Race Reports, August 2012

Inclined To Madness, North York Moors, 29th August


Dougie Nisbet

Well, the clue's in the name. Like many races produced by Dave Parry Productions, this one was bordering on the barking. Those unfamiliar with his production values might have been slightly bewildered by the seemingly random nature of the plot but for regular Parry buffs it was all re-assuringly familiar. We knew he was only half-joking when at the Start he asked the faster runners to wait at the Finish if they got there before Dave did. Seeing as how the Finish was, bafflingly, a long way from the Start. It was, for that matter, a long way from anywhere.

At the Start I bumped into Mike Bennett, who thankfully had a reserve of safety pins to compensate for my paltry collection of none. We chatted about this latest addition to the Dave Parry franchise and wondered how it would unfold. When we got underway I began to see the familiar trademarks, such as the marker tapes that appeared at random points along the clearly defined trackways, but disappeared whenever you got somewhere where they might have actually been useful, such as a corner, or junction, or checkpoint. Presently we got the to the hook, the Incline. A long straight no nonsense climb. It was one of those climbs where you're never quite sure the optimum point to stop running and start walking. During my running bit up the early phase of the climb I thought of Alan Purvis's report for the (not flat) Kielder Marathon, where he "ran every step of the way" and I decided I would try to do the same here. I got about half-way up the incline before I got to the point where my running was slower than other runners' walking, so I walked. I managed to convince myself that it was simply more efficient and faster to walk than run, rather than I just couldn't run.

Over the top of the incline to Checkpoint 3, which like Checkpoints 1 and 2 were marked with invisible tape, and I kept the folk in front in sight and assumed that someone was following someone else who was following someone else who knew where they were going. Heading back along the Cleveland Way we were treated with occasional panoramic views that give North York Moors fell races their special magic on summer evenings. A detour via checkpoint 4 at Round Hill trig point, back onto the Cleveland Way, and finally a sharp right-hander down to the finish which, unsurprisingly, was at a gate, next to a bit of heather, next to nothing of consequence, in the middle of nowhere in particular.

Despite it being a sunny calm evening I knew I would cool down quickly, so rather than wait at the finish I walk/jogged the mile or two back to the Start, but which time it was dark and cold despite putting on the contents of my bum bag. I run hot, and get cold quickly. Normally I would hang around for the presentation but it was cold, dark and getting late and I wanted my tea, so I headed home.

This is a race for trail-runners - good surfaces, clear tracks, with a long straightforward slog up the incline. The remoteness of the Finish didn't suit me and I'd rather have finished back at the Start, but I'm guessing that the idea is to make it a 10K race. Fans of the Lakeland Trail Races should give this one a go.

Hamsterley Trail Race, The Grove, Hamsterley, 29th August


Dave Robson

Melanie and I had done the previous two races in this series. They had been at Chester-le-Street and Sedgefield and they had been largely flat routes. This one was definitely not flat, the start was steeply uphill for 0.6m. However, it did get a bit easier after that. There was also much fewer runners at this event than the previous two and most of them looked like experienced fell runners so I could see we we were not going to finish high up the small field.

The midgies were out and as usual in these races, there was a delay at the start so everybody was trying to bat the midgies away which didn't really work.

We ran together up the hill wondering when it might flatten out and it was a relief when it did. We were making reasonable progress, but I could see Melanie was feeling particularly strong so she went on ahead and came in with 27min 22sec and we think she was third lady. I was about a minute later.

It was a very well marshalled, there seemed to be almost as many marshalls as runners and there was a nice fast downhill finish. It was cheap too, just £3!

Fleetwood Half Marathon, Lancs, 26th August

Graeme Walton

I entered this half marathon as part of my training for Liverpool Marathon in October. Having read some reviews from previous years and checked out the course profile it appeared to be nice and flat which was what I was looking for. A nice early start for the journey following a 5:30am alarm call! I was on the road for 6am with my wife and little girl for support. I had anticipated the journey would take around two and a half hours so with a race start time of 10am time was on our side. After a very pleasant drive we arrived at race headquarters at 8:30am. I went into the local sports centre to collect my race number and then we found time to take a stroll along the beach.

