Race Reports, September 2012

Loch Ness Marathon, Inverness, 30th September

Dougie Nisbet

The first time I read the notes I nearly missed it. But there it was; "the buses will NOT stop on the way to the start". Well this would be fun. A ninety minute drive along bumpy highland lanes was not good for the bladder and, as regular readers of my annual trip north know, I have a horrible fascination with the toilet facilities en-route between Inverness and a small spot in the middle of nowhere 26.2 miles from Inverness. They weren't kidding though. It was all very business-like and efficient this year. Even the early morning walk to the coaches that would leave Inverness at 0745 was interspersed with marshalls telling me that the buses would be leaving on time and I needed to get a move on. But hitting checkpoints with seconds to spare is kinda my thing, so I wasn't worried. And I don't drink a gallon of lucozade before stepping on a bus that is heading on the road to nowhere without any stops. Years of GNRs and bus trips after sessions in the Look Out Inn had trained me well.

I got on a nice bus with a smiley driver and settled down to doze and enjoy the view. The chat around me drifted over my head as I watched the buzzards soar overhead. Some time later in a glorious watery sunny morning I stepped off the bus at the start nearly getting trampled by the stampede to hit the portaloos. There was just enough time to enjoy the view and get my bag on the baggage bus before the Lochaber Pipe Band did their stuff and it was time to head for Inverness.

My last few weekends had involved some hefty fell races and I had no idea what to expect. I was fit, but not marathon fit. And I certainly wasn't fast. So it was more with curiosity than trepidation that I tested myself on the first few miles to see how things were going to go. I'd also decided to try and be a bit more disciplined with nutrition, and was taking a shotbloks at each water stop, whether I felt like it or not. It was a decent plan and around 8 miles it became apparent that I simply didn't have the speed so I concentrated on my pace with the view of finishing comfortably rather than, well, uncomfortably. I still had a brewery in each leg from the previous Sunday and it would be daft to try and convince myself I had the form that I wanted, rather than the form that I had. I learned that lesson, and learned it well in the Liverpool Marathon.

Now that's the way to finish off a race. The drinks and food stations were interesting. Clif Bars and Shotbloks and gels. They were being offered in half-packs and feeling adventurous I scoffed one down. I wasn't feeling quite so adventurous a couple of miles later when I had to put on the hazards and pull into a lay-by. Oh dear, I hope there wasn't going to be an incident. I leaned on a tree for a few minutes and waited to see what happened as my stomach leapt about; would it be the Gay Gordons or the Dashing White Sergeant? Gradually things settled down and I pulled away from the curb and rejoined the traffic.

The rest of the race was a tough but sustainable grind and I ran steadily all the way to the finish. Across the line to receive my medal, where they do things properly (not like the GNR)! You choose the prettiest lassie (or laddie) and they place the medal around your neck. Always a nice touch. Another nice touch and a bit of surprise was a chilled can of non-alcoholic beer in the goodie bag. Don't knock it - it's far more refreshing than a sickly sugary drink and I was very grateful for it. An even nicer touch was the return of a draught beer tent in the event village, and ever the shrinking violet I decided to get a pose for a photo to match my previous one from 2010. I was a very happy chappy.

Ikano Robin Hood Half Marathon, Nottingham, 30th September

Alister Robson

I knew I was starting to get into a bit of decent shape, after decent runs out at Lockington (Major Stone half marathon) and the Great North Run when pacing 2 hours seemed really easy. Normally I'd have gone for the Redcar half marathon with the rest of the club but an old college friend of mine getting back into running, Nick, was running this one and with the Grand Prix already in the bag, a number courtesy of Sweatshop, and a chance to call in and stay over at Jacquie's brother's nearby it was too much to resist.

This is a big event with approx 8,000 entries and is striving to gain a reputation as one of the fastest halves around. It didn't disappoint. I'd have to take a little issue with the scenic part of the description but once you've seen Nottingham Castle once you don't need to see it often and there were some parts which were certainly more scenic than Redcar - the one small hill leading up and through the University campus and around the lake was lovely - the loop around the Boots campus, less so.

Fast though. The aim was to do steady 7min 38sec miles to dip just under 1.40 for the first time and that's exactly what I did, even with a little to spare. Looking back i'm now a bit puzzled why I've never broken 100mins for a half before - it really didn't feel anything other than steady, which I think must be a tribute to my conditioning (lots of races), nutrition (lots of gels) and pacing (lots and lots of pacing). I even managed a slight negative split.

Everything about the event was excellent, plenty of free parking, well marshalled route, loads of drinks, nice medal. If I had to have a slight moan (I usually do), the entry price for those that didn't manage to blag their way in for free was a little steep (compared to say Redcar, but not the GNR) and you didn't get a T-shirt but I felf so guilty about the aforementioned blag that I bought one from the Sweatshop stand anyway.

Nick had a great run coming in under two hours which was his target, Jacquie slightly less so - a 10 minute ambulance stop doesn't do wonders for the time, but she was right as rain shortly afterwards and managed to finish on her own two feet. All in all a grand day out.

Sherman Cup & Davison Shield, Temple Park, 29th September

Mudman & Mudwoman

Nice day to start the new cross-country season. Striders' X/C season got off to a bright and breezy start at South Shields on Saturday. The sun shone on the 27 Striders who competed and on the dozen or so supporters there to cheer them on. The course for the Sherman Cup / Davidson Shield was relatively 'mud-free', considering the rain we've had lately, so our numerous debutants had a relatively gentle introduction into the wonderful world of cross country!

There were no fewer than six men making their x/c debuts in the senior men's race and they all coped well with the conditions and competition. They included: Simon Gardner, Graeme Walton, Aaron Gourley, Kevin Williams, Stephen Garbutt and David Selby.

Our own Adam Walker was also there making his debut in the highly competitive Under-17 men's race and finished in the top 20.

Birthday girls! Willing and otherwise ... ;-) Alternative caption just in: 'Madwoman and Mudwoman' No, Keith, we certainly can't use that. Ed. Of the 12 ladies running in purple there were three debutants: Kate Walton, Katherine Preston and Nicola VDBH all of whom had a great race and a brilliant day out which included, for some, a dip in the sea followed by coffee and ice cream!

So we're under way but the serious stuff starts in just under four weeks time at Cramlington for the first League fixture. Let's see if we can get a record turn out with all the old hands pulling on the purple vests in support of all our new keen, X/C addicts!

Results

Men - Sherman Cup
PosNameClubCatTime
1 HURST, Phil Elswick Harriers 30:51
76 LLOYD, Jerry 35:57
89 REEVES, Thomas 36:23
112 GIBSON, David 37:38
129 GARDNER, Simon 38:19
147 DAVIS, Geoff 39:09
167 WALTON, Graeme 39:53
177 ROBERTS, Shaun 40:34
209 GOURLEY, Aaron 42:45
216 ROBSON, Alister 43:00
217 WILLIAMS, Kevin 43:03
219 VAN DER BREMER, Marco 43:15
228 HOCKIN, Richard 43:52
231 GARBUTT, Stephen 44:06
233 SELBY, David 44:12

272 finishers.

