Race Reports, August 2013

Watergate 5K, 29th August


Simon Gardner

I had been looking on northeastraces.com website as I had fancied doing a couple of short races and also ones that I had not done before. This race which was put on by Low Fell running club sounded ideal.

I picked Alister up from maiden castle and together with someone from Derwentside AC we made our way to the race start. The race is very easy to get to its just up the A1 till the lobley hill turn off then at the top of the hill your bear left until the Ravensdene lodge where we parked.

The race itself is a 2 lap course that is ran on woodland type paths part of which make up the tanfield railway path. It’s also undulating but not a killer by any means. I did find it a bit of a struggle to be honest and by the time I came round to the last climb before the finish I knew my sub 19min target was probably not going to be attainable but i had managed to get round and my calf had felt ok.

We went back to the Ravensdene lodge for some free food and see the prize winners. Canny night and a good race it’s something I would definitely do again.

Pathfinder Marathon, Cambridgeshire, 26th August


Melanie Hudson

This event is named after the 2nd World War Pathfinder Squadrons which flew from airfields in this area and this was its 16th year running. There were four different distances to choose from, 9, 14, 20 or 26 miles. The event is pretty low key and when we got to the venue and it was just a tent and two portaloos in a field.

I was very surprised to discover that on our second race on our trip away I bumped into two people I knew and Dave knew about ten. The running world seems to be very small and it is always nice to see familiar faces at these things.

We also were not sure on where the marathon would take us as we were only given the route description on arrival. It was advertised as a marked course, although I am not sure if the whole course was marked, the tape was either missing or like the bits we did find, were so small they were difficult to spot. So we were relying heavily on the route description. I normally let Dave do the navigating, as it isn't one of my strong points, but for some reason I decided to do it for a change. I found our way okay and quite enjoyed doing the navigating, maybe I will take on this responsibility more often in the future.

A lot of the walkers had already set off when we had arrived, when it came for the runners to start there were very few of us, maybe 40 in total.

It was very warm, even at half eight, when we began. Despite this we were making good progress for the first ten miles. However then the sun came out in full force, it was 24 degrees, with very little breeze and no shade. It had been pretty flat up until this point but as usual as the sun comes out the course seems to get hiller, with the two things combined we slowed a little, however we were still making very good progress. The checkpoints were pretty unimpressive, just water, squash and biscuits (such as bourbons and custard creams), however for a £4 entry fee or £7 if you want a nice mug, you cannot complain. The checkpoints were about every five miles, however at one point there was a long gap of about seven miles, which in hot weather wasn't great, we were carrying water but we were drinking so much that we ran out and it was another two miles until the next checkpoint and we got a bit dehydrated. Dave started to suffer and we slowed even more, even after we got to the next checkpoint (at mile 22) and re-hydrated the heat had taken its toll on Dave. At mile 23 I was sick as a chip with the heat and just wanted to get finished so Dave told me to run on ahead. I was very relieved when I saw the finish, then found some shade to sit in and cheer Dave in at the end.

The course was pretty flat, with some undulations. It was on a mixture of road, concrete paths, gravel paths and fields. Not the most scenic of courses I have done but it did take us through some pretty villages and it was pleasant being in the countryside.

Not the Ellesmere 10K, Shropshire, 25th August

Colin Blackburn

On Sunday I didn't do the Ellesmere 10K. In fact I didn't know the Ellesmere 10K existed. But I was in Ellesmere. Not Ellesmere Port but Ellesmere, Shropshire. Ellesemere is pretty. Ellesmere has a mere and so Ellesmere is flat. Ellesmere is pretty flat. The Ellesemere 10K has 31 metres of climb. That's 3 metres of climb for every kilometre. It's that flat. Oswestry Olympians, the club that organises the Ellesemere 10K, say, "This race was won [in 2012] in 29.12 which was the 6th fastest time in the UK for a road race." It's that flat. The Ellesmere 10K has chip timing. The Ellesmere 10K costs only £10. That's £1 per kilometre. The Ellesmere 10K includes a technical t-shirt and a goody bag. The Ellesmere 10K is good value. The Ellesmere 10K has PB potential. Oswestry Olympians say, "The sun usually shines on this race." On Sunday the 25th of August 2013 the sun did shine on the Ellesmere 10K.