As race time approached we headed back to the car park to pin on my number and I also tried to eat a sports bar, of which I only managed half (its like trying to chew through plasticine!). Then it was off for a pre-race toilet stop which was tricky as there were only seven toilets for 400 runners! Following a briefing we were off and running. As normal following a glance at my garmin my pace slightly to fast over the opening few hundred metres so I eased off slightly and began to settle into a nice rhythm. I was hoping to average 7:30 per mile yet as the race moved on everytime I checked my pace I was a little ahead of schedule. We left the seafront where the race had started and headed down a road that ran parallel with the sea. For the first 6 miles I felt quite comfortable however things were about to change. At the 6 mile point the route changed direction and we were now running on a path that hugged the seafront. Whilst it was beautiful to look at unfortunately it was into quite a strong headwind. This lasted a painful three miles until we turned and headed for home. It was now wind-assisted but I was starting to feel tired now. The last part of the race was flat thankfully. I was overjoyed to see the 13 mile marker and following a bit of a sprint finish I was chuffed to set a time of 1:35:07 which was a new PB.

A very flat course for anyone who fancies a ride out for a PB. Three water stations are spead equally around the course and the marshals were great. A medal, banana and a wagon wheel was a poor reward for £17 (I wasn't a Strider when I entered) however I would certainly recomend the race.

Havant parkrun, Hampshire, 25th August


Kevin Williams

Saturday mornings without a parkrun just don't feel right anymore, so despite being 320 odd miles from home I still managed to find a parkrun within 30 minutes of my Bank Holiday weekend base. I did my homework via the parkrun website and facebook, Havant parkrun was to be my destination.

Arriving at Staunton Country Park we left the car in the car park over the road, although the £2 charge seemed expensive the ticket did split in two and became a voucher for £1 off in the Park's cafe, a good idea. Havant parkrun is fairly new and this would be only their tenth event. A decent crowd of 73 people turned up, including a 100 t-shirt, 3 x 50 t-shirts and an impressive 30 odd first timers. The run briefing was very informative including a name check for each and every volunteer, although I didn't get a chance to say how far away from home I was, sad smiley face! At the completion of the briefing we made the short walk to the start and then we were off. It's a three lap course with one small lap of the lawns and then two larger laps through the woods. The run briefing warned the runners of a step loose downhill section which we were advised maybe easier to walk on, looking forward to that bit!

The short lap of the lawns was completed very quickly, I bravely set off with the lead group of a dozen or so people, we got to the steep downhill section and although being wet underfoot the loose stone surface was manageable at a reasonable speed. Once that was completed I attempted to get into some sort of rhythm and settle into the run. I always find it difficult to get pacing right at a new event, you never know what's round the corner. At the end of the first mile I knew this was going to be a hard run. The weather was fine, but the surface was tricky, a mixture of gravel, grass and large loose stones that were still wet from earlier rain, there was also a long uphill section back up to start through the dense forest. I was regretting my choice of footwear, my Adidas Kanadia would have been well at home on this surface. The lead group quickly split up and on my second slower lap half a dozen or so more experienced Havant parkrunners passed me as I started to fade fast.

At the end of the second lap I pulled myself together and finished strongly (yup!) in 18th place, although 25 seconds behind the 17th place finisher. Looking at my Garmin data the Havant course is roughly the same elevation gain/loss as Sunderland parkrun, but the trail like surface made it a much harder run. So Havant parkrun replaces Saltwell parkrun as my hardest 5k to date, I'll definitely return for another crack at this one in the future though.

Northumbrian Coastal Marathon, 19th August


Sue Jennings

I had really been looking forward to this marathon as I had been told it was one of the nicest marathons that you can do and I remember months ago booking it with Angela because John H had said he was going to do it and I was jealous – I don’t like to miss out lol.

Anyway as it turned out I started on my own (not that I would have been able to keep up with John or Angela anyway) and I knew that although I could probably keep up with Dave R, that if I did I would pay for it big style later on in the run. I also hadn’t done enough training having only ran a maximum of 15 miles in the last 2 months which is nowhere near enough for a marathon.

