Race Reports, April 2014

Summer Handicap, 30th April

Danny Lim

Danny Footstrikes for the line! The residents of Houghall Woods waited in eager anticipation of the annual Elvet Striders' Handicap. The forest floor was decked in full Striders’ colours; purple and green, courtesy of the bluebells as dictated by tradition

As usual, the roe deer were watching silently in their preferred back seats. The rabbits wisely kept their distance, staying out the way of Durham’s finest primates as they made two lung-bursting laps of the woods. The sheep were far more vocal, braying loudly as the humans sped past.

The RSPCH (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans) were picketing nearby but didn't interfere with the race. Fortunately, no humans lost their heads this year as they raced under the fallen tree. The course was extra clarty and there were a few tumbles; Laura Gibson & Alison Kirkham amongst the victims. Thankfully, there weren't too serious and no humans had to be put down.

In total a record-breaking 50 plus Striders ran, proving that the handicap is going strong. And certainly full-on efforts for most of the humans that were racing. Will Horsley was first past the post followed by Katy Walton for the ladies. Both were favourites, so few surprises for the bookies. Will they be able to retain their titles in the next handicap on 14th May?

The sponsors were Cadbury who provided chocolates for all finishers. Most of all, a big thank you to all who made it possible (alphabetical order): Anita Dunseith, Anna Seeley, Dougie Nisbet, Michael Ross, Phil Owen and Sophie Dennis.

Very kind of Houghall college to provide us with a clothes rack.

Princess Short n Sweet Challenge, North York Moors, 30th April

8.5miles(ish)

Lindsay Rodgers

Pre-race nerves, or perhaps it's just a bit chilly. Having ‘done’ the Hardmoors 10K at Saltburn, I was intrigued by the some of the Striders discussing the Princess Challenge due to take place at the end of August. It was to raise money for the local mountain rescue team, a charity that trail/fell runners rely on but hope that they will never need to use. The 30 mile was probably a bit too far whereas the 8.5 ish seemed manageable, so with the encouragement of the Hardmoors junkies, off I went.

Arriving in Ravenscar early enough to see the rest of the striders gear up and head off on the big one it was time for the race briefing and kit check. They were only around 40 entries for the 8.5 so for once the pre-race jitters did not involve a long wait for a toilet and with the words of ‘ it is an undulating course’ in my mind we set off.

The first 5 miles were on a nice cinder path, the only real challenges being helping one runner who took a tumble and trying to avoid the hordes of walkers and cyclists. The major thing that stuck in my mind was a comment ‘ watch out for the joggers’ from a group of walkers and helping a lady who did not seem to understand how to get her bike through a gate (it helps if you get off it). The first CP was in Robins Hood Bay and I arrived just after being passed by some of the 30 milers on their way to Whitby .My pace was not too bad (5.30/km) so it seemed to be a good time was in order. At this point runner 120 and I looked at each other and decided that as both of us were first timers best stick together as we worked out our route as we searched for the Cleveland way. This is where it changed from gentle downhill to a constant up and down. Wonderful trail along the coast (keep the sea to the left of you), punctuated by constant sharp drops and brutal climbs as we worked our way back to Ravenscar.

After the 7 mile point runner 120 (lovely lady from Surrey, never got to find out your name, sorry!) dropped me and I was over taken by some quickies that had taken an accidental detour and added a couple of extra miles to their run. This is a point where you realise that you are only running against yourself and walking can be a sensible option from time to time Between the efforts a fair amount of time was spent explaining to people why we were running geared up across the Cleveland way and then looking at the reaction when I advised that this was the ‘short’ route.

Tired but happy. Looking at my Garmin 8.5 miles soon came up with Ravenscar still in the distance at the top of a very steep hill, this is where Hardmoors comes into its own. All distances are approximate and as I struggled up the never ending rise it soon hit 9.5 miles. I must admit the last mile and a bit was walked (a power version) although a gentle run was managed for the last 500 metres. Total distance 9.89 miles. Final time 1.51, but who cares, I finished. Entering the hall, you are greeted by a round of applause by the other competitors and then stuffed full of tea cakes and sweets followed by a huge hug from the race director Kelly.

Pound for pound the best value race of the year, the best views and apart from the striders handicap and parkrun the nicest runners that I have come across so far. Yes I am now a convert to Hardmoors; Running for the enjoyment of the event and the company of brilliant people. Anyone thinking of a testing run next year should give this a try and was a fantastic end to my first year as a novice runner/strider.

British Army Orienteering League, Hardwick Country Park, 30th April

BLUE 6.7km

Dougie Nisbet

You are currently ...

Some time ago, after an orienteering event, Colin and I were comparing notes and he remarked that his navigation had been fine, so the only way he could have improved was by running faster. That, in a nutshell, is what makes orienteering such a complex interesting beast. If you're a fast runner and a good navigator, that's the ideal combination.

Today I joined the army, as I often do, for the Military League North. These are great training events and well worth bunking off work for. I've orienteered at Hardwick Hall before and it's a good location, split between woodland, paths, then an unexpected dash through the tunnel onto the open pasture. I've also parkrunned and muddy mayhemmed here so have seen it from many angles, pipes, fires and swamps. Today I was orienteering. I set off from the unmanned Start and looked at the map. 29 controls. That's quite a lot of controls. After finding the first three controls with ease I realised that the navigation was not going to be difficult, it was the running at high speed between controls that was going to be the test.

Some courses favour the navigator, and some the runner, and most are somewhere in between. Today was a runner's course. I put the foot to the metal and hammered it from control to control, experiencing frequent flashbacks as I recognised various abandoned obstacles from the Muddy Mayhem. My navigation was pretty good until the final control, which happened to be where it was meant to be, rather than where I wanted it to be, and a bit of time lost there, not much, perhaps 30 to 60 seconds, and then finished.

I took my printout and glanced at it without any real interest, expecting the usual “You are currently last out of everyone who's run today so far”. But hang on, what the deuce! “You are # 4 of 9 so far”. This was a nice surprise! Later when the official results were posted on the website I noticed that my mistake on the final control had lost me a place, possibly two. Yup, the splits show that I lost 45 seconds to the person in front of me, on that one control. I love the fragility of the gains and losses from control to control. But I'm not worried. I've finally got a mid-field position in an orienteering competition, and there's my name respectably positioned amongst all the Captains, Majors, Corporals and Sergeants. It's quite a nice feeling.

There's no such thing as a 'typical' orienteering course, but this one definitely suited the runner. Good surfaces and straightforward navigation. It's worth keeping an eye on the MLN website for upcoming events as they are always interesting (and cheap) and, quite importantly, open to civilians. It's certainly more interesting and a lot more fun than going into the office.

The Monthly Mile South Shields, 29th April

1m

Alister Robson

This started a few months ago, a local coach, Luke Adams, who's not too shabby a runner himself (parkrun PB - 15.59) and a former Event Director of South Shields parkrun, decided to setup an event over the even shorter but classic event of one mile.

The format is similar, but different to parkrun, you register online at themonthlymile.co.uk then collect your number from the Sanddancer pub from 6.30pm.

The first event was held in absolutely filthy weather in January with a howling wind and sleet but remarkably nearly 80 runners took part. Since then it's gone from strength to strength, runners taking pack in 3 packs Beginners (aimed at 8 minutes plus and off at 7pm), Intermediate (6-8 minutes off at 7.10pm) and Advanced (sub 6 minutes off at 7.15pm).

The course runs around Bents Recreation ground and Exhibition park in a C shape and is ever so slightly downhill along Beach Road. Like parkrun all marshals, timekeepers etc are volunteers.

This was a glorious evening so well worth the half hour drive from Durham with Jacquie. Richard Hall (senior) also met us there. Richard and Jacquie faced their chances in the Intermediate pack clocking 6.51 and 6.20 respectively before I (foolishly) went with the Advanced pack although that did drag me to 6.07, with definitely something to beat next time!

I'd recommend this event to anyone who fancies something a bit different and to know what real lactic effort feels like :-)

Valleys and Views, Wilbarston, Corby, Northamptonshire, 27th April

26.2m

Dave Robson

After running the inaugural Hartlepool parkrun on Saturday, we then drove down to Stamford, a place neither of us had been to before. What a lovely place. We wondered around, drank coffee, ate a meal and just relaxed. Definitely worth a visit.

Now that's what I call camouflage. Then on to Corby to spend the night before the main event of the weekend, the Valleys and Views, an LDWA event. This had three different distances and we had opted for the 26m route. This event was a little unusual because there was no route description issued before the event and no map available either. So we had no idea where we would be going. On arrival at registration at Wilbarston Village Hall, we received a route description and there was a map on the wall with the route marked. We marked up our map (which we hardly used) and waited for the start (runners weren't supposed to start until 10). However, we found out that the reason for runners not starting until 10 was to ensure that the checkpoints would all be open for the runners. As we wouldn't be running fast, we set off at 9.20 roughly - our starting time was recorded and off we went on our own. A lovely way to start.

The course wasn't marked at all and we largely navigated using the excellent route description. It was a very undulating route, almost all off road. Sometimes the path was indistinct and sometimes it went straight through fields of crops. One particular field was full of oil seed rape about a metre and half high. As we approached it we could see the bobbing heads of runners in a mass of yellow. Quite a bizarre sight. We assumed there must be a wide path, but it turned out to be very narrow and you almost had to brush aside the rape to get through. Melanie loved this section.

Now that's NOT what I call camouflage. There were three checkpoints. The event details said there would be basic refreshments, but there was more food than we expected. Also each checkpoint had lollipops which Melanie could not resist (this was definitely an event in which to discover your inner child)

Striking Composition.

