Race Reports, January 2013

Pam's Sunday Social Run, Allensford, 27th January

8M

Shaun Roberts ...

Photo-shoot in the Derwent Valley.

Many thanks to Pam and Paul for organising a great run and walk on Sunday! Twenty or so Striders and guests turned up at the car park in Allensford, which somehow managed to be both icy and slushy ... a sign of things to come. Paul Foster lead us along a beck to the west, coming quickly to a bridge for an early photo-shoot, and a view of a waterfall, swollen with melt-water. Then we climbed through fields, then made our way along a country lane in complete flood. Cold freezing feet all round now ... luckily the rest of the route wasn't quite so soggy. As we got onto the C2C to head back east towards Rowley, we had the choice of foot-deep snow to run in, or rutted wet tracks through the stuff - I opted for lots of knee-exercise, for the most part, which kept the feet dry, and the sweat flowing.

Waterfall swollen with meltwater.This stuff was *cold*. On now to the Hownsgill Viaduct, and great views in bright sunshine for miles. This Victorian edifice is being fitted out with anti-suicide fencing, that to my mind will not improve it's looks one bit ... and, I suspect not deter the more enterprising, get-up-and-go type of suicider anyway! Lovely snowy descent back to the River Derwent and a riverbank return to Allensford. Eight miles, but the best part of two hours running through all the snow. Many thanks, Paul - an epic run in those conditions.

Pam lead a lovely walk in the Derwent Valley at the same time as the run. Then off to the Punch Bowl at Edmondbyers for a great lunch, washed down by a choice of excellent beers.

A Sunday well-spent! Any more Sunday Run possibilities, folks?

... Pam adds:

Kim out and about on her new hips! Twenty runners/walkers turned up on a bright but chilly morning. Sadly the car park proved to be more difficult than the previous day - firm snow had transformed into slippery mounds of very skiddy stuff. But we managed and set off. The river banks were soft, slushy and slippery in parts but the main feature (hazard?) of the day was flooding - of varying depths and difficulty. At one point the bank was being submerged by the rapidly expanding river so we had to dodge around a tree to avoid it. Then there was a dash through a 'lake' to cross the stile in a field and finally a farm track which had become a mini stream! Various 'river crossing' techniques were applied while others looked on in amazement (amusement?).

However, it was a bright sunny day, the views were spectacular and we just had such a laugh. Eventually we all arrived at the Punch Bowl for an excellent lunch. 'Man of the Match' for me was Till who managed to run 19+ miles from Durham straight to the pub - and still arrived before the rest of us! Amazing!

I'd just like to thank everyone who braved the conditions for what was a really enjoyable day.

... and Till Sawala:

The Striders social run, combined with a Sunday lunch in Edmundbyers, looked like an excellent opportunity for a long run into previously uncharted territories.

After the thawing and freezing of the past few days had turned the soft snow cover on the railway lines into an icy obstacle course, I decided to swap the trail shoes for a pair of normal running shoes, and hit the roads instead. I left Durham heading east on the A691, through Witton Gilbert and towards Lanchester. The cycle lane turned out to be impassable, and the right side of the road littered with puddles and running water, so I kept to the left side - not recommended on a weekday, but on this Sunday morning, there was very little in the way of traffic (perhaps Andy Murray had something to do with it?). In Lanchester, I left the A road, and after a short detour, turned left onto quiet Newbiggin Lane. I crossed the railway line, only to confirm my earlier decision, and headed straight west. On the climb towards Humber Hill Lane, the going got considerably more difficult, as water was streaming down towards me. However, reaching the crest, I was more than compensated for wet feet by spectacular views of the snow covered countryside.

No end of melt-water about ... I turned right when I reached Longedge Lane, and right again to join the A68 towards Castleside. From here, the road descended steeply towards Allensford and the River Derwent, only to rise again equally steeply on the other side. I took the climb very slowly, navigating frequent puddles and looking out for occasional cars. Upon spotting the Derwent Reservoir in the distance, I took a left turn at Caterway Heads, onto the B6278. Another fast descent was followed by a gradual climb towards Edmundbyers, where I quickly spotted the Fruit Bowl [ Very close! Ed. ], and was soon joined by other Striders. A well-deserved pint or two, and delicious (vegetarian) lunch in great company followed. Special thanks go to Shaun, who lent me a warm fleece, to Pam who organised the event, and to Jan who gave me a lift back to Durham! For the record: 32.5 km (19.6 mi) with 486 m (1594 ft) climbed in 2:46.