The weather was scorching and after a couple of miles I really thought that I might not make it. The terrain was really tough – sand then thin overgrown paths with nettles sometimes as high as your face (a bit like the summer BBQ run) and no shade from the sun. I was lucky enough though to meet a couple of other runners who I tagged along with and managed to stay with until the half way point. I told them to go on and leave me there as I really thought I would have to walk parts of the way back but Sharon said she would prefer the company. She was running the marathon for St James Hospital in Leeds and had raised £1500.

We got to about 15 miles and fortunately the weather had changed a little and the sun had gone in – what a relief that was. I was also suffering at this point from severe friction burns under my arms as I was wearing my striders vest and I have only ever worn it for short runs before. At one of the water stations I asked if they had any Vaseline but the only thing they could find was a lip balm stick. This belonged to one of the runners and I said I hoped they were going to tell him not to use it again on his mouth after it had been used on my armpits, but they said he would never know the difference!

We made it to the end in 5 hours and 44 – a bit slower than I had hoped but in the scheme of things, we ran the vast majority of the way, in the heat and with not enough training so I can only feel proud that I have now completed my eighth marathon and of course there is always next year to get a better time lol.

This is a beautiful course and a well organised event which is pretty easy to follow and not get lost (you know what my map reading skills are like) and I would definitely recommend it if you are interested in doing marathons. It is however nothing like a road marathon and definitely not a PB course.

Isle of Coll Half-Marathon, North Atlantic, 17th August

Jan Young

George Nic's idea, 'Does anyone want to run a 1/2 marathon on Coll?' George and family had a week on island in rented cottage, so Dave Shipman and Lyn, Tony and I planned our own holidays around the race.

He's not letting that thing out of his sight ... Here's what's on offer:

Total participants in events 317 - island population 150!


PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Ciaran Dougherty Bellahouston Road Runners M 1:19:12
4 Eilis McKechanie Hunter's Bog Trotters F 1:28:23
117 Jan Young F 2:11:46
137 David Shipman M 2:21:20
153 George Nicholson M 2:37:35

156 finishers.

Isle of Mull Half-Marathon, 12th August

Kathryn Sygrove

Three words come to mind in connection with this race - coincidence, care, and celebration.

I had gone on holiday expecting to be "invisible" and certainly the only Northern lass there. But within minutes, Malcs spotted a Sunderland Stroller vest which turned out to belong to Joy Champion, who I had never met before, but got along with nicely. Coincidence. We picked up numbers and bright orange tees, and went out for a few pix in the warm sunshine, before jogging up to the start.

Kathryn and Joy. This was about a mile out of Craignure, where the ferry docks from Oban, and we started basically in the road. A midday start meant it was well warm and a bit humid too. The race went back to Craignure, then another half mile past it, before turning back round Iona (the person not the island) and heading back through Craignure, past the start point, and following pretty undulating and uneven open roads back to Salen, the finish.

It always takes me 3-4 miles to settle into a race, even with a wee warm-up, but after a mile I wasn't right. It was indeed hot, I started with a steady pace and waved at Malcs and the kids in Craignure, plodded up the hill round Iona, and threw my running cap at Malcs on the way back past them again. Malcs told me at the finish that, even at this point, he knew I was struggling. He was right. Leaden legs and feeling nauseous, I couldn't get into my stride. And I don't do heat well either. I mentioned this at the water station at 3 miles, where I could have happily stopped, but knew I hadn't given myself long enough, so vowed to plod on until halfway. The marshalls were very supportive and (without me knowing) radioed ahead to other stations so they knew I wasn't so good. Here comes the care element.

The views across the sea were marvellous, the scenery beautiful, but it was a tough road and didn't come across as "mainly flat" as billed by the race organisers. The nausea didn't abate by 5 miles, nor did the heat, so I stopped for a minute to re-assess how I felt. Runners-by shouted encouraging words, including a lass from Gateshead, then the Coastguard drove slowly by and checked up on me. He reminded me of the water stations with medical facilities every three miles, and I said I would take it easy in the heat.

