Race Reports, March 2015

Run Northumberland Half Marathon, Kirkley Hall nr. Ponteland, 29th March

Claire Galloway

Elvet Striders at the Run Northumberland Half Marathon 2015The day started with the clocks going forward! One hour less in bed! So the challenge had already commenced. Ponteland High School as the parking base was easy to find. Laura Jackson immediately had her strategic head on, advising me on the best parking spot for a 'quick exit'. However, we amusingly reminded ourselves that such a strategy really wasn't necessary (the car park would be empty by the time we got back). A few coaches picked up runners for the short trip up to Kirkley Hall. Myself, Laura & one other runner were the only passengers on our coach... VIP's, or maybe not. After arriving in the grounds of Kirkley Hall, completing a swift registration & number collection, bags dropped off, it was great to meet up with other fellow Striders to get into the spirit. Myself & Laura were a little nervous of the 3 hour cut off time & of the sweep car picking up those runners outside of this time. I was also a little nervous, as this was my second half marathon, my first being last year at the GNR. However 'pep' talk from our fellow Striders did help to put our minds at ease.

So, yes, the race! Off we went with the expected sweep car right behind us, roaring its engine at what seemed like every 30 seconds. Whilst we appreciate the importance of the sweep car especially in such a rural area, we did think this could be annoying for a full 13.2 miles! However we luckily lost the sweep car after a couple of miles (we assumed it was behind someone else further back). The route was scenic as described; water stations approximately every 3 miles, the roads fairly quiet and the route was definitely 'undulating'. We were hoping for some sunshine which we experienced, very briefly, early on. Coming up to the half-way mark near the village of Ogle, we passed some runners in the opposite direction whom were definitely in 'the zone'. We could only assume they were on the home straight, however our spirits remained high. Passing through Ogle, it amused us to see the Reverend leaving Church & dashing off past us in her red sports car. Think 'glamorous' Vicar of Dibley. Various cyclists were also out & about on their Sunday morning ride, some quite pleasant with their encouraging words as they whizzed past (or smug that they were leaving us in their wake, hard to tell...) The weather was quite variable for the duration, experiencing a variety of seasons; later the horizontal rain / sleet was particularly refreshing. A Bounder & a Quaker had been in our sights in front for some time, I managed to catch up with them & make a break, also passing an unattached runner, before 'that hill'; a steep one a few miles from the end of the race....nice.

Coming into the finish, it was fantastic to hear the purple roar. It was kind of those to wait for the remaining two Striders especially in the wet & cold weather; very much appreciated. I managed to knock nearly 20 minutes off my GNR time, so a good result! Laura was also well within time. Other Striders also completed the race in great times. A race T-shirt & a 'small' Easter egg were collected after the race. The marshals & signage on the route were helpful and all in all a very well organised race. The 'roaring' sweep car did NOT accommodate the colour purple!

Liverpool Half Marathon, 29th March

Denise Benvin

Kathleen, Kerry, Denise and Phil at the 2015 Liverpool Half MarathonThis was my home half marathon, so to speak, coming from Liverpool. Last year it was myself and Kerry that took part, this year I had more company also, dragging Flip along for the joy of carb-loading for half marathon - Liverpool style. Staying at my mum's, a pan of Scouse was requested by Kerry, and so, having been well fed we decided that a bit of practise was needed at "Liverpool carb-loading in the pub". We did get an A* in this and went home at a late hour having had a good night, to grab a few hours sleep after my poor mum had fed us.

The alarm went off all too early the next morning to get us up for the first train. The weather was wet but thankfully not too cold. We stopped for a coffee on the way to the start in an effort to rehydrate or just simply wake up. We dropped our stuff on the baggage bus and found Kathleen for the Strider photo. Then it was time for the off.

The rain never let up the wholeway round but this was a blessing I think. Although the Liverpol Half is a road marathon it makes good use of its parks and the last 4 miles are flat alongside the prom back towards the Liver buildings making it a nice run. It's not often I get to say this (unless I am the only Strider in a race) but I was first Strider home, coming in with a PB in a time of 2:04:57 followed by a broken Flip fetching home a damsel in distress, who was followed by Kathleen then Kerry as usual who had been making another friend en-route.

Then it was time for a coffee to warm up before heading home for a Sunday dinner that was being prepared for us by my lovely mum. All too soon it was time to leave, a good weekend had by all. With the promise of good reviews on Trip Advisor we left - till next year that is .........

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Hartlepool Marina 5M, 29th March

Gareth Pritchard

The colour Purple. I almost missed out on this race due to poor timing on my part and a certain relay race which was supposed to be going on at the same time. ( gave it my best shot ..) I was very lucky and managed to get a place by emailing the race organisers directly even though entry was closed and race full. Very helpful and fantastic to see.