Women - Davison Shield
PosNameClubCatTime
1 SMITH, Rosie Durham City Harriers 21:58
44 MASON, Nina 29:16
47 PERCIVAL, Jules 29:25
52 DAVIS, Susan 29:30
56 BARLOW, Stef 29:40
64 WALTON, Kate 30:06
68 GODDARD, Debs 30:10
70 BRAY, Carolyn 30:19
77 BULLOCK, Rachel 30:54
93 YOUNG, Jan 32:09
104 PRESTON, Katherine 33:40
108 VAN DEN BREMER-HORNSBY, Nicola 34:18
114 CLEMENTSON, Anita 35:15

124 finishers.

Viking Chase Four Peaks, North Yorks Moors, 23rd September

8m / 1800'

Dave Selby

For some of us Sunday means cutting a few extra zzzzzz's, others a nice cuppa and the newspaper in bed, and others it could be something else (naughty). For four striders (Jan, Mike, Shaun, and I) it meant a rendezvous in an open field just south of Carlton-in-Cleveland by the Lordstones cafe (unfortunately closed). I'm starting to see some usual folks at these events, but Jan seems to know everyone (such a social butterfly).

It was a glorious Sunday morning, fresh and clear blue skies, absolutely lovely. For us and one-hundred-and-fourteen others all signed in for the race we headed to the base of Carlton Bank. The usual introduction talk and relaxed start set us free to begin the first of four ascents:

The Four Peaks. First Carlton Bank (a gentle climb and steep wet steps down), then Cringle Moor (slightly steep climb and a rocket descent), Cold Moor (up and down we go) and finally Clay Bank (protracted climb, a plateau and a heavenly descent). All this took us up and down through horizontally bedded Carboniferous rocks (330 millions years old) of sandstone and shale. After the descent of Clay Bank it was three miles of undulating terrain and plenty of muddy puddles (yielding artistic mud splatters on your shorts!). 'Eat my shorts?' I think not ... Mike was first home (very quick), then Shaun (who had decided to take a detour - silly billy) with me a few moments behind. [Your time will come ... Ed.] Jan had stopped off for a jam sandwich and still came in to win a prize.

 

I have to say this was an awesome race/run and I recommend it to all for next year. Less prizes as the much of the race monies went to a good cause - Cleveland Mountain Rescue. But there was chocolate for all at the end of the race ;-)

Results

PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Matthew Speake Dark Peak M 1 55.35
20 Kay Neesam New Marske Harrriers FV45 1 72.04
22 Mike Bennett MV55 1 72.42
70 Shaun Roberts MV55 7 86.41
73 David Selby MV40 14 87.14
100 Jan Young FV60 1 97.11

118 finishers.

Two Breweries Hill Race, Innerliethen, 22nd September

18M / 4900' AL

Dougie Nisbet

Having got round the LDMT I had little worries about the Two Breweries. A mere 5000 feet and 16 miles, or 18, or thereabouts. Once again the devil was in the detail. The Checkpoints. But I was sure I'd be fine.

DougieThis is a race I've wanted to do for some time but it's usually clashed with something or other. But this year it was going to happen. An elegant principle where you run from Traquair House Brewery to Broughton Brewery taking a fairly direct and exceedingly scenic if somewhat lumpy route. A nice start in cool sunshine saw as speed away from the front of Traquair House up the long drive towards the road. It had only occurred to me the night before that I had no idea which way to go and had luckily found a blog from last year's with a route map. I'd hastily studied this but was still relying the runner in front knowing where they were going and not getting too far ahead.

I hit the Split button my Garmin at the second checkpoint as the marshall informed me I was "just inside" the cutoff. She wasn't kidding. My Garmin can't lie, and it said 1hr 49min 37.3 seconds. Full marks if you guessed that the cutoff for checkpoint two was 1hr 50 minutes! "You'll have to keep moving!" she added, helpfully, as I struggled on through the heather.

The race crosses a couple of valleys where Retirement Points, drinks and Jelly Babies were on offer. Each time I was cheerfully told to help myself to Jelly Babies as there were plenty. I know this is just marshall-speak for "there's practically no one else behind you so we don't need to save them for anyone else", but I was happy to grab a handful nonetheless. I hadn't expected so much sugar and water to be on offer so frequently throughout the race and after last week's unassisted LDMT I almost, bizarrely, resented it. Almost. But not quite.

Into the last 3rd of the race and something completely unexpected happened. I started catching people. Not, I should say, an experience I am familiar with in fell races but certainly a pleasant surprise. I stopped worrying about time-checking myself at the checkpoints, I was heading all the way to the brewery now. At some checkpoints I may even have had several minutes to spare! As the miles and hills counted down I perked up and started looking forward to the final challenge.

My anthropomorphism of hills continues apace. For many years the most malevolent hill of the year award was easily won by Grisedale Brow as you hit it towards the end of the Grisedale Horseshoe. However this year it had met its match. I caught up with Norham's William Pikett who was zigzagging up Trahenna Hill using the same tactic as I was. As he paused for a bit of a stretch I offered the view that this was "a bit of a bastard", an opinion that was met with pretty broad agreement. He warned me that there was usually a photographer at the top so I got my happy face ready was we crested a series of false summits before finally toppling over the top.

The final descent was a really annoying gradient - not steep enough for an efficient bum-slide, but a bit too steep to skelp down without braking. It was a relief to finally hit the road for a last, slightly incongruous, mile on roads before getting to the front door of the Broughton Brewery. Roberta, with touching optimism and a far greater opinion of my abilities than I have had been waiting for well over an hour for me to appear over the horizon. We sat quietly on the low wall to watch the remaining runners cross the line and eavesdropped with some amusement to a foreign tongue grumble about the lack of isotonic drinks at the drinks stations. She had been 'disappointed' at the lack of isotonic and complained that she'd "really needed some potassium". I resisted the temptation to offer some practical suggestions, mostly involving bananas, and thought what she really needed was to do something like the LDMT where to accept any assistance at all, food, drink, navigation or otherwise, would result in disqualification. Perhaps they do things differently in America.

Next year is the 30th running of this event so if you fancy it it's probably a good one to go for. I'd finished in 4:51:59 - my first "AL" and a massive 8 minutes to spare before the final cutoff! If I'm going to hit the checkpoints with more than 20 seconds to spare I'd better do a bit more training. It's no different in many ways to the Saltwell Harriers Fell Race in many ways; everyone runs over a few boggy hills and rivers and everyone who finishes gets a bottle of beer. It's just a bit longer. And steeper.

Great Langdale Marathon, The Lakes, 22nd September

Jane Ives

Perfectly-formed race memento. My number for the Great Langdale Marathon came with a hand-written letter 'Dear Jane, Welcome to the UK's toughest road marathon'!! It sounded like I'd maybe taken on more than I'd bargained for! But I'd planned for a slower, but scenic, Autumn marathon and it turned out to be a real treat. The course is two laps of the stunning area around the Langdale valley, with half-marathoners and marathoners starting together.

Not a bad spot for a race ... Saturday was a beautiful, sunny and perfect Lakes day. The race had a great atmosphere – very informal and friendly. It starts with a flat mile or so and then the first of the big climbs – it's 1 in 3 and it felt like my knees were very close to the tarmac! After that the course is undulating through lovely countryside – some of it on quiet roads, a short stretch on a busier road and some on a gritty path. A second 1 in 3 hill met us at 9 miles but then it was followed by a great downhill with stunning views of the valley ahead. Running past the finish to start the second lap was a bit tough – but I fell into step with a runner called Sue and we pulled each other along nicely on the second lap.