At mile 6, the marshalls were expecting me, and their support helped me rally. It was starting to cloud over a bit, which helped too. The undulating roads continued, and I plodded on till I saw a sign for a campsite about 7 miles, which Malcs and I had stayed at many moons ago, and my heart jumped at something familiar. Most of the scenery was still close to the coast now, some trees, some odd houses dotted about, and a big downhill appeared which made me happy!!! The Coastguard had still been going back and forth, waving, smiling and nodding as if to say "I see you are still going there" but the miles weren't going any faster! In retrospect, I don't think the iron infusion had kicked in, and I simply had insufficient energy and oxygen in my blood, so had to rest at times for plenty of liquid and start off slowly again.

That big hill had helped and mile 9 came around fairly soon, but I was done in by 10. Enough, I thought, and route-marched half a mile as it started to rain gently. Other runners were very kind as they passed me, and echoed the concern of the marshalls, and Coastguard. After that, mile 11 came quite soon, and I knew I just had to pace myself slowly and I would finish. At mile 5, I could have cheerfully stood still and been driven to the finish. The Coastguard passed me here again with a wave and a "Keep going, nearly there". My mindset altered as I focussed on getting to mile 12, then 13, and my pace quickened a little as we entered Salen. After a bit of an up, then another down, I could see the finish line, up a small incline, and pelted as hard as I could to the end. It was just over 2 hours, but I was delighted to finish at all. Celebration.

Once again, the marshalls and medics were waiting for me. A medic put his arm round my shoulder and asked how I was. I still felt sick, and off we went in to get some dioralyte. I was touched by the consistent care of the emergency services and volunteers, who had watched out for me all the way, the medic told me. I thanked him and asked him to pass my thanks to the Coastguard who had pretty much kept me going throughout. The medal had a sort of Olympic flame on it, it being the last day of the Olympics, and I wore it that afternoon and all the next day. Unfortunately, once we got to Tobermory, I was sick all over a coffee shop floor. But still pleased as punch that I had completed the race.

Forest Burn Fell Race, 12th August

2M/100' (shortened course)

Nigel Heppell

A herd of bovine muggers lurking out of sight over the brow of the hill awaiting their opportunity to pounce on some unsuspecting human fell runners were outwitted today by race-director Will Horsley who introduced a last-minute change and shortened the course to a 2 mile out-and-back route instead of the 5-ish mile loop we were expecting. He still managed to squeeze in some nettles and thistles, mud, knee-deep river crossing, long grass and low tree branches, and a 100m climb.

It seemed to take longer than the actual time of about a quarter hour so we didn't feel cheated, and that left more time to enjoy the Simonside Country Fair with its cumberland wrestling, stick dressing, corn grinding, proggy matting,and birds of prey, all in the company of myriad manic dogs of many breeds accompanied by their owners likewise.

A low key event with entry fee purely by voluntary donation in support of the Great North Air Ambulance.

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Darlington 10K, 12th August

Simon Gardner

Despite hearing good reports of this race over the years i had never ran this so after some decent parkrun times and a 10K PB at Tynedale i thought this would be ideal to see if i could improve on my Tynedale time.

Paul and Angela picked me up and together with Katherine we made our way down to Darlington. After we arrived the main square was already full of runners with many recognisable faces from local clubs and Durham parkrun.

Before the off ... Speaking of which my original plan was to have a nice steady parkrun the day before but by the time I'd reached the noisy bridge I was already being a bit too competitive and ended up finishing in 19:41 my second quickest time at Durham which was probably not the most sensible thing to have done but you all know what its like!

In a short while we were lined up and set off. I found the first mile ok but was finding it a struggle during mile two which felt like a nightmare when you have well over 4 mile to go. I still don't really know why this part was so hard my pace was ok but I felt like I was struggling with the conditions which were on the warm side to say the least.

Thankfully at mile 2 there was a water station and at which I grabbed a quick drink of water then poured the rest over me after doing this I felt so much more comfortable and the last few miles were much more enjoyable. The course is a basically a two lap course and is relatively flat. At the end of the second lap you peel off and head back to the main square and finish line. I crossed the finish line slightly hot and bothered but in a new pb time of 40:31 which i was really pleased with.

Paul followed in not long after me also in a PB time and Katherine just a little outside her target time but she also found it very warm. I would definitely do this race again its fairly flat , well organised , good support for a 10K and has good PB potential.


PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Yared Hagos Wallsend M 30:24
19 Rosie Smith Durham City Harriers F 34:54
108 Simon Gardner MV40 40:31
181 Graeme Walton MV40 43:02
234 Paul Pascoe MV40 44:33
253 Stephen Garbutt MV40 45:02
287 Richard Hockin MV60 46:03
321 Alister Robson MV40 46:50
340 Aaron Gourley M 46:49
408 David Spence MV60 48:12
475 Carly Trower F 49:53
503 Chris Hedley MV50 50:25
508 John Greathead MV45 50:12
553 Melanie Hudson F 51:11
569 Greta Jones FV45 52:15
583 Danny Lim M 52:17
588 Claire Readey FV35 52:45
624 Jan Young FV55 53:15
644 Brian Ford MV40 53:10
668 Katherine Preston FV40 54:13
671 Megan Bell FV35 54:30
701 Peter Brooks MV40 55:10
761 Jim Nicholson MV65 56:26
762 Anita Clementson FV40 55:59
778 Sue Jennings FV45 57:20
783 Emma Detchon FV35 57:26
879 Jill Ford FV45 58:35
886 Mike Elliott MV65 59:01
901 Alex Probert FV40 59:09
927 Jacquie Robson FV35 60:41
1026 Lindsey Brooks FV40 64:10
1059 Pippa Coffer F 65:50
1141 Elizabeth Dick F 72:46

1166 finishers.

Long Tour of Bradwell, North Derbyshire, 11th August

33M / 6300'

Paul Evans

2130hrs: A pub. Man directs second man that, if it is his round, he'd quite like another pint of 'that one with the monkey on the clip.' Man attempts to rise from stool. Winces at thigh cramps. Fails. Accepts that comfort can wait.

Earlier the same day...

0845hrs: Man drinks tea, wonders if bumbag packing needs further re-adjustment. does it. Wonders if needs to use portaloo again. Does it. Wonders if doing first ultra (even a short one) a bad idea. Thinks 'probably' and walks to start by Bradwell village green.

0900hrs: Starts. Slowly. Really, really slowly. Gets to CP1 (of 16) by cement works, thinks that this can't be that hard. 1.5km of 50ish done after all. Speeds up. Regrets on first serious climb to CP2. Regrets more on sharp descent down wet, stony track to CP3 in picture-perfect village of Castleton. Water and jelly babies. Happiness.

1040hrs approx: (timings unclear by this point, partly as result of forgetting watch.) Mist on top of Kinder; looking for CP5 somewhere off the track. peat hags and trods look the same in every direction. Bloke called Dave, also doing first ultra, good company but equally unable to locate. Dave spots DPFR vest charging out of mist. Man and Dave head in direction he came from: big rock with orienteering kite spotted. Steep descent back to Hope valley and sight of train slowly trundling to Manchester and people having comfortable weekends.

1130(?)hrs: Dave is gone, having decided to walk up the climb to Lose Hill (there has been NOTHING flat, though experienced runners tell man that the second half is easier). Clag gone and sun out in force by now; relief to descend yet again, even if thighs getting thoroughly fed up. More water and jam sandwiches at CP7, along with shaking stone out of shoe. Man re-laces and continues.

1150hrs: Disaster! Ischaemic left foot, with more pain every single step. man consider and thinks that it can be pushed through. Five minutes later reconsiders, takes shoe off, lets blood back into foot and continues. More climb then lovely slow descent through damp woods on Win Hill to Ladybower Reservoir and along old railway to CP9 (approx halfway in 3hrs 10mins).

1230hrs: A mere 8 minutes and a jog across fields and a prettty bridge later CP 10 dibbed. Too easy.

1240hrs: Man finds out why - a hill the locals know as 'the escalator,' which goes on forever. Leading woman in front also at a crawl. Eventually reaches top, nice easy run along Stanage edge and into car park for water and cereal bar at CP12.

1320hrs: Leaves car park for section with three route choices. Decides that know better than leading woman and man from local club. Why? Descends into valley by brook and slows down in mud. Overshoots CP13 but at least finds CP14 another mile later easily enough.