I'd recommend the Ellesmere 10K but I didn't do the Ellesmere 10K. I went cycling.

Fleetwood Half Marathon, Lancs, 25th August

Graeme Walton

Hammering along the coast ...

My second attempt at this one. Katy was tempted to have a run too, however on checking to see if she could enter on the day we found out that the race was full. As always I got there with time to spare, picked my number up and chilled for a bit. The weather was lovely apart from a cheeky little breeze coming off the sea.

Off we set after the race briefing. The route is absolutely pancake flat with the main challenges being the wind and of course the distance. I had last years time as a target so had meant to pace it at about 7:20s. Unsurprisingly I went too fast and for the first 9 miles I was running little more than 7 minute miles. This had felt relatively comfortable especially as miles 6-9 were wind-assisted.

The pain began after the 9 mile marker as the route changed direction and the wind was now head on. Maybe it was psychological but the final 3 and a bit miles felt slightly uphill!! Anyhow I slowed a little as I battled through the latter part of the race and I was pleased to pass the 13 mile marker. I gave it a bit of a sprint finish to come home in 1:33:14, 2 minutes faster than last year so well chuffed.

The whole route is on tarmac, there are mile markers throughout and the marshalling is superb. Support is patchy but very friendly, with the race well organised. I reckon I'll be back to do this one again, hopefully with some Strider company next time.

Mulbarton parkrun, Mulbarton, Norfolk, 24th August


Melanie Hudson

It was very heavy rain when we arrived at Mulbarton (near Norwich) and everyone was sheltering under a tree before we headed over to the start. We thought it was unusual to find a parkrun in such a small village. We were given a warm welcome by the people there and we met up with someone that Dave knows who lives in Norwich.

The parkrun consisted of three and three quarter laps of a flat, common, opposite the village houses. The course was all on grass, which was pretty wet from the heavy rain but thankfully had not turned into a mud bath. Someone said that in winter time it is like a cross country course.

When we had finished the parkrun we spotted someone in a Sedgefield top, what are the chances of bumping into someone local to us at a small village parkrun. It turned out the be the Sedgefiled parkrun race directors.

There didn't seem to be anywhere to go for breakfast after which was a shame. However they did say that in the future the farm shop down the road will start to do breakfasts from 10am on a Saturday.

Durham Summer XC Relays, 21st August


Simon Gardner

Brilliant turnout! When I initially put the information out about this event I thought we would should manage to get 2 teams interested maybe even 3 teams however I completely underestimated how much interest there would be!

24 Striders stepped forward and we had 8 teams willing to run which was fantastic. I have to be honest and say sorting out the teams proved to be a little trickier and time consuming than I first thought it would be. I printed out the list of all the Elvet Striders PB performances at Durham parkrun and I also needed to work out what each category each team came under was it Senior / Vet / Mixed etc so it was off to the power of 10 website to print out the list of every Strider and their age category but eventually everything fell into place and I had my teams.

That hill ...

As expected some people could not run which was my biggest fear but a huge thank you goes out to Fiona, Lucy and Angela for stepping forward and running. After a final rearrangement of the teams everything was ready to go. I got to the cricket pavilion early and picked up the numbers and waited for everyone to arrive.

The course itself is set on the pitches opposite the old Durham parkrun finish and involved 2 laps each of approximately 1500 Metres (I think it worked out in total at 1.93 Miles on my Garmin). You started at the cricket pavilion heading out around the bottom before heading up the steep but thankfully short bank to the top field before heading back down running past the bandstand back towards the start and heading out back out for lap 2.

At the start I found myself near the back but this was best for thing for me as it stopped me going off too fast and dying half way around, I do also like picking off runners which I did several times on lap 2. I crossed the finish line in an unofficial 11:02 and as soon I crossed the line Gareth was away for the second leg.

