generally very encouraging and it seemed to me they had a pretty tough job with this course dealing with irate and impatient runners and drivers at the numerous side-junctions. I didn't envy them their jobs. Good crowd at the finish funnel with most vocal support coming from Greta and Alister.

After finishing and watching while the remaining Striders came in (great sprint finish between Sue and Angela) I started wondering where the luggage was. No signs, no arrows, nowt. I knelt down and put my ear to the ground and heard 'squash courts' mentioned. So where were the squash courts? I wandered into the sports centre, out again, then in again, and followed people without luggage until I eventually found the squash courts. What I didn't find was my bag. I was disconcerted as I hadn't expected the bags to be unloaded; I thought we'd all just pile back on the coach and locate our own in true GNR style. In a moment of post-race clarity I realised at once what had happened. I was probably the only person to put their bag on the baggage rack, and on the baggage rack, on the coach, is probably where it still lay. No problem. Let's find the coach.

I didn't find the coach, but I did find Ken, the organiser, who seemed to want to walk through the script for Airplane. He kept asking which coach I'd arrived on, and I kept saying it was a Gillingham's one from Durham but that wasn't important just now. My baggage wasn't on my coach, it was on the baggage bus. He sucked air in through his teeth and I thought he was going to tell me I needed something very expensive done to my car but instead he cheerfully told me that the coach had gone, and not just round the corner neither. We headed into the sports centre on a fact finding mission; what was the name of the coach company, and how could I get in touch with them? Apparently there were two baggage coaches, from two companies. After a few fruitless phone calls to unanswered phone numbers and voicemails left, I was still none the wiser.

Still, our coach was here and ready to take us to the pub, where a plucky waitress ("we were expecting you, just not all at once") did a pretty decent job of cheerfully and single-handedly dealing with a sudden influx of hungry and thirsty runners. Wish she'd been organising the race. On the journey back to Durham cosily ensconced in Alister's Hoodie (nice fabric softener) the rotund ray of sunshine that is our regular Gillingham coach driver only found occasion to shout at another driver once, so all in all it was quite a soothing end to the day.

Today my phone rings and it's Liam from Messengers coaches. They've found my bag! Excellent. Until this moment I'd been pretty mellow about the whole business. Mistakes are made, accidents happen, Alister bought me beer and lent me his hoodie, nobody died. But when Liam then asked me if I wanted him to 'dig out a price' for posting my bag back to me, my goodwill evaporated. He rang off saying he'd leave me to think about what I wanted to do next. I thought if they'd done what they were meant to do, this wouldn't have happened. Perhaps they could have offered to split the postage with me, as a gesture of goodwill. Perhaps they could have said sorry; a simple apology goes a long way. Just perhaps, they could have admitted that they were, in some way, responsible.

Tadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Still, who cares. Four hours and about 20 quids worth of diesel later and and I'm just back from a round trip to Carlisle. I've got my bag back, with its de-registered Kindle, cancelled credit cards and cold coffee. I had begun to think the chances of ever seeing it again were about as likely as Kathryn giving up her seat on a bus, but all's well that ends well. Despite this race having no redeeming features whatsoever I shall no doubt have forgotten about it all in a year's time and be back for more.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 YARED HAGOS Wallsend Harriers M 0:47:51
35 DANIELLE HODGKINSON Wallsend Harriers F 1 0:58:33
83 JAMES GARLAND M 1:02:07
144 SHAUN ROBERTS MV50 1:06:34
271 GRAHAM DAGLISH MV55 1:12:12
317 ALISTER ROBSON M 1:15:00
370 KATHRYN SYGROVE FV45 1:17:33
403 PETER BROOKS MV40 1:18:31
444 JEAN BRADLEY FV55 1:21:06
473 LIZ LAMB FV50 1:22:33
513 GEORGE NICHOLSON MV60 1:24:11
516 CHRISTOPHER HEDLEY MV50 1:24:41
521 DOUGIE NISBET MV45 1:24:22
551 BARRIE EVANS MV65 1:26:20
576 GRETA JONES FV45 1:28:10
601 JIM NICHOLSON MV60 1:29:44
619 ANDY JAMES MV60 1:31:39
623 KAREN CHALKLEY FV45 1:33:32
633 CLAIRE READEY FV35 1:34:59
638 MIKE ELLIOTT MV65 1:36:13
652 ANGELA PROCTOR FV35 1:39:05
653 SUE JENNINGS FV45 1:39:07
660 CHRISTINE FARNSWORTH FV60 1:41:34
668 MARGARET THOMPSON FV60 1:45:28

680 finishers.