1400hrs: Another poor route choice - finds railway quarter mile in wrong direction. At Grindleford cafe, where normal people are eating ice-creams and not worrying about their salt/water balance. Man wants ice-cream. And chips. Has neither and handrails the railway line to CP15, where another drink, refill of water bottle and more jam sandwiches. Better than chips.

1440hrs: Bad idea - stomach not wanting food, water all gone, sun blazing. Every step to the thick woodland by Stokes Ford too much effort. Water re-filled from stream and sipped over next half-mile. Three miles to finish from CP16, along what organisers describe as 'nice path.' Man thinks uncharitable thoughts when 'nice path' to road through Abney village is entirely uphill. More rocky track then thigh-jarring final descent to last kilometre on the road.

1536hrs: Man sprints over finish line. Dibs and stays upright to get print-out. Gets tea and sits down again. Struggles to get up. Fails. Practice for later. Thinks happy thoughts about organisers and thanks them when, unasked, they press more tea on all finishers. Lovely day all round.

Finish time 6hrs, 36mins, 21secs, pos 16th (winner Ian Symington, CVFR, 5hrs 27mins).

Cut to...

Two days later: DOMS kicks in with a vengeance. Man considers that ultras a silly idea. Unfortunately does so whilst browsing runfurther.com...

When Things Go 'Pear-Shaped'.

Howtown Fell Race, Ullswater, 11th August

AL / 13mi / 4650'

Geoff Davis

I felt confident before Saturday's Howtown Fell Race having completed the 'Joss' just 8 weeks or so ago and having done well in a couple of recent 'short' fell races. My only concern was that I always struggle in long summer fell races – something to do with my internal cooling system. But with a litre of water in my sack and a peaked buff on my head I set off with race conditions, described elsewhere by 'Old Cheviot' as, "made for pleasant running". I even chose what turned out to be a pretty good route onto Loadpot Hill and had Old Cheviot in my sights moving onto High Raise. I lost him on the descent off Rampsgill Head but still felt reasonably ok if a bit hot.

Geoff in the heat.

However, these things creep up slowly and as I approached Angle Tarn other runners started to pass me. By the time I got to Boardale Hause the needle was in the red and I felt decidedly dodgy! When Steph and Dave Wiseman caught me I was considering jacking it in, thinking I'd never make the climb up Place Fell. "Pleasant running" conditions were proving far too hot for me but I sat down, took a long drink, ate a couple of bars and thought "What would Jessica Ennis do?" The answer: carry on! So I started the slow ascent onto Place Fell. I was surprised to see Joe Faulkner marshalling at the top and took encouragement from his comment: "I've seen you looking better". My descent off the top was equally slow and I was unable to respond to Peter Reed's demand to stay with him. I tried to cling to Denise Tunstall (not literally) as she went by but all to no avail. A ford came as welcome relief as I stood in it for a couple of minutes, washing myself down and soaking my buffs in the cool waters.

A brief slosh along a road took me to the base of the final climb – Hallin Fell. I could see Denise, Peter and some of my other conquerors toiling up a bracken covered slope. That was the last thing I needed but I remembered that there was a bracken free way that went up from Martindale church. So off I went up the road to the church and turned up the broad grassy swathe to the top of Hallin Fell. Denise, Peter and a number of others were now a lot closer and although I was still in a bad way I felt I was moving a little easier. Peter took a naff route off and Denise was a little tentative on her descent so off I went and managed to trot the last mile to the finish taking some consolation from clawing back a few places at the end.

But why do I never learn? Perhaps I'll take notice of my own rules in future and 'never do a long race in August' – even if conditions "make for pleasant running"!!

Elsecar Skelter, Elsecar, Barnsley, 11th August


Dave Robson

What a great event this is. Miles of lovely scenery, not too many long hills, great views, well stocked checkpoint (biscuits, sandwiches, canned fruit in bowls, bananas and apples and of course lots of cake at two of them). Pie and peas at the end and all this for £8.50

The views from Wharncliffe Craggs are very special. The many follies and churches are also interesting and helped me to forget how far we had to go - I kept being surprised at how far we had come.

