Race Reports, October 2012

The Cumbrian Traverse, Lakes, 29th October

35m / 12,000' / 21 peaks

David Gibson

The Cumbrian Traverse is an ultra distance challenge ranging over some 35 miles and 12,000 feet of ascent, hitting 21 peaks starting in Broughton Mills and finishing at Keswick.

Travelling across with Tom and his family we were met by heavy rain and chilly conditions as we parked up in Keswick for a changeover of cars. As we travelled to Coniston to the Youth Hostel we were staying at, Tom and I were already considering alternative running routes for the following day. Comforted by sausage and mash, burgers and the Ginger Beard Ginger Ale (oh yes) we agreed that we would review the situation early morning.

Atmospheric or what ... ? After a 5.30 breakfast - and thanks to Joan for transporting us - we arrived at Broughton Mill Village Hall for a 6.45 start. The weather conditions had cleared and it stayed that way for the remainder of the day. Tom had done all the homework on routes and bearings (note to self: do a navigation course!) and we set off for our first peak: Great Stickle. Great views on the top and only 20 to go. We pushed on but running conditions were not great underfoot and I had a few 'Bambi on Ice' moments.

Fuelling is key on such events in preserving energy. The secret? Well, I don't want to be guilty of indirect marketing, but Ginsters' Beef Slices could well be the secret ingredient for future long distance running champions. I am not sure whether Mo Farah subscribes to this view - but he is missing a trick. Unfortunately, I also missed that trick and a combo of jelly babies and sausage roll just didn't do it for me. I am sure we have all experienced that moment when you look at the next door neighbours plate and think 'wish I had ordered that' and seeing Tom demolishing his Ginster was one such moment.

Pie-loading on Cold Pike. By 16-17 miles I was flagging and holding Tom back but we pushed on. Some cloud covering the tops but on the whole some great views. Some scrambling down greasy rocks slowed us (me) down and the sight of a seven year old in wellies flying past me did not do much for my confidence.

And then we hit Great Gable or rather it hit me. A long hard slog to the top seemed to last longer than a trip to the dentists. However that was peak 15 so nearly there. Honister Pass was reached with still some daylight peaking through and then another long slog to Dale Head Tarn and High Spy. Maiden Moor was bagged in the dark and with head-torches on we managed to get running and moved along to Cat Bells. Carefully down and onto the tarmac, we agreed that fish and chips were well in order and they were dispatched with speed in the car.

It took us a very pedestrian 13 hours and I am sure Tom would rattle at least a few hours or so off that. For me it was tough and a reminder of how fell fit you must be in tackling such terrain. On saying that it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would recommend the route to those seeking something a little different to organised events. The real joy was just pitching up and meeting the challenges as they came.

Newcastle Town Moor Marathon, 28th October

Greta Jones

I uttered the immortal words last May after the Sunderland Marathon, you know the ones, I am never running another marathon again. How then did I find myself on Newcastle's Town Moor doing another one and on my birthday to boot. The blame as always lies squarely on the shoulders of our illustrious ladies captain, Sue Jennings, who persuaded John G and me that it would be so much easier than Sunderland.

The grand plan was to develop a train as we did for Sunderland, and try and hold 10.30 minute pace for as long as we could. However as with all plans it started to go awry during our preparations and run up to the big day. Sue was struck down with Gastric problems, Angela was given the opportunity to have a prolonged holiday during October which impacted on her training, however the remaining train members Bill Ford, John G and I appeared to be doing OK.

We set off with a mixture of optimism and doubt, but arrived with plenty of time to spare. We met up with John Hutch in the car park and walked to the registration desk where we were eventually joined by Maggie and Andrew Thompson and Anna Seely and Dave Robson.

Teamwork! The arrival of the fabulous Striders cheering squad allowed some light hearted relief as from a distance we watched them putting up the tent. Jacquie and Alister were joined by Jill Ford, Louise Barrow and Victoria Tindale and her partner Chris. They had come prepared with jelly babies and all things a tired runner may need to finish a marathon. When Alister pulled out his megaphone we knew that the running Striders were in for some serious support. Andrew, Anna, John H, Dave, Bill, John G, Maggie, Angela Sue and myself, all headed for the start, and before we knew it we were off on the first lap. Andrew, Anna, John H and Maggie were all running their own races but the rest of us stuck to the plan of the 10.30 train despite this meaning that we were almost last for the first lap.

The Town Moor was quite muddy in places from the previous days hail and rain but on the whole the weather stayed dry so we could not ask for much more. We finished the first lap on time and were doing quite well until 6 miles, when Sue realised that she would be unable to continue, the weeks of gastric problems leading up to the race had left her weaker than she thought. She was going to be a big miss as she was our pacer, but the remaining train soldiered on. The second lap flew by and it was lovely to see our lovely Strider supporters, at the ready and trying to anticipate our needs. Alister had pre-recorded a message on his megaphone, and used it well, (thank you Emma Detchon) with good effect.

By the third lap Angela was struggling, the lack of training taking its toll, she retired at 15 miles, still a seriously good effort from her. The train was now reduced to me, Bill and John for the fourth lap as Dave had upped the pace and left the train. I looked back and found that Bill had pulled over feeling nauseous and dizzy; he also decided wisely not to complete the marathon. John G shouted "that's it we are on our own now". John was also struggling at this point with a groin injury but kept running he was off the pace so I decided to continue to try and keep the 10.30 pace. I soon caught Dave up, and he and I finished the 4th lap passing John H on the way who was having trouble with his back he had also decided not to finish. At the end of the 4th lap I was treated to a superb rendition of Happy Birthday and a handful of jelly babies. The Striders cheering squad had now been joined by Lindsay and Peter Brooks a welcome addition to the team.

I was optimistic that Dave and I could run the last lap together; however he also appeared to be tiring, so I found myself running alone and expecting to hit the wall at any time, only it never came, I felt surprisingly good. I was also never alone for long the marshals were outstanding, not only encouraging every runner but providing much needed goodies to those in need.

Spot the Strider. I managed to catch a few runners on the last lap and by the time I reached the tennis courts prior to the finish I could hear that Striders megaphone and as I rounded the corner I was greeted by another rendition of Happy Birthday, the incredible support allowed me put in a bit of a sprint and I managed to complete the Town Moor marathon in 4 hours 35 minutes by my Garmin, the official time adds 4 seconds to that. So not bad, 15 minutes off my previous marathon time. I was also delighted to be able to cheer in John G who also managed to wipe off a massive 20 minutes from his previous marathon time.

On completion it was back to the tent for cakes and goodies, and it was lovely to see the Striders cheering squad cheering in every single runner no matter their affiliation. One or two managed to come over and convey their thanks to the cheering squad in person, others put it on the facebook page. Now if that does not make you proud to be a Strider, nothing will.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Steve Middleton Thirsk & Sowerby HarriersMV35 1 2.54.34
13Ann Hood UK Netrunner F 1 3.14.51
51Andrew Thompson M 3.58.50
57Anna Seeley F 4.06.38
79Greta Jones FV45 4.35.04
84Dave Robson MV60 4.43.44
85John Greathead M 4.47.20
92Margaret Thompson FV60 5.18.28

94 finishers.

Jedburgh Half Marathon, Borders, 28th October

Melanie Hudson

I wasn't feeling very fast at the moment as the most I had ran since my last operation was 13 miles at a very slow pace. So I went into Jedburgh thinking I would be happy if I could come in at just under two hours.

I don't know if it was due to eating a lot of cake the day before or having the extra hour in bed because of the clocks going back but I set off feeling pretty strong.

The first two miles were fairly undulating but I managed to go at a faster pace then planned. Looking at my watch I was averaging 8 minute miles, hmmm too quick. As I started to think about backing off when another runner started chatting to me and he dragged me along at that pace for another mile. In the end I had to say I was going to drop back a little as I didn't think I could maintain this pace. However a faster runner then goes past me and drops her headband, I pick it up and start shouting at her but she cannot hear me because she is listening to her MP3 player. She is faster then me and it took me a whole mile to actually catch her. So another mile faster then planned. Having now done four miles at this quicker then planned pace I decided I might as well continue. At half way point I looked at my watch only to realise if I could maintain this pace I would smash my PB, at the same time I haven't really ran fast for a while and was wondering if I would just run out of steam at some point. I did start to feel it at mile eight but I was over half way now and I had that PB in my head. Mile 10-11 was really tough, it was just one continuous drag uphill into the wind, not a huge hill but by this point I was getting tired and the hill wasn't helping. Mile 11-12 was downhill and felt much better. The last mile was just will power to keep going and to not slow down as I knew I was so close now and would not kick myself after if I slacked off at this point.

