Race Reports, December 2012
25th Anniversary Jolly Holly Jog, Ripon, 30th December
This is one of my favourite races. It is almost all offroad, through lovely countryside, through fields, woods and a deer park. It has some hills, but nothing too bad.
We left Durham where it was sunny and cold. As we drove south we could see dark clouds ahead and we passed through a couple of heavy rain squalls. Luckily they didn't last long, but they kept on coming for the rest of the morning.
We parked up next to the rugby fields (Race HQ was in the rugby clubhouse) and saw that the fun run was in progress. We saw a Striders tee shirt and thought that somebody must have brought their children with them and was running round with them. We got to the clubhouse to see Emma and Bill running alone coming into the finish They were disappointed that they hadn't won their age categories as they were the only adult entrants ! (prizes were for runners up to 12 years old only). They had misread the start times of the races, got there two hours early and thought they would enter the fun run to pass the time ! Hopefully one of them will do a separate race report ;-)
The start is a a ten minute walk from Race HQ and we tried to time it so we wouldn't be hanging around getting wet and cold. That worked fine and we were off on time and into the mud. There was lots of it, I haven't seen the course that muddy before. The hill at 3m seemed tougher than usual with the mud. As we approached the stable block, the deer were quite close and all together in a enormous herd, I hadn't seen them all together before. A bit later I almost fell as my roclights couldn't cope with the heavy mud on a downhill, but I managed to stay upright with no damage done. As usual the marshalls at this event were friendly and encouraging.
We came in just over the hour which was fine on this course and we wanted to take it easy. Then it was off to a restaurant for something to warm us up, we both got very cold very quickly after the finish. Rachel Terry, Bill and Emma all had a fine runs. We all received a mug in the goody bag to commemorate the 25th running of this lovely event.
Finsbury Park parkrun, London, 29th December
When the football fixtures came out in June I pretty much decided that I would combine a trip to London for the football and also finally get to do the biggest and first parkrun at Bushy. After a little investigation I decided reluctantly that the journey would be a bit too long, I did not fancy standing around on a train/tube station in shorts and striders t-shirt in the middle of winter so after a little look about I decided that one of the smaller parkruns might be good and at 7:30am I was out the hotel door on my way to Finsbury Park. After getting 3 tube trains (thanks TfL) I stepped out the tube and virtually straight into Finsbury park. There was no one around so i did a long warm-up awaiting everyone to turn up at the cafe, its years since I had been and it looked fairly a nice park. The course is 2-lapper which is tarmac all the way. We had a quick briefing and we were soon on our way, the start is downhill which is nice but that soon changes and you begin a shallow but longish climb up to the entrance area of the park. I had been out injured for what feels like ages with a calf strain so decided to start steadily and pick off as many runners as I could. As you head towards the end of the first lap there is a steep climb and goodness I could feel it after no proper training for an age.
It's probably only fair to point out that the day before we left for London my friend had booked a table at Claridges for dinner on the Friday night. So my athlete diet consisted of Claridges game pie with Cumberland sauce, Atlantic cod with roast parsnips and gemolata, warm chocolate fondant with hazelnut and pear compote and petit fours to finish washed down with two champagne cocktails a James Bond in Moscow and a raspberry bellini.
After careful consideration I can cast iron guarantee that Mo Farah would have won nowt at the Olympics if he had my meal the day before but blimey I fuelled up in style. I eventually crossed the finish line in 6th position in 20:36 which in the circumstances was not too shabby I guess given my thoroughly unprofessional but very enjoyable preparation? If your wondering the set meal was £41 and fantastic but I don't recommend racing the next day ;)
PS. Can we just gloss over Newcastle's thumping and hideous journey home (thanks Eastcoast).
Guisborough Woods Fell Race, North Yorks Moors, 27th December
Two Striders at Guisborough Woods race on 27th Dec. New 11k route due to logging, still included two ascents of quarry side, a short loop and a longer loop.
Susan won her age group, 3 bottles of wine for £7 entry fee. That's value! And series points!
[ Jan also won her age group! Ed. ]
Just to add, Mike Bennett was 3rd MV50 in 2012 summer series, and Jan Young, 2nd FV55. Both presented with Roseberry Topping mugs and certificates.
