Race Reports, December 2015

Hogmanay Hooey, Bolam Lake Country Park, Northumberland, 27th December

Short Green

Tom Reeves

Tom's Sonic SunglassesAfter my previous disaster at the Durham night orienteering I can't say I was overly enthusiastic about this but I was doing my duty and accompanying Joan who has now got the orienteering bug.

Learning from the previous event I did bring my new orienteering glasses so at least in theory I could see/read the map. We duly arrived at Bolam Lake in Northumberland around 15 minutes before the start time and watched fellow orienteers limbering up in the car park. Many of them wearing proper club vests!! and one gentleman in what appeared to be knickerbockers. Joan and I plumped for the same course. I was hoping we'd do different courses so I could save face and not get battered by her superior map reading.

I set off from the start first ...well actually I set off once Joan had shown me where the start was on the map :-) The course we chose was short green which was one down from the longest. We had 17 checkpoints to find and the course length point to point was only 3.2 km. Checkpoint one was fairly easy although in my haste I did overshoot it checkpoint two had me baffled and feeling like groundhog day!! I wandered round in the woods only to see Joan who had started 2 minutes after me leaving for checkpoint 3. Well at least I knew where 2 was at long last. After my very shaky start I finally got my head in shape and started ticking off checkpoints up to checkpoint 10 which was described as a boulder on the map. After a good old wander in the woods occasionally seeing Joan who was having as much luck as me I decided to go back to checkpoint 9 and take a bearing. It was at this stage that the glasses came into their own as I noticed drainage ditches on the map and spied the very same things off to my right...bingo there was checkpoint 10 beside a small rock not a boulder.

I shouted Joan over coz I'm nice like that and set off for checkpoint 11 which was up a steepish hill. The last few checkpoints came thick and fast and before I knew it I was at the finish getting my readout. I held my breath ...phew not disqualified, I'd got all the checkpoints, I was happy with that. Joan came in shortly after me and to my surprise I had beaten her by 43 seconds. Result.

Charity Score Orienteering Event, Chopwell Wood, 26th December

1 hour

Dougie Nisbet

I should thank Paul, really. The forecast for today's orienteering event was terrible and my ribs were a bit sore from an embarrassing 0mph bicycle falling-over-in-slow-motion mishap from Tuesday, and the cat was lying on my feet and the bed was nice and warm, so no point going to Chopwell and getting cold and wet, was there? Except that I'd promised Paul I'd pick him up at 0930, and the handy thing about offering to give someone a lift is that it means you cannot easily extract yourself from the arrangement with any sort of dignity when your excuse is you'd rather stay at home and drink tea.

The decision of my orienteering club to move the annual boxing day event from Durham back to Chopwell had not met with my approval and I fully expected to turn up and find a deserted swamp with people staying away rather than nip out to try their hand at a bit of orienteering. However a respectable 50 adventurers had turned out in the damp for a stomp around Chopwell so I was pleased to be proved wrong.

Paul and I were so early we sat in the car for a while and drank tea and coffee and watched the world go by until we were almost late and had to dash over and register before the 11AM start. Paul was wearing some pretty pitiful looking Fell Shoes 'just one more wear' that looked like they weren't brought by Santa yesterday. He completed his attire by not wearing a watch. That could be tricky in a score event. This wasn't for any reason of principle - he'd just forgotten to bring one. I feigned sympathy and pretended to look for a spare while realising that he'd have a very difficult time planning any sort of meaningful route when he didn't know the time of day. For shame. I might make this two victories in a row!

16 controls foundThe 11AM start was that rare thing in an orienteering event, a mass start, which tends to only happen in Score events. Not dissimilar to the start of the Durham Three Peaks. We scattered to all points of the compass and I decided to go for a gentle clockwise sweep of the map picking up as many controls as I could. Route choice was interesting and tricky. All controls had the same value so there were no 'high-value items' to be had on the peripheries. Scrabble players would have found it no fun. With each minute late incurring a 10 point penalty, and each control being worth 10 points, the common mistake is to go over time and get a penalty. It's rare in a score event that getting just one more control is worth the risk of an associated time penalty.