I crossed the line in just under 1 hour 49, 6 minutes knocked off my half marathon PB, it was a total surprise as I had not set out that morning to go for a PB or thought I was fit enough.

Megan also did this race however I did not see her.

I wasn't sure I would like the course too much since its all on road. However a lot of it was on single track country lanes which looked lovely in the autumn colours. All but the last mile and a half (which was on pavement) were on roads that had been closed so it was nice not having traffic noise or fumes or cars to dodge. So overall I thought it was a nice course. It was also very well marshaled and each mile was marked with clear signs.

Guisborough Three Tops, North Yorks Moors, 28th October

9M / 1800'

Aaron Gourlay ...

In many years to come, in the home for knackered runners I’ll be sat in my wheelchair, knees shot to pieces, regaling tales of former glories ...

"Bloody tough were them races organised by Esk Valley Fell Club."

"Great races they were, though. Guisborough 3 Tops was a particularly special race."

Mike at the trig point.

"Six of us were there that day. 28th October 2012 it was. Jan, Shaun, Mike, Phil, Barbara and me. The usual suspects, you know."

"A beautifully scenic run it was. Through woodland of pines and larches with extensive patches of broadleaves which were an explosion of autumnal colour."

"October’s a fantastic month for trail running; you should give it a go."

"Off you went up a steep climb that brought you out onto the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors at Highcliff Nab with its views north over Teesside and Co. Durham and the coast overlooking the North Sea. Fantastic it was. Not many races give you views like that!"

"But we were heading west following the Cleveland Way which led to the real jewel in the crown of this race; Roseberry Topping. My favourite place, you know."

"Bloody tough going up. Stands at 1,049ft! No time to hang around enjoying the panorama though, this was a race and I’d spotted Shaun heading back in the opposite direction."

"Faster than me by a long way, he was. How am I this close to him today? Either I’m running very well or he’s chilling out, I thought?" [Small matter of Saturday's cross-country, perhaps?? And/or you were running very well ... Ed.]

"Coming down, well depending on your bottle, and choice of footwear, it was either on your feet or on your backside."

"Screams of fear tinged with joy could be heard here."

The civilised way to get round a fell race ...

"Next stop, Hanging Stone. Bloody tough getting there, it was."

"Did I mention the mud? Energy sapping, shoe stealing mud all the way, but that’s to be expected in those parts."

"3 miles to go and one more check point at Gisborough Moor trig point then a bloody good downhill run back to the finish."

"Tired me out getting to that trig point it did. Shaun left me for dead up there."

"Did I mention the mud? Esk Valley were good at organising races that involved mud."

"Thought I’d turn a corner that stepped back to the First World War. That steep downhill was more reminiscent of the Somme than Teesside!"

"Great fun though, and once you crossed the finish line there was a nice little stream to wash the mud off yourself."

"Aye, those were the days. Marvellous!"

... and Barbara Dick:

Fell Running: A Beginners’ Perspective

After an ignominious start to my fell running career (coming last in the Roseberry Topping race), Jan’s breezy invitation to the Guisborough Three Tops on Sunday presented an irresistible challenge. Buoyed by her infectious enthusiasm, I signed up, and during Track training last Wednesday I could still hear her beguiling fellow runners to take part: "It’s great fun" (true); "It won’t be that muddy" (FALSE!!); "It makes you stronger, physically and mentally" (we’ll see).

Meeting at Guisborough rugby club, a civilised venue with real toilets, we began the race with a steady climb to the fells. Everyone looked intimidatingly fit, with many a sinewy leg and finely-turned calf on display. Jan and Phil pointed out the ultra runner Sharon Gayter at the starting line, but who could have predicted it, turns out she had nothing to fear from me.

For those transitioning from cross-country to fell running, the difference is marked (unlike most of the course, hmph) during the first half hour, which was a slog upwards through the forest on mud trails and gravel roads to get to the tops. At this point, I noticed one other person walking the hill behind me. This was Sue from Quakers, who proved to be an excellent companion for the rest of the race, although she shares with me a faulty navigational gene (no doubt from a common ancestor who had to be guided all the way from the Rift Valley to the north-east by faster, fitter cavemen).

It all began to go wrong (we think) when we reached the tree line and started for the Cleveland Way, nearly missing the first checkpoint on the cliff in the opposite direction (the only one we managed to find people at during the entire race). We then headed off along the Cleveland Way, a path of broad paving slabs set in bog beside a stone wall separating the farmland from the heather, and eventually found our way back to some other runners, including a speedy Mike B, who was belting along in the opposite direction, having already conquered the first Top. We found our way up Roseberry on the stone path and literally skidded on our backsides down the mud trail on the other side, crunching through bracken before turning back into the forest towards the fabled Hanging Stone ...

We still have no idea where it is, but no matter. After heading off in the wrong direction again and retracing our steps (walking grimly up a long hill we had just gleefully run down) we made our way back to the top of the tree line and onto the Cleveland Way, WHICH WAS A STREAM. Half an hour of squelching later, though past the official finishing time of 2 hours, we decided to push on for the last checkpoint, a small cairn standing amid a sea of heather on the north side of the moor. The sleet had begun by this stage, but we were still warm enough to carry on, and were rewarded by a close-up view of a grouse sitting on a wall. It looked just like the one in the Famous whisky ads, but it didn’t do the walk. Tearing back down through the forest, as the last runners we found the mud trail clartier than ever as we made a final dash back to the rugby club for a very welcome cup of strong tea. We finished in a shameful 2 hours and 45 minutes (and that may be generous). The other Striders all finished in very respectable times!

The moral of the story is that fell running is a big step up from normal cross-country. Sue’s Garmin showed we had run 10 miles, not 8, owing to our terrible navigation skills. [Well, we all did nine miles, so you weren't too far out! Ed.] We were lucky that there were enough mountain bikers, walkers and other runners on the tops that day to keep us going in the right direction, and glad that we had observed the rules for full body cover (unlike the experienced fell runners who happily did the whole thing in vests and shorts!).

Personally, I felt that the course could have benefited from more evenly spaced marking – quite often we would see several fluttering bits of tape within metres of each other, and then go several miles without seeing any. To be fair though, this is made abundantly clear on the website, which states that the course is Partially Marked, Local Knowledge is advantageous and Navigational Skills Required - obviously the norm for the sport.

The only solution, apart from prior familiarity with the course, seems to be to run faster up the hills and keep up with the pack! On this race, both Sue and I felt that we were cross-country runners pretending to be fell runners, but it was still an enjoyable experience, the cold, overcast weather was perfect for a 2 - 3 hour run, and it is always exhilarating to be up on the moors ("Heathcliff!" "Cathy!"). Strongly recommended, with the above caveats.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Cameron Taylor Esk Valley Fell ClubMJ 1 1:05:45
28Kay Neesam New Marske HarriersFV45 1 1:18:36
45Mike Bennett MV55 2 1:23:56
75Shaun Roberts MV55 7 1:34:11
79Aaron Gourlay M 20 1:34:56
116Phil Owen MV45 18 1:48:44
117Jan Young FV60 1 1:49:55
137Barbara Dick FV40 9 2:45:00

138 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Record Fields at the Harrier League!

Harrier League, Cramlington, 27th October

Mudman & Mudwoman

The first post-Olympics Harrier League fixture saw massive fields in both the senior women's race (179) and senior men's (425). I suspect that both of these are record turnouts! Striders contributed both old and new faces with 15 women and 16 men plus Adam in the U17s. We had a number of debutants including 3 women (Rachel Terry, Megan Bell and Jill Ford) and Paul Hove for the men, all of whom seemed to have an enjoyable time out on the very muddy course!

Once more into the shit ... Rachel Terry had a particularly fine debut leading the women's team home in her brand new trail shoes. Tom Reeves seems to be coming into some form (about time I hear you cry!) and he led the Striders' men from start to finish skipping over the mud like a ... mud skipper?! Adam had a fine run too finishing 9th U17 which should see him promoted to the fast pack for the next fixture at Blaydon. Although it was muddy underfoot, the weather was kind - nice and sunny and no showers! This made spectating quite enjoyable and all our girls and boys were cheered round by their clubmates and families (and dogs - although Dave's pup chose to have a snooze in the tent instead!)

Big fields mean big competition and it's going to be a tough year for Striders to maintain their positions in the 1st Division (women) and 2nd Division (men) - so we need even bigger turn outs if we're going to be as successful as previous seasons. So go on - give it a try - it's makes for a grand day out! See you all at Blaydon in three weeks time!