It took us a bit over 3 hours to get to halfway, but we speeded up in the second half and finished with 5hr 48min. Often you get a meal at the end of LDWA events, but this time we had to pay extra for food. The entry fee for this event was only £4 so this seemed more than reasonable ! Egg on toast was available for £1. The bar in the village hall at the end was also open which was a bonus. There were a few people I knew from the marathon circuit running this event and it was good to chat

A lovely run and well worth the drive down from Durham.

The inaugural Great Edinburgh Run, 27th April

10M

Karin Younger

Karen Chalkley lured me to Scotland with the promise of a weekend away in her lovely apartment just off the Royal Mile. (Available to let - see Karen!) Needless to say there was a run involved, the first Great Edinburgh Run (10 Miles). Buoyed up by the longer distances I’d ended up running in the first quarter of the year due to Jantastic I decided it was doable, and signed up.

On Saturday 26th Karen and her husband Chris, and me and my husband Phil travelled northwards on the beautiful railway journey along the northeast coast. Once we arrived we had a wander around and needless to say a little drink. Just to be sociable…… (Karen had also supplied sparkly for the train…)

A visit to an Italian restaurant for dinner (and only one more wine…….) we headed back for an early night. The usual flurry of messages on Facebook brought a cheeky response from George ( Nicholson…) . To my post on the Elvet striders page ( anyone else doing the Edinburgh Great etc. etc…) he replied…”.if you look around at the start Karin I’m sure you’ll see there are lots of others doing it……”

The rain forecast the next morning didn’t materialise, but it was very foggy as we jogged the short distance to Holyrood Park where the race was due to start at 9.30, with my wave (pink) going off at 9.50. Karen joined me in my wave so at least we set off together (although it did go 2 minutes early…..). Needless to say I lost Karen at the first hill.

Prior to the start there was the usual group warm up, however when the warm up ‘leader’ started to get runners stretching after only a very short warm up , Alister’s advice ringing in our ears, we jogged around a bit instead………. So the race started. Despite promising myself that I’d take time to look around & soak up the scenery- I didn’t……. I just ran…….. We left Holyrood Park, and arrived back there ten miles later.

In between was The Royal Mile; Waverley Bridge; The Mound; Greyfriars Bobby; The Grassmarket (lovely shower to run thru…!) The Meadows (not necessarily in that order….) a lovely loch; views of Arthur’s seat ……and Hills. Lots and lots and lots of Hills. It wasn’t undulating as Paul & Anna’s weekly round up stated…. but thanks for the mention. There were also a lot of cobbles. And of course hills. But there was also music every mile, 2 water stations, a Lucozade station, and very friendly marshals. And needless to say the evening brought cocktails, champagne and dinner- well deserved we thought!

The run..? I really really enjoyed it, and I don’t like hills. Karen and I both plan to return next year; it would be great if more striders came along too! When we checked the results…there was another strider who came in just after Karen- well done Robert!

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1CHRIS THOMPSONAldershot Farnham & District00:49:36
1851Karen Chalkley01:35:02
2445Robert Clark01:36:54
2494Karin Younger01:45:24

2975 finishers

Fox and Hounds Chase, Ainthorpe, 27th April

9M / 1499' BM

Camilla Laurén-Määttä ...

Having missed a few Esk Valley Fell Races due to injury, I was keen to do this last fell race of the winter season. As an added bonus there was a nice pub, The Fox and Hounds, to warm up in before and after the race. The distance of 8.6 miles and the climb of 457 m didn’t sound too bad either. A few seasoned fell runners couldn’t make it, so we were only a handful of Striders (Anita, Flip, Mike H., Innes and I) lining up at the start just outside the Fox and Hounds. It was very misty so there would be lots of opportunities to get lost, although the route went along moorland circling round the Danby Dale.

After a short section on the road we turned up towards the moorland. The climb was mostly gentle enough to run rather than walk but there were some boggy bits slowing down the running. Despite somebody shouting out a warning I went too close to the edge and slid down into a small beck with a bit of a splash although still keeping my balance. Flip passed me after a couple of miles, but did bump down in front of me again from inside the mist a few miles later. He had got a bit diverted from the course but apparently only losing a few minutes. An Esk Valley runner nearby seemed to have got more off the track saying he had got lost around 10 times, so being a local doesn’t always help.

The next adventure was scrambling up mountain goat-style along a rather steep muddy hill but after this the route was mostly level following a narrow path in between heather and bilberry bushes. Further down the valley we ran along a dry stone wall and then turned right following a tarmac road with a few hills, at which point I again had caught up with Flip. Next, we passed a white horse standing outside the Plum Tree House (sounds like something from a children’s story book) and then it was time to climb up the moor again for about half a mile. After a short section along the road we were back again where we started. Mike had already arrived, Flip passed the finishing line a bit before me and Anita arrived a bit later with a nice group of runners that she had found along the way. Innes’ wife and dog stood at the finishing line looking a bit worried about what had happened to him, but it turned out he had only got a bit lost along the way. We finished off with some local ale, tea and sandwiches in the Fox and Hounds – and Flip somehow managed to get Anita a wine bottle as the prize for being the best driver.

... and the alternative route, from Innes Hodgson:

There are many rumours flying around twitter, Linkedin, facebook and several other social networks. I have decided to come clean (after several showers and a scrubbing brush) and give you all the true story of that fateful day.

I had been eyeing this race as a return to fell running for many months, not too far at 8.7 miles not too steep at less than 180ft per mile and at the end of April the weather should be ok. Ah "the best laid schemes ..." R Burns.

Things took a turn for the worst on route to the race, as soon as we hit the moors, when visibility dropped below the magic two lamp posts (the cue for fear and comments about the effectiveness of car lights). It was then I knew I was in for some fun! The race started well with a short sharp hill on the road, followed by a run along a narrow path that turned into a sheep track, I watched Phil and Camilla disappear into mist. This was a god send as it meant I could still see the people in front despite the fog. It was not long before my first incident of the race. Following on from my run on Waldridge the day before I took a spectacular dive worthy of Luis Suarez (I still claim that I was tackled from behind by the Heather).

The next couple of miles went well and I found a young lady to run with from Sunderland Strollers, despite a fall down a small gully we managed to keep on course. The course had been marked with pieces of red and white tape, I have run a few fell races in the past but not for about 15 years, this was the first time I had run a taped course. At first the tape was very useful but as the race went on it appeared the tape was running out as the markers were getting smaller and further apart. We finally got to a manned checkpoint and were told to keep right on the next section, we duly did and got lost. After running up and down the side of a steep hill we finally found a road and got on course, we never saw checkpoint 3, mind you we never saw checkpoints 1 and 2 either. Although we were back on course it did not last for long within ¾ mile we were lost and were wandering around a farm for a bit. We found a local gentleman (from the Orient) how gave us some advice and sent us off in the wrong direction, having checked the map yet again we doubled back and finally got back on track and managed to get back to the finish. We were not last despite having run more than a mile further than we were supposed to.

Questions:
Was it fun? YES.
Would I do it again? YES, YES.
Did I learn anything? YES, YES, YES.
What did I learn?

  1. Don’t go off to fast, in fact go off very slowly. Remember Phil and Camilla are better runners.
  2. Beware tapes they can make you lazy and can be source of mistakes.
  3. Whatever your level of navigation skills, use them!
  4. Beware advice from well-meaning individuals it can misleading and create confusion.
  5. Fell running is fun I have missed it. Have a go, run at least one short fell race this summer.

Please note that the above report is the Times edition. The News of the World edition ("My Dirty Sunday with a Sunderland Stroller") is only available via phone hacking or bribery.

Brun Valley Forest Park Orienteering Event, Burnley, 27th April

Dougie Nisbet

We looked with interest at the methane pipes protruding from the ground and snaking along the grass amongst the sheep. Apparently we were not to touch them. Fine by me. This was reclaimed land; a wood planted on top of an old dump; something that always fascinated me when I studied arboriculture. Take some bad land, chuck some top-soil on top, plant some trees, and voila – nature reserve. Except that underneath all the greenery the old waste is still farting gently and rumbling ominously. Lancashire Council now burn it to generate electricity.

It's time to climb aboard your broomstick. Roberta started her Orange course at the same time I started my Brown. We squeezed through a metal gate into the wood as if we were passing through some Narnian archway and then went our separate ways. My course was pretty interesting, especially at the fourth control where a congregation of orienteers were noting how interesting it was that the control they were looking for didn't actually seem to be there. Once we'd all agreed that we were all in the right place, and it was reality that was actually on the blink, we carried on.

Trying to get some sleep here! All courses had to cross the river, some more than others. Trouble was, the bridges didn't match the crossing points, so a marshall was on hand with a big stick and a ladder just in case you needed help. Having forded many a river in many a fell race I wasn't worried but it was a nice touch all the same. I hadn't got off to a great start so I was contenting myself with running steadily round and taking the time to think about my navigation rather than just hurtling in all the wrong directions. It was turning out to be a really interesting trip out and I crunched through the bluebells and beercans and talked to sunbathing cats as I meandered my way round the course.

Bluebells and Beercans. It was on the last few controls that I had one of my sadly rare cunning plans. Control 26 was on my side of the river, but it was in a bunch of rocks close to the water. These sort of controls can be notoriously difficult to spot. And there was no path this side. Perhaps if I crossed the river to the path on the other side, but no, that would only lead to trouble and feet wetting. But cross I did and ran effortlessly along the good path noting that I was gaining on a couple or runners who had passed me earlier but were now making slow progess on the pathless side. When I spotted the boulder field and instantly saw the control as it was obvious from my side of the river, I really felt as if I'd arrived in smugsville. Back across the river and now only a few seconds behind runners who had previously been minutes ahead. I wish I had more moments like this.