I nabbed 16 controls and got back with 24 seconds to spare, which I thought was pretty dandy. My route choice left a bit to be desired though, spending too much time chasing controls out on the periphery rather than mopping up easy ones close to the Finish. Camilla had struggled with the network of footpaths and the invariable confusion that arises when there are more footpaths on the ground than there are on the map. Judging when a trail is just a temporary trod or a permanent footpath is a difficult call, and it's not every orienteering map that includes in its legend the rather ominous sounding powerline downhill bike track.

Paul takes his shoes out for a sole-destroying final outing

Paul got back with -13 seconds to spare, which cost him 10 points. Pretty good considering he wasn't wearing a watch, or the correct number of shoes. He'd started wearing two shoes. And he'd finished wearing two shoes. More or less. Mostly less. His right shoe hadn't held up well, or at all, and was now a shoe of two halves. As Peter Cook might once have said, I had nothing against his right shoe. Unfortunately, neither did Paul. He'd attempted a mid-race pit-stop to change shoes but sadly I'd taken the car-keys into the woods with me rather than leaving them at registration so that was more time lost for Paul. Still, Every cloud. Never one not to see the bright side of another's misfortune I realised that this meant I got another victory. Two in a row!

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

In the Bleak-Midwinter

North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships, Sedgefield, 12th December

Shelter from the storm Saturday started wet. The rain then turned to sleet, the sleet turned to wet snow, the wet snow to 'full on' snow and by the time the senior men's race started there was a two inch carpet of snow on the course. Thus the scene was set for this year's North East X/C Champs at Sedgefield.

Sally through the blizzard
Striders were there in reasonable strength and Sally Hughes was first out in the junior women's race. Unable to hire a taxi from the tent to the start line she was escorted there by Mudpeople and her father. She looked a forlorn sight as she lined up with the other young athletes, most of who were shivering while others were shielded by umbrellas held by more devoted parents or club captains. The sound of the starter's gun was almost drowned out by chattering teeth but off they went all eager to get going and get warm - or slightly less cold. Sally held her own in the challenging conditions finishing in 28th place in a highly competitive field. Understandably, she made a hasty exit from the field seeking hot food and drink and a more substantial shelter than that offered by the Striders tent!

As these races represent the North East Champs the senior men still get to start before the women and Striders were fielding a company of twelve of their finest brave men. As the young tend to know no fear Jack Lee went out at the front into the blizzard followed by two more senior comrades Neil Sleeman and Capt Evans. As some of you will know Neil hails from slightly warmer climes than Sedgefield in December but he took to the snow like a koala to a gum tree finishing second Strider home behind Jack and ahead of Capt E after an exciting tussle. Old Tom was next home holding off a challenge from the baseball hatted Aaron who was in turn followed in by James Garland making a welcome return to the fray.

Aaron fends of the snow with his baseball cap

Innes must be benefiting from his own grass sessions as he had a good run as did newbies Alex W and Peter H, the latter supported by his understanding family. Shaun the Sheep's trailer had been held up in the snow bound traffic so he came out of the pen some minutes behind the rest of the flock. Once other runners were nipping at his heals though he was soon trotting merrily along, although at the end, after braving the blizzard, it looked like he'd been 'dipped' if not sheared! The two Mikes made up the team with Mr Bennett resembling a festive Santa speeding round the snowy fields and Mr Hughes covered in the white stuff and thinking Sally had had the best of the conditions. And, as it turned out, she had - so well done lads, a great performance - it's what the club is all about: great days out and shared experiences in face of adversity!

Well, if the men had to face adversity then the women were facing something even tougher! By now the snow was really meaning business not only covering the course in a thick blanket but also trying to bring down the Striders tent with a duvet size overlay. A field of over 220 snow women lined up for the start. Relieved to get under way Penny of the Antarctic skied off with the front runners followed by Elaine, Sarah and Mudwoman. Debs wasn't far behind and the hangover she was suffering was soon "washed away like the snow in the rain" as she battled through the white stuff. There was no "compromising" either by any of the Striderettes today: Catherine Elliott made a determined effort to duck the snow flakes, Steph P was making a return to form as conditions become more to her liking, our debutant Fiona Wood smiling (or grimacing) in the knowledge that "things can only get better" and Rebecca serenely floating through the white mud dreaming of Mandalay.

