Race Reports, June 2014

Whitby urban orienteering event, 29th June

6.2k

Dougie Nisbet

After Saturday’s 30 miles around the Durham Dales a manic urban orienteering event around Whitby on the Sunday seemed like an attractive antidote. I’ve never been to Whitby before and what better way to find out about the place than by running excitedly through the streets and parks. We registered and I chose the longest course with some nice long running stretches while Roberta decided to stick with a shorter course.

Squinting all the way to the finish.
Photo courtesy and © Wendy Carlyle

Urban orienteering favours the quick thinker; the navigation is usually quite straightforward but you need to make a lot of decisions very quickly. It was, for example, a long way from Control 6 to Control 7. What was the best way? You could easily spend 30-60 seconds pondering all the permutations, come up with an absolutely wizard plan, fiendishly efficient and fast, but that 30 seconds could have been used just running optimistically in the general direction of the control. Sometimes the hare does beat the tortoise.

I do ok in urban orienteering but I need time to read the map, check my location and plan my route. And think. And I do it a few seconds slower than most orienteers, which over 30 controls, soon adds up.

The sun was out and Whitby was busy. But there was plenty of space and it was easy to get round people. It wasn’t quite as easy to parry the questions that many ask when a sweaty runner sprints passed waving a map in the air. Roberta kept bumping into the same dog-walker who seemed to want regular updates. Almost every walker also insists on ‘helping’ with some advice; “there’s one of them things just along there!”. One bloke helpfully told me that he thought I was lying about fifth. Fifth in what, I have absolutely no idea! But fifth would be nice.

There was a nice bit of variety in my course, through streets, paths, parks and an interesting stretch along the seafront. I got around briskly enough without any major errors, apart from going straight from 11 to 13 without bothering with the extra hassle of going to 12. In an urban event such as this with lots of controls it’s surprisingly easy to get out of synch and miss a control.

Roberta finishing.The event finished back at the school where we started in a nice flat grassy area. With the car parked just a few yards away I was able to sit on the grass and have a coffee while waiting for Roberta. Unlike a conventional running race where a lot of people finish around the same time an orienteering race has people starting and finishing at all sorts of times and apart from the occasional appearance of a brightly coloured runner you’d not know that you were at the Finish line of an orienteering competition. A nice way to round off a weekend’s racing.

Round Sheffield Run, 29th June

24.5km

Kelly Collier

Kelly really enjoyed this one!

Lambton 10K, nr Chester-le-Street, 29th June

Steph Piper

The Lambton run is set within the private grounds of the historic Lambton Estate and proceeds from the entry go to the Foundation of Light – Sunderland AFC's official charity which supports and encourages families and young people to engage through footballing activities. The Lambton Estate is usually closed to the public, so this annual event was a great opportunity to get inside the grounds and explore what is on the other side of the walls.

The day dawned overcast, but with sunny intervals and by the time the claxon sounded for the start of the 10k race the weather was set fair. With a record attendance of 660 runners over both races, the first 2km were a scramble over the start line and out through the woodland along a narrow grassy track. Over the bridge the field finally thinned around the 3rd km where a long, steady climb out of the valley allowed an opportunity to pick off a few who had managed to get ahead early on. Once out of the shady cover of the trees the gradient – and the temperature – rose. The scenery was absolutely magnificent and the rural setting made it the quietest race I have ever run. I had finally settled in to a rhythm, albeit a little slower than planned, and felt good with the sunshine overhead and nothing but the sound of birdsong, steady breathing and the patter of the runners feet.

The water station was situated at 5km, although I didn't pause for a drink. My split for the halfway marker was well over 25 minutes so I had to do some work if I wanted the sub-50 I was aiming for. Fortunately the next two kilometres were for the most part downhill and afforded a chance to gain some valuable seconds. With only 3km to go I was back on track and feeling confident that the sub-50 was in sight. "There's a big hill to the finish, mind" cautioned the lad I had been running alongside for most of the race. Naively I didn't think much of this at the time and pressed on back over the bridge and along the river, below the towering heights of the castle walls.

Then the hill appeared. And what a hill it was. Up ahead, most runners had been reduced to a walk and disappeared around a corner as the marshal at the foot warned it got much worse there. He wasn't wrong. I was determined not to walk but my pace was reduced to baby steps. A final false summit and it was over, the 9km marker within sight but I was done. The last 1000m seemed to take forever as the seconds ticked on, almost at double speed. Through the trees I could hear the crowd cheering and doubled up with stitch finally burst through the gates in the wall to the finish line. A high-five from Samson the Black Cat and a gun time of 51:32.

It was lovely to see so many familiar purple vests milling around the finishing field, delving into the goodie bag for a well-earned technical tee and bottle of water. Matthew Crow led the Striders home in 41:47 (pos 33) and Sarah Davies the first lady Strider home in 45:57 (pos 89).

In the days following the race, numerous press articles appeared in the Echo, Advertiser and Chronicle, many with pictures of Striders and Strider Juniors who had taken part in the 3km Fun Run which followed the start of the 10k route. An excellent – if challenging – morning of running. Well done all!

Humber Bridge Half Marathon, Humberside, 29th June

Katy Walton

High up on the bridge
Underneath the water flowed
Magnificent views to be seen
Broken by the long slip road
Energised by the crowds
Running as fast as I could.

Burning up the rain drops
Redirected traffic stood
Indicative mile markers
Displayed along the route
Gusts of wind blew head on
Encouraging cars hoot.

Hoards of people lined the roads
Around the last bend
Liking the atmosphere here
Finished, phew the end!

My time was unexpected
And praise from someone new
Resting for Graeme
At last he finished too
Too wet to stand and wait
How did Alister and Jackie do?
One long car ride home
Next year will see us too.

Hadrian's Wall Half Marathon, Haltwhistle, 29th June

Mark Payne

This event was suggested to me by an old university friend from Edinburgh who'd already entered it early in the year. Having got back into running over the last six months after something of a gap it seemed like a good time to try a half marathon again, my last having been in 2008. So I managed to pick up one of the last few places available.

The start of the race was on a hillside near Haltwhistle and gives you a good vantage point to get some appreciation of what's in store. I took the not-recommended warm-up approach of standing around chatting to my friend Tim, freshly recovered(?) from the previous weekend's Edinburgh Seven Hills race, then put myself somewhere in the middle of the assembling pack and assumed I'd start slow and warm into it. After a low-key start ('I think we've started - or maybe everyone's just bunching up - oh no hang on we have started') we got underway.

I'm happy to say that since the first year of this race (reported on by Striders Dougie Nisbet and Ian Spencer) it has been gaining in popularity, with 434 runners home compared to 49 in 2011. The route has also undergone some revision, with more tarmac featuring overall. It divided up quite neatly into four sections, starting by climbing along undulating country lanes which even felt a bit crowded for the first mile or two as the pack thinned out.

Views available.

The route turned off the road at the first water station to head East, parallel to, but some distance from, Hadrian's Wall itself. The way undulated over grassy ground which was generally good underfoot and allowed us to take in the scenery around one of the most picturesque bits of the wall, before taking a left down the Pennine way towards the trees of Wark Forest. This part was the most challenging underfoot with an occasional line of stone flags placed through the bog requiring particular care. Unlike some runners I managed to resist the opportunity to take a mud bath and pressed on to the second water station and stage three, through the trees.

Once in Wark Forest the route stuck to logging roads but continued in its undulating ways enough to stay interesting. Tim and I had taken to running together by this point, and knew we were averaging just over eight minutes a mile when we emerged onto the road for the last mile and a half, net downhill on tarmac. This let us increase the pace a bit. Soon the 'Hadrian's Wall of Cars' formed by all the runners' vehicles at the start came into view and we could see we were on the home straight and could prepare ourselves for the final small steep uphill that we knew was coming. Pushing through that we crossed the line at the same time, finishers 61 and 62.

I haven't yet had chance to run many of the other trail and forest-type races that feature more prominently in the Striders calendar so I can't really make a comparison, but this half marathon was much more fun than the all-tarmac events I've done in the past, and I would say well worth a look next year.

Cronkley Fell Race, Holwick, Teesdale, 29th June

10.5M / 1752'

Paul Evans

After a few years' hiatus the Cronkley Fell race was resurrected in 2010 by DFR, in their sixth year of existence. It was won by Will Horsley, with Tom Reeves, Nina Mason and Jan Young finishing strongly and Phil Owen towards the rear of the field after some horribly-long event not too long beforehand. This, the fifth running of the race, and the 10th anniversary of DFR, showed how little, like the galcial upper Teesdale landscape, changes in many respects, yet there were a few subtle differences from that sunny day four years ago; the entry fee and the setting may have been the same, along with several of the runners in a smaller overall field, yet there were now kit checks and counting of all runners at the start line, by the Strathmore Arms, an unfortunate consequence of a sad death on the fells last year. Nevertheless, at the starting gun (shout of 'go') 55 runners made there way up the 400m of road that serves to separate the field before reaching the stone track.

Tarmaccy start to a good fell race ...

As four years ago, Will led from the front, with a pack of runners from Howgill harriers, Elswick, CVFR and Pudsey & Bramley chasing, Tom and I trying to hang onto their coat-tails as the track climbed onto the fell. The mile or so of track was as unforgiving on the feet as ever, though the temperature was cool enough and the breeze minimal, making the outward leg easier than the headwind of the previous year permitted. Track gave way to grassy trod, a flat stretch leading to a run over some cairns (where the race claimed its only victim, mAndy Blackett hobbling back to the start) and down a slope studded with rocks to Skyer Beck, barely ankle deep this year. The ground remained firm for the drag up the drovers' trod to Thistle Green, the highest point of the race, and thankfully it seemed that the legs of the pack I was chasing were beginning to tire, allowing me to catch some of those left behind by Will on the climb; a few paces walked aside, I had set out to run as much of this as possible and it paid off well, raising me to fifth, briefly, as we began the descent (where I knew I'd lose places).

Dropping off the top down to the Tees, where the mid-river halfway point and Samuel the crocodile awaited, felt fast, though most of those I'd just passed came flying past me towards the end of the descent, whilst Will came by in the other direction, by now a clear minute ahead of a Howgill runner in second place. The Tees was as refreshing yet slippy as ever, the climb back up also providing no surprises, with places regained, leaving me in 4th as we hit the top and the out-and-back nature of the course allowing me to see how closely I was being chased by Tom and Scott. Three years ago I ran from here, a full four miles, without really racing anyone - this year it was clearly not going to be the case, as a runners from P&B Paul after a sprint finish. and Howgill Harriers were on my shoulder, both overtaking as we retraced our route downhill towards Holwick. Surprisingly, I managed to stay the course and get back into 4th place as we left the springy turf for the stone of the track, Alex Jones of P&B dropping away slightly and Heidi Dent, who by now was well on course to smash the ladies' record, refusing to fall back more than 5-10 metres on the climbs and on my shoulder as we dropped down the steeper track to Holwick. All was set for a sprint finish, which for the few spectators we provided. I would like to say that I was a complete gentleman and let her have 4th; in truth, I was blown away by a turn of speed I simply do not possess and crossed the line four seconds after her, Tom, Scott and the rest of the eight Striders following shortly to join us for chips and beer in the pretty pub garden whilst the prizes were handed out, along with the bottles of DFR Anniversary Ale for all finishers.