Weather reports leading up to the race looked terrible with rain and strong wind which potentially could wreck the PB hunters day. The race is ran along the coast and follows the parkrun route with a bit extra added on to make up the 5 miles. Very flat, fast with strong competition all ends of the field to push you on. I had mixed feeling building up to this race, my training seems to go from highs to lows every week now as I build up to the London marathon. Last week I flew round 34 miles with ease but this weeks training was terrible. Only two short runs done, feeling poorly and just not myself.

But Come the morning I was feeling good and the heavens were smiling down on the PB gang, the rain had stopped and the wind a wimpier rather than a roar. The location is great for this race, parked easy and picked number up onboard a very cool ship at the hartlepool marina. On to the race which was almost a false start thanks to a drill? Bad timing as the cannon soon went off to start the race..

Gareth puts the STRIDE into STRIDER! Plan for me was simple, try to keep super fast Rob and Stephen in sight and hope to hold off the in form simon to grab 3rd strider home. Pre race marathon paced run for Stephen effected his day and Simon was coming back from recent injury problems. Both still managed cracking runs with simon just missing sub 30 mins for another great time.

The first mile was super fast as expected with Rob zooming off into the distance while I kept trying to control my pace. You turn back half way and it's great getting the shout outs from fellow Striders as the relentless effort kicks in. I remember Simon shouting out that Rob was finding it hard and could just about still make him out ahead. The last 2 miles to home was nothing but pure grit and effort to catch the super speedy one. I needed every mile of that race and somehow pushed ahead with less than half a mile to go. End result was an unexpected 1st strider Finnish and 2 great PB's for us both, a fantastic and enjoyable race. This is why I love road races so much, you have no where to hide, no excuses, it all comes down to your training, fitness and pure force of will to push yourself harder than you ever imagined possible. I'm an unashamed super fan of road racing and this race was everything I love about the sport.

Another GP event in the bag. Lots of other great runs, performances and someone with a 30 sec PB which we all know about via the emails .. also 3rd place for the strider men's team. Well done everyone. As some speedster said: well done the strider 5 mile king...... For now. .. Will definitely be back next year.

Results

PosNameClubTime
1Gregory JayasuriyaMiddlesbrough25:56
12Gareth Pritchard28:32
14Rob Everson28:42
18Stephen Jackson28:58
19Sarah TunstallKendal Amateur29:08
41Simon Gardner30:00
117Katy Walton34:01
183Fiona Jones36:57
187Lesley Charman37:07
220David Spence38:28
341Lindsay Rodgers43:57
344Karen Chalkley44:09
351George Nicholson44:34
354Karin Younger44:20
365Jayne Freeman45:10
435Sophie Dennis49:11
455Mike Elliott51:03
463Lindsay Craig51:54
466Kate Talbot52:13
471Laura Gibson53:15
472Natalie Johnson53:16

516 finishers

Edale Skyline, 29th March

AL / 21.1m / 4505ft

Paul Evans

The Edale Skyline is a race I've intended to do since seeing it written about in the Fellrunner a decade ago, entranced by the scenery and history of the race, in awe of the challenge (Billy Bland rates it as being, along with the Three Peaks, one of his two toughest races) and wary of the fact that its early-year position in the calendar means it will never race the same in any two years - recent years have seen heat casualties, hypothermia, sunburn, retirements due to getting lost in thick mist and a full-scale blizzard; in one year, things were worse yet; so bad that the organisers simply cancelled and re-scheduled for the autumn.

So, I'm cautious and remain so despite knowing that I've run longer races and Ive run races with more climb; so nervous that today is a ‘half-dozen trips to the toilet before ten a.m.’ day. A slow jog from the village hall, over the brook on a narrow bridge where we’re all dibbed into the starting field, and the vista of the Kinder massif towers above us, the sky largely clear but the western edges swathed in thick grey cotton-wool.

We commence the race quickly, under strict instructions to stick to the flagged switchbacked path as far as it lasts before an element of route choice is permitted to Ringing Roger, the first control. The climb is hard but enjoyable, all but the frontrunner walking until the gradient slackens a little and we can open our legs out along the edge paths of damp peat and exposed gritstone boulder. Hitting Ringing Roger is done and the next few miles out to Whin Hill pass very quickly at a steady pace, passing a few on the way up the long, slow climb through the heather to the control at the top of the hill, a thick, aromatic pine plantation to our left only partially blocking the view down to Ladybower reservoir, full after the wet winter that has soaked the earth and nourished the occasional daffodils sighted in sheltered nooks.

You'd be lucky to see any sort of skyline through that murk

Control dibbed, we descend gradually along track then rapidly through dead bracken, crossing the Hope Valley railway just before Hope village, through the stone cottages and up the flanks of Lose Hill, walking and running alternately to the top, Walshes gaining valuable traction as we climb upwards, the way marked by walkers on what is a fine, sunny morning in this part of the valley. From here, a relatively easy few miles commence, running the undulating ridgeline to Hollins Cross and Mam Tor, the Edale’s church spire glinting to the right hand side in the valley bottom, toy-like trains lazily easing along hundreds of feet below. More places are gained here and I leave the brief respite (tarmac, a cup of water and a jelly baby) of Mam Nick knowing that over half the race is done and I feel good. However, despite my legs still powering me forwards, the earth is getting softer and wetter, the trods less distinct and the fluff that I saw earlier enveloping the western peaks is now less abstract and very real, very wet and very sight-limiting.