The Relays are great to run in and also to spectate as they are runners everywhere so it makes great viewing.

I think everyone enjoyed the night and they were some really good performances so thanks to everyone who took part and to Durham City Harriers for the event itself.

Ray Harrison 10k Road Race, Billingham, 18th August

Katy Walton

It had been a month since I had ran a race so decided to enter this one on the day. We got to the Billingham Synthonia Stadium at nine thirty and I ran to register. Finding no queues I was in and out with my number quickly so ran back to the car to prepare for the race. With time ticking on I decided to go to the stadium to see who was here and have a quick warmup. I was delighted to find two Striders (Nicola Whyte and Debbie McFarland) inside covering from the rain outside. Once again more Striders who I had never met before.

We made our way to the start and as unusual Graeme and the kids wanted a photo (embarrassing!) and a last word from Graeme "don't go off too fast, there is a downhill start take it easy ..." The horn sounded.

Setting off down a hill trying to hold back, over the metal bridge, down to the roundabout into a built-up area, I wasn't feeling very energised. I was willing for the 1k board, feeling tired and it felt like I'd run for ages but still no sign and then my watch beeped, first mile. A wave of relief came over me, and slight disappointment as I like seeing the boards tick up as you kill the kilometres.

Heading up a slight incline wind blowing the wrong way I pass the 2k sign and head back toward the stadium. The race was a short loop 3k and then a large loop 7k. Shout from Graeme and the kids spurred me a little bit but I just didn't feel great.

The route headed out towards some chemical plants and then past another plant that smelt like rotten eggs, I did wonder if it was safe to breath but had no choice. The water station was welcomed dearly.

I rounded a corner and there was a 5k sign, wow I'm half way, very relieved because it had come round quite quick and at this point I was beating my Durham parkrun time.

From 7k up to 9k I was running into the wind again with a slight incline and cars passing on my right. Passing the 9k sign I pushed myself to go faster (actually it was downhill so was going faster anyway with out me having to add the effort) to the end.

I was pleased to finish, some days you're good to race and some days you're not. This day I was not.

On the whole a good well organised race.

Exhibition Park 5K, Newcastle, 18th August

Simon Gardner

This race was previously called the Elswick cup and had been organised by Newcastle council but with the recent budget cuts it was in danger of being scrapped but thankfully Tyne Bridge harriers stepped forward and decided to take on the organising of this race renaming it the Exhibition Park 5K.

Having ran the bridges of the Tyne race which Tyne Bridge Harriers also organise I was very keen to give this a go. The organisation is first class and they must put in a huge amount of work to ensure each race is a success.

The race route takes place in the same area as the Newcastle parkrun but if differs significantly from it. You start in exhibition park doing a loop of the lake before heading up the gravel path towards grandstand road (opposite direction to the parkrun) then running through the gate with a lovely long straight back down towards where the parkrun finish area would before heading around the museum and lake again and back towards the finish.

I had had a poor week with my Achilles being very sore and having to drop out of the track session on Wednesday and also a cold which I was struggling to shake off. I did wonder if I should give it a miss but I thought its only 20 minutes running at most so just give it a blast.

After the whistle went we set off and I was immediately overtaken by loads of runners but I stuck to a pace that I thought I could maintain, thankfully this paid dividends as soon as we hit the gravel path we hit a really strong headwind and I started to go past people who had left me for dead at the start. The wind made things much harder and I was hurting going up grandstand road but I knew I had a really nice long straight to come and the wind while never behind me would not give me the same problems. Despite feeling very tired towards the end I managed a last blast and crossed the finish line in 18:49 with all things considered I was pleased with the time.

I waited at the finish to see Mel and Dave come in also in good times; they were only 186 runners which finished on the day which is a little disappointing. I think this an excellent race, chipped timed, fast course (minus the mud and wind!) and only £5 for club runners. I’ll be back for another go next year.