After the remote majesty of yesterday's Hallin Fell today's venue was in complete contrast. Grimy and urban but not without its own beauty and still a great place to run.

Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, 26th April

24m / 4750'

Paul Evans

60-years old and widely-regarded as a classic in the UK fell-running world, for a race not too far from Durham the Three Peaks Fell Race is not a race often attempted by Striders; Shaun completed it in 4hrs 50mins in 2010 but there are no recent reports of other completions. This may be as a result of the increasingly-annoying need to pre-register, meaning that you can't just see how you feel the evening before, check out a weather forecast and think 'yes, why not?' It may be due to it being in the Yorkshire Dales, that little bit further than our usual haunts of the North York Moors. It may, alternatively, just be because it is a bit of a beast to enter, with the organisers stipulating levels of previous experience that cannot be met other than by completing other long, hard races; this year, the horrors of the Wadsworth Trog were both their own reward and part of my entry ticket to the big marquee set up in the tiny village.

So, 0724 on Saturday and five people step off the railway platform at Horton-in Ribblesdale into a grey, misty and wet morning, passing over a hundred Sikhs who are setting off to walk the course as a Vaisakhi festival charity event, a lot of goretex-clad children amongst them. We're amongst the first to register in the dry confines of the enormous tent and quickly settle into a routine of kit-checking, toilet trips, tea-drinking and chat, trying not to notice the insistent patter of rain on canvas. The tent fills, announcements are made and at 1015 we're ushered outside into pens that look disturbingly-organised for someone who's more used to the casual nature of smaller races. I optimistically place myself towards the back of the 3-4hr pen and set off with the mob of c780 runners through Horton, holding back on the pace as much as possible.

Pen-Y-Ghent: Straight out of the village we climb, first gently on farm tracks and then increasingly upwards, the views at first stunning and then non-existent as we reach the mist. Rough, stony tracks take us all the way to the top, the last few hundred yards walking, then down again, rock, heather and mud all seemingly treacherous, with an early stumble and face-plant inhibiting me and letting three dozen runners fly past. As things flatten, a veteran from a local club who has descended similarly sedately reassures me that 'it's best not to worry. the race starts at Whernside and this is just a long commute to it.'

Ribblehead: He's right. This is a long stretch over fell, farm track, a Bailey bridge over the clear, cold waters of the Ribble and 1.5m of road to the Station Inn/Ribblehead viaduct checkpoint. Whernside looks seductively gentle in the distance, the sun having broken out, though its slopes appear slightly more intimidating as we near. For a few runners this will be the end of the line, as strict cut-offs are enforced here, though I'm in with time to spare, pausing for a minute to find a bottle taken ahead by the organisers and then resuming my steady chase of the pack ahead. The support here is excellent and I'm taken aback to hear the names of runners being announced over a PA system from the pub car park; is this what finishing London feels like?

Whernside: Hand rail the railway for a short stretch, pass under the lines, through a beck lined with the obligatory smooth, treacherous stones and then it hits you: Whernside may appear runnable from a distance, but the curves you see on the approach are NOT the face you'll be running up. Sucking mud covers the lower slopes, giving way to a brief runnable section before the angle necessitates an all-fours approach. Hand-over-hand. Foot over foot. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Foot after lactate-filled vertical foot. It is unforgiving, though by the top I've regained all places lost and a few more, though the descent along a path alternating rocky and flagged sections sees me lose them all again, quads feeling unresponsive and unable to adjust with the immediacy needed to keep me upright at speed.

Ingleborough: The unpleasantness of Whernside rapidly fades as the flags give way to farm tracks, another drink stop (and cut-off checkpoint) at the Old Hill Inn and a lovely section across grass and duckboards up the lower slopes of Ingleborough. I feel strong and yet know that any places I gain on the climb will be subject to being lost on the 5-mile descent to Horton, so attack this with a degree of aggression, using hands and tired legs to push up the steps and then boulders that mark the way to the top. A plateau of shattered rock is dazzling in the bright sunshine and the marshals inform me I'm now 67th, which will be as good as it gets for me. I take off on what I think is a direct line down to the track but am out-flanked and out-thought by a pair of Bingley runners who bounce down a rock-pile to my right. More follow them, though on a tracked section I recover slightly, then am overtaken further when we transect the slick, damp limestone of Sulber Nick. A last burst over the final grassy slopes into Horton, under the railway line and into the finishing strait earns me a 3:49:53 finish (winner, Ricky Lightfoot, took 2:53), my timing printout showing that I'm 89th of 89 runners and took 35 minutes to complete the 2-2.5 miles from Ribblehead to Whernside.

An hour later and I'm heading home, fed with vegetable chilli and generally satisfied to have got round in one piece. The course is visually-outstanding, though it feels very much like a short fell race attached to a longer fell race artificially, by means of a long trail/road section, and the wet limestone descents are something I'm just not good at, several falls adding unnecessary minutes to my time. The atmosphere is nice and the competition for every place intense; when beaten here you can always console yourself that you've just had your rear handed to you by several international-standard athletes. Even the t-shirt and finishers' certificate look good. Down for a re-visit? Yes, hopefully with Shaun who had to withdraw through injury. Recommended? Yes, with caution - if suckered by the early flatter sections, the back half here has the potential to be truly dreadful; a race to be respected, if not always enjoyed.

St. George’s 10k – Great Langdale (with Penrith parkrun thrown in), 26th April

Angela Coates and Paul Pascoe

Purple in the vests, purple in the mountains. Well the first ‘race’ of the day (it’s a run, not a race) was Penrith parkrun. We’ve been doing a lot of parkrun tourism lately, after having done all the North East parkruns (damn you Hartlepool, we’ll be back for you soon), we decided to try and do all the Cumbrian parkruns as well. Seeing as we were over the Lake District for the St. George’s race we thought we’d fit in Penrith. It was a bit drizzly on our way into Penrith but as per usual once the parkrun started, the rain cleared up. I don’t think it was as soggy as when Dave and Mel did it, but it still was a bit soft underfoot. We had a gentle jog around knowing that we’d be racing in 3 hours’ time in a thigh burning race.

parkrun done, we had a quick change of socks etc. and headed down to the Langdale Valley. We got to the race car park an hour and a half early. We refuelled and just enjoyed the scenery around us, looking through the valley up to the Langdale mountains and the sun actually came out. The marshals were very helpful and friendly, organising the car parking and giving encouragement to the runners. First off was the Fun Run where we saw quite a few tiny kids coming into the finish area, all with big smiles on their faces.

Then it was our turn. We lined up on the road and before we knew it the hooter sounded. Off we went, steady at first as we had driven down the road to the car park on the actual race route, so we knew what the race entailed, saw all the ups and downs. The course is an out and back, slightly undulating route, along the Great Langdale Road. Starting at the New Dungeon Ghyl, running to The Langdale Estate in Elterwater and returning to the New Dungeon Ghyl. The race started with a few steady ups and downs and as the road was not shut we had to keep to the side now and again for the odd car, farmers quad and trailer full of Herdwicks. I couldn’t help but keep looking around at the beautiful scenery and little Herdwick lambs and had to gasp a couple of times at the lovely country smells (maybe the intake of manure helped push me along, you never know).

There was a lovely downhill coming up which I knew headed down to Chapel Stile (but also knew you had to come back up it), after that just after the 4k mark we turned into the Langdale Estate which I’d never visited before. I saw Paul just before the turn and he was looking comfortable and in good form. We gave a quick wave to each other then I turned into the Estate. At the 5k mark there was water and sweets on offer. I managed to grab a drink but not the sweets, oh well. I did actually stop to drink the water which I’ve never done before, I normally just end up throwing it all down my chin but it was getting quite warm. After the water/sweet stop we then headed through Elterwater and back up the way we had just come down. Somehow I felt more comfortable on the way back, maybe it’s the idea that you have passed the half way mark and you were on your way home that makes it easier.

Head down, I headed back up the incline from Chapel Stile and knew there were only 2 or 3 more ups and downs and before I knew it I could see the end in sight. I even passed about 10 people, which is normally the other way around for me. I saw Paul just before the turn into the last 100 metres, gave a wave and had a little sprint (not too much as there was no one to sprint past) to the end. A drink of water and more sweets were on offer, I made sure I got my sweets this time, well a packet of Moams. Paul and I headed into the tent and I picked up my race t-shirt then after a chat to other runners we were on our back along the road we had just ran and thanked the marshals on the way.

A fantastic race in gorgeous surroundings, great marshals and organising and sweets on offer half way and at the end, what more could you want. I would definitely do it again next year. Paul had the same race as me except quicker, more comfortable, no sweets and not as much looking around as me and with a fantastic time considering he hasn’t raced properly this year. We also heard that the half marathon and marathon in the Great Langdale Road Races were ones to do, hmm not too sure.

Hallin Fell Orienteering Event, Ullswater, 26th April

Dougie Nisbet

The only way is up.One of the nice things about orienteering is that it can take you to places that you wouldn't usually go, and one of the nice things about the Border Liners orienteering club is that they run regular “come and try it” events. So yesterday found me and Roberta driving down a long cul-de-sac on the east side of Ullswater to Hallin Fell. We thought we knew the Lakes quite well but we didn't know this bit. Around a hairpin, up a hill, and into the sun. We drove off the road and about 6 feet up Hallin Fell itself before the car decided that was enough of that and stopped. We were parked.