Crosby Commoner, Nr. Penrith, 26th January

6m / 778' CS

Nigel Heppell

The 3rd running of the Crosby Commoner took place after an evening of heavy snow had blanketed the countryside, such that an alternative route was forced upon the organisers due to the hazarous nature of hidden clints and lurking grykes along what I am assured would have been a very nice stretch of limestone pavement.

No need for chip-timing on this one. The mass (see above!) start took off up the lane and soon turned right to begin a fairly steady climb along farm tracks to the old quarries and moorland beyond. Up here the unsullied fresh and fluffy snow cover to mid-calf depth (that's the calf muscle on your leg, not the farm animal) meant everyone was trying to follow in the same footsteps as the alternative was utterly exhausting as I found out on my one and only overtaking manouevre. After that I decided a procession wasn't such a bad thing after all and tucked in behind the 'Lady in Red' as the moorland dropped away to a road crossing, climbed again, dropped again, climbed again and dropped once more before hitting the road for 1.5km and a return down along the outward route - to the first turning really near the start where, to make up the race distance, we were sent climbing straight up the hillside again on an icy lane and across a couple of fields cunningly equipped with more virgin snow and multiple false horizons. Hard as that was, the downhill bit was really nice, more deep unspoilt snow, a hidden stream to plough through, and finally back to the crest of the bridge and the finish line.

I knew I was close to being the tail end charley on this race - just look up the pedigree of some of the other competitors, especially the winner - but I was gratified to hear just about everyone say they had found it to be tough going. All credit to Denise Tunstall of DFR who was only just beaten into ladies 2nd place by one of the locals. I scored a spot prize so it was worth going after all.

Stockton Winter Trail Race #4, Wynyard Woodland Park, 13th January

5K

Dave Robson

I do like this series of races which are held in different parks or woodland around Stockton. Today Melanie and I went to a new race for us at Wynyard Woodland Park, near Thorpe Thewles. We left Durham in clear skies, but it was cold. We got as far as Sedgefield and entered fairly thick fog, but magically that all cleared as we approached the Woodland Park. Registration was in the old railway carriage and was easy as we had brought our race numbers with us from the last event. These events are very cheap - a bargain at £3 (if the GNR was the same price per K, it would be about £13 !)

From David Shipman's excellent description of the first race in the series, today's route was the same.

We were expecting lots of mud, but the route, all off road, was pretty mud free. It was an easy first mile along an old railway line, then an undulating route on a track through fields before going down to some woods. Inevitably, there had to be some ascent to get back to the start/finish and this took the form of some steep steps at about 4K. However, once up those it was an easy run back to the old railway line and the finish. There is a nice little tea shop in an old station house at the finish and we stopped there for a while and had coffee and cake :-) A lovely run and the next one in the series is on Sunday 3rd February. The details are at northeastraces.

Sedgefield Winter Handicap, 13th January

6.5M

Graeme Walton

Katy and I live quite close to this race so we thought we would give it a go. We headed down to Fishburn arriving nice and early to register. As this was a handicap race the best 10K of 2012 was used to determine a starting position. My time was 41:44 from the Teespride 10K (fast course!!) giving me a 17 minute handicap.

Fishburn WMC was used as race HQ and as a meeting point for fellow Striders of which there were many. Following a chat and a bit of friendly banter regarding suspect handicaps we headed down to the start line in cold and foggy conditions.

The first runners were off and no sooner had they run 10 metres or so than they disappeared into the mist. Groups left at 1-2 minute intervals leaving fewer runners behind each time. When it came to my group to set off I was longing to get starting with my teeth chattering in the cold temperatures.