Aaron Gourley's view of the Village

They all contributed to another great performance by the women's team who, cheered on by Jan and many of the men's team, finished in the top half of the table in a race where the first three finishers were all international runners and household names (they are in our household anyway). What a great day! Yes it was cold, wet and uncomfortable and the race was hard and tough but that's what makes x/c so rewarding - the harder it is the more we enjoy that post race glass of wine or beer and the more we feel at one with our club mates. We can't wait for the next time!

Results

U17/20 women
position bib name race time
1 516 Philippa Stone (Middlesbrough Athletic Club) 20:33
28 512 Sally Hughes 25:00

45 finishers.

men
position bib name race time
1 1498 Patrick Martin (Stockport Harriers) 40:53
175 1206 Jack Lee 54:14
187 1210 Neil Sleeman 54:30
197 1200 Paul Evans 54:50
243 1208 Tom Reeves 57:27
256 1202 Aaron Gourley 58:10
279 1201 James Garland 59:19
295 1198 Michael Bennett 1:00:19
301 1211 Alex Witty 1:00:42
329 1205 Mike Hughes 1:02:12
340 1209 Shaun Roberts 1:02:53
348 1204 Innes Hodgson 1:03:39
375 1203 Peter Hart 1:06:48

411 finishers.

ladies
position bib name race time
1 715 Rosie Smith (Durham City Harries &AC) 31.55
22 744 Penny Browell 37:50
58 743 Elaine Bisson 41:29
79 746 Sarah Davies 42:54
84 747 Susan Davis 43:28
113 750 Debra Goddard 45:01
135 752 Stephanie Piper 46:01
147 749 Catherine Elliott 47:08
193 754 Fiona Wood 52:35
209 748 Rebecca Devine 54:49

224 finishers.

What a Wheeze 5km Christmas Cracker, Ropner Park, Stockton, 6th December

5k

Melanie Hudson

Dave holds nothing back with his Santa outfit.
This race is three laps of Ropner Park in Stockton and 5k in length. It is all on tarmac, and besides a tiny hill at the end of each lap, it is a very flat and fast course.

I entered this race for two reasons: the first being that entry included a medal with santa on, and the second being that I would get to dress up in my Mrs Santa outfit.

I had planned on taking it easy, since the only short events I have taken part in have been the parkrun, where I have mainly been volunteering as the 30 minutes pacer for the last few months. However, on the morning I felt like I had quite a bit of energy, and since the course was flat and on a good surface, I wondered if I could do under 25 minutes, I guess there was only one way to find out. So off I went, the first lap felt reasonably comfortable, the second lap I started to wonder if I could maintain my pace, in the third lap I could hear someone was trying to pass me which kept me going. However, he did eventually pass me on the final hill, only for him to then not turn off for the finish and headed off to do another lap. Thankfully he very quickly realised his error and turned back. By this point I was ahead of him, so I slowed and let him pass me at the finish, as I am sure he would have beat me had he not started a new lap. I came in at 24 minutes 18.

Dave also had a really good run, finishing in 26:12. He probably could have gone faster but he was also doing another 5k that afternoon, so needed to keep something in reserve for that. There were at least seven other Striders running.

It was not until the next day, when the results came out, that I discovered I was the 3rd lady to finish, thank you to Jill Young for picking up my prize.

Northern Navigators Orienteering Event, Low Redford & Windy Bank, Hamsterley Forest, 6th December

Light GREEN - 3.5km, 90m, 12 controls

Joan Hanson

As the wind howled round the house on Saturday evening perhaps not the most obvious choice for a run the following day was a forest, but having enjoyed the recent night orienteering event in Durham City I was tempted to give it another go. Thankfully Camilla needed little persuasion to join me, and on arrival we were welcomed by Dougie who was starting his day by manning the car park.