Once again, an excellent race with ideal combination of hard running, fantastic scenery and good company afterwards. Recognition must go to DFR, whose efforts were rewarded with a 50% rise in the number of entries this year, as well as to the Striders attempting this course for the first time, all of whom acquitted themselves well in a good field.

Durham Dales Challenge, Wolsingham, 28th June

30M & 16M options

Dougie Nisbet

A special 25th anniversary cake.There was, not surprisingly, a bigger than usual turnout for the 25th Anniversary running of the Durham Dales Challenge. I'd forgotten the system for kit checks, which turned out to be looking at the kit list, and signing a form to say that you understood that you had the kit. I would be carrying a torch, and not just any old torch, a working one at that.

And lots of water. I did the Swaledale Marathon thing and assumed rather smugly that my two drinks bottles counted as a cup/mug and so I wouldn't actually have to have a cup dangling irritatingly from my backback. When I got to the half-way point and could've murdered a cup of coffee, I rather wish I had. When they say bring a cup, they mean it.

A seasonal marshall (there was ONE!) gives Dave clear direction on what to do with his token.

Checkpoint 1: Action Shot! Dave drops his token in the bucket.I've done this event before so knew that the navigation was pretty easy. The 30 miler and 17 miler routes part company early on, where Santa points you in the appropriate direction depending on your choice. Santa is the only marshall you'll see. But you needn't worry about maps and marshalls, just keep reading the clear route descriptions.

Unfortunately I didn't read the bit about turning sharp right to go onto a narrow forest path, and instead continued galloping along a stony Hamsterley forest track, only to realise something fishy was going on when I bumped into a marshall. Not any old marshall, but a Hamsterley Marathon marshall. Turning 180 I bounded back from whence I came only to bump into Melanie and Jules who had also made the same mistake, as had many others.

It's probably that way.But Melanie and Jules were only getting warmed up. They wouldn't expect me to do the honourable thing and refrain from listing their impressive list of creative navigational deviations, and they'd be right. It was just as well that for the most of the race they were running a bit faster than me as it allowed me to shout ahead when they strayed from the route, which they did with impressive frequency. We soon got into a rhythm and when we got to Middleton in Teesdale and they turned right instead of left, I simply shouted STRIDERS! as loudly as I could. When they looked back in a guilty golden labrador sort of way I simply pointed meaningfully left in a pointing meaningly left sort of way.

Once out of Middleton in Teesdale (where those who had brought cups had a cup of tea) the half-way point has come and gone and, psychologically, you're on the way home. But I remembered this being a tough bit of the race. A long climb out of town to get to Checkpoint 6 then the barren climb over the top and down to Great Eggleshope Beck, where we found Mark limping determinedly along the valley, which he seemed to be determined to do all the way back to Wolsingham.

On to Checkpoint 7 where I tried to untangle my control card for clipping. The clipping lady insisted that it wasn't a problem and as she clipped my card commented that she'd be sure to be careful what she did with her clippers. Indeed! I've never been a fan of body piercings, and if I did ever get any, they certainly wouldn't be there. Another reason not to wear lycra.

Melanie and Dougie. Mark and Jules. Jules and Mel.

I'd caught up with Jules and Mel who upon departing checkpoint 7 were about to go off-piste once more. I put them right then followed them out. By this point you've past the psychological 20 mile mark and there isn't much more climbing ahead. Jules and Mel started chatting to a walker and continued chatting to him all the way to the top of the hill. I paused about half way up the hill in order to stay on course and take the path away to the right, and hollered up to Jules and Mel that they might like to do so too.

This is no time for dancing!As they came back on course I started jogging again on the now slightly descending path. It was quite nice to be running again and I got into a bit of a rhythm and stuck with it. I was still running when I approached Checkpoint 8 to see several green blobs in the distance. As we got closer they turned out to be marshalls in greenish fancy dress. They offered me a toasted teacake but I just took juice and jelly babies. One commented that there were two lasses just behind me and Jules and Mel turned up a few moments later.

The last 7 miles or so of the DDC are either downhill or flat and I was running quite steadily now so I pushed on. Into a farmyard just as the farmer was herding his sheep down the track. I followed patiently, only avoiding following them into the pen when the farmer obligingly opened another gate and pointed me in the right direction. At the penultimate self-clip checkpoint I caught another runner who was having a bad year. A previous sub-6 hour man he was struggling this time and we ran together almost to the finish, unfortunately taking a slightly longer route as I insisted on unnecessarily taking the path I took last year, rather than the shorter unflooded one I could've taken this year.

At the final self-clip I glanced back and saw Jules and Mel not so far behind. Should I wait a few minutes so we could all run in together like something out of The Incredible Journey?. I mean, these were my clubmates and we'd been through a hard 7+ hours together. I looked at my new running partner and asked him. He looked at me as if I was insane and said, simply. “Na, just bury them.”. Well that was clear enough. I tapped my heels together and galloped the last few yards through Wolsingham and up to the school, where, like all proper races, you have to open a door and walk up to a table where you actually finish. No chip timing here.

A nice and easy finish.

Anita and Dave had been back awhile having done the 17 miler had some pie and had listened to some nice and easy music. Dave had done the right thing going for the shorter route rather than risk exarcebating an injury on the 30 miler. Anna had already won and gone, as had Christine and Maggie. Anita was tracking Mark via the odd satellite or two, and after a route discussion with Dave went out to meet him coming back. As I left for home Angela and Sue arrived home nearly an hour faster than last year with Anita shepherding Mark in around the same time.

I think this impeccably organised event is likely to become a favourite of mine, partly due to the elegance of the route, the diversity of terrain and scenery, and probably in no small part due to the relatively easy last 7 miles. The 30 miles pass quickly.

Lands End to John O’ Groats by bike, 15–24th June

1030 miles in 10 days

Dave Shipman

I know, it's not running, but enough folk in the club do triathlon, duathlon or ride a range of sportives and local rides like the Durham Big Ride and Beast, or just cycle for fun and fitness, to hopefully make it relevant and interesting.

Mike Bennett and I, along with a colleague, Andrew, have just completed LEJOG, enjoying a fantastic period of weather – only rained once in 10 days!! – and cycling through some of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain. We did it with no back-up, carrying our own gear, on a route worked out to avoid major routes and to find quiet back roads wherever possible, although in reality that did mean more hills and slow progress on many days. For accommodation we stayed in a range of cheap hotels, B+Bs, youth hostels and pubs and to make the whole thing possible we got the train down to Penzance for the start, then back from Thurso at the finish.

Only, err, 1030 miles to go ...

The daily schedule, which we managed to stick to only by toiling through some very long days and late finishes, looked like this:

Day 1 Penzance – Lands End – Newquay 63 miles
Day 2 Newquay – Tiverton 110 miles
Day 3 Tiverton – Bristol 70 miles
Day 4 Bristol – Craven Arms (north of Ludlow) 90 miles
Day 5 Craven Arms – Southport 115 miles
Day 6 Southport – Carlisle 132 miles
Day 7 Carlisle – Stirling 125 miles
Day 8 Stirling – Tomintoul 121 miles
Day 9 Tomintoul – Crask Inn 121 miles
Day 10 Crask Inn – John O Groats 83 miles

Significant aspects along the way were the kindness and warmth of people everywhere and something which really surprised me, the majority of drivers were cyclist-friendly. Only in Preston, where a man in a VW Golf nearly killed me and a young chap in a Peugeot got very verbal were things intimidating. Only the rush hour into Bristol, a stretch into the Lakes and parts of the A9 in Scotland got scary. Otherwise from start to finish we had "pinch me, I'm dreaming roads" several times a day, had a great many laughs – do it with friends/family if you decide to give it a go yourself, it's a brilliant way to spend time together – and can look back on miles of quiet lanes, notably in Cornwall, Shropshire, the Lake District and Scotland for the rest of our cycling lives. The ride along the seafront at Crosby, with the Anthony Gormley statues looking out to sea, also was unforgettable.

During the journey, from time to time we were given an extra cheer, much appreciated by all of us. Roz and her sister joined us just outside Hereford, but sadly couldn’t ride with us due to family commitments. My brother John and his partner Lyn popped out from a garden centre in Chester and John rode with us til Lancaster. Barry Bird joined us from Carlisle to Moffatt, then turned round and rode back to Carlisle. Apart from that, although there were nearly 50 cyclists starting at about the same time as us at Lands End, encounters with fellow LEJOG or JOGLE riders were rare events after Day 1 until the last day, in reality we all went on slightly different routes, covering different distances at different speeds so were dispersed to the roads. However, in keeping with the growth of cycling fever and the Tour Depart in Yorkshire, wherever we went cyclists were very much in evidence, which is brilliant to see.

Is it me, or are they getting thinner?

Practically and mechanically things went pretty well too, Mike had a couple of punctures, Andrew shredded a back tyre but that was all, the only noticeable downsides were late night rides into Carlisle (near midnight) and Tomintoul (elevenish). Somehow we/I failed to notice the extra ski resort after Glenshee before Tomintoul, which took us over the only hill we had to walk up in the whole journey: head for "The Lecht" if you want a challenge, don’t think I could get up it even on a mountain bike after a rest day, so after over 100 miles on a very hilly day the legs and trusty touring bike gave up!!

Like on most endurance events, we all turned into food processing machines, eating more of anything and everything as the days went by, huge breakfasts and frequent meal stops supplemented by a million muesli bars/flapjack, jelly babies, chocolate milk, Turkish Delight, Bounties, Jaffa Cakes, salted nuts but despite that inevitably had times when the energy levels dropped and all lost a few pounds in weight by the end.

So,would I do it again, most definitely, different route and probably take a few more days, do it from North to South (JOGLE) next time ... could we run it as a club relay? Yes,if enough people would commit to running a few 10 mile legs each ... though the route would have to take in a number of long distance footpaths to make it both safe and interesting – one for the AGM to discuss perhaps ... ?

Mike adds:

Hallelujah!

I signed up to this thinking it was 'something to do' It wasn’t until a couple of days into the event I began to appreciate the enormity of the task, especially given the 10 day schedule with no rest days built in. Having said that we settled in to a routine and the actual cycling became surprisingly manageable despite long days in the saddle. Memorable bits centred around scenery, food and accommodation, the cycling was almost incidental. Maximum calories were consumed, major roads where possible were avoided major hills however were included, the Cheddar Gorge, Kirkstone Pass, Glenshee, the long hill out of Moffat which took an hour to get to the top of and many others along the way. The Crask Inn deserves a special mention, many miles along a single track road (the A836 no less) from Lairg in Scotland, landlord and landlady waited up for us to serve a cooked meal, a few pints of the local Black Isle Beer and a wee dram of the local malt.