Hardmoors Saltburn marathon, Saltburn, North Yorkshire, 11th August


Dave Robson

The Hardmoors Saltburn marathon route was a bit of a mystery. There had been a map published on the website, but we already knew that there would be changes to the route through Guisborough Woods. The route was to be fully marked, but it was going through some dodgy areas and I was doubtful the tape would remain there, so I printed off the map from the website, drew the route and downloaded it to our garmins, just in case. The route on the garmin helped a lot when we found some of the tape confusing or missing or apparently put somewhere to send us the wrong way, though we didn't see that.

Dave in the money!

Melanie and I met up with a few familiar faces in Saltburn Lesiure Centre. Phil Owen was there as he was going to be handling two busy road crossings. We started through some streets and made our way down to the Cleveland Way and up to Skelton, Skelton Green and started the long drag up in the direction of Slapewath. Steep descent there, cross the first busy road and up through the motorcycle woods (they probably have another name !). Then after getting to the top we were directed off the Cleveland Way through Guisborough Woods, a lovely downhill, but we knew that this would be followed by a climb. It certainly was, a steep climb up an overgrown path which came out about 150 metres from where we had left the Cleveland Way. More climbing (but gentler) and then leaving the Cleveland Way again for a descent down and up onto the moors above Commondale. The moors took a bit longer to cross than I anticipated, but we got to Commondale and then had a steep climb out of there, then it got more gentle.

We had had a brief shower earlier, but we hadn't got the waterproofs out, but we could see some very black clouds approaching, so it was out with the waterproofs. A good choice because for the remainder of the path across the moors it threw it down, just torrential rain. Got to the second busy road crossing and Flip guided us safely across and the countryside became more rural. We came across one piece of ambiguous tape and as we got there about eight runners emerged having made the wrong choice of route. We probably would have made the wrong choice too, but all of us now chose the right route.

I had expected this part of the route, 14m onwards, to be fairly flat, fairly undulating would be a better description. The weather was getting warmer too, so we slowed a bit. We reached Skinningrove safely and so I knew we were approaching the coastal part of the Cleveland Way again. However, I knew we had to go up to the cliffs, so we started the ascent and reached a junction where we could go up a road, down a road (but towards the coast which was the right direction) or straight on up an overgrown path. Several runners were there scratching their heads. No tape in sight. We decided to go up the road as that was closest to the route on my watch and everybody else followed. It turned out to be the right way as tape eventually started again.

Nice run along the Cleveland Way with a breeze to cool us down :-) though I was starting to struggle a little here. Got to the last checkpoint outside the Ship Inn in Saltburn and the marshall said to follow the Cleveland Way route past the Spa Hotel and it had been retaped. But before we got there we found more tape sending us down by the river. We took that path and then a taped path upwards. The tape then disappeared, but I know this area a bit so we kept on heading up to the road and found our way back on to the Cleveland Way. More tape took us slightly down again (this route was turning out much hillier than I expected), before the final climb back up to the road leading to the Leisure Centre. 5hr 43min which is probably our fastest Hardmoors marathon, they certainly are hilly !

Then to my surprise I learnt that I had won my age category and was presented with a very nice trophy. A lovely end to a lovely day :-)

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Darlington 10K, 11th August

Conrad White

My first ever chip timed run - "you must get out more" I hear you veterans of chip timed runs say. I left it late, but sent the hopeful email into the ether about car shares - my saviour came late on Saturday evening from Jackie (a full car with Pippa, Lisa and Jackie's son Andrew who raced with a 40 lb pack!) We had a very social trip down (and back and felt very eco as well) and met up in Darlington centre with other Striders - big club turnout for this one.

The race is well organised and the facilities with the town centre sports complex and the short walk to and from the start and finish around the centre made it all very pleasant. The sun, but not too hot, may also have been a factor.

Gone are my days of starting at or near the front, going for broke and hanging on - or maybe not - we will see what the future brings. But on this occasion things seemed to go to plan, which was to try and run a steady consistent pace. With chip timing I thought there was no panic to cross the line too soon so started with Alister and Caroline (from Crook AC). I thought they would know a thing or two about where was a good place to stand. The start is up a slight incline (which leaves the finish on a gentle downhill), then there are two large laps and a final finish into the city centre. Not the flattest course but not really hilly, more undulating. My legs have not felt as good as they did for a number of years and as the markers went by the pace seemed pretty steady. As it turned out the second 5k was only 20 seconds slower than the first 5k. Although I did not see Alister I knew he would be somewhere near and that kept me going. As it turned out I was in his sights all the way. With a mile to go I was passed by Caroline (who rumour told me had run 10 miles before the race). We both had the same chip time.