Christmas Handicap, 23rd December
Pam KirkupAfter several days of deluge and horrendous storms, I wasn't holding out much hope for the Christmas Handicap actually happening. However MC said they were open and the car park wasn't flooded so maybe Santa was smiling on us! Got there early to check part of the course - the part I expected to be the most muddy. It was pretty boggy but nothing that Mudman and Mudwoman couldn't cope with so I went back to the car park and just hoped somebody would turn up! ... And they did!
Fashion criminals from all decades kept on arriving! Some stunning and astonishing costumes emerged making it very difficult for Santa and his Elves to choose Fancy Dress winners. Then there was the annual dispute about handicap times! I have to say some of the 'predictions' were unrealistic (some would say dishonest!) in the extreme! But then we had to take into account the restrictions caused by cumbersome costumes, accompanying children and the very muddy conditions on parts of the course. And hey, it's a fun event so who cares who wins? (!!)
Once Santa arrived and the bran tub was filled we got going. Passing drivers were amused and entertained by the spectacle and Santa worked the traffic to get as many smiles, waves, horns hooted and police car blue lights to flash.
The first finisher was Richard Hall in 42.33. A steward's inquiry was demanded from some quarters but in the true spirit of Christmas there was good will to all men! Other results and times below. At the Court Inn there was a good turn-out of runners, supporters and helpers. The prizes were awarded as follows:
- Race Winner - Richard Hall 42.33
- Fastest Time - Adam Walker 31.39 Junior
- Fastest Male - Mike Bennett 36.03
- Fastest Female - Megan Bell 37.10
- Male - Dougie Nesbitt a stunning David Bowie Ziggy Stardust style
- Female - Melanie Hudson Madonna in the gold basque!!
- Paul Beal, Jean Bradley, Dave Robson, Anita Clementson
- Jan Young, Kathryn Preston, Andrew Thompson, John Greathead.
All children got some chocolate in a mini selection box. Thanks to Santa and his Elves, to Carole Seheult for helping at the finish, to Phil Owen for checking out the course and taking pictures, to Dougie for finding time to take pictures on the run!, to David for MCing at the pub and of course to Harry for his support and prizes.
Tour De Helvellyn, Lakes, 22nd December
This race is in its 3rd year and is a race for runners who are able to navigate and look after themselves in the mountains in difficult conditions. It is always run on the shortest Saturday of the year so being able to move quickly is an advantage. I think its going to become a classic.
However as I sat in the Travelodge the night before the race watching the weather I really did not want to do the run the following day. Torrential rain and strong winds! Err no thanks!
I did this event in 2011 with Geoff Davis and I was doing it again with Mr Davis. We set off from Askam village hall at 7.30 in full waterproofs top and bottom and finished many hours later in full waterproofs. We set off with another runner Chris Little who runs with NFR and set off with us the previous year. The weather was wet but not as wet as expected and although the wind was cold it was not too strong.
The race itself is 38 miles on pretty good tracks most of the way passing through Howtown on Ullswater then Patterdale via Boardale Hause (the first big climb of the route). Timing is pretty important as checkpoint 2 at Patterdale does not open till 9.30 am and you must pass back through it on the return journey no later than 4pm. Our timing was pretty much spot on on the way out and we hit the checkpoint just after 9.30 going at a nice comfortable pace. We stayed together as far as the climb up sticks pass when myself and Geoff pulled slightly ahead of Chris. I felt the cold for the first time as we hit the snow line and spent the next 15 minutes or so running through ankle deep ice cold water. I contemplated putting more clothes on but didn’t bother deciding the decent to Thirlmere would warm me up as we lost height. It did. Heading out from checkpoint 4 at Stanah Gill Geoff jogged along eating a gel while I chomped on a pasty can you guess who enjoyed their top up more?
Myself and Geoff swapped taking the lead all along Thirlmere which is always longer than expected. I pulled away from Geoff on the steep climb up Raise Beck to Grisedale Tarn, I was going quite well till I took a tumble on the run down from the tarn to Grisedale and back to Patterdale. I somehow managed to trip on the worst bit of ground clattering my dodgy knee. I lay on the ground sure I’d smashed my kneecap. After a couple of minutes and several expletives I took a few tentative steps and boy did they hurt. I kept at it and managed to pick up the pace catching a group of runners I’d been tailing for some time.