Ok, which way is north? We registered and I asked to do the 'green' course – the longest one available that day. That was fine, it's just that they had no green course maps left. This is not unheard of when an event proves popular and there have been only so many course maps printed, and in these situations you just wait until the next green gadgie finishes and you nick their second hand map. We headed for the Start which was a bit of a climb up the fell itself. The Start was about as informal as it gets. There was no one there. When you were ready to go you just dibbed your doodah into the doubrey and doddled off. Roberta strode away on the Orange course, me on the Green.

It had turned out into a fantastic sunny day and this had to be one of the more dramatic locations I've orienteered in. Hallin Fell is set above Ullswater with views right down the lake, and despite not being particularly high it has a real sense of drama. Despite never threatening the podium I still tend to hammer it as best I can round an orienteering course but today I did pause for a few seconds just to stop and stare. It really was quite a place.

And the award of Prettiest Control Location of the Year goes to ... I did ok, as I often do, until I made mistakes. Two biggies today. The rock beside the path on the bend that I thought I was at, was remarkably similar to another rock beside another path on another bend that I should have been at. So when I pounced on my control, it wasn't mine at all. It was someone else's. Jings, I said (I'm paraphrasing), and soon realised my mistake. A few minutes lost, and a few more some time later when I decided that a cairn that I passed was too small to be marked on the map and that my cairn was the big one ahead. It wasn't.

On a short course like this there isn't much opportunity to recover time from errors such as those, and I may have actually got a half-decent position if I hadn't messed up. Roberta found the navigation ok but wished she hadn't left her Leki's in the car as the steep slopes were a bit tricksy. We left this gorgeous tiny corner of England to head for Southport, and to check our schedule for tomorrow's trip to Burnley.

North Tyneside 10K, 20th April

Katy Walton

Seeing the number of Striders who took part in the 2013 North Tyneside 10k and the internal surge of 'oh I wish I had ran it' I decided to book this race early. Greta mentioned this was one of her favourite 10k races which confirmed I had made the right decision in entering it.

A fantastic day for a race and as our purple diluted the crowds once again a mega turn out from the club.

This race was not chipped so at the start I tried to get as far forward as possible, starting next to fellow Strider Gareth who was looking for his competition Rob. My race plan was to pace myself at around 7.05, this would certainly test me, but with my new racing flats I was in a positive mind.

The race started very fast, straight away you head down hill, people flew past me and I decided to let go a little as my aching quads from Fridays trek hurt when I applied the breaks. On reaching the bottom I put the pace back on track. Jon Stead ran past looking strong and away he weaved into front racers.

On reaching the dockside it was apparent that the wind was going to prove the enemy in this race hitting us runners head on, I decided to hide behind several taller runners but they seemed to be running a different pace, so after about two miles decided to tough up and face the wind alone head on.

The North Tyneside 10K, as seen from South Tyneside by Nigel, hopelessly off-route, and conspicuous in his absence from the results.

There was one hill during the race which was short but rather steep and placed early on so it was good to get it out of the way.

At mile three I plodded forward, overtaking some people which certainly increased my positive mind set. I was wanting to possibly speed up after mile 4 but I found I lacked the power to achieve this so continued as I were.

At mile five the onlookers clapping the runners lined the road, the support was fantastic. The lighthouse was in sight, I was about 200 metres behind Jon Stead, I was trying to catch him up but he seemed to maintain his original quick pace and the gap did not change.

At 200 metres to go shouts from the vast supporting Striders was energising and so lovely to hear, it certainly pushes you at that vital moment. As I ran down the last hundred metres I could see the clock ticking 43.50........43.51...... I pushed and pushed and over the line I went. My garmin read 44.02, kicking myself because I was so close to under 44 which was what I wanted, but pleased that I had beaten my previous 10k pb. Superb running from all striders, plus a duel between Gareth and Rob and also a huge pb from Anita.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatPosTime
1 Carl SMITH Leeds CityM0:32:07
44 Deborah APPLETON Havering Mayesbrook ACF0:37:58
248 Jonathon STEEDM0:43:17
296 Katy WALTONF0:44:01
346 Richard HALLM0:44:59
500 Richard HOCKINM0:47:25
624 Mark DUNSEITHM0:49:13
706 David SPENCEM0:50:12
717 Greta JONESF0:50:21
745 Brian FORDM0:50:41
920 Stephen ELLISM0:53:07
921 Lindsay RODGERSM0:53:08
935 Melanie HUDSONF0:53:22
946 Dave ROBSONM0:53:30
967 Jacquie ROBSONF0:53:45
1114 Kirsty ANDERSONF0:55:26
1241 Robert CLARKM0:57:07
1258 Sophie DENNISF0:57:18
1286 Angela COATESF0:57:43
1287 Paul PASCOEM0:57:44
1341 Joanne PORTERF0:58:50
1437 Kelly COLLIERF1:00:32
1462 Kathleen BELLAMYF1:01:03
1483 Derek TOWERSM1:01:28
1504 Kerry LISTERF1:02:00
1596 Mike ELLIOTTM1:04:20
1644 Anita DUNSEITHF1:05:34
1738 Helen PAGEF1:09:55
1773 Sue JENNINGSF1:11:40

1839 finishers

Anniversary Waltz, Newlands Valley, Lake District, 19th April

11.5M / 3,600' AM

Danny Lim

I was feeling distinctly out of place descending this ridiculously steep, grassy slope. No sane person would expect this to be run-able, but everyone around was overtaking me, descending like nimble mountain goats. In comparison, I was like an elephant, clumsily trundling down. What held me back was the fear of slipping and tumbling all the way down a few hundred feet. As if to emphasise the point, a few rocks I had accidentally dislodged continued rolling downhill. Vertigo was not my strong point and this wasn’t helping! It was a delicate balance between daring and stupidity and at the moment, my survival instinct trumped my competitive streak. “How did I get myself into this mess?”, I asked myself.

Two years ago, by chance, I was staying in the same hotel as Dougie Nisbet. He had just finished the Anniversary Waltz and was regaling his adventure. I knew I had to give the race a go. Several fell races in the North York Moors later, I was ready, or at least I thought I was! It was a horseshoe-shaped 11 mile race with a climb of 5 summits. It would start in the Newlands valley near Keswick, climbing Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head, High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells. From the comfort of my living room, the contour lines on the map appeared fairly benign. However, in real life, the peaks looked far more menacing. After over an hour of what seemed like “ridiculously steep” climbing, followed by equally steep descents, I was less certain. I had so far managed to climb three of the five summits. “Over halfway there”, I told myself in a vain attempt to shore up my confidence.

A familiar climb to anyone who has ever waltzed round the Newlands Horseshoe. In reality, I was struggling. Foolishly, I hadn’t taken any water, food or energy gels with me. I knew we were going to cross a stream soon, but the last time I drank untreated water was in South Africa where, I developed cholera. I reassured myself that this was unlikely in England and in my desperation, drank greedily from the stream. The water was cold and gloriously sweet. I tried not to dwell on the millions of potential pathogens from the sheep droppings littered everywhere.

Though I was no longer thirsty, I was ravenous. I passed a mother and her young daughter picnicking nearby and resisted the urge to snatch the candy bar she was eating. You know it’s bad when you even think about stealing candy from a child! In desperation, I asked the marshal at the next checkpoint and they obliged with a chocolate bar. Never had anything tasted so good! I Almost immediately, I was much better.

But there was still 3-4 miles to go and I was exhausted. Leg muscles that I didn’t know existed were cramping up everywhere and I was forced to slow down to a gentle jog. All thoughts about finishing in a target time were out the window. Dozens of runners overtook me, but I didn’t care. I was worried I was going to seize up and stop completely because of the cramps. My only thought was to make it home in one piece. As I reached Catbells, the final summit, I could see the village hall and our starting point below. It was the psychological boost I needed to get me through the final hobble-dash to the finish.

Some people prefer to run on roads, apparently! Would I do this race again? Definitely! Throughout the entire run, the scenery was breath-taking. Much of the race was on a ridge and you would have great views on either side. I didn't know anybody but I was made to feel very welcome by everyone I encountered.

The Woldsman, Driffield, East Yorks, 13th April

50M

Sue Jennings

When I first started running, I never thought I would run a marathon, never mind 50 miles! 20 marathons later, I was very easily persuaded by Anna (in the pub) to sign up for the Woldsman 50 described as fairly flat, but undulating in places. See course below – not really flat with some undulating bits!

'Undulating'.

We travelled down to Driffield the night before the challenge and had a couple of drinks to help us sleep! The challenge started at 8am the next morning and as we set off my mind was pretty much on trying to get to the half way point and then seeing if I could go any further. The weather was pretty chilly and it was very windy too.

We got to the first check point at just over 6 miles which seemed to fly by. The next 6 also went by pretty quick (there was loads of lovely food at this check point) but then we had a long period of time where we crossed a very large ridge which just seemed to go on for ever. It was hard under foot too so running on it was quite difficult. Just before check point 3, there was a really long downhill stretch which was great, followed by a very very long uphill! Still getting to 20 miles in one piece with just a few aches and sore feet felt good especially knowing that the next check point was at 25 miles and would be the halfway point.

At halfway, there was hot food – pasta with different sauces, puddings, tea/coffee etc. After a plate full of pasta with cheese sauce I felt re-energised and Anna and I set off to get to the next check point at 31 miles – I was hoping at this point that we had completed most of the big hills, but someone we had talked to on the way said the second half was hillier than the first! This stretch was quite flat for a while and we passed a few people as we managed to do quite a bit of running. At 28/29 miles we reached the highest part of the course (it didn’t seem it but we must have been up quite high already) and I think at this point I actually started to think that I might get to the end.