As always Striders can be pretty vocal and as runners came in there was lots of support given by those who had already finished. The city centre was set up for the event with many stalls. Forget the Sea of Purple - this ended up as an Ocean of Orange - T-shirts so bright my wife will not allow it in the bedroom! One to be definitely "seen" in. My aim had been to beat my previous (hilly) 10Ks of the year - which I am pleased to say I did by three minutes. Watch out for the fluorescent T-shirts - there were 25 Striders in the results. And I have some GP points - but a bit late in the season. Maybe another year for the GP.


PosName Club CatTime
1 Wondiye Fikre Indelbu Ethiopia M 0:30:10
12 Alyson Dixon Sunderland Strollers F 0:34:06
151 Paul Pascoe MV40 0:41:12
226 Conrad White MV55 0:42:41
233 Alister Robson MV40 0:42:54
323 Matthew Crow M 0:44:58
341 John Hutchinson MV55 0:45:24
345 Fiona Jones FV35 0:45:28
358 Megan Bell FV35 0:45:59
480 Paul Beal MV50 0:48:27
512 Jackie McKenna FV45 0:48:26
539 Ian Graham MV55 0:49:42
556 Greta Jones FV45 0:49:52
572 Camilla Lauren-Maata FV45 0:49:12
574 Sue Gardham FV35 0:50:04
581 Katherine Preston FV45 0:50:13
590 Christopher Hedley MV55 0:50:20
623 Lydia Hutchinson FV45 0:51:07
746 Kirsty Anderson FV35 0:53:09
814 Jacquie Robson FV35 0:54:28
878 Anita Clementson FV40 0:55:04
946 Angela Coates FV40 0:57:57
999 Sue Jennings FV45 0:59:18
1008Lisa Hetherington FV40 0:59:16
1079Mike Elliott MV65 1:02:18
1111Philippa Coffer F 1:02:58
1148Emma Louise Detchon F 1:05:08

1258 finishers.

Long Tour of Bradwell, Peak District, 10th August

33m / 6500'

Paul Evans

Another year, another attempt at this relatively-short ultra tour of the Hope Valley. Last year, in glorious sunshine I completed this in 6hrs 36 minutes, having made a couple of navigational errors but still achieving a respectable 16th place overall; I hadn't really trained for it and struggled over the homeward third in the heat, but had at least achieved my aim of completing my first ultra. This time, with a few 20-mile+ races under the belt, I was hoping to better that.

As I understand is often the way at these events, the race began in a relatively low-key fashion, with people ambling from the pavilion on Bradwell sports field at a very leisurely pace, still clutching polystyrene cups of tea and chatting. A few words from the organiser set off roughly 100 of us down the narrow path to the cement works in air that was still cool and shaded by overgrown trees. CP1 appeared surprisingly quickly, just before the climb up through the Pin Dale limestone quarries began, and I realised that my decision to start near the back was paying off, in that everything felt...comfortable, is probably the best word; certainly, chatting to a few runners who I'd raced against previously, including Dave Bethell (who it turned out, after his flying start last year, had blown up 12 miles in and was pacing himself this year) was not just possible but easy.

The first climb out of the way by CP2, the fun began - CP3 is in Castleton, at the bottom of Cave Dale, and the sheer beauty of the dale in no way compensated for the difficulty of maintaining speed down a path comprised entirely of wet, loose limestone; as a rubbish descender at the best of times, I lost a good few places and gained only bruises here. Two long drags took us over Hollins' Cross to Edale (CP4) and then onwards to CP5 at the Druid's stone on the top of Kinder Scout. Memory deceived me into thinking that by staying on an obvious path and looking left for a big lump of rock I'd be fine; this would have worked better if Kinder isn't topped with many big lumps of rock amidst the peat and heather, more places lost to people I'd slogged past on the way up. Down Kinder at what felt like a good racing pace and up Lose Hill to the next checkpoint, we now started passing runners doing the Half Tour, which shared our route for the next few miles and minimised the need for navigation on this stretch. Once the trig was touched, it was nice to run down into Hope knowing that all but one of the biggest climbs were in the bag.