Town Moor 10K, 13th November

Louise Miller

I wasn't really prepared for this as I hadn't ran much in the previous weeks due to a foot injury but thanks to Susan and some hills around Durham on the Wednesday night, my foot was feeling fine so I was ready to go. The thought of two laps didn't appeal much but I didn't know the route and it couldn't have been as bad as the 5 laps others did weeks before for the marathon so I decided to just go for it and do the best I could!

I met Victoria and headed over to the start in Exhibition Park, where we said hello to some fellow Striders and joined the indoor toilet queue. It soon became obvious that the queue wasn't going down fast and we weren't sure whether we'd get there in time and then get to the start line for 11. Cue an interesting conversation with a couple of ladies from Heaton Harriers who said that if we ever needed to go mid race, just throw some water over yourself and then go and no-one will notice! (erm don't think I'll be trying that one anytime soon!) Anyway we reached the front (and perhaps the most horrific toilets I've ever seen) and made it to the start in time for the minutes silence.

The course started with a lap round the lake then out onto the footpaths of the Town Moor, then followed most of the Park Run route (Victoria thinks!). Myself and Victoria decided on our usual tactic of running together then if either of us felt like we could shoot off we would. As promised it was mostly flat, so had I trained more I would have been very hopeful of a PB, but as I hadn't I just planned on getting round with my foot pain-free.

The first lap was comfortable and at a nice pace although I did feel that seeing the 7k marker just after 2k was a bit of a tease… Slightly confusing moment as we ran past the finish to start our second lap, men shouting 'keep left, kept left' - was there an ambulance or something?! Nope, it was the first finisher haring towards the finish line (when on earth did he lap me?!)

After 8k I started to feel tired, the legs felt like lead and the lack of recent training started to show. If it wasn't for Victoria encouraging me I think i'd have walked but I pushed on and eventually saw Claire Readey not too far in front. I told Victoria that as soon as we'd caught Claire for her to go on as she seemed must stronger than me and I'd push myself to keep up with Claire. I caught Claire at 9k and battled round the last 1k, up the small bank at the end (which after such a flat route seemed like a mountain! - note to self - must do more hill training!)

I crossed the line after a sprint finish (which made me feel rather sick) in 56.52 according to my watch, so I knocked 30 secs off my previous 10k PB (yeah!) however the official results had me 2 mins slower (boo!). Others commented their times were wrong also so I wasn't too deflated and felt very deserving of the wine and cake I would have at the birthday party that afternoon

All in all a good race, no goody bag but entry was only £6, it was well organised with km markers and marshalls, plus juice and water at the halfway mark. A nice, flat, quick course so I will be definitely be back next year, aiming for a new PB!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jonathan Taylor Morpeth Harriers M 30.23
9 Philip Sanderson M40 34.39
82 Louise Warren Victoria Park City of Glasgow F 1 40.24
246 Peter Brooks M40 47.32
405 Joanne Richardson F35 56.43
425 Victoria Tindale F 59.00
426 Louise Miller F 59.10
434 Claire Readey F35 60.03
466 Lindsey Brooks F40 70.21

472 finishers.
The official results are still marked as provisional.