1 JOHNSON, Calum Gateshead Harriers 32:51
85 REEVES, Thomas 39:49
110 CLAYDON, Matt 40:17
131 GIBSON, David 40:42
204 HORSLEY, Will *M 42:11
211 LLOYD, Jerry *M 42:30
221 GARDNER, Simon 42:49
226 WALTON, Graeme 42:57
241 BENNETT, Michael 43:20
284 ROBERTS, Shaun 45:08
331 VAN DER BREMER, Marco 46:55
356 ROBSON, Alistair 48:06
364 HOCKIN, Richard 48:28
382 HOVE, Paul 49:34
387 SELBY, David 49:48
416 HUTCHISON, John 54:18
422 OWEN, Phil 56:23

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

425 finishers.

Spot the Striders.
1 DARGIE, Alison Elswick Harriers 28:29
28 TERRY, Rachel 30:56
70 DAVIS, Susan 33:09
73 PERCIVAL, Jules 33:26
79 BARLOW, Stef 33:40
90 WALTON, Katy 34:17
109 YOUNG, Jan 35:26
111 BELL, Megan 35:33
139 PRESTON, Katherine 37:32
149 TINDALE, Victoria 38:37
150 DICK, Barbara 38:42
157 VDBH, Nicola 39:23
159 MILLER, Louise 39:25
164 BULLOCK, Rachel 40:16
169 FORD, Jill 41:13
174 ROBSON, Jacqui 42:55

179 finishers.

RAF Spadeadam Border Reivers Half-marathon, nr Gilsland, 24th October

Karen Chalkley

Seven Striders ventured over to RAF Spadeadam for their half marathon in 2 cars on Wednesday, George, Emma, Barrie(who wasn’t running but came to support) and me in one and Alister, Phil and Kevin in the other. We left behind the miserable weather in Durham and arrived at a brighter Spadeadam. Due to high security we had to take our passports to get into the grounds and show these at the gates. George, Emma and I showed ours, had our names ticked off the list and were given our passes, Barry was whisked off to the office as he would be staying at the base and had to have his photo added to his pass. We drove off to park the car feeling slightly guilty that we had left Barry behind, but George assured us Barry would be ok and knew the way to go! Which he did.

Lose hope all ye who enter here ... We met up with the other car load of striders in the gymnasium and also Steve Maxwell from Blackhill Bounders. There didn’t seem to be as many other entrants as last year collecting their numbers but the atmosphere was good and I was looking forward to the run. Last years’ results were up for us to check at last! I now knew what I had to aim for though thought I stood no chance of beating my time as I’d been much fitter this time last year.

The route is rather undulating to say the least, and yet here I was again and I don’t like hills! But off we went, uphill at the start followed by more uphill all along. Of course there were downhill bits too but the first half was definitely harder than the second. Having since looked at Alister’s Garmin results no wonder I felt tired by mile 6 but then found it easier after mile 8! (The route is uphill till mile 8 then downhill!) Although the route was the same as last year the scenery had changed as lots of forest had been felled opening up the views making it feel like a different run altogether. I had George and Phil in my sights for the first 5 miles until they disappeared altogether. The miles seemed to pass quickly even if I had to resort to walking a bit up some of the steeper bits!

I thoroughly enjoyed the downhill run to the finish where it was lovely being cheered on by fellow Striders and others too. I had even beaten last years’ time by 3 minutes. Everyone was pleased with their results and so were in a good mood to enjoy the lovely food kindly supplied free. Cheap drinks from the bar too made the day even better. The Striders were the last to leave and make their way home. Is this the norm where food and drink are concerned?! I must socialise more often I think!

A thoroughly enjoyable run with good company, worth taking the day off work for, and one I will definitely do again next year, even with the hills!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Athersmith L Leeming M 1.16:52
16 Robson A MV 1.40:49
29 Williams K M 1.52:45
32 Black S F 1 1.55:55
36 Owen P MV 1.58:15
38 Nicholson G MV 1.58:33
44 Chalkley K FV 2.06:46
48 Detchon E F 2.15:56

61 finishers.

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

Gibside Trail Race, 21st October


Katy Walton

This race was to be my first trail race, I did not know what to expect, I pictured mountains with steep inclines, adding the distance on top, this would certainly offer itself as a challenge.

Graeme and I (with my brand new lovely purple trail shoes) set off to pick up Matt, Alistar and Anna from Durham as we were car sharing, this was a great idea as being a new member of the Striders I got to meet more members.

We pulled up at Gibside as 8.25, the morning was a bit nippy at 4 degrees but the tantalising glow of the cafe lights pulled us out of the car, we had an hour to kill. On reaching the door to find it closed a waitress popped her head out of the door informing us freezing five that it would not open until 9.15am, disappointment from us all was apparent. We took a walk around finding a map of the course which gave runners an idea of what to expect where the hills were, on looking at the map I started to psychologically prepare myself for the run and that although there were hills four of them there were also a few of down hill sections to recover.

Posing in the sun ... As time pushed on the number of Striders appearing grew, it was certainly a good turn out for this crisp October morning and fellow Striders were all in good spirits about this race. Good advice from Richard was to just enjoy it, so that was my race plan, enjoy and get to the end.

At the start line Anna was just to my left I decided to stick with her as my pacer and we were off, on a steady flat bit leading to a decline this was not so bad I found my self starting to get a bit quicker which was soon interrupted by a steady incline which turned into a mega climb. Now in line with Alister he advised me to take it easy on the hills as the downhill will make up for the time lost. Alister soon faded into the distance, the hill was extremely challenging, Anna suddenly ran past me looking strong. A much welcome downhill was here I felt confident in my lovely new purple trail shoes, grips so fantastic, I ran past Anna, this gave me a surge of adrenaline which led me to a lovely small winding path at two miles which then lead to another hill, and like the previous hill Anna passed me, I let out a weak "hi" she smiled as to say got you again. The next couple of miles were slightly easier so the whole time I decided to just run as fast as my legs could take me, over taking a number of people including Anna and taking in the gorgeous colours that the surrounding woodland had to offer. Just before I hit the river bank at five miles there was a group of people cheering and clapping at all of the runners. As I took big strides along the bank of the River Derwent I knew the muddy hill would soon be upon me. To my left the path wound and I could see runners high up slowing, walking, beaten by the ridiculous mud wall, I couldn't let this beat me as Anna surely would over take me, as I ran and then walked (walking was by far the faster method on this hill) I was bent forward using my hands on my thighs to give me extra strength, I heard a marshal shout come on your at the top so I ran, it hurt but I ran and around the corner I followed the track. I could see the finish just in front of the famous chapel, a pat on the shoulder from a crook member saying keep going urged me on, the bellows of fellow Striders already finished gave me so much energy I sprinted to the finish.

I had done it, first trail race over, what a fantastic feeling. It was hard but the fantastic buzz of being a part of a club has changed my attitude towards my running. I watched the finishing Striders come through the finishing line, cheering them. A photo was taken and a cuppa and cake in the cafe with fellow striders topped the morning off. This run was not a daunting as I expected, the winding paths, elegant buildings and ruins, hills and mud made this race a must do for any runner wanting a different challenge.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Phillip Sanderson Elswick Harriers MV40 35.41
13 Lorna Young Heaton Harriers F 1 38.04
29 Jerry Lloyd MV40 40.00
32 Matt Claydon M 40.18
64 Graeme Walton MV40 42.25
74 Mike Bennett MV50 43.42
100 Alister Robson MV40 45.22
112 David Catterick MV50 45.54
125 Richard Hall MV50 46.33
142 Andrew Thompson M 47.29
181 Katy Walton F 49.11
188?Anna Seeley F 49.31
198 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV45 49.51
215 Dougie Nisbet MV40 50.46
216 John Hutchinson MV50 50.47
225 Paul Beal MV40 51.17
230 Stef Barlow FV35 51.39
237 Carolyn Bray FV35 51.49
252 Jan Young FV55 52.35
262 Jean Bradley FV55 53.02
268 Alan Smith MV60 53.24
277 Juliet Percival FV35 53.58
301 Melanie Hudson F 55.28
302 Dave Robson MV60 55.33
340 Rachael Bullock F 57.55
348 Anita Clementson FV35 58.21
396 Margaret Thompson FV55 64.48
408 Jim Nicholson MV60 70.38

413 finishers.

Durham Tri Club Duathlon, High Shincliffe, 21st October

Run 2M, Bike 11M, Run 2M

Phil Owen

More of a guide for beginners than a race report.

Those aware of the saga of breaking my foot four times in the last 3 years know I limit my running and try and cross train a lot more nowadays. So with that in mind, after the two previous days 10 milers through the mud of Croxdale woods instead of another run I opted for the monthly winter duathlon run by Durham Tri Club. I've done Durham Triathlon Club's monthly duathlon once before and thoroughly enjoyed it. The idea is to give you a taste of TRI race conditions but in a more informal manner and of course have a great workout. The start and finish is in Shincliffe. For those that know the area , as you go up Strawberry Bank from Maiden Castle direction ,just near the top of the hill on the left is a small section of road that I assume was once the turning for the village but is now blocked off by large railway sleepers and the new tuning is now just past them. This gives a brilliant small section of road free of traffic that Durham Tri use as the transition (the area you leave your bike in).