Off we went with everyone in the group pulling away from me across the field. The opening sections were very muddy but without the Harrier League hills. As the race progressed I settled into a nice rhythm and started to pick one or two people off. The course was a mixture of mud, trail, tarmac, mud and a bit more mud but without having anything to test on the hills front. I was overtaken for the first time as early as the third mile which was a little demoralising but then again I was suffering from a small dose of man flu (snotty nose and tickly cough). Will overtook me with about a mile to go, he was going like a train at this point and went on to be the fastest runner on the day. I passed Greta shortly before the finish who commented that Alister was just ahead so with what little energy I had left I made a final push and managed to catch him before the finish line. Many Striders had already finished and were there cheering the rest of us home. A special mention to Angela who ran a great race finishing second!

A terrific race, well organised and finished off with tea and cakes. I believe that some Striders went round again for a training run?? Not me though as I was poorly - did I mention that I had man flu?

Cathedral Relays, Durham, 13th January

3x3km

Fiona Shenton

Elvet Striders fielded two teams for the 29th Durham Cathedral Relays hosted by Durham City AC. The women were represented by Rachel Terry, Katherine Preston and Fiona Shento, the men by Adam Walker, James Garland and Jerry Lloyd. With each leg being just under 3k the pace was fast and furious, but both teams finished well up in the middle of their fields. Very respectable seeing as all the women were vets, and two of the men. Special mention to Rachel Terry (10:51) and Adam Walker (9:10) who lead their teams out in style.

We all agreed the event was great fun, at the sharp end there are some truly speedy men and women. The senior men’s race was particularly spectacular with the first three home within 10secs of each other, Durham City’s anchor man sandwiched between two Morpeth lads. Anyway NEXT YEAR we should get some more teams out ourselves, I can’t promise we’ll get such excellent weather conditions as last Sunday but it’ll be their 30th anniversary. As you’ll see from the times there’s a wide spread so DON’T BE AFRAID!

Old Monks Six, Hart, Hartlepool, 6th January

6M

Danny Lim

I couldn't resist a race called the Old Monks 6. Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out about the strange name. According to the organisers, the route runs through the graveyard of monks at Monk Hesleden. There was a St Mary's church, now demolished that dated back to the 13th century. So we probably disturbed some very old monks!

The race started on the main road in the middle of Hart village, before turning off into a smaller tarmac road, which went on for about a kilometer. What was this? I was expecting a trail race! But it wasn't long before we hit the dirt; mud to be precise! And after the wettest December on record this trail was truly muddy. And there was plenty of slipping and sliding much of the way.

My favourite part was "letting go" on the downhill sections. As Richard Askwith said, as in Feet in the Clouds, "brain off, legs on" (if I remember right). And downhill I ran like a loon, passing several runners. At the bottom of the hill was a stream with a narrow footbridge with a bottle neck of runners queuing to cross. Rather than lose momentum, I splashed through the stream, passing several more. And on the inevitable uphill, I'd slow down again, before recovering at the top and speeding downhill again. And the cycle went on, though the forested dene and past fields in fallow. Lots of views to admire, if only I wasn't having to rush!

Before long, we were heading back towards Hart. I got pipped at the last minute by non other than Sharon Gayter, the ultra-running record holder. The finish was much closer than I thought, and not where we had started. If I'd known, I might have tried giving chase. The race was well-organised and the marshals were all fantastic. If you want to train for cross-country or the fells, I'd recommend this. Pretty good for £6 and 25 minutes from Durham.

Clay Bank East, North Yorks Moors, 6th January

5.7m / 680'

Shaun Roberts

What a difference a year makes. This time last year we had bright low sunshine, with superb views around the moors and crisp frost to run over. This time around was to be a much murkier, clartier affair. The route looks a bit intimidating at the start, as you look up to the edge of Urra Moor from Clay Bank ... and yet, once up that steep slope, most of the rest is pretty runnable. Met Tom, Dave, Dave and Jan at the start ... didn't see Dougie then, though afterwards he says he heard me!

Tom reaches the trig point in the murk ...