The rest of the run from Patterdale is the reverse of the start of the race and fairly runnable once you’ve got back up over Boardale Hause. By the time I got to Howtown I knew I was going to better my time of last year and so I did finishing in 8hours and 25minutes. 35 minutes better than 2011. This was down to better running conditions and not better running I might add.
Geoff came in not long after me bettering his time by even more than me. After race food was fantastic loads of home baked cake lots of mugs of tea and very tasty homemade carrot soup.
This is a great event and clearly others agree as the race has doubled in entry numbers since last year. I think it might be a regular for me.
Saltwell 10K, 22nd December
I woke up ready for this race, I'd managed to fend off any bugs, and legs were rested from the hilly Poultry Run the previous week. I arrived at Saltwell fairly early to give time to park, and did intend to have a slow jog to warm myself up, and watch the early race finishing. The weather, however, had different ideas. Rain had arrived, in bucket loads, and it did not look like stopping. It also brought with it a fine wind, which nipped and whipped the face, ears, legs, everything.
I headed straight to the registration, the 50 yard walk from the car was enough to soak me through, and it was proper rain, good old North East weather. Resigned to the fact I couldn't get any wetter, I stood in line, got my number and race chip. I then proceeded to attempt to attach said number and chip, whilst drenched, glasses steamed, in a crowded room with 300 other runners all elbowing for space. But all with raised spirits.
I've ran around Saltwell park many times, but never ran this race. So I was aware of the ups and downs. We were shepherded into a back lane of sorts, like confused sheep, all facing different directions, bouncing up and down trying to keep warm, good friendly banter from all sides. A muffled announcement crackled over a megaphone, and we set off on the 3.5 laps.
I set off far too fast, following the herd as we roller coasted up and down the winding sharp path, by the time we had finished the first lap I had a word with myself and settled into a pace. The rain hammered as we ran, puddles and mud formed obstacles, and we kept swimming. An error with my watch meant I had no idea what time I was on, so I struggled to find my pace, also I had to remove my glasses, so I was essentially running blind. By the end of the 2nd lap I started to feel good, I was running steady, strong and comfortable. The sharp corners and slippery descent from the wet leaves meant you couldn't pick up much speed, and what speed you did have was soon haltered as you hit the hills.
I was aware of shouts and encouragement from fellow Striders as I ran the course, and looked forward to hearing them as I ran each lap. It really made the difference and their voices were very welcome in such dismal conditions.
We undulated for 3 laps, before a final detour took us around the lake, allowing for a sprint finish. A carrier bag containing a miniature whisky & glass was thrust into our hands as we crossed the line. Like good old British we then stood very politely in a queue, in the mud, to collect our race time. I was very happy with my time of 47:54, a PB for me over 10k. A great race to end the year.
Stockton Winter 5K Trail Race, Preston Park, Stockton-on-Tees, 16th December
I have done one of these trail races before and I enjoyed it - it was muddier than some cross country courses I have done. This one was at Preston Park which I hadn't visited before so I had no idea what to expect. Melanie had been before but not to run, so we took a variety of footwear from still wet cross country shoes to trail shoes that might be okay on tarmac.
We met someone we knew from the Quakers in the car park and he thought it might be 80% tarmaced path and the rest muddy trail and this turned out to be about right, though the mud was nowhere near as bad as the cross country yesterday. We were to register at Preston Hall and as we approached we could see runners going round the back and we followed and came to a Beamish style street and registration was in the old tea room :-)
The start was in the overflow car park and rapidly we went into the woods and ran down to the River Tees which we ran alongside. Back into the woods, all lovely, a great route and we were enjoying it. Then about a mile into the race, my phone rang. The only downside of my job at the Castle is that I need to spend some weeks on 24 hour call. In those weeks I need to be within a reasonable distance of home and always carry my phone. By the time I had pulled over and sent Melanie on (it was a lapped course so I knew I could get to her quickly if we needed to leave), the caller had gone to voice mail, which I realised when I called back. I left my own message which was along the lines of if its urgent call me back otherwise, give me 20 minutes please ! The caller phoned back. Luckily, it was something I needed to be aware of but I didn't need to go into work, phew.