Pleasingly I pick up the trod to Brown Knoll at the first attempt and am able to keep in sight a trio of runners ahead, one of whom is Sally Fawcett who will finish first lady. I plough through the bog, now often ankle-deep, sometimes above the knee, and catch them when they hit a particularly glutinous patch, the depth obscured by the falsely-reassuring green of the sphagnum moss that has been used as both food and dressing in the relatively-recent past. I help them out and we run on together, Brown Knoll conquered, a very slow run to Jacob’s ladder completed via a path that may have been an actual path or may have been a stream-bed, impossible to be clear given that it was firm-based but covered for half a mile in ankle-deep water, hidden from view by peat embankments eight feet high. At Jacob’s ladder, I begin to struggle; I have not eaten despite knowing I should, and I simply cannot maintain the pace, so I fall away from my companions for the final few miles back to Ringing Roger and then down. I will the end, hard; I now want this over as it hurts and I have little left to give – I paced myself better, I think, for the 18 mile race this is when measured in straight lines than the 22 mile race it is if one cannot fly. As it happens, I lose surprisingly few places on this stretch, though a handful of nimble types leap past on the last few hundred yards into the field, but then it is done, my number cut off and I am free to trudge back to the hall for warmth, dry clothes, pie, peas, gravy and Henderson’s; DPFR are, after all, a Sheffield club.

One plug, if I may - a chap called Steve Firth is raising, via donation-funded sports photography in often-grotty conditions, money to pay for mosquito nets for use in places where malaria is an endemic, life-culling reality. The photo, which I think conveys the day well, is from Mossie Net Photography on Facebook.

Results

PosNameClubCatTime
1Nicholas BarberPennine Fell RunnersM02:52:51
42Sally FawcettDark PeatL03:37:54
56Paul EvansM03:47:01

242 finishers
This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time a Strider has ever run this race. Unless you know different! It's never too late to send in a report [Ed.]

Thirsk 10, 23rd March

Michael Ross

I entered this race on a whim late one Friday night back in November knowing a good few Striders had done it over the last few years and it was advertised as a flat fast course.

Not having ventured over 10k for races in the last 2 years due to injuries I was determined to make this race and after a steady away winter I started training for it in late February and training went well, having matched my 2.5 year old parkrun pb the week before I knew I was in decent shape for it and set myself a target of 80 mins for it.

Race day dawned sunny and calm thankfully and I headed down the A19 arriving in good time to pick up my number and sort myself out. The race HQ is at Thirsk racecourse but the start is about 10 minutes walk away, we were shepherded there about 20 minutes before the 11am start.

The race started on time and I eased my way into it, the first half mile fairly slow and then gently picking up pace as the congestion eased a bit, Steve Trout passed me at this point and we exchanged greetings as Striders do, my first mile completed in 8:04. The next couple of miles were on a closed country road and passed uneventfully at steady pace, turning onto A167 which was partially closed I felt my hamstring and glutes tighten and I eased back just slightly as I settled in behind a couple of runners for the next 2 miles, going through halfway in 40:10.

At about 6.5 miles we took a left up a closed road and was immediately faced with a stream of others coming back down the road which was slightly disheartening, the run up the road seemed to last forever and get harder, as we moved through mile 7 I checked my watch I noticed my pace had increased as I started overtaking more people and pushing on. Shortly afterwards Steve passed me coming back the other way and then the turnaround point came into sight thankfully, this gave me a boost as I picked up the pace more going through mile 8 in 7:49. Louise Barrow gave me a shout just after this as we passed in opposite directions. and then we were back onto the open roads again, mile 8 to 9 was my fastest mile at 7:46 and at this point I realised sub 80 was on if I could maintain my pace.

Mile 10 seemed to last forever and I was constantly checking my garmin as the distance slowly moved on, eventually the finish came into sight and as I caught up a lass from another club she gave me an encouraging shout as I went past her and rounded the corner back into the racecourse and over the finish line in 79:47, a pleasing 33 second negative split and a new pb over the distance by over 2 minutes.

Trimpell 20, Lancaster, 22nd March

20m

Gareth Pritchard

After running coniston 14 the day before this 20 mile race, it's fair to say I was pushing myself to new and untested limits. This was never the plan but I could not refuse the last minute chance that came up to run coniston for the first time. I had a plan for both races and was really looking forward to a great weekend of running.