The next check point passed and we headed off for another 6 or so miles to the third last check point – this section was probably the hardest one. There was a huge hill and then the toughest steps ever (going up)! It was hands down at stages for me – cursing the people who had designed the course for putting such horrible steps at this stage of the challenge. I think even Anna found these hard.

We reached the next check point at about 37 miles and the marshals were fab (and there was more food). At this point there was no way I was not going to get to the end and we plodded on to the second last check point at Wetwang. We arrived in Wetwang at about 7pm – 42.5 miles. We were told that 51 people had come in before us (out of over 190) which really boosted me. We also knew that the next 7.5/8 miles was flat (or so we had been told) which was also a bonus.

We made it to the final check point at 46 miles just before it was dark. We didn’t hang around at this point as we wanted to get as much of the challenge completed in daylight as we could. We did however get our head torches ready! I think we were at about 47 miles when it was too dark to see without a torch and this was a really hard section under foot. The ground was ridged with quite deep furrows and it took us all our effort to stay upright – this section lasted about a mile and was very slow.

We then started to head back in to a semi urban area and then our last mile was through a park and fields back to the show ground in Driffield. We had been told that this was an area where a lot of people have got lost in the past and we found one man in the woods who was lost. He then followed us and eventually we saw the red lights that the course organisers had put out over the last half mile to guide us back to the show ground. This worked a treat and we arrived safely at the finish at 9.45pm (13 hours 45 mins).

It was lovely getting a cup of tea and vegetarian stew and we received a certificate saying we had completed the challenge.

There was some amazing scenery during the challenge – I have never seen valleys like these before. We had been told to carry maps which we never used as the written guidance was really good and Anna’s navigational skills meant that we didn’t get lost (apart from one bit where we climbed over a fence and then found that we hadn’t needed too).

I would definitely recommend this challenge and am hoping that a few of us might go back next year and have another go.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Gareth Wilson7:59
48Sue Jennings13:45
49Anna Seeley13:45
175Betty Lewis18:56
176Martin ScottFinished

176 finishers

London Marathon, 13th April

26.2M

Mark Dunseith

I'm not really sure why I applied for the London marathon but apply I did and I was very surprised to get in. I always thought I'd run a marathon one day but this was a bit earlier than expected. I think I was swept up in the Facebook frenzy and I applied on a whim.

Bugger ... not chocolate at all ...

So January 1st was my date to start my training. Luckily Jantastic started at the same time and it got me going on my marathon training. I read though all the marathon plans and ignored the lot of them. Around the time I was starting training I was having a bit of problem with self diagnosed shin splints. I still haven't a clue what it was, but it's stopped now so my mantra of 'ignore it and it'll go away' comes up trumps again. Due to this injury I couldn't run for too long so I started running 4 times a week at about 6 miles, thinking that if I get my cardio up then I'll be fine. Everything was going fine in training until Jantastic finished at the start of April when I stopped running. I didn't taper, I just plain stopped.

So even though I felt great all the way through training from January, as soon as I got to London I was pretty worried. I did a sub 30 minute parkrun at Gunpowder Park on the Saturday, Anita's first sub 30, then headed through to the Excel to collect my number and meet some Striders. I was very nervous while at the Excel and think I must have spoken a total of ten words to Alan, Stephanie, Jacquie and Alister. Anita loved the different stalls that were set up there and I was interested in a few but all I wanted to do was have a lie down. I was knackered. Finally we got back to my Uncle James' house and had a carb load with lots of pasta and an early night.

Race day. I was up before my alarm and just lay in bed and waited. The alarm went off and I was up and getting ready. My Uncle James made me scrambled eggs on toast and I had that then nipped to the loo. This was my biggest worry in the week leading up to the race, Paula Radcliffe has a lot to answer for. I was ready to leave and just milling around the house wasting time, not really doing anything. Little did I realise that we were running very late. Straight in the car and to the train station where I had to say goodbye to Anita and James and run for my train. As I could travel for free I didn't have to wait in line for a ticket in the queue but spectators had to. Luckily the train was a couple of minutes late and they both managed to get tickets in time to join me on the train. I wouldn't have fancied the journey on my own.

We arrived in Blackheath with hundreds of other nervous runners all walking to the start line. When 9am arrived I said goodbye to Anita and James for a second time and entered the Blue section from where I was due to set off in a little under an hour. I was ready to run so dropped my bag off at the baggage lorries and went to the area near to the urinals and start area where I had a sit down and waited, conserving energy. Then a lie down, conserving more energy. Then I went to the toilet; it's at this point I am always glad I'm a boy as my queue was a lot quicker than the queue for the portaloos. I repeated this process another 2 times. I was lying on the grass staring up at an almost cloudless sky just wanting to get the run underway. I'd thought about this run since September when I got my confirmation through and all I wanted to do was start running it. Eventually people started streaming past me towards the start pens so I followed and joined the crowds and got in my start position. From my position I couldn't hear anything to indicate the race had started, my only clue was that everyone in my pen had started walking towards the start line. As we were approaching the startling a fellow runner was applying suntan lotion and offered the bottle around before he threw it away, this is why I love the running community. So suntan lotion applied and I eventually crossed the start line 9 minutes after the Elites and within the first 50 metres it dawned on me that I was running a marathon and I still had 26 miles to go. My immediate second thought was that it's not a good time to start thinking about how long I have left to go. I got into a rhythm I was comfortable with and concentrated on not tripping anyone up. I was going about 25 seconds per mile too fast at this point and I had visions of smashing my 4 hours target by about 20 minutes but I decided to heed Alister's words of warning and not get carried away so I wound it back and started taking it a bit easier. Very shortly I was in Greenwich and the place where Anita and James said they would try and see me for the first time. I was looking left and right for a large amount of the time to try and see them but there were so many people along the route that I had no chance.

It was starting to get very warm and I was glad Anita suggested bringing a baseball cap. I'm not great in the sun and when we go on holiday we always have to find a shady area for me to sit while Anita sits in the sun. There isn't much to say about the race itself at this point as I can't remember much. I ran past a fire station where the fire brigade had a makeshift shower which was a welcome relief and at one point someone stopped dead in front of me and I had to jump round him, only to realise he was texting someone! Anita said later that she was stood beside people who were receiving texts from their loved ones on the course to say how far they'd done and when they'd likely be at a certain spot. Crazy. I also passed Tony the Fridge, a group of guys dressed at the Jamaican bobsleigh team complete with foam bobsleigh and countless other people dressed in crazy outfits. One lad was even kicking a football the full length of the course.

I kept running and doing maths and split times in my head, making sure I was still within my 4 hour pace. I waved at someone holding a sign saying 'give us a wave if you parkrun' and just crowd watched the rest of the time. There is very little of the 26.2 mile route which doesn't have some spectators so there is always something to look at. Alan Smith ran up behind me at one point and asked how I was doing and it was nice to see a familiar face. I said I was fine and on course for my time and asked how he was. I think he said he had a sore leg before wishing me luck. At some point between 6 miles and 20 (my memory of the race is that vague) I got a cheer of 'Well done Mark Dunseith' and I looked up to see Jacquie and Stephanie's partner waving at me. It's amazing how much of a lift this gives you, seeing someone you know give you encouragement does spur you on and you forget the pain for a little while.

I was worried about mile 17 as people say this is the point where you hit 'the wall' but a strategically placed gel station just before this got me through and I felt comfortable but slow going through the next 3 miles. I was losing precious seconds every mile around this point and thought I wasn't going to make it in less than 4 hours but I decided that rather than walk I would aim for 4:02 or 4:03 and give myself something good to aim for next time. I got to mile 20 in 3 hours and decided that I could make my target time and just to keep going at the speed I was doing and not to get excited and try and increase my pace. All through the previous 10 miles I was taking a water bottle at every point I could and taking a sip then pouring the rest in my hat to keep cool. This kept me feeling comfortable in the heat all the way round and I continued this tactic to the end. I got to a point which I thought was a 5k to go marker but it turned out to be a mini marathon start point but I figured it was about the same distance and I knew at this point I was going to beat 4 hours, it was going to be close but I wasn't letting it get away. Less than a parkrun to go and I increased my speed slightly. I felt great at this point, the pain was gone and I knew I was going to finish.

At 25 miles I finally saw Anita and my uncle and it was the boost I needed to get me over the last mile. I ran past St Stephen's Tower as Big Ben struck 2pm which was brilliant. The British army had soldiers positioned along the last half mile and they were all giving encouragement to the runners. It was a great final mile. Until 600 meters to go where I just had nothing left. I was struggling to move my legs and just wanted to sit down. I trudged past Lizzie's house and noticed the flag was flying high so knew she was probably having a cup of tea and watching me out the window so I looked at the clock and realised I had just over 3 minutes to cross the line and gave everything I had left. Over the line and stopped. My legs felt awful and I'm not sure I could have run another step, but I didn't have to. I took off my timing chip and was given a medal and walked, slowly, to the baggage bus. One of the volunteers saw me walking towards them and had my bag ready for me the second I got there. Brilliant service.

After crossing the line I decided I was never going to do it again ... I have since signed up for an ultra.... and have entered the ballot for next year....

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Finish
1Kipsang, Wilson (KEN) Kenya     M2:04:29
1*Kiplagat, Edna (KEN) Kenya F 2:20:21
4187Terry, Rachel (GBR) FV40 3:24:59
6247Robson, Alister (GBR) MV40 3:37:08
10023Walker, Stephanie (GBR) F 3:54:01
11318Dunseith, Mark Lewis (GBR) M 3:58:18
12016Gourlay, Aaron (GBR) M 4:00:51
17045Brodie, Mark William (GBR) M 4:22:09
21167Smith, Alan (GBR) MV65 4:39:42
21905Goddard, Debra (GBR) FV40 4:42:57
31342Thompson, Margaret (GBR) FV60 5:38:47

35,847 finishers.
*Elite Women's race.