So back to racing ! I knew there was no chance of getting back to Melanie, so I concentrated on pulling back some of the runners who had overtaken me. I made some progress and was pleased that I came in with a time just over 30 minutes. We went to the presentation knowing there were lots of spot prizes last time, but we didn't get lucky. We had a good look round and a coffee and mince pie before heading home. They are running this course again on March 3rd and I would recommend it, though sadly we won't be able to do it. The next one in the series is January 13th at Wynyard.
Loftus Poultry Run, 16th December
I decided to do this race because it was on my birthday and fancy dress! I quite liked the idea of the mixed terrain, road and muddy fields, and just wanted to do something different somewhere different.
I went with Kate MacPherson, and we saw Ali, David Brown and David Catterick there, as well as lots of Sunderland Strollers. Many people were dressed up - elves, Christmas Puds (as was I thanks to Denise), Little Miss Muffett, Santas, and we collected race numbers on the day to the sound of Christmas carols by a band. I found my obligatory cup of tea, and we decided what best to wear.
The race started on road, included three hills, and was interspersed with two well muddy fields, where I just laughed as we wondered how to get across them without falling on our butts. They were deeply furrowed fields and your feet just slithered everywhere, caked with extra weight of mud stuck to your shoes! But it was good fun, the sun was shining even if there was a nip in the air, and at times we came across some lovely views looking across to Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
The last 2 miles were back on road, slightly undulating, then a nice downhill finish. One woman overtook us at about 6.5 miles and said we were an inspiration - she had followed me and Little Miss Muffett all that way, and I think she was referring to us running in costume!! Kate and I kept overtaking and falling behind a guy in a yellow hat, who seemed to struggle the last mile or so. We offered for him to stick with us and he did indeed do that and we pretty much all crossed the line together.
I understood that they handed out a small tot of wine to those in fancy dress but must have missed mine. Great poultry prizes for the fastest winners, but the silly refreshments stand ran out of plastic tea cups, had no crisps, and ran out of mince pies. Nonetheless, a very friendly, fun, festive race which was a pleasure to be a part of.
|1||WILES, Andrew||New Marske Harriers||M||0:41:46|
|12||DIXON, Alyson||Sunderland Strollers||F||0:47:45|
Striders in the Medals!
Harrier League, Monkton, 15th December
Mudman & Mudwoman
For the first time in a while representatives of Elvet Striders came away with medals at yesterday's HL fixture in Jarrow. Adam Walker took the gold medal in the U/17 Men's race and Rachel Terry, in only her third race for the club, took the bronze medal in the senior women's. WELL DONE ADAM AND RACHEL!!
Such medals are not easily won and both Adam and Rachel put in brave and determined performances on what was a very muddy course. They were backed up by excellent turnouts from their clubmates in both the men's (16) and women's (15) senior races which saw some excellent individual performances including 'a lifetimes best' by our own Angela Proctor, a strong run and welcome return to the mud by Roz Layton, a solid debut by Michael Terry and a battle royal between James and Tom as they close in on medium pack qualification! But everyone ran their hearts out for the Purple Tide - WELL DONE!
What a day! As I said, the course was muddy but relatively flat and the weather was kind to runners and spectators alike (of which there were many from Striders including Jan, Mike E and his wife, lots of children (Terrys, VDBHs and Waltons) and even two dogs!) The Women's team had its best result so far this season finishing in 5th place, which pulls us out of the relegation zone (just!), whilst the men finished 6th leaving us in a comfortable mid-table position.
Well the HL doesn't reconvene until 9th Feb at Wrekenton but before then we have the Northern X/C Championships down in Knowsley on 26th Jan (watch out for entry details v. soon) and then on the 23rd Feb we have the English National X/C Championships at New Herrington, Sunderland and that's a race you simply have to do!!
|1||MCLEOD, Mark||Elswick Harriers||32:33|
|281||VAN DER BREMER, Marco||42:08|
*M Medium pack - 2m30s handicap.