As part of London marathon training, I was looking for a good flat 20 mile race and realised a few options are open this time of year. Trimpell is an out and back race, traffic free and good reports from previous years. After strong recommendations from striders I entered my first ever 20 mile race.

Now the important things for future runners, parking is well organised and free. Race HQ easy to find, with friendly and helpful volunteers. Changing facility's excellent and secure baggage area. Race t-shirt, medal (nice bling) sandwich/banana and chocolate bar at the end. All very good value for money,

The plan was 5 mile pace progression, starting slow then running the last 5 miles at marathon pace. As is quite normal for me, unfortunately the plan went out the window within the first mile. Despite yesterday's hard 14 mile race at quite a quick pace, I was feeling really good. I tried to hold my pace back but clocked my first mile at 7 mins 😟.

The next few miles flew past at the same pace and was enjoying the whole experience. Over the next few miles I was intending to slow up but my racing instinct kept me reeling people in as they puffed away, a very odd experience. The course is indeed flat and perfect for pace work. The miles flew over and I approached the 15 mile point with a sense of dread. I knew I had set off too fast for a training run and the next 5 miles at marathon pace we're going to be painful.

Somehow I managed to keep on pace which I'm hoping to run London speeding up to 6:30 min miles and quicker. I know the feeling well of being past in the last few miles of a race, so was a real joy as I sped past runners all the way to the finish. My pace dropped slightly for the last 2 miles but still on pace over the whole last 5 which was a nice surprise.

So ends my 34 miles in 2 day, almost feel like a crazy ultra runners. Maybe one day but for now I hear London Calling. A great weekends running and a nice challenge.

Results

PosNameClubTime
1Julian HatcherBorder Harriers01:53:49
20Michelle NolanGateshead02:10:40
43Gareth Pritchard02:16:48
322Alister Robson03:00:47
380Jacquie Robson03:12:31

530 finishers

Blakey Blitz, North York Moors, 22nd March

AM, 10.6mi/2805'

Jan Young

On March 22nd, three Striders completed the Blakey Blitz fell race; 17k/855m ascent. The three should have been five, but Anita C. and Paul E. both unfortunately had last minute domestic/ family incidents. From race registration at the Lion Inn; a welcoming shelter for windswept weary travellers on Castleton Rigg; the route features a 2k downhill start to Moorlands Farm in Rosedale and footbridge over stream, then climb begins.

First past Dale Head Farm; advertising tempting 'teas'; onto heather moorland towards the paved George Gap Causeway to Great Fryup Head, where we were cheered on by a number logging tented marshal. We stayed high along Glaisdale Rigg, before descending into Great Fryup Dale. A wicked climb out of the end of the dale, to retrace our steps back to the start, remembering to save something for the 2k ascent out of Rosedale to the Lion Inn.

Camilla was ahead of me along Glaisdale Rigg, but I managed to overtake on the Fryup Dale descent and kept a gap between us, until the ascent at the dale end, a group of us reaching the top together. Determined to stay ahead, I tracked a runner in front of me, using his pace and taking shelter from the wind, knowing Sturdy bank into Rosedale is a long downhill and that I'd 'get away'. I find route knowledge useful as you know when to make an effort and I did call to two runners who were going 'off piste'.

Mike and the gaggle at the finish were a welcome site; for all my enthusiasm, I had used up all my energy. Much to celebrate, as points all round on NEFRA winter series and wine for age group winners. Next outing Striders' GP race, Guisborough 3 Tops on Sunday 5th April.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Cameron TaylorEsk Valley FellMJ184:11
17Anwen DarlingtonYork KnavesmireFO199:56
28Mike BennettM601104:45
68Jan YoungF601133:58
74Camilla Laurén-MäättäF452139:57

87 finishers

Cragside 10K, 21st March

Sophie Dennis

A trio of Striders turned out for the Cragside 10k.

A trio of purple Me and Lindsay Craig left at 7am to beat the traffic because the race started at 930 am. We thought we were the only striders racing but then we bumped into Becky Fisher just before the start. The traffic wasn't too bad, just straight up the A1 and not long after Morpeth turn left to Cragside. Lindsay was full of cold but what a trouper she was . As we collected our numbers we were looking at all the hills thinking OMG what have we let ourselves in for?

The first task was to climb a very steep hill to meet the 356 Runners at the start , we kept saying "Hope we don't have to run up here at some point", but luckily it was the down hill sections of the race. The race started down hill, we went past the car park and passed Cragside House. Me and Lindsay stuck together all the way round. The first 3 miles we did in around 31 minutes , then the hills appeared, some short ones but one really steep and long one (Bloody Hell).

The scenery around us was gorgeous, very picturesque with waterfalls and lakes. The last 1 and a half miles was a steep down hill all the way through the start line again, Me and Lindsay gathered up speed so much so we thought we were going to be sick!