This was my second orienteering event – it is a whole new world of running, but I am happy to report a very friendly, relaxed and supportive one.

This map and its owner have been through a thicket or two.There was a choice of about 7 courses described by colour, I was advised to attempt the light green which is not considered technical in terms of the location of the control points of which there were 12 located around a course of a minimum of 3.5km. We paid our £5 entry, donned our electronic dibbers and set off to the start.

Dougie had tipped us off the night before that the control descriptions were on the website so I had had an informative half hour deciphering the arrows, squiggles etc and carefully writing them out to carry with me- the logic being that at least if I knew I was looking for a ‘small depression’ it would be easier to find it when running through the forest. Helpfully the symbols bear little resemblance to the actual geographical features on the ground. It was a good job I had remembered most of it because on arrival at the start I realised that I had lost it.

Although the organisers were happy for people to do the event as a pair or small team Camilla and I had decided to tackle the same course but individually, Dougie was manfully going for the brown option (the hardest one).

You start at intervals of several minutes- so you can’t follow people, and pick your map up at the point of starting. You have to visit the controls in number order. The controls are helpfully marked on the ground by orange and white flags and are individually numbered so you know when you have excitedly found the wrong one!

On an orienteering map a runnable forest is, rather confusingly, white. Saves on the ink.For me mild panic set in when Camilla (who has done a few of these events) immediately crouched down with her map and compass and set off in the opposite direction to the previous people who were doing our course. A helpful man then offered to talk me through the map - big learning point here, orienteering maps bear very little resemblance to OS maps which I am quite familiar with - as I peered into the dense undergrowth I was a little surprised to see it described on the map as being ‘forest, run’, goodness only knows what ‘forest, fight’ (yes it is an actual thing) looks like.

And then I was off, immediately up to my ankles in bog, fighting my way through the trees to arrive at control number 3. Choice words were muttered, doubt set in, and I lost all track of time. Soon I was back on track and I suspect more through luck than skill I was soon systematically finding my way through the controls without need for my compass- although I don’t feel like I did much running. I have always run off road over all sorts of terrain but there are definitely some skills to be developed here. I bumped into Camilla whilst trying to find some ‘thicket’ in the middle of a load of trees, she seemed to be making good progress.

All too soon - or perhaps hours later I arrived at the finish, thrilled to have found all my controls in a mind blowing or perhaps truly terrible 45 odd minutes and have no idea how much distance I covered - you have no idea how well you have placed until full results are out due to the staggered starts. Camilla arrived a little later than expected having had a nightmare involving trying to locate a spring and ending up in a marsh.

Amazingly I was first in my category – that’s never happened before. I think I might be hooked…..

Eskdale Eureka, Castleton, North York Moors, 6th December

BM/8mi/1500'

Tom Reeves

As Plan A, Hexhamshire Hobble was a no goer so Plan B got underway meaning me, Steph Piper, Chairman Paul and Aaron Gourley were heading down to Castleton (not in Derbyshire Steph) to run the Eskdale Eureka. The weather was improving and it looked to be a good decision. Steph finished her fell runners breakfast of a savoury mince pie mmmm and I contemplated my first proper fell race for quite some time. The weather at the start other than being a bit blowy was spot on for racing. We had to jog / run to the start and had only caught our breath when we were off.

Paul gave it some beans at the start and I attempted to keep on his heels assuming there must be a good reason for such a fast start; there was, after the fast downhill start we hit a short steepish uphill section and people started walking in front of me holding us all up. By the time I got running again Paul was rapidly becoming a distant purple dot.

The race starts and finishes along the same two miles or so of track with a big circuit in between making the race route look like a huge deflated balloon on a string on the map. The race is generally run-nable the only section which caught me out was a very short steep bit just before checkpoint two.

There was then a really very pleasant couple of miles of good steady moorland trod which you could really get into a rhythm on. There's a short section of fairly rough stuff through knee deep heather before the one and only road section and luckily I had a runner in front of me who found every rabbit hole, bog and rock for me :-) he was uttering some choice words by the time we hit the road. I of course thanked him and ran off.