*F Fast pack - 5m handicap.
|1||YOUNG, Lorna||Heaton Harriers||25:54|
*M Medium pack - 2m handicap.
|1||WALKER, Adam||Elvet Striders||24:45|
Santa's Present Run, North Pennines, 9th December
Ho ho ho Elvet Striders,
A few weeks ago I got a letter from a not-so-little boy who is a member of your club. Here's what it said:
Dear Father Christmas,How could I resist a trip to the snowy North Pennines? But what gift would suit some runners who'd just run the 6 miles over the moors from Edmundbyers? Home made mince pies! I set the elves onto baking some fresh mince pies while I planned a nice 5K run. I certainly wasn't going to break my North Pole parkrun PB - but the trick there is that I use the International Date Line to my advantage. Talk about negative splits, I manage a negative PB every time!
Each summer a wonderful running club from Consett called Blackhill Bounders organise a free race called the Snods 6. They also put on a feast of free food. They always invite my club, Elvet Striders, to come along and enjoy the race, the food and the craic. It's a great evening out and is much appreciated by all Striders. I hope that you can arrange for Blackhill Bounders to get a present this year to thank them for their generosity. And, I have an idea...
Every year a little before Christmas Blackhill Bounders deck a lone tree up near Bolts Law in the North Pennines. It would be great if you could leave a present under the tree for them this year. I've heard that they are decking the tree on the 9th of December this year. I know it's a little early for deliveries and you're probably very busy but if you could do this for me I promise to be a good boy... next year.
As the 9th dawned there had been a little bit of a thaw overnight taking away the snowy beauty but it would certainly make the running a little easier. I parked the sleigh in my usual spot atop one of the old smelting chimneys near Bolts Law. I still love to come down a chimney given half a chance, not enough chimney opportunities these days and these chimneys are magnificent. I made sure to put Donner and Blitzen in charge of parking again this year. The one year I let Rudolph park he spent so much time admiring his own nose we ended up taking the top stones off the chimney, to this day the locals think it was a light aircraft that damaged the chimney - don't tell them Striders!
With the sleigh tethered - the winds up there were quite high - I dropped down the chimney and set out to the lone tree. I left the carefully wrapped pies wedged under the tree - where else! - so I do hope the Bounders found them. Then it was a quick run up Bolts Law, not bad for a chubby old fella, and back round to the sleigh before the Blackhill Bounders turned up. A few minutes later I was back at the North Pole with a hot coffee waiting for me courtesy of the chief Elf.
Merry Christmas Blackhill Bounders!
Merry Christmas Elvet Striders!
Merry Christmas everybody!
Ho ho ho!
Jingle All The Way 8K, Washington DC, 9th December
I was feeling very foolish as I walked through the hotel lobby, dressed in a Santa hat with flashing lights, red T-shirt and bright red knee high socks. Talk about making a fool of yourself! Mary (my wife) and I attracted a fair number of curious stares as we walked to the start of the race which was in central Washington DC. But when we arrived, many runners were in fancy dress. There was the obvious Santa outfits. But more imaginative ones including a team of reindeer tied harnessed together, a christmas present, a snowman, a juggling santa. Everyone was in a light-hearted, party mood. And the Americans sure know how to throw a party/race! There was a loudspeakers pumping music into the air and a DJ psyching the crowd up.
The race started down Pennyslvania Avenue, a broad avenue, the site of victory and presidential parades. For the first mile, it seemed we were running straight towards Capitol Hill. Just before we reached it, the course took us left, past Union Station and then back on ourselves, before heading past the the Federal Building and Space Museum. DC was surprisingly quiet that weekend and the crowd support was sparse. But, what they lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm. The course was flat as a pancake and all it was run completely on road.
Because I started at the back with Mary, I spent most of the race passing Santas and elves! I spent the first 3 miles pushing the pace before taking it a little easier slower in the last couple of miles. The lactic acid was building up! At the finish, I had a final sprint against Santa but alas, he crossed just ahead of me. Well, Santa has to be in good shape to carry all those presents around! My finish time was 40:11. I’d forgotten my Garmin, but If I had known I was just a few seconds off my PB, I would have tried a little harder!! Mary came in a little bit later and I was able to cheer her as she crossed the finish line.