We ran like hell down that hill to the finish line with me I think, with my arms up in the air as we crossed the line.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1MatthewBoyleSenior Men100:36:05
13Georgia CampbellSenior Women100:39:19
227Becky FisherW351200:56:51
322Lindsey CraigW452601:08:23
323Sophie DennisSenior Women4801:08:26

356 finishers

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Coniston 14, 21st March

Katy Walton

It was a good turnout for the Striders on this warm spring day in the Lake District, not just runners but a good number or supporters too; The Bisson family, Anita Dunseith, our Sarah and The Seheult's on their wedding anniversary too.

The race started at 11am and over the timing mats the runners went. Immediately as the runners started off they were faced with the first of many hills still to come, feeling fresh on their legs it's hard for any fuelled runner to not go off too fast, but on a course like this holding back is key to being able to complete the second half of the race without a struggle.

The whole course is up and down testing all runner abilities on the flat, down hills and on the varying up hills, but somehow all that this course throws at you just adds to the fantastic experience of the beautiful scenic challenging route.

There was plenty of water stops on this course, I used these to gain a little recovery and a drink before hitting the tarmac again.

I took each mile by itself not thinking about an overall time/target of the full race. I have found this to be a good tactic recently on long runs which I do still find daunting, it stops me being anxious and relaxes me into a better running form.

At the half marathon point waiting was the Strider Supporters all cheering loudly giving the runner that extra boost for the last mile. A good number of other supporters now lined the roads of Coniston.

The finish was a lovely down hill part with The Bisson family shouting loud as I ran past into the school playing field. Water and a local slate coaster was handed to all finishers.

Excellent runs from all striders and 1st Female Team Prize for the first four Strider females Katy Walton, Elaine Bisson, Juliet Percival and Lucy Cowton. Well done ladies!

Results

position name club cat cat pos chip time
1Harry StaintonBlack Combe RunnersMOPEN101:20:34
33Eleanor FowlerNuneaton HarriersF35+101:29:01
17Stephen Jackson MOPEN1101:26:33
57Gareth Pritchard MOPEN2701:31:52
71Graeme Walton M40+1601:33:38
125Katy Walton* FOPEN601:39:30
144Elaine Bisson* F35+401:40:43
201Marc Jones MOPEN6601:44:47
227David Brown MOPEN7501:46:15
249Juliet Percival* F40+1001:47:39
440Lucy Cowton* FOPEN2801:56:25
446Fiona Jones F35+1101:56:39
658Stephanie Walker FOPEN4802:06:14
659Mark Dunseith MOPEN17502:06:15
696Ian Spencer M50+9202:08:08
846Denise Benvin F45+4102:17:43
964Christine Farnsworth F60+802:26:38
1093Kerry Lister F40+9702:51:55
* 1st Ladies Team Prize

1123 finishers.

Charnwood marathon, Quorn, Leicestershire, 21st March

26.8m

Dave Robson

Melanie and I have run this race once before - in 2013. The event was in March as usual but on the day of the event there were several inches of snow on the ground and it snowed for most of the time we were out.

This time the weather forecast was for cloud, temperatures between 6 and 9 degrees with a northerly wind of about 12 mph which would probably only affect us in the last few miles. Photostop - Melanie first... We stayed overnight in Loughborough and got to the start in Quorn at about 8.00 and just missed the walkers setting off.

The runners were leaving at 9.00 and we had time to chat to a few people we know from the 100 marathon club. Runners could choose from two distances 15m and 26m and there seemed to be a preference for the 15m, which had the same route as the 26m for the first 6m.

We started at a different point to avoid a narrow road and there was only one other change from 2013 near the end where the route had been changed to avoid a very boggy section. Photostop - and now Dave The route meanders along quiet roads, tracks, alongside fields for the first three or four miles and then we started the first climb. Then past the first self-clip and down to the bottom of Beacon Hill before another climb up the summit. Soon after that we were at the 6m checkpoint where the routes divide.

The conditions underfoot were much better than two years ago and also there was very little mud compared to the Belvoir event we did three weeks ago.

In the first part of the event there were lots and lots of kissing gates. Later they thinned out to be replaced by stiles. To find our way we were using the I had amended from 2013 which we had downloaded to our Garmins. There was the occasional sign, but we could see others who were using the route description and not having any difficulties.

There were more undulations and we went through another checkpoint at a monastery and after a moor type section, we came downhill again before starting a climb to the highest point in Leicestershire. The self clip was on the trig point so we had to go all the way.

Chilled-out Sheep

Then it was more gentle undulations before the final climb up through Bradgate Park, where there was another self clip before reaching the final check point in the car park at the bottom. Just four and half miles of relatively flat countryside after that before a road section to the finish, where there was an excellent choice of soups with cakes to follow. I do love LDWA type events :-)

We were pleased with our times, just over 5hr 30min, a whole 1hr 20min faster than in 2013!

Locke Park 20, Redcar, 15th March

Graeme Walton

Graeme.
This was to be my one and only 20 mile training run during my London Marathon program! The "Jack Daniels" program I'm following is designed around not running any further than 150 minutes (two and a half hours).