No cramp this week and we were able to make good progress finishing in 5hr 23min which knocks 35min of Melanie's pb (she has only done LDWA marathons so far - road marathons and their water stations are going to be a bit of a shock !). It is her third marathon and second within six days. I think she is hooked

I made one mistake. I got a bit complacent with the route and blindly followed the route I did two years ago without looking at the map or the route description. We ended up going through shoulder high nettles and both our legs were throbbing for the rest of the day from all the stings. Looking at the route description later, we missed a new right turn, but we soon picked up the route again

I hope they run it again next year, we chatted to the organiser and encouraged him

Durham 3 Peaks, 8th August

3 hills

David Catterick

From what I understand this race has a long pedigree and its current caretakers are Jan, Dave S and Geoff W. (Sorry for any omissions).

So 3 check points within about 1 mile radius of Maiden Castle in any order, any route, how difficult could that be?

Having run what seemed miles last year, this year I was prepared. After a chat with Dougie at the Saturday`s Park Run I had a route map, though looking at it, I didn`t understand how he`d appeared to have run over water! So the weekend before off we were for a recce. Harry, Martha, a map and me. Wednesday arrived and , for a change, lovely weather. Down at Maiden Castle more and more runners arrived to sign up (£1 fee).

By the start at 7.15pm some 40+ headed off in at least 3 directions safe in the knowledge that their efforts would be recorded at each of the 3 check points. Durham 3 Peaks startDurham 3 Peaks startHarry and I had decided to head off to Houghall Wood first. Reasureringly Geoff, Sue and Nigel were ahead of us. After reaching CP1 off we were to CP2 at the style at the NW corner of Whinney Hill summit. As I Gasped "don`t wait for me" for the sixth time we were next heading down hill towards the Maiden Castle Bridge, avoiding intrepid runners climbing up it! The weekend before we had planted way marks so we could find follow the route up to CP3 (south of the bridge). As we ran I couldn`t but notice the ferns, twigs, stones and tape that had appeared since Saturday that seemed to point us in the right direction! On the way up we passed Geoff on his way to the finish. The final run down back to Maiden Castle was great... no more hills. Across the bridge the final 300 metres was a challenge especially as my 12 year old son was in front of me (he still believes I let him win - Oh the naivity of youth!)

Finally at the finish everyone arrived back safely (including Sue Jennings whose navigation skills were again challenged!).

Prize time was great. Thanks to contacts in Mars we were treated to a large hamper of Mars goodies next to a box of wine and beer. Enough for a prize for everyone.

As I write this I can`t recall who came where. What I remember is at least Dougie and Marco were this year`s Water Babes. Will Horsley was first back and had time to demonstrate his new bike, Nigel fell off it and Sue J got lost (again!). Thanks to all for another brilliant Elvet Striders Run!

Dovedale Dipper, Hartington, Derbyshire, 5th August


Melanie Hudson

I was oddly feeling more nervous about this marathon than the last one. The website stated that there would be 4000 ft of ascent which is 500 more then Osmotherley Pheonix had. I was also starting to think that maybe completing Osmotherley had just been a fluke. My nerves weren’t helped when we checked into the travel lodge the night before and was given room 13!

The marathon started from the village hall in Hartington, Derbyshire. I have never seen so many stiles and gates in my life as I did on this. Up until mile three we had to queue at each one, which was pretty frustrating, but thankfully everyone then started to spread out. The run was mostly on decent paths and firm but uneven fields. However there was a couple of very muddy sections, one hill we were just spoldging ankle deep in mud all the way up. We made a very slight error at one point and ended up having to climb over a barbed wire fence. There were a few big hills but lots of long runnable uphill drags.

ElevationWe seemed to be making really good progress until about mile 15. We came to a very steep hill, which we had to walk but kept going without having to stop for a breather. Then at the top Dave developed cramp in his left calf, he stretched, tried running again only to then get cramp in his right calf. We slowed down and Dave was hoping to walk it off, however the cramps seemed to take a lot of energy out of his legs. It had been very warm but then started with big drops of cold heavy rain. We put on our waterproofs but I had got a chill by then and needed to be moving quicker to get warm. Dave told me to go on ahead.