The finish was better than the start with food galore. Bagels, muffins, apples, bananas, brewed coffee and tea. The best post-race food I’d had to date. Maybe that’s why I race, for the food afterwards! We both really enjoyed this race and if you’re ever in DC for Christmas, give this one a go.
Baptism of Mud!!
NE XC Championships, Hartlepool, 8th December
Mudman & Mudwoman
Saturday's NE X/C Champs took place on a very muddy course with lots of ups and downs, ins and outs and 'topped off' off by a stream crossing on every lap! If you weren't there have a look at the videos below and see what you missed! Have a listen for the slop slop of happy runners skipping through the wet mud - it was great!!
I suspect this was a new experience for one or two of our newer Striders who bravely threw themselves into the fray on behalf of their club. Not many Harrier League courses get this muddy and even the Striders tent had to be pitched on what turned out to be a mud wrestling ring! But the twenty-one Striders who turned out to run all (?) had a fantastic time and there were some great performances - with Fiona looking particularly determined as she powered her way through the clarts (I for one wouldn't have wanted to get in her way!)
So, the X/C season is well and truly in top gear with some great fixtures to come - not only the HL and the Northern Champs (to be held at Knowsley) and the fantastic national championships are to be held just a stone's throw from Durham!! Watch this space for details - we can't wait!!
The best course yet, well hosted and marshalled by Hartlepool Burn Road club. Striders' men followed wor Will; no packs, so he was well away.
Our ladies battled valiantly on; slip, slop, slid along an up and down course, ankle deep in unrequiting, glutinous mud, with not even a sneaky patch of clear grass. The mud stuck to fell shoes, glogging up the studs, no grip left.
The stream, big talking point, provided excellent spectator entertainment, despite all staying upright, cameras clicking madly. Some clubs had one shoe runners!
Support on the course was noisy, spectators shouting our club name. Thanks to Simon and Mike E who came along to support. Hope Bill, who had to drop out, gets his calf sorted and Katie returns to fight another day.
Adam had a busy day, marshalling Parkrun, slithering along in the U17's race, then a full shift at Hallgarth Manor until midnight. Oh the energy of youth, but I got the best number and Mudwoman's delight at handing it to me was obvious, pink 60. I'm framing it!
|1||Andrew WILES||New Marske Harriers Club||39m48s|
348 finishers. Men's Team 19th of 30.
|1||Kirsty LEGG||Middlesbrough Athletic Club||33m28s|
121 finishers. Women's Team 15th of 20.
Under 17 Men
|1||Luke CLARKE||Gateshead Harriers||20m22s|
Hampstead Heath parkrun, London, 8th December
It was Saturday, I was in London, it had to be a Parkrun. Last time I visited it was Highbury Fields Parkrun, a five minute walk from my friends front door, but at about 11pm on Friday night I decided I didn't fancy doing 5 laps round same small park (hate getting lapped by the fast men), so had little look on Striders site and saw Danny's report of Hampstead Heath, liked the sound it wasn't flat and on trails, as need hill practice for next Saturdays Harrier League, and I do love the Heath, so was happy to make a 20 minute car journey so I didn't run in circles!
It was a beautiful winter day, bright blue skies and crisp, rather than freezing, as it had been most of week. I managed to park and then set off looking for start, which took me a bit of time. I finally spotted a group of about 60 people preparing to run and made it them just as organisers were making announcements, then we were off. The course itself was great, lots of ups and downs, the Heath being so big it felt we were million miles from Central London and I didn't find it easy, which usually means I am trying, but think the combination of a lot of travel during week and far too much red wine night before, along with the climbs brought me in over 2 minutes slower than my PB, but remember Danny had said the same in his report and I wasnt there to smash PBs, but to blow the cobwebs away. Then head for post-race coffee to the Emporium, which I love but had to dash off so couldn't join them, but will do next time I am down - their coffee and cakes are divine! A real gem of a Park Run and one I will definitely do again on next visit.