Parked my bike in said transition and went see Ian (who incidentally is one of the swimming coaches at Wolsingham Tri swimming on a Friday evening, £3 member, £4 non-members). I paid my £4 (if I'd pre-registered it would have been £3) and went over to see Geoff Watson to register and get my handicap time. The last time I did this I hadn't done it before so they just took my 10K time and worked it out form that. On that occasion I started with Peter Brooks and we finished within a minute of each other so when Geoff gave me a fairly lenient handicap time I questioned it and he double checked with Peter's time and said it was OK.

Each time this is run the rules are explained very carefully. It will be run under race conditions but instead of a time penalty for say dismounting beyond the transition line they would just give you a shout. It’s a great way to make you remember race condition rules. And to be fair the rules are very simple. You don’t mount your bike till you are over the transition line (white tape) and when coming in you dismount before the transition line. Add to that that you put your helmet on (no helmet no race!) before you take you bike (most folk leave it on the seat or handle bars just to remind themselves) then that’s more or less it.

Quick go over the run and bike courses (see attached links) and we are set to go off in our handicap. I’m off at 1:40. It’s some qualifier for Durham Uni Tri club so today we have lots of young fit types on nice bikes in the field but also we have plenty of old codgers like me and Shaun our webmaster (sorry Mr Webby) and plenty on mountain bikes and cross bikes.

Only five off before me and I soon catch four of them on the first loop of the figure of eight 3.2K run (up past the Avenue pub, bear right, back to main road and back to the start. The other starter ahead of me isn't in sight at I start the second loop (again past the pub but bear left and just follow the main road (and path) around the perimeter of the housing estate).

I caught the next person just before we I came back to transition and loudly shouted my number out to the marshals as you are told to. Into transition, helmet on first and wheel the bike out past the white line. The 18.3K bike course again is fairly easy to follow. Past the pub and bear right to the main road, left down to the garage and turn left into the estate before the traffic lights. Left at the junction and over the motorway bridge till you come to a roundabout. This is where you can really pick up speed as it’s a well-surfaced wide road. This is also the place you can see who's after you or preferably who you are after. After the circuit of the roundabouts it’s a left turn that brings you out at the lights near Maiden Castle fields or the bottom of Strawberry Bank. Up the bank and back in to transition remembering to dismount first. Then it’s simply the same 3.2K run again.

It's not a problem I usually have having no one to chase. I had been expecting some young Durham Tri lad or lass to sail past me at any time for a while now and to be truthful would have been glad of it. After the first circuit I spotted a Durham Tri lad (who I had a 20 minute start on) who looked like he was flying and at last had some reason to push on determined he would not catch me. Managed to hang on and flopped to the ground exhausted. A great run out. Shaun was in soon after and a full 6 minutes quicker than me (2 minutes quicker each run and about the same on the bike) which gives me something to work towards. That said I was four minutes slower than last time which I put down to having no one to chase and maybe the trail miles the previous days in my legs (excuses, excuses). This is a great cheap workout/race and cross train whether you are interested in Tri and a great way to test your fitness over the winter. Come and give it a go. Maybe Elvet Wheelers might be interested -with a pub lunch after of course ;-)

Next one, 18th of November and every third Sunday.

BMF Major Series North, nr. Leeds, 21st October


Kevin Williams

Let me start by going back seven days. Newcastle Stampede was a new race for me, but I kind of knew what to expect because I ran the BMF Major Series North in March of this year. So with the experience of one adventure race locked away in my memory I really enjoyed the Stampede, mud, water, hay bales, hay bales, hay bales! tyres, tunnels, the works, cracking stuff. It had problems last year, but the organisers listened to the complaints and feedback, bashed their collective heads together, asked plenty of questions of people who had taken part in similar events and made sure that Stampede 2012 was a brilliant day out. I’ve kept an eye on its Facebook page and it’s clear everybody had an experience they won’t forget for a while; I think next years will be very popular.

So after giving myself a few days off to recover I started to look ahead to my next race, BMF Major Series North. I took it easy at parkrun on Saturday and was up early on Sunday for the drive down to Bramham. Aim for the day, get in the first wave and have a crack at finishing as high as we could. So we arrived nice and early and lined up right at the front of the warm up box to make sure we were going to be in the first wave of 250 runners. As it happens I think the first wave was probably at least 400, but no worries. The Major differs to the Stampede by having more running in it, both are similar distances, the Major says its 10-12k, and it’s definitely closer to 12. At Stampede there are more smaller obstacles to break the running up, at Major you do get a couple of km’s of nothing but trailing running, which is where you can really crack on and get into a rhythm.

Bramham park has more hills, which act as natural obstacles, I still don’t know how anybody can get round the course wearing normal trainers, the mud and inclines tested my trail shows to their limits. Despite being misty the weather stayed dry and the first half of the race saw us making cracking progress, obstacles were dispatched with relative ease, I guessed the half-way point as there was no distance markers out, the second half saw our pace drop as we caught up with the 5k race which started 20 minutes after the main race but used the second half of the same route, so more obstacles! The mud got deeper, the water got colder and killer hill was walked up. In the last km is for me the best part, the water slide, smelling of lovely mint this year as the water was mixed in with washing up liquid, another couple of cargo nets, one with barbed wire, and then the last sprint up the final hill and round to the start/finish line. Time spent on course, 1:21:56, finishing position 159th out of 944.

The Major was not without its problems, getting onto the site was a problem for some, we got in very early, but as we were starting there were still cars arriving. I don’t think there is anything to organisers can do on this one; perhaps warn people of how long getting in can take. The ‘goody’ bag was poor, a banana, a chomp, a medal and a normal t-shirt. Apparently for later finishers they ran out of large and then medium t-shirts. These are relatively easy things to fix though, if the organisers have the desire to do so. What they have got spot on is the venue, the course and the organisation. Would I recommend it, of course I would, it’s a great way to test yourself or just have a good laugh with your friends and like-minded strangers.

Stewart Park parkrun, Middlesbrough, 20th October


Dave Robson

Stewart Park is famous because it used to contain the cottage where Captain Cook was born. The cottage is now long gone, but apparently a pink granite urn marks the approximate spot. We missed seeing that, but we couldn't miss the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum which is right next to the start of the parkrun. Next to the museum is an attractive stone portico which is all that remains of Marton Hall a rather grand building, which dominated the park. The Hall was burnt down by fire as it was being demolished in 1959.

There is a large car park and on the way to the start you pass the pets corner which contains some friendly llamas and goats. There were some highland cattle and pheasants too, but they weren't interested in coming over and saying hello.

The route itself is basically two laps with a start just inside the main loop and the finish a bit further outside the loop (more of this later). The loop itself is mainly on tarmac paths, sometimes in open ground and other times it twists and undulates through some lovely woods. The autumn colours made the many woods and trees very attractive today. There is also a short section on bark path. This was a bit like running on a trampoline, it was very soft indeed and in one or two places it was just pure mud. Luckily there is plenty of firm grass on either side.

We started slowly and the plan was to take it slowly all the way round. At 2m it looked like we were on for about 27min or so, which is about par for our easy parkruns. However, I must have miscalculated. It did feel that we were going a bit faster, but I didn't notice the K markers which Melanie pointed out later were painted on the tarmac. Hence once we got to the top of the hills in the woods, I noticed that 23min had elapsed. That seemed a bit fast and Melanie said afterwards that I speeded up at this point. We sped down to the map of the world, which is bit like a flat roundabout, which signifies that you turn off the main loop to the finish. The finish was a bit further off the main loop than I expected, but we went through the finish at 25min 45sec, a bit too fast considering we are facing the hills of Gibside tomorrow....

So that is our tour of North East parkruns complete for the time being. In my view the most attractive route is Hardwick Park, Sedgefield, closely followed by Whitley Bay, Redcar and the Tees Barrage. Albert Park, Middlesbrough is probably the fastest with Newcastle not far behind. We are looking forward to the next crop of new parkruns:-)

Stampede, Newcastle racecourse, 14th October


Jerry Lloyd

I’ve not done one of these wet, muddy assault course type events before, but always fancied having a go (thoughts of the assault course in that wonderful 80s quiz The Krypton Factor came to mind!), so when a number became available I snapped it up! Well I wasn’t disappointed, it was certainly wet and certainly muddy, even got to use my triathlon swimming skills briefly! So I turned up on Sunday morning in glorious sunshine at Newcastle Racecourse for the event and was immediately rather surprised by the number of people – over 1000 entrants.