After a bit of a delay due to the good turnout, we were off, and funnelling towards a gate. We squeezed through this, and then I had a bit of luck. A little group ahead of me peeled off to the right, scrambling up the hill over grass, rather than sticking to the track, so I thought I'd follow them. Wasn't sure whether this was a good idea until, reaching the top, faster runners went past, which is a sure sign that it was a good idea. Nice running now, along the edge of the hill, followed by a short steep bank before a long slightly uphill drag to the trig point. The conditions were getting really murky up here now ... the excellent and atmospheric photos (link below) give a flavour of this. After a slightly annoying bit of two-way traffic along a sheep track, we now had a superb gently-sloping downhill section of about two miles, interrupted by a short uphill bit of forest track in the clartiest, and messiest of conditions. Great to hammer down to the finish after this bit.

Tom was already in, after a great run to get inside the top twenty. I was a tad disappointed to come in a fair bit slower than last year, but I was higher up the field ??? So perhaps some of that was due to the clartiness. Dave Selby wasn't long after me, claiming 'Won't be long before I'm in front of you!' We shall see. Dave Shipman enjoyed his run, as did Jan, once again completely outclassing her age-group competitors - sorry, competitor - to win even more wine. Sure she's winning it faster than she can drink it. And Dougie was next in, still ahead of 25 others, and also enjoyed a lovely little fell race, which I can recommend to anyone.

Note: This was the 8th race of the 14 in the NEHRA Winter Series, and Esk Valley have collated the latest positions ... see link below. Still 6 more to go, and so all to play for, with 8 results counting. Next up the 'Broughton Woods Wobble' on the 3rd of Feb, also from Clay Bank, and also, it looks to me, 'runnable'. Details here.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jayson Cavill Pickering RC M 37.00
19 Thomas Reeves MV45 4 42.52
39 Nicola Kent Loftus & Whitby FV40 1 45.14
85 Shaun Roberts MV55 7 51.08
97 David Selby MV40 12 52.19
124 David Shipman MV55 13 56.14
137 Jan Young FV60 1 59.34
145 Dougie Nisbet MV45 24 61.12

170 finishers.

Resolution 10K, Newcastle, 1st January

Katherine Preston

Bill on the Hill. I've started my marathon training plan in earnest and for the 1st January it said 4 mile easy so rather than run a Park Run I chose the New Years Day Resolution Run it certainly wasn't easy - it was very muddy, very cold, very windy and very hard! Mark and I got there at about 11.30, the race starts at 12 to allow you to recover from the night before, we registered and met up with Bill Ford who was having a pre holiday run before jetting off to the sun.

The race consisted of two loops of the Town Moor including the two hills after an upward slog up Grandstand Road, I run this route at work so did know what to expect ... mind I only ever run the route once!!

I started off with Bill who had said he would act as a wind shield however after the 1st mile he was disappearing into the distance, really all you could do was dig in and get on with it, which everyone did.

The organisers and marshalls were great cheering you on and I did 'enjoy it' in a strange way; rewarded with a lolly pop at the end and of course I've started 2013 the way I mean to go on.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Daniel Jenkin Durham City Harriers M 32.23
47 Ellen Tullo Heaton Harriers F 1 42.49
103 Mark Preston MV40 50.39
112 Brian Ford MV45 52.22
125 Katherine Preston FV40 56.13

170 finishers.

Nine Standards, Kirkby Stephen, 1st January

8m / 1800' BM

Dougie Nisbet

Two years' ago when I last ran this race I had an disturbingly exciting incident in the first mile and had found myself several minutes before the back marker and perilously close to retiring. This year I expected things to be less eventful. We were on holiday in the Lake District so it was an interesting experience to be driving east to get to Kirkby Stephen. Arriving with bags of time in hand I was a little unsettled to see runners clutching their numbers and wandering about with a good hour still to go before kick-off. I checked that the Start Time was indeed noon and headed for registration.

Dougie! Registration was in the Sports and Social Club. How do you know that? Apparantly you just do. In 2011 when I turned up in the Market Square I found registration by trial and error and following people who looked like runners. Top tip to anyone trying this; don't follow people who already have a number as they've already registered - and the first thing everyone does after registration is go for a pee. So you'll find the toilets, or a rough approximation of them, but not registration.