Great New Zealand Santa Run, Hagley Park, Christchurch, 5th December
Angela Coates and Paul Pascoe
A major fundraiser for KidsCan, the Santa Run concept is simple – a 2-3km fun run/walk in a Santa suit! Each adult entrant receives a free Santa suit and a goodie bag as part of their entry fee. The goodie bag includes a $30 voucher to spend on Mizuno shoes at the athletes foot. The courses are kept easy so everyone can finish, with minimal training and are highly visible for maximum impact.
We arrived in Hagley Park to pick up our Santa suits, there were a few other people dotted around. 15 minutes later there were around 500 people dressed in Santa suits, what a fantastic sight. After a quick Zumba warm up, 6.30pm came and we set off in 26 degrees heat in very warm felt Santa suits. The race was only 2.7k but in the suits it felt longer. It was a lovely route skirting around the Botanical Garden past lakes. There was a variety of runners/walkers and kids on bikes. I think the first runner came in under 9 minutes but as there was no time keeping no one was bothered.
When Paul and I finished we were treated to sausage and fried onion sarnies all done on the barbie. Prize giving was then done with the first man and women getting vouchers for running shops and then just random prizes i.e. best Zumba warm upper, best dressed pram, best outfits including two storm trooper santas! Paul even won two prizes, just by random but only accepted one - only fair.
There were around 4000 Santa runners across cities throughout New Zealand who all set off at the same time. A fantastic event and would definitely do it again, even in the heat.
Hexhamshire Hobble, Allendale, 2nd December
10.5m / 1,220 CM
I wasn't going to bother. I hadn't run for a while and I had no great desire to drag on a pair of running shoes and head for Allendale. But the weather forecast suggested it could be a fun outing; sunshine and frost. Always an exciting combination for a fell race, and the promise of some wintry glittery landscapes, which are always nice.
Turning up at Allendale Middle School we were flagged, pointed and waved into a parking place. So far, so straightforward. Although there seemed to be a negligable number of toilets. No matter, I jogged down the road to look for some wooded hollow that I remembered from a couple of years back only to discover that someone had built a housing estate on top of it. Back into the school to be registered and a warning look from the lady who advised me that I should have 'something else to put on' when I was out on the fells, over and above my Striders vest. Wise words. In many respects I sometimes feel this sort of fell race can be more dangerous than some of the big in-your-face beasts such as the Grisedale Horseshoe, where it's impossible to start under the brooding Lakeland fells without feeling the teeniest bit mortal. The hobble, on the other hand, looks deceptively tame, and as far as fell races goes, isn't very long, and isn't very hilly. But the devil is in the detail, and the detail is the potential for being caught miles from shelter if the weather turns nasty.
Today however the weather was kind. The organisers, however, were not. Runners who ignored the mandatory kit requirements and clear warnings of disqualification discovered that the organisers walk the walk. Somewhere further back at the tail end of the field I was walking my own walk, up more hills than usual, having proved the hypothesis that if you don't train, you don't go very fast. I'd started the race with Anita and Rich (who didn't seem to know if he was coming or going), then decided to latch on to Dave Shipman. I thought I'd be a smart arse and pass him exactly where I passed him two years ago, getting some matching photos from the same spot. As we got closer to the shadowy dip Dave rather spoilt the plan by getting further away so I kinda gave up on that idea. Soon he disappeared from view entirely.
On the last side of the triangle I really began to feel the miles and contemplated with a sort of detached fascination how quickly one's form erodes away if you don't keep on running. It was good photo weather and I tried to capture a few frosty scenes, glancing back from time to time to see if Rich and Anita were nearby. With no PB pressure I jogged on concentrating on simply putting one foot in front of the other which, in these slippy conditions, wasn't always quite as easy as it sounded.