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

Guisborough Moors, 13th April

12ish Miles

Kirsty Anderson

It was a small but select band of Striders who gathered for the Guisborough Moors Fell race, with many others electing to either run or support at the London Marathon, or recovering from theatrical endeavours. It was a glorious day for running wherever you were though, spring has definitely sprung and about time too. Registration was at the local Rugby club so there was plenty of space to change and leave bags, and some decent toilets too, always a bonus. With monies (£8) paid and emergency numbers noted down we headed to where we thought the start was, only to find it was actually much further back down the road, so we headed back again nabbing a team photo on the way. The Magnificent Seven.

The course takes in quite a few climbs with a steep one to begin with and I sensibly decided to conserve energy by walking a fair bit of the first hill. It was glorious on the top of the moor, a bit windy perhaps but the views were stunning and the line of runners snaking away in front of me was quite a sight. It was a bit boggy on the moor and my shoes and socks were soaked and muddy by the end of the first bit of moor but it wasn’t too bad.

Jan had been saying before the start that she was planning to tail run as she’d been under the weather but she came leaping past me like a mountain goat on the first downhill section, a track with ruts as big as a person. I got past her again on the next uphill and we leapfrogged for most of the race like this with her much (much!) quicker on the downhills and me a bit better at plodding up the hills. Captain Cook’s monument was the next climb and a nasty fall for a guy in front of me on the subsequent downhill, he wasn’t actually part of the race and just out for a run with his dog but I made sure he was ok before carrying on, even though his dog was really annoying and spent the next 10 minutes trying to trip me up. At this point Jan reassured me that we were nearly there, but with another 6 miles or so still to go including Roseberry Topping I remained sceptical, which as it turned out was the right thing to do. I’ve not been up Roseberry Topping before and rounded the corner and stared in amazement at the Everest before me, I hadn’t realised it was nearly vertical! I was so slow up it that my Garmin autopaused and refused to start until I was going back down again, it was a real hands on knees and breathe job. There was then a really steep really slippery downhill which was nigh on impossible with wobbly legs and a slightly tweaked ankle, before another steep uphill back up to Little Roseberry. After that it was back on to the moors for a bit before another gradual uphill on some stones.

With about a mile and a half to go I started to feel a bit sick (badly planned nutrition) so started to scrabble around in my backpack for some food. With my pear babyfood scoffed (whoever suggested that as a gel alternative is a genius) I was feeling better but realised I had lost the chap in front of me who I had been following for the last few miles and who obviously knew where he was going. That’s ok I thought, I’m only a mile from the finish, how hard can it be to navigate my way home…

Cheery with the thought that I was nearly there I carried on running on a lovely track down a big steep hill but then realised as I got to the bottom that I couldn’t see anyone in front of me on the big uphill. The guy in front of me hadn’t been that far ahead and I should have been able to see him, but he was nowhere in sight. I had two options at that point, carry on and assume he’d just gone ahead, or walk back up the massive hill I had just run down and see if I missed a turning. The map wasn’t much help, and my phone had no signal so option 2 seemed the safer bet. Trudging back up the big hill was rather demoralising and I was even crosser with myself when I got back to the top and spotted a bit of tape I’d previously missed pointing me in a different direction, ARGH. I’d been too busy faffing with food to notice and lost around 15 mins and expended far too much energy going in the wrong direction. This made me quite angry and my legs had also given up the ghost by that point, so I finally trotted in 4th from last and over my 2 and a half hour target feeling rather peeved.

A change of clothes and some food later and I felt a bit happier and was also not the worst off since Mandy had gone over on her ankle on the first descent (but then carried on rather impressively!) and Mike had done something to his calf so ice packs abounded. Paul had had a really good race coming in 13th overall and 5th in his age category, and Jan had won her age category too, along with the league prize – well done Jan!

I’ve never seen so many prizes at a race before, the winners got 4 bottles of wine each and there were prizes throughout the field and still they kept coming. In the end they said that anyone who hadn’t had a prize could come up and get one so I flung myself at the stage and nabbed a box of chocolates, cheering myself right up in the process. Next year I will know where I am going, and actually I’d been feeling ok up until I got lost and so I definitely can’t complain, even though my knees can certainly feel it today! The chocolates definitely help though and with the absence of Katy I am hoping I am still Queen of the Mountains...

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1James BulmanNew Marske HarriersM40182.58
13Paul EvansMO596.04
52Michael BennettM553113.21
55Michael HughesM458115.04
91Mandy DawsonF453127.49
114Jan YoungF601145.42
117Anita ClementsonF407153.14
123Kirsty AndersonFO14161.17

126 finishers

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

'Gisborough' Moors, 13th April

12.2M

Kirsty Anderson

It was a small but select band of Striders who gathered for the Guisborough Moors Fell race, with many others electing to either run or support at the London Marathon, or recovering from theatrical endeavours. It was a glorious day for running wherever you were though, spring has definitely sprung and about time too. Registration was at the local Rugby club so there was plenty of space to change and leave bags, and some decent toilets too, always a bonus. With monies (£8) paid and emergency numbers noted down we headed to where we thought the start was, only to find it was actually much further back down the road, so we headed back again nabbing a team photo on the way. The Magnificent Seven.

The course takes in quite a few climbs with a steep one to begin with and I sensibly decided to conserve energy by walking a fair bit of the first hill. It was glorious on the top of the moor, a bit windy perhaps but the views were stunning and the line of runners snaking away in front of me was quite a sight. It was a bit boggy on the moor and my shoes and socks were soaked and muddy by the end of the first bit of moor but it wasn’t too bad.

Jan had been saying before the start that she was planning to tail run as she’d been under the weather but she came leaping past me like a mountain goat on the first downhill section, a track with ruts as big as a person. I got past her again on the next uphill and we leapfrogged for most of the race like this with her much (much!) quicker on the downhills and me a bit better at plodding up the hills. Captain Cook’s monument was the next climb and a nasty fall for a guy in front of me on the subsequent downhill, he wasn’t actually part of the race and just out for a run with his dog but I made sure he was ok before carrying on, even though his dog was really annoying and spent the next 10 minutes trying to trip me up. At this point Jan reassured me that we were nearly there, but with another 6 miles or so still to go including Roseberry Topping I remained sceptical, which as it turned out was the right thing to do. I’ve not been up Roseberry Topping before and rounded the corner and stared in amazement at the Everest before me, I hadn’t realised it was nearly vertical! I was so slow up it that my Garmin autopaused and refused to start until I was going back down again, it was a real hands on knees and breathe job. There was then a really steep really slippery downhill which was nigh on impossible with wobbly legs and a slightly tweaked ankle, before another steep uphill back up to Little Roseberry. After that it was back on to the moors for a bit before another gradual uphill on some stones.

With about a mile and a half to go I started to feel a bit sick (badly planned nutrition) so started to scrabble around in my backpack for some food. With my pear babyfood scoffed (whoever suggested that as a gel alternative is a genius) I was feeling better but realised I had lost the chap in front of me who I had been following for the last few miles and who obviously knew where he was going. That’s ok I thought, I’m only a mile from the finish, how hard can it be to navigate my way home…

Cheery with the thought that I was nearly there I carried on running on a lovely track down a big steep hill but then realised as I got to the bottom that I couldn’t see anyone in front of me on the big uphill. The guy in front of me hadn’t been that far ahead and I should have been able to see him, but he was nowhere in sight. I had two options at that point, carry on and assume he’d just gone ahead, or walk back up the massive hill I had just run down and see if I missed a turning. The map wasn’t much help, and my phone had no signal so option 2 seemed the safer bet. Trudging back up the big hill was rather demoralising and I was even crosser with myself when I got back to the top and spotted a bit of tape I’d previously missed pointing me in a different direction, ARGH. I’d been too busy faffing with food to notice and lost around 15 mins and expended far too much energy going in the wrong direction. This made me quite angry and my legs had also given up the ghost by that point, so I finally trotted in 4th from last and over my 2 and a half hour target feeling rather peeved.

A change of clothes and some food later and I felt a bit happier and was also not the worst off since Mandy had gone over on her ankle on the first descent (but then carried on rather impressively!) and Mike had done something to his calf so ice packs abounded. Paul had had a really good race coming in 13th overall and 5th in his age category, and Jan had won her age category too, along with the league prize – well done Jan!

I’ve never seen so many prizes at a race before, the winners got 4 bottles of wine each and there were prizes throughout the field and still they kept coming. In the end they said that anyone who hadn’t had a prize could come up and get one so I flung myself at the stage and nabbed a box of chocolates, cheering myself right up in the process. Next year I will know where I am going, and actually I’d been feeling ok up until I got lost and so I definitely can’t complain, even though my knees can certainly feel it today! The chocolates definitely help though and with the absence of Katy I am hoping I am still Queen of the Mountains...

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1James BulmanNew Marske HarriersM40182.58
13Paul EvansMO596.04
52Michael BennettM553113.21
55Michael HughesM458115.04
91Mandy DawsonF453127.49
114Jan YoungF601145.42
117Anita ClementsonF407153.14
123Kirsty AndersonFO14161.17

126 finishers

A Tale of Two Cities, Durham, Gala Theatre, 8th April

2hr 55

Kirsty Anderson

More than 25 Striders made the trip to see the Durham Musical Theatre Company perform a Tale of Two Cities at the Gala Theatre in Durham on a warm Tuesday evening. After pre-show nutrition of pizza and some very large beers, we settled in to our seats to enjoy what was to be an excellent evening.