I guess Wrekenton XC the day before isn't the greatest preparation for a 20 mile race but my intention was just to run it at a comfortable pace... I'd read Rachel Terry's report from last year and had spoken to other Striders who had recommended the race, in previous years I'd gone across to Lancashire to run the Trimpell 20 but I fancied something more local this time around.

The course is used for the Redcar parkrun I believe, which is simply a one mile lap around Locke Park. So 3 laps for the parkrun and 20 laps for this race! The thought of laps hadn't put me off, lots of track sessions in recent months had gotten me used to them! On arrival with my cheering squad (Katy and Heidi) we bumped into The Fords who were also running and the lovely Louise Barrow and Maddie who had very kindly come along for Strider support.

Before long we were off in nice conditions, cool with a gentle breeze. The laps consisted of a few twists and turns, 2 bridges crossing the lake and some stretches where you could pick your pace up if needed. I ran a lap with Caroline Teasdale from Crook AFC who was looking very comfortable as was her husband Rob who lapped me twice during the race! You're never on your own due to the nature of the race because you're always either passing or being passed. It was nice to exchange a few cheery hellos with The Fords, Katy and Heidi along the way.

As always my pace was ever so slightly a bit to quick but hey I felt good so I decided to follow the Jon Ayres school of negative splits and I managed to push on a little in the 2nd half. I finished in around 2:24 and gladly accepted a very snazzy medal!

A special mention to some of the best marshals I have come across, they were constantly cheery offering support throughout which is no easy task bearing in mind they see each runner 20 times! Don't be put off by the laps folks, this is a fantastic, well organised run.

Worsley Woods parkrun, Parrin Lane, Salford, 14th March

Paul Swinburne

One of the great joys and benefits of parkrun is being able to sample parkruns further afield whilst visiting friends and family. I'm lucky enough to have a brother in Manchester who likes parkrun too and we decided to take the latest round of our sibling rivalry to Worsley Woods in Salford.

It was a pleasant, if chilly Spring morning so we decided to take advantage of the uncharacteristically dry Manchester weather and cycle the 10km from Chorlton to Salford. Luck was with us. I suffered a puncture just as we were pulling up to the parkrun, any earlier and we'd have missed it, as our timing was spot on.

Worsley Woods has an interesting course. It starts off with a long straight, elevated path. Initially slightly gritty and gravelly which eventually gives way to new tarmac. It has a very slight uphill gradient. This carries on for about 2km before diverting through a very muddy and boggy area leading into a wooded cross-country section. There are a few twists and turns in this section and a couple of stepped areas to mess up your rhythm! Eventually this empties you back onto the path again and it is another straight 2km blast back to the finish line. Gravity is on your side this time though.

It's a reasonable sized parkrun with 224 runners there the week that we did it.

I was very happy to finish in 10th place and finally beat 20 minutes for the first time on a parkrun. I also managed to hold off my little brother and even up our head to head at 4-4.

He got his revenge though. He hadn'tt remembered to pack a bicycle pump, so we had a 30 minute walk to the nearest bike shop afterwards to get the puncture fixed!

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Striders see it through to the end!

Harrier League, Wrekenton, 14th March

Mudman

Hurtling Greta. It was still all to play for at the final fixture of the 2014-15 HL season held at Wrekenton on Saturday. Relegation was staring the men’s team in the face, as it had been all season, while the women were still in with an outside chance of a podium finish. Things were tense as other clubs too had their potential triumphs and disasters to contemplate. Striders were well placed to deal with theirs though as both teams had good turnouts of strong and experienced runners eager for the fray.

Sally. Proceedings were opened by ‘rising star’ Sally Hughes – the ‘parkrun Princess’ – and sole Strider in the U.17 / U.20 women’s race. In a small field, and running from the fast pack, Sally cut a lonely if determined figure in a race for which no one seemed to be clear beforehand of the exact route. Nonetheless, our NE Counties runner held her own and finished in a creditable 11th place and 8th fastest on the day – well done Sally!

Kelly. Next up was the final show down for the 25 Striderettes. Three of their number went out quickly from the slow pack – debutant Louise Warner, our country convert Lesley Charman and the Flying Archaeologist Steph Piper. The unfamiliarity of it all (new spikes, new surface, new opponents, bad back) took its toll on Louise but Lesley and Steph had an epic battle with Lesley clinging on for grim death until being finally overhauled by Steph. Their reward was to finish as third and fourth counters respectively. They had plenty of support from the slow pack including Roz, making her first appearance this season (where have you been?), the ‘Purple Sisters’ Greta & Karen, Jean Brad (risen from a sick bed), an effervescent Kelly plus many other brave and determined performances from Jo x 2, Claire, Anja, Jan, Sarah, Debs, Denise & Diane.

Claire and Joanne.