The middle part of this race is what I think of as the cross-country section of the race - pretty, with some nice wooded sections, a bit of undulation and a flat stretch along the old railway by Ladybower reservoir. It lacks the brutality of what has come before and provides a chance to top up, with a couple of CPs having bananas and water for refuelling. It also provides a good opportunity to gauge how you're doing by asking the marshalls at CP9 where you are in the field, or did until the Half Tour began this year; I was told I was now in the 'late teens,' position-wise, which turned out to be over-optimistic. Nonetheless, it was nice to cross the very pretty section of weir at Bamford and begin the long drag up to Stanage Edge (CP11), where it began to feel like a proper fell race again; the fact that I had a pack of half a dozen runners in sight may have contributed to this.

Finally, the business end of the race, at least mentally: 2 miles of undulation on mud and rock along the edge, dropping away to the lush valley to yuor immediate right, to CP12, the penultimate water/banana stop. I'd gained good ground and overtaken several more runners by this point, so halted for a minute only and then took the slightly-longer but faster left-hand route of the three choices to CP13, arriving there uneventfully and on my own, the middle route having proved a bad idea last year. A nice stretch by a brook and up through bracken and deciduous woods found me at CP14, no-one lese in sight and I was now feeling confident of a top-ten finish. Obviously, this is where things then went wrong and I made exactly the same mistake as last year, this time on my own, taking a wrong turn ont he way down through the wooded old quarries and arriving at Grindleford railway station again, tacking on half a mile my legs really didn't need and forcing me to overtake again a group of five runners I'd passed on Stanage. Not great for morale, but a steady grind along the valley bottom to Leadmills (CP15) saw only one of them (from Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers) still with me at the final water-stop, and he remained with me through the silent woods of Abney Clough (CP16), the hamlet of Abney and the final climb onto the moors, where we passed a flagging runner. Down the hill (where he lost me with some ridiculously-good descent technique) and a final road stretch and it was all over, in 5 hours and 51 minutes. And, it turned out, 21st place - I'd probably been about 35th when I was told 'mid-teens.'

Any gripes? No; this is a spectactularly good race and we clearly had good conditions, judging by the fact that the leading runners all took time off last year's performance. I felt relatively good all the way round and was happy with my pacing. The organisation was superb, the soup, bread and flapjack afterwards welcome and the atmosphere perfect; the new, shorter Half Tour definitely helped here, as many clubs had runners doing both. An excellent day spent chasing a very high-quality field.

West Midlands parkrunathon, 10th August


George Nicholson

Each year for the Great North Run I try to think of some new and different ways to boost my fundraising. Based on Paul Smith’s idea of running several parkruns in one day I opted to run 8 of the West Midlands parkrun courses on August 10th. My chosen Charity ACORNS have 3 Hospices in that area – Selly Oak nr Redditch, Worcester, and Walsall. It was also their 25th Anniversary. So with a quarter-mile warm up and then 8 x 5k ( 3.1 mile ) separate runs, 25 miles for 25 years took on much significance and would be an obtainable target for me.

George's Tour of the West Midlands ... well done, mate!

With the help of Jane Niven ( Sunderland parkrun’s Event Director ) I was able to make contact with these 8 parkruns, get them to spread awareness and ask if some of their regular runners would run with me on their respective courses.

Julian Hart, my Son-in-Law, who lives near Dudley, and is a member of the Cobra Running Club, also spread the word. I was also extremely grateful to Phil Owen who contacted his network of friends on FETCH. Further help was provided by a couple of my 2012 Torchbearing Friends who lived locally - Tony Worth and Anne Barnes. ACORNS are very well known in the Birmingham area so their assistance in promotion was also invaluable.