The route back follows the route out and I was caught somewhat by surprise by the finish as it seemed to appear remarkably quickly. I think I did as well I could have expected. Paul of course came in first Strider followed by me then Aaron with Steph as our final runner but credit must be given to her as this was her first fell race on her own as it were and she did brilliantly overtaking we think at least 5 women on the way round.

All in all a very good fell race and in my opinion just as good as the Hobble.

3200m Time Trial, 2nd December

Allan Seheult

Below are the results of the 3,200 metres Time Trials for Wednesdays 25th November (Week 1) and 2nd December (Week 2) and PBs (first column) before these two TTs. Results are shown for those who ran on at least one of the two Wednesdays.

Congratulations to the many who posted PBs (shown with red background) and to everyone for subjecting themselves to this very hard test.

Results

Alphabetical
name previous
pb
week 1
25 Nov
week 2
2 Dec
Joe Appleby 17:24
Matthew Archer 11.15 11:31
Stuart Barker 14:13
David Browbank 15:15 15:01
Rachel Bullock 13.47 13:51
Emma Carter 17:23
David Case 15.06 17:13
Alex Collins 14:49
Andrew Cush 12:07
Andrew Davies 13.58 14:52
Sarah Davies 13.39 13:42 13:34
Catherine Elliot 14:33 14:02
Jayne Freeman 16:27 16:58
Mark Gardham 13:05
Sue Gardham 15.16 15:21
Simon Gardiner 11.18 10:59
Neil Garthwaite 14:49 14:43
Peter Hart 14:22
Andrew Hopkins 11:27 11:14
Simon Horsefield 14.44 14:34
Tamsin Imber 14:39 13:49
Stephen Jackson 10:43 10:33
Gavin Jenkins 13:44
Jack Lee 11:55
Michael Littlewood 11.31 10:58
Tim Mathews 15.23 14:42
Debbie McFarland 17.01 17:13
Olivia Neal 13:48
Dougie Nisbet 14.14 15:06
Alan Smith 16:27
Catherine Smith 16.42 16:15
Dave Spence 14.07 14:29
Ian Spencer 15.39 15:20 15:32
Richard Stollery 13:24
Paul Swinburne 12.15 12:27
Malcolm Sygrove 14.09 13:48
Andrew Thurston 16.31 15:45
Dave Toth 15:39
Diane Watson 17.38 17:41
Nicola Whyte 14.52 14:28 14:31

Sorted by Fastest overall time
name previous
pb
week 1
25 Nov
week 2
2 Dec
Stephen Jackson 10:43 10:33
Michael Littlewood 11.31 10:58
Simon Gardiner 11.18 10:59
Andrew Hopkins 11:27 11:14
Matthew Archer 11.15 11:31
Jack Lee 11:55
Andrew Cush 12:07
Paul Swinburne 12.15 12:27
Mark Gardham 13:05
Richard Stollery 13:24
Sarah Davies 13.39 13:42 13:34
Gavin Jenkins 13:44
Rachel Bullock 13.47 13:51
Malcolm Sygrove 14.09 13:48
Olivia Neal 13:48
Tamsin Imber 14:39 13:49
Andrew Davies 13.58 14:52
Catherine Elliot 14:33 14:02
Dave Spence 14.07 14:29
Stuart Barker 14:13
Dougie Nisbet 14.14 15:06
Peter Hart 14:22
Nicola Whyte 14.52 14:28 14:31
Simon Horsefield 14.44 14:34
Tim Mathews 15.23 14:42
Neil Garthwaite 14:49 14:43
Alex Collins 14:49
David Browbank 15:15 15:01
David Case 15.06 17:13
Sue Gardham 15.16 15:21
Ian Spencer 15.39 15:20 15:32
Dave Toth 15:39
Andrew Thurston 16.31 15:45
Catherine Smith 16.42 16:15
Alan Smith 16:27
Jayne Freeman 16:27 16:58
Debbie McFarland 17.01 17:13
Emma Carter 17:23
Joe Appleby 17:24
Diane Watson 17.38 17:41