Once more into the sh*t ... We all picked up our bright red British Heart Foundation T-shirt (making it rather difficult to spot anyone you know – and also adding significant additional weight once wet and muddy!), then headed out for the pre-race warm-up provided by the Marines. We were soon on our way and I quickly recognised Pete Mason (another Durham Tri member) a few yards in front. The first few km were pretty flat spreading the field out a bit, then we headed into the woods where the fun began.

The course eases you in gently with a few hay bales to jump/clamber over, then the first waist (or chest depending how tall you are) deep pond to struggle through – did think about swimming, but decided it was probably easier to plough through the muddy water on my feet. This was followed by the first half buried muddy pipe to crawl through. Then a fun waterslide down a plastic sheet coated hillside – I wasn’t quite sure how to do this one, but the helpful marine on hand just shouted ‘head first on your belly’ – I obeyed (the easiest part of the race!). Pete obviously took a running dive at it and flew past me - triathlon swimming training came to the fore and I grabbed hold of his ankle! A few more hay bales then a few km through the woods – classic cross-country fare. Pete and myself were pushing pretty hard on this section and were pretty near the front by this point (helped by a group in front of us going the wrong way through a gap in the tape marking the route!).

We then came to another friendly smiling marine giving instructions – ‘Just turn right here and along the ditch’ – about 100 yards of waist deep water with 6 inches of mud to get through. Crawling out the other end and trying to get up and run again - legs were starting to feel very heavy – I was starting to regret the mountain biking the day before! A few more km through the woods and we were getting towards the last few km – obstacles came thick and fast – hay bales, rubber tyres, skips full of water and mud to get through, then series of pipes ¾ below muddy water. The hard part was trying to get out of the 4 foot deep muddy pond after each pipe – fingers clawing at the mud, knees, belly and chest all came into play..... Then the cargo nets to crawl under (across rather gravelly mud – but knees were numb by this point!), Pete snapping away at my ankles.... and finally the end was in sight. Out into the field then turn right back into the racecourse.... one final unexpected obstacle – a local rugby club lining up ‘Gladiator’ style with scrum pads. This looked like it could be fun – unfortunately as a rather scrawny runner I just bounced off the first one! I decided perhaps trying to dodge them was a better option... managed to get through the rest and with a last hard drive to the line pipped Pete to the post!

There was even a post-race massage which was most welcome..... A fantastic event – enjoyed every minute of it and would definitely recommend it for those not scared of a bit of mud and water!

Munich Marathon, 14th October

Till Sawala

Two weeks after the Oktoberfest, the streets of Munich are once again full of people: runners for the 27th edition of the Munich Marathon, which also doubled this year as the German championship. Ulrike (not a Strider, but known to some as winner of last year's Court Inn Clamber) and I arrived in Munich on Saturday evening, and after dinner of pasta at a friend's home, we called it an early night. Cycling through the fresh morning air to the start in the Olympic park, we knew that conditions would be good: cool, little wind and clear skies with now sign of rain. After picking up our numbers and checking in our bags, we rushed towards the first starting pen, just in time.

A traditional musketeer salute sent us on our way, and soon Ulrike was ahead and out of sight. While I held back on the first few kilometres, I soon picked up the pace - I was aiming for 3:10 hours to secure a place in London, but by the time we entered the Englischer Garten near the 5 km mark, I was already about half a minute up on my plan. The sunshine had brought out plenty of spectators, and the running felt easy.

I caught up with Ulrike around the 15 km mark, just as we crossed the river to start the only significant climb of the day. We exchanged a few words of encouragement, but I felt good enough to press on, crossing the halfway point at 1:33, two minutes ahead of schedule. From there on, the course lead through more industrial areas with fewer spectators, but I continued to feel alright and was able to tick of the miles. At around 30k, we descended towards the river once more, and soon were running up the Tal towards the famous Marienplatz with plenty of crowds to cheer us on. I had no time for sightseeing, as the road narrowed through a number of sharp turns, before we crossed Marienplatz for the second time. Shortly after this, the early pace made itself felt, and as the temperature rose, the running first became harder, and then slower. It had been three years to the day since my debut marathon on the same course, and I had not run another marathon since - in my first attempt, the second half had felt much easier, but I had also been running at a slower pace.

By the time we reached the 35 km mark, every slight climb felt like a steep hill, and although I was still passing runners, my split times had slowed by almost 20 seconds. Luckily, at km 38, I caught a glimpse of the Olympic Tower, and once we entered the Olympic Park, I knew I would hit my goal if I just managed to keep running to the finish line. The final kilometres seemed to stretch, before we finally entered the stadium through the Marathon gate. I managed to pick up the pace once more for the final 200 metres, to cross the line just as the clock overhead ticked past 3:09 - a hard earned PB. Ulrike came in just a couple of minutes behind me, in a time that would have put her 26th in the German championship.

We celebrated in style - with Bretzn and plenty of (alcohol-free) Weissbier.

Matfen Hall 10K, Northumberland, 14th October

Robert Clark

This was the last race of the Run Northumberland series and like the others I expected it to be tough and undulating. On arrival there seemed to be a fair few runners taking part, which surprised me as I thought most runners would be taking part in the Stampede.

This race was a new experience for me as I ended up being the tale runner for this race (not through choice) as one mile in both my calves cramped up to the point I had to stop for a couple of minutes to stretch them out. The pain was unbelievable and as I started again I was close to tears I was struggling to walk let alone run and to be honest I thought about pulling out as there was no way I would catch up with the other runners.

However rather than pull out, I decided there was no point getting worked up about it and I decided to use the run as a training session and take it at my own pace, the route was out in the countryside and the peacefulness was so surreal, just me and the countryside. As with all Run Northumberland hills there was the token hills, which I’m sure the organisers have a fondness far given the amount of them.

I hit the 5k stage in just over 36 minutes, which I was quite happy with given the problems I had earlier and as I ran/walked up a couple of hills, I started to hit my stride and found myself comfortably able to run again, I quickly got up to the 5 mile stage and I was starting to feel better about myself as I was back to running my normal pace (10 minute miles), the last mile or so was pretty flat and I saw other runners ahead of me, having been behind for the most of the race, however my main focus was just to finish as strongly as I could.

The last part of the race like with Wallington is down hill and as I saw what was the finish line (the organisers were packing up) I felt embarrassed as I was the last one to finish, however the more I thought about it, I realised there was no shame in finishing last as it would have been easier to pull out rather than finish the race and I was proud of myself that I finished.

All in all not a bad little race, like all Run Northumberland runs cheap and cheerful with plenty of hills. I would recommend this race as the scenery is superb and the marshalls are friendly and encouraging and I never felt frowned upon even though I was last to finish by quite a bit, still I made a pretty good tail runner and if one is ever needed at parkrun then …. you never know.

Liverpool Marathon, 14th October


Graeme Walton

Bruno Mars singing "Just the way you are" at 4:30am on a Sunday morning!! Was I dreaming?? Nope, this was my alarm call following an 18 week training program; the Liverpool Marathon was a mere 5 hours and 150 miles away. A couple of slices of toast later and we (Katy and all 3 kids) were on our way.

I had pre-booked a parking space at Liverpool One in the city centre but I hadn't done my homework properly. As it turned out the car park was situated on The Strand which is where the finish of the marathon takes place aarrgghh. The car park would later re-open at 4pm! From there we took the train to Birkenhead Park to the starting point.

With time to spare it was nice to take in the atmosphere although it did nothing to calm my pre-race nerves. The downside at this point was the field where everybody was congregated was drenched which meant damp socks and damp running shoes, bring on the blisters!

Soon enough we were off, a prompt start with the usual mad rush. Following many glances at my garmin I settled in to a good pace after a slightly frantic 1st mile. The first half of the route took me around the Wirral side of the Mersey. It was relatively flat and took in some great views of Liverpool from the waterfront. The spectators were great if only small in numbers at this point but this was about to change.

At the 12 mile point the race took me into the Queensway Tunnel, a 2 mile tunnel that is basically 1 mile downhill and then 1 mile uphill. During the ascent I could here noise and lots of it and as I emerged from the tunnel the atmosphere was amazing. We were all greeted by a lot of drummers and thousands of spectators creating an unforgettable atmosphere which for me on a personal note was topped off by catching a glimpse of Katy and the kids.

The next few miles took me into the city centre and then at 18 miles to Parliament Street! I had read a few comments about this stretch, one comment in particular was from a guy who referred to it as "Heart Attack Hill" (I can here all of you Fell runners scoffing) Anyway a lot of people were walking at this point but I managed to keep running although I did slow up considerably.