A Sea of Purple at the Gala? Is this a first??

Top of the billing were the Waltons - both looking resplendent in blonde wigs with Katy just pipping Graeme as the more glamorous of the two with ringlets and a succession of excellent capes (although has anyone else noticed that Graeme with a blonde bob is the spit of Robbie Savage...)? We were entertained by the story of unrequited love intertwined with the French Revolution and were carried along by both rousing and heartfelt songs performed magnificently by the leads and the cast whose number also featured Richard Hall (also resplendent in a number of different wigs) and Sarah Watson.

Special mention goes to an honorary Strider - Heidi - who performed solo twice during the show and didn't leave a dry eye in the house, although I am sure some of the more manly Striders will be attempting to blame the smoke machine.

Thoroughly recommended for an evening out, it runs for another week so if you haven't been then get your tickets and go - you won't be disappointed!

Transped Blyth Valley 10k, 6th April

Alister Robson

A good smattering of Striders for this one, renowned as fast and flat and chip timed this year for the princely sum of £8.60.*

Graeme once again very kindly taxied with Katy onboard in her comeback race after her recent piriformis issues, picking myself up at the Duke and then Simon in Chester-le-Street. Parking looked tight but there was actually loads of space despite it being the biggest field I've seen at Blyth 10k. Quite a few other Striders had made their way there too.

I knew I was in decent shape, despite the Coniston 14 disaster the previous week, this was fine tuning the speedwork for London a week later.

The start was a bit crowded - it's chip timed so I'm not sure why everyone was so keen to be at the front, but even so I went off faster than I intended - more like 5k pace than 10k. It's mostly club runners, so I think that's why most get sucked into going off too hard.

The second mile I was still overtaking people, including Katy and I even had Graeme just a bit ahead of me, which really should have sounded alarm bells. Third mile was still too fast and I learned afterwards that runners were cursing the wind at their face on the way out. I don't know why I don't seem to struggle in the wind like others do - probably as I'm a bit heavier I guess.

With three fast miles in the bag the second half was always going to be tough, even with the wind. This really isn't my preferred method - I'd much rather feel good in the second half, but, if a negative split was easy everyone would do that and even with all my experience (this was my 82nd 10K in just over 56 years) I made the classic "gone off too fast" mistake.

Still I eventually struggled home, which felt like dawdling after the fast first few miles, fighting the urge to stop and walk and I was astonished when I crossed the line with a shiny new 10k PB of 42.36 - beating my previous best by about 20 seconds. This is the real reason I run marathons - as a poor trainer, being forced to do the training required for a marathon has the desired effect on my real favourites, 10ks.

Simon was already well in by that stage, smashing 40 minutes and Graeme was only just outside that mark. Katy followed me in, shortly followed by Ari & Innes, the evergreen and consistent Richard Hockin, Yorkshire Paul, Rob Clark, Claire Hunt, Jo Porter, Karen Chalkley and Victoria Walton. I'm pretty sure Paul Towers was there too but I couldn't find him in the results so I hope he finished OK - I know he ran at North Tyneside 10k today.

*Entry fee also included a tech tee. More expensive races are of course available...

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Graeme COOKNorth Shields Poly ACM33:24
8Rosie SMITHDurham City HarriersF34:12
77Simon GARDNERM4039:19
128Graeme WALTONM4041:21
152Alister ROBSONM4042:36
206Katy WALTONF44:38
256Ari HODGSONM46:48
265Innes HODGSONM4547:09
281Richard HOCKINM6047:48
342Paul BEALM5050:57
439Robert CLARKM56:10
451Claire HUNTF5056:53
466Joanne PORTERF4057:33
467Karen CHALKLEYF5057:35
496Victoria WALTONF351:01:53

526 finishers

Hardmoors Wainstones Trail Marathon, Chop Gate, North Yorkshire, 6th April

26.8m

Dave Robson

Well prepared for the day ...

It was great to see so many Striders at Chop Gate on Sunday for this event. The weather turned out to be better than forecast with only a couple of light showers while Melanie and I were out there. Without a doubt, this was one of my toughest marathons. The first twenty five yards from the village hall were flat, then it was straight into one of the steepest climbs on the route. It took us 23min to cover the first mile. The first half was very tough, with six biggish hills. At halfway it felt like we had run a marathon already. The second half was a little easier, two biggish hills and two long drags upwards. The drags would have been runnable if our legs had not been so trashed from that first half.
 

There was some great performances, particularly Paul coming in third overall having started near the back with the rest of the Striders. Jules and David were next in, followed by Andrew Thompson (who has hardly run at all in the last four months). Then Melanie (completing her 25th marathon in less than two years !) and myself (gaining my age category prize as there was no other v60s running). Then Sue showing her usual determination and grit. George and Anne came down to watch and Phil was marshalling and Anna was helping with registration and giving out the medals. Anita and Mark did the 10k although they arrived after we had started and finished hours before we got back.

... and plenty of Striders to keep him company.

People had gone to a lot of trouble to acknowledge that it was my 100th marathon and I was very touched. Somebody had put notices around the village hall, it was acknowledged at the briefing and I was given race number 100. Somebody also arranged a card and got people to sign it. It was all a bit overwhelming.

Running wasn't a major part of my life until 2003. When I joined the club in 2005, I was of the mindset that at the age of 54, I was too old to contemplate running a marathon. However, I soon realised there were members of the club who were older than me and running marathons. I also started to learn more about running marathons through the running website fetcheveryone.com where I record my training and races and have met many of my running friends.

I heard stories of the London marathon but as I had completed the Great North Run many times, the thought of a crowded race in a city did not appeal. Then a club member, Colin Blackburn I think, sent round an email about a marathon that was being revived, the Windermere marathon. I think this was in October or November 2006. The thought of running round a lake was much more appealing and May 2007 seemed a long way away, so I entered. May 2007 came round and I was on the start line having completed a training plan ! It all went amazingly well until 22 miles when I started to struggle, but I made it to the finish. My children were there to watch and I uttered the words 'Never again'. I saw a few people with 100 marathon club tee shirts at that race and could hardly believe anybody could run that many marathons.

Well done mate!

I didn't run any more marathons in 2007, but once 2008 dawned I forgot the pain of the training and those last 4 miles and entered Windermere again, plus one or two other marathons. I also got a last minute place in London with ten days notice. And since then, it built up to 2011 when I did 30 marathons or ultras. I have cut back a bit since 2011.

I aim to keep running marathons and short ultras. Achieving 100 marathons to me is just passing a milestone by the side of the road, I want to keep running long distance events - I enjoy them, they keep me fit and I don't have to train for the events if I do them regularly. I am a poor trainer. I probably won't get great times doing it that way, but I am not motivated by obtaining personal best times. I have done one sub-4 marathon (Blackpool) and I am happy with that. Our next marathon is in less than three weeks and we have a double planned for May, so there is lots to look forward to !

For those of you who want to see what events have made up my 100, then you can see a spreadsheet here which is in the format required for the 100 Marathon club.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Jayson CavillM13.35.56
3Paul EvansM34.08.37
5Charmaine HorsfallF14.12.50
49Juliet PercivalFV4036.11.42
50David BrownM246.11.42
67Andrew ThompsonM256.41.57
69Dave RobsonMV6016.48.30
70Melanie HudsonF76.48.30
75Sue JenningsFV40107.47.20

80 finishers

Derby 10K, 6th April

Claire Readey

An eerie calm.My running goal for 2014: no more marathons, but instead focus on getting my 10k time down. After running a tortuous 52:32 at Saltwell just before Christmas, followed by an 'uncomfortably hard' just under 49 from Broom Park with hard taskmasters Neil and Martin on New Years' Day, my dream of a sub-45 felt a little ambitious. I started a 12 week plan with North Tyneside 10k in my sights.

In the meantime, post-Christmas dinner race surfing had led me to book the Derby 10k. Not too far from lovely friends in Sheffield, I enjoyed an evening of wine and sushi on Friday before driving on to Derby on Saturday. I stayed in the Pride Park Holiday Inn Express - exceptionally clean and super-accommodating (not to mention cheap and moments away from the stadium start). Race day was damp and drizzly but warm and without much wind.

The race was well organised, with runners penned from A-F depending on expected finish time. There were 4229 runners, plus a wheelchair race which went off first, and a 3k fun run scheduled for later that morning. We were asked us to assemble before the wheelchair race went, so there was quite a bit of hanging before our 9am start.

The best thing I can say about this 10k is - it's flat, and it's fast. Not only is it flat, but there's even a bit of downhill too. They even close the roads! The race wound its way through the city centre and was well supported with plenty of cheering throughout the route. The final stretch is less picturesque, but it's flat, as I may have mentioned, so I forgave them that.

Everyone I came into contact with was lovely and polite. I was cut up by one runner, who immediately apologised. Later on I was overtaken by an amicable toilet (supporting clean water for some charity I can't remember). I was thrown by there being no obvious km markers - just a lady at what must have been roughly the 5k mark handing out water and cheerily shouting 'you're about half way there!' My 5k split was comfortably under at that point, so I just hoped she was right.

I began to up my pace from 7k, aware from an earlier recce that the course looped past the finish at the stadium for another 1.5k, so I knew not to get my hopes up too soon. The finish is inside the stadium but you have to run most of the way around it before you enter - and as I approached the stadium I began to panic my carefully worked out times were at risk of going down the proverbial toilet (which, I might add, remained just a few runners ahead of me). As the seconds ticked away I pushed for all I was worth, and was delighted to finish the (10.1k) course with a chip time of 44:48.