Our trusty steel framed touring bikes performed well and got us to the top of all the hills bar the Lecht. They also raised a comment or 2 from some of the older cyclists we met on route.

All in all it was one of the most memorable, (for all the right reasons) adventure holidays I have been a part of. My thanks to David for the route planning and booking of accommodation. (We’ll forget the minor oversight of the road up to the Lecht ski centre in the dark and wet.)

West Highland Way, Scotland, 21–22nd June

95M / 14,000'

Phil Owen

The West highland Way race starts at 1am in Milngavie (just above Glasgow) and covers 95 miles of hills to Fort William including 1400ft of ascent. This was my fourth attempt, one DNF and two finishes with a pb of 26:47. I truly love this race but it’s hard to explain why. After all there are lots of 100 milers in beautiful places about and it’s not even the toughest of them (but more than tough enough). However there is a lot more to this race than the actual race itself. It has history, traditions and whw family. You just have to be there to understand.

The route of the West Highland Way Race.

Milngavie to Drymen (12.11miles)
Drymen to Balmaha (6.84miles) [overall 18.95miles]

The start is a funny old thing. For a race that takes you through some beautiful landscapes, starting at a subway under a road and along a fairly dreary main street always seems at odds with the race but the electric atmosphere, the nerves and excitement soon put that out of your mind. Through a park and woodland, along old railway lines and to Drymen. This is the flattest section of the route but by no means flat. Head torches bob and folk run way too fast. They usually pay the consequences. I try and switch off for a while. I like to leave Drymen behind to be honest; a couple short tarmac sections annoy me and I want to be on the whw proper. Soon after Drymen we glimpse Conic hill, a 1000ft hill with a good run up to it. I always feel this is where the race starts. On the top, it's light now and the view of Loch Lomond is superb. Down the other side, lots of steps and into Balmaha Car park to be met by my support. I leave quickly and won’t see the support again till Beinglass.

Balmaha to Rowardennan (7.70miles) [overall 26.65miles]
Rowardennan to Inversnaid (7.26miles) [overall 33.91miles]

Two very tough sections lay ahead with constant climbs and very rocky ground. From Inversnaid hotel we have a few miles of the famous Lomond side rocks to negotiate. More scrambling than running but I do love this section.

Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm (6.63miles) [overall 40.54 miles]
Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre (9.54miles) [overall 50.08 miles]

I take a bit of a fall just before the checkpoint and have a few scapes but luckily my back pack saved me form the worst. David Hetherington follows me into Bein glass CP, sits down and eats. I know I’ll not be fast this year but I do want to be ahead of David or I’ll never hear the end of it for the next year. I refill my water and eat at the same time, grab something I can eat on the way out and move on. Total time, no more than five minutes. Dave’s still sitting, looking like death and eating what appears to be pedigree chum as I leave. Some decent climbs then some steep rolling hills in the forest finish this section. Under foot is a lot rockier than I remember but I’m glad of the shade in the forest. The heat has been taking its toll on me. I run well into Auchtertyre.

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes, where the supporters turn out on Loch Lomond.

Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy (9.26miles) [overall 59.34 miles]
Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Lodge (10.82miles) [overall 70.16 miles]

At Auchtertyre I’m weighed and have lost 4kg. Not good, they will keep an eye on me. However a breeze has picked up and I’m finally cooling. As I leave I see David come in and sit again. The cooling has completely changed how I feel and for the first time in the race I’m feeling grand. 50 miles of overheating and feeling rubbish is never that much fun!

I plod along the short easy section to Tynndrum while eating. I meet my crew here, as it’s a good place for them to park and eat. I hate the next 10 miles of rolling rocky track but I’m feeling good and really pick up the pace. As I come into Victoria Bridge, something is up. David’s (one of my support crew), mum has taken gravely ill and he has to leave with my other support, his wife Carolyn. He’s speaking to the race director on the phone as it’s strictly against the rules for anyone to not have support. I tell him just to go and the race is secondary. The RD’s right hand man, Sean a medic and race safety officer is by chance on hand. As I’m looking good, he speaks to the RD and I’m allowed to continue. I’m very lucky not to have been pulled from the race.

Lindley an old pal who I had no idea was there appears. He’s supporting a friend who arrived before me and says I can stick with him. However one look at the lad and I don’t think he will finish so decline to run with him. Lindley does take my gear onward and sadly my support and great friends leave. It's a short hop over Murdo’s hill to the Bridge of Orchy I realise I have no food on me to see me over Rannoch moor. By chance again I meet a Karen whose runner has already retired and is just enjoying the day helping out. She agrees to drive round and I have the pick of her runners grub.

The Rannoch is long rocky hilly exposed and hard work. I hate it with a passion so do it as fast as I can to get to Glencoe. Lindley’s girlfriend is waiting with pasta and refills my water. I put on a jacket, hat and gloves and head off. I can’t find my head torch and think I’ve left it in David’s car! I always carry a spare micro head torch and although its not great for running with , it will get you of the hills. I say nothing though as I’m not risking being pulled out the race.

Glencoe Ski Lodge to Kinlochleven (10.55 miles) [overall 80.71 miles]

The Devil's Staircase is next, a zig zaggin rocky 1850ft climb. I usually like this because I know after it is almost four miles of zig zagging rocky downhill that I just love to run. Unfortunately this micro head torch isn’t going to cut the mustard to make that possible so my usual fast decent where I usually over take loads becomes a bit of a trudge with lots of slipping.

Kinlochleven to Lundavra (7.58miles) [overall 88.29miles]
Lundavra to Fort William (6.99miles) [overall 95.28miles]

Into Kinclochleven and weighed again. No change and I still look good so I’m ok. I hear my mate Darren, a Sunderland stroller has had to quit on the Rannoch but David (another stroller) is supposedly 15 minutes behind me. I doubt this because his supports aren’t about. I guess he has also quit and later proved right. I’m fairly sad about this but as one whw runner said:

there is never any real failure, just ongoing series of experiences that enrich our lives

The climb out of killy is another killer and seems to take an age. I know what’s coming as well, nearly seven miles of very rocky way. Again I move as fast as I can on it but suddenly I’m hit by overwhelming tiredness.

I’m not surprised though. On the Thursday I’d had a call to work Friday and had to go so no lie in. I planned to sleep on the afternoon but a neighbour chose that time to take a delivery of paving slabs. In the end I got up and drove the three hours to my supports house in Scotland, had a cuppa and drove to the start. When the race started at 1am I’d been up since 6am. That’s not a good start.

I seemed to kick every rock on that road and hurt my toe a bit. Still I made good time to Lundavra and the turn into the forest & homeward bound. Forest trail with steep drops and climbs follow until a last long climb to the Land rover track and the wonderful view of Ben Nevis. The toe was really hurting now and downhill was a problem. Not good when this track is so high it takes three miles of winding down to get to the road level in fort William. The first time I did this race I ran the whole thing (which is very tough on the quads at this stage) but I now took an age to limp down. Never mind, another finish and exquisite third Goblet is mine when the most wonderful ceremony that takes place later.

The famous WHW goblet.

30 hours running, way over my best with these races you soon learn, the finish is the important thing (as a lot don’t) and a good time a bonus. My future plan is to try and do this near 24 hour pace. Should be fun trying….

Keldy and Cawthorne Banks, near Pickering, 22nd June

Green (3.7km 135m)

Dougie Nisbet

It was a toss-up between an urban event in Killingworth or a drive down Pickering way to Keldy and Cawthorne Banks. In the end we decided to go south, partly because it was a location we hadn't been to before, and it was woodland and I like that sort of stuff, and partly because next Sunday we're doing an urban event in Whitby. Urban orienteering is fun once in a while but not every week.

It's quite a long way to Cawthorne Banks and you need to drive through a lot of gorgeous North York Moors to get there (well you don't, but we did) but it was worth the trip. We registered for the courses we fancied then a long trek to the Start which was perched classily beside Elleron Lake. Roberta toddled off on the Orange course, and I started at the same time on Green.

Let's go the scenic route. The first four controls were easy. It was all running and easy navigation and I was soon out of breath from the hard running. Things toughened up a bit after that and the controls became more challenging. Then came control 8. Getting a bit over-confident I crashed through the undergrowth in the general direction of control 8. Soon realising that I hadn't really thought this through, and the reluctance of the control to simply present itself in my path, I started looking for a catching feature - an obvious feature somewhere after the control that would allow me to relocate - that is, work out where the hell I was. Relocating is what you do when you've gone a bit astray and you're desperately looking for nice feature, like a fence or a road or a building that will make things clear where you are. Time ticked on and my minor error was becoming a major error. Was I relocating, or was I lost? There were no obvious catching features and I was, quite literally, just stumbling around in a wood. I stumbled down to the stream and picked a direction. Eventually a footbridge, a road, and oh good grief, I'm there?! Really?.

I often ponder over the fickleness of this sport - being both fascinated and horrified by how a simple mistake can pretty much blow your race apart. Sure enough, 26 minutes to find a control that should have taken 5, and my position at the bottom of the results pretty much guaranteed. Well you live and learn. Or other people seem to, anyway.

Control 7 to Control 8. How hard can that be?

Beeston parkrun, 21st June

Simon Gardner

Following on from my trip down to London was another journey down to my sisters which is about 30minutes from Nottingham so after doing forest rec and colwick parkruns it was an ideal chance to head over to Beeston which just outside of Nottingham.

Beeston parkrun has not being going long , I think this was week 12 and after a 40 minute drive I soon arrived on a very warm morning.

The course is set in between the river Trent and the beeston canal and after parking just over the opposite side of the canal it's just a short walk to the start area. The course is basically a rectangle of approximately 2 mile in length. The vast majority of the course is on gravel type paths and pretty much flat.

A 7 mile run on a very hot Friday afternoon and a few too many beers on the evening did not leave me in the best shape come Saturday morning so after the first mile I was finding it very hard work. Once you have completed one full lap you once again head through the finish but eventually head down onto the canal path before coming back onto the main path heading back towards the finish where I crossed the line in 10th somewhat hot and tired.

It's another excellent course and the core team did an excellent job. One final note I got talking to someone who had been planning to study at Durham uni and really wanted to join striders as she loved the colour of our kit! , shame she is heading to Birmingham instead (should have studied harder

Errington Woods (Summer Season), 19th June

Long course

Dougie Nisbet

The Summer evenings are upon us and with it a bundle of midweek orienteering events. NATO do some really nice events that are very beginner friendly, and usually include the course option of 'long orange'. This is quite good for a runner; fairly easy navigation but with a bit of distance to it so you feel like you've had a run, rather than just a puzzled walk with a map. CLOK do a summer series too.