At 20 miles I entered Sefton Park, a very pretty part of the course although it was short on spectators. All around the park there were army cadets which was inspirational in its own right. The park lasted for 3 miles and I was now feeling very tired however there was only a Park Run to go now!! The support at the end of this section was fantastic with all of the spectators no doubt sensing that I was now running very low on energy. Wearing your name on your shirt is an absolute must for races like this, I felt as though I had known these strangers all of my life.

Hooray, mile 25 was back down "Heart Attack Hill" what a welcome surprise that was. So with a mile to go and thousands of people cheering me on I ran along The Strand and then through the finishing line in a new PB of 3:18:33.

With a great tech t-shirt and few other goodies I made my way to the reunion area and got a massive hug from Katy. A great day with fantastic running weather (cold and calm).

Hellhole 10k, Stanley, 14th October

Alister Robson

I've done this a few times now but that doesn't usually help you - I've never done the same course twice. This is a great friendly event, well run and marshalled by Derwentside AC that really deserves to see higher numbers on a weekend when there's no cross country on. Perhaps it's the name that puts folk off? Hellhole doesn't sound too enticing but that's just the name of the woods which in fact are rather lovely.

On arriving a little too early I left Barbara in the warmth of the car while I went to get registered and was a little surprised that there weren't many Striders around. Never mind I thought, there were only three of us last year. I paid my £12 (entry on the day - If I'd been better organised it would have only been a tenner to pre-enter), picked up my number and went back to the car to get Barbara. 5 minutes later there was what can only be described as a sea of purple - turned out there were plenty Striders after all, including Angela C (official photographer), Anna, Peter, Jo and Erin who were just spectating.

Soon we were off and no surprises it was yet another different course. Most of the first half was pretty flat and mostly on path but that just lulled you into a false sense of security. Just before halfway you drop down into the eponymous woods and at about halfway you start to climb back up. There are three decent hilly slogs before you get back onto the cycle path (trail shoes were definitely the right choice) and this year the organisers had a nice surprise at 9k - the large hill that you usually go up near the start. At the very end I thought I'd caught Paul Pascoe but he was clearly alerted by the sound of my heavy breathing and took off again with another spurt I couldn't match.

Another great performance by Simon Gardner saw him 1st Strider home followed by Phil's brother Steve and then Paul. Barbara led our ladies home followed by Katherine P and then Anita.

A Sea of, err, Orange. Looks like we're turning into Durham Harriers ...

Safely home and (orange) T-Shirt collected it was time to cheer in the others which is one of my favourite bits of any Striders race anyway. Everyone came home safely and after the photocall all clad in our newly earned orange we adjourned to the cafe for a coffee, to finish off the rest of our goody bags (crisps, a Mars bar and Haribo) and then into the results presentation.

Unlike 2010 this year we didn't win a team prize. Blackhill Bounders cleaned up those and between the two clubs I think we made up almost half of the field. Richard Hockin did win his category and was cheered loudly as he collected it. All in all a lovely run on a nice crisp morning!

Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, 13th October


George Nicholson

Although geographically Durham is my nearest parkrun, Sunderland is still regarded by me as my 'Spiritual' home event and I am sure it still means a great deal to most of the long serving Strider parkrunners. We've all made some great friendships there and have many happy memories of some 'fun' moments over the last 3 years It was Sunderland parkrun that gave Alister the springboard to his marvellous commitment to the parkrun concept. I have also received wonderful personal support from them with Santa Runs, Netball, fundraising for Acorns etc, and there was a good number of folk from there who travelled up to my Torch Relay in Stocksfield . So naturally I wanted to be at Silksworth Park last Saturday to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. It was also the lovely Jane Niven's ( Race Director and Organiser ) 100th parkrun and she hoped as many of us as possible would take part in a three-legged 5k parkrun !

There was a good turnout of 124 runners , including Danny, Mary, Kathryn and myself from Striders.

Having experienced a three-legged race over 50 metres at Shadforth Sports Day last month with Kathryn as my partner, I wisely chose to 'bend' the rules slightly and kitted myself up with a Rolf Harris mask and a dummy leg aka Jake the Peg . Danny, having heard of my previous experience, also wisely opted out of partnering Kathryn and volunteered to marshal the 'Tree' instead. Mary meanwhile ran on her own two good legs and was extremely pleased with her PB , over 1 minute quicker I believe.

Got to be 50% faster, hasn't it? Kathryn to be fair was a great help to me and accompanied me round the course. Our time would have been somewhat slower if I hadn't 'bent' the rules even further and let her carry my spare leg for a good part of the 5k !

The cake was distributed at the finish line and enjoyed by all, afterwards a few of us popped into MacDonalds for coffee and chat. Meanwhile Danny had taken over my 'props' and entertained us with an amazing likeness of Rolf Harris ;)

N.B. Sunderland parkrun 3rd Anniversary Evening Social Celebrations will take place 7.00 pm on Friday 26th October at the Chesters Pub, Chester Road, Sunderland. I hope as many as possible of the original Strider-parkrunners can be there as well.

Norfolk Coastal Marathon, Sheringham, Norfolk, 13th October


Dave Robson

Dave gets another marathon under his belt. I missed doing a stage of the Round Norfolk Relay this year and as we were visiting a friend in Norwich it seemed a good idea to fit in a race along the North Norfolk coast. I expected it to be flat, but it started on a heath above the coast and we ran down to the coast. As it was an out and back course I knew I had the climb at the end to look forward to.

We hit the coast and and 2m stretch of shingle beach. This was very hard work, as bad as running in sticky mud but you come out with clean shoes. Luckily I missed some it by keeping inland as much as possible - although I had not run this stretch before, I had seen other runners on the Relay taking an inland route. It was a bit muddy in places, but far better than the shingle. But you couldn't avoid all the shingle. Finally it ended and I got to the first checkpoint.

From there to the turn around point, it was easy going, hard paths, little wind, a bit of sun, but not too much and lovely views. After a cup of tea and biscuit I started back. There were still runners coming towards me and some were carrying on along the coast as there was also a 100K event, so the marathon was just the short event !

About two thirds of the way into the event, I started to feel the after effects of doing Kielder six days ago. My legs became very tired and the shingle beach sapped even more energy from my legs. The gentle climb back to the heath and the finish seemed steeper than it was. It felt good to finish and I was happy with my time of 4hr 49min

Manor Water Hill Race, Peebles, 13th October

10M / 2300 ft

Dougie Nisbet

We tentatively drove into the muddy field before being flagged down by a marshall. "Sheep or Run?", she asked, without preamble. "Run", I replied, assuming I'd interpreted the question correctly, and she pointed us up to a bit of the field that was free from sheep and border collies. She also advised me to park 'pointing downhill' so that we at least had a sporting chance of escaping the muddy field later when it came time to leave.

Before the off ... I looked around and, seasoned fell runner that I am, quickly took stock. Registration was almost certainly in that horse box over there next to the portaloo, and so in fact, it turned out to be. Let X=X. There were a few runners filling in forms next to the horsebox so I clip-clopped up the ramp and asked the lady for a form. No, apparently that's not how things worked, I was rather sternly told, and I first had to give a few particulars. Was I Carnethy? Nope. Was I local? Nope. Once I'd passed the entrance exam I was given a form which I took away to complete in my best handwriting before being allocated a number.

It was a cold blustery day and the first time in months I was wearing hat, gloves and windbreaker. I made my way over to the start area bemused and slightly mystified by my iPad wielding wife until I realised (later) she was tweeting unflattering photos live from the action. As runners gathered for the start I thought again about the 'local' question on the entry form. I'd said 'no', but strictly speaking that wasn't true. Here I was, standing in a field a few miles from where I was born, a 'gutterbluid', running for an English running club based over a hundred miles away. Strange to be standing here and not knowing a soul. Actually, that wasn't strictly true. Wasn't that an NFR vest over there? And another, and another, and another. All familiar faces from various fell and hill races, here and abroad. A few introductions and photos and it was time for the start.

This race is a straight out and back, the usual story. You run right up to the top of a hill, then you run back down again. One runner asked how many people were running to which the organiser, looking puzzled, gestured expansively to the gathered crowd and replied, "about this many". We headed upwards into the chilly afternoon before pausing a few minutes later to form an orderly queue at a stile. Five miles later at the wild summit of The Scrape, I shuffled around the shivering marshall and headed back to base. In a straight out and back race like this you get the satisfaction of seeing the puggled faces of runners you've passed who are still on the way to the summit, and tick of the vests one by one. But there was a vest ahead I didn't recognise or remember passing, and I always start fell races right at the back. The runner looked strangely familiar. What the deuce? It was Nigel! I paused my not very fast descending to find out the story, and it transpired that Nigel had arrived as we were starting and had started the race 7 minutes late. You can't stand around chatting on the cold blustery shoulder of the Scrape so we high-fived, as you do, and I pushed on for home.