Once I'd registered I was gently guided to a table festooned with t-shirts. What was going on? Apparantly this was the 25th running of the race and free t-shirts were being issued on a first-come first-served basis. The t-shirts have a picture of the Nine Standards and an abstract representation of the route. It was a really nice touch. A little later as we gathered in the market square the organiser said that we'd be starting a few minutes late due to the large number of entries. No matter, as this fell race out of any race I've ever done must have the most convenient public conveniences I've ever known, and many runners took the opportunity to wander the 5 yards from the Start to the loos. Well, it's something to do.

The organiser announced that we had a record-breaking field of 166 runners and a few seconds later 166 runners were trying to squeeze down a narrow staircase, alleyway then footbridge before things opened up. Roberta was here so I paused to put on my happy face, then started moving. I was feeling quite good and optomistic to doing a half-decent time. 166 runners; a lot of them would have hangovers and be once-a-year runners so maybe I'd get a decent position for once.

Shoe choice is tricky in this race. Half of it is on road, a bit is on trail, and a chunk is in on very squashy stuff. I'd opted for my mudrocs having read John Duff's report from last year, and I think it was the right choice. The Nine Standards appear quite quickly, and appear to get close quite rapidly, but just when they seem to be tantalisingly close, the going gets very soft, and the last mile up to the summit is hard going, especially as by this time the Fast Guys are hurtling back down in your face. I ran hard and steady, out and back, and as I closed down the last few miles I remember thinking that this was an eight mile race, and the distance was beginning to make itself felt.

Over the bridge, up the steps, and the final squeeze through the alleyway to the finish. I leaned against a wall trying to get my breath back, before turning to watch what I'd hoped would be a gratifyingly large number of runners crossing the line behind me. I was in for a shock. This was a quality field - 10 more runners and not many more minutes later, everyone was home. I looked at my time in horrified astonishment; despite running hard and steady, I was almost three minutes slower than two years' ago, when, much fitter, I'd managed to claw back more places and time after a scarily bumpy start. Must do better.

Morpeth New Years Day Road Race, 1st January

approx 11k

Alister Robson

Having overindulged yet again on New Years Eve I really couldn't face the prospect (and mud) of Captain Cooks again, particularly as I barely remember last years race. Having seen the photos of this years (There was a railway crossing?) I know I made the right decision to skip it and do the Sunderland parkrun New Years Day special instead. There were loads of other Striders and friends there, a great atmosphere and the biggest disappointment was my time, nearly 4 minutes off my previous best. Still nothing a McDonalds breakfast (or two) couldn't fix and it was up the motorway to the day's main event.

Jacquie (still driving, thankfully) and I found Morpeth Rugby Club and the Race HQ and registered in plenty of time. Well I did anyway. Jacquie thought better of it. Fiona was there too as well as a smattering of familiar faces from other road races - perhaps it was the missing faces at other events the same day that disorientated me?

This race in it's present form is relatively new, but has an illustrious history. The Morpeth (originally from Morpeth to Newcastle), as it was simply known, began in 1904 and ran until it's centenary year of 2004 before the cost of road closures and increasing safety measures caused it to be changed.

The course itself was surprisingly tough, starting with a short downhill it quickly climbs and keeps climbing for the first 3 or 4 miles. Eventually you reach the road which I think is the only part of the course shared with early August's Tuesday night Morpeth 10k, and from there and down past the Piramal factory it was all downhill to the finish. Well, almost. At about 6 miles there's a short sharp rise to the top of a hill in a beautiful park (obviously my first thought was, "Ooh this is nice, could you fit a parkrun course in?"), then a last few hundreds yards on surprisingly dry grass to the finish line.

We went back to the race HQ for the presentation and a nice cup of coffee, but it looked like they had a bit of an issue with the results so we didn't hang on for the presentations, which I now regret as I think Fiona must have won her age category. A cracking run and great value with friendly marshals. I didn't see a water station though which I guess you might want to be aware of. Yet more choice for next New Year's Day...