 

With a bit of stoppage time (helping a runner flat out on the road with horrendous cramp) I came in at 4.39.32 and was pleased to be 17th lady (there were only 31 women in the race – most of them from Spennymoor I suspect!!).

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Great North Run, 16th September

Colin Blackburn ...

As a runner I'm happiest when I'm orienteering. At even the biggest orienteering events such as the Scottish 6-Day I can still find myself completely alone in a forest with the sounds and smells of the woodland all around me. So what was I thinking when I entered the Great North Run for the very first time way back at the start of this year. Did I think I'd enjoy being surrounded by over 40,000 people (that's almost a third of the population of my hometown Huddersfield!). Did I think I would I enjoy the smells and sounds of the 13 miles of tarmac between Newcastle and South Shields? Eight months later, as Sunday the 16th of September dawned and I was stirring my porridge at some ungodly hour I was about to find out ...

Louise and Victoria. Arriving with a coach-load of Striders near the start with almost two hours before the off it didn't look too crowded. It was statistically unlikely but I did bump into Christine who I had met on holiday back in the summer, a 100+ parkrunner she was up doing the GNR with some friends. By 10:30 I was in a pen with a couple of thousand people I didn't know from Adam who seemed to be throwing their clothes away into the central reservation. The Red Arrows traditional fly-over gave an impression the start was imminent but the start itself seemed fairly anticlimactic, more of a mass shuffle forward. As I shuffled forwards with the crowd each lorry parked in the central reservation seemed to be transformed into a mass urinal. Finally there was a pinch point and then I was running. I vaguely remember seeing people high-fiving Greg Rutherford but like the pre-race toilets there was a queue that you think twice about joining.

A minute or two later and I had the choice of the high road or the low road. There seemed to be a lot of last second barrier jumping to change lane but knowing no better and as I was on the left (and it was downhill) I went low and followed the underpass. The low road seemed to be the loo road! I don't think I've ever witnessed so many people peeing around the start of the race. A little later with sky above my head again I realised why this race is special. I was in a concrete canyon but the tops of the cliffs were lined with hundreds people shouting, yelling and waving banners for their friends, family or loved ones running down below. And that was just a couple of hundred yards. A few months ago kittiwakes were the noisiest residents of the Tyne Bridge, today it was people cheering on the runners.

And then into Gateshead where the real entertainment started with steel bands and drumming groups every few K and most roundabouts seemingly occupied by rock bands. One band out towards South Shields was decent enough for me to have wanted to stop and have a proper listen if I hadn't have been in a race. Oh, there was Elvis out there somewhere too but again I didn't stop to listen as the race was always on my mind. Filling the gaps between the music were the relentless crowds and bus-full after bus-full of charity supporters. Okay, it thinned out a bit between Gateshead and South Shields but not much.

As for Striders, well from getting heading into my pen to about half way round I didn't see a single one - despite knowing that George was carrying his torch I failed to notice passing him. Then at some point I heard a scream of "COLIN!!!" and nearly jumped out of my skin. Looking around Jan and Tony were on a patch of grass that you wouldn't want to have to get to during rush hour. Jan was doing the screaming while Tony was taking some photos. A while late I passed Bill and then it wasn't until the drop down to the coast that Anna passed me and I passed Jean. The final section along the coast road was great with the noisiest crowds of all. High-fiving (or should that be low-fiving?) all the little out-stretched palms seemed to make me run a little faster. The last 400m seemed longer than once round the track but I finally crossed the line taking 5 minutes off my only other half marathon in Dundee a couple of months ago.

That was the running bit over. I'll skip the bit where I got lost finding the baggage buses and just get straight to the pub. To everyone's surprise the Look Out had put on a spread for us. The pool table was laden with pies, pasties, sandwiches, crisps, cheese puffs... and the obligatory sausage rolls. I hope we drank enough between us to pay for it all! But it was very welcome despite plenty of people grabbing food before the pub. Getting out of South Shields was a bit of an adventure involving a bizarre discussion between our bus driver and a marshall as to whether what we were on was technically a bus. It turned out we weren't enough like a bus to go down the "Bus Only" road and so we had to spend an hour in the sort of shuffling traffic that reminded me of the start.

Did I mention that it rained for almost the entire race? No? Well apparently it did. Definitely a race worth doing, I'd go so far as to say that for me it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

... Pam Kirkup ...

This was my 19th Great North Run, the first one being 30 years ago in 1982. As my first ever race, it got me started running seriously and led me to joining my first club, Durham City Harriers, along with Jan Young.

Number-swapping? Noooooooo ... As the world's biggest, arguably greatest, half marathon it has rightly earned the terms 'iconic' and 'inspirational'. The images of the Tyne Bridge as thousands of runners pour over the river; the Red Arrows performing in perfect symmetry; the incredible feeling of seeing the coast after that harsh climb through the eleventh mile and then what seems like the longest mile in history, that run to the finish. The all-inclusive ethos of the race is impressive. Everyone from the superfit: whether it be Ethiopian and Kenyan superstars, finely honed celebrities, elite club runners or competent recreational runners down to the totally unfit and relatively unprepared; all are there mostly raising money for very personal charities and get round somehow. It's all amazing - but does it have to cost so much? At £48 it's considerably more expensive than London Marathon Club entrants paid this year. And if you defer your number, you have to pay the £48 all over again!

Yet on Sunday Striders filled a 50+ seater bus with mostly runners, a few supporters and race volunteers. Others made their own way there. The bus dropped us off incredibly early, so we had plenty of time to 'mentally prepare' for the race ... which seemed to involve many trips to the loo, consuming bananas and having a go at carrying George's Olympic torch. It was surprisingly heavy - no wonder Emma and Dougie were recruited as "torch Sherpas"! Eventually the start time grew closer so we all retired to our start 'pens', identified by the race number. Mine was 'white zone G'. There I met up with Christine Farnsworth and we compared the relative inadequacies of our preparation; we would both just "get round". Christine had "done no real training" other than "just 4 miles" at the most. After the bizarre warm-up aerobics session we began to move forward. Twenty two minutes after the gun we approached the start line ... and she was off like a rocket! No real training? Hmmm!

My first impression was how hard it was actually running on tarmac! Having spent the last two and a half months training mostly on the Waskerley Way and other similar tracks and trails it felt like the soles of my feet had been beaten by bamboo sticks. Then the rain started! For me this race is such familiar territory that I know whether or not I've blown it pretty much by Heworth. All was well at that point but the rain was getting heavier so it wasn't comfortable. However, it was amazing how quickly the miles seemed to pass by. My target was to finish before 2.30 and I'd tried to stay with the pacer for that time but to no avail. Without my glasses, steaming up in the rain, I couldn't see him anyway!

As always the crowds cheering us on, the music, just the whole buzz of it all kept me going. Louise and Victoria, going really well, passed me at around 9 miles. That slight uphill bit on the John Reid Road always does for me. This year it was entirely psychological - I was reaching the furthest I had run in training. So it was starting to unravel a bit. But I soon recovered and pressed on. When I was able to put my glasses back on I realised I'd been following the 2.15 pacer! Anita passed me on the hill towards 11 miles. She was looking relaxed and comfortable. Not long to go now - it would be a breeze. Once I got to the downhill stretch to Marsden I knew it would be ok, I should finish in about 2.20. To my delight it was actually 2.16.49!