A few squelchy miles later I crossed the line and, as might be expected in a hill race sponsored by a brewery, was given a bottle of beer. Not bad for an entry fee of £4. Nigel was in just a minute or two later making impressive progress through the field after starting late. The rain then started in earnest and we all found shelter to change into something dry. Nigel got into his Darth Vadar costume in preparation for his drive back to Durham, and we convened in the tea tent for the prizes. I began to realise that today's 10 miler was just a softener for another event running the next day, the Pentland Skyline. This is a 16 mile race with 6200 feet of climb, and many people do both both races with the combined race times being used to find out if they're MAN(or) MOUSE. There's an idea for next year.

Nigel Heppell

A nice steady climb from the start adjacent the sheepdog trials curving up and around the side of a shallow valley, hampered somewhat by slippery clay after 50+mm rainfall the previous day, then over the stile onto proper moorland and a dramatic increase in slope along a narrow sheep trod with all the usual hazards of sticky-up rocks and sucky-down bog hidden by lace-loosening heather. Bouts of heavy rain on a cool blustery wind blowing in from the west/northwest kept the waterproofs busy as the first crest is followed by a shallow dip and at long last I can see someone ahead, after 20 minutes running solo.

Not that he's flirting or anything ... This is not the best start I ever had to a race. Maybe it had something to do with driving up just as the race started - but first I had to register, and then strip off a ludicrous amount of clothing because I had travelled by motorcycle, and jog off across the start line in the next field whilst adjusting my kit and having left a trail of helmet, boots, gloves and waterproofs strewn on the ground behind, much to the puzzlement of sundry onlookers and a few sheep. That cost me 8 minutes. I felt better when I eventually caught up with the tail-enders but nobody was hanging around today and it was hard work making progress through the field.

Three more crests came and went before the big climb up to The Scrape and who should I see coming towards me but the unmistakeable Dougie. After the peak it was an about turn and plunge straight back down the way we had come up. This was good running as the heather wasn't too high and I found it better to run off the track. I caught up with a few runners but the field was well spread by this time and I think I had abandoned any notion of a race a long time ago. I also noticed 4 NFR's who were quite tightly grouped mid-field but everyone else belonged north of the border.

The rain came on heavy just after I crossed the finish line so I grabbed my gift bottle of local ale and was extremely grateful to be allowed to dry off and get changed in the Race Headquarters/Command Module - OK horsebox trailer. Tea and soup in the show tent went down very well indeed.

Kielder Marathon, 7th October

Sue Jennings ...

The decision to run Kielder Marathon was made in the pub! We needed to do a long run (20 miles) and then start to taper in advance of the Town Moor Marathon at the end of October. Whilst we were discussing this, Billy came up with the idea that rather than a 20 mile run, we could do the Kielder Marathon as a training run – after all it would only be 6.2 miles further! Glass of wine in hand I said "why not I will do it if you do the Town Moor Marathon" and that was it. Next day I paid for my place.

I then went on a two week holiday to China and managed 2 runs – 4 miles and 1.8 miles – great preparation!

So to say I wasn’t a little bit nervous before setting off to Kielder is an understatement and of course Bill wanted to rid his demons from the year before. It didn’t help that all of the roads were closed around where we live because of a big bike race (which a number of other striders were doing). However we still managed to get there in plenty of time and met up with Maggie and Andrew Thompson Dave Robson and Jo and Erin who was running the 1k race at 11am.

The weather was beautiful – pure blue skies and warm and the scenery was amazing. We set off at approximately 10.30am and within the first mile had been up a lovely hill just a starter for ten though. The hills just kept on coming and seeing the dreaded signs "incline ahead" and of course remembering some of the course from the last time I did it became par for the course! I did however set off with the intention of walking the hills and pretty much kept to this right the way around the 26.15 miles. Billy and I stayed together till about 15 miles, Dave, Andrew and Maggie were off doing their own race. Billy then went off as he was feeling a lot stronger than I – I wasn’t convinced at this point that I would finish! I put my music on though and after listening to a few uplifting beats, managed to focus myself and put my head down. I carried on and at 18 miles reached the Dam (this is the point where the guy from Sunderland Harriers reportedly got on the bus last year). One woman shouted at me well done its all flat from now on. I shouted back at her that I had run this marathon before and she started to laugh – there is very little of Kielder Marathon that is flat!

Over the last 8 miles I passed quite a lot of other runners and as I ran over the finish line Steve Cram shouted "well done Sue". Finishing time 5 hours and 11 minutes which was 23 minutes faster than the last time I had run Kielder. How I did this I will never know lol. Billy finished in 5 hours which is fantastic (it would have been quicker if he hadn’t stayed with me for as long).

All of the other Striders finished and then Bill, Andrew, Maggie and I went for a very well earned drink!

... and Dave Robson:

This was my seventh race around Kielder and my second time at this event organised by Steve Cram. Like last year and as at the Sunderland marathon, it was well organised. The numbers of people participating seemed to have risen this year and I met a few who were doing their first marathon. The scenery on the course is great, but it is a hard event as the Lakeside Way, which the race follows, is continually up and down.

I was aware that my last marathon was almost two months ago and I have only run a 13m route since then, so the aim was to start at the back and just get round. I also have the Norfolk Coastal marathon in six days so I didn't want to do any damage.

Starting at the back was a good idea, the early narrow stretches were not as crowded as they were last year. I had decided to walk all the hills, even the one just after the start and that approach seemed to work well.

Last year I got to the dam at 17m and felt great, so I thought I speeded up and overtook lots of runners. Looking at the times later I realised I was just running at the same speed, it was just that other runners were slowing down because the relentless climbs had taken energy from their legs. This year I found the same thing happened and I was passing lots of people. It was all going very well until 3m from the end when my calf pinged alarmingly. I backed off immediately as I didn't want to do any damage and plodded the last miles. To my surprise my time of 4h 52min was about what I normally would do at Kielder, I was expecting something closer to 5hr 30min before the start.

Sue had a fantastic run and knocked many minutes off her previous run at Kielder. I think Bill was taking it relatively easy because of an injury. Andrew and Maggie also had good runs.

Etape Pennines, County Durham, 7th October


Dougie Nisbet ...

Who would've thought that County Durham had so many hills? An endless supply of cruel sniggering climbs. When I bumped into Alister at the finish we were in full agreement; a course recce would have been a very bad idea. It really was just as well we did not know what awaited as we surely would never have got as far as the start line. The hills were endless, just one nightmare after another - and when you think it's all over, you turn a corner, and there's another one. I think that's why Colin played his Get out of Jail Free card - he lives on the coal face - he knew.

Dougie on a classic eighties bikeIt was Colin's announcement the day before that he wouldn't be starting that made me start paying attention. Just as well - I hadn't realised you had to register on the Saturday, just like a marathon expo. I also made the mistake of having a look at the suggested training plans on the website and thus denting my naivete. I really shouldn't have. The training plan for people with limited time was 6-8 hours a week. I'd been cycling to work off and on for 2 or 3 months. That was about 3 hours or 30 miles a week. On average, when I wasn't running between breweries. That should be enough surely? Yeah. And I've got all this core fitness stuff from running. Everything would be just fine. Just. Fine. And then there was the 'minimum average speed' of 13.1 MPH. I checked my average speed for cycling from Durham to Gateshead and it wasn't quite 13.1, it wasn't even close, and it doesn't even have any 2nd category climbs.

We couldn't have wished for better weather and the sun rose as I waited at Ushaw College for my start time. Jacquie was easy to spot in her Striders hoodie and there was Alister a couple of zones and minutes ahead of me. When you're used to running vests it's quite different seeing everyone in cycling gear. We're probably all hard-wired to chase a Striders vest but Alister soon disappeared into the sea of Lycra and I wouldn't be seeing him again until we both finished over 6 hours later.

I was in the last zone to go and we pushed off under a clear dawn sky. This was the first road race I'd done for over 25 years and I was a little out of touch. So used to running now I'd forgotten about wind-chill and cold hands. So much so that two miles later I had to stop and pull the gloves from my pocket that I'd thankfully shoved in as a last-minute thought. Fumbling with the Velcro on my mitts and trying to decide whether to pull the gloves over or instead of, I became aware of a motorbike that had stopped and pulled up alongside me. I looked up and knew. Nearly 2000 riders, but I'd still managed it. Just like a fell race. Situation Normal. "You're the sweeper, aren't you?" I said miserably. He nodded, and asked me if I was ok. I nodded feebly and began to feel a bit pathetic and sorry for myself. I was cold and at the back of a field of over a thousand riders and this was not going well. I struggled to get my mitts in my back pocket without much success before simply handing them over to a marshall who'd come over to assist, and asked him to do it for me.