Hillforts and Headaches, Rothbury, 1st January

3M 1020' (AS)

Colin Blackburn

Despite sending out an email letting people know about this option for New Year's Day I hadn't planned on doing this race myself. When, late on New Year's Eve, Elfie saw the weather forecast for Tuesday she suggested a trip up to Rothbury just to get out of the house after being pretty much housebound by constant rain and high winds for the holiday period. Then I read about the landslip in one of the roads into Rothbury and wondered if we'd even be able to get there. But we did and the weather was glorious, perfect running weather.

I registered very early in the Newcastle Arms and then went for a walk around the town - there wasn't much happening first thing on New Year's Day. Popping back into the pub to use the loo lots of runners had started to arrive and I came across Geoff and Sue and Shaun and Ros. Shaun and Ros had spent the night in Rothbury and so Shaun was about as race-ready as they come! After a bit of a warm-up the faithful gathered outside the church just before 11.

Hillforts and Headaches is that rare thing in fell racing, an uphill-only race. A straight 3 mile blast from Rothbury to Beacon Hill via at least one hillfort. Lordenshaws Hillfort

This year the route was a little different due to the road bridge being rebuilt. The race started outside the church and went down the very narrow ginnel and over the narrow footbridge crossing the swollen River Coquet - all a bit of a squeeze. After a short road climb the route heads up onto the fells towards Lordenshaws. With all the wet weather it was very slippery under foot on the footpath up the fell. One guy in those 5-finger things was slipping all over the place. Shaun later told me after chatting to the runner that they were the off-road Vibrams, it certainly wasn't a great advert for them!

After the slight rest on the approach to Lordenshaws car park from Lordenshaws Hillfort the final climb up the rocky, flagged and stepped path to Beacon Hill starts. This contains the steepest sections and is hard under foot but you can eventually see the finish. By the time I was on this section the earlier finishers were jogging back down to Rothbury calling out encouragement to those of us making up the back half of the field. Then you get to the wind-break shelter on the hill and the effort is all over. At this point it was quite a struggle to get my windproof out of my bumbag and put it on before it blew away, but it was certainly needed up there once I stopped moving.

Unlike other years when I've done this race there was no snow, no cloud, no rain. Just glorious views across Coquetdale.

View across Coquetdale

After a couple of minutes to catch my breath I joined those heading back down and saw the tail-end runners still struggling up the hill. At Lordenshaws I met Elfie who'd been walking up on Beacon Hill and had also taken a few photos of the race. Since our car was parked there and we were ultimately heading to Wallington Hall we decided not to head back into Rothbury for the presentation, but I'm sure it was as good as ever with bread and soup available. Wallington wasn't! Although open on New Year's day their sandwiches and cake were definitely on the stale side - I hate to think when they were made!

This is definitely a race to be recommended if you're not too bothered about GP points and you don't want to be out too long.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Lee Grant NFR Sen 1 23.10
4 Will Horsley NFR Sen 23.53
22 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 1 28.44
31 Geoff Davis NFR V50 31.04
34 Shaun Roberts V50 31.49
56 Susan Davis NFR FV50 35.01
58 Colin Blackburn NFR V50 35.45

83 finishers.

Hardmoors 30, Ravenscar, North Yorkshire, 1st January

31

Melanie Hudson

New Years Day, what a great date to reach my 100th race and my first ultra.

The alarm went off at 5am, I'm not a morning person and I was so tempted to stay in bed. However I had done a lot of races in December just so I could do Hardmoors as my 100th race and that was enough to motivate me to get up.

Slow runners were allowed to start with the walkers at 9am which meant were were able to finish in the daylight. We saw Phil, Anna and Andrew T before we set off (Phil and Andrew T were starting at 10am and Anna doing the 15 mile).

Anna, Dave, Mel and, I think, Phil, in an early attempt at bagging this year's Tea-Cosy of the Year Trophy. The race started by heading south along the Cleveland Way from Ravenscar. We expected the first four miles to Hayburn Wake be muddy but it wasn't too bad as the ground was still slightly frozen. We then had a steep descent to Hayburn Wake and a climb out of the other side. The four miles back to Ravenscar were along a railway line which I expected to be easy, however it was just one long uphill drag.