The Timetable was set and at each venue and I was greeted by sizeable groups of runners and supporters. The warmth of the reception Anne and I received was truly remarkable. Not only was it a very emotional day, but a productive one too. Their generosity, as well as Striders’ , has been wonderful and I currently have approx £900 in my fund so far, and there is still 4 weeks to go before the main event - the 2013 GNR J

As regards to the runs ? Well the pictures 'Tell the Story'. All lovely parks to run in and lots of happy smiley faces around me. I started at 7:00 am at Leamington, then Bananaman made his appearance in front of the assembled 295 Coventry runners - the only official 9:00 am parkrun of the day. Brueton Park, Arrow Valley, Worcester, and Wolverhampton all started bang on time and we kept close to the 30 mins run time. Walsall also started on time at 5:30 pm. This is a 3 lap course but the hill at the end of each lap began to take it’s toll as I could feel the tiredness creep in. Run time here dropped to 32 mins. Traffic was horrendous getting into Central Birmingham and this was the only time we were late, arriving at Cannon Hill park about 7:15 pm.

By the end of their 2nd lap the nightmares of my VLM 2011 were looking a very real possibility. Cramp and sickness were coming to me a lot quicker than the finish line. The pace dropped dramatically, but I never stopped to walk, and failure was never going to be on the agenda with the 7 running buddies alongside constantly urging me on with their words of encouragement. We turned the last corner and at long last the finish line with another dozen so supporters turning out to cheer me home, came into sight. How could I possibly fail? 8:00 pm by then, a long 13+ hour tiring day, but a Magic One. One with many new friends made and 25 miles run in a total time of 4 hours 08 mins 30 secs , plus a lot of money raised for a wonderful charity - Job Done ! J

Durham Anniversary parkrun, Maiden Castle, 10th August


Katy Walton

At the parkrun again, Graeme and I had passed the kids over to volunteer so we could both run this Grand Prix race.

I find Durham parkrun very hard so wasn't expecting miracle times but with fewer Striders turning up than I thought and Striders running slow as racing Darlington the following day things looked in my favour ... until Fiona Fast Shenton appeared.

Race plan was to keep Fiona in my sights. And we were off, you all know the course along the river over the bridge, around the hard field and back onto the river path, over the hill, over the bridge, back up the river and onto the track.

I was behind Fiona up until we joined the river path and Fiona seemed to pull away making running look easy and effortless. I went around the hill and back along the river - I like this point because you can see who is following (Susan Davies: very closely) - I picked up my pace a little bit to try and close in on Fiona and lose Susan. As I hit the track Fiona was going down the last hundred metres. I passed the finish line with my watch reading 22.35. A few hours later my text message confirmed a new PB by 2 seconds, thank you Fiona and the Grand Prix event, it took 10 months of trying.

7th August Annual Club Run and BBQ, Waldridge Fell, 7th August

David Shipman

As part of the continuing fantastic summer weather, the club run took place in beautiful sunshine, which lasted until the end of the night, so things couldn’t have been better for the crowd of sweaty runners, charred meat, smoked veg and fruit eaters, friends, family and dogs who stood chatting around the BBQs until after 10 p.m. The run followed a meandering route for an hour, taking in a mixture of clear paths, head-high ferns, viscious nettles and brambles, a few hard hills, several bridges and two cooldowns paddling across streams. Because of the heavy rain on Monday several sections were overgrown, very green and lush.

Mandy waits for her enormous corn cob.

As ever, folk new to the fell were amazed it is there and said they never knew about it, some veterans of several such runs still said they didn’t have a clue where we were or where we went to. Susan and Geoff said it should be listed for extra Harrier League training sessions.

A fine array of burnt offerings ...

After the run a sumptuous supper of great variety was produced. Alister won the prize for eating the most burgers, Danny definitely ate the most food, Jules had the fattest sausage, Mike the stumpiest carrot and Mandy the biggest corn cob. Most impressive veggie delight had to be Carolin's kebabs. As ever, Angela drank the most tea.