Shillington Shuffle, Barton-le-Clay, near Luton, 13th November

26.6M

Dave Robson

Day 3 of the running weekend. This was a lovely event, great route, very clear route description (it wasn't marked), free tea and biscuits to start, cakes and biscuits at the first checkpoint, sandwiches and more at the remaining three checkpoints and a basic meal at the finish. All for £5, I love LDWA events

You could start any time between 8 and 9.30, but the first checkpoint (7m) didn't open until 10.00. Christina (who was accompanying me to the first checkpoint) and I started at 8.17. The first 7m were hilly and we kept an eye on the time, though not because we wanted to go faster, we wanted not to go too fast as we didn't want to cover the first 7m in less than 1hr 43. So we walked some flat bits in order to time it right. Never done that before so early in a run. We got it right and then Christina headed back a different way.

The route description was very good, although there were times when I got together with other runners to figure out which way to go. At one point the route description said something like 'carry on ahead passing three benches until you come to a cross track when you turn left to cross a bridge'. We came across a bridge with a path coming in from the right with a bridge and a bench. We got together and someone asked 'Who has been counting benches?' Lol, of course nobody had, but we made the right decision. The first half was fairly hilly but the second half was flat, but it crossed many fields and one field had no discernible path at all, we just waded through a muddy field of cabbages (or something similar) and I picked up loads of mud on my new shoes, which made them feel twice as heavy. Because you had to concentrate on which way to go all the time, the miles passed very quickly.

It was great to see so many people I knew at this event, it feels like there is this band of people who travel the country doing marathons and there will always be someone you know at any event. I managed to get back in about 5hr 52min and I was pleased with that

Copeland Chase, Loweswater Fells, Cumbria, 13th November

15km

Tom Reeves

Tom at the Copeland ChaseI took part in this orienteering event last year and had a very long and stressful run in the Lakeland hills in very wet and cold weather. So driving across with Will Horsley and assorted Durham University Orienteering club members on Sunday morning I was wondering why?

This is an event which is organised by West Cumberland Orienteering Club (WCOC) there are 3 courses to choose from Long Medium and short. After my epic on the long course last year I plumped for the medium in the hope I would have an easier time of it. My map reading has improved considerably over recent years but I must admit as I dibbed my sport ident dibber at the start I wondered if I would be out of my depth as I watched my fellow competitors head out across the hills studying their maps. They all looked like they knew what they were doing!

Loweswater was the venue this year and the weather was fantastic it was mild and dry although the ground was rather boggy in places. The medium course was 15km as the crow flies and there were 6 checkpoints to find and dib at. The long course was 20km with 10 checkpoints. Checkpoint 1 was a long haul of around 3k and required a bit of thought in terms of picking a good line.

I found the checkpoint after a bit of faffing and quickly found checkpoint two. The rest of the course was a real pleasure once I’d got my eye in on the scale of the map and the ground I needed to cover I bumped into Will at my checkpoint 3 and his checkpoint 4 (he was doing the long course). He was moving well but was a bit cheesed off at a navigation mistake he had made.

I got round in 2hrs 55m in joint 14th place and actually rather enjoyed it. We all had pretty good runs, Duncan Archer of DFR came second in the long course. I enjoyed it so much I might even do some other orienteering events.

Milton Keynes parkrun, 5km, 12th November

Dave Robson

Day 2 of this running weekend. Up early to find the Milton Keynes parkrun. The route seemed to be mainly round a lake which was similar to yesterday. I met up with a Fetchie I know who was tail running for the large field (274, this was their 96th running of the event)

I started slowly, but by the time I got to the Grand Union canal (about 1K) my legs had started to lose their stiffness and I speeded up a bit. After a while we turned away from the canal and approached a hill. I could see steps ahead and runners crossing them at right angles - the infamous zigzag paths up the hill. It wasn't too steep and I was passing other runners, so it was all going well.