A Finish with a view. There was one on Thursday night at Errington Woods. I've competed there before on an army event and vowed never to step foot in the place ever again. I hated it. I hated the map, the scale, the terrain, the beer cans, the footpaths that were on the map but not on the ground, the footpaths that were on the ground but not on the map. So it should come as no surprise that Thursday found us sitting in traffic on the Tees flyover, going nowhere fast, but eventually arriving at Errington Woods.

On a balmy summer evening it actually looked quite benign. We registered and gazed over the famous Teesside skyline. The petrochemical industry streches as far as the eye can see. It's probably a marmite thing, but I love it. The glimpses I've seen over the years, from the Redcar half, to innumerable Dave Parry Fell races, the skyline is never far away. But we weren't here to stand and stare, we were here to orienteer. And away we went. Roberta went off in the wrong direction for her first control, as did I for mine. I soon found my first control and got on with the business of finding the next one. It wasn't so bad, a bit rough around the edges, but I was getting there. Control 2 I got to eventually. I saw it from some distance but mistook it for a Foxglove and wasted several minutes searching in the wrong place before eventually finding it. I found it by using the skillful technique of looking sorry for myself (not difficult) and waiting for another orienteer to come on by and say, "it's over there mate."

It was a nicer place than I remembered although the weather probably helped a lot. Lots of interesting sculptures and trees and stuff. A characteristically shabby performance that I should be used to by now but it's still frustrating. Still, when you're at the back, there's only one way to go.

Petrochemical Wonderland.

Newton Aycliffe 10k, 15th June

Katy Walton

Woke up Sunday morning not looking to keen at the long drive to borrowdale for a half marathon so decided to swap it for Newton Aycliffe 10k.

I remember watching enviously last year at all the Striders taking part in what is described as being a fast flat 3 lap course, so swapping places with Graeme this year seemed a great idea.

Getting to Newton Aycliffe before 9am enabled us to access the carpark in the school before the road closed, later attending striders encountered a lengthy walk from alternative car parks to registration.

Heidi and Graeme set off on the fun run which was 3k through the housing estate and surrounding woodland area in Newton Aycliffe. There were 102 participants to this run.

The 10k race started at 10am which saw 291 people hit the Tarmac. As we set off I had in mind to stay at 6.50 minute miles, pulling back was hard and shouts from 'my bike coach' "come on what's wrong you're not winning" urged me on to go a bit faster than what I intended but I felt strong. After 1km Dawn Richardson ran past me, I knew from previous races Dawn normally wins or finishes in a high position so seeing Dawn I decided to try keep her in view.

The course included a majority of gentle inclines, certainly not a flat course, but with the ups also were the downs. The course consists of a short loop and then two large loops, I found this course layout great as you got to know what you were going to face the next time round and this allowed me to mentally prepare for it. I can do it!

A lady from New Maske Harriers over took me at 3km, I over took her again at 4km not realising as I did that I was now 2nd lady, coming up to 6km the NMH lady overtook me. I kept at her with only 10metres between us. Passed the last water station I soaked myself with water to give me a shock into going quicker.

Marshall's kept cheering go on Crook, I assumed Caroline Teasdale was on my shoulder so I pushed through not wanting her to beat me again as she had done at Blaydon, it later turned out to be someone called Geoff from Crook, a huge sigh of relief.

Finally I passed the 9km mark, Bill on his bike encouraging me on. Up the hill to the finish congratulated by Graeme saying I was third. I didn't believe what I was hearing maybe there was a woman who looked like a man that they missed. Maybe they had not counted right. Before I new it Graeme has plastered it on Facebook, I panicked in case he was wrong.

I wouldn't normally admit this but this time Graeme was right, with my finish position that is.

Rob Everson was the first strider home followed by Matthew Archer who finished with a New personal best, Matthew Crow came in just behind me buzzing about his new pb. Kathryn, Malcom and Stephen came through the line next followed by the Laura's where Laura Gibson had also produced PB on this fast 'flat' course.

If you are looking for a fast course which is well organised this one ticks all the boxes.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Wondiye IndelbuU/AMS100:30:50
18Rob EversonMS1300:37:00
50Dawn RichardsonQuakersFV35100:40:36
59Katy WaltonFS100:41:47
65Matthew CrowMS3200:41:59
167Kathryn CrossleyMV405100:50:09
172Malcolm SygroveMV405300:50:37
201Stephen EllisMV60800:52:58
276Laura GibsonFV352501:05:59
277Laura ChapmanFS1801:05:50

292 finishers

Hardmoors Rosedale Trail Marathon, Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire, 15th June

Anita Dunseith

Everyone has their own reason and motivations for running. Mine is because it gives me a chance to switch my brain off. For as long as I’m out running I’m not stressing or letting my depression take hold of me. Running focuses my mind completely on the moment and what my body is experiencing right there and then which is a gift to me and something I cherish more than a lot of people can understand. I’m not a big talker and for me there’s nothing more wonderful than being out in the countryside and the fresh air looking at the vastness of the surrounding countryside and just “being”.

I had had a couple of attempts at running in the past but never really ‘got into it’ fully until I had a miscarriage last October which was devastating for both me and my husband Mark and I started to run again to empty my head and give me something else to focus my energy on other than what had happened. I completed Durham parkrun two weeks later, Stranraer 10K shortly after then Brampton to Carlisle 10M a week after that. I also tackled XC over the coming months, coming last three times but succeeding in beating people on my fourth and fifth outings which I was so proud of and which Susan (Mud Woman) was kind enough to send me a lovely email to congratulate me on. I continued to run various races of different types to keep me motivated but truly fell in love with trail running thanks to the Hardmoors series. I have completed four of the 10Ks and was looking for a bigger challenge for this month’s race so was considering the half marathon. Anna Seeley mentioned of all the HM series Rosedale is the ‘most runnable’, the marathon being more so than the half so Mark and I signed up for the marathon a couple of months ago.

I bought a fabulous new pair of shoes (Inovate Roc Lites) which are comfortable and a great trail shoe especially for the event and a kit bag with a bladder which I was very excited about, mainly because it had a built in whistle!

Saturday night came and I was getting prepared, filled my bladder, turned it upside down and DISASTER, it started to leak. Frantic discussions ensued about what I could fix it with at 10pm on a Saturday night at which point I turned to my trusted friend Facebook and asked the good people of Hardmoors if anyone could help. I then lined up mine and Mark’s trainers on the doormat so we wouldn’t forget them the next morning. Sunday alarm at 5.30am beeped with the message MARATHON TIME and after a couple of snoozes we got up, had breakfast, collected our kit, pulled back the curtain that covers the front door, opened the door, carried our things to the car and off we went.

We arrived in good time which was unusual for us picked up our bags and started to head to registration. At which point I asked Mark “Where are my trainers?” Mark – “On your feet?” Me – “No silly, the ones I’m wearing to run in, my TRAIL shoes I bought especially for today.” Mark – “I don’t know”. At which point I raced back to the car with a very sinking feeling, to discover NO TRAINERS. After a very heated discussion and a lot of swearing from me we surmised they must have got hidden behind the curtain and left on the doormat. At which point I almost had a coronary. I was wearing some retro 1970s Nike Airs with very little grip and even less support which meant I was going to attempt my first marathon in shoes that were one step up from plimsolls. I’m only glad it was raining when we left the house because I had fully intended to wear my flipflops in the car! We arrived at registration with me still in a foul mood (my apologies to the people I growled at en route!) where Race Director Shirley Steele handed me a bladder which a complete stranger had brought to lend me after he saw my post on Facebook the previous night which helped my mood slightly; such kindness. The race briefing was delivered by Jon Steele in his “Man of Steel” Superman outfit kindly bought for him by his good mate for his birthday earlier in the week. I didn’t really hear it from the back of the room but Mark was right at the front so I had to trust he was listening (for once in his life!)

Still Smiling, despite the retro shoes! We set off outside for a few Strider photos and hugs and off we went a minute or two after 9am. My sole aim for the race was getting round within the 8 hour cut off so when we completed the first 8 miles in two hours we were doing well for time. Mark was amused to see some Galloway Belties (cows from the Dumfries area) in the first mile or so because he had grown up with them all around him in Stranraer. We spotted Jamie from Summit Fever photography and gave him a wave in the hope of a good race photo and continued on our way. A couple of small hills but nothing too taxing. The half marathoners started to pass us and at the first checkpoint we separated from them to head up onto the moors.

The views were fairly subdued due to low clouds but it was beautiful in a bleak kind of way. This stretch was fairly challenging because it was about 3 or 4 miles of climb, nothing too steep but fairly unforgiving terrain and quite monotonous on quite a straight track up to Bloworth Crossing and the second checkpoint which was quite windy by the time we got to the top. We grabbed a few jelly babies and a fizzy drink before heading off again with the sweepers in close pursuit. We passed a number of walkers taking part in the Rosedale Walking Festival all of whom were very encouraging as we continued on the path and came out onto a large valley which we were to run round the edge of. I know it was lovely but I can’t remember too much of this point because this is where it started to hurt, I got a knot in my calf which required some serious Neil Sleeman style poking and prodding to release it and I was starting to feel like this run was never going to end. We saw Sue Jennings about half a mile ahead who was running strongly, especially given that she had completed Swaledale the day before!

By about mile 16 I was completely fed up, my leg hurt, I was desperate for the loo and I was stressing out about the sweepers being right behind us. We took a left turn and headed up the hill and back out of the valley. This was another decent hill, but no worse than any I’ve tackled before but I was struggling to get my brain to tell my legs to move and this mile took me twice as long as the rest. At the top of the hill we turned right at which point I heard the unmistakeable accent of Denise Benvin shouting “Come on Anita, you can do it” and Flip Owen along with the third checkpoint. This genuinely couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I popped into the pub to use the loo and took a few moments to psyche myself back up. I went back outside, had some food and another big hug off Denise who told me the only thing stopping me is in my head and I could do this. I’ll be eternally grateful to Denise for this support because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

We set off down into the next valley and saw Sue again who was unsure of the route because the yellow tape was missing so the sweepers pointed us in the right direction and off we went again. We ran with Sue for a while, her and Mark chatting while I kept my head down and dug deep to try and find my mettle again. Sue headed off and I picked up my pace to encouragement from Mark. At this point I would have loved my trail shoes because it was very muddy and the extra grip and support would have come in useful. Again it was fairly flat round this section, which is very unusual for a Hardmoors which meant slight monotony but at least I could get into a rhythm. We rounded a corner and were treated to a truly spectacular view of the ruined Rosedale Abbey Kilns. This was my favourite part of the course for the sheer expanse of scenery in front of us. It was wonderful. Another couple of corners round the ridge and we descended to the bottom of the valley next to a small river. It was a very steep descent in the wrong shoes which I think will cost me at least two toenails over the coming weeks. Inevitably after a steep descent into a valley there will be a deep ascent out of it and there certainly was! Up and across a few farmer’s fields and up the steepest hill of the course we went. This was slow going and a lung burster which was exactly why I love the Hardmoors series. We got to the top, took a left turn and set off along a million miles of disused railway tracks. I’m sure the view was lovely here too but my head was down pretty much the whole time watching the surface beneath my feet which isn’t my usual running style at all. At the end of the lines we reached the final checkpoint where we were told it was still 3.5 miles to the finish (Garmin said 25.5ish miles here) so we took a deep breath and set off on the final stretch along a road before turning right onto the moors again where we would run through heather and more difficult surface underfoot until the village finally came into sight again.