I had been hoping to do this under six hours and knew if I put my head down I might just still make it, although it was going to be very close. Melanie with gold medalOne decent I had to take very slowly as the rocks were so slippery and treacherous. Then I was in the valley running along side the river. This section was all on a steady incline and just seemed never ending. I had accidentally stopped my garmin when I took my waterproof off so had no idea how much further I had to go. I was getting pretty tired by now and it took a lot of effort to not start to walk.

I was then on another path and I could see the village in the distance. I had ten minutes to go if I wanted to do it in less than six hours, I really didn’t think I would make it but I was certainly going to give it my best shot. I got to the village hall with a time of 5 hours 59 minutes. I knew it was going to be close but you cannot really get much closer then that. Dave came in at 6:25. To celebrate the olympics Dave presented me with an edible gold medal.

Total Warrior, Lake District, 4th August


Greta Jones

Total warriors (before)I am not sure how I came to do this race, was it a polite enquiry or was I persuaded that it might be a good idea, by Sue and Angela? I am leaning towards the latter. But so it came to be that on Saturday the 4th I was driving over to the Lake District picking up Sue and Angela en route and meeting John G and his friend Michael at the event.

We arrived at the venue to ample parking and excellent organisation, taking our waiver forms (yes waiver) to the registration desk, getting our head bands and warrior transfer stickers, which transformed us from perfect (well nearly) ladies and gents into total warriors. Face paint kindly donated by John G.

John and Michael were doing the 1 o’clock wave and Angela Sue and I were scheduled to go in the 1.30 wave. Having never done this event before I had no idea what to expect just shock stories from the girls about sheep dips and electric shocks, so as you can imagine I was experiencing some trepidation and anticipation, at this point I should also point out that I am not keen on mud. We watched John and Michael head to the start wishing them luck as they went. We stayed in the beer tent as by this time it was raining, we also stuck out like a sore thumb as we appeared to be the only clean people in the room. The room was buzzing with stories about the differing experiences and our anticipation grew, so with a reminder to double knot my laces and Angela’s fear of losing her timing chip we headed for the start.

In order to reach the start pen we did however have to crawl through a tunnel made of hay bales, I thought this might have been an indication of what was to come, but oh how wrong could a girl be, think worse and then some.... With the sound of the claxon we were off. A gentle incline to the first corner and then oh my gosh the hills, up and down, up and down and then to the first obstacle the Human BBQ and rumours that they had added 5 more obstacles than last year. There were 24 in total and the human BBQ was closely followed by Dunking Time, Slide away, Tyred, Peaks of Pain, Spiders Web, The Trenches, Ball Breaker, You Tube, Hang tough, The Monks playground, Sheep dip, Step it up, Claustrophobe, Muddy Funster, The Widow Maker, Grand National, Worm Muncher, Leg it, Total Wipeout, The shocker, Road runner, Log it and One Last Climb. Our thanks have to go to some of the great lads helping us throughout. Giving us a leg up over some very high walls, and with gusto at some points, so much so that during one episode of high wall climbing Sue had been given an almighty shove and landed with her head almost in some poor man’s groin, it certainly brought a smile to a few faces.

Through all of this we also had to contend with the mud, mud and more mud, and probably the greatest achievement of the day was the simple fact that I managed to stay on my feet, in spite of some hairy moments. The mud came up to our waists (probably because all 3 of us are on the short side) at times and we were in danger of losing our shoes at many points, in fact Sue did lose one and it took some mighty tugging to get it out of the mud. I have to say we tackled each obstacle with more enthusiasm than skill, but the sense of achievement in just getting through to the next one was immense.

Sue, Angela and I headed for the last obstacle administering some first aid advice on the way, we climbed the last wall, Sue and I receiving some much needed help from Angela at this point and headed for the finish, crossing the line together with three of the biggest smiles, to be greeted by a very enthusiastic John and Michael. I think all of us agreed it was a cracking experience and though an expensive entry fee, in our opinion well worth it. A can of lager a T-shirt and a Total Warrior Buff was our completion gift but the experience will last a lifetime, or until we do it again next year...

Total warriors (after)