Jane Tomlinson's Run For All York 10K, 4th August

Danny Lim

Flat, crowded, scenic. That's it, you can stop reading now. But for those of you who want a little more detail, here goes:

I originally joined Jane Tomlinson's York 10K to accompany my friend who was a newish to running. But he had to pull out last minute because of work reasons. Never mind, I really like visiting York and the thought of Betty's Teashop was enough to entice me.

The start and finish of this race is the race course. Mostly charity runners with the odd club vest. There was a carnival atmosphere with an enthusiatic DJ, cheesy music and the mandatory on-the-spot aerobics warm-up (cringe!). I was in a PB hunting mood and was keen to get down to business in a good starting position. Though the organisers allocated pens for sub-45 runners, there was little in the way of provision for 45 to 60 minute finishers.

The first 5km of the race involved alot of weaving and overtaking. Very frustrating! It is a flattish course and should have been good for a PB but the hassle of overtaking people would make me think twice. I started to enjoy myself more as we reached the centre of town. Yorkminster looked lovely bathed in golden sunshine. The shops were still closed but there were already plenty of curious tourists looking on. The crowd support was patchy but some of the residents had come out to cheer us on enthusiatically, which was much appreciated. Our return to the finish was along the banks of the Ouse.

If you want a fun race with great scenery and atmosphere, I highly recommend this one. Plus, you can combine it with a day out in York. However, if its just a good time you're after, choose a more local, small key affair instead. I'm off to Betty's now!

Foulees Stephanoises 10K, Saint-Abraham, Brittany, France, 4th August


Peter Bell

As always I was determined to keep racing as best I could and with a decent problem free run at Lampton a few weeks before I discovered a little 10k race just down the road from the in-laws house in France. I thought there’s plenty of time to train when on holiday so was confident that I would be in top shape leading up to this. However my preparation could not have been worse or better which ever way you look at it. The week before the race was spent in a beautiful French Gite in the Loire Valley with 35 degree heat. This resulted in long lazy days eating French patisserie and doing next to nothing including a 10 day break with no runs…ooopps. Well it’s the holidays!

With race day upon me the whole family rocked up to be introduced to the completely alien (to them) world of running. This was, as all French races are, superbly organised and the local clubs were out in force including some friendly faces I had met at Easter from the ‘Escapade de Malestroit’ running club.

Peter on tour ...

Setting off from the village sports field a grey day broke into baking sunshine. As always I charged off at top speed for the first mile until I realised I was going far too fast and it wasn’t a park run. Turning the first corner the view opened up to reveal the stunning rolling wooded hills of Southern Brittany. I was still setting myself too fast a pace at 6.5 min miles and needed to slow down. We crossed through the little hamlet of Rochefort to the cheers of the locals. Clearly this race was a big event in the calendar of the sleepiest corner of France. Then I turned onto a rough farm track. With maize fields on either side there was no shade therefore cover from increasing sunshine was non existent. The heat was energy sapping and crippling. I was noticeably slowing as I came onto the road to head back to the village for the first lap of this 2 lap course. I continued to slow as these rolling little rises on the course seemed like mountains in 28 degree heat. I needed to pull myself together and get into some sort of regular pace.

A quick loop through the village, past the bar with the tantalising cold beers outside and up the hill to the start point. Then past my own two personal cheer leaders who had spent the morning making a “GO Daddy GO!” poster, I continued for lap two. This was clearly going to be slower as I found my rhythm at about 8 min miles. But still the heat was agonising and however many cups of water went over my head it wasn’t going to help and I just turned my thoughts to finishing. Continuing to slow I was pleased to be nearly finished, rounding the village square for the second time. Climbing the last hill I tried to find shade wherever I could. But the hill just seemed to go on forever until I finally entered the sports field to finish in a somewhat disappointing 50.40 far behind some super fit veterans who made up most of the competitors. Well it was a start and simply made me realise fewer Croissants and more running equals better results next year. Time to eat a crepe and have a cake. Training starts again tomorrow.