I had managed to keep on top of my emotions really well all day until one of the sweepers shouted from behind “well done, there’s your marathon!” At which point Mark pointed out it was less than a year since I had graduated Kate McPherson’s Couch to 5K group and I burst into tears. I pulled myself together again until he asked “did you ever think you’d do a marathon?” My answer was a resounding no and even more tears! We kept running through the heather until finally the car park came into view which meant less than half a mile to the finish line! We turned the corner into the village and saw Dave Robson and Melanie Hudson sitting on a bank waiting for us to finish to clap us in and cheer us, at which point I burst into tears again at their kindness; we don’t even know them that well but here they were sat cheering us on. I pulled myself together for the final push and we saw Sue coming back out of the village hall wearing her medal and a huge smile. We waved at her and headed into the hall where Anna and another marshal applauded us in. I approached the desk to announce our arrival ten minutes inside cut off and was given my medal at which point I burst into tears for the fourth time in about two miles! Mark thanked the sweepers for us because I wasn’t really functioning all that well and I was really touched at all the congratulations and hugs I got, although this wasn’t helping my teardrop count! So far I’m up to eleven lots of tears since I finished but I’m sure there will be more!

A well earned medal. I know this is a long report and if you are still reading it then thank you! This race has marked an important point in my recovery from a journey to hell and back this past year but thanks to my wonderful husband Mark and all the truly wonderful Striders, Pilates Helen, the parkrun and Hardmoors people I have achieved something truly incredible that I would never have thought possible even just a few months ago. I would recommend a marathon to absolutely every runner. It’s so hard to keep moving when everything hurts and your brain is begging you to stop but on reaching the finish line with the knowledge that you have completed a marathon is something very special that no one will ever be able to take away from you.

I, Anita Dunseith, am a marathon runner

Durham Coast Half Marathon, Seaham, 15th June

Danny Lim ...

"The cakes are a mile away!”, read the final mile marker. I cheered quietly to myself, bereft of energy to say anything aloud. My legs were thrashed for lack of a technical term and I was struggling to maintain my current pace. Much of the last 12 miles had been undulating with several steep descents into wooded denes, followed by equally steep climbs. We were treated to birds eye views of secluded coves, wooded valleys, beaches and the shimmering sea. Remnants of Durham’s coal-mining past was still visible if you looked carefully; spoil heaps, slipways, railway bridges and the odd lump of coal on the beach.

There were sections where I was tempted to cut across to save on the distance but the route was very well-marked and I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a fell race. I liked the low-key and friendly nature of this race. For me, the part was the friendliness of the event from runners and supporters alike. At the finish, every runner was cheered on as if finishing the 100 metres in the Olympic Finals. What a homecoming and what a selection of cakes laid out for us! It was the creamiest, tastiest Victoria Sponge I have tasted.

I do think that this race has the potential to become a big event in the years to come. It was a well-organised, fun day out. And given that it is local and easy to enter, perhaps we should consider it for the Grand Prix next year?

A steamy strider scene.

... Sarah Fawcett

Having heard how scenic, friendly and well organised this was last year, I was a late entrant for this off road race and one of only 6 Striders running on the day, Richard Hall having to pull out due to injury.  

The descriptions I had heard were all true.  The route takes you along some relatively little known beautiful countryside, and indeed the National Trust, the main organisers, cite this as one of the reasons for the run, to show more people the beauty of the area. 

Being a small event, 200 ish on the day, it had the warmth and scale of a club event.  We picked our numbers up on arrival, we're offered maps although assured of regular way marking, and joined a small queue for the portaloos.  What a shame that 2/3 of the entry money collected had to pay for these.  Come on Durham County Council, next year please can the organisers have your facilities at Spectrum Business Park, for free? 

There was a 10 minute delay to the start because some villains had thought it a jolly jape to undo some of the 2 days hard work of the volunteers, and remove some of the way marking.  A suitable punishment for the wrongdoers would be to make them run this course, but more of that anon.

The weather was perfect; cool and still, and as the sea fret lifted we could see all the way to Redcar.  The lady next to me thought that was where we were going.  Fortunately distance can be deceptive and Crimdon was a lot closer.

The first dene, and therefore the first set of steps down and up, came within the first 2 miles and was a taste of what was to come.  I blithely admired the exposed magnesium limestone ( I read the leaflet afterwards) on the way down and then walked up the staircase the other side.  I was prepared to walk all of the 300 steps up, and so this wasn’t a surprise to me. The second set of upness seemed to have lost its cable car/furnicular railway. I can’t believe that those canny Victorians wouldn’t have thought this an essential addition to this nearly sheer rockface. Instead those lovely National Trust people had put in safe and sturdy steps. What was not very sporting was the very jolly official photographer who was perched near the top capturing people’s agony whilst keeping up the friendly banter.

We saw Hawthorn Dene, Horden Dene, Crimdon Dene and goodness knows where else. All equally scenic, all well signposted, all carved like deep gashes in the seaside border of County Durham. I was told that there were 4 or 5 sets of steps. I counted six, including an evilly placed last set not much more than a mile from the finish. Between the denes we went along the cliff top paths and through pretty wooded areas. The last mile marker stated “cake in one mile”. Fabulous; that is my sort of race. As the caravan park came into view I knew I was close to the finish line and apart needing to avoid kids on scooters and adults wandering aimlessly along the promenade I managed a spurt to the finish line and to the waiting Striders, and more importantly, delicious homemade cake.

Six stride out at Seaham.

My team mates did brilliantly; Danny Lim flew in at 1.50. The fastest Strider and well up the field John Hutchinson beat the 2hr threat at 1hr 59 mins. The most cake consuming Strider Jackie McKenna got an incredible 2hr 01min and was 6th female overall Paul Beal achieved 2.04 and was thrilled to not be doing Blaydon on the same day like last year Ian Spencer looked relaxed and happy with a great 2.14 And I brought up the Strider pack with 2.15 and was equally happy with the run and with the cake. Bizarrely and incredibly I was awarded a bottle of wine for being first Old Bird in. I probably should offer it back because the results show I was actually second in my age category but it is too late!

I thoroughly recommend this little gem to anyone who wants a locally based challenge, in a beautiful area, in a friendly, well organised event. Thank you to all concerned

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Mike JefferiesBillingham Marsh HarriersMS11:20'18
20Sarah BurrellFS11:39'12
55Danny LimMS271:50'03
84John HutchinsonMV5511:59'53
87Jackie McKennaFS52:01'08
95Paul BealMV50112:04'59
123Ian SpencerMV50142:14'09
126Sarah FawcettFV5022:15'37

183 finishers

Clapham Common 10k, 15th June

Simon Gardner

After my tired run around Pymmes parkrun I have to say I wasn't looking forward to the 10K I had entered on the Sunday but hey when in Rome as they say!

Like the previous days parkrun this was a 3 lap course but this time set in Clapham common. When I got there (yep early again) the whole area was covered with cyclists all getting ready for the London to Brighton bike ride, now I'm not a cyclist (and probably never will be) but it was a fantastic sight to see thousands of cyclists all heading down to the start line.

After picking my chip and number I did a slow jog to get warmed up and eventually picked my spot near the start line.

I found the start very hard work , my original plan was to get around in about 40 minutes but when I looked at the garmin after it's one mile bleep it showed 6:45minute for the first Mile which was already 20 seconds down and mile 2 was exactly the same . This was hard work even though the course was again 3 laps and flat. I did think about dropping out at this point but thought don't be so ridiculous just get on with it. At the start of the 2nd lap I started to feel better so decided to increase the pace and try and pick off as many runners as I could and not worry about the time.

This plan worked better than I thought as I managed to make up the time lost at the start and eventually crossed the line in 39:58 which not exactly flying was a lot better than I thought it would be (I have to learn to stop being so harsh on myself)

The race was organised by www.runthrough.co.uk and was really well organised and I must give a shout out to the Marshall's who were excellent throughout the race.

Bamburgh 10k, 15th June

Gareth Pritchard

Gareth finishing a Bamburgh Banana.First, the location, as this is what drew me to the event. Bamburgh is a gorgeous spot on the coast and a place I would never have been to if not for running. I arrived about an hour before the race and had a chance to look around the local area. You are right on the coast line, away from everything and have this fantastic castle sitting on a massive rock rising out the ground like something from a movie set. Well worth going just to see, a fantastic castle and a beautiful parts of the north east. The race was described as fast and flat, which turned out to be almost correct. It’s a good 90 min drive from Durham, so a potential Pb course and cool castle are the main draw. Newton Aycliffe is also on the same day and popular with striders but not for me. (I’m not a fan of loops after my Newcastle race course marathon experience).

You pick up your number on the day and parking was free, decent changing room and a place to get a brew. A very well organised event all round. No chip timing for this one but with about 300 people running, everyone gets quite a good start. You set off from the top of the castle which is very very cool; I even got inside the grounds to use their toilet after asking a helpful race official.

You almost always meet a few striders on race day so was no surprise to meet a few smiling if unfamiliar faces on this hot summers day. New strider Stephanie Piper had a very impressive sub 50 min finish and looking like another great runner to add to our growing pool of purple talent.

After my latest marathon adventures in Edinburgh I have decided to concentrate on the short stuff for a bit. Thanks to fellow speedy strider Rob and Adam (orange on the outside but still purple at heart), I have just started learning the art of speed sessions. This is kind of new ground for me and quite enjoyable. My aim is to improve my 5/10k speed and hopefully push for that sub 2:45 marathon time at York later this year.

The first 5k was quite fast and think I clocked about 17;40 as I passed the 5k marker. This was about on pace for my normal fast start and pb plan of sub 36:30. The second half is anything but fast and flat, you have a long open stretch and a long gentle climb at 7-8k which really sap the legs and killed my pace. My race plan was 5:45 min miles and knew I was on pace and managed to just about hold on for a new pb of 36:01 and 9th place. A very good time and even felt good during most of the race, a positive sign for the future as I continue with my fast track work.