Once again I had that intense feeling of elation and achievement. The finish was extremely well managed. I met Kate McPherson who was delighted with her time and then I wandered off to the "Charity Village". This year I am supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care - conspicuous by their absence around the course it has to be said. Never mind, they were offering every comfort in their marquee - even a "double leg massage". There was a bit of a queue so after a cup of tea and a flapjack I left in seek of the baggage bus, but more importantly, a pint of lager! At the Look Out pub Striders were gathering, all exchanging stories of experiences around the course, times and a few PBs. It was a very happy enjoyable afternoon. The landlord had put on a buffet for us - apparently we had spent so much money on beer etc last year that he had wanted to thank us.

So was it worth it? I asked first timer (surprisingly) Colin. He had mixed views. Not too keen on the hype or "warm up" before the race - I'm with him on that one! Also some of the crowds and runners barging/ stopping dead in front of you was a bit of a problem but I think it was otherwise ok for him. He'll no doubt tell me if I've got it wrong!

It has to be said that the organisation is superb. Although I'm not keen on the pens at the start. When we left the pub there was total gridlock. We were inexplicably prevented from using a road that had been closed other than as a bus lane. Weren't we a bus? So maybe Brendan needs to rethink his transport policy.

Is it worth £48? I don't know - for me I'd do it anyway. The price however might make it less of "the people's race" in this day and age. 55,000 entrants would probably say otherwise. I'm totally against the £48 fee for deferrals - no wonder people pass on their numbers! Anyway, when I got home Paul said "how did you get on darling?" I replied "2.16.49".

His response? "Well done - not bad for an OAP"!!! He may not have any teeth left!

... and George Nicholson

Another Great North Run done and dusted and I still find the 'magic' of the Event as exciting as ever.

Barrie & I never imagined back in 1981 when we had completed our 1st GNR that we would still be running down the same route 31 years later, and we both feel very privileged to be part of a select group of 117 runners. There is a now quite a 'bond' growing with all the 'other presents'. We have our own Newsletter, T shirts, and of course special starting positions at the front of the race, and certainly since 2005 the GNR has become more than just a half-marathon to me.

The support I have had from Striders over the last few years and from many other friends has been absolutely marvellous, and each year I have tried to do something different or original that may help capture the imagination to raise the profile of the my chosen charity and thus encourage donations. As I did not fancy running with a fridge on my back for the 30 days preceding the Run, I took an easier option and decided on Olympic Torch carrying. Thankfully it was still relevant to gain press interest and I was lucky enough to have some interview requests. This aspect however is the one I find the most stressful (as Jacquie knows!) and I never find it gets any easier.

Once more I had great support from other Striders who opted to run and fundraise for Acorns. Monies are still coming in , and between Alister, Sue Gardham, Sue Jennings, Dougie, Emma, Sam Brown (former Sunderland park run director) & myself we will have topped £2500.

As for the Race itself, what can I say that's not been said before? It's a very familiar route to so many of us. Colin & Pam have summed it up perfectly in their reports. The excitement for me is as great as ever.

Starting in Zone A with Barrie & I were Sue J, Emma, Sam & Dougie. Thankfully I'd run the Coll half-marathon with the Torch, and I felt less anxious having familiar faces near to me. The first mile tends to be relatively quick but then soon settles down. Sam Brown left our group and moved ahead and was thrilled with her first sub 2hr half marathon. I lost sight of Sue & Emma for the first mile or so, but they soon caught me up and stopped alongside me for several more miles, thankfully did not hang back for me as I slowed and both recorded PB's.

Dougie in particular was a tower of Strength to me at many vital points en route when I was struggling, and carried the Torch for several of the miles. He caught up with me by Gateshead Stadium and stayed with me all the way to the finish line. The one big regret I had was that we separated just after the Tag removal area. We discussed beforehand the problems that may be encountered if he was photographed with a swapped name & numbered bib pinned to his chest. I was distracted by the first TV crew encountered and then lost sight of him altogether after that. I wish that he could have been by my side at these times and had been interviewed alongside me as well. His effort on the Run was greater than mine as he was also taking photographs , and I feel he did not get the recognition he deserved.

George receives a proposalPerhaps the most surreal moment was on the startline. I had a 'marriage' proposal by one of the 'celebs' !!!!! I did suggest it would have been nicer for him to 'propose' to one of the gorgeous young ladies with me at that moment i.e. Emma or Sam. He was insistent however that it had to be to me and gave me a big hug afterwards. Hmmm.. Without a few minutes his picture of us all was circulated to his 8600 followers on Twitter. It turned out that he was Patrick Monahan a stand up comedian who was sending out regular tweets every mile along the route, and giving his observations of the day. We ran together for the first mile or so and parted company just before the Tyne Bridge.

So another Great North Run done and most of my objectives achieved. Nova International have already commenced their planning for the 2013 GNR. I may defer MY plans for a few more weeks yet...

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1Wilson Kipsang Kenya 00:59:06
1Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia F 01:07:35
836James Garland M 01:29:32
847Simon Gardner M 01:29:36
1056Graeme Walton M 01:31:09
2072Matt Claydon M 01:36:19
2110Jonathan Ackley M 01:36:31
2665John Wandless M 01:38:20
4344Marco van den Bremer M 01:42:46
4431Aaron Gourley M 01:42:58
5613Anna Seeley F 01:45:29
6149Colin Blackburn M 01:46:32
6225David Spence M 01:46:43
6519Konstantin Visegradi M 01:47:17
6850Kathryn Sygrove F 01:47:58
6857Elinor Rodger F 01:47:58
7496Paul Beal M 01:49:06
9687Jean Bradley F 01:52:50
10263Camilla Lauren-Maatta F 01:53:45
11659Jill Ford F 01:55:45
12662Alan Harvey Smith M 01:57:13
13067John Greathead M 01:57:46
13151Sue Gardham F 01:57:53
13172Angela Proctor F 01:57:55
13232Greta Jones F 01:57:59
13275Alister Robson M 01:58:02
15027Sandra Graham F 02:00:27
17004Sarah Tulip F 02:03:41
17122Zsofia Nemeth F 02:03:51
17760Emma Detchon F 02:04:51
18288Danny Lim M 02:05:41
18764Dawn Dunn F 02:06:25
18853Kate Macpherson F 02:06:34
19023Ann Towers M 02:06:50
19447Victoria Tindale F 02:07:30
19490Denise Mason F 02:07:36
19716Jim Nicholson M 02:07:56
19904Dougie Nisbet M 02:08:15
20045George Nicholson M 02:08:29
20458Anita Clementson F 02:09:08
21172Louise Barrow F 02:10:16
21263Carole Reid F 02:10:24
21370Christine Ann Farnsworth F 02:10:36
21396Barrie John Evans M 02:10:40
21696Joanne Richardson F 02:11:09
21697Joanne Porter F 02:11:09
22307Brian Ford M 02:12:10
23221Jacquie Robson F 02:13:43
23501Gary Parkinson M 02:14:11
23680Nicola van den Bremer-Hornsby F 02:14:31
24267Margaret Thompson F 02:15:31
24992Pamela Kirkup F 02:16:49
25183David Thornber M 02:17:10
26074Katie Butler F 02:18:45
26074Robert Clark M 02:26:24
33665Kathryn Clark F 02:37:57
34031Philippa Coffer F 02:39:15
34032Alex Probert F 02:39:15
36222Elizabeth Dick F 02:49:02
38885Mark Reay M 03:14:17

40,041 finishers.