Over the top of the zigzags I crested the hill and had a view of a lake in front, an interesting building to our right, down to the lake past what looked to be a recently built stone circle, under a bridge and back to the lake we started on. Round the lake to the finish near the starting point. An attractive run and 29min 34sec which was fine My 50th parkrun :-)

Poppy Day Enigma Marathon, Milton Keynes, 11th November

Dave Robson

A marathon on a Friday? Well why not, it was the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011. Naturally, the race started at 11:11. At 11 there was a two minute silence after a moving speech by one of the competitors who was a current member of the Armed Forces. There were about 60 runners some of whom started early and I didn't get to see, but there were lots of people I had met at other marathons and ultras

As this is to be a busy running weekend, the plan was to take it easy and I started off a little quick, but I slowed as the race went on. I had done this seven lap course twice before this year, but I didn't find it dull, though it was relief to go through half way. The weather was cloudy and mild, with only a very slight breeze.

About halfway round lap 6, I realised that a sub 4.30 was on. There have only been three of these this year, so I went on and started to push a bit harder on the final lap. I did the last half of the last lap with another runner and we worked together and came in together with 4hr 29min 4sec.

New York Marathon, 6th November

John Robson

In February I decided to enter the New York Marathon and was fortunate to receive a place with the UK FireFit team which included other firefighters from other Fire Services especially Hertfordshire, Greater Manchester, Nottingham and Essex.

As a runner of many years this was to be my 22nd marathon and I decided to enter a group of races leading up to the New York Marathon as part of my training, and raise charity funds through people guessing my aggregate finishing times in the Great Yorkshire Run (10K), Great North Run (21K) and the New York Marathon (42K).

The Day Before

John collects his number ... On Saturday 5th November we collected our numbers from the New York Marathon Expo and prepared ourselves for the event. This was a truly international occasion with runners from all over the world, and the big difference compared with the London Marathon is that there are so many true athletes prepared to run the race as opposed to all the charity joggers and walkers which appear at London.

On Sunday 6th November before 7am we gathered at the Park Central Hotel just south of Central Park near the finish. The Police Department New York (PDNY) and Fire Department New York (FDNY) had reserved the first floor of the hotel for a post marathon party including the meet and greet with friends and families. All the Police and Fire runners travelled together in a cavalcade across the Brooklyn Bridge to the start at Staten Island. On arrival we discovered the PDNY and FDNY had reserved a massive private area and typically American there was a large amount of free food and drink which I believe was for the supporters … but I reckon some ‘runners’ were seen eating bagels, muffins and coffee!

 

The Race: Running through the Five Boroughs and Five Bridges

There was a lot of American razzmatazz which really added to the occasion and before we knew it we were under starter’s orders. The Mayor of New York City announced “International runners of the World the streets of New York are closed and belong to you. Go out and enjoy them … see you in Manhattan”. While the race begins on Staten Island, runners quickly leave the borough via two mile long Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. Spectators are not allowed at the start but the views are magnificent as we looked across Lower Manhattan, New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the FDNY fire boats. Fantastic … and we had just started.

We entered Brooklyn and Kings County claims the most miles of any borough on the course stretching from Mile 2 to Mile 13. The route travelled through a diverse range of neighbourhoods from Bay Bridge, through the Hasidic-Jewish neighbourhood of Williamsburg, to Greenpoint, home of a vibrant Polish community. All the Brooklyn miles were well supported but thinner than those we would meet later on the course. Just before leaving Brooklyn we reached the half way mark and I clocked 1:40 which was slightly quicker than I wanted. I had planned to run negative splits of 1:50 and 1:40 but I got into my stride early, felt really comfortable and started running 7:40/7.45 miles.

Runners crossed into Queens via the Pulaski Bridge and exit the borough two miles later on the Queensboro Bridge. While it was just a couple of miles, the Queens section of the course tended not to be overly crowded but the experience was fantastic. After a hilly mile-long stretch with no spectators across the Queensboro Bridge, we arrived in Manhattan at First Avenue and 59th Street (Mile 16). This was just amazing … by far the most densely crowded part of the course, with spectators lined up often five people deep and encroaching well onto the course. The atmosphere was electric, the noise was tremendous and the next four miles were straight up First Avenue with a massive smile on my face. The race was very enjoyable and was getting better and better.