The finish was in the same playing field as the start and Alister was there to shout the straggling Striders home along with Sara and Murphy. The prize ceremony was indoors, as were the tea and cakes and a extraordinarily long list of spot prizes. As usual, a well organised running of this quirky race that can be very gentle some years and extremely hostile on others. It's this unpredictability that makes it so interesting.
|12||AKRZEWSKI, Joasia||Dumfries Running Club||F||1||1:17:44|
Blyth Sands Handicap, 2nd December
Well the weekend had arrived and I duly trotted down to the Durham Parkrun where I have been regularly over the past year ... only to find that Alister was forced to cancel due to treacherous black ice ... a wise decision which I fully supported as I’d almost landed on my backside three times just getting down there. This left me wondering what to do for my weekend run as I’d been showing some improvement in my parkrun times I felt I had to do something but running on ice has never appealed so I decided to wait a day and postpone until Sunday ... but where would I go ... I had been considering joining the early Sunday Broompark crew but they were away ... MMMMMM, then I saw Conrad's email regarding a run on the sand at Blyth which offered a tempting lift ... the next thing I knew I was on the phone booking a ride having figured that if anywhere was not going to be icy on Sunday then a beach was a good bet. I also knew that left to my own devices I would most likely have delayed getting out running and indulged Small Faces style in a Lazy Sunday Afternoon.
I got to Conrad’s on Sunday morning and met new Elvet member Mike Hughes who knows lots about exotic plants, he informed me this was his first race ... which reminded me that this was my first official race since the London marathon of 2002 if you exclude Parkruns and the club summer handicap. This was my first significant attempt at getting beyond 5K for many a year ... started to feel a tad nervous ...
We arrived in Blyth nice and early an hour before the race start registered without delay or fuss ... all very well organised. We met Dave R and Melanie at registration so I knew that at least two more runners would finish ahead of me. Then off to inspect the course was satisfied to find that there was no ice! The beach was long and flat and we jogged about in the sunshine getting a feel for the conditions ... my impression was that they were pretty good and manageable which was a confidence booster. On the downside was the fact that the race is handicapped by age and gender and that meant that I was to give head start to at least 4 people I knew to be quite a bit quicker than me ... c’est la vie.
The starter got things underway and as I waited for my start time I saw runners become dots on the horizon ... plenty of people to chase.
Once underway I felt pleased that I was doing the run the course was nice and flat and we set out heading north for about three quarters or mile and had to negotiate a large red sluice pipe which is too high to climb over and just low enough to really inconvenience those less supple, a category I firmly place myself in. By now a few people who had set off later started to pass me and it began to dawn on me that running on the beach was harder than I’d anticipated especially as I had run through a few puddles by now ... it’s amazing how much heavier your lightweight running shoes become once they are soaked. Over the next four miles you have to negotiate three big wooden groynes ... each of which were encountered twice, the rest was sand and puddles. On the return leg I took to walking through some of these. In the end I believe I managed to pass only one or two other runners as the results will surely show. However I do recall overtaking an elderly gentleman and a dog with severely arthritic hips in the final half mile.
In conclusion I’d say that running on the sand was tough and energy sapping which was confirmed by Dave at the end of the race.
I would certainly have another go at this race. For me it was a step up from the comfort zone of the Parkrun but I’d still recommend a race like this to anyone else who’s thinking of taking on something more ambitious as even though I finished near the back of the field I remain encouraged by my efforts rather than deflated. One additional bonus is that my very muddy trainers are now exceptionally clean.
|H'cap Pos||Name||Club||Cat||Pos||Actual Time|
|1||PRICE, Chloe||Durham City Harriers||FJ||1||32:02|
|3||BARBOUR, Jamie||Heaton Harriers||MV45||1||28:54|
Lower Hutt parkrun, New Zealand, 1st December
Angela Coates and Paul Pascoe
As soon as we saw New Zealand were setting up a parkrun we knew we had to work our holiday around it. Brilliant we thought, the furthest travelled Striders to do a parkrun. Little did we know Adam's Dad lives in New Zealand at the moment, oh well no worries still a fantastic chance to be a 'parkrun tourist'. We arrived a day too late for the Auckland parkrun so decided to make our way down the country to do Lower Hutt parkrun, which is the first parkrun to be established in NZ anyway. We arrived early at the course and met the race director Kent who is really friendly and gave us a fantastic introduction at the start.
We were off, it's a great course along the Hutt River, a bit up and down in places and headwind on the return journey but scenic and good paths.
Paul did a fantastic run with a new PB and I had a steady run which I was pleased with. 91 runners there today. After the run we had a quick coffee in the Caffiend 36 and a bit of chat to fellow runners.
We would definitely return if we come back to NZ next year and hopefully by then, there will be more parkruns around the country. Worth a visit.