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

Simonside Fell Race, Thropton Show, 15th September

6.4M 1200' Cat BM

Rachael Bullock

Striders at Simonside

Results

PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Nick Swinburn NFR M 43.24
19 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 55.26
28 Geoff Davis NFR MV50 58.41
44 Shaun Roberts MV50 63.51
57 Alister Robson MV40 69.07
59 David Selby MV40 69.49
63 Susan Davis NFR FV50 1 70.29
67 Phil Owen MV40 72.41
71 Rachel Bullock F 73.21
75 David Shipman MV50 76.27
76 Jan Young FV60 1 76.31

83 finishers.

Great North 5K, Newcastle, 15th September

Robert Clark

I’ve got to be honest, I’m a big fan of the Great Run series as I think the atmosphere and crowds in these races are second to none (in my opinion) so when this race was announced I pretty much signed up for it straight away (even if £20 is steep for a 5k [ You're not kidding. Ed. ] ) as I was going to be down the Quayside for the City Games later that afternoon, I thought I might as well make a weekend of it.

On arrival at the Quayside there was a good number of runners who had entered this race, some of whom like me were doing the GNR the following day. As with all Great Runs we did the cheesy warm up, which I couldn’t help but take part in and then the race started. My strategy was to get round nice and easy with the GNR in mind, however I let the atmosphere get the better of me as I ran past the Quayside Bar and over the Swing Bridge, we then heading down past Baja Beach Club and Buffalo Joes (RIP) and as I hit the first mile I was averaging about 8:30 miles, which wasn’t part of my plan, however I felt fine so I stuck with it.

We then ran under the Redheugh Bridge before heading back the way we came along the Quayside, my watch beeped as I hit the 2 mile marker, I had slowed a little as I ran past Buffalos and Baja and up bottle bank before heading towards the Millennium Bridge, we headed along the running track, which would be used for the City Games later that afternoon and across the Millennium Bridge.

However with the finish line in sight, I lost my senses completely as once I passed the Pitcher and Piano I went into a full blown sprint as I had an opportunity to smash my PB. However as soon as I crossed the finish line I felt my groin pull straight away. I couldn’t believe I’d been so stupid rather than take it easy I had put a question mark over whether I’d be able to run the GNR tomorrow (fortunately I was able to with the help of several pain killers) and to add insult to injury I missed out on a PB by seconds.

Overall this is a fast and flat course with a good potential for PB’s, the course itself is pretty good taking in both the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside. However the fee for a 5k is steep at £20 (the 10k is £25), would I enter again next year? Yeah probably.

Roseberry Topping, North Yorks Moors, 12th September

1.4m / 712'

Rachael Bullock

Hmmm, what better way to celebrate my birthday than run up a hill in the mud? So, off we toddled to Roseberry Topping and I was pleased to see quite a clan of purple vests there, 8 of us in total. In fact, I was pleased just to arrive there - poor Jan was delayed 40 minutes on her way to picking us up from Maiden Castle due to a traffic accident in Durham! But we arrived with 15 minutes to spare, perfect timing because it was a fresh, but pleasant, evening and we would have got cold hanging around for too long.

Geoff's speedy descent leaves young fit bloke gasping in his wake.

This is a simple up and down race, only 1.4 miles, so how hard could it be?! Everyone was running for the first 400 m or so before we reached the first gate and the congestion began. I decided to wait patiently to use the kissing gate, thinking it was a good excuse for a quick, innocent breather, but then of course Jan piped up from behind me 'over the gate, Rachael!'. So over I went to tackle the ever-steepening gradient, but I think I was still running at this point. But not for long; it soon became a steady walk with hands on thighs. However, it was very reassuring to have Jan alongside all the way up, being the pro and general running legend that she is, I felt that I was making decent progress. And it was nice to see Dave waiting for us before the final bit of ascent to the top. It was round about this point that Tom and Geoff were already hurtling back down. I was pretty relieved to touch the trig point on the top and take a few breaths before turning around to head back down. I must have been too knackered to think about the view because I don’t recall seeing it! But Barbara, who had a slightly more leisurely race, assured me it was very nice!

Couldn't keep up with Jan on the way down and, as such, I ended up taking the not-so-ideal route that involved lots of slippery paving stones, which slowed me down considerably. But somehow I did catch up with Susan! She was clearly letting, me beat her just because it was my birthday! The last ~400 m of the race, the track after the gate, must have been the only part of the race that I properly ran! Aware that Susan was not far behind, I decided to leg it!

What a funny race! This is my overall summary! Will do it again next year but will put more thought into my choice of route because it's such a short race that it must make quite a difference.

The recovery process begins ... We all went to the pub afterwards for some birthday celebration (it's a very nice pub almost next to the car park). Dave had made the most scrumptious cake (banana, white chocolate and cranberry) and Barbara made some impressive macaroons (gin and lavender flavour!), demonstrating that it is definitely worth to turn out at the cross countries this year!! And then Jan presented me with a Roseberry Topping birthday card, which inside had a detailed sketch and cross section of the geology of Roseberry Topping, demonstrating that really she should be a geologist. A great evening had by all :)

Results

PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Jack Willis Unattached MJ 11.45
8 Bronwen Owen Scarborough AC FJ 14.34
23 Thomas Reeves MV45 15.36
30 Geoff Davis MV55 16.34
53 Mike Bennett MV55 18.14
73 David Selby MV40 21.22
78 Jan Young FV55 22.15
80 Rachael Bullock F 22.53
91 Barbara Dick FV40 32.40

91 finishers.

Summer Handicap Final, 12th September

Phil Owen

Thank you everyone who attended the summer handicaps especially those who were doing it for the first time (and there were lots of you).

Wallington Hall 10K, Northumberland, 9th September

Robert Clark

Having ran the Run Northumberland Half Marathon earlier in the year and struggling immensely with the large hills and heat, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to running this race, however with the Great North Run approaching I thought it would be a good opportunity to see where I was fitness wise. One thing about Wallington is that (as with the Half Marathon) the start line is about a mile walk from Wallington Hall itself, which you can use as a warm up.

Once at the start line I relaxed and just thought about getting round at a steady pace as I wanted to save a bit of energy for the massive hills I knew I would have to tackle at some stage. After the pre race briefing the race got underway and I settled into my stride, as with the Half Marathon the first mile is down hill and my focus was to stay at a steady pace as I have made the mistake of sprinting off too quickly in the past and leaving nothing in the tank for the later stages.

I completed the first 5k in just over 30 minutes, which I was quite happy with as I knew the next 5k was going to be a lot tougher. One thing about this race and the other Run Northumberland races is that there are plenty of hills, the first of these coming just after the 5k stage, I’m not ashamed to admit that I run/walked up this and the other hills that came along over the next two miles. However the worst of these came at about 5½ miles at which stage I was really starting to feel it in my legs. However once I got to the top of this hill, the last part was mostly down hill back into the grounds itself, where I received a warm welcome from all other runners and spectators who had finished the race.

Overall out of the Run Northumberland series this was one of my favourites as it is challenging, no doubt about that but the scenery throughout the race was really nice and ending the race by running into the grounds is a really nice touch. In one sense it’s a shame no more races at Wallington will be held in the near future as I would recommend this race to anyone as it’s cheap and cheerful as well as challenging (although I wont miss the hills).