Would highly recommend this race for anyone.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Jonathan SteadHerne Hill HarriersM33:00
9Gareth PritchardM36:01
23Jane HodgsonMorpeth HarriersL39:18
136Stephanie PiperL49:43
170Lisa BrysonL52:42
176Robert ClarkM53:35

289 finishers
Course records for first male and female

Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, 14th June

23.2M / 4,128'

Anita Clementson ...

Elvet Striders - Tour de Force at Swaledale

My third attempt at this gem of a run. Rolling hills, fabulous views, checkpoints which would give any WI cake stall a run for their money and of course the cracking company.

A really well organised event from start to finish, on its 35th year so I guess they have had lots of practice. They even had a nice shiney new shuttle bus to take smellie runners back to the car park just outside Reeth post race.

Swaledale Sunshine. Great to see such a good turnout and mix of striders, from the very experienced Will, Dougie, Maggie, Andrew T and Mandy to striders taking the plunge for the first time on a longer distance fell event namely Camilla, Lucy, Kerry, Denise & Helen. A few striders choosing to take the walking option were Roz, Barry & Christine. Also Angela teamed up with Sue who was pacing herself salvaging energy for the Rosedale marathon on the following day!

Swaledale Selfie. The morning started off feeling quite warm with the clouds giving a slight promise of the sun making an appearance at some point. Runners and walkers gathered for the 'grande departe' at the foot of fremington edge. We were off but no mad dash with elbows out, no, this was a walk and a queue up the hill with runners politely by-passing the walkers. In reality this only lasted about 5 mins then we were making good ascent up the edge and once on the top the race really began as there is a lovely long stretch slightly downhill to Langthwaite. I was running with Camilla and Lucy and it was their first Swaledale. My aim was to get under 5 hours and better last years time of 5.21. Pacing was on plan as we hit the next climb upto Punchard, felt good but bloody hot! The miles just seemed to tick by really comfortably, running with company was really enjoyable and we passed quite a few other striders on our way having a quick chat and also chit chat with other fellow runners. This is one of the absolute highlights of this type of event, it is relaxed and everyone's out for a good days run taking on the challenge soaking it all in.

Climb out of Gunnerside. A cake fest at checkpoint after a bit squelchy Punchard, pass through 'moonscape' then a grassy descent to Gunnerside with a couple of really cheeky steep banks thrown in (unfortunately cramp set in for Camilla at this point). Re-fuelled with more cake and tea here for the last stretch. Was fab to see Jan Young & hubbie next cheering us all on (hope you will be running next year Jan), this was a real boost. Lucy was running really strong as she had plenty left in the tank for a good finish so at the next checkpoint Surrender Bridge she bounced off into the distance. I'd forgotten the last section, even though it's mostly downhill it is quite stoney so requires a fair bit of concentration and effort to not fall flat on your face! I was still on track for achieving my desired time, the rocky path finally came to an end and a Marshall shouted '300 metres to go'. Dodging the throng of cyclists doing a reccie of stage 1 of the TDF, I ran as hard as I could, past the crowd outside The Buck Inn and all the finished runners lying on the grass, cheering everyone in, what a finish! Will was first strider home and 4th male, Jon A , Mike H & Aaron all gaining PB's. Mandy & Jules 1st strider ladies home with Lucy 3rd. David Brown, David Selby & Rachel strong finish times on first Swaledale. Ladies team 2nd overall, Men's team 4th.

Aye, a grand day out in all.

Panoramic Finish.

... Will Horsley

Swaledale from near the front
From the very start a couple of fellas made their intentions clear and were pretty much out of sight by checkpoint 1. Did catch one last glimpse of them on the climb up Punchard Moor and they were still on each other’s heels. It looks like they pushed each other to very quick times. For the chasing pack we settled into a steady rhythm and took turns in leading, with me usually leading the climbs. Eventually me and a lad from Newton Aycliffe, Dez, pulled a small way ahead and pushed each other round for good finishing times. Indeed Dez acted as a superb guide when it came to the descent to Gunnerside. We both slowed up badly in the final few miles with Dez staying just that little bit sharper than me.

Conditions were very humid at the start and dehydration was clearly going to be a concern. It stayed warm all day but conditions dried out. It was cool and very damp underfoot on the top at Punchard Moor. This was a fantastically organised event with cheerful marshals and supporters, nice conditions, beautiful surroundings and a huge number of striders. It was also great to see Jan, Tony and Pam out on the course cheering on the striders and others. I gave this race everything and am still recovering now but it was worth it. So proud to be a part of this club, which looks like we had the greatest number of entries and took 4th men’s and 2nd women’s team positions.

Stride on!

Is there something else happening soon?

Results

PosNameClubCatCatPosTime
1Tony LambertSwaledale RM03:00
4William HorsleyM03:18
19Jane McCarthyIlkleyF4003:35
48Jon AyresM04:07
60Michael HughesM04:16
78Aaron GourleyM04:28
96David BrownM04:34
97Mandy DawsonF4004:34
98Juliet PercivalF4004:34
127Lucy CowtonF04:49
135Anita ClementsonF4004:53
142Rachael BullockF04:59
143David SelbyM04:59
152Paul FosterM5005:02
183Camilla Lauren-MaattaF4005:18
189Andrew ThompsonM05:20
196Dougie NisbetM5005:21
271Phil LaytonM5006:18
275Margaret ThompsonF4006:20
302Sue JenningsF4006:39
303Angela ProctorF06:39
360Christine Anne FarnsworthF4007:21
361Barrie John EvansM5007:21
370Roz LaytonF4007:30
372Denise BenvinF4007:31
373Helen AllenF4007:31
374Kerry ListerF4007:31

436 finishers

Pymmes parkrun, 14th June

Simon Gardner

A trip to London to watch England v Sri Lanka at lords but as normal I thought this would be a good chance to do a bit of parkrun tourism.

I had previously done Bushy parkrun and also Finsbury park and with bushy being the biggest I thought it might be nice to do the smallest in London which is Pymmes (ok I'll admit I was also chasing a first finisher spot). So it was a nice early start for the tube to seven sisters then a train to silver street station which is just across the road from Pymmes park.

As normal for me I was there ridiculously early (I hate being late for anything) but I had taken it to a new level as it wasn't even 8am so it was time to do a couple of laps of the course which was exactly as it was described in parkrun website ,flat and Tarmac so it's a potential PB fast course (3 laps)

Eventually the volunteer team turned up and I had a quick chat with them about the course and parkrun in general. The run is fairly well known for having a very small turn out and today was no exception with a grand total of 20 keen runners.

We were soon on our way and it was fairly clear that my chance of being first finisher was not going to happen as someone sped off quickly but I just decided to maintain the distance to him and give myself a good workout. I'm not sure what it is about London but I never seem to run well here ,my worst half marathon and marathon were all in London and today was a bit of a slog but I managed 2nd place just getting under 19min.

I'm not sure why pymmes has so few runners , IMHO it's a much better course than bushy or finsbury park but even though it has very few runners the core team are very passionate about their parkrun and the community it's set in and it fits beautifully into the whole parkrun ethos.

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Blaydon Race, 9th June

5.9M

Karen Hooper

Twas on the ninth of Joon……………..
Blaydon Beer. As I sit here finally drinking my Blaydon Race Beer (& checking the Striders website to make sure there aren’t already 20 race reports), I thought it was about time to write about my first experience of this famous race.

I had attempted to register for the Blaydon Race all those months ago but being a mere mortal (ie. not yet a Strider) & having to join the masses on Day 2 of registration, I was unsuccessful. To be honest, I’d assumed that was that & carried on with my life! Until, the Friday before when a colleague of my husband emailed around work offering his wife’s race number, I said “Yay” immediately, all sorted, until his wife came home & revealed she had given the number to someone else. Who’d’ve thought I’d be so gutted not be running (certainly not me a few months ago!). A long weekend at work with intermittent chances to check emails meant I was too slow to claim another couple of numbers until finally on Sunday evening, I got one!!!!

So, Monday 9th June after a frantic rush around getting kids/husband sorted, I arrived by the viaduct to get the Striders bus. I could’ve done a couple of laps round the viaduct looking lost but thankfully the bus pulled up so I followed it to the stop to be greeted by a gaggle of purple.

My first time on the Striders bus, very exciting & my first time reading the words to the Blaydon song (????????? I’m from the South so no idea what they’re on about!). The bus was a tad warm by the time we arrived & I have to say I was a bit concerned what the smell would be like for the return trip. We pulled up at the cathedral to be greeted by even more purple & went en masse in search of toilets, joining a queue of Blackhill Bounders into Subway.

So, we joined the crowds eagerly anticipating the race, we stood for a while waving our wrists as high as we could to try & wake up the Garmins & then it just kind of started, I didn’t hear the song or the bell, we just started walking a bit, then a bit faster, then crossed something that could’ve been a starting line & started slowly running & following the masses.

Then all of sudden, I looked down at my wrist to see what the beep was & I’d run a mile in 8.38, then the second in 8.50 – no wonder I was tired! The next few miles were a bit slower but I kept going. It was hot & humid but I just got carried along by the crowds & the roadside music & drums & I still kept going.

Around mile 4 I started to think I might run the whole way without any walks encouraged by my running friend who’s a lot more experienced & better runner than me struggling – I was keeping her going this time!

The incline up the bridge was tough as was the run along to the water station passing runners on the other side of the barrier knowing that we had to run back along there. The water station was a beautiful site – not sure how much of it ended up being drunk versus thrown over me.

Then all of a sudden, I was in Blaydon with the lovely sight of more crowds to cheer us on to the finish. The mileage on my watch didn’t quite match up with the marked mile signs, coupled with not knowing the route & where the finish was meant I probably held back a bit in the last stretch – I thought it was going to end at the bus station but it kept going.

I was so proud to collect my t shirt at the end – I ran the whole race in a respectable time of 53.55 & I’m still grinning now.

So from me, thanks to Lesley Charman & Helen Thomas for the third-hand number– hope I did you proud, thanks to the Striders bus for the introduction to the lyrics, thanks to John Hutch for the offer of black pudding at the end (honestly, the absolute last thing I could’ve eaten but thanks anyway), thanks to the two Lauras for the chat on the walk back to the bus, thanks to Paul for the lift home & thanks to the other 64 Striders for the purple visions.

Same time next year???