It took several miles before I got warmed up and gradually become more confident. I steadily passed people, hopping from wheel to wheel and taking pace whenever possible. I used to race on the steep banks of Meadowbank velodrome and so was at ease riding in close groups and found it a gloriously exhilarating experience riding on closed roads so near to so many other riders. It was nostalgia and excitement rolled into a lovely sunny autumnal Pennine morning. My draughting was parasitic, not deliberately so, it was just that few people seemed willing to work, or simply misunderstood and thought I was trying to get past and moved over to let me through. As it happened the opportunities for sharing the pace were fairly limited to early in the race as pacing works best on flattish stretches into the wind, and when the hills started, both up and down, the advantages of taking pace were negligible.

We passed the 15 mile marker and I was, as Danny once put it, in terra incognita. I hadn't ridden more than 15 miles in one go in more than 25 years, so I awaited with interest to see which parts of my body would start to hurt first. I was riding the race as I would run a marathon, taking it steady early on and conserving energy as I knew it would get a bit rough towards the end. Occasionally I'd peer hopefully ahead for a Striders top but Alister was nowhere to be seen. Somewhere even further ahead were Keith Wesson and Donna James who were to ultimately finish as winners in their class, with Donna being 6th Lady overall.

The hills loomed ahead and I caught Peter Brooks who was chirpilly stoical after having an unfortunately eventful journey to the start. Later, as the King of the Mountains pass lazed into view I took my hands of the bars to scrunch my cape into my pocket. This looked like hot work. A Darlington rider remarked that this was 'skilled riding for a 2000 number' and I was about to take umbrage until I realised he'd meant it as a genuine compliment. I was tickled! And then the hills began. And once they started, they simply did not stop. Like an early morning session hunched over the great white telephone after an all-night bender when your body is wracked with pain, when you think, surely there's nothing left, when your body is just a spent, rasping, empty, husk, there's another bit, then another, then another. Where was it all coming from?

Dougie argues the case for not walking Unlike fell racing, where it's often quicker and more energy efficient to walk up the hills, the opposite is true with cycling, where walking in cycling shoes, even on level ground, is an achievement in itself. I managed to climb all the hills and made a lot of gains. My bike was also attracting some attention. One of the very first aluminium frames, bought for me for £120 in the early 1980s by my Dad and hand-built with Campagnolo equipment throughout, it is pretty much unchanged to how it was 30 years ago. Apart from the tubs, which I rather sensibly replaced on Saturday before the race, and prayed that the 10 year old tub tape that I'd found in a drawer was still sticky. Or at least, sticky-ish, for those 40MPH+ descents. Climbing slowly past one lady on one climb she commented "that's a lovely bike", and one chap at the final feeding station called it "gorgeous". Perhaps it was a combination of the toughness of the race and the stunning scenery but I was finding these unexpected compliments were making me feel quite emotional.

I'd remembered from the course map that there was one Category 2 climb, and that it was, as you might expect, in the last 10 miles. On the scale of awfulness it wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared but I was overtaken by a bloke who was quite simply whimpering a series of shuddering and wholesome profanities that seemed to be directed at no-one in particular, although the hill seemed to be implicated. The last few miles went by quite quickly and then the beautiful sight of the red timing mats of the finish. A few minutes later I bumped into Alister and recognised the dazed and perplexed countenance that I was sure reflected my own. He moved on to find Jacquie and I made my way back to the car. I looked down at my medal and thought how you get medals for all sorts of races nowadays, practically giving them away they are, for the most noddy of events. But this one I clutched in my hot sweaty hand and thought, I really earned this one.

... and Alister Robson:

...or how I got way in over my head

Cycling is easy right? I mean I bike to work every day, approx 80 miles a week carrying a rucksack with all my work gear on a heavy and old touring bike. 80 miles on a modern road bike in 6 hours on closed roads with no traffic - shouldn't be a real challenge, right? Wrong..

I'm guessing this is the *before* shot!

It was the hills that did it. The first one - I now know to be Button Bank - was tough but I made it up OK. A nice pleasant approx 30 miles later having my first break, eating a banana and some shortbread I wondered what all the fuss was about. The sun was out, the countryside looked amazing, there was no wind and my fingers and toes had even started to regain some feeling after the chilly 7am start. I climbed the next hill OK and grabbed a gel and stopped for a few moments to speak to Jacquie who'd pop up all over the course supporting me (unless I was delusion, which was possible).

Then we hit the next hill. And the next. And the next. From 40 miles to 65 it felt like I must have walked uphill as much as I cycled. I walked so much I ruined the new cleats on my new cycling shoes. I now know why cyclists place so much emphasis on having the lightest bike possible - because when you're pushing it up hills like that, you really do want it to be as light as possible. As Dougie said, if we'd had the commonsense to recce the route properly beforehand we'd have probably joined the huge ranks of those that didn't even make it to the start line. My only thought for most of that section was looking back, expecting the sweep vehicle (there was supposed to be a strict 6 hour cut off) to catch me up.

Still it didn't and after 65 miles the hills seemed to stop, I recognised where I was for the first time in ages (nr the Saltwell Fell race) and a friend, Jon, caught me up and we nattered for a few miles. I waved happily at Colin and Elfie and I even felt good enough to leave Jon and enjoyed some of the more gentle downhills. (The earlier ones were so steep I felt I was hanging on for dear life). Then again at 75 miles a massive great hill. Great. Still I got to the top (mainly on foot I'm not ashamed to admit) and then set about catching those who had inched by me while still onboard their bikes and whose thigh muscles were clearly cursing them for it. Over the line with a punch of the air and a kind of sprint finish and a phenomenal sense of achievement.

I caught up afterwards with Donna James (1st FV45 and 6th lady overall) and Keith Wesson (1st MV60) and both just looked pleased to have made it round in one piece, then Dougie who looked shellshocked and had the same 1000 yard stare I think I must have had. James Garland also made it round in one piece, even allowing for projectile vomitting and a puncture. Peter wasn't so fortunate, having had a fall on the way to the event, but persevering to 30 miles anyway. Jon beat me by 1 second even though I beat him home (some major road crossings were designated stop zones - where you went over a mat and your time stopped) which seems awfully cruel over nearly 80 miles. A great medal and Jacquie treated me to an event cycle top. Next year again? Hmm...


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Dave Hopper M40-44 1 4:07:25
57Hannah Sammut F30-34 1 4:54:22
257Donna James F45-49 1 5:30:53
590Keith Wesson M60-64 1 6:12:01
619Jonathan Steed M40-44 151 6:14:44
621Alister Robson M40-44 153 6:14:45
681Dougie Nisbet M45-49 155 6:20:43
1251James Garland M35-39 194 8:04:15

1,327 finishers.

Wythenshawe parkrun, Sale, 6th October


Danny Lim

Parkrun? More like MudRun! The Wythenshawe parkrun (Sale, Manchester) had a really picturesque start; in front of a 16th century tudor house. And the park looked flat and there were loads of tarmac paths. Looking good, I thought; a course with PB potential. It was a smallish field of about 70 runners and like every other parkrun I had been to, it had a friendly atmosphere.

But as soon as we started, the course took us into the grass. Though the sun was out, it had rained heavily the day before and the ground was water-logged. Most of the course was over muddy track or grass. It was pretty hard work sliding around and nearly losing my shoes in the mud. But the marshalls were very supportive. No PB today but I really enjoyed that. You should have seen the hotel guests' faces as I walked back into the lobby!

So, if you're every in Manchester and want to get a little cross country training in, try this course.

Whitley Bay parkrun, Whitley Bay, 6th October


Dave Robson

Melanie and I are trying to cover all the North-East parkruns. It is a bit like Catch-22, you think you are almost there and then they increase the number of events. We had two left to do before today, Whitley Bay and Stewart Park, Middlesbrough.

The Whitley Bay route is one I am very familiar with as it a two lap loop around the Links. I have run the Christmas Pudding race, the Run for Bob and the Fetcheveryone.com Rendevous run there. If you are familiar with the first half of the Woodlawn Boxing Day Christmas Pudding run, it is very close to that route. You start off running toward the War memorial, take a tight tun and run along looking down to the promenade with St Mary's lighthouse in the distance. Then you take sharp turn past the skate park onto the wide promenade and past the famous architectural icon the Rendezvous cafe, before climbing back to a pavement alongside the coast road (this struck me as unusual, I can't recall having seen a parkrun course so close to a road before. Then the course dips down to the promenade again then back to the links and you are running towards the famous dome of Spanish city.

Then its back round again. It was a lovely sunny day with little breeze so it was a fantastic day for running in this area. A few more climbs than I was expecting, but a lovely parkrun