Sedgefield Serpentine, 9th September

6.5M

Richard Hockin

Sunny skies and calm conditions greeted the five Striders who turned out for this local race, which I believe is just over 10K in length. The very warm conditions and after-effects of the previous day’s birthday celebrations with my two brothers combined to make if feel a little longer than the advertised distance.

The course starts off from Sedgefield Cricket Club, snakes its way past the Serpentine lakes in Hardwick Hall, and then on footpaths and bridleways across arable and livestock farmland towards Bishop Middleham. This is attractive country, with much evidence of participation by local farmers in Countryside Stewardship schemes: there are lakes and ponds adjacent to the route, and wide uncultivated strips on the margins of fields which the race route takes advantage of. Other features of interest adjacent to the route include a quad bike circuit, a golf course and Castle Lake, one of a mosaic of good birdwatching sites in this area, where Durham Bird Club and other conservation organisations have done tremendous work. On the homeward half the route crosses the river Skerne near its source, and then passes close to another lake on the site of the old Fishburn cokeworks, so successfully restored that there is now little sign of this area’s industrial past. Finally the route returns through Hardwick Hall and finishes back at the convivial surroundings of the cricket club.

Overall I think the five of us were well pleased with our times and Jan deserves a special mention for coming first in her age-group category, receiving a trophy and bottle of wine for her success. It was certainly a very enjoyable event in a colourful, relaxed atmosphere, well organised by Sedgefield Harriers. The number of participants has almost doubled since I first completed the race in 2009, and its increasing popularity is not at all surprising.

Results

PosNameClubCatPosTime
1James AskewDurham City HarriersM135:40
32Jane WistowHartlepool Burn RoadF146:53
43Richard HockinM6048:52
50David SelbyM4049:56
72Brian FordM4553:00
109Jan YoungF6060:29
111Barbara DickF4061:12

136 finishers

City of Salford 10K, 9th September

Mike Elliott

The previous week Matt said his sister Claire had entered this race and thought it would be a good idea for me to join her (this would be her 4th previous times being 70, 67, and 65 min). Race plan was organised for a 60 min finish, start time of 10:00 arrived with a temp of 18°C. With all the family watching we set off from the Lowry Centre to complete a lap of the new BBC Media Centre then off along Salford Quays passing the Impressive Imperial War Museum North. Onward to Man U tunnel underneath the stand where we found the only shade on the route. It did not last long and out into the increasing temp of 20°C and back towards the Quays where we came across the much needed water station.

Heat was starting to take the toll on Clair. At 8.5k we could see large chap infront who seemed to be going quite well, so with a suitable comment ("we will get passed that large chap with the big wobbly arse we will pass him in the next 1/2k") that was the inspiration to get us towards the final loop of the Lowry and the finish in 63mins. An excellent PB for Claire as she played in a hockey tournament all day Saturday.

Petzl Lake District Mountain Trial, Stair, 9th September

16M

Dougie Nisbet

I can't recall ever being quite so nervous for a race. Perhaps the first time I did the Grisedale Horseshoe or Kielder Borderer, but even then nothing quite like the raw anxiety I was feeling for the Lake District Mountain Trial. The distance, at around 16'ish miles as the crow flies, wasn't worrying me. I knew I had the stamina. It was the amount of climb and hitting the checkpoints in time before the cutoffs that worried me. The course was described as having 8380ft ascent. That would be point to point, direct, but even so, however you did the sums, it was still going to be a lot of climb. The previous weekend's Grisedale Horseshoe was a mere 5000 feet and that couldn't be described as flat.

At 0902 I jogged away from the Start and by the time I'd got to the map collection area just 700m later I'd already been passed by later starters. But I was pretty determined not to sway from my pace - I was in for the duration and wasn't going to risk burning out chasing people fitter and faster than me. There's not a lot to say about the next 7 hours and 36 minutes apart from it was pretty tough and very interesting. I pride myself that some of my route choices were, shall we say, imaginitive, if not optimal. I was strangely obsessed with not gaining height that I would simply lose again, although, on reflection, this was no different to losing height only to have to gain it again. My route choice for control 3 to 4 involved contouring round the bottom of Great Gable before hitting the unexpected obstacle of Far Tongue Gill, which I leapt with a single bound. Pity there was no one there to see it - and looking back on it, not the most sensible or risk averse thing I've done for a long time. I struggled a bit with the map scale, 1:40000, and ended up hopelessly disoriented midway between 4 and 5 thinking I'd contoured neatly to the control I started searching for summit that was still a good kilometre or so ahead. My next navigational blunder was from control to 6 to 7 where the clever runners tak' the high road, but I tak' the low road and practically everyone hit the checkpoint afore me. It was funny approaching the checkpoint and watching the marshalls jump as I walked up behind them as they were watching for runners approaching from the other direction.

Idyllic mid-race scene. As far as times go I was fairly comfortably inside but getting closer to the limit as the day went on, so that when I finally did finish I only had 20 minutes to spare. Marshals and supporters were wonderful as always and I don't care if it sounds like an cloying overworn cliche but I felt indescribably humbled as I jogged the final yards to the finish to download, with everyone congragulating me for finishing and bagging all the checkpoints. I see from the results that James Leslie (Mountaineer) was also running and finished well inside 6 hours. I'm not quite sure what 'Mountaineer' means, but I'm down on the results as 'Novice', which seems to be pretty self-explanatory.

One interesting advantage navigation events have over straight road or fell races is their capacity for post-race analysis. If you look at the routegadget website for example, you can see the checkpoints and maps for the three different courses; classic, medium and short. Things get really interesting when competitors map their own routes and everyone can compare their different route choices. Rather gratifyingly, the winner of the event Rhys Findlay-Robinson overshot the final control making exactly the same mistake that I did. And he won in 3 hours 12 minutes, a mere 3 hours and 22 minutes in front of me. There's hope for me yet.

Results

PosName Club CatPosTime
1 Rhys Findlay-Robinson Dark Peak M 3:12:46
91 James Leslie MV50 5:44:06
103 Dougie Nisbet DFR MV40 7:36:02

104 finishers, 109 starters.

Major Stone Half-Marathon, Lockington, East Yorks, 9th September

Jacquie Robson

A weekend’s not a weekend in the Robson household at the moment without a parkrun, some other parkrun-related activity and either a stupidly long run or bike ride! So I found myself travelling down to my mum and dad’s in East Yorkshire for a visit this particular Saturday (post-Durham-parkrun, obviously) ready to watch Alister complete the Lockington half-marathon on the Sunday morning and planning to later accompany him on a walk around a park in Hull that is, apparently, just perfect for a parkrun (all parks are, according to Mr R!). But then I figured that, as I was missing my long slow run from Broompark with the Sunday morning crew, I should probably not just stand and watch. Then Alister kindly informed me that there were entries on the day at Lockington. And in the spirit of Dave Robson’s famous advice (’the best way to train for a marathon is to run lots of marathons’ ), I decided that the best way to check if I was ready for the Great North Run the following week was to run a test event. This one! Although I was a bit apprehensive about it (Alister’s reassurance that ‘it’s not flat, but it’s not THAT hilly’ wasn’t overly reassuring), I contacted my friend Jo who lives locally to find she would be happy to run with me and off we went to the pretty little village hall to enter!