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Peter Emase Run-Fast (M) 19-39 26:34
14 Joanne Chelimo Run-Fast (F) 19-39 29:42
82 Rob Everson (M) 19-39 33:00
104 Gareth Pritchard (M) 19-39 33:04
111 Adam Walker (M) 16-18 33:38
236 Simon Gardner (M) 40-44 36:14
335 Michael Tait (M) 19-39 37:33
415 Katy Walton (F) 19-39 38:35
472 Michael Downes (M) 19-39 38:56
649 Jon Ayres (M) 40-44 39:01
590 Mathew Crow (M) 40-44 39:09
524 Graeme Walton (M) 40-44 39:36
620 Sally Hughes (F) 19-39 40:37
727 Fiona Jones (F) 19-39 41:38
988 Sarah Davies (F) 45-49 42:20
1081John Hutchinson (M) 55-59 42:37
841 Lucy Cowton (F) 19-39 42:44
1006 Jackie Mckenna (F) 45-49 43:19
1061Stephanie Walker (F) 19-39 43:19
1103Mark Dunseith (M) 19-39 43:17
1466Richard Hall (M) 19-39 43:55
1167Claire Readey (F) 19-39 43:57
1316David Spence (M) 65-69 44:21
1218Greta Jones (F) 45-49 44:27
1342Nicola Whyte (F) 19-39 45:19
1431Paul Beal (M) 50-54 46:02
1664Ian Graham (M) 65-69 47:17
1743Anita Clementson (F) 45-49 47:41
1695Victoria Downes (F) 19-39 47:53
1546Lindsay Rodgers (M) 45-49 48:01
1571Stephen Ellis (M) 60-64 48:15
1710Philip Todd (M) 40-44 48:16
1858Robert Clark (M) 19-39 48:46
1687Anja Fechtner (F) 19-39 49:00
1888Jill Ford (F) 45-49 49:05
1982Ian Spencer (M) 50-54 49:35
2130Andy James (M) 65-69 50:12
2391Rebecca Fisher (F) 19-39 50:28
2043Ann Towers (F) 19-39 50:29
1942Brian Ford (M) 45-49 50:39
2292George Nicholson (M) 65-69 51:49
2318Karen Anne Chalkley (F) 50-54 51:59
2357Kelly Collier (F) 19-39 52:16
2691Helen Hackett (F) 45-49 52:42
2463Emma Detchon (F) 19-39 53:21
2515Karen Hooper (F) 19-39 53:55
2571Denise Benvin (F) 45-49 54:07
2492Michael Traynor (M) 50-54 54:09
2727Karin Younger (F) 50-54 55:27
2735Debbie McFarland (F) 19-39 55:43
2778Anita Dunseith (F) 19-39 55:45
2794Katie Butler (F) 19-39 56:12
2595Victoria Walton (F) 19-39 56:17
2896Aileen Scott (F) 19-39 57:01
2954Kathleen Bellamy (F) 19-39 57:22
3038Mike Elliott (M) 65-69 57:52
3152Louise Barrow (F) 19-39 59:55
3265Helen Allen (F) 40-44 61:20
3249Laura Chapman (F) 19-39 61:36
3250Laura Gibson (F) 19-39 61:37
3325Kerry Lister (F) 40-44 62:37
3330Lindsay Craig (F) 45-49 62:35
3331Sophie Dennis (F) 19-39 62:38
3326Helen Page (F) 40-44 63:15
3494Laura Jackson (F) 19-39 68:20

3574 finishers.
NB: Results sorted into chip time order for GP purposes.

The Billy Bland Challenge, Lakes, 7–8th June

66m

Geoff Davis

Ready for the start.

What is it?

It’s a relay based on the five legs of the 24 hour Bob Graham Round (BGR). It involves approximately 28,000ft of climb over 42 Lakeland peaks and covers about 66 miles. It was inspired by Billy Bland’s record for completing the BGR of 13 hours 53 minutes set in 1982. The challenge is open to all teams of at least 10 runners with a minimum of two on each leg. The aim is to get as close to Billy’s record as possible or, as in our case, to get round in less than 24 hours. It can be run at any time in June and, like all the best things in life, it’s free!

Jules, Susan, Rachel and Graham.

Why was it attempted?

I wanted to spend the weekend closest to my birthday with some good friends and arrange something 'challenging' for them to do.

Who did it?

The individuals are named below but mainly it was friends from Striders plus others from NFR, Morpeth Harriers and elsewhere – Team Elvet Striders and Friends was born!

What happened?

Leg 1 Keswick to Honister
Navigators: Graham Daglish and Susan Davis
Pacers: Rachael Bullock, Juliet Percival and Katy Walton.

The start in Keswick.

An all Striders team set off from Keswick in good weather and high spirits. Rachael, Jules & Katy were having their first experience of a BGR and seemed to love every minute of it, in spite of the strong wind over the tops, and finished comfortably inside the schedule. They can’t wait to come back for more and perhaps one, or more, of them might give the BG a go in the future themselves – I just hope Rachael doesn’t wait till she’s 42! The highlight of this leg for me was at the end when Sarah Walton presented me with a birthday cake (baked by Mum).

Thank you so much – it was delicious!

Leg 2 Honister to Wasdale
Navigator: Tom Reeves
Pacers: David Gibson and Steph Scott

David, Steph and Tom.

Fresh from her victory at the 'Yomp' last Sunday Steph kindly agreed to spend nearly five hours on the fells with Tom & David! It was just as well she did because the weather really started to 'pep up' on the second half of the leg as they traversed some of Lakelands toughest and most attractive mountains (Great Gable, Pillar etc.) Soaked to the skin at the finish they were still able to keep up their non-stop banter on the long drive back round to Keswick – Susan and Rachael were delighted!

John and James.

Leg 3 Wasdale to Dunmail
Navigator: John Telfer
Pacer: James Garland

A touch of the trots kept Paul Evans in Durham so it was left to John & James to tackle what is probably the toughest section of the round in the worst weather of the day. I can only imagine what it was like across the rocky desert that is the Sca Fells in that rain and mist – they both deserve a medal! A reward came in the form of clear skies for the latter part of the leg so at least they could enjoy the scenery! Spot on nav, plus incredible determination, saw them round more or less to schedule in 6 and a half hours - fantastic!

Leg 4 Dunmail to Threlkeld
Navigator: Kevin Bray
Pacers: Mike Hughes, David Hall and Andy Hastie
A late 'drop out' meant I had to switch to the last leg and ask Kevin to nav on this section - which is traversed primarily in darkness. Being a veteran of many BGRs, including his own 14 years ago, he never hesitated and recruited a couple of his own henchmen to keep him company (plus our very own Mike H on his first BG). Unfortunately, they were also accompanied by a thick mist on the fell tops. This makes night time nav in the mountains, for over five hours, doubly difficult and finding a small pile of stones marking the flat top of Nethermost Pike or Stybarrow Dodd can be "a sodding nightmare"! Nonetheless, Kevin managed it and ran into the car park at Threlkeld Cricket Club with the words “what a night that was!” just as the first hints of dawn were arriving.

Gap in the clouds.

Leg 5 Threlkeld to Keswick
Navigator: Geoff Davis
Pacer: Nigel Heppell
Moot Hall. Nigel and I had 4 hours 35 minutes to complete the final leg if we were to achieve the overall target of ‘doing the BG’ in under 24 hours. The narrow Hall’s Fell Ridge on Blencathra was dark, misty, wet and greasy but that wasn’t going to slow us down. We were up and over quickly and pressing on to take in Great Calva and the final top – Skiddaw. The larks were singing to herald the dawn and the triumph of Team Striders and Friends as Nigel and I were honoured to bring the team home in 23 hours 18 minutes accompanied by Rachael, Mike Susan & Jules, for the final run in from Latrigg. Phew!!

Can I just say a final word of thanks to all those named above, particularly Susan, for giving up part, or all, of their weekend to indulge my whim! Thanks must also go to Linda Bray, The Walton Family & the Reeves Family (particularly Joan whose birthday it was on Sunday!) for all their help and support. BG or BBC weekends are great; let’s hope there’s many more to come! I suspect that one or two Striders might want to give it a go themselves after putting ‘a toe in the water’ last weekend – we’ll be ready and waiting!

Classic Quarter, Cornwall, 7th June

44M

Mike Bennet

Listed as an Ultra marathon organised by Endurance Life, in simple terms it starts at Lizard point in Cornwall, the most southerly point in the UK and finishes at Lands End, the most westerly point. The route closely follows the Cornish coastal path.

I was coerced into signing up for this event last October. Plenty of time to get some training in between October and June I thought. As the date approached and various ailments, commitments etc came and went I realised the training had not quite gone to plan. Flying down to Bristol Friday night, driving onto Truro and getting in at 1:30 am with a 4 am wake up call didn’t seem ideal race day preparation either.

Needless to say 6:20am or thereabouts 300 solo runners including me and 2 friends plus a number of relay teams set off. The coastal path included some stunning scenery, rugged coastlines with crashing surf, small Cornish fishing villages, surf beaches, wooded areas, old tin mines. The camaraderie amongst the other runners was something I’d not experienced in many races before, I guess we weren’t at the sharp end so we weren’t seen as a threat to the leaders. Plenty of water and basic food stops, good reception from the supporters along the way all helped to ease the pain of running the actual event. Despite initial misgivings at the high cost of the event I had to admit as I crossed the finish it was worth it.

Initial results show 197 finishers out of the 300 starters,

150 M Bennett 11:46

167 C Kelly 12:01

196 D Hutchinson 13:15

Penshaw Hill Race, 4th June

3M

David Brown

This was the 24th edition of this race held by Sunderland Harriers, it’s a stone’s throw from my house yet I’ve never ran it, as the evening was pleasant I decided on a last minute hill race. I’ve spent the last few months running long miles on the fells, and what with the introduction of Geoff’s vomit inducing, yet strangely satisfying endurance sessions, I wanted to test the legs.

Samsonite Striders. I usually spend far too long preparing for a race, but as this was a hurried decision I turned up with whatever kit was in my boot. After parking up and purchasing a number (£7 EOD – bit pricey / mile [still cheaper than Roseberry Topping! Ed.]) from a parked up car, I located a handful of Striders and eyed up the field. I became a tad concerned as lithe youngsters were returning to their cars to swap trail shoes for spikes. A few mumbles and we huddled together behind a flag at the bottom of the hill. Race director spoke some indistinguishable instructions as we awaited the off. I realised we would need to filter into almost single file so I edged close up the pack. Off we went through the long grass and scrambled up the first hill, which soon levelled out as we made our way round, then up the monument, round the monument and back down past those running up. Still running single file I was pleased of my position as I let myself go down the hill (again – skills mastered from Geoff’s endurance sesh). The route took us through the woods, and it was here I regretted my shoe choice, the floor was slippery and trail shoes just weren’t gripping, so my pace slowed.

I was occasionally passed by a couple of runners as the trail levelled, but found strength on the uphill and was able to pull my place back. The route follows 2 laps of the woods, then finishes with a steep climb back up to the top of the monument. I was aware that Simon Gardner was somewhere very close and expected him to fly past me at any moment, but with one final push I just managed edge forward for a photo finish.