Katy. As the medium pack grows so do the number of Striders running from it and there were six on Saturday plus Penny from the fast pack – a wonderful reflection on the quality of our club. Two sparkling performances from the medium pack came from Elaine and Katy. Elaine, ever improving in her quiet and understated way, and Katy, showing the blistering form of old and providing Simon with the photo image of the day. They both had powerful runs with Elaine leading the team home closely followed by Katy – fantastic. Penny too had a brilliant run; lining up with international athletes she more than held her own in that company finishing with the fastest time of the day for a Striderette. But would it all be enough to win that bronze position? Sadly not – we were just one point for the season behind the third place team! But a thoroughly satisfactory season nonetheless, with great performances, fantastic new team mates and enjoyable days out during the dark days of winter!

It was now the men’s turn. Could they cling on to Division 2 survival or would they be condemned to the fiery pit of the dreaded third division?! The purple painted faces of 32 Strider men showed that they wouldn’t be going down without a fight and battle commenced with the elbowing and shoving we’ve all come to crave. Debutant Andrew Podmore adapted quickly in the sink or swim environment and the pace seemed blistering on the dry and fast course - it was certainly ‘eyeballs out’ from start to finish for me!

That eloquent appeal I had issued back in November for team members to “throw the kitchen sink at every race” was clearly being taken up with a vengeance as familiar purple streaked faces flew by me with alarming / encouraging regularity. Once again there were some incredible performances including one from Rob who screamed round from the medium pack to be first Strider home and earn the club representation in the Fast Pack for 2015-16. A wrecked fence and a dodgy Achilles had kept Simon away from the previous two fixtures but he made up for it here finishing second counter followed in by marathon man Graeme, medium packer Gareth, the ever improving Matt C and our new face in purple Chris W. Nothing more could be asked from these guys nor of those who followed them in – from Stan’s victory over a yellow vested rival to Ben’s outsprinting of Innes for the line - they all did their utmost to keep us afloat. But did they do it? You bet they did! We finished one place and four points above the drop zone for the season - well done!

Results

Men
Pos Name Club Race Time Pack Cat Actual Time
1 Sam Brand Gateshead Harriers 32:36 S Msen 32:36
50Rob Everson 37:45 MMsen35:15
92Simon Gardner 38:16 SMV4038:16
100Graeme Walton 38:29 SMV4038:29
145Gareth Pritchard 39:03 MMsen36:33
169Matthew Crow 39:20 SMsen39:20
182Chris Wade 39:30 MMsen37:00
187David Gibson 39:42 SMV4539:42
191Paul Evans 39:44 MMV3537:14
192Jerry Lloyd 39:44 MMV4537:14
196James Garland 39:49 SMV3539:49
204Till Sawala 39:49 MMsen37:19
243Scott Watson 40:33 SMV5040:33
244David Brown 40:33 SMV3540:33
245Matthew Archer 40:33 SMsen40:33
247Dave Halligan 40:33 SMV5040:33
251Jon Ayres 40:40 SMV4040:40
260Geoff Davis 40:53 SMV5540:53
277Michael Hughes 41:12 SMV4541:12
292Conrad White 41:30 SMV5541:30
309Danny Lim 42:02 SMV3542:02
324Mike Bennett 42:34 SMV6042:34
370Eric Green 44:15 SMV4544:15
374Andrew Podmore 44:15 SMsen44:15
418Nick Jones 46:01 SMsen46:01
420Richard Hockin 46:04 SMV6046:04
437Craig Walker 46:40 SMV5546:40
440Ben Ford 46:47 SMU2046:47
443Innes Hodgson 46:58 SMV4546:58
454Ari Hodgson 47:33 SMU2047:33
455Lindsay Rodgers 47:45 SMV4547:45
475Mark Dunseith 49:42 SMsen49:42
497Stan White 60:31 SMV5560:31

502 finishers.

Women
Pos Name Club Race Time Pack Cat Actual Time
1 Alyson Dixon Sunderland Strollers 26:04 F FV35 22:04
44Elaine Bisson 29:31 MFV3527:31
46Katy Walton 29:31 MFsen27:31
57Stephanie Piper 29:31 SFsen29:31
62Lesley Charman 29:31 SFV4029:31
100Penny Browell 30:24 FFV4026:24
128Rachel Terry 30:46 MFV4028:46
130Juliet Percival 30:46 MFV4028:46
145Sarah Davies 31:03 SFV4531:03
153Debra Goddard 31:09 SFV4031:09
162Susan Davis 31:17 MFV5029:17
190Roz Layton 31:54 SFV6031:54
200Greta Jones 32:05 SFV4532:05
202Karen Jones 32:11 SFV4032:11
207Louise Warner 32:18 SFV3532:18
209Jan Young 32:22 SFV6032:22
234Fiona Jones 33:21 MFV3531:21
260Jean Bradley 34:49 SFV5534:49
261Joanne Porter 34:52 SFV4034:52
264Anja Fechtner 35:00 SFV3535:00
278Catherine Smith 36:01 SFV3536:01
282Denise Benvin 36:29 SFV4536:29
291Diane Watson 37:30 SFV5037:30
302Kelly Collier 38:40 SFsen38:40
315Joanne Richardson 43:25 SFV4043:25
318Claire Galloway 44:42 SFsen44:42

319 finishers.