A Sea of, err ... Yellow! There were pre-race sports massages on offer outside so I asked the nice lady to see if she could iron out my calf muscle which has been a bit problematic recently (again, I was not overly reassured by the shouts of ‘wow, that’s REALLY tight’ from the experienced physio kneading my leg!). I sniggered a bit when she apologised for being a bit rough (she’s clearly not familiar with the ‘Neil Sleeman School of Physiomasochism’) but she got my leg loosened off and ready to start with minimal bruising!

Lined up on the start line, Jo and I were gossiping away and totally missed the starting gun – there were more people than I expected. Lockington’s a sleepy little village between Beverley and Driffield, on the edge of Yorkshire Wolds, (bizarrely nowhere near East Hull, despite being organised by the East Hull Harriers – which, incidentally, is the ex-club of Jane Spink, the Sedgefield parkrun event director. Small world!) . The run route took us along country roads and the odd path along the side of farmers’ fields. The weather was beautiful, but way too hot for running half marathons and I’d foolishly neglected to put on any suncream (who would expect sunshine in Yorkshire in September?), but it meant that some of the views were particularly nice. It was quite an undulating course but not as hilly as I was expecting after Alister’s description earlier. Although I clearly now have a ‘County Durham’ definition of hilly as the locals running around me complained quite a bit about the ‘hills’. Jo and I made steady progress and we chatted as we ran and ate ShotBloks and drank juice, gently pootling around the course with huge support from the marshalls. I have to admit, it was a nice change to set off in a race determined to jog around and enjoy the atmosphere and have a chat, rather than do my normal ‘go off like a scalded cat and then hang on by your fingernails’ tactic so I have to say I very much enjoyed the run. The route crossed back over itself a couple of times, but it was, in effect, one large loop and even passing back through the edge of Lockington village about three miles to the finish didn’t feel too soul-destroying as the cut-back was far enough away from the finish that you couldn’t see the winners enjoying their post-race cuppa. Soon enough, we jogged back into Lockington to cross the finish line, thanking the extremely friendly East Hull Harrier marshalls as we went. The T-shirt was a nice high-viz yellow tech tee – perfect for these dark nights that are looming in. Every entrant also got a voucher to the rather lovely tea rooms in the village hall, but the queue for the delicious-looking cakes was too long by the time Jo and I strolled in and Alister, who’d been waiting for us for nigh on 45 minutes after having a good run, was itching to go and walk in his park. A couple of years ago, the thought of entering a half-marathon on-the-day wouldn’t have crossed my mind, so I was pleased I’d done it.

Results

PosNameClubCatPosTime
1Steve BATESONEast Hull HarriersM11:12:27
14Jackie LORDCity of Hull ACF11:26:37
75Alister ROBSONMV401:46:28
177Jacquie ROBSONFV402:26:14

189 finishers

Heaton parkrun, Manchester, 8th September

5K

Mike Elliott

Arrived with son in law Matt who had not run since June this year, his idea was to run 30 mins. Stared with a circuit of the big house at the top of the hill - down the hill to cover 1k in 5.22 at the bottom, go L passing the cafe, lake and tram tracks. Then L up a slight incline and into the woods on time. Off round the other side of the lake to get ready for long drag up the bloody hill (200 ft ascent slightly easier than Sunderland). 3.5 k gone and Matt needed a breather, so he kindly let me carry on. At the top there was another circuit of the big house, stopping the watch at 28.59 (165/290). Matt come in at 30.33 (188/290) A good effort. Unfortunately there was a long queue at the finish due to one scanner breaking down. Then it was off to McD's for a well deserved breakfast.

Sabic Tees Pride 10k, Middlesbrough, 2nd September

Alister Robson

One of my favourite races this. Fast, flat, one loop, big atmosphere, inexpensive entry, great goody bag including T-shirt and medal and usually great weather.

Shame I was in no real shape whatsoever then. Overindulging on holiday, no real miles in the legs and a slight niggly injury had me dreading this rather than looking forward to it, but with a half marathon the next week, and three in four weeks after it was do or die.

In the end a chance conversation with Kevin beforehand set the tone - he really fancied having a go at 45 minutes and I was feeling confident I could guide him round at least the first half on schedule. We didn't get off to a great start. They'd changed the route ever so slightly this year which ought to have made the start smoother but it didn't and we got off to a start/stop start. It's chip timed though, so there was no real panic but for the first mile or so, which contains the only real climb to speak of we were running a bit faster than we wanted and weaving in and out a bit more than we would have liked.

Soon we settled down to the right pace and although it was hot all seemed well. There are loads of bands and singers out on the course and each give you a real lift. Plenty of drink stations and lots of supporters too.

We were perhaps a touch too fast at the halfway mark and as predicted I started to die off. I urged Kevin on telling him not to waste the hard work we'd laid down, but as it turns out I think the stuttery fast start and heat took its toll and Kevin finished just outside his target - there's always next time - and I was just pleased to get round comfortably and not in too much pain. A good marker for later performances and always a pleasure to run such a great event. Graeme Walton was first male Strider home in less than 42 minutes, nearly 5 minutes ahead of me.

Derwentwater Lakeland Trail Races, Keswick, 1st September

15K and 10K

Denise Mason on the 15K Challenge ...

Before the off ... I've been looking forward to this event for a while as I love getting over to the lakes and making a big camping weekend out of it. Zoe and Jane had come through to camp with us and brought their partners/family and I had managed to convince my boyfriend John to come through for his first big race. Having never raced before I was a little nervous for him especially as I knew what to expect with the terrain! We met up with Dave and Mel too who had come through only for the day as they had another 10 mile race back home to run on the Sunday.

We were distracted at the start line (Fitz Park) nattering away and listening to the Batala drumming band that we all ended up starting further back in the group. This turned out to be a little frustrating as the first couple of miles were along a narrow cycle path and we couldn’t get in to a comfortable pace. Knowing how competitive John is it was no surprise that he soon went ahead of me and ran with Zoe's boyfriend Scott who had also gone ahead.

Zoe, Jane and I managed to stay together for a little while longer before Jane broke free and upped her pace. After approximately 3 miles we started a 3 mile long steep boggy ascent which proved (for me) impossible to run up. At one point I was thigh deep in mud! Zoe powered on ahead of me but I managed to keep her in sight for most of the climb. The views at the top were fantastic and I had to remind myself to keep concentrating as by this point we were running over some huge rocks which were pretty slippy after all the previous mud. It was pretty windy too as we started descending and my legs were really feeling it.

View from above. Having missed the first water station I was glad to down a sports drink with a chunk of Kendal mint cake at the second before starting the steep descent back to Fitz Park. When I say steep, I mean this was really tough on the hips! I briefly remember Dave and Mel storming past me as I realised we were really close to the finish. I absolutely thudded my way back to the finish line and as I ran the last couple of hundred meters I saw John standing clapping. I was very relieved to find him uninjured and smiling!

I finished in 1:35:49, last strider home, a minute behind Zoe and a full 18 minutes behind John (not that I'm bitter).

We got the tents set up at Rydal Hall campsite and had a lovely night of BBQ, food and beer before heading home.

... and Kathryn Sygrove on the 10K:

This was my very first trail race, done with Kate MacPherson, so we chose the brand new 10k instead of the 15k Challenge or Trail Race (same route but Challenge had more time to complete it). That was done by Zoe, Denise, Ellie, Jane Ives, and a few of their other halves. Oh Mel and Dave Robson were there too!