City of Durham Duathlon, Meadowfield, Durham, 6th April

5k run, 25k bike, 5k run

Kirsty Anderson

In the past I have always left the biking to Jon (who is pretty good at it) but over the last year or so I have gradually been sucked in to the world of biking and actually started to rather enjoy it, especially since I bought a beautiful road bike last summer. This summer with some triathlons and long bike rides planned I was keen to get back out on the bike now the winter has gone, and the City of Durham Duathlon seemed the perfect opportunity. The event, run by Durham Tri Club (whose illustrious membership list includes many Striders (or is it vice versa...?!)), was billed as a friendly event for beginners who are up for a challenge - and sounded right up my street. Almost literally since it was only 10 mins cycle from my house, rather a nice change from some rather long haul races in the recent past.

Before the off ...

The weather forecast was not good, and after not a very good night's sleep due to newbie nerves we awoke to lots of water underfoot but no actual rain, which was good. A quick Shreddie breakfast and kit check later we made our way to Meadowfield Leisure Centre where the event hub was. Registration was easy, pick up number, timing chip and stickers for bike and helmet. There was some confusion over where one's race number should go as it turns out number belts are de riguer for triathlons and neither of us had one, but a very friendly and familiar marshal (hello Jacquie!) set us right - and so we pinned the numbers to our backs and went to get our bikes racked in the transition area. This done and helmet and clippy shoes (in Jon's case) laid out neatly we headed back in for the race briefing. Compared to road races, there are a lot more rules in bike races and my head was spinning about putting your feet down at junctions, which order to put your helmet on and where you can get on and get off the bike but there were marshalls everywhere advising you what to do which was much appreciated.

The actual race involved a 5k run, a 25k bike ride and then a 5k run. Written down it doesn't sound too bad, but the first lap of the first run (a three loop XC-esque course around the sports centre) was a nervy affair, partly because I wished I'd had trail shoes on, and partly because it was hard to concentrate when you know you have a 25k bike ride and another 3 loops of the course to come. The run was a loop of three halves, the first bit hilly and muddy, the second lap on tarmac but into a headwind, then a downhill off-road section. The course had friendly marshalls shouting encouragment at every point which was greatly appreciated, especially as I was pootling along at the back of the pack. Rachel in the money! First transition was ok - helmet before bike, chuck my waterproof on the floor (the sun had come out so it was clear I wouldn't need it), grab bike, run with it to the mounting point, jump on, pedal. After a load of hills it was actually bliss to sit back and let the bike take some of the strain and I really enjoyed the first half mile or so before having to put some work in up the Stonebridge hill. The bike route is pretty straightforward and only involves one evil hill (Button Bank) then the rest is a lovely long downhill, so as bike routes go it is one of the nicest and again there were plenty of marshalls out on the course showing you where to go and shouting encouragement. I did ok on the bike and negotiated my way safely back to the transition point, stowed my bike away and then set off for the final 5k. There weren't many people left on the course by the time I arrived but the marshalls were still as cheery as ever and I managed to catch up and pass two people, despite the fact that my legs had forgotten how to run. The lovely Kerry and Rob had also come down to do some spectating which gave me the boost I needed to crack on with it and I finally finished in around 2hrs 10 - not a great time but a great achievement! I have no idea of my split times as the results have not yet come out but I think I was about 5 mins quicker on the bike than I had been previously which I am pleased about.

Some excellent Strider performances including great debuts by Jon Steed and Lindsay Rodgers, but star of the day is Rachael Bullock who was first senior woman home and won a rather nice trophy and gift voucher. A lovely event and highly recommended for first-timers and those looking for a challenge close to home.

Lakeland Mountain 42, Askham, Lakes, 5th April

42m

Tom Reeves

The name of this race pretty much says it all. This is the higher level and longer version of the winter Tour De Helvellyn. As the blurb says "this is no tame trail race" "expect a very tough mountain trail route including the summits of Helvellyn and High Street".

Like the TdeH the route starts and ends in Askham. Its uphill from the start as you leave the village and climb up onto High Street for some high level running on pretty good terrain.

The route then decends past Angle Tarn to checkpoint number four in Patterdale where there is the chance of a cuppa. The route then heads up to Grizdale Tarn and down Raise Beck to Thirlmere. This is now when the going gets tough as runners turn round and climb steeply up to Nethermost Pike and onto Helvellyn there's a quick run along to White Side then a long decent down to Glenridding before a second cuppa at Patterdale. The sting in the tail is the climb up to Boarddale Hause and onward to Place Fell before tootling back along Ullswater to Askham and soup and cake. Easy!

This is only the second year of the running of this race and around 100 of us were stood in Askham at 6am on Saturday morning. Jo Faulkner said 'Go' and off we went into the drizzle which pretty much hung around all day. From Loadpot Hill to High Street we were in thick cloud and a head wind. I managed to drop too low when heading for Angle Tarn which meant a detour and extra climb! Doh!! The run down to Patterdale was slippy and the haphazard nature of hill running was on display when a fellow competitor trotted into the checkpoint with a deep gash on his knee and a loose tooth (he finished the race).

I was running on a two pie strategy so the cheese and onion pasty came out at the 18 mile mark heading up to Grizdale Tarn. At the tarn we were back in the cloud and the field was well and truly spread. I came upon two lost runners, one of which had followed the shore of Grizdale Tarn and completed a full circuit. We got down to Thirlmere and Checkpoint 5 before turning on our heels and clambering up the very long and steep drag to Helvellyn summit trig point. This was very tough indeed. A bimble into that damn head wind again took us to White Side. We then had a good long decent into Glenridding which battered the knees and the quads. It was 28 miles and pie number two a meaty one which went down very well. Re invigorated with food a plodded back to Patterdale and a sweet milky cup of tea and 3 jaffa cakes. This is my kind of running nutrition :).

The climb up to Boarddale Hause was short lived but hard work as was the climb to Place Fell. Now only 5 miles to go from Howtown to Askham and a couple of crispy cakes saw me through the steady climb home. I scraped in, in 10hrs and 50 minutes I'm not sure if that's a particularly good time for this race but it was about as good as I could do, so I'll be pleased and probably come back next year for more pie, tea and cakes. Oh and some mountains.

25th Anniversary

Allendale Challenge, North Pennines, 5th April

25M (26+ once you've fallen in the mud a few times)

Dougie Nisbet

David flying the Elvet Striders colours.Florance Nisbet ... I like it!So there I was, on the start line, chatting to my boss about email problems we were having at work, as you do, when I noticed the starting gadgie was talking. Probably saying important stuff that I should be listening to. I looked around and saw David Catterick a few yards away who, like me, was about to embark on his first Allendale Challenge. Old-hands Geoff and Susan had disappeared in the sizeable field of runners for this 25th anniversary of the event, but Florance Nisbet was expected.

May I see your papers Sir?It's been a long time since I've done any race of this distance and I'm not remotely race-fit so I set of nice and steady. As way of preparation my literature search had indicated that mud and peat were key features of the adventure ahead.

Specific route information was sketchy but everything you need to know is on Shaun's map from 2012. Forget any other maps you see - this is the one you need. The definitive guide. It is accurate in all the crucial details, except the dragons were not to be seen on Killhope Law this year. That may have been because the mist was down, or, more likely, they were scared away by the man with the trombone and the marshall with the spiky hat.

Puff the magic dragon, lives on Killhope Law.

After several hours of sucky squashiness it was a blessed relief to be descending from Killhope Law and running again. I was overtaken by a runner who struck up a conversation and it turned out he worked and was living in Dundee, but didn't know Colin Blackburn, or my brother, and was a graduate from Napier College in Edinburgh, just like me. We were just marvelling at the small-worldness of it all when I heard someone shouting my name from behind and I swirled round to see my workmate Emma and her walking partner Michael. This was a fantastic opportunity to walk for a bit and blame it on someone else. Later I could put it down as a magnanimous supporting gesture on my part but in truth it was great to take the foot of the gas, chill out, and simply enjoy the view.

Winning Smile.We drank and walked and chatted for a while, but here's a top tip. You won't find this simple weird tip on any other running websites – this is the sort of quality advice you'll only get on the Striders website. Here it is: when you take a drink from your drink bottle, always remember to open your gob first. Or you will, as I discovered, smash your drinks bottle into your front teeth, with hilarious results.

My walking buddies didn't seem to find this quite as fascinating or traumatic as I did, but we were all in pretty broad agreement that it was a decent sized chip. I'm not sure what other walkers thought of my impromptu gurning as I sought confirmation of my fears, or indeed, what my dentist is going to think of my explanation.

Soup came at the next checkpoint, and then I started getting chilly, so bade farewell to Michael and Emma and started running again. I'd hoped it would be easier on the last few miles as the surfaces improved and the weather brightened. But I was pretty spent by now and just concentrated on staring at the few yards of the ground in front of me and forced myself to jog steadily as much as possible. Into the Finish and, initially mistaken for a walker, they added two hours onto my already sluggish time, but then noticing the horrified expression on my face, they noted, “oh, you're a runner?”. I looked down at my fetching mud-splatted Lycra shorts and Sportivas and thought, Do I look like a walker? (sorry if that sounds 'walkerist'). Geoff and Susan appeared from nowhere with my leggings that I'd left beside their kitbag earlier, and I think, but hope not, that they'd been waiting patiently for my return for some not inconsiderable time so that they could return them, before dashing off. I hung around for a cup of tea and collected my beer and t-shirt. One of the classiest race t-shirts I've received – black, like the grouse, and just the name of the race and the year. No fuss. No adverts. Like it.

They think it's all over. They're correct!