This was a fantastic no frills race, short, sharp and full of hills to test the legs. Good support, mainly from Sunderland Harriers placed around the course. A great race to hone your skills, and in a fantastic setting. Great for those wanting to go off-road without heading into the wilderness. I finished 35th / 110 which I was fairly pleased with, I certainly recommend this race and will be back next year. Well done to all other Striders – Simon, Nigel, Flip, Kelly, Helen, Denise, and Kerry. Photobombed by a Folly.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Scott EllisNorth Shields Poly17:09
21Angela McGurkJarr & Heb20:54
35David Brown21:53
36Simon Gardner21:54
64Nigel Heppell24:14
97Phil Owen28:11
104Kelly Collier30:43
107Helen Allen32:13
109Denise Venison32:40
110Kerry Lister36:53

111 finishers

The Yomp Mountain Challenge, Kirkby Stephen, 1st June

23M / 4,000' (with 11.5M and 6.25M options)

aka Mallerstang Horseshoe & Nine Standards Yomp

Paul Evans

This 23 miles of little-trodden Howgills running has, over the last three years become deservedly popular with Striders, particularly those for whom speed is of less importance than distance, scenery and a nice sandwich. Shaun wrote the race up well last year and the stage was set for a re-run, with an even-warmer, still day dawning over the fells; a shame that he's injured and had to pass this year. The start was as low-key as ever, with no mass start and runners instead simply choosing to dib out and set off whenever ready between 0800 and 1000hrs so, a few minutes after Will Horsley, Steph Scott and Geoff Davies (all running for NFR), I set off through the quiet streets of Kirkby Stephen, alone, a little after 0920hrs. A mile or so of tarmac along the main road led to a track of gently-deteriorating concrete slabs running alongside a beck for a short period and then heading gradually upwards to a farmhouse which, crossings of a railway line and road within the next half mile, would be the last built objects we'd see for a long time.

Onwards, upwards, forwards - Moor Pot followed by Little Fell, both runnable, Little Fell followed by the climbup the ridgeline of the Nab to Wild Boar Fell, less so. False summits abounded and it was here that the early signs of fatigue were beinning to take a toll on some of the earlier starters, both runners and walkers, though Maggie Thompson, Sue Jennings and Anita Clementson all looked strong. A checkpoint at the top of Wild Boar Fell provided water and a brief respite, then it was down into the moist, soft saddle and up the other side to Swarth Fell, saying a brief hello to Geoff and Steph their diagonal green stripe/purple background looking far less elegant than the vertical green/white/purple alternative. I pushed hard to the top of this climb, knowing that after checking in with the marshalls there would be a long descent to Aisgill, followed by a fairly gentle section on farm tracks - so it proved, the ground being just soft enough to cause the occasional uncontrolled slide but mostly fast running on a surface that felt pleasantly bouncy.

Water again at the bottom of the valley, almost half the race done and it was onto what I find the hardest section of the race, even if it doesn't take you quite as high as Wild Boar Fell. Thankfully the marshalls had put out a lot of controls, all with water hauled up in jerrycans by quad, and The Riggs, Gregory Chapel, High Seat and High Pike Hill were all gained over the next 50 minutes or so, much of the time with a clear view to the west back over the valley, scattered cottages and railway line miniscule in the distance, to the climbs encountered an hour or two previously. The running was still relatively good, with the ground mostly firm with boggy patches, although there was no longer between each sighting of another runner in the distance to chase. Coming off High Pike Hill this changed, with another fast descent providing glimpses of the start of the Short Yomp and the point where the Half Yomp converges with the Full at Tailbridge, portaloos, a bus and a cluster of enthusiastic marshalls sunning themselves in a mini-encampment on the side of the road. Another dib, more water and a re-coating with suncream and the wettest section of the race began, the pull up to the Nine Standards taking only 22 minutes but feeling longer, route selection around or through the deeper sections and streams gaining importance in my mind that, in honesty, the meagre amounts of time saved probably didn't justify, though the same couldn't be said of the quad driver who'd managed to wedge his vehicle into a grough and was letting children use it as a bridge from one side to the other. The cairns themselves were warm to the touch, standing out against a perfect blue sky, and provided shade for the marshalls marking the final control. The descent itself wasn't fun - hard running on rocky track and tarmac, the vest coming off when I realised that the red stain on the left upper chest and the discomfort I was feeling in a similar area may be related (hint: I will no longer be buying a particular brand of zinc oxide tape) - but it was a descent, which by this point was a good thing. With no-one to chase, no idea whether I was beating those in front of me or those behind and most of the Short Yompers out for a nice walk only (Camilla and family amongst them), it was a case of racing myself alone past the quarry, through Hartley village and into Kirkby Stephen again for the last little climb to the school. My printout states that I was 3rd of 8 finishers, but podium position didn't last long for Will or I as faster but later finishers bumped us into 4th and 5th respectively, Will clear of me by 5 minutes.

A shower, tea and food later, as well as a lot of water, we lay on the grass and watched Geoff and the rest of the NFR runners, for whom this was a championship/GP race, finish in varying degrees of fatigue; they seemed to concur that conditions had been a bit warmer than they would have liked but that the organisers had, once again, put on an excellent race - one that deserves another sea of purple next year. With vertical green stripes.

Middlesbrough Riverside 5k, Riverside Stadium, 1st June

Angela Coates

After Alister asked me so nicely by shouting across the road as we left him at the end "Coatesy, are you doing a run report for this?" I thought, aww bless him, what a nice man to think of me for this. So what could I do seeing as he asked so nicely and only because I was a bit chuffed by getting a pb from last year of 40 seconds off and just 4 seconds off my original parkrun time (it's a run not a race so shouldn't count) before I got injured a few years ago and couldn't walk properly without pain never mind run (thanks to Mr Sleeman for his fantastic but sometimes painful work). But it has been a long road back to where I left off a couple of years ago.

Angela reaches the finish!

Anyway, enough about me. Paul and I picked up Simon and headed down to Middlesbrough and by looking at the temperature gauge which was reaching 21 degrees, it was going to be a very very warm race.

We arrived at the Riverside Stadium and met up with fellow Striders - Katy, Graeme, Heidi (Strider in the making), Megan, Alister, Adam (still a Strider in our hearts), Rob and Kerry. A chat and a few warm ups (was it not hot enough!) then we headed to the start area with 20 minutes to go. A few announcements and I could feel the nerves starting, the chatting around of fellow runners feeling the same and after feeling like I was going to spontaneously combust with the heat, we set off.

It is a fast flat race, there are quite a few twists and turns and the heat today was absolutely draining. Thankfully there is a water stop at half way for a quick couple of sips, actually most of the water was just going over peoples heads. There are some great supporters along the route and a band playing along the route.

The race is chip timed so although you may be further back in the pack, at least you get a time from the actual start to the finish of the run. It also finishes in the stadium where you run around the perimeter of the football pitch to the cheers of the crowd and Chariots of Fire playing on the speakers.

At 11:15 the 2k fun run set off and Katy was running with (trying to keep up with) Heidi. We sat in the stadium and saw the first 'fun' runners come into the stadium (for under 13's or anyone who want to run for fun) and the cheers started, some great sprints and future runners came in, not to mention a few fancy dress outfits including a Spiderman and Spiderkid which was really funny. Then we saw Erin come storming around the final bend so a cheer went out from us and then we saw Katy and Heidi so again cheers all round. Fantastic to see the runners of the future hopefully, but a great event where everyone can get involved whether it be the 5k or the 2k.

Well done to everyone who ran today (and cheered on) it was very hot and tough. Also great to see Jo Porter and Jo Richardson at the end. Well I did see Jo Porter before that as she went flying past me at one point on the run ha. I can't end without saying a big thanks to Megan for her gorgeous banana bread and apple and cinnamon muffins, funny how Alister didn't want any, some may think he was feeling a bit under the weather.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Matty HynesM10:14:16
25Danielle HodgkinsonF10:16:35
60Rob EversonM440:17:21
63Adam Walker*M460:17:29
114Simon GardnerM40210:18:43
196Paul PascoeM40390:20:06
215Katy WaltonF110:20:24
337Alister RobsonM1690:22:31
468Megan BellF380:24:11
587Joanne PorterF40150:25:40
679Angela CoatesF40170:26:50
776Joanne RichardsonF40250:28:31
968Kerry ListerF40450:31:29

1331 finishers
*still a Strider in our hearts!

Hardmoors Wedding Celebration Run, North Yorks Moors, 1st June

Anita Dunseith

Mark and I have taken part in a number of Hardmoors 10Ks (which are usually about 8 miles long!) and were over the moon to be invited along to the race directors Jon and Shirley's wedding celebration run.

The bride and groom Jon and Shirley Steele.

Invitation stated dress code as bow ties and frilly dresses. Yikes, neither of us had the correct kit! Last minute shopping trip to Tesco and Mark bought an "ahem" fetching waistcoat and I rooted through my holiday dresses for something I may be able to run in.

Today dawned gloriously sunny and warm so we knew we were in some some spectacular views of the North Yorkshire Moors, and we'd be able to see Middlesbrough too. We arrived with about 20 minutes until the start which is very good going for us and saw with some amount of relief that the majority of runners were also adhering to the dress code.

Fairly quick race briefing from Jon; follow the fast people and the yellow tape and try not to die en route and spoil our weekend was the general gist of it.

Under starter's orders and we were off, up a hill! God bless you Hardmoors. Just under about a hundred runners followed the narrow trail away from Lordstones car park and out onto the hills. The scenery was absolutely incredible today, you just can't ask for better, we could see for miles and miles. What we thought was quite cool was that we were actually running higher than a helicopter was flying. Some great outfits on show, one guy in a kilt and a tam o'shanter who put my hubby Mark "I love being Scottish" Dunseith to shame as well as a couple of verrrry fit topless guys wearing bow ties. Yes, there are definitely worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Mr and Mrs Dunseith in their finery.

So, being a Hardmoors run there were hills, trust me when I say there's nothing better than reaching the summit of a whopping great hill to see the next whopping great hill you're going to be climbing after some serious mountain goat efforts on the descent. Aaaahhh yes, nothing better!

When you're running over the moors in a flowery dress and your hubby is in shirt, tie and waistcoat you draw some questioning looks but what I found refreshing was discovering there is always someone out there who is even crazier than us. Today it was a guy on his mountain bike who was bombing down the hills and CARRYING his BIKE back up them. Officially mental in my book.

The route took in the Wainstones which require actual clambering because you can't go round them; you have to go through them. This is genuinely hard work but once at their summit there's a fairly flat section to catch your breath for the final couple of hills before the turnaround point. Jelly babies and cold water never tasted so good. We turned round and went back up the hill from Claybank and did all the lovely hills again, in reverse (we're sitting trying to remember how many hills they were and we lost count!) Legs were tired on the final ascent but when we saw the big white tent in the distance we knew we were almost done which gave us the spur we needed to finish to a big round of applause which is always great.

This was a really lovely event organised by two great people and attended by some ultra running royalty who are genuinely nice people. I even met Shelli Gordon who was first lady and second overall at last week's inaugural Hardmoors 160mile ultra marathon. I played it supercool when I met her and told her she was a rock star. Ohhhh yeah, that's how cool I am.