We then went North to Robin Hood's bay, this bit was lovely, still on the railway lines but slightly downhill. From Robin Hood's Bay there must have been a two mile climb along the railway line with no respite, which wasn't helped by there being a strong wind in our faces, it was energy sapping. Finally the climb stopped and it was a lovely descent into Whitby.

At this point we had done 20 miles in 4 hours and only 10 miles left to go :).

I was surprised how busy Whitby itself was and we had to dodge and weave around shoppers who were giving us odd looks.

I was getting pretty tired now, my ITB was starting to bother me and my shoes were hurting my feet.

Once we had climbed all the steps and gone past the abbey we were back on the Cleveland way and the wind was behind us. However it wasn't easy going as we encountered liquid mud, sticky mud, slippery mud, every type seemed to be there on an undulating route. We tried running these sections but ended up with our feet going more sideways then forwards despite that fact we were wearing mudclaws with big rubber spikes.

We went into Robin Hood's Bay and then had a ridiculous amount of steps to climb back out of the other side, then dropped down into Boggle Hole and more steps out, there was also another section we had to descend and more steps to climb!

What with the mud, steps and undulations we ended up having to walk vast sections of the last ten miles it felt very slow going and took us 3 hours!

We then arrived at the bottom of Ravenscar. Despite feeling exhausted, my feet hurting and legs heavy, I did not mind the big hill all the way to the top because I knew up there was the finish and that we were going to make it.

I strangely remained cheerful throughout the whole thing. Normally once I hit about 20 miles I get a bit miserable and moody. This time I was totally different, maybe I am getting more used to this sort of thing.

Once at the top we jogged to the finish which was a huge relief to see. We finished in 7 hours 20 minutes.

They supplied us with a much welcomed jacket potato with cheese and some mulled wine.

Seems very strange to think I managed 30 miles as it is something I would never have thought possible.

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

Captain Cooks, Great Ayton, NYM, 1st January

5m / 885'

Aaron Gourlay

10:59am, New Year’s Day 2013, exactly twelve months since I was last on the starting line in Great Ayton, just outside the Royal Oak pub ready for the Captain Cook’s Fell Race.

My thoughts drift back to twelve glorious months of running taking in some of the north’s finest races like the Allendale Challenge, Swaledale Marathon, Bowderdale Wild Race, Chevy Chase, Guisborough 3 Tops, Great North Run, Darlington 10K and not forgetting the mud bath that is the Harrier League.

And the New Year is under way ...

2012 was my first full year as a Strider and slowly but surely my running has progressed. Taking three minutes off my 2011 Darlington 10K time then running 1hr44mins at the Bridgwater Half Marathon only to run 1hr42mins at the Great North Run two weeks later. I even shaved seven minutes off my previous time round the ice rink that was the Hexhamshire Hobble.

And so it turns 11:00am and we’re off on a glorious winter morning; a year older, wiser and hopefully faster. Knowing what’s coming I try to keep up the pace without blowing out too soon but as usual this goes out the window as I get sucked in to the atmosphere of a race.

As is usual with Esk Valley Fell races the mud is thick and sticky, the climbs torturously steep and the descents as terrifying as they are exhilarating. Unperturbed, I carry on turning off the road and onto the track for the near vertical slog up to Captain Cook’s monument.

"And this is fun?" a breathless Graeme Walton quizzed as we hauled ourselves up the track.

Once at the monument the real fun begins with a fast downhill back to Great Ayton.

Covered in mud, totally exhausted but smiling from ear to ear I cross the finish line in 44 minutes (2 and a half minutes faster than last year), to be greeted by those in purple vests that are way faster than me.

2013 has a lot to live up to but got off to a great start.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jim Bulman New Marske Harriers MV40 32.11
16 Cath Williamson Loftus & Whitby F 1 37.07
22 Adam Walker MJ 2 38.02
29 Thomas Reeves MV45 7 38.41
67 Mike Bennett MV55 1 41.36
96 David Gibson MV45 18 43.53
100 Graeme Walton MV40 16 44.02
101 Aaron Gourley M 41 44.05
139 David Selby MV40 23 47.01
171 David Shipman MV55 11 49.44
185 Katy Walton F 13 50.59
200 Jan Young FV60 1 52.12

254 finishers.