U17 girls and U20 women
Pos Name Club Race Time Pack Cat Actual Time
1 Sophie Burnett Birtley AC 26:09 F FU17 23:39
11Sally Hughes 30:19 FFU2027:49

18 finishers.

Glaisdale Rigg, 8th March

8.5M 1844’ BM

Mike Bennett

very little separating the Michaels and Mikes.
2 Esk valley regulars Mike Hughes and Mike Bennett were the only purplies in attendance at this event, another race in the Esk Valley series.

Course was longer but considerably drier than Captain Cooks with 2 good lung busting climbs and some superb scenery. Mixture of road, bog, heather, pine forest tracks and farmland. Course was well marked, (not always the case with these events), even so a few runners still managed to miss crucial turns.

You need to remember to save something for the very short but sharp uphill bit at the finish, with spectators and earlier finishers watching you feel you have to push right to the end before you can collapse.

A good friendly atmosphere from start to finish and the familiar sight of Dave Parry clipboard in hand to greet you at the finish. £6 EOD with a generous prize list, 3 bottles wine for my first in age group made the day.

Age UK 10K Series, Harewood House, Leeds, 8th March

Stephen Jackson

Stephen and Pete My marathon training plan, carefully designed by Alan Seheult, was structured to incorporate a 10k ‘race’ on this particular weekend. As luck would have it the family diary meant that this goal could be achieved in a ‘two birds with one stone’ scenario that also involved a catch up with my cousin and her family. I entered the race with my mate Pete [Culmer – 10th place] who is my Cousin’s husband and also a keen cyclist and runner. We both had our respective wives and children cheering us on at the finish line and despite starting off as a drizzly, chilly sort of day the sun had emerged by a slightly delayed start time of 10:10.

The setting was fantastic and the course was challenging for someone who generally enters fast and flat 10k races. That said, there was as much down as up so until 7km there was ample opportunity to make up for the lost time climbing the trails around the grounds of Harewood House. Checking out the competition on the start line I recognised eventual winner Frank Beresford of Otley AC from his strong performance at the Brass Monkey Half Marathon. I knew that although the race would probably be described as a ‘fun run’ there were more than enough strong club runners at the sharp end to make it competitive.

By 2km I’d settled into a bit of rhythm and started the first ascent of the race. By this point the front runners had disappeared and I’d passed a few runners who’d possibly started too quickly. From this point until the end I only encountered one runner, from Hull AC, who I had a ‘tussle’ with from 5k to the end. Other than that it was me vs. the watch, or more appropriately, me vs. the hills.

Chocolate or Gold, it doesn't matterMy splits were looking pretty even despite the climbs until I got to the top of the final, unforgiving, steep hill. My penultimate km was quite a way below my average race pace as my legs were feeling drained. I recovered enough to finish strongly and just ‘pip’ a Hull AC runner on the line – it emerged later his ‘chip time’ was faster than mine but a moral victory nonetheless.

Afterwards there was time for a massage and a bit of flapjack before a 1 hour wait to exit the ‘car park’ [one tick in the negatives column].

Overall, I would certainly recommend the race as the setting is fantastic and the course was a great workout for a spring marathon and another summer chasing PBs

Sheffield Castle parkrun, 7th March

Mike Elliott

Whilst in the wilds of Sheffield last Saturday morning at 0800 what does one do but get ready for parkrun. Woke up the woman in sat nav who located the Castle parkrun starting at York House on City Road sat the top of a hill in the east of the town.

Welcomed by Diane and her crew in clear, cool and breezy conditions. Not a large number turned up as compared with Durham. 32 to follow all tarmac paths along the perimeter of this crater, left turn down a little slope then right up a little slope then weeee down into the bottom the park over the discreet bridge and onwards and upwards. Why discreet? Do not know. Could be a Yorkshire thing, memo ask Paul.

The cauldron of the park is of grass land with very few trees to act as a wind break. then a long drrrragggggg up hill to complete the first of 3 laps. The long drag is not as bad as it sounds due to it levelling out about half way up for 30 yards with Manor Field allotments on the right. Crunching the numbers 1st home was Robert Foster (25-29) unattached in 18.27, running at 69.92 %, 12 seconds outside his pb. I finished 23rd checking in with 29.50 @ 57.82% also first in my age group. It was easier than the original Gibside route.

Unfortunately I could not stop for cake and coffee at York House, as I had a meeting at 10.30. Back to the hotel showered, changed and a 3mile trip to town with 10 minutes to spare. How about that for a running schedule?