The route takes a quick trip into the Bronx between Mile 19 and Mile 21. We crossed the Wills Avenue Bridge with a great view over Randalls Island which is where the FDNY Training Academy is located. The crowds were thick and noisy in the Bronx and all too soon we were crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge and returned to Manhattan for the final stretch of the marathon. Miles 21 to 24 flowed from Harlem, down Fifth Avenue, with crowds building as the race moved south. The route finally turned into Central Park at 90th Street and from here it’s just about two miles to the finish. The crowds were very thick in the Park which added to the whole experience and I just did not want the race to end.

The Finish: Central Park

I crossed the finishing line in 3:35 hours which placed me in the top 10% and was a decent achievement for a 50 year old. All FDNY and PDNY were directed into a special zone where we received wonderful treatment, and chauffeured back to the Park Central Hotel where the party was only just beginning. There were showers, massages, cold drinks and the usual large amount of food. To cap it all the Fire Service again beat the Police for the fifth year running and we received a magnificent silver trophy.

The wonderful crowds around the five boroughs were the best I’ve ever experienced and the whole of the New York experience was very emotional and special. My first thought on finishing the race was wilful thoughts of entering the event in 2012 and experiencing it all over again.

Finally, the race completed the charity fund of guessing my aggregate time over three events (10K, 21K and 42K) raising over £1,000 and Kathryn Sygrove (Elvet Striders) was the winner of the Outdoor Clothing and goodies.

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race.

Gibside Trail Race, 6th November

5.7M

Shaun Roberts...

On the basis that a picture tells a thousand words, here's my version of the race: Definitely not flat.

Lovely race in perfect conditions, with a great turnout of Striders. Thanks for the support from Jan, the McDermotts and others ...

...and David Catterick

Just when this year couldn't get more memorable along comes the Gibside Trail Race, set in a beautiful, historic estate just south of Newcastle, on a cold yet sunny November day!

As Alister, Alan, Conrad, Rich and I pulled up in the frosty car park we had already spotted other Striders who were clearly, equally as unsure as ourselves as to what clothes to wear. So, while some of us hopped up and down with blue skin eager for the start, others stretched and chatted clad in hats, tights and gloves.

So we're off and, yet again, despite having a Garmin on my wrist and reading all about negative splits, positive splits were to be the order of the day as I sailed past Alan, Rich and Alister.

10 minutes later... Ha! That must be the hill the regulars were talking about. Strange it's now at the start... 20 minutes later and after running through and around (and up and down and up and down) the estate's woodlands, I was clearly hallucinating as I passed Nelson's Column... 40 minutes into the race a hill loomed, not just any hill but THE MUD HILL of legend. A slap on the back signalled Alister passing (I'm sure he was walking), closely followed by Rich.

Anyway great finish, grand goodie bag with tech top, apple and oat bar. All other runners were cheered home in the tradition of the Striders, irrespective of vests worn. On offer was coffee, sandwiches, bacon butties, beer and good crack.

As another year draws to an end, I'm thankful to be able to enjoy the exhilaration of running but what's equally as important is being able to share this with such a great group of runners. It's a wonderful world!

Welcoming Striders home.Phil collects a right load of old gubbins!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Graeme Taylor Morpeth Harriers M 32.28
4 Phil Sanderson MV40 34.33
11 Jane Hodgson Morpeth Harriers F 1 37.17
39 Jerry Lloyd MV40 40.12
56 Dave Gibson MV40 41.15
84 Shaun Roberts MV50 43.28
129 Conrad White MV50 45.42
145 Nina Mason FV35 46.23
164 Alister Robson M 46.59
171 Richard Hall MV50 47.20
173 David Catterick MV40 47.24
189 John Hutchinson MV50 48.25
200 Aaron Gourley M 48.46
233 Anna Seeley F 49.50
247 Jean Bradley F 50.32
251 Jane Ives FV35 50.42
253 Juliet Percival FV35 50.50
278 Alan Smith MV60 51.57
294 Dougie Nisbet MV40 52.58
362 James Nicholson MV60 58.00
363 Claire Readey FV35 58.12
407 Mike Elliot MV60 63.48

435 finishers.