Kate on the hills. We arrived in plenty of time to register - about 9.10am and had till 10am to do so, even though the race started at 11am. There were stalls, food, coffee and teas, ice cream, local products and foods, Pete Bland Sports and a nice carnival atmosphere built up nearer the start with a great samba band. My hubby went off to climb Skiddaw, and the kids enjoyed the nearby park, food, music and atmosphere. As we lined up at the start (the other races were later in the day) the Samba band did a great intro, we had safety warnings, and headed off to the drums roaring - great stuff!

We headed up and out past the Sports Centre along 4km of woodland trail, before hitting THE mega-hill of great steepness which lasted about 2.5 km. Ouch! I plodded up a wee while, passed the half-way mark to marshalls ringing cowbells, was told I was fourth lady at that point, and then proceeded onto tough, rough, grassy uneven terrain -and steepness. A bit of walking was needed as the calves started to burn, and I fell into sixth lady's place, but reckoned I would catch them on the downhill - as if!!! I didn't realise just how steep THAT would be either..so, having found a tree at which point to run again, off I went, racing past the second water station at Latrigg carpark, and plunging downhill sharply, on gravelly trail paths, round tight corners, through wooded bits, and onto more gravelly steep terrain.

I heard some footsteps behind me and tried to fend off another lady runner as we pelted downwards, but felt as if my feet might pull away underneath me, so had no choice but to slow a wee bit to ensure I didn't land on my bum! She went past, and I realised that my well-worn Brooks' addiction shoes (non-trail but grippy enough) weren't quite up to the job. Still, once at the bottom my poor legs didn't know what had hit them - thud! and they had to move on the flat again, up a tiny incline, round a bit of woods, over a field, and round the play park to the finish. My legs were done for, but plodded bravely on to the ever-loudening sound of the samba drums, drum-rolling every finisher home (as they did with all races that day!). I managed a small acceleration and couldn't believe I had finished in 48 minutes and something, only 19 seconds outside my 10k PB.

At one point, we thought the race was only 5.5 miles (Kate's Garmin stated that). The race organiser said 9.7km. Thankfully Ian Skelton (who ran on George's Shadforth run) had done the race and said he lost at least half a mile satellite-wise through the trees, but his time was right. Phew! Although I finished a bit further down the ladies' list, I was 7th lady, 2nd in my age group, and well-pleased. So much so, that we have signed up for the Lakeland Trail 17km at Haweswater at the end of April. Anyone care to join us????

Grisedale Horseshoe, Glenridding, 1st September

10M

Dougie Nisbet

In what has become an annual ritual I found myself in the Glenridding car park reading the fine print on the ticket machine. How much time did I want? Better go for a day's worth, after all, I wouldn't want to rush things. After paying £7 for parking, I made my way to registration to pay £5 for fell racing. Or tried to anyhow. Kit checks were quite strict this year and I had to go back to the car and find my compass before they believed I really did have a compass. I noticed with some alarm that there was a cut-off time at the Grisedale Tarn checkpoint this year of 2 hours. This worried me a bit - I was pretty sure I could get there in time but it would probably be a close thing.

It didn't seem long before we were on our way and straight up the familiar climb of Mires Beck then a bit of a reprise before Red Tarn and the swirly mists of Catstye Cam. I hit the sharp left at the summit at 65 minutes and then along Swirral Edge towards Helvellyn. A few minutes slower than I wanted but still on time I hoped for the Grisedale Tarn checkpoint. Along Swirral Edge through the cloud to Helvellyn. I love this bit of the race as some of it is hand over hand scrambling and it's even better when the cloud's down and you're never quite sure where the path ends and the crags begin. I peered ahead and for a second I thought I saw a couple of mountain bikers coming the other way. Mountain bikes, on Swirral Edge? Must be imagini.. oh, apparently not. Well it takes all sorts I guess!

Up and onto the Helvellyn ridge and the fast blast south towards Dollywaggon Pike. This was my fourth year of running this race and I could probably do this stretch with my eyes shut now. Which is probably just as well as a lot of the time it's usually wrapped up on a swirling misty haze. A couple of runners joined from the left after making the common mistake of veering too far east after hitting the Helvellyn trig point (this is how I make time in this race - I rely on other people getting lost!). Around the shoulder of Dollywagon Pike you start looking for the Grisedale Tarn checkpoint. I was flying on GPS and memory along the ridge but I'd learned from last year that a compass is better for descent if it's cloudy because the GPS just messes about too much and tells you nothing interesting, useful or entertaining. But no need - the checkpoint was clearly visible and there was some fabulous manic descending on offer. Ignoring the path you take a direct route to the checkpoint choosing a rough line through the grass and rocks. I was wearing a new pair of Mudrocs and they were proving to be a revelation. Although I tend not to get too excited or evangelical about shoes they really were proving to be the Canine's Nadgers. A joyous confident descent where I picked up a few places found me at the checkpoint and I anxiously checked my watch. 1 hour 40 minutes! 20 minutes to spare. Happy Man!

Now where was that compass ... I grinned for a few yards before the climb up St Sunday Crag. Monitoring the runners ahead and behind for future reference I concluded that it doesn't matter too much how you get to the top path. Whether you climb up to the ridge earlier or later seemed to matter little as our positions were pretty much unchanged as we approached the summit. A little way down the other side I caught a couple of runners trying to find the mythical scree. "Too early!" I yelled, and found myself shouting "Follow Me!" as I charged down to the portal that I finally found last year. This year I had a text book (that's my own personal text book ya understand!) descent of St Sunday Crag. Absolutely spot on. Down the scree, veer right to avoid the bracken and boulders, cross Blind Cove and hug its eastern side all the way to the bottom, crossing back over at the wall to hit the track. I notched up a couple more gains on my fast descent but was pretty done in as I waded through the river and trudged up towards the last climb. Sitting patiently waiting for me at the side of the track was Roberta having a quiet cup of tea having had a walk up the valley, so I stopped for a chat and a rest (as one does during a race) until I realised my hard-won gains were passing me again and I had to be on my way.

When you look at the route elevation the final climb up Grisedale Brow looks a bit feeble compared to what has been before but it really is a malevolent little climb. It's like a slow-mo fight scene in a film, where runners ahead and behind seem to be reeling and swaying and not getting any closer or further away. It goes on much further than the laws of physics should allow until eventually you get to the final checkpoint and it's downhill all the way home.

Unusually for a back-of-the-pack runner such as me I had a little clump of runners just ahead, rather than the usual expanse of empty space of which I'm more familiar. The clump veered right after the checkpoint - yes that makes sense because you get a slightly better line for the descent, but then, they just kept going. I couldn't believe it, they were going a weird, and possible wrong, way, and I was following them! Why was I following them, I've done this race three times before. So why was I following them? Probably because it takes much less thinking than actually, well, thinking. I came to my senses and turned sharp left onto the grass and straight back down Little Cove and Mires Beck. I kept glancing round expecting the Other Runners to be hot on my heels but they were nowhere to be seen.

I finished in 3:18, a PB by about 8 minutes. Probably as much due to honing my route choice than actually being faster than four years ago, but I was happy, especially as it was another 5 minutes or so before the next runners came home. It was nice to get back in time for the end of the prize ceremony too - I've never managed that before in this event! After a few cups of tea I headed back out to find Roberta. Then we both went back to the Village Hall and drank some more tea. 5000 feet does that to you.